We the Teachers

Saturday Webinar: Gideon v. Wainwright

 

| Open Player in New Window

gideon

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) was the subject of December’s Saturday Webinar. guest hosted by Dr. Jason Stevens of Ashland University. The case, which overturned a previous USSC case and forced states to provide legal counsel to defendants in criminal cases. Although a majority of states already required this, those that did not were required to do so, from this point forward. The panelists discussed not only the interesting background of the case, including Betts v. Brady (1942), but also the complex situation of determining the “special circumstances” mentioned in that decision that states had to somehow work through in each case. An interesting point brought up was that some 22 states filed amicus briefs in support of a single federal ruling, essentially asking the court to provide a single standard for them instead of the open-ended (and difficult) question left to them by the Betts decision.

The broader discussion also looked at the Warren court in general, the concept of incorporation, and the original intent behind the ideas in the Bill Rights.

Resources mentioned include…

Access the archives, including our YouTube recording and podcast, on the permanent program page here.

Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio

Our friends at the Ohio History Connection are pleased to announce their 2017 NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop entitled Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio.  This opportunity is open to all K-12 teachers in the United States, the US territories, and Department of Defense schools.

20150720_112536You are invited to join them this summer to learn about the internationally-significant sites of the Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures in Ohio: the Newark Earthworks, Fort Ancient, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and Serpent Mound. Attending Summer Scholars will experience these sites with expert scholars who will bring the sites to life; and learn about archeological methodology and teaching historic sites from practicing archaeologists and site educators. The one-week workshop will be run twice, July 9-14 and July 23-28, 2017, and is based in Columbus, Ohio. The program is free for accepted applicants and includes a stipend to aid in covering travel and other expenses. Teachers who have previously attended this workshop are not eligible. Applications are due March 1, 2017. For more information and application instructions, visit http://hopewell.creativelearningfactory.org

Teacher’s Volunteer Work Gives her Students Opportunity to Work with Shoah Foundation

Kelly Eddy, a 2015 graduate of Ashland University’s Master of Arts in American History and Government degree program, teaches Advanced Placement US history at Winston Churchill High School in Livonia, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit. Since the 2008 recession, the school’s performing arts magnet program has attracted students from underfunded schools in Detroit, as well as immigrant Chinese and Middle Eastern students. Eddy, who has demanded students’ best efforts during her 20 years at Churchill, has had to adapt her teaching style.

Ambitious students are now taking AP classes they are not ready for. “They need extra support. With many parents working an extra job, the students are alone more. So I have to explain: ‘Here is what you must do to be successful.’”

Last year Eddy seized a chance to give several students a push. The Henry Ford Museum—where Eddy researched her Master’s thesis on the founder of the auto company—asked her to bring four students to a workshop offered by the Shoah Foundation. Eddy drove four bright students to Dearborn, Michigan, where they participated in an “IWitness” event. They watched filmed interviews of Holocaust survivors and constructed “found poems” from these elderly witnesses’ moving words. As an TAH-educated teacher, Eddy had prepared her students to deal with primary sources. They responded thoughtfully to the films.

Kelly Eddy, a 2015 graduate of Ashland's Master of Arts in American History and Government, was named 2012 Michigan History Teacher of Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

Kelly Eddy, a 2015 graduate of Ashland’s Master of Arts in American History and Government, was named 2012 Michigan History Teacher of Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

“High school kids spending a day of summer going to school—that’s impressive,” Eddy thought, as she and her students were leaving. “Then a Shoah Foundation filmmaker asked if my students would stay to be interviewed.” They stayed.

Later, Eddy and her students were invited to a Shoah Foundation gala at the Ford museum, where philanthropist Bill Ford would be honored. Students donned their best clothes and climbed in a limo that whisked them back to Dearborn. They were in a private room, reviewing their poems from the summer workshop, when “in walked filmmaker Steven Spielberg, founder of the Shoah organization, who sat and talked with them.”

“Then the students mingled with the VIP guests, talking about their experience with IWitness. I watched as they met actors Steve Carell and Halle Berry.” At dinner, a promotional video was shown, and Eddy was surprised to find her students the stars of the film.

Later, the Foundation emailed Eddy about their student ambassador program. Eddy urged Brandon, a gifted student who’d been featured prominently in the video to apply. First she warned him: “If you’re not going to take this seriously, don’t do it. Brandon was a natural leader who at times goofed off. But he was selected as an ambassador, one of four students outside the state of California.” Through the program, he interviewed several Detroit area Holocaust survivors and one survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Eddy watched Brandon change. “He gained empathy—he began standing up for others—plus self-esteem and a sense of responsibility. He realized it wasn’t just his name on the line, it was mine, also.” The student now studies at Central Michigan University.

