February 2

Blog #109 – Antebellum Speed Dating

Maybe you’ve met your soul mate, maybe not.  Either way, I hope you had fun learning about the people of this time period.

Please answer the following:

  1. What did you learn about your person?   What motivated them to do what they did?
  2. Which other reformer / religious leader was your favorite person to meet and why?
  3. How does this lesson act as a different way to learn about a topic than what we have traditionally done throughout the year so far?   Explain.

Due Tuesday, Feb. 6 by class.  350 words minimum for your total answer.  

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Posted February 2, 2018 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

63 thoughts on “Blog #109 – Antebellum Speed Dating

  1. Dylan Cohen

    I learned that my person, Sylvester Graham, was kind of boring and not a great person. He did promote his idea of a healthy lifestyle which includes some modern day things like bathing regularly and cutting out alcohol from your diet. He even pioneered some things that aren’t that common like vegetarianism. But most of all he was a traveling preacher who championed a mundane life with a bland diet. Even the cracker which carries his name has been changed drastically and is far sweeter today than he could have ever imagined. Also, along with his idea of using courser flour for bread, came with how he thought it should be made. He thought that bread should have a mother’s touch and be homemade, solidifying, in his world, a woman’s place in the kitchen. In addition, he was obsessed with “curing” masterbation and was a firm beleiver in abstinance. He was heavily motivated by religion and the recent cholera pandemic. He wanted make society something God would be proud of and decided to do so by preaching about improving your health. In the end, I see Graham as a misogynist killjoy who wanted to live life lifelessly.

    My favorite reformer i met on Friday was probably Horace Mann. It is neat to think about how school was probably like way back then, how similar it is to now and to see when and how things changed. It’s weird to think that not even 50 years ago corporal punishment was regularly used in schools and was something that Horace Mann was saying we should get rid of more than a century ago. On the other hand, things like normal schools seemed to catch on quickly. It’s going to be interesting to see what types of changes public school will see in the future and how we accept and reject them. One of his major goals was to make education available to as many kids as possible. Now that we’ve basically achieved that and kids don’t have to take time out of school to help parents work on their farms, it seems that a high school diploma is becoming less valuable and starting to just become a prerequisite for getting a college degree which more and more employers, no matter the profession, are asking for.

    This was an interesting way to learn compared to how we’ve normally learned about a topic this year. Reading about events and people, especially in portraits, and copying down notes, I sometimes find myself getting really bored and losing interest midway through. This way was a lot different. It might have been the topic or the way we went about this assignment, but I found myself talking about the weird stuff our reformers did at lunch and even outside of school. That said, I don’t feel like I’ve retained as much information this way and learned better from taking notes and reading from a textbook.

  2. Jonathan Giha

    I learned a lot about Lyman Beecher, both about his personal and political life. In his personal life, something significant that I learned was that his mother died when he was very young, so he was raised by his uncle. Another important detail is that he had an intense hatred of the Catholic church and was of the opinion that it brought corruption wherever it went. Another detail is that he was once accused of heresy by his church after switching from opposing revivalist tendencies to supporting them. A final detail is that several of his children grew up to be reformers as well, including the well known Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and less well known reformers such as Catherine Beecher. In his political life, I learned that he co founded the American Temperance Society, which gained more than one million members after ten years of activism. Another very important detail about his political life is that while he did make use of organizations like the American Temperance Society for his cause, he also used his position as Minister in various churches to deliver sermons on the subject of temperance, with him publishing a total of six lengthy sermons. He was motivated by real or perceived wrongs that he saw all around him in American society. He saw families broken apart by alcoholism, Catholics drinking themselves silly whenever they could, and even heavy drinking in clergy meetings. He also just opposed the heavy use of alcohol as a concept, thinking it un-American and unholy.

    My favorite reformer/religious leader that I met was Dr. Sylvester Graham because his ideas were a bit in line with mine, and some of them were almost comical. While he did agree with me that Americans should drink less alcohol, he did so for different reasons – he was interested in health reforms rather than social ones. He also advocated less consumption of meat, both for health reasons and, strangely enough, reducing the sex drive. Also, I found out that he invented the graham cracker as a healthy snack. I enjoyed speaking to him because I learned some interesting information and his ideas were slightly similar to my person’s.

    I think that this lesson was different in that we were more up close and personal with the historical figures that we were learning about. Usually, we just take some notes on a person and make some connections then move on. With this project, we learned all about our person and then proved that we knew it by impersonating them, while also learning what our classmates found about their person. I think that it was a very fun and educational experience that should be repeated in future classes.

