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?