The TAH Master’s program helped Eddy enlarge her expectations of students. “In every MAHG class, teachers discuss and interpret primary sources. Now I put those documents in students’ hands: to teach critical thinking skills and to allow them to learn directly from the past.”

“The way the TAH professors teach through discussion changed my own approach. I lecture less now,” Eddy says, admitting this involves risk. TAH Teachers prepare well for MAHG classes, and discussions are rich. But in high school, “if the kids haven’t done the reading, discussion will fall flat. Then I say, ‘Well, we’ve lost the chance to discuss this. You’re still responsible for it on the test, but we’re moving on to something else.’ The AP curriculum doesn’t allow us to slow down. But students can learn from mistakes as well as triumphs.”

You can view the video featuring Eddy’s students at the link below. The student who reads his poem near the beginning of the film, Brandon Bartley, was selected as a student ambassador for the Shoah Foundation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dlqxOButic

A Scholar of the Presidency Discusses the 2016 Election

The 2016 presidential election highlighted strong divisions among American voters, while the outcome defied the predictions of pollsters. We asked Professor Marc Landy, a highly respected instructor in Ashland’s Master’s program for secondary school teachers, to talk about what the election means. Landy is Professor of Political Science at Boston College and Edward and Louise Peterson Professor of American History and Government at Ashland University. He researches political parties, the presidency, and American political development. With Jeremy Bailey of the University of Houston, Landy co-teaches a two-part historical survey of the presidency in our summer residential MAHG program.

Marc Landy

Marc Landy

Landy has written several studies of public policy, including Creating Competitive Markets: The Politics and Economics of Regulatory Reform (2007) and Seeking the Center: Politics and Policymaking at the New Century (2001). With Sidney Milkis, he has authored Presidential Greatness (2000) and a textbook, American Government: Enduring Principles, Critical Choices, now in its third edition (2014).

  1. Professor Landy, is it accurate to call the Trump campaign a populist movement? If so, how does it resemble or differ from other populist movements we have seen in the US?

If we agree on the definition of populism as a movement of voters very disaffected with the establishment, with the way the “elites” are governing, then certainly this is a populist movement. Two such movements readily come to mind: the Jacksonians in the 1830s and the Populist Party of the 1880s and 1890s. But those movements had very different goals. Jackson was fighting for the decentralization of government. He felt the common man needed a government closer to him than the elites who were governing at the national level. With Bryan, it was a specific set of economic questions that were affecting the farmers.

With Trump, it’s a much broader set of questions: the abandonment of industry in the rustbelt, plus the resentment of those who feel their values are being denigrated by the liberal cultural elite. It’s a very different movement, with more diffused motives.

  1. Do you feel a “realignment” of the electorate has occurred, favoring the Republican Party? In 2008, some thought that Obama triggered a realignment in favor of the Democratic Party.

You can’t tell. Realigning elections don’t happen when the new political leader first takes power; they happen when that person wins re-election. A great example is FDR. The realignment didn’t occur in 1932; it happened in 1936, when you knew popular support for Roosevelt was real. The same goes for Jackson. It didn’t happen when he was first elected in 1828. The re-election solidifies the new direction.

  1. What does the election of 2016 teach us about our current primary system? Do you view this system as more “democratic” than earlier processes for selecting candidates? Does the fact that state primaries occur throughout several months, rather than all on the same day, undercut the “democratic” impulse behind the primary system?

Our primary system is dreadful. The idea that there should be a preliminary election before the general election, in order to give the people a decent choice—that seems very wrong-headed. Political parties are a very good idea. Inherent in the party system is the idea that those within the party have more in common than they do with those outside of the party. What the primary system does is to disrupt that feeling of party cohesion, loyalty and commonality.

As for staggering the primaries over a series of months in different states, it’s hard to know how else you could do it. The only other way would be for the party leaders in each state to select delegates who were committed to them, who would meet to hammer out who the candidate would be. But that can’t be done in today’s political climate. So we have to figure out another way to winnow out the candidates. On the Republican side, the fact that we had so many candidates was a disaster. But I don’t know how you could devise rules to limit that possibility.

Some dreadful things just can’t be undone. Right now, I fear that any effort to tinker with the primaries would lead to accusations of election rigging.

  1. Given that Clinton won the popular vote, many people are again questioning the Electoral College. Does that institution still serve a useful purpose?

