Children in History


Figure 1.-- Children are not generally associated with history and great events. History of course is not just a series of great events. Children were obviously present in all historical periods. They not uncommonly present as the great events swirlded about them. In some cases they were at the center of those events. In recent Chinese history, young people have played major roles. Here we see Red Guards parading in Beijing. Mao like Stalin would have been pleased by images like this. Both believed that they could remake these children in their own image. The term in the Soviet Union was the 'new Soviet man'. But Communist ideology proved incapable of findamentally changing human nature. Maoist China was the worst dressed country in the worls, even worse than the Soviet Union. And teenage gir;ls this age all want to be pertty and wear nice clothes. And trying to control their clothes and music will ultimately prove futile just as other aspects of Comminist ideology proved both politically distateful and economically distructive. This would destroy the Soviet Union and force Communist China to adopt capitalist free market reforms.

Children are not generally associated with history and great events. History of course is not just a series of great events. This is a theme we have pursued throughout HBC. Great events are, however, clearly important. Children are often most affected by those events. Sometimes they have even been targets of those events. Not infrequently, children have also played important roles in shaping those events. Young people with fresh outlooks unencumbered by the weight of socail conventions have often enspired or promoted important social movements, often but not always for the good. Some images of children have also become symbols of great events.

Great Events

Children are not generally associated with history and great events. History courses generally are built around the great events. History of course is not just a series of great events. This is a theme we have pursued throughout HBC. Great events are, however, clearly important. Children are often most affected by those events. Sometimes they have even been targets of those events. More commonly they are associated with the underlying currents of history which eventually lead othe great events.

Shaping History

Not infrequently, children have also played important roles in shaping those events. Young people with fresh outlooks unencumbered by the weight of socail conventions have often enspired or promoted important social movements, often but not always for the good. There are many historical examples. European boys inspired by Christian devotion lauched the Children's Crusade in the Middle Ages. Boston apretices caused the Boston Masacre which helped launch the American Revolution. In large measure it was boys who fought the Civil War. German boys in the Hitler Youth helped bring Hitler to power and palyed a major role in World War II. It was black children in the South who played a key role in the Civil Rights movement. Youths launched the anti-war movement which ended the Vietnam War.

Impacted by history


Images

Some images of children have also become symbols of great events. There are many such images. The crying baby in Naking/Shangahai symbolized Japanes atrocities in China during the years leading to World War II. The little Jewish boy with his hand raised at the NAZI raizing of the Warsaw Ghetto is perhaps the most remembored image of the Holacaust. Berlin boys watching American and British planes supply the city during the Berlin Airlift sybolized the Cold War. John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's casket is an image seared into the American consciouness. The little girl whose clothes had been burned off by naplam running from her village is one of the most remembered images of Vietnam. Sadam pating a little British boy on his head is a renembered image of the liberation of Kuwait in Desert Storm. The little bow and his father trying to avoid Isreali fire is perhaps the most enduring image of the Interfada.

Indivduals

There are many individual children in history that are remembered for important roles they played. In many cases we know the individuals. In other instances the collective grouping is better known. In many cases these children were involved as children in the events of the day. In other instances it was childhood experiences that motivated their conduct as adults. We note children and youths playing such roles from the ancient world down to our current day.

Activities

We have primarily focused here on the chronological archive. Readers have suggested preparing topical lists. We may well do this as we build our chrinological achive. The most obvious is a royalty list of boy soverigns. This is most obvious because until the 20th century, royalty often dominated history and there are accounts of royalty for periods in which other children are largely unknown. Another reader has suggested a page on boy pioneers. He points out that Jenner innoculated a boy with cowpox to prevent the more virulent smallpox. Pastaur inoculated a boy against rabies. The first man flight in the 18th century was a young boy. This may well produce a useful section. Other readers may have additional ideas.

Modern Roles

Some have asked if children in our modern age are now less able to paticipate in world events as children have in the past.









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Created: July 8, 2002
Last updated: 4:18 AM 4/16/2014