17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Thursday, January 30, 1913: Am commencing to worry about a certain general history examination that comes next week. It includes over seven hundred pages. I hope to review it all.
Caption: Port Arthur Harbor After the Surrender. Source: Outlines of General History (1909)
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
At Grandma’s school some classes were less than a year long. Since the exam was going to cover more than 700 pages, it probably was the final exam for general history.
A general history textbook published in 1909, called Outlines of General History, probably covers material similar to what Grandma learned.
The last chapter of the book begins with a picture taken after the surrender of Port Arthur. This siege occurred during the Russo-Japanese War.
The Russo-Japanese War took place during 1904 and 1905. Russia controlled Port Arthur and had rail lines from Siberia to the port. It was an ice-free port and could operate during the winter months.
Japan wanted to control the harbor and there were several battles at Port Arthur which the Japanese won.
The Russo-Japanese War ended when a peace treaty was signed at Portsmouth New Hampshire on September 5, 1905. It was mediated by President Theodore Roosevelt .
The last two paragraphs in the hundred-year-old general history textbook say:
. . . the treaty of Portsmouth has guaranteed for China a period of security. The Manchurian question, to be sure is not yet definitely settled. Article V of the Portsmouth treaty says: “The Russian and Japanese Governments engage themselves reciprocally not to put any obstacles in the way of the general measures, which shall be alike for all nations, that China may take for the development of commerce and industry of Manchuria.”
The interpretation of this article is still an open question. It may develop into an unconditional restoration of China’s sovereign rights in Manchuria, or it may also be nullified by the economic interests of Russia and Japan.
Outlines of General History (1909) by V.A. Renouf
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