Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slave Narrative Journal Assignment

I know no class of my fellowmen, however just, enlightened, and humane, which can be wisely and safely trusted absolutely with the liberties of any other class. - Frederick Douglass

The institution of slavery in the Unitied States in spite of it's attachment to the ideals of democracy and liberty is perhaps one of the most perplexing, shameful and painfully enduring periods of US history. This week's blog asks that you examine analytical sources as well as first-hand accounts of the slave experience in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of life in the Antebellum south and the conditions that led to mass upheval, the US Civil War and, ultimately, the abolition of slavery.

1) Read Chapter 9 "Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom" of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States at: (or, better yet, read it in your own copy of the book!) Post a brief summary of the chapter and two comments and/or questions about the major themes presented in the text.

2) Actively read selections from two Slave Accounts from the archive on Spartacus online archive:

(Be sure that your choices are accounts of enslaved people living in the Unites States)

3) Select at least three compelling quotes to reflect on in your blog. You may free-response by saying what the quote reminds you of or makes you wonder, or draw out themes and parallels about the slave experience in the United States. Try to make allusion’s to Zinn’s key ideas in your reflections.

4) Finally, Explain why you believe so many enslaved individuals decided to write narratives of their experiences with slavery? What is the purpose and power of examining primary sources like these while studying the institution of slavery in the American south?

This post should be at least 400 words. Please respond to at least one other students’ post for this assignment.

Due Monday, January 5.

Because I have asked for you to read a chapter of Zinn's book, anticipate a graded seminar on the chapter when we return from break. You are encouraged to prepare notes for your reference in the seminar, which will be graded as a quiz.

Chapter 10 in your textbook may be helpful in completing the assignment. Copious notes from the chapter will be due Thursday, January 8.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Does the concept of Manifest Destiny still inform US foreign policy?

In the article "Manifest DEstiny and Mission in the 20th Century", author Paul A Janson argues that "Manifest Destiny's purpose was to dominate North America at the expense of not only Mexico but of the Native American population as well. Today, in the name of "free market" we believe it is not only our right to destroy the enemy we chose it is "our obligation." We are, after all, fighting for 'freedom'. But once again, who will be free is not clear." He likens the 19th century US conflict over Texas in the US -Mexican War with modern efforts to promote free trade and democrasy through what he views as questionable means of diplomacy.

The questions this article raised to me, while controversial, is an interesting discussion for us to entertain in our current unit on expansion and sectionalism.


1. Read the article cited in the introduction at:

2. summarize the artilce and it's new insights on US-Mexican relations.

3. Answer the following question based on the article, text and our recent discussion:

Is the promotion of an American agenda (free market capitalism and democratic governments) justified or are US actions in nations like Iraq and Afghanistan examples of a new wave of Manifest Destiny?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

State vs. Federal Power: Education Policy - a state or national issue?

Amendment X to the U.S. Constitution reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


1. Read the following articles about No Child Left Behind.

2. Consider the main arguments of both authors and answer the following question:

Does NCLB and federal education policies support or violate the 10th Amendment?

Article A) No Child Left Behind Act: An intrusion on state's rights? By Robert S. Sargent, Jr.

