February 7

Blog #165 – What does America owe the Indigenous peoples?

As we study America’s legacy with regards to the Indigenous nations, one thing to keep in mind is the long-term legacy that white Americans and European settlers have to own with regards to Native Americans.  In the most widely known policy enacted against the Indigenous nations, Andrew Jackson and Martin 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.  But that was only one act in this long drama between white Americans (and previously before them, white Europeans) and Indigenous nations.

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 “domestic dependent nations” and NOT sovereign independent nations as affirmed by the Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation 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 flood of white settlers.  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 (Dakota War, 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 or lack thereof, The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, 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.  Just within the past ten years does it seem that historians are acknowledging the tragedies of the Indian boarding schools.


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 Indigenous nations?   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 does America have to the Indigenous nations?

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 remaining pro sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs or Atlanta Braves be forced to take new mascot names (remember that after refusing to do so for decades and claiming that their names and mascots honored Indigenous peoples, the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball team changed their names and mascots)?

What can we learn from Canada and the way they have treated and honored their Indigenous peoples?

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?

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.”


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. Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, somewhere in between – and explain why;
  2. After reading and discussing the 1862 Dakota War, how does knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time complicate his legacy?  (Keep in mind, it is his face – along with Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt – on Mt. Rushmore in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people).
  3. Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous nations and why.

Total 400 words minimum for all 3 answers.  Due Monday, February 12 by class.  

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

January 29

Blog #164 – Reconstruction Historiography

As a refresher on historiography, in essence, it’s the history of the history of a topic or time period.  Historiography analyzes how history has been written in the past and how different interpretations of events.  For instance, historians in the 1850s would look at the events of the American Revolution differently than historians in the 1950s and differently than those living in 2024.  Each historian is shaped by their own biases and time period – for instance, if a historian wrote during a time period where there was economic turmoil and depression, those current events might likely shape how that historian views older events.  Also, the study of American history before the 1950s had been predominantly a white male enterprise which only focused primarily on political, economic, and diplomatic topics, but since the 1950s and the Civil Rights Movement, more and more female historians and historians of color entered the field who showed a light on peoples’ stories that hadn’t been told before by white male historians.  They also expanded the field of history to include social, cultural, and women’s histories.  Here is a quote on the importance of historiography:

“Historiography allows us to understand the wide range of historical interpretations and how differing perspectives have shaped the representations of historical fact. It helps us adopt a more critical lens in understanding history as relative, as a subject that has been manipulated by those telling it and reclaimed by those who have participated in it. It encourages to seek out the biases in historical accounts and understand the subjective nature of historical writing.” (citation).

So, the period of Reconstruction is one that had been dominated by a racist view of the leading historians of the time period until the 1950s.  Essentially, it was written from a white Southerner point of view, and Reconstruction was seen as a tragic era where Southern whites were the victims of incompetent Blacks and corrupt white Republicans.  Early Black historians like William Wells Brown and George Washington Williams writing in the 1870s and 1880s saw the period as tragic because the freedmen had been elevated beyond their previous status without proper preparation: “The government gave him [the freedmen] the statute-book when he ought to have had the spelling book; placed him in the Legislature when he ought to have been in the school-house.” (Williams).  They thought that the establishment of public schools in the South was one of the only good things to come out of Reconstruction.Opinion | The Lost Promise of Reconstruction - The New York Times

One fictional work that influenced the upcoming Dunning School of Reconstruction (see video below) was the popular novel, The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon in 1905.  It was an “unabashed celebration of the Ku Klux Klan” that saved the South from Radical Republicans’ attempt to “Africanize” the South.  This novel served as the basis for the hugely popular film, Birth of a Nation, released in 1915 to wide acclaim and massive audiences.

In the old school or William Dunning interpretation, Reconstruction was a miserable failure that blundered in giving freedmen their rights (which they weren’t ready for for a variety of reasons, but usually racist theories about intelligence and human nature), but Andrew Johnson and the Klan were portrayed as the heroes of the era because they tried to ease the country back together painlessly (Johnson) and pushed for restoration of home rule (Klan).   Reconstruction governments were filled with scalawags and carpetbaggers who corrupted the states and raised taxes.  The true victims here during this period were Southern whites.  In this old school, we see a major critique of the federal government’s expansion and exercise of federal power over the states.  Behind much of this interpretation is the opinion that was popular at the turn of the 20th Century that white people of Anglo-Saxon (English) or Northern European descent were superior to the rest of the world.  We see a lot of this nonsense in the previously mentioned silent blockbuster from 1915, Birth of a Nation and the epic Gone With the Wind in 1939.  Part of the reason that this Dunning School of Reconstruction had such a lasting impact was that there was a huge push towards reconciliation in the late 19th Century, and William Dunning’s book on Reconstruction was full of heavily researched details which set the standard for Reconstruction histories going forward.

