Scottsboro Boys

Scottsboro Boys
Scottsboro Boys

The Scottsboro Boys, as they were called by American newspapers, were nine young African-American men, all of them between the ages of 13 and 21, who became the defendants in an infamous, overtly racist criminal case.

On March 25, 1931, a fracas broke out between white and black vagrant men riding a freight train through Alabama. When the train was stopped by local authorities, two white women were also discovered onboard. These women had worked as prostitutes and feared arrest; to avert suspicion, they claimed the black men had raped them.

Two weeks later, the men went on trial in the town of Scottsboro, where a throng of white onlookers gathered. Following hasty legal proceedings in which the men received a minimal defense, they were found guilty, and most were sentenced to death.

The Scottsboro case was widely discussed in the northern press. A communist-affiliated legal group, the International Labor Defense, agreed to handle the appeals process. In subsequent trials, prominent defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz offered ample evidence that the accusers were lying, and one of the women disavowed her story and even testified as a defense witness.

Nevertheless, the various Scottsboro defendants were found guilty by 11 southern juries, and their convictions were upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court. In 1937 four of the men were released in a plea bargain agreement, and the others were eventually paroled. The last defendant was released in 1950.

As a result of the case, southern mores and Jim Crow justice were held up to national and international scrutiny. African-American church and civic groups were galvanized. Demonstrations were held in Harlem, and the mothers of some of the defendants—women who had passed their lives in obscurity in the rural South—found themselves addressing crowds across the country to win support for their sons. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which had been slow to defend the Scottsboro Boys, was criticized by many African Americans.

Two important U.S. Supreme Court decisions resulted from the Scottsboro case. In Powell v. Alabama (1932), the Court ruled that the defendants had been denied their right to adequate counsel. In Norris v. Alabama (1935), the Court found that African Americans in Alabama had been systematically and arbitrarily excluded from jury rolls. These decisions—and the activism in response to the Scottsboro case—became important precursors to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Scopes Trial

Scopes Trial
Scopes Trial

Often known as the "Monkey Trial," this face-off between free speech and state educational prerogatives pitted "modern" science against "old-time" religion. A major fault line in U.S. society was exposed when two of the United States' most famous figures—lawyer Clarence Darrow and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan—clashed in the tiny town of Dayton, Tennessee.

Although Charles Darwin's theory of evolution had been provoking controversy since 1859, not until the post-progressive 1920s did five states, including Tennessee, legislate how, or even whether, evolution could be taught in taxpayer-funded public schools.

The actual legitimacy of evolution was not at first the main issue. Rather, the recently formed American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged Tennessee's new law as a violation of free speech. A test case required a defendant, and that role was pressed on 24-year-old John Thomas Scopes (1900–70), a math teacher and football coach at Dayton's high school.

Substituting for an absent biology teacher, Scopes had read a passage on evolution to his class from a textbook formerly approved for use in Tennessee. Scopes clearly had violated the new state law, but what did that mean? More than 100 reporters, including Baltimore Sun gadfly H. L. Mencken, converged on Dayton for an eight-day July trial to answer that question. The proceedings were carried nationally on radio.

The four-man defense, led by Darrow, sought a broad discussion of free speech and scientific authority; the prosecution's aims were less clear. Bryan, assisted by his son, Will Jr., knew that Scopes had broken the law, but he also wanted a chance to defend religious beliefs against godless modernism, including what he saw as the unacceptable Social Darwinist idea that the weak be allowed to fall by the wayside.

Presiding Judge John T. Raulston allowed only one of the ACLU's scientific experts to testify. He found Scopes guilty before allowing Darrow's and Bryan's plea for closing arguments, during which both hoped to make their larger cases to a national audience.

anti evolution league
anti evolution league

On Monday, July 20, 3,000 people were on hand to hear the debate on the lawn outside the hot, cramped courthouse. Darrow, an admitted agnostic and skilled litigator, peppered Bryan with questions regarding the literal truth of the Bible. Bryan was the finest public speaker of his generation, but he was no theologian and seemed poorly prepared. His defense of the Bible was feeble and often laughable.

Although Judge Raulston expunged Bryan's testimony from the court record, millions had heard it via the media. Mencken's newspaper paid Scopes's $100 fine. (His conviction was later voided on a technicality and never refiled.) Six days later Bryan died in Dayton of diabetes.