I love the Electoral College! It’s a way of affirming that we elect our president via fifty state elections. That reinforces our notion of American federalism, which is very important. Second, it gives a part of the country that otherwise would probably be neglected more prominence. But the essential thing is that presidents are elected by the states; this ensures that the states remain a part of our system of government.

  1. This election seemed to turn on questions about the character of the candidates more than any other recent presidential election. Is this an accurate historical perspective? If so, why do you think this occurred?

I think we see it in an extreme form in this election. There have been character issues raised in other times: with Nixon, for example. But to have serious character issues raised with both candidates is highly unusual. This again points to the danger of the primary system. Up to now, we’ve been very lucky. We have had few unfortunate choices since the primaries took hold, in the late sixties and seventies. In every case since 1972 (I don’t think McGovern could have succeeded as president) the losing candidate could have governed the country.  But this time, the primary system resulted in very unhappy choices.

Clinton would have had as much trouble unifying the country under her leadership as Trump will have. Had Hillary won, her term would have been dominated by investigations of her conduct while Secretary of State. With Trump, we know so little about how he plans to govern, that we cannot predict how he might succeed. Certain things that served him very well during the campaign, emphasizing his outsider status, now make him look unprepared to assume the role.

  1. Are Congress and the executive likely to cooperate during the next four years? If so, what sort of mandate will Republicans in Congress believe the election gave them?

The initial signs suggest cooperation. The choice of Priebus as chief of staff is excellent, and Priebus as a bridge between Trump and Ryan is promising.

The election does suggest a mandate to do something serious about Obamacare. Trump campaigned hard on it, and Congressional Republicans have made it a high priority over a number of years. The word “repeal” is very misleading; they can repeal the law, but they would have to put something in its place.

  1. Do you see the American electorate as more divided than ever before? To put the question another way, are the divided sides in this election less tolerant of each other’s views than ever before?

We’re divided in different ways. Today the arm of the federal government reaches further into people’s lives. And the media really penetrates. People in remote areas may be even more affected by the major media outlets than those who live in urban areas, where there are a diversity of news sources.

Many observers discounted the grievances of those in the rustbelt and southern states: their terrible economic insecurity and their resentment of “political correctness.”

It was not so much that people lost jobs; rather, they lost the high-paying factory jobs they once had. They’re working for $15 an hour instead of $20 or $30. Then, people objected to points of view being imposed on them. It’s not that they all object to homosexual or transgender behavior, but they don’t like being forced into positions that they think defy common sense, such as allowing a person who appears to be a male to use a female bathroom. The demonstrations in Ferguson, which challenged people’s notions of law and order, troubled them also. These are serious issues, and the fact that many people felt they were not allowed to discuss them in a reasonable way hurt the Democrats.

 

Pennsylvania Teacher Testifies to Benjamin Franklin’s Wonderful Life

Talk with teachers participating in TAH.org’s programs, and you learn that many have cultivated a deep knowledge of the history of their states, counties, and towns. Local history it is not emphasized in most school curricula. Yet teachers find that pointing students toward this history can help students make connections between past and present. It also encourages civic-mindedness, helping students to understand American government as a federal system, in which citizens take responsibility for local and state government.

A statue of Benjamin Franklin stands near the original site of Fort Allen (photo by Mike Feifel).

A statue of Benjamin Franklin stands near the original site of Fort Allen (photo by Mike Feifel).

Teachers who bring knowledge of their specific region to Ashbrook Masters seminars sometimes instruct the faculty. Professor Christopher Flannery speaks of a remarkable moment in a class he taught on the writings of Benjamin Franklin. In his Autobiography, Franklin mentions his brief military service during the French and Indian War. A seminar student – Mike Feifel, a teacher at Lehighton Area High School, near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – offered Flannery and classmates an in-depth account of this episode.

Feifel explained that at the outset of the war, Franklin, as Pennsylvania representative to the continental Albany Congress, had attempted to organize a united governing council and militia for the colonies. The royal governor had not accepted his plan, and the threat posed by French-allied native American tribes to settlers along the frontier persisted.

Some of these settlers were Moravian missionaries who had founded a settlement called New Gnadenhutten – at the site of present-day Lehighton – for British-allied Indians, members of the Lenni Lenape tribe. Considered traitors by the Indians now fighting alongside the French to oust the British settlers, the Lenni Lenape had been hounded from their traditional hunting grounds.  The Moravians offered these native Americans their “Huts of Mercy” settlement, providing instruction in the gospel along with a stable community. They helped the Lenni Lenape build homes, while living themselves in one mission house just across the Lehigh River.