  3. Adrienne

    Before starting this project I had never even heard of Lydia Finney. I now know so much about her and I’m so interested in everything that she had to do. She was a reformer who believed that prostitution was one of the great threats to American society and did everything she could to try to help prevent it. She was motivated by religious and moral reasons. She believed that prostitution was a sin and she was saving the nation from the immorality of prostitution. Her goal was to eliminate prostitution, the sexual double standard, and to also encourage sexual abstinence. Her goals later shifted to also include the rehabilitation of women that had fallen to prostitution.
    I enjoyed meeting sarah grimke. I thought it was really inspirational how she grew up with slavery and on her own realized it’s wrong. She was brought up in a wealthy house with slaves and realized that slaves were treated unjustly. She taught slaves how to read and right and worked hard to further her own education. She was a women’s rights advocate and loud speaker for slave’s rights. I liked hearing about her because I thought it was interesting how she pushed away so many of the stereotypes that were pushed on her. She had a deep yearning and love for education and could think for herself. Instead of like most people, even today, who just blindly believe whatever their parents believe, she came to her own conclusions about how things should be and what’s right and wrong.
    This was a good way to do this project. Each person only had to learn about one person, and how we did it was really fun. I got really into it and I kind of fell in love with my person. I’m so glad I chose her because I find her life and her mission so interesting. It didn’t take that much work to find out the basic information about your person, and it was easy to put your own personal twist on it. It’s always fun to pretend to be someone else, and this was a really neat way to do it. Everyone had researched a different person, so when we came together we had information on around 20 of the most influential people of the time period. We only had two minutes with each person, so in that time we learned the most relevant information about these people.

  4. James Laport

    While I was doing this project, I learned about Brigham Young. He was a man who was born in 1801 in Whitingham, Vermont and worked as a carpenter and blacksmith. Though he was raised as a Methodist, he instantly converted to Mormonism when he read the Book of Mormon in 1830. When his wife died, Young moved to Canada to join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a higher up group in the Mormon church who organized major events. But, when his idol, Joseph Smith, was killed by an angry mob in Carthage, Illinois, he was devastated, but he used it to raise his own power by arguing that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles should be of equal power to the president of the church. An interesting point I found in my research is that one day, while Brigham Young was preaching, the members of the congregation noticed that his voice was incredibly similar to Joseph Smith’s, which they believed to be a sign that God was speaking through him. After angry mobs started running Mormons out of town, Young lead a mass migration of Mormons to Salt Lake City, Utah which is considered as the Mormon capital of the world to this day. Young found inspiration in the Book of Mormon back in his youth and was driven by his belief of eternal life if he spreads his religion to the rest of the world.

    If Brigham Young went speed dating similar to the one we did in class, the person who he would most likely agree with is the likes of James W. Barker. Throughout his life, Young believed that black people were a major problem in society, claiming they should stay slaves and they weren’t allowed in the Mormon church. Barker had similar beliefs. Having grown up on a plantation, surrounded by slavery, he was an active advocate against abolition. Both of these men used their influence to try to swing elections and change people to believe in the same things they do.

    This project was very different then how we have done projects in the past, both in APUSH and in other classes. Rather than doing a simple portrait or google doc, this assignment made us see the world in the eyes of our people. This assignment was a much more engaging, hands on activity then what has happened before in our classes and I would like to do more like this in the future.

  5. Jacob Ellenbogen

    I learned a lot about Robert Owen. He was a social reformer that was part of the utopian movement. Most of his ideas came from his time in Britain, and while his settlement of New Harmony failed, many of his principles had lasting effects on American Society. His ideas of equality for both men and women were incredibly progressive for the time period, and they foreshadowed the feminist movements that would begin within the next 20 years that have lasted until today. His education techniques of positive reinforcement, and the idea that schools should not only educate but build character would become key principles of the education system over a century later. Despite all Robert Owen did and all the research I conducted, I failed to find an exterior motive for Robert Owen’s actions that may seem to be for self gain. The best motivation I could find was that his actions were driven by his moral and (anti)religious beliefs that everyone should be given the chance to be successful and happy in life, and that everyone should contribute to improving the character of our society. This motive would be evidenced by the funding of the New Harmony settlement. Robert Owen had made pretty good money from owning mills in Britain, so he had no economic need to create New Harmony. But he funded it from the start anyway, and he continued to fund it, despite its lack of profitability, for over two years until he was nearly broke and couldn’t fund it anymore if he wanted to survive. The amount of his personal funds, no to mention the time and effort he put in to New Harmony lead me to believe that his motivation for his contributions to American society were purely ideological.
    My favorite person to meet was probably Sarah Grimke, because her situation of reform was not much different than Owen’s. Grimke, like Owen, was in a pretty good situation economically when she decided to take a stand in the world. Both Grimke and Owen pushed for equality for women, and both gave away what may have been an easier life to try to implement their visions for the world. While the outcomes of the two movements may have been different, the structure of their beginning is strikingly similar, and therefore I believe that Robert Owen and Sarah Grimke would have gotten along very well in a real speed dating scenario.
    This lesson was a nice way to provide variety to the learning style that we’ve typically had this year. While I don’t mind the lectures and portraits, I find it refreshing to learn about things from my classmates. It gives the information a different voice, and sometimes hearing more than one voice can lead to the conception of the best ideas. That being said, I definitely see room for improvement. It was almost impossible for me to cover the key points of my reformer in two minutes, and by the end of class my throat was incredibly hoarse. By maybe extending the time limit a little bit, students could get all their important information out without killing their voices. I also think that it may be more beneficial to have presentations in a coffee house style, as it would mean that everyone would get to hear everyone speak, and therefore collect more comprehensive notes.