The Monkey Trial revealed how hard it was for urban secularists and rural believers to find common ground. In 1955 a lightly fictionalized courtroom drama, Inherit the Wind, introduced this "trial of the century" to new generations as a huge victory for science. It was, but it also was not. Tennessee repealed its statute in 1967. But controversy over evolution would reemerge as religious Protestants and others began expressing themselves more forcibly in school, state, and national politics.

Schlieffen Plan

Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan

The Schlieffen Plan was one of the most controversial military plans ever conceived. Devised as imperial Germany's blueprint for victory in World War I, it ironically contributed to Germany's defeat.

The Schlieffen Plan was named after its creator, Count Alfred von Schlieffen (1833–1912), third chief of the German general staff. The genesis of the Schlieffen Plan was in the strategic position Germany faced in 1905. Germany's enemies, France and Russia, had formed a military alliance in 1894, while France and Great Britain had formed their own alliance. If war erupted, Germany potentially faced multiple enemies on two fronts. The strategic question of the era was how Germany could win such a two-front war.

German military leaders hoped that, like German military legend Frederick the Great, by employing speed and maneuverability they could defeat one opponent and quickly confront the other. Initial plans called for a limited defensive war against France and a major assault against Russia. Schlieffen inverted this strategy in his 1905 "memorandum" by focusing German power against the French while deploying a defensive force against Russia.

To defeat France, the Schlieffen Plan relied on speed and power. An offensive against France required a rapid mobilization before Russian forces arrived on Germany's eastern frontier. German forces for the French offensive would be deployed along three wings, the left and central wings composed of defensive forces on the Franco-German border and a gigantic right wing on the Belgian border. By placing the bulk of Germany's forces against France, Schlieffen gambled that Russia's vast territory and inefficient railroad system would result in a protracted mobilization.

Finally, Schileffen called for the ruthless invasion of neutral Belgium, France's northern neighbor. By having the right wing cross through Belgium and northern France, Germany bypassed France's fortified eastern border.

The right wing would encircle the French while it engaged the left wing, crushing them between the "hammer" of the right and the "anvil" of the left. If the plan was successful, the French would surrender, and German forces could be diverted to face Russia. Schlieffen predicted the fall of France some 35 to 40 days after German mobilization.

The ramifications of Schlieffen's strategy were profound. First, by relying on rapid mobilization, the plan committed Germany to striking first in the event of war. This rigidity limited Germany's diplomatic options in 1914. Germany could not seek a peaceful settlement to the diplomatic crisis in fear that France and Russia would mobilize their armies first.

Also of great importance was the invasion of Belgium. The Treaty of London (1839) bound the European powers to guarantee Belgian independence and neutrality. German violation of this treaty triggered British entry into World War I and caused significant damage to Germany's international prestige.

Count Alfred von Schlieffen (1833–1912)
Count Alfred von Schlieffen (1833–1912)

Finally, relying on Russia's slow mobilization was a considerable risk. If Russia successfully deployed its sizable armies while fighting continued in the west, eastern Germany was threatened with what was ominously described as the "Russian steamroller."

Schlieffen retired from active military service in 1906. His successor, Helmuth von Moltke (or "Moltke the Younger," 1848–1916), made significant alterations to the Schlieffen Plan. Moltke employed Schlieffen's same basic strategy when World War I erupted in 1914. Indeed, the plan nearly worked.

Its failure, however, came from numerous causes. Among these were delays, Belgian resistance, the deployment of British Allied Expeditionary Forces, and German exhaustion during the rapid advance. These factors allowed France to assemble a force to meet the powerful right wing at the first Battle of the Marne. Russia also mobilized more quickly than anticipated, threatening eastern Germany.

As a result, the western front stabilized into static trench warfare, while German forces scrambled to decisively defeat Russian armies at the Battle of Tannenburg. Despite this triumph, the Schlieffen Plan's promise of quick victory transformed into a German nightmare of protracted wars on both borders.

The Schlieffen Plan's failure had ominous repercussions for Germany. Designed to prevent a two-front war against superior forces, Schlieffen's deficient strategy led to exactly that fate. The western front was characterized by four years of stalemate, a battle of attrition that led to German defeat in 1918.

Sarekat Islam

Sarekat Islam
Logo of Sarekat Islam

The Sarekat Islam (Islamic Association), established in 1911, was one of the earliest political parties to have broad appeal in Indonesia.There was need for an organized merchant association in the face of competition from the Chinese mercantile community.

