May 12

Blog #97 – 9/11/01 Oral Interviews

Michigan Department of Civil Rights – http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/

Federal Department of Justice Civil Rights division – https://www.justice.gov/crt

3 questions due Monday, May 22 by class.  

 

Subject: The 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the days afterwards.

Suggested equipment: paper and pen/cil for notes; maybe a phone to record the interview.

Procedure:

  1. Get permission to take notes / record interview.
  2. You can use the questions below or add more / different questions – try to make questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no” answer. You can always ask follow-up questions for clarification, explanation.
  3. Keep eye contact, nod and smile at appropriate times.
  4. Thank them for their time after you’re done. Also, ask them if they’d like a written transcript of the interview. Provide them w/ one if they say yes.  (For this assignment, you can direct them to the blog website: grovesapush.edublogs.org).

Potential questions

  1. What is your name? How old were you on 9/11?
  2. What is your first memory of when you first heard about the attacks? What kind of conclusions did you come to about the planes crashing into the buildings (did you at first think it was an accident or was it something worse)? Why?
  3. Where were you when the attacks happened? What were other peoples’ reactions to the attacks?
  4. Have you ever been to New York City or Washington D.C.? If so, how did that affect your reactions to the attacks?  If not, how did the attacks alter / change your views of the cities and their inhabitants?
  5. Did you know anyone in the cities? If so, did you try to contact them to see if they were o.k.?  What was the conversation like?
  6. If you were stranded in another city after 9/11, how did you cope with being away from family?
  7. What were other peoples’ reactions like in the days after the attacks?
  8. Could you describe your most vivid memory of that day, 9/11?
  9. How did life change for you in the immediate aftermath of the attacks?
  10. What do you remember of the media coverage of the attacks?
  11. What did you think of President Bush’s address later that night? (Show them the transcript here or video below.)
  12. How did life change for you and your family in the weeks and months after 9/11?
  13. Now that it’s been almost 15 years since the attack, how do you think America has changed since that day? Why?

Your job:

Share a minimum of five questions and answers on Blog #97 (300 words minimum) and include your personal reaction to the interview and the shared memories of 9/11/01 (100 minimum).  If you interview more than one person for this blog, please indicate the persons’ names.

Blog due by Monday, May 22nd by class.


May 11

Outside Reading Assignment

  1. Choose from the following historical fiction or non-fiction history books:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bTxnckI3jB-Z8Vg_JWZ3NqD19YWzTGn2OhBt-buRqmo/edit?usp=sharing

2. Get the book from the GHS Media Center, your local library, or buy the book (this should be a last resort since we have all of these books in our MC).

3. Divide the reading up into four equal parts.  Pace your reading, because you will have an assignment due each week on Thursday (May 18, 25, June 1, 8).

4. On each Thursday, you complete the following on our blog:

a. Summarize your reading for that part; also, this might be the part to examine bias in the book w/ specific examples.

b. Connect a historical thinking skill to your book segment – contextualization, comparison, change and continuity over time, synthesis, cause and effects, periodization (including turning points).

c. Connect your reading to something we’ve studied in APUSH.

d. Make predictions as to where your story will go (in your last assignment, this needs to be an evaluation – Give the book a grade – A, B, C, D, F – and a recommendation to keep the book for next year or ditch it and why).  This would also be where you can examine your connection (or lack thereof) to the characters or events.

5. After you’re done with the book, you will be responsible for making a short video and connect it to the cover of the book in the phone app, Aurasma.  This short video will be a brief (less than a minute) book review / talk that next year’s APUSH students will check out in order to preview the book. (15 points).

6. You will research the internet for a book review on your book, copy and paste the article’s URL in your final assignment (due June 8), and then discuss your assessment of the article’s validity – whether you agree with the author’s assessment of the book – and reasons why.

Each blog entry must be a minimum of 500 words total (20 points each – 25 for the last entry).  

Due every Thursday, May 18, 25, June 1, 8.  Your final entry will be more than 500 words because of the online book review.

April 23

Blog #96 – Imperialism Debate (1898)

Before, during, and after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Americans were debating whether or not America should go beyond its borders and become an imperial empire, much like the European countries had done during the 19th Century w/ Asia and Africa.  Below are the arguments for and against imperialism and some of its proponents and opponents.

For Imperialism

People for it: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Alfred T. Mahan, President William McKinley, Judge William Howard Taft, Admiral George Dewey, Reverend Josiah Strong, former Secretary of State William Seward, and Senator Albert Beveridge.