  6. Abby Nelson

    Originally I was skeptical about doing Lucretia Mott. She wasn’t my first choice, yet she was still a Women’s Rights activist who supported and started many causes. From researching her, I read about her life. I read all the things she did that supported her cause and all the things she faced that caused her to fall back. Reading about her, I learned how passionate she was about women’s rights and how this affected her in her everyday life. She joined the Society of Friends and became a minister, giving speeches on temperance and abolitionist movements across the country. She was a highly Anti-Slavery and wanted full rights for all people; believing that all men and women were equal. Although she advocated much, she still faced backlash from the Society of Friends, who opposed her views on abolitionism and threatened to revoke her license so she would no longer be able to preach. Her license did not get revoked, but it gave me a greater insight to see how she was as a person because she was willing to give her license up even if it meant her cause would move forward at a slower pace.
    If Lucretia Mott had done the speed dating exercise, she would have very much liked Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton and Mott had a lot in common that would help them build a friendship. Both were not offered at spot at the word anti-slavery convention and both wanted to do something about it. Mott and Stanton actually were friends in real life, they helped promote the Seneca Falls convention together and even helped each other write the Declaration of Sentiments together. Although their stories do not completely intertwine, they would have been close friends for a longer period of time if they had met.
    It really made you intensely research the person and in some cases put yourself in their shoes, relive their life in a certain aspect. During the activity in general, it made you think about who they would like if they were alive. The activity allowed us to explore and learn more deeply about important reformers that shaped the lives of people now and people back then. Without these reformers America would be completely different, and doing this activity allowed us to realize and emphasize this. During the speed dating activity, I was Lucretia Mott. I lived her life and told her story and being able to do this gave me a new outlook on her life and her work, a more personal connection to the person we researched.

  7. Ella Landers

    1) I learned a lot about my person, Henry David Thoreau, and a lot about what he stood for and thought. For example, I mainly thought of him as a transcendentalist and someone who was just obsessed with nature. I had no idea he was an avidly against war, even going to jail once for not paying a tax that would go towards the war (as well as slavery). I learned a lot about his origins, how he was inspired to be a transcendentalist by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his transcendentalist values led to a lot of his other strong beliefs. He inspired Americans with his literature, and since I’ve always been interested in and loved writing, I thought it was truly amazing he was able to convince people to follow his opinions and his values just by his writing. He was also an amazing speaker, and many of his speeches (as well as his literature) influenced numerous Americans.
    2) Someone who I liked to meet and whom I feel related to my person was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was played by Brendan Kashat ( I think ). Emerson inspired Thoreau to be a transcendentalist and even let him use his cabin at Walden Pond, which gave Thoreau the chance to write the novel infused with transcendentalist beliefs, Walden, in which he spent two years alone at the cabin. Emerson was also an avid abolitionist, as well as a wonderful writer. He and Thoreau were very alike and it gave me a better understanding of why they were friends.
    3) It was much more interactive than other units are. I felt like it made the unit fun by being able to pretend to be these characters and even dress up. It was much more interesting than doing notes, and being able to ask our classmates specific questions about their person’s life gave us a certain perspective on these people. Although I thought it was somewhat difficult judging what was most important to write and trying to scribble down information as the person we were talking to spoke, I thought it was much better than sitting through a powerpoint or analyzing documents.

