We the Teachers

Session 20: Lincoln and Civil Liberties

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

| Open Player in New Window


Lincoln claimed to be fighting a war that would lead to “a new birth of freedom,” yet some claim he violated civil liberties on an unprecedented scale. How can a war for liberty be reconciled with such violations of civil liberties? Were the steps he took during the war constitutional? Why or why not? Compare and contrast Taney’s opinion in ex parte Merryman and Lincoln’s apologia in his letter to Erastus Corning and the New York Democrats.

Program Report: Cold War Weekend Colloquium in Green Valley, AZ



Our teachers, from CA to NY and many parts in between

From November 20-22, 17 teachers from across the country gathered in Green Valley, Arizona, to discuss the Cold War with Dr. John Moser of Ashland University. Discussion sessions focused on the origins of the Cold War, Truman and Containment, Eisenhower’s ‘New Look,’ and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The weekend also included a visit to the Titan Missile Museum, the only place in the world where the public can tour a Titan II missile silo. Teachers took part in a special 2-hour tour that included stops in the command center, crew quarters, and silo itself – to include viewing the missile from beneath, at over 120 feet underground – all the while learning about how the complex operated, the crew worked, and the system functioned as part of America’s defense strategy from the 1960s through the 80s. Tour docents included a former Titan II missile complex commander.


Titan II ICBM, from 120 underground

Session 19: Lincoln’s Election, Secession, and the Civil War

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

| Open Player in New Window


As Lincoln recounts the early history of the federal government, what authority did it exercise over slavery? What problems do southerners have with the Republican Party, and how does Lincoln respond to their charges? Why does Lincoln claim that the southern disposition during the 1860 election year was to “rule or ruin in all events”? What is his advice to Republicans as they face opposition over the slavery controversy? In his address to the New Jersey Senate, why does Lincoln call the American citizenry God’s “almost chosen people”? What is Lincoln’s declared agenda as the incoming president? Why does he think secession unjustified and illegitimate? What is Lincoln’s view of the authority of the Supreme Court? What does Lincoln mean by “the better angels of our nature”? How does Lincoln think the country can avoid civil war?

Program Report: “The Great Depression” Seminar in Knoxville, TN

This past weekend TAH.org hosted a seminar at the Museum of Appalachia on the Great Depression to Knoxville, Tennessee. Teachers from as far away as Asheville, North Carolina sat with Dr. John Moser in front of a blazing fireplace to discuss Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt policies on this economic tragedy.


Our first session focused on what caused the Great Depression and Hoover’s response. Participants read Hoover’s Statement on the Economic Recovery Program, his message to State Governor’s, and Special Message to the Congress on the Economic Recovery program to name a few. Contrary to common belief, Dr. Moser provided data that President Hoover spent more investment dollars than Roosevelt in the first few years of the crisis. In the second session, the discussion centered on the Election of 1932 and how Hoover’s assessment of the causes and course of the Great Depression differed from Roosevelt’s. Readings included Hoover Analyzes the Development of the Depression and Roosevelt’s Commonwealth Club Address. In the third, and final session, Teachers discussed several of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, the Legislation to Create the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the lasting legacy of the New Deal and it’s program.

Program Report: Andrew Jackson Weekend Colloquium in Nashville, TN

The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee hosted teachers for a weekend colloquia on Andrew Jackson chaired by Dr. Dan Monroe from Milliken University. Dr. Monroe led conversations that discussed Jackson’s military career, heroism in the Battle of New Orleans, Presidency, political reform and his lasting legacy. Participants analyzed Jackson’s Inaugural Address to Congress, Bank Veto Message, Force Bill, and Nullification writings. Dr. Monroe also compared several of Lincoln’s writings (and policies) to Jackson’s policies when dealing with South Carolina and secession. Participants also enjoyed a private tour of the Hermitage, grounds, graveyard and museum.

One program participant stated, “I feel very fortunate to have gotten to learn about Jackson in Nashville. The location, information, and resources provided will enhance my lessons on Jackson. Thank you for this opportunity.”



Session 18: The Rights and Wrongs of Secession

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

| Open Player in New Window


What reasons did Southern secession commissioners give for seceding from the Union? What reasons did Alexander Stephens give in defense of the Southern Confederacy?
Supplemental/Optional Readings
  • McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, chap. 8
  • Mackubin Thomas Owens, “The Case Against Secession”

Saturday Webinar: James K. Polk


| Open Player in New Window

TAH.org hosted the fifth in this school year’s American Presidents webinar series, this time focusing on the single term presidency of James K. Polk. The 72-minute discussion between scholars was attended by a live teacher audience of 69 from across the country, and touched on topics from Polk’s role in Manifest Destiny to the Mexican War, and his impact on America of his times and afterward.