A religious motivation was also present because of increasing proselytizing activities of Christian missionaries. Sarekat Islam had many able leaders, and the most notable was Umar Sayed Tjokroaminoto (1882–1935), the ratu adil (savior prince). His charismatic personality and his message of improving happiness and the religious lives of people attracted many followers. His house became a center of political, social, and cultural activities.

Leaders like Tjokroaminoto, Abdul Muis, Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, and Hadji Agus Salim carried on a mission of fostering economic cooperation of indigenous merchants against the Chinese, uplifting material happiness, and defending Islam against missionaries.

The Sarekat Islam had a moderate program of socialism with emphasis on gatong rajong (group spirit). Capitalism was viewed as responsible for the woes of Indonesia, which was essentially a Chinese and European enterprise.

Initially, the party did not venture into the political realm so as not to incur the wrath of the Dutch, and at its first congress, held at Solo (Surakarta) in 1913, it declared in clear-cut terms that it was not against the colonial government.

As a heterogeneous organization, it had among its followers peasants, batik traders, bankers, the santri, or orthodox, Muslim sect, priyai (lesser nobility), traditionalist abangans of Java, and others. The Sarekat Islam was blamed for the agitation that occurred in Java in 1919.

Group portrait at a meeting of the SI
Group portrait at a meeting of the SI

With members professing divergent aims, the direction of Sarekat Islam became varied. and splinter groups arose. The traditional leadership's commitment to religion came under criticism by the left-leaning members of Indische Sociaal Democratische Vereeniging (the Indies Social Democratic Association), which endeavored toward a communist agenda. The Bolshevik Revolution had triumphed in Russia in 1917, and the first communist state had become a reality, which encouraged communist movements in various parts of the globe.

The Democratic Association itself was divided in 1920 with the formation of Partai Kommunist Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia), which wanted the Sarekat Islam to renounce its moderate policies. At the sixth congress of the Sarekat Islam in 1921, Salim brought out a resolution prohibiting the members of Sarekat from joining other parties.

The Communists were expelled. A Red Sarekat Islam was formed within the fold of the Communist Party, and this later became Sarekat Rakjat (Peoples Association). A turning point had occurred in the Indonesian nationalist movement, and it was accepted that traditional concepts and Western ideologies could not go together. The Sarekat attempted to broaden its base and adopted measures of noncooperation with the colonial government. It organized movements of youth and women.

The leadership of Sarekat tried its best to interpret Marxist doctrine in its own way; Salim was of the opinion that the Prophet had followed Marxist ideas. Even Tjokroaminoto took a mystical approach, saying that the ratu adil would appear in the form of socialism.

Tjokroaminoto and Sarekat Islam
Tjokroaminoto and Sarekat Islam

But the savior did not appear, and many members joined different parties according to their ideologies. Sarekat members flocked to the Communist Party, Nahdatul Ulama (1926), and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (1927).

In the 1930s there were more divisions over the question of collaborating with the colonial government. The absence of the development of a clear-cut ideology became the most important factor in the party's failure. It continued to function as a minor party with the new name of Partai Sarekat Islam until 1973.

Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie

Tafari Makonnen was born in Ethiopia in 1892, the son of a general who was a trusted adviser and grand-nephew of Menelik II. In 1911 he married Wayzaro Menen. As Ras (prince) Tafari, he quickly became a rival of Menelik's grandson for the throne.

The grandson was unreliable politically and supportive of Muslims, and Ras Tafari was progressive and Christian. Tafari deposed him in 1916. He became regent and heir to Menelik's daughter, Empress Zauditu (Judith), in 1917.

Between 1917 and 1928 he traveled in Europe, becoming the first Ethiopian ruler to travel abroad. He became king in 1928. Zauditu died in November 1930, and Ras Tafari became the 111th emperor in the succession from King Solomon. He took the name Haile Selassie, Amharic for "Might of the Trinity."

Selassie inherited a land rich in culture and resources and recognized as sovereign by European colonial powers since 1900. It had grown under Menelik II and established treaties with Italy. Britain and Italy agreed, however, that Ethiopia should be under Italian influence. Tensions erupted occasionally, but when Selassie took the throne, Ethiopia was free and independent.

Selassie's travels in Europe convinced him that he needed to modernize Ethiopia. He reformed the laws, bureaucracy, schools, and health and social services while serving as regent. He applied to the League of Nations for Ethiopian membership in 1919 but was rebuffed because Ethiopians still practiced slavery. After abolition of the slave trade in 1923, the league accepted Ethiopia.