In the 20th Century, Black historians like W.E.B. DuBois depicted Reconstruction as a tragedy because of its failure to secure civil rights for African Americans throughout the country in his 1935 book, Black Reconstruction (link to the audio book on YouTube here).  While he stated that there were minor successes like education for Black Americans, he lamented the violence that racist whites inflicted upon Black Americans – lynching had reached peak numbers in the 1890s, and white society attributed this to inherent Black criminality (but we all know the real story).

Later on in the mid to late 20th Century, under some of the new interpretations, especially the Progressive and Neo-Progressive / New Left historians in the 20th Century, the Dunning interpretation is flipped on its head.  Andrew Johnson was a racist who stood in the way of the idealist Radical Republicans who wanted to give freedmen their full and equal rights.  The Klan was not the protector of the South but a haphazard terrorist organization that kept blacks from voting and intimidated both whites and blacks in the South.  And the Southern state governments, Republican by nature, may or may not have helped out the freedmen.  One thing is certain: the governments, from the local (Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall) and state all the way up to the federal level (see the Grant administration) were corrupt.  Moral standards were low during this time period and many people (as we’ll see in one of our next units) are in it to make a quick million or two.  Here is an extended interview with historian Eric Foner on Reconstruction who wrote the most influential book on Reconstruction in the past 40 years (also one of my favorite living historians).

Please watch the following Crash Course on Black American history to use as additional evidence for your opinions on Reconstruction:

Your job: Briefly discuss the importance of historiography, and explain which historians’ interpretation of Reconstruction you either agree or disagree with the most and why.  Use your notes, readings of primary sources and the textbook, articles and videos (Amend, episode 2 among others) to back up your thoughts on this topic.

Due Monday night, January 29th, by midnight.  Your response should be a minimum of 350 words. 

January 4

Blog #163 – Causes of the Civil War and Inevitable-ness

There has been a lot of time and money and energy spent talking about the causes of the Civil War ever since the guns stopped firing in April 1865.  And judging by the historiography, American historians have viewed the primary causes in a different light depending upon the time period in which they lived in.  One of the main reasons why there has been such interest in this topic is because the war set Americans vs. Americans and was, in one way, a fight over the future of the country.  Were we going to remain an agriculture-based economy (think Jefferson) as exemplified by enslavement or were we going to keep up with the times and become more industrial as seen in the Northern factories?   Another issue at stake was the status of African Americans in this country – would they stay or be sent back to Africa?  Would slavery and second-class citizenship be their continued status or would they share in the rights that ALL Americans are supposed to have?  And how in the world would the country help get four million formerly enslaved African Americans a leg up and possibly on an equal playing field with the rest of the country?

Historians who wrote about the conflict soon after the war were usually Northerners who blamed an aggressive slave conspiracy that wanted to spread the institution all across America.  Southern historians saw the conflict as a moral one in which the North instituted an unconstitutional strategy of making the South economically subservient to the North.   A third group tended to blame the short-sighted politicians of the antebellum era who could not reach compromises like had been done in the past.  President James Buchanan and Senator Stephen Douglas are their usual targets.

By the 1890s, a Nationalist school of history arose, sparked by America’s emergence as a world power economically and politically. One particular historian, James Ford Rhodes, wrote that slavery was the primary cause, where the South fought

History of the Civil War, 1861-1865: Rhodes, James Ford: 9780486409009: Amazon.com: Books

the war to extend slavery and that the war was an “irrepressible conlfict”.  However, he didn’t see Southern slave owners as hideous monsters and in some ways blamed the cotton gin for making slavery become more entrenched in the South.  Slavery, in essence, became a burden that 1860 slaveowners had inherited and some thing that they couldn’t completely control.  (Like, what…?) Nationalist historians tended to focus also more on the outcomes of the war – American industry exploded after the war, a more powerful federal government emerged, and we became an imperialist nation starting in 1893.  So I guess the Nationalist historians put a positive spin on the enslavement of 4 million people, the deaths of over 750,000 Americans, and the destruction of the Southern economy…. cool story, bruh.