On November 24, 1755, the Moravians were eating dinner when a party of hostile Indians attacked. The Moravians were pacifists. Those not immediately killed fled to the attic, dying when the Indians set fire to the house.

“I pass by the site every day on my way to school,” Feifel said. The spot is marked with a marble burial stone and an historical placard that tells the story of the massacre.

The mass grave of the victims of the Gnadenhutten massacre (photo by Mike Feifel).

The mass grave of the victims of the Gnadenhutten massacre (photo by Mike Feifel).

The alarm caused by the massacre and a failed retaliation forced Deputy Governor Robert Morris to act. He gave Franklin the title of Colonel and put him in charge of frontier defense. A highly capable administrator and communicator, Franklin recounts in his autobiography how he had raised supplies from Pennsylvania farmers for British General Bratton’s earlier disastrous venture to retake Fort Duquesne. However, he says, “I had not so good an opinion of my military Abilities as [Governor Morris] professed to have.”

“Franklin had not spent a day of his life in a military campaign,” said Feifel, who’s done independent research in Franklin’s letters. Yet Franklin traveled to the frontier settlement of Bethlehem, mustered troops, and planned an attack on the tribe who had destroyed the Gnadenhutten settlement. “On the morning of his 50th birthday, Franklin was about to set out when he got word that muskets he had brought and supplied settlers with had failed to fire during another Indian attack.” American muskets required gunpowder that didn’t ignite in wet weather. “Franklin set out anyway, but then, as his soldiers marched through a narrow, wooded gorge, he saw they were vulnerable to hidden attackers.” He ordered a retreat.

Instead of going to meet the foe, Franklin resolved to build forts. These became Fort Allen, Fort Franklin, and Fort Norris, and offered strongholds to which settlers could run when attacked. “It was a huge advance for the undefended area,” Feifel told his classmates.

“In 1758, the Treaty of Easton brought a truce between British settlers and the hostile tribes. The last Indian massacre in the area occurred in 1763,” as the French and Indian War neared conclusion. Feifel credits Franklin’s initiative and leadership with securing the Pennsylvania frontier.

He pointed out to the seminar that this region would be critical to the nation’s industrialization. Here, anthracite coal would be discovered, and Josiah White would build canal to take coal to Philadelphia. Coal would later fuel the steel industry that grew up around Bethlehem. The area would also become the birthplace of organized labor, where the “Molly Maguires” first organized.

White would donate some of his profits from Lehigh River navigation to found schools for Native Americans. One of these, Carlisle Industrial Indian School (now Carlisle College), educated the great athlete Jim Thorpe.

“All of this happened because of what Franklin did,” Feifel told fellow students in Flannery’s Ashbrook seminar.

Saturday Webinar: Brown v. Board of Education

 

| Open Player in New Window

TAH.org’s latest episode in our Landmark Supreme Court Cases webinar series took place on Saturday, 19 November, and was hosted by Dr. Chris Burkett, with Drs. Emily Hess and Jason Stevens as panelists. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was discussed as both the repudiation of Plessy v. Ferguson as well as what many see as the formal start to the post-WW2 Civil Rights era. The two cases’ legal reasoning, constitutional foundations, and outcomes were discussed as a an integrated whole, making for an interesting and informative discussion of African-American Civil Rights, as playing out over generations.

For those interested in additional readings on the subjects, the panelists recommended the following books.

View the archive of the program here.

Program Report: Alexander Hamilton hosted at Fraunces Tavern, NYC

This last Saturday, October 15th, the esteemed Dr. Stephen Knott presented a Forum at the Fraunces Tavern in New York City.  Fifty-five teachers from several states gathered at this historic site, the very place where General Washington bid farewell to his troops at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.  Dr. Knott spoke on “Hamilton’s View of Federal Power”, “Launching the New Government” and “Cabinet Warfare: The Report on Manufacturing and the Whiskey Rebellion” as topics, as well as all facets of Hamilton’s life, his workings with Washington, the rivalry with Jefferson and the duel with Burr that ended his life. All participants received a copy of Dr. Knott’s latest book, “Washington and Hamilton: An Alliance That Forged America”   This program was generously funded by the Achelis & Bodman Foundations.  