web posted March 7, 2005

On January 29 of this year, the Executive Committee of theNational Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) unanimouslyapproved the Final Report of the Task Force on No Child LeftBehind (The Report). According to their website (,where you can download the whole report) the "NCSL is abipartisan organization that…provides research, technicalassistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideason the most pressing state issues." The Report is divided into sixchapters that analyze in detail the problems state legislators havewith mainly two questions: "What do we need to do to make thelaw work and how can we effect improvements to it throughadditional congressional or administrative actions?" According to The Report, the goal of the No Child Left BehindAct that President Bush modeled after his program in Texas is"…to close or dramatically narrow the differences inachievement among American students that cross lines of skincolor, ethnicity, immigrant status and wealth." In this column I willsummarize the problems given in The Report, and then showhow a state is currently dealing with these problems. Starting with Chapter 2 (I will come back to Chapter 1) the firstproblem is how to deal with the Act's standardized testing and"...holding schools accountable for their progress." It seems thatthere is "…an unnecessary level of rigidity and questionablemethodology." For example, "NCLB mandates that schools beevaluated by comparing successive groups of students against astatic, arbitrary standard, not by tracking the progress ofstudents over time." And, "The law improperly identifies schoolsas ‘in need of improvement' by creating too many ways to ‘fail.'"Finally, "The law allows students to transfer from schools foundto be in need of improvement before the school has anopportunity to address specific individual deficiencies." Chapter 3 deals with the fact that certain aspects of NCLB arein conflict with the Disabilities Education Act. Chapter 4addresses the fact that the NCLB "…imposes a uniform set ofrequirements that all schools must meet," while not recognizingthat "Many urban and rural schools face unique challenges ineducating students." Chapter 5 deals with the "highly qualifiedteacher clause" that "…is particularly problematic for hard-to-staff schools." And Chapter 6 deals with the costs of complyingwith the Act. "In the best case scenario, federal fundingmarginally covers the costs of complying with the administrativeprocesses of the law." Now Chapter 1: Is the Act itself constitutional? Past SupremeCourt decisions have held that it is constitutional if Congressblackmails the states by withholding money if states don't complywith a mandate. For example, if North Carolina doesn't pass astate law that meets Federal requirements for legal alcohol levelwhen driving, they will lose federal highway money. However,the federal government cannot coerce a state into complying witha mandate. We will see that last year when Utah asked thequestion, what if we just opt out of the Act? "…the U.S.Department of Education responded that not only would Utahlose its Title I funds, it would forfeit nearly twice that much inother formula and categorical funds…" That's coercion! (A billopting out of the Act was introduced last year by Rep. MargaretDayton. According to Rep. Dayton, the feds contribution toUtah of $105 million is "…about 5 percent of our state budget,but NCLB directs 100 percent of our state education. I didn'tfeel like it was worth that 5 percent." The Utah Senate didn'tagree.) The Report also addresses the other constitutional issue:the 10th Amendment. The Act "…pits the 10th Amendment,which reserves the powers to the states, against the spendingclause of Article I." For us Constitutional Conservatives, this isnonsense. The 10th Amendment couldn't be plainer: Education isnot an area that's delegated to the United States, therefore it isan area reserved to the states. Period. Unlike idealists like me, Isuppose that the NCSL must deal with reality. There actually is aDepartment of Education. Oh, well. Utah (the state that gave Bush his largest margin of victory) injust the last couple of weeks, is again challenging the Act.According to the Salt Lake Tribune, on February 18, "Membersof the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed twoUtah House measures meant to keep the federal No Child LeftBehind Act at bay. One was a resolution…to recognize Utah'sefforts to measure student competency and sustain qualityschools. The other was… (an) effort to mediate the powerstruggle between state priorities and President Bush's federalmandate to reform public schools with imposed standardizedtests." In other words, "state priorities trump NCLB – even if itmeans breaking the federal law." So how has Washington reacted? Tim Bridgewater, Gov. JonHuntsman Jr.'s education deputy said the bill "has been helpful inopening some dialogue with the Department of Education." Soon February 24, the Tribune wrote, "Federal education officialssay Utah's 8,500 veteran elementary school teachers are highlyqualified after all." On other issues? Bridgewater said, "We hit abit of an impasse…" Last week, Utah's unanimously passed billcompletely opting out of the Act now had the votes in theSenate, but the Bush administration put pressure on GovernorHuntsman, and the governor convinced the legislature to take nomore action until April 20 so that they would have more time tonegotiate with the feds. What does all this mean? When a state like Utah with legislatorslike Dayton, stands up to the federal government, it can getresults. It can also empower other states to action. Kim Cobb inthe Houston Chronicle wrote: "Fifteen states have introducedlegislation in the first two months of this year challenging the lawat a variety of levels…(and) many state leaders are taking theircue…from Dayton." For us Republicans who say we admire a Joe Liebermanbecause he has principles that he won't compromise, even to hisparty, we have to admire Ms. Dayton for her efforts to defendher state even against her president. And for us constitutionalists,we have to love a legislator who places her state's priorities overthe federal government. High five to the 10th Amendment!

Article B) "The Tenth Amendment Challenge?" By Steve Lilienthal October 12, 2005Congressmen.