The next group of historians, writing in the 1920s and 30s, was called the Progressive School and was influenced by the ill social effects of run-amuck industrialism and uneven distribution of wealth in the country.  Charles and Mary Beard were two of the most influential of this school, and they saw the war as a “social cataclysm” in which “the capitalists, laborers, and farmers of the North and West drove from power in the national government the planting aristocracy in the South.”   This school of history focused more on the economic causes of the war instead of slavery, which fit well with some very racist historians writing at the time who portrayed the South as a land of chivalrous planters with their pathetically helpless and loyal slaves – by contrast the North were nasty, profit-driven capitalists trying to destroy the honor and tradition of the South.  Essentially, the Lost Cause Myth, which we will explore in the coming weeks.

Revisionist historians, writing in the 1930s and 40s, saw the war as an insufferable evil, regardless of causes.  The political leaders were to blame for not taking advantage of alternatives that could have saved the nation.  They thought that the war could have been avoided, and that the politicians had deliberately set apart the North and South during 1840 – 1860 as people who were both trying to preserve their culture and way of life.  James G. Randall called these politicians the “blundering generation.”


Starting in the 1960s, newer historians started reevaluating all of these previous approaches and started to synthesize them together and not focusing on just one cause.  Prominent historians like Edward Ayers, Michael Holt, Eric Foner (the author of a competing APUSH textbook and an expert on Reconstruction), James McPherson, Manisha Sinha all mashed these causes together and reformulated the causes of the war together.  Some focused on an ideological conflict – whether slavery or economics – that primarily caused the war.  During this time, we also see more women and  historians of color asking different questions than previous generations who had their own takes on the war as the academic world becomes more diversified.

I think this Venn diagram kinda shows how that maybe all of them interlock together.




Here are the 2 questions I asked you at the beginning of this unit: 

  1. So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from.  Slavery?  Economics?  States’ rights?  Clash of cultures?  Terrible politicians?  Westward expansion?  Which is it and why?
  2. Do you think the war was inevitable?  If yes, at what point did it become inevitable?  If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?

Please answer both of these questions with a minimum of 400 words total for both answers by the beginning of class on Monday, January 8. 

Origins of the American Civil War - Wikipedia

November 19

Blog #162 – Final Exam – Shark Tank

So I have read about the Shark Tank simulation for years on Facebook APUSH teacher pages, but wasn’t sure I could pull it off until I found a format that worked for our classes.  I was debating doing other simulations that I have done in the past, but I was concerned about pacing or covering enough material before the final.  Once I figured out we had a couple of flexible days, we did it, and I don’t regret it. It was a lot of fun, and I think I can make some tweaks and make it even better for the next time I use it in the future.  That’s where I need your help.  (See final question).

What we see in the antebellum time period (1800-1860) was an amazing amount of groundbreaking inventions that we are still seeing the ramifications of in our modern day (though some are still used today like the railroads, textile mills, typewriters, etc., they no longer dominate today like they did the 19th and early 20th centuries).  But a few of them had incredibly transformative effects on America and the world.

Yet, the Shark Tank simulation reinforced two ideas in my mind about the importance of capital to help new inventions get off the ground, as well as the great need for workers to help make those inventions become more popular and reach a broad audience.  And there still seems to be a constant battle capital and labor as seen in many of the labor conflicts we have seen in the past two years or so.  For instance, back when the auto companies were facing bankruptcy in 2009, their workers took huge hits to their salary and benefits in order to keep the companies afloat, but since then, the companies have recovered and the workers want to share in their companies’ earnings.  And with the strikes, the companies could do little.

Questions to consider:

1. Which of the inventions we highlighted do you think had the greatest impact on America in the long term?  Explain why.
2. Why do you think there is such constant tension between capital and labor? (This will be a theme we will explore for the rest of the year). Explain your answer.
3. Tell me your role in the simulation – Shark or Inventor – and give me one thing you really liked about the simulation and one thing that could be improved.  Explain your answers for both.

400 words total for all three answers.  Due Wednesday night, Nov. 22, by midnight.

November 18

Blog #161 – Final Exam – Andrew Jackson: Hero of the Common Man or Dictatorial President?