Arguments for imperialism:

  1. To give back the Philippines to Spain would be cowardly and dishonorable.
  2. To let other imperial powers have the Philippines was bad business and discreditable.
  3. Granting the Filipinos their independence was irresponsible because they are unfit to rule themselves.  They need America to civilize, uplift, and Christianize them.
  4. Imperialism is good for America.  It invigorates a nation and keeps it healthy.  A slothful nation will victim to those countries that maintain soldierly virtues.
  5. Annexation of the Philippines would put America into a position to dominate trade with China and the rest of Asia.
  6. We need the markets and raw materials now.  It doesn’t matter that the Philippines are non-contiguous.  We didn’t need the purchases and additional areas in the continental U.S., but look at us now!  We produce more than we can consume.
  7. Annexation would be so easy because we already control the islands.
  8. Filipinos don’t  have to become citizens of the U.S., we will treat them as dependents (like we do with the Native Americans).  The 14th Amendment won’t apply to them.
  9. Republicans favored annexation because it made the party look good after winning the war.

Against Imperialism

People against it: Author Mark Twain, former president Grover Cleveland, Speaker of the House Thomas “Czar” Reed, journalist Lincoln Steffens, Jane Addams, former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, AFL chief Samuel Gompers, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Harvard professor William James.

Arguments against imperialism

  1. Imperialism is immoral.  It repudiates our commitment to human freedom and liberty.  We instead think we know what is best for the Filipinos, and that is wrong.
  2. Nativists fear the pollution of the white American population with inferior Asian races, especially when they are allowed to move to the U.S.  Acquisition of the Philippines may require that they become citizens.
  3. Industrial workers feared the flood of additional cheap labor which would further undercut job opportunities.
  4. Imperialism puts us in the international stage of world politics and is a constant menace for war.  War carries off the physically and mentally fit and leaves behind the lesser fit.  It threatens our security, internally and externally.
  5. The “civilizing” mission some claim is really a cover for a desire to loot the colonies and their natural resources.  This misson is self-righteous and pretentious.
  6. We will inherit Spain’s task of suppressing the native peoples when they rebel.  They will NOT want our cultural ways.  We will end up like Spain – a shriveling power.
  7. Can’t we just trade without having to annex other territories?
  8. Imperialism would involve the need for a large standing army which would become a heavy tax burden.

The country chose imperialism, and the Senate voted for the Treaty of Paris, 1898, 57 to 27, one more vote needed for the 2/3 approval.

Your job:

Pretend you are a senator back in 1898 (yes, you have to do this even if you’re female – we’re time traveling, so you can pretend to be a different gender).  Pick a region of the country and a party (both parties were for expansion, especially Southern Democrats).  Which arguments hold more sway with you and why?  Explain.

300 words minimum.  Due Tuesday, April 25 by class. 

February 26

Post #95 – Why We’re Still Fighting the Civil War

You’re in an Advanced Placement U.S. History class that analyzes different approaches to history.  As we have learned, history’s interpretation can change – use the formation of the Constitution’s interpretation as an example (Blog #93).  History can also be used as a weapon to support or discredit opponents like the way Richard Nixon / Watergate, Frederick Douglass, and Japanese internment camps are being used to discredit President Trump.  In the same way that history can be weaponized, the history of the Civil War has been discussed and fought over ever since General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.  Using the article, “The Way We Weren’t,” author David Von Drehle dissects the way Americans have viewed the bloodiest conflict in our history.

People in 2011 were polled in the 11 states of the Confederacy, and they answered that the primary cause of the Civil War was states rights, or in this case, the primacy of the states over the federal government, despite what the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause said.  However, as we have seen with the recent history we’ve studied, states rights was not just a Southern thing.  Northern states and cities resisted the new Fugitive Slave Law (and the federal government) and tried to foil sending slaves to their original owners.  Eminent Civil War historians like James McPherson and David Blight state that almost everything in the events leading up to the Civil War dovetail w/ slavery.

Confederate soldiers and citizens, the losers in the conflict, had to mentally hold onto their “due pride” after fighting so hard, so they invented the states rights cause.  Many historians, novelists, and filmmakers were willing to go along with this denial and write narratives that supported the states rights cause.  Confederate generals wrote their memoirs in the post-war world which distanced their sacrifice from slavery and attached it firmly to something more noble (in their minds) like states rights.  Insidious inside the states rights cause was the Lost Cause, the belief that slavery was a benign institution and that Black people had it better under slavery than freedom.  Freedom, as defined by the profit-hungry, industrial North, included working for tiny wages and ruthless competition. In Jefferson Davis’s book about the war, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he portrays the South as hopelessly outgunned and outmanned (which it was) and compares the North to the serpent infiltrating the Garden of Eden (the South) where slave owners lived with their slaves in paradise.