Too few Congressmen take it upon themselves to appear before the debt clock that flashes the size of our mounting debts. The appropriation for the CDGB program is over $4 billion for FY 2005.The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Most mature Americans do not promote use of illegal, addictive drugs, particularly by younger Americans. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) advertising and PR campaign urges Americans to talk to their children. It's a useful recommendation.The question needs to be asked: Given the current situation, there is one more reason for parents to talk to their children - to tell them about the bill we are passing on to them - the interest on the national debt -- thanks to our failure to curtail unconstitutional spending on programs like that of the ONDCP. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign received appropriations of $119,040,000 in FY 2005. Kids may be doing drugs but does ONDCP's media campaign have its own addiction problem?The Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The Constitution assures the accused in a criminal case a right to counsel. Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, and Counsel to the Legal Services Corporation in the George Herbert Walker Bush Administration, points out, "There is no constitutional right to file a lawsuit at government expense."The attorneys funded by this quasi-government agency have the discretion to pick their cases and often they are tilting against businesses, farmers and landlords. A House Budget Committee report from the 1990s emphasized, "A phase-out of federal funding for LSC will not eliminate free legal aid for the poor. State and local governments, bar associations, and other organizations already provide substantial legal aid to the poor." Appropriations in FY 2005: $330,803,705 (after two rescissions).The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Americans spend over $25.5 billion on the arts. Other than very limited projects in consonance with portraying our national history, there is no reason for the hundred million or so spent by NEA. It's great work if you can get an NEA grant but providing a subsidy for the arts is simply not a function of the federal government assigned by our Constitution. Artists will not starve without the NEA; they just will have to compete harder for all the other money out there. NEA appropriations for FY 2005, including two modest recissions made by Congress, was $121,263,000.Two ideas that can be of use in attempting to rein in Big Government have been advanced by Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).Shadegg is sponsor of The Enumerated Powers Act (H.R. 2458), that would require each bill introduced in Congress to include a statement citing constitutional authority. Shadegg has introduced this bill in several Congresses. He argued in 2001 that the Enumerated Powers Act was needed because:"Our Founding Fathers believed the grant of specific rather than legislative powers to the national government would be one of the central mechanisms for protecting our freedoms while allowing us to achieve the objectives best accomplished through a national government. One of the most important things Congress can do is to honor and abide by the principles embodied in the Constitution -- no more, no less. Respecting the Tenth Amendment is the first way to ensure that the genius of the Constitution and its division of power between the national government,the States, and the people continues to guide our nation."If enacted, Shadeg's Enumerated Powers Act would become the constitutionalist version of Consumer Reports.After extensive research by the Free Congress Foundation, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KA) have introduced the Commission on the Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies Act (S.1155 and H.R. ), more frequently referred to as "CARFA." Many conservatives, upon hearing the title of Brownback's bill, will instantly say, "The last thing we need is another commission examining the problem. We know what's wrong; what we need is action!" Brownback's bill, if enacted into law, would provide just that.CARFA members would be appointed by the President and the Congressional Leadership. They would undertake an extensive study of federal agencies and programs, specifically looking for those that are wasteful, duplicative or simply obsolescent.The bill does not specifically mandate a Tenth Amendment test. Pressure would need to be exerted on those who appoint, particularly those representing the more conservative party, to place commissioners who respect the purpose of the Tenth Amendment and want to see it reflected in Federal Government expenditures. The Commission would issue its recommendations in a report to Congress which then would vote up or down on the whole package.The Executive Branch and Congress have each proven themselves to be careless in recent decades when it comes to exercising appropriate caution in spending taxpayer money. Worse, they have ignored the Constitution and its limits on federal power.The result is mounting deficits, leading to large interest payments on the national debt. That is not the legacy we want to leave to posterity.It's time to start pruning the federal government. (Reforming "third rail" entitlement programs, such as Medicaid and Social Security, is vital but something which Congress and the Executive Branch habitually defer.)The Constitution is clear about what the responsibilities of the federal government are and Members of Congress have taken an oath to uphold the course charted by our Founding Fathers. It's time Congress started to apply "The Tenth Amendment Challenge" to domestic spending.

post must meet a minimum of 250 words
be sure to respond to one peer's post
blog due Monday 11/17 before class

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Bill of Rights: In action or not

As we learned in last week's unit on the Critical Period, one important development at the Constitutional Conventions was the drafting of the first 10 Amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights. Ultimately, it was the incorporation of these liberties into our nation's legal system that settled disputes between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. In modern American society, the necessity for and interpetations of these secured liberties, particularly those testing the elastic clauses of the 10th amendment are often the causes of political and cultural debate. This weekend's blog asks that you consider the role of the Bill of Rights in modern US society.

Directions: Actively read the following article posted below (also available for view at:

1. Based in the following NY Times article, summarize Richard Minsky’s (the artists’) view on the Bill of Rights and it’s role in modern US society.

2. Analyze two of his criticisms based on your knowledge of US government and the Bill of Rights.

3. Finally, respond to the following question:Is the Bill of Rights reflected in or distorted in modern US society. Refer to anecdotal (personal stories) or academic evidence to support your answer.