Session 17: The Causes of the Civil War

Dr. James M. McPherson:  

| Open Player in New Window


Why did the South secede? Why did secession lead to war? For a half century the northern, free states coexisted politically in the same nation with southern, slaveholding states. Why and how did that national structure fall apart in the 1850s? Was this breakdown inevitable, or could wiser political leadership have prevented it? Why did the election of Abraham Lincoln as president precipitate the secession of seven lower-South states? Why did both sides prefer war to compromise? Could this terrible war have been avoided? Could the positive results of the war (Union and freedom) have been achieved without war?
  • James M. McPherson, “What Caused the Civil War?,” North and South, IV (Nov. 2000), 12-22, and response to this article in subsequent issues of North and South.
  • Hans L. Terfousse, The Causes of the Civil War, 91-125 (excerpts from Ramsdell, Potter and Current).
  • Charles B. Dew, “Apostles of Secession,” North and South, IV (April 2001), 24-38.

We The People Webinar session 6


| Open Player in New Window

The final session of the Foundation for Teaching the U.S. Constitution webinar took place on Tuesday, 27 October 2015, with Dr. Gordon Lloyd discussing the final Hearing Question and the challenges that face and are likely to face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century.

Session 16: Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

| Open Player in New Window


Contrast Lincoln’s understanding of the relation between public opinion and political rule with that of Stephen Douglas. What does Douglas mean by “diversity” and how does he use it to attack Lincoln’s alleged doctrine of “uniformity”? Why does Douglas think Lincoln is wrong to criticize the Dred Scott opinion? How does Lincoln answer Douglas’s charges? What does Lincoln mean by the “moral lights” of the community? In the second debate, how does Lincoln force Douglas into a quandary regarding popular sovereignty and support for the Dred Scott opinion? (See Douglas’s argument about “unfriendly legislation.”) In the seventh debate, what is Lincoln’s understanding of the Founders’ views regarding slavery? How does Lincoln show that the rhetoric of Douglas makes him a kind of abolitionist in practice?
Supplemental/Optional Readings:

Program Report: “Civil Disobedience” Seminar in Bartow, Florida

On Saturday, October 24th, teachers from Central Florida gathered in the 1902 Historic County Courthouse in Bartow for a TAH.org Seminar on Civil Disobedience led by Dr. David Alvis. An interesting topic which explored America’s founding and it’s roots in civil disobedience. What does civil disobedience mean? How far can a person or group act upon their convictions before it deemed not civil?

This seminar’s three sessions began with John Locke’s “Two Treatises” and the “Declaration of Independence”. Was the American Revolution “revolutionary” or merely a “war for independence” when compared to the French or Russian Revolutions? The second session considered Henry David Thoreau’s idea of conscientious disobedience, that a person is morally obligated to act upon any repugnant injustice or law, regardless of the outcome. However, with that idea came events like John Brown acting on his own moral authority to murder in the name of justice. Juxtapose Thoreau’s writings with Abraham Lincoln’s “Lyceum Address” and he warns of the dangers with “mobocracy” and the need for rule of law at all times. Our third session compared Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” writings to Malcolm X “The Ballot of the Bullet”. Overall, this was a very thought provoking day.

You may access the seminar materials for this program here.

If you would like to find a program like this in your area, please click here.

New iTunes U Course: Federalist-Antifederalist Debates

The latest in TAH.org’s 24/7 course options, this 4-hour program is about the Federalist-Antifederalist debates that took place across the country after September 1787 and produced some of the most thoughtful, detailed accounts, analyses, and debates of and about the Constitution and the government its supporters sought to create.

As with TAH.org’s other iTunes U courses, this offers automatic enrollment is self-paced, and at this point users will need an iOS device (iPad or iPhone) to access the course materials.

The Federalist-Antifederalist Debates

Program Report: Vietnam War Seminar in West Palm Beach, FL

On Saturday, October 17th, Palm Beach County School District hosted a One-Day Seminar on The Vietnam War. Dr. Will Atto from the University of Dallas led the discussion on this complicated and controversial modern American event. Participants discussed Diem’s rise to power and the American policy. Readings included pieces from John F. Kennedy, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  The conversation segued to the Tet Offensive and considered the impact the Tet Offensive had on American opinion, the media, politics, the war effort as well as the military morale. The last session of the seminar focused on Nixon’s “Peace with Honor”, Vietnamization, and the lasting legacy the Vietnam War had on a generation of Americans.

W Palm Beach 2015.10.17


We The People Webinar: Session 4


| Open Player in New Window

13 October 2015 saw the 4th session of the joint webinar series between TAH.org and the Center for Civic Education’s We the People program, hosted by Dr. Gordon Lloyd. This session focused on the State Hearing questions from Unit 4, which leads off with “How have the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shaped American institutions and practices?”

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)