  8. charlie hardy

    While researching Frederick Douglass, I learned about how much of a headstrong and intelligent person he was for his time. He was an escaped slave that learned to read and write at the age of 12, an opportunity that most slaves did not have at that time. Douglass later went on to teach other slaves how to read and write as well. He escaped from slavery and travelled around the country, spreading his ideas and sentiments about anti-slavery and abolitionism. After moving to Britain and Ireland for two years, his speeches were so inspiring that the people of the country bought his freedom back in America. After returning, he went on to lead a fantastic life in the fight for black rights and abolishment of slavery. What motivated Douglass to do what he did was his want for his freedom and his want for overall black freedom. Years of hard work had started to pay off when slavery was abolished in 1865.
    The reformer that was my favorite person to meet was Angelina Grimke. I think her and Douglass would have been great friends because they both fought for women’s rights and they were both abolitionists. Douglass and Grimke both shared views in favor of abolitionism and women’s rights. Another reformer that was cool to meet was Sojouner Truth. Both Truth and Douglass were in favor of women’s rights and both spoke about their ideals in speeches at conventions. I think they would be friends because they both escaped from slavery, and they both were in favor of the same things.
    This lesson acts as a different way to learn about a topic than what we have traditionally done throughout the year so far because it’s more interactive than normal. Usually, we come to class, sit down, and Mr. Wickersham talks about the powerpoint slide with notes that he prepared for us. With the speed dating, we had to research the topic ourselves, and then we taught others in the class, in the span of two minutes, important things about the person we were assigned to research. I found this way of learning to be effective because it forced us to listen to each other, and it forced me to take notes in a different setting.

  9. Gray Mulligan

    1. I learned that Brigham Young’s was an influential leader of the Mormons. He converted after reading the Book of Mormon in the 1830s. He quickly climbed up the ranks of the church. After earning a spot on the quorum of the twelve he was appointed president to take over from Joseph Smith. He led them on a journey from Illinois to Salt Lake City where they remained. At the time of the speed dating he would have been working to improve the city and set up essential functions of the town. He was motivated by his religion. When he was appointed president of the church after Joseph Smith died he was put in a tough spot. The Mormons were getting run out of town and he had to quickly mobilize and set out to a safe haven. He was strong and firm in his beliefs of the Mormons. This made him a great leader for such a He was motivated like many others by ideas from the second great awakening and he was looking for a more personal expierence with god and the Mormons gave this to him.
    2. I think that Brigham Young’s wouldn’t be a huge fan of most of the reformers of the time. He was a racist who would often rant and preach against changes of the time. His feelings would show up in his actions too, he enacted rules banning black men from becoming bishops. However, I think that Brigham Young’s would be interested in some of the more religious reformers and might be interested in some of the ideal communities that were being created and might have looked for inspiration there to lead the Mormons
    3. This lesson was a new way to learn about a time period. That we were able to research individual people and link it to what was happening at the time allowed us to understand that there were real people with real motivations leading the time period

  10. Sam Grasl

    Sam Grasl
    Mr. Wickersham, B16
    APUSH B, 2nd

    BLOG # 109: Antebellum Speed Dating

    Answer to Question One:

    I learned so many new things about Ms. Sojourner Truth, such as that she is a woman. When I picked Sojourner Truth, I had absolute zero clue on who this person was. But now i learned the she was born in Rifton, NY and was born with the name Isabella Van Wagener (changed name in 1843 to Sojourner Truth), and was a slave for the first 30 years of her life (freed in 1827). I learned that she was set free because she bore 13 children. Most importantly i learned that Ms. Truth was a slavery abolitionist as well as a women’s rights activists. I learned that Ms. Truth most popular “act” was her speech Ain’t I a Woman? that she presented in a women’s rights assembly in Ohio of May, 1851. In this short but powerful speech she spoke about racial, social, and gender inequality. I feel what motivated Ms. Truth to do what she did, is simply she lived it. She knows how slavery affects the people of America, she knows the inhumane actions that existed through slavery. She knows how women are treated, and the inequality that is showed to them. And finally all of that just boiled up and decided to do something about it.

    Answer to Question Two:

    My favorite reformer that I met on Friday was easily Frederick Douglass. I say Frederick Douglass because he and Sojourner Truth have so much in common. Both he and Ms. Truth were slaves, and both found their way to freedom. Another characteristic that Mr. Douglass and Ms. Truth shared was that they were slavery abolitionists as well as women’s rights activists. Another reason why I liked Mr. Douglass the most is because they were alive at the same time (Truth: 1797-1883, Douglass: 1818-1895). So they could had actually been together. I liked Douglass the most because he was the best match for me.

    Answer to Question Three:

    This lesson gave us a different way of learning than our traditional “lecture” by that we all choose one specific person that we were interested in and did research on them and the become them. Through this method we deeply learn about one person and then we learn the basics and important facts of other important personal through our piers; similar to what we would usually do… learn all basics and important facts about personal through you (Mr. Dubya). I personally enjoyed this lesson because it got us involved in our topics and physically moving, compared to us sitting for an hour.