Your blog must be a miniminum of 200 words and include a response to at least one other student's post. Blog due Monday, Nov. 10 at the beginning of class. Remember to also answer the practice AP questions distributed in class on Friday.
For your reference, a copy of the Bill of Rights is available on page and at:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------May 20, 2002 "Artist Depicts the Bill of Rights in a World Out of Joint"
'I like art that gives you a reality fix,'' says Richard Minsky. A reality he treasures is the Bill of Rights, so Mr. Minsky, 55, a Greenwich Village artist and professional bookbinder, has found a way to exemplify the first 10 amendments to the Constitution as artworks.
For the First Amendment protecting freedom of expression, for example, he burned a copy of Salman Rushdie's ''Satanic Verses'' and sealed up the charred volume in an arabesque windowed reliquary.For the Sixth Amendment guaranteeing a speedy and public trial, he glued a black-leather glove daubed with red onto a copy of Jeffrey Toobin's best seller ''The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson.'' (''I used paint, not real blood,'' Mr. Minsky said, ''not that I haven't, or wouldn't.'')And for the Eighth Amendment, barring cruel and unusual punishment, he took a book on penology, ''Forlorn Hope: The Prison Reform Movement'' by Larry E. Sullivan, a professor of criminal justice, rebound it in stripes and chained it to a little jail. ''You can take the book out for exercise,'' Mr. Minsky said, ''but then it must go back to its cell.''
The 10 works are on display at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery at 141 Prince Street in Soho through June 1. Twenty-five editions of the set are being offered at $18,000 each. (The works are viewable online at Minsky, who has been exhibiting his art for 30 years and founded the nonprofit Center for Book Arts at 626 Broadway, said he thought long and hard about celebrating the amendments, whatever their consequences. ''While you got them, enjoy them,'' he said.For the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms he chose a book about violent hate groups, ''Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat'' by Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mr. Minsky depicts the author in the bull's-eye of a target.The Third Amendment, barring the forced quartering of soldiers in private homes, was represented by a reimagined nuclear football -- an attaché case like the one bearing the codes for unleashing atomic war. It contains a copy of ''Seven Days in May'' by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey, a novel about the nation's top military commander seeking to commandeer the White House, and a DVD of the movie with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.For the Fourth Amendment, against unreasonable search and seizure, Mr. Minsky chose a copy of ''Neuromancer,'' William Gibson's 1984 science-fantasy novel presenting cyberspace as a realm vulnerable to governmental intrusion. He built a slipcase with an imbedded network interface card and hot-stamped it with the text of the amendment in hologram foil.
The Fifth Amendment, guaranteeing due process of law for criminal defendants, was exemplified by a novel in the form of an epic poem, ''Branches'' by Mitch Cullin, about a brutal Texas sheriff who takes the law into his own hands. Mr. Minsky bound the book in khaki, affixed a badge -- and peppered the cover with nine-millimeter slugs.For the Seventh Amendment, providing for jury trials in civil cases over $20, he selected ''The Litigation Explosion: What Happened When America Unleashed the Lawsuit'' by Walter K. Olson, and rebound it in mock $20 bills that replaced the image of President Andrew Jackson with that of James Madison, father of the Bill of Rights.For the Ninth Amendment, reserving all unenumerated rights to the people, Mr. Minsky highlighted ''the right to privacy,'' using a book of that name by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy and re-illustrating it with photos of Diana, Princess of Wales, including endpapers depicting her fatal car crash.The 10th Amendment, protecting states' rights, stumped Mr. Minsky for some time. ''I was wracking my brain, and then, out of nowhere, I thought of November-December 2000.''
He downloaded the United States Supreme Court decision intervening in the Florida-vote controversy and handing the presidential election to George W. Bush. Mr. Minsky bound the docket in brown leather like a law book with the spine title off-center. ''It's a little crooked,'' he said.The works are available only as a set, Mr. Minsky said. ''People ask me, 'Can I get one?''' he said. ''I say, 'The government is trying to take them away one by one; you have to have them all.' '
'Correction: May 23, 2002, Thursday An article in The Arts on Monday about Richard Minsky, an artist and bookbinder who has created artworks representing the Bill of Rights, gave an outdated address for the Center for Book Arts, a nonprofit group he founded in New York. It is at 28 West 27th Street, third floor

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preparing for the American Revolution Debate

Loyalist Documents (Tories)

A Loyalist Answers Thomas Paine

Nationalist/ Rebel/ Patriot Documents: 

Your group's presentation must include: 
 an opening statement (1. 5 minutes)
an argument (2 mins)
a rebuttal (2 mins) 
two questions/ challenges to the opposing team (to be posted on the blog today)
a closing statement (1.5 mins)

If you finish early you may work on your blog OR play the Road to Revolution game:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Does popular culture promote a nationalistic view of American History? (American Revolution case study)

Inspiration:"Ms. Francis, this class has challenged everything I know about US History!" - Sam Goon, 2007.

Context: Many of you have noted, as Sam did last year, that much of what is taught about US history in grade and middle school is lacking historical context and accuracy. In fact, many historians argue that the conventional approach to teaching US History in public schools often

"perpetuates popular myths (e.g., the first Thanksgiving)...lies by omission... leaves false impressions.... avoids negative images even from primary sources... fails to portray whole people, distort events and attitudes ... avoid conflict and controversy at all costs ...and fundamentally shun anything that would put history, people, and movements into context... Instead, students memorize the archetypes and the myths built around them without thinking about their likelihood—or improbability."

With that critical lens in mind, I'd like to devote this week's blog to reconsidering some popular culture potrayls of the American Revolution and the foundational principles of American Democracy.

Directions:"Schoolhouse Rock" was a popular Saturday morning cartoon show that aired in the late 1970's- 1989 (yes, we had T.V. back then - no cable.) It covered everything from algebra to zoology. Predictably, my favortie episodes were those that focused on US History and Government. These resources are basic in their teachings but directly reflect the general public's understanding of critical events from US history.

2. Assess the historical accuracy of these cartoons by comparing and contrasting them to our current class materials on the American Revolution. Then share your thoughts on the following questions:

  • Does popular culture promote a nationalistic view of US History?

  • What cultural, political or economic purpose does this serve in modern US society?

Expectations:I remind you to draw on direct facts from our current unit of study in your response. Also, remember to reflect on at least one other blog. 250 word minimum is required for a grade higher than N on this assignment.

Extra Credit: Create your own creative representation of the American Revolution through images, music, comic strip, lyrics, or video. It can be posted on the blog or emailed to me at:

blog is due by Friday, Oct. 17 before class

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Marking Period Extra Credit Assignment: Film Review

For extra credit this marking period you may write a film review for any one of the following movies:

Last of the Mohicans (R) (Action-Drama : Native American culture, colonization, resistance)

1492 (Drama: Columbus, imperialism, conquest)

The Crucible (Drama: The Salem witch trials)

The Salem Witch Trials - 2002 (Take a guess on the subject of this movie with a star-studded cast)

The Mission (Political Drama: missionaries and conquest in Brazil, 16th Century)

Apocolypto (R) (Action: Conquistadors and the Maya, 15th Century)

The Scarlet Letter - 1995 (R), 1979 PG-13
Drama: Women in Colonial New England)
*note: the 1979 version of this film is FAR more school appropriate and true to historical accuracy than then the 1995 version

If you see one of the films with an R rating, please submit a written note signed by your parent/guardian granting permission for seeing the film. Or if typed work is submitted, have your guardian sign the top of your work. Without a signature, the assignment will not count.