However, this is not to blame the Civil War on just the South.  Yes, they were treasonous.  Yes, they killed hundreds of thousands of Northern soldiers, but EVERYONE was complicit in slavery.  As mentioned in the article, many Northern states, including Wall Street, benefitted dramatically from it.  Check out the New York Historical Society’s online exhibit, Slavery in New York.  There should be little doubt that the war was a long time coming, exacted a horrific toll on the nation, and still leaves us with a legacy that we are dealing with as a nation.

 

CSA states evolution.gif
By User:GolbezOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Questions to answer:

  1. Why was the Lost Cause or denial of slavery as the central cause so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war (even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement)?
  2. On page 40 (1) of the article, it mentions several different causes of the Civil War:
    • Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation;
    • High tariffs like the Tariff of Abominations;
    • Blundering statesmen like Stephen Douglas, Roger Taney, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan;
    • Clash of industrial vs. agrarian cultures;
    • Caused by fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”;
    • Representive of a Marxist class struggle – Southern aristocracy vs. Northern factory workers.

Which of these is most persuasive as a cause and which is the least persuasive cause?  Why?

3. The article focuses a lot on Bleeding Kansas as the pivotal point in which the Civil War seemed inevitable.  Would you agree with this assertion?  Why or why not?

Image result for gone with the wind

4. What are some major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause?  Think of movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind  and their portrayal of the South.

5. When and why did America finally start to break away from the Lost Cause mythology (a.k.a. The Dunning School of Post War America)?

Pick 4 of the questions (including #1) and answer them in 400 words minimum total.  Due Friday, March 3 by class. 

January 29

Blog #94 – “Prisoner of war camps” = Indian reservations?

As we study Andrew Jackson’s legacy with regards to the Native Americans, one thing to keep in mind is the long-term legacy that white Americans have to own with regards to Native Americans.  Jackson and Van Buren expelled the Indians, the Five “Civilized Tribes” of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Creek tribes – under the Indian Removal Act.  They were relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River where they would be allowed to roam free, the thinking went.  In the video we saw this week, Andrew Jackson: The Good, Evil, and the Presidency, Natives suffered tremendously.  But that was only one act in this long drama between white Americans (and previously before them, white Europeans) and Native Americans.

The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830, in order to remove the five tribes from areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Historian and noted Jackson scholar Robert Remini said that the Indians were removed from the eastern United States because they presented a direct threat to the country, having been used as sabotuers by foreign invaders in the past three wars that America had fought (French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the War of 1812).  Remini saw this act as improving the homeland security of the nation.  Other historians see the act within the context of the grab for new farm land in the cotton-growing frenzy that gripped the nation – the Indians were moved because the land they lived on was coveted by white farmers so that they could add to the cotton kingdom.  This act was unconstitutional because the Indians were seen as sovereign nations living within the U.S. in Article IV, Section 3, and even the Supreme Court affirmed that the Cherokee couldn’t be moved in Worcester v. Georgia.  Historian H.W. Brands states that President Jackson felt that this removal policy was “humane” and saved the Indians from annihiation from the crushing forces of white encroachment.

From there, however, Manifest Destiny charged ahead, damn the torpedoes, so to speak, and the Indians were in the way again.  Whether it be farm land, gold and silver mines, railroads, or the destruction of the buffalo, Native Americans became an easy target for white Americans moving westward.  The tribes were pushed aside and put onto reservations, or as the speaker in the TED talk below, Aaron Huey, calls them, “prisoner of war camps”.  Some Indians like Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, just to name a few, fought back and succeeded at slowing down the demographic tide.  A 1911 ad offering "allotted Indian land" for sale

For most American history books, we see that they talk about the Indians almost always when they are being pushed off of their land by Europeans (King Philip’s War, Powhatan War, Seminole War, Indian Removal Act) or when they fight back (Battle of Little Bighorn, Red Cloud’s War) or after being indiscriminately massacred (Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Massacres).  Few cover the decimation of disaeases that faced the Native Americans when the Europeans first arrived.  Even fewer touch on 20th Century issues and laws regarding education, reservation (and sale of Indian land), tribal recognition, citizenship, Termination policy in the 1950s or other Indian policies like the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.  Our textbooks might talk about AIM or the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, but just as an inclusion of many minority groups in the chapter on the late 1960s / early 1970s. There might even be something about the seizure of Alcatraz Island by Native Americans. But rarely anything is heard after that.

 

In the following disturbing and moving video, photographer Aaron Huey lists the many things done (in the name of America) to the Lakota Sioux tribe.  He juxtaposes the litany of broken treaties and promises and horrific things with his own photos of the Lakota tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Aaron Huey’s wish is that the American government honor the treaties and give back the Black Hills.  To atone for America’s sins, to use such a phrase, can anything truly be done?  Where, if anywhere, should Americans start to make up for what has been done to the Native Americans?   Is it right that we should speak in such manner as atoning for sins or asking for forgiveness?  Or do you feel that you have nothing to ask forgiveness for since these things had been done before you were born?  What responsibility do we have to Native Americans?

