America, Europe and the War of 1812.

This talk does not dwell upon the conflict itself; rather, explains the state of the fledgling Grand Republic at the outset of the 19th century, a significant and under appreciated period of American history.  A time when America was hardly a harmonious nation; yet for this restless people its hour had come with Manifest Destiny.  This talk will highlight such points as the Louisiana Purchase; the decline of France and Spain as New World colonial powers; the War of 1812 as a backwater to the main event in Europe, the Napoleonic Wars; the Monroe Doctrine; and, the long, slow thaw in Anglo-American relations that would eventually culminate in the two powers becoming allies on April 6, 1917.

Battleship Connecticut and the Round-the-World Cruise of the Great White Fleet.

Hampton Roads, Virginia, 0800 hours, Monday, December 16, 1907.  Sixteen coal-burning battleships got up steam and weighed anchor.  Over the next fourteen months and six days, 14,500 sailors and marines traversed a dozen oceans and seas, crisscrossed the equator six times, called on more than 30 ports and logged over 46,000 miles.  Battleship Connecticut, the epitome of American pre-dreadnought battleship design, led this superlative effort in American seamanship from whistle to gun.  This was President Theodore Roosevelt's announcement to the world that America had arrived as a global power.  Mark's books on this event in American history can be purchased on this site, USS Connecticut:  Constitution State Battleship and They'll Have to Follow You!  The Triumph of the Great White Fleet.  Merely proceed to the BOOKS page.

Dien Bien Phu:  French Defeat; American Albatross.

May 7, 1954 proved a pivot in postwar Vietnamese history.  It marked the defeat of longtime colonial overseer, France; and, was followed by the deepening American involvement in Southeast Asia.  This talk delves into this fascinating history by explaining such developments as, French colonialism in Southeast Asia; how the French were ultimately defeated by Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh; how close America came to using the atomic bomb to relieve the besieged French garrison at Dien Bien Phu; the postwar political situation in South Vietnam with the Diem government.  Included will be an explanation of the post-Korean War doctrine of Massive Retaliation, which eventually gave way to Flexible Response.  This talk is based off one of the lectures from the course I teach at Norwalk Community College for the Lifetime Learners Institute, Vietnam:  A History.   

The History of Armistice/Veterans Day.

Every year Americans celebrate Veterans Day on November 11; yet, many do not know how Veterans Day evolved from Armistice day.  This talk explains how Veterans Day came to be and why it is important.

The Strategic Significance of the Spanish-American War, 1898.

On April 25, 1898, America reached a crossroads.  For this is the day Congress issued its declaration of war against Spain, and America was changed forever.  The Grand Republic severed its colonial roots to join the club of Imperialist Powers.  Manifest Destiny, that program of continental expansion that saw Chesapeake Bay linked with the Golden Gate, was transformed into an agenda for globalism.  The conflict spelled the end of the Citizen-Soldier Concept in America; provided the first real test for America's New Steel Navy; showed the military necessity for the Panama Canal; and, helped to set the stage for the decades of friction between the United States and Japan for control of the world's largest ocean.  Indeed, the little regarded Spanish-American War is a lynchpin in American History.

The Strategic Significance of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor


This talk will not dwell on the Day of Infamy itself.  The military aspects of December 7, 1941 are aired each year on the Military Channel, History Channel, PBS . . .   Little is accomplished by being redundant.  However, this talk will explain the "Why?"  And this approach will be pursued thus:

  1. 1.The rise of Japan as a modern power, starting in the 19th century.

  2. 2.The developing friction between Japan and the United States in the world's largest ocean.

  3. 3.The significance of naval power.

  4. 4.The decisive aspect of oil.

  5. 5.The course of the tumultuous 1930s.

  6. 6.The importance of Pearl Harbor for the United States and its affect on the war.

  7. 7.Pearl Harbor, Japan's rapid series of conquests and, the Domino Theory.

  8. 8.Pearl Harbor and the massive Red Army counterattack at Moscow; how these battles make December 1941 the turning point of the war.  For by January 1942, the world's number 1 and number 2 industrial powers were linked in a quest to defeat the Axis.  An amalgamation that will result in the demise of the European colonial powers' primacy on the world scene, giving way by 1945 to the eventual winners of a war that started in 1914, not 1939.  And those victors were the United States and the Soviet Union.

presentations - american history