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A History of the Nations and Empires Involved and a Study of the Events Culminating in the Great Conflict   By:

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A History of The Nations and Empires Involved and a Study of the Events Culminating in The Great Conflict

by Logan Marshall

PREFACE

When the people of the United States heard the news of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria Hungary, and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28, 1914, it was with a feeling of great regret that another sorrow had been added to the many already borne by the aged Emperor Francis Joseph. That those fatal shots would echo around the world and, flashing out suddenly like a bolt from the blue, hurl nearly the whole of Europe within a week's time from a state of profound peace into one of continental war, unannounced, unexpected, unexplained, unprecedented in suddenness and enormity, was an unimaginable possibility. And yet the ringing of the church bells was suddenly drowned by the roar of cannon, the voice of the dove of peace by the blare of the trump of war, and throughout the world ran a shudder of terror at these unwonted and ominous sounds.

But in looking back through history, tracing the course of events during the past century, following the footsteps of men in war and peace from that day of upheaval when medieval feudalism went down in disarray before the arms of the people in the French Revolution, some explanation of the Great European war of 1914 may be reached. Every event in history has its roots somewhere in earlier history, and we need but dig deep enough to find them.

Such is the purpose of the present work. It proposes to lay down in a series of apposite chapters the story of the past century, beginning, in fact, rather more than a century ago with the meteoric career of Napoleon and seeking to show to what it led, and what effects it had upon the political evolution of mankind. The French Revolution stood midway between two spheres of history, the sphere of medieval barbarism and that of modern enlightenment. It exploded like a bomb in the midst of the self satisfied aristocracy of the earlier social system and rent it into the fragments which no hand could put together again. In this sense the career of Napoleon seems providential. The era of popular government had replaced that of autocratic and aristocratic government in France, and the armies of Napoleon spread these radical ideas throughout Europe until the oppressed people of every nation began to look upward with hope and see in the distance before them a haven of justice in the coming realm of human rights.

It required considerable time for these new conceptions to become thoroughly disseminated. A down trodden people enchained by the theory of the "divine right of kings" to autocratic rule, had to break the fetters one by one and gradually emerge from a state of practical serfdom to one of enlightened emancipation. There were many setbacks, and progress was distressingly slow but nevertheless sure.

The story of this upward progress is the history of the nineteenth century, regarded from the special point of view of political progress and the development of human rights. This is definitely shown in the present work, which is a history of the past century and of the twentieth century so far as it has gone. Gradually the autocrat has declined in power and authority, and the principle of popular rights has risen into view. This war will not have been fought in vain if, as predicted, it will result in the complete downfall of autocracy as a political principle, and the rise of the rule of the people, so that the civilized nations of the earth may never again be driven into a frightful war of extermination against peaceful neighbors at the nod of a hereditary sovereign. Logan Marshall

CONTENTS

Chapter I All Europe Plunged into War

Dramatic Suddenness of the Outbreak Trade and Commerce Paralyzed Widespread Influences Terrible Effects of War The Tide of Destruction Half Century to Pay Debts

Chapter II Underlying Causes of... Continue reading book >>




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