One major thing to consider is that though we may not have been personally responsible for oppressing the Native Americans, we benefit from the results of past policies of our government towards Native Americans (and even from past colonial practices).

Should we replace Columbus Day with Indigineous Peoples’ Day?

Should we push Congress to rescind the Medals of Honor distributed to the 7th Cavalry handed out after the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890?

Should reservations be abolished? Or should those that exist still remain yet receive generous help?

Should the Washington football team, the Cleveland Indians, or Atlanta Braves be forced to take new mascot names?

What can we learn from Canada and the way they have treated and honored their Native Americans?

Should we continue to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (since President Trump has rescinded President Obama’s cancellation of it)?

Should Native Americans be given back their religious ceremonial artifacts, tens of thousands of which sit in museums, some on display, others locked in vaults? (for an upclose perspective, see the recent PBS film, What Was Ours here).

In finishing up the research for this blog (including reading chapters of the book, “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) I found that Congress passed, as part of an appropriations bill, a resolution called the Native American Apology Resolution in 2009.  Introduced by Republican senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, he said the reason he did this was “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the US Government toward the Native Peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.”

Furthermore:

The Apology Resolution states that the United States, “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.”

The Apology Resolution also “urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land.”

The Apology Resolution comes with a disclaimer that nothing in the Resolution authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States and that the Resolution does not settle any claims against the United States.

The Apology Resolution does not include the lengthy Preamble that was part of S.J Res. 14 introduced earlier this year by Senator Brownback.  The Preamble recites the history of U.S. – tribal relations including the assistance provided to the settlers by Native Americans, the killing of Indian women and children, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, the Sand Creek Massacre, and Wounded Knee, the theft of tribal lands and resources, the breaking of treaties, and the removal of Indian children to boarding schools.

  1. Tell us your reactions to the Ted Talk;
  2. Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes Native Americans and why.

400 words minimum for both answers.  Due Wednesday, February 1.  

Extended quotes come from the blog: https://nativevotewa.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/president-obama-signs-native-american-apology-resolution/

 

January 28

Hidden Figures

This film is a stirring show about the intersection of math and history and how math conquers all (rejoice, my math teacher friends!).  The story portrays the struggles of Dorothy Vaughn, NASA’s first African American supervisor; Katherine Johnson, the math expert on the John Glenn flightImage result for hidden figures review and also instrumental in the moon landing; and Mary Jackson, NASA’s first female African American engineer.  It is startling to see how Jim Crow racism was shoved in the face of these strong women, typified in Katherine’s struggle to maintain her dignity while sprinting across NASA’s campus to visit the only “colored” bathroom nearby.  Furthermore, the women of the West Computing Room have to deal with the intersectionality of both racism and sexism since they are women of color.  With Dorothy’s leadership, they are able to carve out a niche in the very male-dominated computing field.

In some ways, this is a film about progress: Civil Rights progress, gender progress, and also technology’s relentless march forward.  This is shown by the real film clips of Civil Rights protests occurring in 1961 and 1962.  We also see progress as women make strides into the male-dominated fields of computers and engineering. Image result for hidden figures review Almost all of the white male characters at NASA are
figurative clones, wearing white shirts, dark pants, and thin dark ties.  Occasionally, we might see a flash of color on Paul Stafford’s tie (Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory), but for the most part, all of the white men have the same uniform and haircuts.  That’s why the women of color stand out, not just in their attire but because of their skin color.  We see technology’s progress, however much it is double-sided, when Katherine temporarily loses her job as a “computer” in the Space Task Group when Dorothy finally gets the IBM Main frame computers online, a machine that can do 24,000 calculations a second.  This machine makes the women of both the East (white) and West (Black) Computing Rooms obsolete.  Only when the computer spits out different landing coordinates for John Glenn’s return to Earth right before launch does Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), NASA’s head of the Space Task Group, bring Katherine back in to confirm the computer’s numbers.

