My Journey into IGS

April 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week I went to the Institute of Governmental Studies. I had been there briefly a few times previously because I’m also enrolled in a Poli Sci URAP meaning I at times have to use the resources there, but this trip better acquainted me with aspects of the institute that I never had to use before.

The library cover three main areas: Institution; which covers Congress and the presidency, the Claifornia state legislature and governorship, and the California local government, as well as concepts and problems of federalism and intergovernmental relations, as well as state and local government generally. I chiefly looked up problems with intergovernmental relations for my research, and I haven’t had to look for sources in another library because IGS is so extensive.
The library also holds material covering political processes and policymaking, as well as public policy issues, which has a growing section on health care reform. The overall focus of the public policy section is domestic policy, with a geographic emphasis on California!

The institute has a truly huge library, holding more than 400,000 volumes. It also acts as a depository for the California local government documents . the library services are linked in with Oskicat and Melvyl. The institute is one of the country’s premier libraries of nontrade and ephemeral materials on American and California public affairs and policy, so if you’re interested in political science, there are few better places to be than here! IGS also subscribes to several online journals and databases, so whatever you can’t find onsite, you will likely find online.

The institute is open from 9am until 5pm on weekdays for regular hours, and during the summer is open from 1pm until 5pm on weekdays. The institute is closed on weekend, and the reference service is open from 11am to 5pm, and by appointment. The reference service staff were really friendly and helpful when I asked them where to find some documents for my research.

The IGS is an active research unit, with topics ranging from electoral reform, national identity, immigration, and trust in political institutions. While it has material on many aspects of these topics, its focus has remained in California. IGS initiates and funds research by UC faculty and other experts, whilst also training undergrad and grad students, which luckily I have been taking part in this semester!


Isolationist Movement Political Cartoon

April 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week’s assignment has by far been the most fun to research, but has also been very informative. As can be seen in the image below Hitler is depicted with the watering can of Nazi propaganda, watering the “ostrich with it’s head in the sand” plant. The names on the feathers are the names of the leaders of the isolationist movement in America during this period, and when Hitler is exclaiming “A fine growth of white feathers” , the cartoonist is referring to the growth in power of the leaders of the isolationist movement.

The growth of the feathers both refers to the growing power of the isolationist movement, and the potency of Nazi propaganda, as that is depicted as stimulating the feathers growth. The Ostrich with its head in the sand was a common depiction in anti-isolationist cartoons, referring to their belief that Hitler would attempt to invade America after he had conquered Europe, and that isolationists choose to ignore this perceived reality.

For Ben

April 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

After searching for a while and familiarising myself with Ben’s topic, I found an article in a journal called California History which I thought Ben may be able to find useful. The article is called Chinese Exclusion: The Capitalist Perspective of the Sacramento Union, 1850-1882 (California History, Vol. 57, No. 1, Spring, 1978). The article discusses the anti-Chinese sentiment in Sacramento, where Chinese population size was second only to San Francisco.

The article looks at the exclusion of Chinese immigrants at the time, using newspaper articles and other primary sources to this end. As Ben wants part of his research to be what has stayed similar and what has changed about Chinese immigrants in this area, it may be useful to look into how Chinese immigrants (or Chinese-American decedents of Chinese immigrants) are excluded from Sacramento today. It talks of how different newspapers had different positions and arguments on the issue; for example The Union argued that the Chinese were instrumental, and should be allowed to work in the US, as long as they completed work that American’s could not lower themselves to perform, such as the reclaiming of the Tule lands of the Sacramento-San Jaoquin Delta.

I think this will be a useful source for Ben, but if not, then I am sure it will give him a useful guide into looking into primary sources featured in the article, such as The Union newspaper of the late 1850s and early 1860s, and hopefully these sources will have some of the information he is looking for.

Oral History of John Handy, Jazz Musician

March 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

I chose to examine the oral history of John Handy, a well-known jazz musician, as I have only ever studied music as a subject, and not as a potential source of history, or taken into account that musicians may have a unique perspective on various historical issues, or important events which they lived through.  
In this oral history, John Handy talks of how after touring America and Europe, he returned to the Bay Area in 1962, and talks of how the jazz scene had almost disappeared due to the advent of Rock and Roll. He talks of how the entertainment world for African Americans virtually ceased to exist during this time period, and he became involved in the civil rights movement at this time.
This was a very interesting perspective to take on the rise of Rock and Roll; it is seen by many as the birth of modern music, but it of course did not begin and appear out of nowhere in a world devoid entirely of a music scene. The rise of Rock and Roll as a popular genre inevitably meant the decline of the jazz scene that went before it, but this is rarely, if ever discussed. From this oral history we get a sense of how this cultural shift may have influenced the civil rights movement; the vacuum it created in the entertainment world certainly motivated John Handy to get involved.