  11. sofia di stefano

    1) Sarah Josepha Hale had a very eventful life full of change for women’s life and her country itself. Some of the main things I learned about her were that she was a strong believer in equal education between boys and girls. I also learned she was a writer and a teacher which was kind of rare at that time. The poems and novels she wrote are still famous nowadays for example the famous poem “Mary had a little lamb”. She had motivation to do all of this for girls because she believed we all had to be treated equally. Her motivation were also her parents. She grew up with the idea of equality coming from her parents throughout her whole life.
    2) The other person I met that was probably my favorite or most relatable to was Horache Mann, he was very like my person because he as well as Sarah Josepha Hale worked hard for women to be accepted as teachers. He was an educator and founded himself a education system which was specifically made for women to be accepted as workers. He also cared about education, he cared so much that he published himself a magazine called the “School journal”. I think my person and Horache Mann should’ve met because they had the same point of views and I think they would have gotten along really well.
    3)This lesson acted as a different way to learn about a topic because instead of learning about people or the way they impacted the country from a book or a worksheet we had to communicate with one another and talk about our person. Everyone had researched a different person, so when we came together we had information on around 20 of the most influential people of the time period. We only had two minutes with each person, so in that time we learned the most relevant information about these people. I loved this way of learning about people from this time period and I really got into it. It made learning about people very interesting.

  12. Cole Sutton

    I learned alot about my Antebellum reformer, Samuel F.B. Morse, I learned he was a an inventor/painter that lived from 1791 to 1872 and was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Samuel was the son of a Calvinist preacher that supported the Federalist party. He went to school at Yale university where he liked to attend lectures about electricity. After Yale he went to england where he studied art and Samuel became an artist for a short period where he had decent success. After he returned from England he set up an art studio in Boston where he married Lucretia Walker in 1818, whilst married to her he had 3 children. Then Samuel studied the work of a famous physicist named Joseph Henry and in 1836 he created the first prototype for the telegram. Morse received his patent in 1847 and was soon targeted by partners and rival inventors claiming the idea was ultimately there is, none of these attempts were successful and the most notable was O’Reilly v. Morse in 1854. Morse life ended as a success with his great invention that aided our country for decades. He ultimately remained to Sarah Griswold and had 4 Children with her. Morse grew old and passed away on April 2, 1872 in the state of New York at age 80.
    I didn’t actually get to meet any other antebellum reformers but by looking at blog posts and notes I believe my reformer matches with Lyman Beecher because they were both against the catholic church. My reformer believed they were a conspiracy and beecher has an intense hatred for the church. I also think that Samuel would agree that the Catholic church brought corruption towards wherever it traveled.
    This lesson is a different way to learn then we have thus far is because it is student teaching student and little teacher. Also we can step into our reformers shoes and really learn about our reformers. This way of learning provides us with a new viewpoint and allows us to sort of form bonds with history. So yes this new way is an effective way of learning and it is very useful in your life to really dive deep into a topic.

  13. Ugo Uchendu

    I learned that my person, Catharine Beecher, was a women’s rights activist among many other things. Not only was she very passionate about a woman’s right to education, but she was was also very passionate about the wrongful treatment of Native Americans. One of the greatest things that she did to fight for their rights, was in 1829-1830 when she led a Women’s movement to protest the Indian Removal Bill of President Andrew Jackson. She even called on women to send petitions to congress to further object the removal bill. Something I found pretty cool about Catharine is the fact that in 1823, after she opened the Hartford Female Seminary, she made math books for elementary students, a book on theology, and another book on mental and moral philosophy. So along with her activist projects, she still found time to write and become an author. Catharine was raised in a very prominent activist and religious family, where the bulk of her anti-slavery and pro women’s rights views stemmed from.

    My favorite person to meet was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who might I add was born in New York like myself. I enjoyed my time with her the most because we share very similar views in regards to women’s rights. The only are where her and I bump heads is in the slave department. Although she is now an abolitionist, it rubs me the wrong way that she was a slave owner in the past. Regardless of that detail, she has more than made up for her negative actions in the past.

    This lesson is much different than what we have done traditionally in class to learn about a topic throughout the year so far, because for the first time we were able to work on our own to conduct research. The format of the assignment made it seem like less of a chore and more like an activity. While presenting the research we had done to our speed dating partners I found myself having to look at my notes less and less, so I think that this lesson might have been more helpful to me than a lecture (though both are great).

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