Now, since we talk about shades of grey here in APUSH, a question like this – Andrew Jackson, Hero of the Common Man or Dictatorial President? – should be harder to answer than the either/or options that I have given you.  Chances are, Jackson is both the hero of the common man and acted dictatorially as president.

Image result for andrew jackson

Using the article that you read a couple of weeks ago, “The Jacksonian Revolution”, please answer the following questions:

  1. Argue the side that Jackson is the hero of the common man.  Use examples from the article and your text / PPT.
  2. Argue the other side that Jackson was a dictatorial president.  Use examples from the article and your text / PPT.
  3. Which side do you think the author, Robert Remini, came down on?  Do you agree w/ him?  Why or why not?

Total words – 400 – due Wednesday night, Nov. 22, by midnight.  

November 12

Newsies extra credit post

The Broadway play, Newsies, dramatized the actual historical strike that took place in the summer of 1899 for two weeks. The actual strike was one of ten that took place in New York City between 1886 and 1948, but this one revolved around the pioneers of yellow journalism, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, and how they refused to reduce the price of the papers for their carriers.
As the program stated, Joseph Pulitzer wasn’t even in the city when the strike occurred in 1899, nor did Governor Teddy Roosevelt intervene on behalf of the strikers (though he would do so as president in the coal mine strike in 1902). So it makes me wonder what is more important for a piece of entertainment – historical accuracy or riveting drama?
Also as the program mentioned, the Newsies strike is similar to some of the most recent strikes that have been going on across the country in the past two and a half years. Workers have increasingly gone on strike for lots of different reasons recently, and there are some definite parallels with the Newsies’ strike.

Pulitzer prize founder Joseph Pulitzer is also the father of yellow  journalism
Lastly, there was an undercurrent of change, as portrayed by Katherine Plumber, who was trying to break into the very male-dominated world of reporting.

To get credit for this blog, please answer the first two questions and pick two of the several remaining questions to answer:

Required questions #1 and #2)

Find a recent strike that has occurred since January 2021 and do a little research. What were the main reasons why the workers went on strike? How did the economics of the past few years contribute to their working conditions? How was the strike resolved, if it was? Do you think the owners or the workers won in this strike you researched? Explain why.
2. How was the strike you researched in # 1 similar and / or different compared to the Newsies strike in 1899? Provide specific examples from both the play and the strike you examined.

History in Photos: Lewis Hine - Newsies

Pick two of the following questions to answer in addition to the 2 above:

3. How had women’s roles changed in the time period we have been studying (1491-1840s)? Provide some specifics.
4. What were some reasons why the Newsies were reluctant to go on strike? How might those reasons influence modern workers to be reluctant to go on strike or join a union?
5. In the play, how did Pulitzer exercise his wealth and power to try and get Jack Kelly to undermine the strike? How can we see this exercise of wealth and power used by businesses and CEOs to squash strikes and unions today?
6. Was the play pro or anti union? Explain why with specific examples from the play.
7. Why did the children in the play have to go to work instead of being in school? How different or similar are those reasons to why children and teens work today?

Total answers for all 4 questions should be a minimum of 400 words.
Due Tuesday night, November 21, by midnight.

October 25

Blog #160 – How Jeffersonian was Jefferson?

So, in the handouts on Thomas Jefferson and his attitudes on slavery, race, the economy, society, and other things written before he became president, many of you thought that he was inconsistent in some areas (race and slavery among others) but yet consistent in other things (belief in agriculture and the need for more land).

As a man of principle, Jefferson tried to live by his beliefs, but when he became president in 1801, he had a chance to put his beliefs into action.  Though he hated banks and strenuously opposed the creation of the Bank of the U.S. in 1791, he let Hamilton’s bank remain intact during his presidency.  In other ways, he remained true to his principles.

Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coin | U.S. Mint

As you look over the notes we collected as a class, the Louisiana Purchase article, and the items discussed, I want you to answer the following questions:

  1. Before he became president (and using the quotes we looked at this week), in which area was he most consistent and why?  And in which area was he most inconsistent and why do you think this?  
  2. As president from 1801 – 1809 (and using the notes we compiled on his presidency), in which area(s) was he most consistent?  Explain why.  And in which areas was he most inconsistent and why?  

Blog response due by Saturday, October 28 by midnight.  Your total answer for both questions above should be a minimum of 400 words.  

October 6

Blog #159 – How Revolutionary was the Revolution?

