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"New York Philosophy" Message Board › History's Turning Points - Contest Submissions

History's Turning Points - Contest Submissions

A former member
Post #: 4
Revolutions that did not happen, but maybe could have:

What if the Senate removed Andrew Johnson from the Presidency in 1868 and the Radical Republicans had carried out their plan of dividing the plantations, giving 40 acres and a mule to black and white farmers?

In 1919, the leaders of the German revolutionary movement, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were assassinated. What if instead they had escaped and survived to lead a Socialist Revolution in Germany, a few years after that in Russia?

In May 1968, ten million students and workers occupied factories in France for a month and many thought a Socialist Revolution would occur then. What if it had?

I think we should discuss not only “ what if” but also ”could that have happened?, if so how?”
New York, NY
Post #: 112
The turning points that interest me the most are the ones that weren't inevitable. Scientific and mathematical discoveries would be made sooner or later (and were often made independently around the same time period), but events that happen because of the will of a particular individual or group are fascinating, and precarious.

  • Martin Luther's "95 Thesis", which began the Protestant Reformation, leading to erosion of the authority of the Catholic Church and eventually to the seperation of political authority from the Church to the laity, and eventually to the individual
  • The American Revolution, for the blow it struck to monarchies worldwide, and the eventual erosion of the idea that only a select minority had the natural right and ability to govern. (Yes, I know we're a representational republic!)
  • The American Civil War, since it reinforced the definition of the United States as one nation rather than a confederacy of independent states. What if Lincoln had viewed secession as a state right? Would the United States ever have become a superpower? What would the world be like without the United States?
  • Evolution of the corporation from limited charters granted by a government for a specific purpose into "artificial persons" with far-reaching scope

Patrick S.
New York, NY
Post #: 231
What if Napoleon had stopped short of invading Russia?
A former member
Post #: 1
What if King Henry VIII had stayed with his first wife?

What if all the Florida votes had been counted and Al Gore won the 2000 election?

what if Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had not been killed?
A former member
Post #: 2
The Historical Turning point that I choose is the Battle of Alesia. It took place in September, 52 BC in France and was the last battle between the two peoples that made the ancient world in Europe before Christ, the Celts and Romans. The Celts stretched from Scotland to beyond the borders of the Danube River. They were a vast migratory behemoth that dominated Europe for centuries, and in 52 B.C. all of that ended.

The choice of this battle has the following features, because The battle accomplished several events that could not possibly have happened had the battle not ended exactly the way it did.

1. The event that was almost accidental, yet the aftermath was extremely clear.

2. It could easily have gone either way, which makes the battle more pivotal, (It is very rare in history that a single battle means that one side wins everything and the other side losess everything).

3. Unlike most historical Battles it decides everything that happens after. (Even the most epic battles are usually one of many smaller events that implement a historical trend one way or the other. It is rare that one victory wins all.

4. It is rare that a general is also the most important actor outside the battlefield. It is this unity of historical relevance that makes Alesia important. Caesar embodied Imperial Rome and Imperial Rome embodies Western Europe, which means Caesar, one person, came to embody Western Europe.

5. It is also exceedingly rare, that a general is so indispensable to a victory. No one in Rome could have done what Caesar did, because his army was drawn specifically to his personality, had been hardened by 7 years in the field, and he was the only one that showed the needed tactical and strategic genius, with the exception of Pompey but Pompey was in retirement.

6. The battle was the last epic struggle between the Celtic peoples and Rome so it acts as a period to 300 years of struggle between the two sides. The Celtic leader Vercingetorix of the Averni behaved both heroically and wisely and still lost. The Roman Leader Caesar behaved recklessly yet he still won.

7. Alesia set the pace for the next 400 years. The aftermath and implications of the battle are vast yet clear. The implications are greater then most battles, because it was the personage of Caesar that was able to bend history and the future of the world to his personal will. Most battles are between nations and the aftermath is usually a culmination of later battles or previous battles as well as the weight of nations.

The Battle is a huge historical domino effect, in a way the West Roman Empire is almost an accident of the Battle because:

Caesar's victory also means he is now the chief rival of Roman Senate, which changed forever government in Europe due to the political rift, he attacks the Senate, destroys the republic and installs, (though indirectly) the Julian Claudian dynastic line that would shape all of Europe and therefore the world.

Prior Rome’s Gravity was to the east, ie, Greece, Africa, Parthia. Had Caesar lost, the Roman Republic may have gone on for another 100 years, it would have changed the Empire’s relationship with Hellenistic Jews, Germanic Europe, stability of the empire, and all the important figures of the empire, {such as Marcus Aurelius or Constantine would of course never have been born}.

It is Caesar finishing off the Celtic tribes in this battle that changes Rome’s Gravity west. One can postulate that this victory’s near genocide of the Celtic and German people’s west of the Rhine River that created the world as we knew it, established most of the romance languages, common law, Christianity, solidified migratory patterns of traditional peoples and forced them into towns.

It is specifically the Julio-Claudian line that created the basic borders of France, Belgium, Romania (Dacia), Western Rhine part of Germany (which therefore creates greater Germany to the east by default), London, Yugoslavia, in short, the entire Western World.
user 9206250
New York, NY
Post #: 1
What if the English had won the Battle of Hastings?

What if Henry Ford had not developed assembly-line production of automobiles?

What if Hitler had sent troops into England rather than conduct an air campaign?

What if nutmeg had not been so valuable to the Dutch in the 1600's? (Hint: we wouldn't be having this meeting)
A former member
Post #: 7
Being from the Balkans my mind tends to lean to that area. Here are my additions.

What if Arch Duke Ferdinand's driver had not made a wrong turn, which would have avoided the Dukes assassination?

What if Japan had not surrendered after the second Atomic bomb was dropped?

user 4700658
Fair Lawn, NJ
Post #: 3
not sure where to submit belated T-point:

WWII, winter 1941.
What if temperature would not dropped to a record low this December which caused lubricants of German tanks stopped working (Germans were forced to come to a standstill in Moscow suburbs & freezed over in trenches without food & fuel for weeks. Thus, capital of Soviet Union had not been captured which in turn may cause collapse of whole administrative system => lose of a war)?

avra c.
New York, NY
Post #: 553
Fascinating questions, many of which have me researching the names and events unfamiliar to me. Many others have me busily contemplating the answers to "what if?"

But I'm reaching back a bit further.

At this holiday season Jews and Christians commemorate two world changing historical events.
Even if one disputes the factual accuracy of these events as they have been related, let us suppose that the recounting of these tales might have been different.

As a secular Jew, I still find it profoundly meaningful to participate in our annual celebration of freedom, the Passover Seder, a commemoration of the story of Exodus. Here a nation is forged and a people are transformed by the journey from bondage into freedom. We are commanded to contemplate "what if" I had not been liberated. We chew horseradish to feel in small measure the bitterness of slavery. And we spill wine to diminish our joy in remembrance of the suffering visited upon our enemy as the price of our liberation.

1) What if the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) had NOT parted for Moses?

No Mount Sinai/Ten Commandments, no land of milk and honey, no Israel, no Torah ('Old Testament'), no Jews. By extension, one might suppose, no Jewish offshoots such as Christianity and Islam.

2) What if Jesus Christ was NOT resurrected?

Three days later they roll the rock off the cave opening and dispose of the body as usual. No Christianity, no gospel,
no proselytizing empires. No crusades.

So often we speak of our Judeo/Christian heritage. It is integral to so much of the recent history of nations. But suppose...

Would we today be a polytheistic culture? An animist culture? Would that have any really profound affect?

Food for thought.

Peace, Justice, and happy holidays to all.

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