In 1928 Ethiopia and Italy signed a 20-year treaty of friendship. In 1930 Ethiopia outlawed the sale of illegal arms and established the government's authority to purchase arms for protection against external enemies and internal unrest.

In 1931 Selassie gave Ethiopia its first constitution. He established his bloodline as the only princely line eligible to inherit the throne and fought for four years before getting the princes to accept it. He continued to modernize schools, universities, and newspapers while establishing electricity, telephones, currency, banking, and other modern benefits.

Selassie's modernization occurred in the shadow of Benito Mussolini, who took power in Italy in 1922. Italy had a colony in Eritrea, where Mussolini instituted segregation. He also used Eritrea as a base for expansion in Africa. In 1934 Italian forces provoked an incident in Welwel, Ethiopia. The League of Nations failed to condemn the aggression, and Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in October 1935.

Selassie personally led his forces into battle. After seven months of fighting, Italian forces, gas warfare, and league inaction forced Selassie into exile on May 2, 1936. On June 30 he spoke passionately at the league about how league inaction would promote international lawlessness instead of collective security.

Ethiopians continued to resist the Italian occupation throughout Selassie's exile in Britain. Once Italy entered World War II against Britain, Britain recognized the strategic asset of an ally on the Red Sea, so it helped Selassie to return to Khartoum. With a force of British, African, South African, and Ethiopian troops, he returned to Addis Ababa on May 5, 1941. Fighting continued in Ethiopia until January 1942.

After the war Ethiopia was a founder of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity. As his relationship with Britain waned in 1953, Selassie sought U.S. support. And he later received assistance from Italy, West Germany, Sweden, Taiwan, China, and the Soviet Union.

Internally, he attempted to bring peace among Ethiopia's many religious, ethnic, and economic factions. His reforms of the government continued in the 1950s, as did the internal factionalism. In 1960 he quashed a coup led by his son, among others, but internal discord grew as economic and social reforms failed to match their promises.

From the mid-1960s to 1974 Ethiopia was plagued with inflation, corruption, and famine. Selassie's attempts to divide and weaken his enemies failed in 1974 as uprisings broke out in several provinces, and the coup leaders united into the Derg, which, under the pretense of allegiance to Selassie, took effective control of the government.

After taking his resources and charging him with intentionally provoking the famine of the early 1970s, the Derg arrested Selassie and deposed him on September 12. Selassie died in August 1975 under questionable circumstances.

During his lifetime Selassie inspired Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X with his commitment to civil disobedience as a path to social justice and redress. He also inspired the Jamaicanborn religion of Rastafarianism. Rastafarians generally believe that Selassie is the messiah and Ethiopia is heaven on earth.

Sherif Husayn - McMahon Correspondence

Sherif Husayn
Sherif Husayn

The Sherif Husayn–McMahon Correspondence was a secret agreement between Sherif Husayn, representing the Arabs, and the British over the future of Arab territories in the Ottoman Empire. Sherif Husayn was sherif, or ruler, over the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

A member of the Hashemite family, Husayn was a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad and consequently had both political and religious influence. An Arab nationalist, Husayn wanted one unified, independent Arab state. Personally ambitious, he also wanted to be the ruler of that state.

In 1915 Sherif Husayn sent a secret letter to the closest high-ranking British official, Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner in Egypt, proposing that the Arabs would fight on the side of the British in World War I in exchange for an independent state when the war was over. Because the letters had to be hand delivered by secret agents from Mecca to Cairo and back, the correspondence extended from July 1915 to January 1916.

Although McMahon, who did not speak Arabic or know much about the Middle East, had nothing to do with the British responses that were written by government officials in London, as the highest-ranking British official in Cairo his name was affixed to the texts. After Husayn's letters were translated into English, they were put into secret code to be transmitted to London for final decisions as to what responses the government wished to make.

In his first letter, Husayn delineated the borders for the proposed Arab state. The boundaries were to run along the Red Sea and include the Arabian Peninsula, but not Aden, which was already a British colony; the state would also include present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, and the area around Alexandretta, in present-day Turkey.

Sir Henry McMahon
Sir Henry McMahon

All this territory was overwhelmingly Arab ethnically, linguistically, culturally, and historically. Husayn also sent his son Faysal to ascertain whether Arab nationalists in greater Syria would support the proposed Arab state.