One of the primary themes that I’ve wanted you to consider over this unit on the American Revolution was the concept of whether or not it was a conservative revolution (people trying to keep powers/rights that they already have been exercising for years) or whether it was truly a radical revolution (people striking out on their own by overthrowing an existing political or social order and creating a new one).   American historians have been debating the very nature of the American Revolution soon after it ended.

My attitudes about the Revolution have changed over the past fifteen years since I’ve started teaching APUSH,  so my ideas have become more nuanced.  What I mean by that is that I used to believe what most of you have probably been taught – we were right and the British were tyrants, and it was just a matter of time that we asserted our unalienable rights by breaking away from the British empire to become the greatest nation in the history of the world.

However, the more I study the Revolution, the more I see numbers like the taxation issue (Brits were taxed 26 shillings to the colonists’ 1 shilling), and I wonder what the big deal was.  Parliament wasn’t asking the colonies to pay the debt of 133 million pounds sterling that the empire had accrued during the French and Indian War – just 1/3 of the 100,000 pounds that it cost for the soldiers to stay in North America to protect the Indigenous nations on the other side of the Proclamation Line of 1763.  Part of me sees the Stamp Act riots as an overreaction, the Boston Tea Party as vandalism not patriotism, and that the Revolution was about how indebted the wealthy were to the British and hoped to be freed from their debts by overthrowing the system.

The study of the history of the history, or historiography, looks at how historians framed the American Revolution.  What follows is a brief summary of how historians throughout American history have interpreted the Revolution.  Most often, the facts of major and minor events don’t change, it is the times and interpretations that change and reflect the historians’ view points.

Portrait of Mercy Otis WarrenOne of the very first histories of the American Revolution was written by Mercy Otis Warren and published in 1805; it was called The History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution.  Her history began with the Stamp Act and continued in 3 volumes to chronicle life after the Revolution, including the writing of and debates over the Constitution.   She was worried that without a national Bill of Rights, the new Constitution “Betray the people of the United States into an acceptance of a most complicated system of government, marked on the one side with the dark, secret and profound intrigues of the statesman … and on the other, with the ideal project of young ambition … to intoxicate the inexperienced votary.”   She was sharply critical of the Federalists who supported the new Constitution, and would later criticize Presidents George Washington and John Adams (though she wasn’t critical of Washington’s military success).  The books didn’t sell well, but her history has become a great source for current historians to look over her sources and immediate insights so soon after the war.


The pre-Civil War era (1840-1870) was filled with historians who saw the Revolution as a quest for liberty, and the most important scholar was George Bancroft who wrote a ten-volume History of the United States.  Bancroft felt that the Revolution was a “struggle between liberty and tyranny… represent[ing] one phase of a master plan by God for the march of all mankind toward a golden age of greater human freedom” (Bancroft 13).   Bancroft represented a national historian who told America’s epic origin story in an ultra-patriotic way.  After the Civil War, however, historians wanted to reassess the Revolution in light of the country’s amazing industrial growth.

Imperial and Progressive Schools 

The Imperial School (1890s – 1940) believed that political and constitutional issues brought on the Revolution.  Britain’s colonial policies were not as unjust as Bancroft had said.  There were benefits and burdens with the Navigation Acts, and the colonists benefited under Salutary Neglect too.  Also, Imperial School historians felt that the British were justified in taxing the Americans b/c it was British blood and treasure spent during the 7 Years War – 1754-63.  American colonies had moved in the direction of more home rule which, in essence, was revolutionary, by nature, and set up an inevitable conflict.

The Progressive School (1910s-1940s) emphasized that the Revolution was sparked by the economic split brought on by the competition between the colonies and the mother country.  Not only that, but the Progressives placed a great emphasis on class conflict, so this Revolution was actually two revolutions – external against Britain and internal between social classes (which social class would rule America after the British left?).  Historian Arthur Schlesinger noted that usually conservative merchants played a key role in kick-starting the Revolution b/c they feared what would happen to their positions if the lower classes won the internal Revolution.

Consensus Movement

Historians in the 1950s, the consensus school of history, feel that there wasn’t class conflict during this time period, but that a “shared commitment to certain fundamental political principles of self-government” was what bound the colonists together (Bailey 140).  It was these ideas – liberty, voting, representative government, trial by jury, habeas corpus – that bound Americans together.  The leading historian of this movement was one of my favorites, Daniel Boorstin.  It was these grand, shared ideas that bound the varied colonial interests together and minimized the social and economic conflicts that could have torn the colonies apart.