There was an outstanding moment near the end of the film when news of John Glenn’s orbit is released, and all Americans, regardless of skin color or gender, are united in their worries over the fate of Glenn (aImage result for hidden figures reviewnd by extension, America’s space program and maybe even it’s prominence in the Cold War).  Scenes show black and white Americans standing in front of a store front watching the TV reports about the peril Glenn faced as his capsule threatened to burn up on re-entry (an aside: imagine this dramatic scene of a nation gripped by a similar incident today – how would Americans be tuning into the progress of such an incident?  Certainly not standing on a street watching a TV).  Another scene showed Americans parking their cars and listening to their radios, staring up at the sky, looking for a fleeting glimpse of Glenn’s capsule, even though it was going to splash down in the Bahamas.  These scenes showed a united America, hoping and praying for the successful return of one of our golden boys, the Mercury 7 astronauts.  These scenes are also a way of showing how little militancy there is to this story of racial advancement and integration.  The most powerful scenes in the film are ones in which characters stand up for themselves or right the wrongs of our sordid past.  This is not a criticism of this film.  It doesn’t need to be angry about the past. In fact, this film emphasizes the women of the film and to dwell on America’s sad racial history isn’t what this film is about.  It’s about transcending that history.

I think that one of the larger question that everyone should be asking themselves is how did this story not make it into the history books?  It has great human drama, excitement, daring, perseverance, and a thrilling conclusion.  The other question is how many other hidden and forgotten stories are out there, waiting to be told?   If these ladies, who were such an extraordinary part of this story to send Americans into space, can be forgotten and shunted to the side for over 60 years, where are the rest of these stories?  One thing to keep in mind is that by telling these hidden stories of people / women of color, we as historians do not have to pick and choose to eliminate stories of white participants, but to include them all.    History doesn’t have to be like a pie to be carved up into smaller and smaller sections but like a tapestry that continues to be weaved into a more complete picture.

CHOOSE 3 OF THE 5 QUESTIONS BELOW AND ANSWER THEM. 

  1. Explain how the title “Hidden Figures” has different layers of meaning for this film and time period.
  2. Provide at least 2 specific examples of Jim Crow discrimination or racism perpetrated by the white characters and how they affected Katherine, Mary, and / or Dorothy.
  3. This is a story of overcoming challenges that white society put in the way of our main characters.  How did all three women overcame these obstacles.
  4. How did sexism affect Dorothy’s, Mary’s, and Katherine’s careers?  Provide specific examples.
  5. How does the Civil Rights Movement play as the backdrop for the advancing fight against the Cold War’s space race?  Provide examples.

Image result for hidden figures review

 350 words minimum for your total answer.  Due by 11:59 pm Saturday night, March 4. 

January 8

Jackie – “I didn’t want to be famous, but then I married a Kennedy”

This is a film about grief – raw, directionless, sudden grief.  The film focuses on Mrs. Kennedy’s three days after the death of her husband, President John Kennedy, and how she does her best to cope with such a powerful, public murder.  From the opening sounds of strings being tuned down on a black screen (which become the signature musical motif), to long shots of Mrs. Kennedy (played by an excellent Natalie Portman – it would be a crime if she doesn’t get at least a nomination, she should win her 2nd Oscar for this role) wandering through the White House alone, switching outfits, searching for meaning and mooring like an unanchored boat.  You get an inside look into Mrs. Kennedy’s personality, her strength, her anger, and her love for her husband (despite the troubles that are only alluded to).  The film shows you as she begins packing up the White House for its new occupant and preparing her children for the inevitable loss that they cannot understand at such a young age.  Mrs. Kennedy is also shown obsessing over the legacy of her husband, a good man as she has said, whom she loves as he sits in his rocking chair with Caroline and John, Jr. at his feet.  This is the image that she leaves us with, one which some people who know about JFK’s philandering might ask why she still stays with him.  Her confidante and aide, Nancy Tuckerman (played by Greta Gerwig) is Jackie’s sounding board, her friend, and giver of best advice.  Peter Sarsgaard plays Attorney General Robert Kennedy, a grief stricken man who appears to have buried a brother before with the death of his older brother, Joe Jr., during World War II.

Jackie tells an unnamed reporter (who is probably Theodore White, journalist extraordinaire who has covered many presidential elections – article written 2 weeks after JFK’s death here) the inside scoop about what went on but is so meticulous and private that she edits what he is allowed to say.  This, according to the NYT film review, is where the Camelot imagery and myth surrounding the Kennedy presidency is begun.   But the larger question that comes through in this interview is how does Jackie separate herself from this very public tragedy.  She needs to be a mother to her two young children (and to two dead ones interred next to their father in Arlington National Cemetery) but she also has to be a grieving widow to the rest of the nation.  As the reporter put it, JFK, the nation’s father, had been killed, and Jackie, the nation’s mother, had to carry on with steel in her spine.  Try to imagine something that traumatic has happened to you, and you are one of the most famous people in the country.  How do you cope?  How do you grieve?  How do you move on? 