Your review must include:

a) a synopsis of the film including details on the plot, characters and conclusion/ ending of the conflicts presented in the movie

b) an explanation of how this film relates to the period in American History and discussions/ readings we've shared in class

c) A personal analysis of the film and your opinion on it. What did you like/ dislike about this film? Did it seem to present an accurate portrayl of period in which it was set? What further questions do you have about the plot or actual historical events related to this movie? Would you reccomend it to other students of American History? Why or why not?

Film reviews must be 300 words and be submitted or blogged by no later than Wednesday, 10/8.

(if you use outside sources, please cite them in MLA format or link them to your blog)

You MAY complete more than one film review, but this assignment does not supplement missing work.

Blog #3: Is history destined to repeat itself?

Read the articles
a)"Fight for the Top of the World" :,8599,1663445,00.html

b)"CIA Expands it's Inquiry into Interrogation Tactics":

Both articles make allusions to topics we've recently covered in class. Article A discusses the colonization of the Arctic and clearly relates to the scramble for colonial territories in the Americas that occurred during the 15th-17th centuries.

Perhaps more controversial is the position that harsh interrogation tactics toward suspected terrorists as described in article B can be likened to the persecution of suspected witches in the New England colonies in the 17th century (collectively referred to as the Salem Witch Trials.)

Consider our recent study of culture and poltics in pre-revolutionary colonial North America. Reflect on the relationship between these current events articles and your study of history. When is the use of colonial power and harsh interrogation tactics justified? Is history destined to repeat itself?

You may reflect on one or both of the articles assigned. Remember to respond to the question as well as the comments of at least one other classmate. Your response should be at least 200 words.

Image: "The Snow Queen", Hans Christian Anderson, 1844.
Blog due Friday, October 3, before the begining of class.
Reminder: all work for the 1st marking period must be in by Tuesday, October 7 by 3:20 p.m. This includes extra credit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Comparing Colonial Settlements: Resources for 9/23

1. Go to :

2. Review the "Settlement of New England" , the "Chesapeake Colonization" and the "Restoration Colonies" presentations. 

3. Complete the graphic organizer as you view each presentation. 

You will have two periods to complete this work, then we will be having an in-class test review on Thursday and an exam of 20 multiple choice and one free-response essay on Friday. If you miss the review you are still required to take the test on Friday. 

By thursday, prepare a review sheet on your own or with your group on material covered in Chapters 1-3, focusing on the questions I provided on the Objectives hand out on Monday. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog # 2: Was the new world superior to the old world?

Now that we've spent time exploring the initial motives and consequences of European colonization of the Americas, I'd like to hear your position on one of this week's essential questions: Was the New World superior to the Old World? Please refer to class materials and/or any outside research you complete for your first project as evidence to support your answer. 

Be sure to respond to one other blogger after you have posted your own thoughtful response. 

Due Monday, September 22

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog Assignment #1: Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress

1. Actively read Chapter 1 of "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. 
Consider the question posed by the author on page 17, "was all this bloodshed and deceit ... a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization?" 

2. Respond to this question incorporating details from the reading and the other materials we explored together in class this week. Your reflection should be no less than 250 words. Due Monday, September 15.

Upcoming Seminar (counts as a key grade this marking period.)
Be prepared to have a seminar on this chapter on Monday. You should prepare three text-based discussion questions. You will be graded on preparation and participation in the debate on the following scale:

1- unprepared - missing book and/or question and did not participate in discussion

2- moderately prepared with notes or comments, but contributions were mainly reactive and/or did not reflect close work with the text

3- well prepared with thoughtful notes and comments. Contributions were based on text OR academically sound, but general in nature.

4- Well prepared and insightful contributions to discussion. Comments/ questions reflected a fair comprehension of the text but may reflect some slight misunderstandings.

5 - Very well prepared and actively engaged in discussion. Comments and questions were insightful and reflected a deep understanding of the text. References to outside examples were submitted and relevant.

due monday at the beginning of class

the first chapter of this book is available to read in full at:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Summer Assignment Study Group Questions

On page XV of his introduction, Eric Foner suggests  that: 

"Freedom is so central to our political language that it is impossible to understand American history without knowledge of the multi-faceted debates over it's meaning... the history of freedom sheds light on the ideas and purposes of social and political movements... what is important is not so much the evolution of a single definition as the multiple purposes to which the idea of freedom has been put, and the broader belief systems these useages illuminate."

Consider this quote as you reflect on Chapters 1- 6 of The Story of American Freedom.