Image result

After the 1950s, historian Bernard Bailyn focused on ideological and psychological factors that drove the Revolution.  He had read hundreds and hundreds of pamphlets from the Revolutionary era and discovered that not only were the colonists extremely literate, they were very knowledgeable of political and constitutional theory.  These Revolutionary writers also grew suspicious (some say too sensitive) of conspiracies, and this hypersensitivity led the colonists to begin armed revolt in 1775 at Lexington and Concord.

New Left (1960s, 70s)

Another one of my favorite historians, Gary Nash, has examined the social and economic forces that moved the Revolution along.  He pointed out the increasing gap between the social classes and lack of social mobility before the Revolution, especially among the people who lived in the countryside.  Attacks by the poor (the Paxton Boys in PA and the Regulators in N.C.) on the wealthy before the Revolution are prime examples of the frustration and resentment that laborers and frontier farmers felt at being left out of the rapid economic change happening along the eastern coast of the colonies.  Unlike the Progressive historians, the New Left historians like Nash don’t pin all of the conflict upon economic conflict but include social changes as well.

Using what you’ve read here and in chapters 4 and 5 (“How Radical was the Revolution?” on p. 95 in the review book, and “Debating the Past” in Ch. 5 of the hardcover textbook, pgs. 132-33), provide with me some insight into what you think our American Revolution was – a conservative revolution or truly radical one in nature or somewhere in between – maybe both?  Don’t forget the handout, “Conflicting Views” too (included in the handout with the Navigation Acts on the first page).  Also, please provide some rationale for your answer from the ideas above and the Gary Nash article, “The Radical Revolution from the ‘Bottom Up’”. 

Due Monday, October 9th by class time.  Minimum of 350 words. 

September 11

Blog #158 – Oral Interviews about 9/11/01

Today, we will commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history.  Many adults remember where they were when they first heard about this traumatizing event and have vivid memories of watching the events unfold.  But since you were born after the attacks, you’ve only heard about it in stories and learned about it through videos.  However, one of the ways historians learn about recent events that they haven’t lived through is through oral interviews of people who lived through the events either directly or indirectly.

Link to digital exhibitions for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum found here: https://www.911memorial.org/learn/resources/digital-exhibitions

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

Interviewee: A person preferably aged 30 or above.

Suggested equipment: paper and pen or pencil for notes; suggest that you use a phone to record the interview.


  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 immediately after 9/11?
  13. What are your opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Explain.
  14. Now that it’s been over 20 years since the attack, how do you think America has changed since that day?  Why?  Has America stayed the same since then?  In what ways?

Your job:

Share a minimum of five questions and answers on Blog #158 (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 Tuesday, Sept. 19 by class.

Link to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum interactive timeline of events – https://timeline.911memorial.org/#FrontPage

Learn more about the 9/11 attacks, what came before, survivors’ stories, the clean-up, and the debate over how to commemorate the attacks and honor the victims –  – https://www.911memorial.org/learn/resources/911-primer

June 1

Blog #157 – Final Reflection on a Year in APUSH

This blog is part of your final exam, so please take some time and think about your answers.

400 words minimum for your total response of all of the questions.  Please number your answers in the comment section.

1. A lot of our time this year has been spent reading, writing, studying, watching videos, reflecting, and talking about American history.  Discuss what your favorite learning style was this year and why it was effective for you.  Also, explain which was your least favorite way to learn and explain why it doesn’t work for you.

2. We studied a lot of stuff this year – from the Pilgrims to the Revolution to Andrew Jackson (soon to be leaving the $20, or not) to Abe Lincoln to Alice Paul to the Depression and the Civil Rights Movement.  What did you wish we had spent more time on than we did this year and why?

3. Yep, we studied a whole lot of stuff this year, but I bet you wish there were some units that were shorter or didn’t go as in depth.  What did you wish we had studied less of and explain why (keep in mind that if the info didn’t make it onto the test doesn’t mean it won’t be there next year)?

4. Choose Your Own Adventure was a brand new wrinkle that I had introduced this year and never done something like this before.  What do you think were some of the strengths and weaknesses of this project?  Explain why.

5. People talk a lot about takeaways – a summary of an experience, distilled down to one or two sentences.  What is your takeaway from APUSH (or in other words, what did you truly learn about American history)?

Due by 11:59 p.m. on the night of your final exam.