  1. How does the film portray Mrs. Kennedy during her 1962 tour of the White House (original here – https://youtu.be/CbFt4h3Dkkw)?  How does she seem different / similar to First Ladies that you might know best – Laura Bush and Michelle Obama?  Why?
  2. Did the film use the right amount of reference to JFK’s woman troubles, should it have explored these issues in depth more, or should they have been mentioned at all in a film about the man’s wife?  Why?
  3. Why do you think Mrs. Kennedy asked the ambulance driver and the nurse who James Garfield and William McKinley were, and then Abraham Lincoln?  How did their answers transfer Mrs. Kennedy’s obsession with her husband’s funeral?  (Also, is this a fair comparison between Lincoln and Garfield and McKinley?  Why or why not?)
  4. The movie seems obsessed with legacy and myth-making.  Jackie is one of the first to try and preserve her husband’s legacy, one time comparing him to Jesus and temptations in the desert, and at other times, to Lincoln and preserving the Union and freeing the slaves (though he technically didn’t).  Do you think President Kennedy deserved this kind of mythos surrounding him?  Why or why not? 
  5. How did the film’s non-linear (jumping from time period to time period) story telling distract or add to the overall narrative, in your opinion?

Pick 4 of these questions (including #4) and answer them in a minimum of 300 words to get full credit for this extra credit assignment.  Due by February 17 before class. 

December 18

Blog #93 – Historiography of the Constitution

Historiography is the history of the history, or how interpretations of an event have changed over the years.  Usually, historians reflect the main concerns of the time period in which they write (for instance, Progressive historians are concerned about economic factors driving events because they wrote during the reform-minded era, the Progressive Era -1900-1915).  Sometimes, enough historians write in a similar viewpoint that history scholars call them historical schools of thought (Nationalist, Progressive, Consensus, New Left, etc.).  And sometimes, these schools of thought are dominated by an historian who writes an incredibly influential book on that subject (Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution).  One of the things that I hope you understand from this look at historiography is that the history of events and their interpretations can and are constantly changing.  Here is a link to a wikipedia page on general U.S. historiography – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historiography_of_the_United_States

Before the Civil War (1861-65), many people were focused on who the Constitution put in charge of the nation: the states or the federal government?  Also, many controversies surfaced in whether they should interpret the Constitution literally as written (strict interpretation) or to interpret the Founders’ intent (loose interpretation).  It seems that the writers of this document weren’t ready to answer those questions either in Philadelphia in 1787 and wanted to leave some wiggle room for interpretation for future generations (this is my loose interpretation).  The Civil War ended this controversy with the federal government enforcing its supremacy over the  states in the defeat on the Confederacy.

Nationalist School (post Civil War – 1900)

George Bancroft began writing his epic history of the U.S. before the Civil War and continued until 1887.  His first volume, found here, covers from the early voyages to the New World until the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688 (for us in APUSH, this history ignored the Native Americans in Ch. 1 and focused primarily on the Spanish and the founding of the colonies up until 1688 – over 600 pages in his first volume!).  Bancroft and other historians wrote American history reflecting the Gilded Age and American economic growth, railroad expansion, the closing of the interior frontier, and their beliefs in Anglo-Saxon superiority.  Nationalist writers believed that “the orderly progress of mankind toward greater personal liberty” was due to white Christian people and their inherent ability to build strong governments.  

Nationalists viewed the creation of the Constitution as an extension of the Revolution.  The Articles of Confederation were too weak to deal with internal threats and problems (Shays Rebellion, economic depression) or with external threats (Spain and England).  The American people were divinely picked by God (“City on a hill”?  American exceptionallism?) to create a perfect republic, and the men at Philly were creating a new government for the betterment of the nation.

Progressive School (1900 – 1930s) 

This time period saw many people concerned about the effects of massive wealth redistribution that widened the gap between rich and poor, in addition to the negative effects of urbanization and industrialization (slums, poor working conditions, low wages).   This era saw a huge uptick in reforms that attempted to solve these problems.  Carl Becker saw the Revolution as two concurrent changes: one to break away from British rule, and another as to who will rule at home (which culminates in the Constitution).  Charles A. Beard was the one of leading historians of the time with his popular 1913 book, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the U.S. (found here).  

Beard found that the men who made the Constitution had strong economic motives to ensure a powerful federal government because “most of these men held public securities, a form of personal property that would increase dramatically in value” if a new government was strong and improved its credit rating.  These conservative men had economic interests in banking, public securities (or bonds and promissory notes to Revolutionary war soldiers), manufacturers, and merchants involved in shipping and trade.  All of these economic interests declined because of the weakness of the Articles of Confederation.  Those who opposed the Constitution were working men and small farmers who were deep in debt.  Our new document was designed to protect private property against state assemblies that were much more democratic and likely to protect small farmers and debtors.  Beard also saw the creation of the Constitution as undemocratic because there were no “common men” involved, and the proceedings were done in secret.  Also, there was no bill of rights protection for Americans, unlike many state constitutions.  Beard’s primary focus in his history is class conflict.