Work with your group to complete each of the following tasks for each chapter assigned from to your group from the text:

1) Identify the dominant definition of freedom in each era/chapter 
 (For example, a reflection on Chapter 1 would explain require an explanation of how colonists' defined freedom in response to British tyranny and exploitation...)

2)  Provide three pieces of text based evidence (quotes/ passages) to support the definition that your group decided on in Step 1.

3) Identify the individuals and events that contributed to the development and promotion of each definition of freedom. Explain why each individual/ event's significance. (provide at least TWO events and TWO individuals for each chapter.)

Your notes for this assignment may be submitted as a group but each member is responsible for familiarity with the information , which you may need to know for this Monday's assessment based on the summer reading.

Your responses may be in outline format but must be legible and easy to understand. Please use headings if you chose an outline format and be sure they are self-explanatory. Give citations (page numbers) for all quotes you use in your response, and include the quotes itself in it's entirety.

Please bring your Foner book and notes for it to class every day this week. 

The study group notes will be due at the beginning of class on Friday.

Friday, May 23, 2008

1960s and 70s Speed Dating Mini-Project

You will be randomly assigned a figure from the 1960s or 1970s to research thoroughly by Tuesday, 5/27.

The goal is that you get to know that person well enough to answer any question your three minute date may ask you in class.

I'm posting three basic questions, but would like each of you to post your own in class today that will help your peers prepare for the big day.

You will be given a graphic organizer to complete on your speed dates on Tuesday.

A minimum two page historical biography with three works cited in MLA format is required.

Additional notes for speed dating are fine.

This will be a project grade so dress the part. (+10!)

Paper will be worth 50%, graphic organizer 30% and participation in the "dates" 25%

Interview Questions
1. What achievement in your life are you most proud of?
2. Identify one decision or experience from your life that you truly regret.
3. If you could meet anyone from history (fact or fiction), who would it be and why?
(Ms. Francis)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cold War and the Sixties: Redefining Freedom

Read Chapters 11 and 12 in the Story of American Freedom.

- Take copious notes
- Compose 3 discussion questions
- Write a reflection comparing the ideals both decades. Evaluate Foners' notion that the 60's "challenged the ... orthodoxy of the 60's and redirected national attention to ... freedom at home."


Thursday, May 8, 2008


If you wish you may complete any assessment posted on my A block blog,, for extra credit. Or, complete any DBQ from Out of Many that we have not worked on for class.

If you would like to get ahead, you can begin reading and copious notes for chapter 26. Pages 930-48 are due by Tuesday 5/15.

We will be taking a practice AP exam in class next Thurday 5/17 during E and B blocks.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Text assignmnet due Monday, May 5

Read pp. 887- 910 in Out of Many. Take copious notes and two excerpts from section A of Chapter 35 in American Spirit (365-74).
Take copious notes and respond to the following question:

It has been said that the four years of the Great Depression and eight years of the New Deal. Comment on this statement with emphasis on identity politics - considering how the war affected the lives of ethnic, economic and political minorities as well as women.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FDR's Supreme Court Reorganization Plan

Use the following links to complete the Court Reorganization worksheet: (political cartoons demonstrating different views on the topic.) FDR's Fireside Chat on his Supreme Court Reorganization Plan

Agricultural Readjustment- US v. Butler

Minimum Wage - West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish

Interstate and Foreign Trade - Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan

Congressional Authority over commerce - Carter v. Carter Coal Company

Congressional Power to influence state laws - Steward Machine Co. v. Davis

The following links will be helpful in your efforts to summarize landmark cases that occurred under FDR's administration:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

AP US history review site

Use the links on this site to review, focusing mainly on the early and later colonies materials.

Create flash cards on topics you feel you need to review; we will have a practice test (that will be graded and count) on these topics in our review session after break.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Useful links for researching the 1920's

women’s activities

Was the Great Depression inevitable?

Read the following sources and respond to the essential questions posted below.

A) a brief review of the political, economic and social developments of the 1920’s published by the US State Department:

B) a summary of the reasons why the Stock Market crashed in 1929 from PBS online:

C) pages 194-205 in The Story of American Freedom

Consider these sources and all you learned from the text and discussions this week on the 1920s. Was the stock market crash inevitable? In your opinion, did the US government do all it could have to prevent and alleviate the economic crisis that swept the nation from 1929- 1935? Provide evidence to support your views.

Your response should be at least 200 words and include comments on at least one other post. Due Friday 4/11 before class.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reading assignment and blog for week of 3/24

Finish reading and copious notes for Chapter 22 of Out of Many.

For your blog -
Read Chapter 8 of The Story of American Freedom by Friday 3/28.

In Chapter 8 of The Story of American Freedom, Eric Foner explains that "the enlistment of democracy and freedom as ideological war weapons, qualities that set the country apart from German authoritarianism, inevitably inspired demands for their expansion at home."

In your opinion, why did American social movements gain momentum during the period leading up to and immediately following the Great War. Reference at least three achievements of social movements to support your answer.

Be prepared to have a seminar on this chapter on Friday 3/28.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What constitutes a just war? Analyzing the US' involvement in WWI and modern-day Iraq

This week marks the fifth consecutive year that US forces have been at war in Iraq. With all the emphasis we can anticipate the media and politicans will give this commemorative anniversary, it seems logical that we take some time to think together as a class about wars, past and present.