They agreed to back Sherif Husayn's plans. As an excuse for this fact-finding mission, Faysal also visited Istanbul to meet with the Committee of Union and Progress, the virtual rulers of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which was fighting on the side of Germany and the Central Powers in the war.

This was a highly dangerous mission, as in Turkish eyes Sherif Husayn's proposals were treasonous. In the summer of 1915, the Turks publicly hanged several Arab nationalists in downtown Beirut. The square where the executions took place is still known as Martyrs Square in present-day Lebanon.

The British responded that discussion of the borders of the Arab state was premature. Sherif Husayn then ceded Alexandretta, and Britain replied that it wished to omit most of the area in present-day Lebanon because the French had interests there. They also wanted to omit most of present-day Iraq.

Throughout the letters, the territories were referred to by the Turkish administrative terms of vilayets, or provinces, which did not precisely conform to the boundaries of present-day nations in the Middle East. Although the British did not communicate their interests to Sherif Husayn, they knew about the oil reserves in Iraq and were anxious to maintain control over Iraq for economic and strategic reasons.

Nor was Sherif Husayn informed about the secret negotiations simultaneously taking place between the British and the French regarding Arab territories. These secret negotiations resulted in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916, which in part seemed to contradict the agreement the British government was making with Husayn.

By early 1916 Sherif Husayn had essentially agreed to fight on the side of the British in exchange for what he believed would be one Arab state, possibly minus Lebanon and parts of Iraq, which, as predominantly Arab, he believed would ultimately become part of that state.

Palestine was not specifically mentioned by name in the exchange, but Sherif Husayn clearly believed that it would be included in the proposed Arab state. On the basis of this correspondence, the Arabs rose up in armed revolt against the Turks in June 1916 and fought on the side of the British for the duration of the war.

Husayn's forces immediately secured Mecca and much of the coast along the Red Sea but failed to take Medina, which remained in Ottoman Turkish hands until the end of World War I. The British supported the revolt with money, supplies, and advisers, including T. E. Lawrence, who was known as Lawrence of Arabia.

The Arab forces used mostly guerrilla warfare tactics, attacking the Ottoman Turkish flanks and blowing up railway and communication lines as the British army advanced northward through Palestine and into Syria and Lebanon in 1917 and 1918.

The publication in late 1917 of the Balfour Declaration giving British support to Zionist aspirations for an independent Jewish nation in Palestine was immediately opposed by Sherif Husayn and the Arabs on the grounds that the area was Arab and that the declaration contradicted the earlier agreement made with Sherif Husayn.

The controversy over the conflicting terms of the three wartime agreements—the Sherif Husayn– McMahon Correspondence, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and the Balfour Declaration—became a point of contention at the Paris Peace Conference and continued to be debated into the 21st century.

Huda Shaarawi

Huda Shaarawi
Huda Shaarawi
Huda Shaarawi was a prominent Egyptian women's rights activist and arguably the most important Arab feminist of the 20th century. She began her career of political activism by organizing lectures for mostly upper-class women of the harem and later became a member of the Wafd Party women's committee, which gained recognition because of substantive all-women's demonstrations in the 1919 revolt.

Shaarawi was from an upper-class background, with extensive political connections—her husband was one of the founders of the Wafd Party in 1919, and she was the daughter of the president of Egypt's first national assembly.

However, Shaarawi fought the upper-class institution of the harem by removing her veil in 1923 when she disembarked from a train station in Cairo, marking the beginning of the end of the harem in Egypt.

In 1923 she also formed Egypt's first women's organization, the Egyptian Feminist Union, whose agenda focused on women's political rights, including the right to vote and the right to stand for parliamentary elections.

In her activism Shaarawi reflected two ongoing social and political movements, Islamic modernism and secular nationalism, challenging both British colonial rule over Egypt and Egyptian patriarchy by claiming that they concurrently served to eclipse women's voices.

She was the founder and president of the Arab Feminist Union and vice president of the International Women's Union. She was a strong advocate for girls' education and participated in more than 14 international women's gatherings on behalf of Egyptian women.

SEASIA (Southeast Asia)

SEASIA (Southeast Asia)
SEASIA (Southeast Asia)

The term Southeast Asia came to be used during World War II, when the region was placed under the command of Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900–79). It includes the area to the east of the Indian subcontinent and to the south of China. In 2006 the countries of the region were Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In the first half of the 20th century, all of Southeast Asia except Thailand was under foreign domination. Southeast Asia is a region of ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and historical diversity. It has retained its own identity in spite of cultural influences from different areas.