Consensus School (1940s – 1960s)

After World War II, some historians moved away from the class conflict interpretation of American history and shifted toward consensus.  Because we were engaged in the Cold War with Russians (a country whose ideology is steeped in class conflict – Marxism), consensus historians de-emphasized class conflict and taught that our conflicts are steeped in competition of businessmen and entreprenuers that has made America great.  These historians are somewhat throwbacks to the Nationalist school who wanted to strengthen America “as a world leader with a history as a strong and united country free from class-based oppression”.  “The cement holding us together is our widespread prosperity and universal acceptance of the principles succinctly summarized in the first parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Our political struggles have always been within the center rather than between the left and right extremists.”

They saw the Revolution and Constitution as one continuous movement (as opposed to Beard’s democratic revolution against the British and a conservative counter-revolution for private property with the Constitution), and that the state constitutions were created by the same people who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Consensus historians saw the Constitution as primarily a political document, not economic like Beard.  The delegates at the convention were primarily concerned with making a better government than the Articles, one that was based upon “representation, fixed elections, a written constitution that is a supreme law and contains an amendment clause, separation of powers and checks and balances, a bicameral legislature, a single executive, and a separate court system.”  These historians challenged Beard’s assertion that the poor didn’t have a say in the Constitution, stating that 2/3 of men at this time owned enough property to vote in state elections, many of whom were small farmers.  These historians include two of my favorites, Daniel Boorstin and Richard Hofstadter (author of the extra article on the Founding Fathers: The Age of Realism).

Intellectual or Republicanism Historians (1950s – 1980s)

This group of historians is dominated by Gordon Wood and Bernard Bailyn.  These two assert that Americans adopted many British ideas like anti-authoritarianism, written constitutions, compact theory, and human rights.  Both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists shared a major distrust of central government, and that the 1770s and 80s saw a big push for egalitarianism (push for equality) that the Constitution tried to restrain.  The Constitution, essentially, was a rescue attempt to save the Revolution from failure by restraining its democratic excesses.   

Revolutionary Republicanism was centered on limiting corruption and greed. Virtue was of the utmost importance for citizens and representatives. Revolutionaries took a lesson from ancient Rome, they knew it was necessary to avoid the luxury that had destroyed the Empire.[33] A virtuous citizen was one that ignored monetary compensation and made a commitment to resist and eradicate corruption. The Republic was sacred; therefore it is necessary to served the state in a truly representative way, ignoring self-interest and individual will. Republicanism required the service of those who were willing to give up their own interests for a common good. According to Bernard Bailyn, “The preservation of liberty rested on the ability of the people to maintain effective checks on wielders of power and hence in the last analysis rested on the vigilance and moral stamina of the people.” Virtuous citizens needed to be strong defenders of liberty and challenge the corruption and greed in government. The duty of the virtuous citizen become a foundation for the American Revolution.”

New Left / Neo-Progressive School (1960s – 1980s)

These historians were shaped by the social and political changes going on in the U.S. like the Civil Rights and women’s rights movement and the student protest movements against the Vietnam War.  They are a throwback to the Progressive Era, but some writers thought that Beard had oversimplified things with his strictly economic approach.  Beard did not include many of the people who were not part of the political process in the Revolutionary Era: blacks (both free and slave), women, and Native Americans.  Social historians began to weave their stories within the tapestry of American history and present a fuller picture. “The “new” theoretically differentiates them from the unimaginative, Socialist Party orientation of the old left of the 1930s and 1940s.  The “left” signifies an orientation toward methods and concepts that focus on the masses and their experiences, “history from the bottom up,” as it is called.  Unlike the old left, the New Left avoids the preconceived molds of Marxist theories, which distorted the facts to fit a foreign doctrine.  The historians of the New Left demand the inclusion of those features of our history that explain how we came to be a violent, racist, repressive society.”  Some of these historians are Gary Nash (you read his essay, “Radical Revolution from the Bottom Up”) and Howard Zinn.

This video is here just for your interest.  

Nash, in particular, looks at both Northerners and Southerners deeply involved in making the Constitution a stamp of approval for slavery since it guaranteed slavery with a fugitive slave clause and the South’s boost in Congressional representation with the 3/5 Compromise.  Other historians argued against the Consensus historians’ assertion that our political legacy is basically liberal and democratic.  The time period of the 1780s -leading up to the Constitutional Convention – was time of disruption, overtaxation, and heavy economic hardships.  The poor were forced to pay their taxes in gold and silver (extremely hard to get) and not allowed to use paper money.   This school’s approach refocuses on class conflict in which different segments argued over who’s responsible for fixing the economy, “which segment should sacrifice for the good of the whole.”