Unfortunately there was no video accompanying this text, which is a shame as I think it would have helped me to distinguish periods or events in his life which the John Handy found to be most meaningful, or important. It would also have made clearer how much the decline of Jazz in San Francisco pushed him into the Civil rights movement, however the text of the interview was still very informative, and it has opened my eyes as to the validity and usefulness of oral history as a useful historical genre.

Roosevelt versus Congress

March 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Despite documents showing that Roosevelt saw the British and French demands that Czechoslovakia must accept Hitler’s territorial demands as being “the most terrible remorseless sacrifice” ever demanded of a country, Roosevelt was forced to take a timid stance during the Czech crisis due to the political situation he faced at home. Both Congress and the American people were unwilling to risk war to help the Czechs. Roosevelt even wrote a personal message to Hitler saying that “the government of the United states has no political involvement in Europe, and will assume no obligations in the conduct of the present negotiations”. From the books and articles I have read on this issue, some historians believe that in this note Roosevelt unintentionally gave Hitler a green light to deal with the Czechs and the Western powers without fear of American retaliation.
Czechoslovakia accepted the terms on the 30th of September. On this subject, historian Robert Divine wrote that “American isolationism had become the handmaiden of European appeasement.
Congress itself, during this period, shows itself to be a leader of the isolationist movement, as even after it became clear that the policy of appeasement had failed, and Hitler was reinforcing his Western frontier, Congress still refused Roosevelt’s plan for a large air-force, stating that they did not believe the international situation to be sufficiently menacing to warrant the construction of a large air force.

However, if Congress was a leader of the isolationist movement, Roosevelt was their antithesis, overruling the Army’s opposition to aircraft sales to France, which he believed would not only deter Hitler, but also make possible the rapid expansion of the American air-force at a later date. Roosevelt also informed Chamberlain that the defence of Britain and France was vital to the security of the US, and that he would not allow them to fall to Hitler.

American Isolationism and Antiwar Sentiment pre1939

February 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

I found a great article in America: History and Life, called; Climax of Isolationism, Countdown to World War. The article discusses the sinking of US gunboat USS Panay in China’s Yangtze River by Japanese aircraft during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The article gives focus to the way in which the attack violated the US’ official policy of isolationism and neutrality at the time andhow it served as a precursor to US entry into World War II.

I found through reading this article, which is a secondary source, that the sinking of the US gunboat by Japanese forces tested the national will of the US at a time when isolationist sentiment at home was strong and tensions abroad high.
Interestingly, rather than provoke retaliation, as was the case in Pearl Harbour, the attack actually strengthened the isolationist and anti-war sentiment in America, as can be seen in the 1937 version of the Ludlow Amendment, which stated that “Congress’ authority to declare war would not become effective until confirmed by a majority of votes cast in a national referendum”. The bill was eventually defeated by 21 votes, by I am keen to find out what the national mood was concerning the bill, and how much popular support it had, as it seemed to be growing in momentum and popularity before it was eventually defeated.

Roosevelt tricks Isolationists into paying for Navy Expansion

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Following on from my research last week, I looked further into the aftermath of the Ludlow Amendment, which would have made it much tougher for Congress to declare war, looking at digitised newspaper articles from the period, and online articles. One of my goals in my research for this decal was to uncover some of the leaders of the isolationist movement and their motives, and it is safe to say that Representative Louise Ludlow was one of those leaders, with his proposal to amend the constitution in 1935 to require a referendum before Congress could declare war, regardless of the circumstances. Ludlow’s influence did dwindle after his amendment failed however.

In 1938, Roosevelt disregarded the still relatively recent proposed amendment to the constitution, and called for a 20% raise in the size of the US navy. Roosevelt got away with this because despite isolationists opposing  US involvement in foreign wars, most believed that America must be militarily strong enough to defend itself against foreign attack. This can be seen as a loss for the isolationist movement, as it could be argued that had the American military not been injected with this $1.1 billion stimulus, they may not have been able to scramble to war so quickly after Pearl Harbour, and it is hard to say what international developments may have occurred in the intervening period that may have prevented or convinced America not to go to war.