1) Consider what you know about World War I, the current War on Terror and global conflict in general. Then read an article from section I and II (read more if you like.) The hand out entitiled "Why did the US enter WWI" from last week will be helpful as well.

A) bulleted outline of key historical perspectives on the US' role in WWI, requires Acrobat reader
b) Describes public opinion and the historical impact of US foreign policy in the Great Wardiscussion of US public opinion on American involvement in WWI
c) discussion of US public opinion on American involvement in WWI

II) IraqD)"Just War or Just a War" by former US President Jimmy Carter, New York Times, 2003
(argues against continued US occupation and war in Iraq)

E) "Fighting a Just War in Iraq" by Joseph Locatone, The Heritage Foundation, 2003 in favor of continued US occupation and war in Iraq)

F) "A War We Just Might Win" by Michael O' Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, New York Times, 2007
(offers analysis of US' effectiveness in Iraq)

2) Respond to the following questions. Include details from the articles and class as evidence of your work:

  • What makes a war just?
  • Was the US justified in it's decision to aid and ultimately join the Allied Powers in the Great War?
  • Is the US' involvement in Iraq just? Compare and contrast these conflicts and the US' role in them.

(Note - this assignment is intended to be analytical and maybe controversial, it's OK for us to disagree, but please maintain academic decorum and respect for one another's views.)

200 word minimumPlease respond to at least one other post

Due friday 3/21 by 5:00 p.m. (we don't have school that day.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nationalist Movements in Hawaii and Puerto Rico

This week we are exploring the reasons that the US government sought colonial rule over regions of the Caribbean and South Pacific at the turn of the 20th century. The legitimacy of US authority over commonwealths like Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa and even the statehood of Hawaii remain controversial issues in modern society. This week's blog asks that you read some articles on contemporary nationalist movements and analyze the call for independence that is becoming a strong political movement among indigenous people in these areas.


Actively read the following articles on independence movements in Hawaii and Puerto Rico

Summarize the articles and explain the reasons why Puerto Rican and Hawaiian nationalists feel their homelands should be granted full independence by the US government.

In your opinion, would autonomy and self-rule benefit the people of Hawaii and Puerto Rico or exacerbate poverty and other problems that exist in these areas today? Explain using support from the article, your knowledge of history and any outside sources that you may use to further research this assignment. If you read other sources, be sure to cite the URL or newssource in your post.

minimum 200 words, please comment on the post of one of your peers.
Due Friday 3/7 before class.

Story of American Freedom, Chapter 7 seminar : Progressive Freedom

On p. 153 Foner notes that the pursuit of happiness was a key aspect of the Progressive movement and quotes Dewian reformer Randolph Bourne as saying "freedom means a democratic cooperation in determining the ideas, purposes, industrial and social institutions of a country." To what extent was this standard of freedom advanced in the Progressive Era?

Refer to different social classes, cultural and political groups on a national and international level.

Prepare notes and questions based on this chapter and your text readings on imperialism at the turn of the century.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

US Imperialism: Comparing turn of the 20th and 21st century international relations

Read the following articles on US foreign policy at the turn of the 20th (a) and 21st (b, c) Centuries

How does AFL leaders' Samuel Gompers' views on imperialism compare with those of the contemporary editorialists featured in articles B and C?

What similarities and differences do you see between US foreign policy in the Phillipines and Hawaii under Mickinley and Roosevelt and that of G.W. Bush?

In your opinion, when is US foreign intervention justified? What should be the role of the US government in "developing nations" and "emerging deomocracies?" Provide specific examples and evidence to support your response?

Minimum 300 words

Respond to at least one other post

Due Fri. 2/29 at the begining of class

Monday, February 18, 2008

Election Study: Comparing turn of the 20th century politics with today's presidential race

1. Check out CNN's "Election Central" resources:

2. Identify and summarize at least three key issues in the upcoming elections. Discuss the positions of any two politicians still in the running for Presidental nomination in the Democratic and Republican parties. What are the major differences in their political views? Who's politics do you support more? Why?

3. Then, read a recent New York Times editorial about the similarties between Senator Hillary Clinton and one of the Presidents covered in out latest unit, Grover Cleveland:

And an article from US News and World Reports about a scandal that took place in the 1888 election:

Summarize the scandal of 1888 and explain why the author feels Hilliary Clinton might be "the next Grover Cleveland?" Evaluate his position using evidence from your candidate research.

For optional extra credit you may complete one or both of the following tasks:
a) Research two third party candidates and summarize and compare their views with the other candidates you read about for this blog


b)Identify summarize two "Great Moments in Campaign History" from US News' recent coverstory:

THIS BLOG MUST BE AT LEAST 400 words. Please remember to comment on at least one other post. Extra credits should be 200 words each. Due Monday 2/25 before class.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nativism and Immigration in the Gilded Age

Read the article posted below (two formats available): (with images, PDF requires Adobe Acrobat),+disease&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us
(HTML/ will work on any computer)

AND Chapter One of Jacub Riis' How the Other Half Lives

A) Discuss how health, sanitation and scientific theory affected the lives of "old immigrants" in the Gilded Age.