I’ve presented you with four different schools of historiography concerning the Constitution.  Your job is to explain, with plenty of examples from class and your readings: 1. Which school of history do you agree with most and why?;  2. Which school of history do you disagree with most and why? 

Due Wednesday, December 21, 2016 by class.  300 words minimum. 

Sources:

http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/mrhorton/constitution%20historiography.htm

Interpretations of American History, ed. by Francis Couvares, et. al.

December 9

Loving – Extra Credit Blog

Image result for loving movie

I hope you enjoyed Loving, the story of an interracial couple and their desire to stay married and be left alone.  This is a Civil Rights story, it’s a love story, and it can also be seen (in today’s context) as a metaphor for marriage equality.  To quote Lin Manuel Miranda, “love is love is love.”

  1. The sheriff, the judge, and other opponents cite the Bible and refer to God’s law (sparrows are for sparrows, robins for robins) when pushing against the Lovings’ marriage.  When religion is mixed in with a secular argument like the one here, how can religion make the issue more complicated?  Feel free to cite additional examples not included in the movie.
  2. Richard is portrayed in the movie as reluctant to challenge the ban on interracial marriage in the courts.  He is willing to relocate to Virginia to be closer to family, and move out of D.C. after his son is hit by a car, so this is more symbolic than official.  Mildred, on the other hand, is very determined to oppose the law, and in doing so, is willing to step into the spotlight provided by the media.  Why do you think Mildred is more willing than Richard to challenge the law?
  3. Richard, for the most part, seems to blend into Black society in rural Virginia as well as in the Black section of D.C., while his white neighbors / co-workers both in the city and country don’t take his integration so well.  Though this isn’t necessarily answered in the movie, what do you think it is in Richard’s background that makes him different than some of his white neighbors and co-workers?  Feel free to speculate.  Image result for loving movie
  4. This could have been a very different film in the hands of another writer and director.  Sometimes, movies go for shock value by sensationalizing events with graphic violence and language, but Loving has neither.  The movie still gets across the menace of racism in the way Mildred is treated while in jail or the brick found on Richard’s  car seat, but in a much less confrontational way.  Why do you think the writer and director made these choices?  Are they downplaying the racism while emphasizing the Lovings’ emotional attachment?  Another reason?  Why? 

Answer 3 of the four questions, minimum 300 words total for all three questions, due by Friday, January 6, 2017.  

November 29

Blog #92 – Pivotal Moment of Reagan Presidency

After reading your short answers comparing Reagan’s 1st and 2nd terms regarding foreign policy, and it made me wonder what you think is the turning point of Reagan’s presidency, especially with regards to the Cold War and the Soviet Union.

Schools of history fall into a couple of areas regarding the end of the Cold War:

  1. Gorbachev is the main reason why the Cold War ended.  It was his reforms (glasnost and perestroika), different from the previous Soviet leaders, that prompted Reagan to renew negotiations over reducing / eliminating nuclear weapons;
  2. Gorbachev was the reason why Reagan considered the Zero Option in Europe – Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option (for all nuclear weapons) at the Reykjavik Summit which eventually turned into the INF Treaty in 1987 that eliminated all intermediate range nuclear missiles (especially those in Europe).
  3. It was Reagan playing hard ball with the Soviets / Gorbachev over SDI when Gorbachev proposed the Zero Option at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986, that Reagan refused to abandon SDI, which led to the INF Treaty (in a roundabout way).
  4. SDI’s introduction was the pivotal moment of the Reagan presidency because it forced the Soviets back on their heels, wondering how to counter it, and if there could be anything done about it.
  5. Reagan’s refusal to entertain detente and cast the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”, plus a massive increase in military spending caused the Soviets to match us or risk losing the edge it had in conventional and nuclear weapons.

But there is also some unconventional thinking about the Reagan / Bush administrations and how they helped end the Cold War:

  1. The CIA’s aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan helped sink the Soviets deeper into an unwinnable war, forcing the Soviets to use their best troops, and spend oodles of money that it didn’t have.
  2. While the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Eastern European countries and Soviet Republics broke away (1989-1991), President Bush did everything he could to encourage them to put democracy first and Communism second.  He did not ask for military aid to be sent to these countries, but he supported their break w/ the Soviets.  Even during the hard-line coup in the Soviet Union in August 1991, President Bush and his administration fought hard to support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his resistance to the Communists.

So which event or person or concept was the most pivotal to ending the Cold War and why?  

Explain your answer in 300 words or more.  Due Thursday, Dec. 1 by class.