The first half of the 20th century witnessed momentous events and new ideas that transformed the history of the region. World War I, World War II, Japanese occupation, the rise of anticolonialism, the growth of communist ideas, and the onset of the cold war had varied impacts on the countries of the region.

In a geographical sense, before 1950 Southeast Asia comprised two broad groups. The mainland comprised the British colony of Myanmar (formerly Burma), the French colony of Indochina (Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam), and Thailand. Island Southeast Asia consisted of the British colony of Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Philippines under U.S. domination.

Thailand survived without becoming a colony of either Britain or France due to the sagacious policies of the kings. It did not succumb to colonial subjugation by signing unequal treaties of friendship and commerce or allowing extraterritoriality rights to France, Great Britain, the United States, or Germany. Rama V (1853–1910) maintained friendly relations with the colonial powers even at the cost of Thai territory.

King Vajiravudh (1881–1925) joined with Allied powers and was able to revoke extraterritorial rights. In 1932 there occurred for the first time in the history of Thailand a bloodless coup, which ended absolute monarchy there. Pridi Phanomyong (1900–83) and Pibul Songgram (1897–1964) were important leaders.

The military dominated the affairs of government. Thailand gave the Japanese passage to invade the British colony of Malay. But after the defeat of Japan, Thailand gave up the newly acquired territories to Malay, Burma, and Cambodia.

The British colony of Burma was governed as a province of British India until 1937. The Japanese drove out the British in 1942. Burmese nationalism, which had been given a boost after World War I, was in full swing. The days of the British were numbered. Leaders like Aung San (1915–47), who had collaborated with the Japanese, sided with Great Britain in 1945.

On January 4, 1948, the country became independent. The three Indochinese states of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam rebelled against French colonial rule. Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) had pleaded in vain with the Allied countries to give independence to the Indochinese countries at the Paris Peace Conference.

The Indochinese freedom struggle had communism as one of its ideologies for a sizable number of people. When the French came back again, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), or North Vietnam, had already been established on September 2, 1945.

The Khmer Issarack, or the Free Khmers, of Son Ngoc Thanh (1907–76) and Souphanouvong's (1901–1995) Pathet Lao (Land of Lao) had been aligned with the Vietminh. The First Indochina War began in 1946 and continued until the French defeat eight years later. The communist faction had not accepted the limited independence given to Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam in 1949.

The Philippines was annexed by the United States after the Spanish-American treaty in December 1898. After the Philippine-American War (1898–1901) military occupation was replaced by civilian governments. In principle, the independence of the Philippines was recognized by the U.S. Congress in the Jones Act of 1916.

On July 4, 1946, it got complete independence. British Malaya had three types of administration: Crown colonies, protected federated states, and protected unfederated states. The Japanese had faced tough opposition from the Malay Chinese, who had formed the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army.

The British created the Malayan Union in April 1946, which faced problems from the Malayan Communist Party. The pan-Malayan party called the United Malay National Organization was established in May of the same year. The British created the Federation of Malay in February 1948, which became a stepping stone to independence in 1957.

In World War II Japan occupied Singapore on February 15, 1942. General disillusionment with British rule and the growth of political consciousness accelerated. After the abolition of Straits Settlement, Singapore became a separate Crown colony on April 1, 1946.

Elections to its legislative council were held in March 1948. The British government was compelled to give greater self-government to Singapore in 1953. Singapore attained self-government in 1959, with Britain retaining control of its defense and foreign affairs.

The Dutch established direct rule over the whole of modern Indonesia by 1909. Nationalism grew out of the country's glorious historical past, colonial exploitation,Western education, anticolonial movements in Asia, and miserable social conditions.

The first nationalist organization was Budi Utomo (Noble Conduct), founded in May 1908. The Sarekat Islam (Islamic Association), established in 1912, became a mass organization with membership running above 2 million. In 1920 a group of radicals formed the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, Communist Party of Indonesia).

The Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI, Indonesian Nationalist Party), with its motto of one nation (Indonesia), people (Indonesian), and language (Bhasa Indonesia), was established in 1927. It was led by Sukarno (1901–70). The nationalist struggle was suppressed by policies of repression and by sending leaders to prison camps.