B) Consider Riis' arguments for social reform and Herbert Spencer's theory of Social Darwinism.

In your opinion, was the government responsible for the health and safety of immigrant communities at the turn of the 20th Century?

Should undocumented (alien) immigrants recieve social services in modern US society?

How do your opinions on these matter relate to the Riis and Spencer?

C) Respond to the post of at least one classmate.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Digital History Investigation: The Gilded Age

Group work project - 50 points

Over the next two class periods, we shall be exploring the Gilded Age through the following social and political lenses:

· African Americans After Slavery
· Indian Policy
· Changing Status of Women
· Farmers' Revolt
· Responses to Industrialization


1. Chose one of the topics above and move to the table marked with that label.
This will be your working group for our first project of the new marking period.

2. You group must complete the following tasks on our class blog OR powerpoint:

Using resources at the Digital History archive:

A) Create a mini-timeline identifying 8 events related to your topic. Summarize three of the most important of these events in detail. Use the timeline link on the homepage for this assignment to aid you in this process.

B) Identify and summarize a landmark Supreme Court case that related to your topic of study. How did the outcome/ decision influence society in the Gilded Age?

C) Answer any two of the questions at the end of your topic summary. Overall, do you feel the trends and developments related to your topic in the Gilded Age advanced or hindered social progress in the United States?

D) Post and summarize at least two visual sources (cartoons, maps, graphs, photographs, etc.) related to your topic. This task requires internet research outside of the URL provided, so be sure to post links to your visual sources and (if possible) include MLA citations.

E) Compose three study questions that your classmates should be able to answer upon reading your group’s work.

3. Present your work to the rest of our class (Thursday)

Note: we will only have access to the computers in class today (Tues 2/5) and tomorrow (Wed. 2/6) so it is vital that you take responsibilty for some of this work at home.

Your homework tonight is to work on this assignment.

Assessment- Each task will be graded on a scale of 1-10 points using the following rubric:

9-10 points: accurate analytical work that reflects a comprehensive understanding of the period and topic area assigned. Insightful connections drawn to economic, social and cultural trends and/or other periods of US history.

7-8 points: Accurate work that reflects a thorough understanding of the era and topic assigned. Work is straightforward and provides historical detail with some analysis.

5-6 points: Work includes factual errors but attempts to meet guidelines of the task.

3-4 points: Work is incomplete

0 points: section missing

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Term 2 Blog Assignment #1: US Society in the Gilded Age

The period immediately following the Civil War presented a number of challenges to the United States. Reconstruction was an expensive federal endeavor, meaning society in part tured to private industry to strengthen the economy. In the essay "Robber Barons and Rebels", Howard Zinn discusses the economic, political and social trends in the period generally referred to as the Gilded Age.

"In the year 1877, the signals were given for the rest of the century: the blacks would be put back; the strikes of white workers would not be tolerated; the industrial and political elites of North and South would take hold of the country and organize the greatest march of economic growth in human history. They would do it with the aid of, and at the expense of, black labor, white labor, Chinese labor, European immigrant labor, female labor, rewarding them differently by race, sex, national origin, and social class, in such a way as to create separate levels of oppression-a skillful terracing to stabilize the pyramid of wealth... the government of the United States was behaving almost exactly as Karl Marx described a capitalist state: pretending neutrality to maintain order, but serving the interests of the rich... the purpose of the state was to settle upper-class disputes peacefully, control lower-class rebellion, and adopt policies that would further the long-range stability of the system."

Consider the varying social and economic strains experienced by the United States at the turn of the Ninteenth century as described in Zinn's artilce:

Summarize the key developments revealed in the text and respond to the following questions:

  • Did the US government's actions in this era benefit the nation as a whole or (as Zinn seems to believe) did the economic policies that emerged in the Gilded Age benefit the wealthy and punish the poor/working classes?

  • To what extent should the government regulate private industry?

Your response should be at least 200 words and relate to at least one other post

Anyone seeking extra credit may complete the blog my US classes are working on, which is related to this topic.

Monday, January 14, 2008


The best review sheet I can make you will not be better than the one I found here; use it up through the 1880s

there are interactive quizzes catergorized by topic to help you review at:

Monday, January 7, 2008

Civil War News: A Primary Source Investigation

Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper during the Civil War, and it featured stunning illustrations, and in depth stories on all the important people and events of the war. For this week's blog assignment, analyze and evalutate material from this important primary source following the directions below:

1. Actively read any issue from the online archive of Harpers' papers from 1861-65. (These papers are 4-6 pages long and include photographs and advertisements.) The papers are available for view at:

2. Summarize two articles and/or cartoons related to the war published in this edition (be sure to indicate the date and page of each source.) What insight do these articles provide into the issues most important to Harper's Weekly readers at this time? What are the authors and/or artists' positions on the war?

3. Conclude by discussing the impact you believe papers like Harpers' Weekly had on the war.
This post is due by Friday, 1/11 at 7 a.m. 200 word minimum. Remember to respond to at least one classmates post.