On August 17, 1945, Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta (1902–80) proclaimed independence and established the Republic of Indonesia. But it took five years of guerrilla warfare and diplomatic offensives to establish its independence unchallenged, as the Dutch came back. At last, on August 17, 1950, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia was restored.

In the second half of the 20th century this historical legacy, along with new developments, shaped Southeast Asia. In the 21st century Southeast Asian countries had increasing importance among the nations of the world.

Shandong (Shantung) Question (1919)

Shandong (Shantung)
Shandong (Shantung)

Shandong (Shantung) is a province on China's northern coast. It is the birthplace of two great sages, Confucius and Mencius, and is therefore called China's Holy Land. Dramatically weakened after its defeat by Japan in 1895, Germany set off the "scramble for China" in 1898 by seizing Jiaozhou (Kiaochow), a port in Shandong, for a German naval base and forcing the Qing (Ch'ing) government to lease it to Germany for 99 years.

Germany also received the right to build and control two railways in Shandong and gained other mining and financial concessions. Shandong became a German sphere of influence.

Japan entered World War I as an ally of Great Britain with a goal of destroying German influence in East Asia; by November 1914 it had ousted all German interests in Shandong. In 1915 the Japanese government presented Chinese president Yuan Shikai (Yuan Shihk'ai) with the Twenty-one Demands, aimed at establishing its hegemony in China.

One group stipulated the transfer of German interests in Shandong to Japan. Although Yuan agreed to the demands in May 1915, they were never ratified by the Chinese parliament, which he had dissolved. In 1917 Japan's allies (Great Britain, France, Russia, and Italy) agreed to the transfer of German rights in Shandong to Japan after the war. After joining the war the United States also agreed to Japan's special rights in China.

China joined World War I in 1917 as an associated power and thus won a seat at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Its broad goal, the rescinding of the unequal treaties China had been forced to sign with Western powers since 1842, was never discussed. Japan had three goals at Paris:
  1. the Micronesian Islands (Carolines, Marianas, and Marshalls) in the northern Pacific as mandates under the League of Nations, which was granted;
  2. a clause in the covenant of the League of Nations on racial equality, which was controversial and withdrawn; and
  3. obtaining German rights in Shandong.
China's legal position was compromised when Japan revealed a secret agreement with Yuan's successor in China that acknowledged Japan's rights in Shandong in return for Japanese loans.

May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement

The loss of Shandong provoked enormous public anger in China, directed mainly against its politicians, who were seen as incompetent and traitorous. Protests led by students, called the May Fourth Movement, won widespread support from merchants and workers. The government was pressured into not signing the Treaty of Versailles with Germany.

Shidehara Kijuro

Shidehara Kijuro
Shidehara Kijuro in 1930

Shidehara Kijuro was born in Osaka and educated at the Imperial University of Tokyo. He began his career as a diplomat in 1899; his postings included Korea, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. In his capacity as ambassador to the United States (1919–22), he argued (without success) for the repeal of laws restricting Japanese immigration to the United States.

Shidehara led the Japanese delegation at the Washington Naval Conference (also known as the International Conference on Naval Limitation) in 1921–22, called by the United States to establish security and arms limitations agreements in the Pacific.

He assumed the post of minister of foreign affairs in 1924 and served in this capacity in the years 1924–27 and 1929–31. Shidehara's foreign policy approach was notable for his pursuit of peace and reconciliation rather than aggression and territorial expansion, an approach that became known as Shidehara diplomacy.

This conciliatory approach brought Shidehara into conflict with those individuals in the Japanese government who wanted to pursue more militaristic, expansionist goals, particularly toward China. Shidehara was forced out of office in 1931 after the Manchurian incident, when the bombing of a Japanese railway near Shenyang (Mukden) became a pretext for the Japanese capture of Manchuria from China.

Shidehara was held in high regard abroad even after he left office in Japan. He was well known and popular within the United States. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1931 with the caption "Japan's Man of Peace and War."

After the Japanese surrender in 1945 that concluded World War II, Shidehara, with the approval of the U.S. military occupation authorities, became the first prime minister of postwar Japan. Shidehara appointed Matsumoto Joji to head a commission to draft the new constitution. However, the result was rejected by the U.S. authorities as too similar to the Meiji constitution.

A new constitution that included women's right to vote and a renunciation of war was produced by General Douglas MacArthur's staff and was adopted in 1946. Shidehara was elected to the house of representatives of the diet in 1947, became speaker of the house in 1949, and held this post until his death in 1951.