Teachers at the Fraunces Tavern

Teachers at the Fraunces Tavern

 

Saturday Webinar: Dred Scott v. Sandford

 

| Open Player in New Window

The latest episode of TAH.org‘s Landmark Supreme Court Cases Saturday Webinars aired live on Saturday, 15 October 2016, with Dred Scott v. Sandford as the focus. Prof. Chris Burkett of Ashland University moderated the discussion between Profs. Lucas Morel and Jonathan White, and included a live teacher audience of over 100. In addition to the background of the case itself, the panelists discussed the following question, most of which were posed by teachers from the audience:roger-taney-in-1858

  • Did Justice Taney believe that the decision in the case would put an end to sectional differences over slavery?
  • Were there political motives behind Taney’s decision?
  • What were the main points of the dissenting opinions?
  • How did Taney justify and rationalize his decision?
  • How did the decision reflect or relate to the positions of other leaders of the time, including Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Stephens?

An interesting point related to the case is that of the perceptions of the Founder’s intent. Essentially, Taney asserted that the Founders never intended for African-America526px-dredscottns to be treated and seen as anything but property, and that they were truly lesser beings. If anyone believed otherwise, Taney’s response would be that they misunderstood the Founders’ true intentions. Alexander Stephens, on the other hand, asserted that although the Founders did promote equality of all people, they were wrong by including, even if only by implication, non-whites, and that the Southern view of the races, based in ‘science,’ was the correct one. Finally, it was Lincoln who believed that the Founders did include non-whites as people and therefore entitled to certain natural rights, and that if anything, it was the generations of leaders since who’d failed to continue to reach for those goals.

Rebuilding the Liberty Narrative: A Conversation with Gordon Lloyd

 

There is nothing more arduous than the apprenticeship of liberty, Tocqueville informs. While equality in modern democratic society is a natural tendency—one that grows without much effort—it is liberty that requires a new defense in each generation. In this spirit the next edition of Liberty Law Talk discusses with Gordon Lloyd the Liberty Narrative and its unending contest with the Equality Narrative.

Gordon Lloyd

Gordon Lloyd is the Dockson Emeritus Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University and a senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center. He is the creator, with the help of the Ashbrook Center, of four highly regarded websites on the origin of the Constitution.

From the Library of Law and Liberty

Liberty Fund Weekend Colloquium: George Washington

This last weekend 18 teachers came to Alexandria, Virginia  for a Liberty Fund Colloquia on George Washington.  Topics of conversation considered Washington’s early life and the beginning of the Revolution and his advocacy for Federalism and Republicanism.  Teachers discussed the complexities of his first and second Presidencies, and the difficulty of setting new precedents while always remaining committed to the limits set forth within the Constitution.  We spoke at great length of Washington’s virtue, integrity, character and commitment to his nation.  Washington set for the standard by which all future Presidents were and are  judged.  After a long day of thoughtful discussion, teachers toured the Mount Vernon estate and the Presidential Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest is Underway!

TAH.org is once again excited to support the Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest. This is an excellent opportunity for a high school teacher to sponsor an outstanding student essay. The contest asks student to build a thoughtful essay about the following:

“In To Make Their Interests Coincide With Their Duty: How the Constitution Leads Public Officials to Make Good Decisions, law professor Robert T. Miller argues that the brilliance of the American Constitution is that it “creates a system of procedures for selecting public officials and ordering how they make decisions that are in the best interests of society.” Analyze one consequential presidential decision to determine to what extent, if any, the Constitution leads presidents to make good decisions.

The winning student essay will received a grand prize of $5,000, plus a trip to D.C. for 2. The teacher who sponsors the winning student will receive a prize of $1,000. Additional cash prizes are available. Find prize and rule details here. The essay contest deadline is Friday, December 15, 2016.

From the Archives: Re-Thinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H.B. Stowe

 

| Open Player in New Window

uncle-toms-cabin

The first of two sessions from Professor Bill Allen, about the political philosophy of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This was recorded at the Ashbrook Center with a live audience of teachers on 24 January, 2009. This 74-minute program consisted of remarks by Dr. Allen and a question and answer session with teachers.

Generally critics and interpreters of Uncle Tom have constructed a one-way view of Uncle Tom, albeit offering a few kind words for Uncle Tom along the way. Recovering Uncle Tom requires re-telling his story. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s oeuvre, in partnership with that of her husband Calvin, constitutes a demonstration of the permanent necessity of moral and prudential judgment in human affairs. Moreover, it identifies the political conditions that can best guarantee conditions of decency. Her two disciplines—philosophy and poetry—illuminate the founding principles of the American republic and remedy defects in their realization that were evident in mid-nineteenth century. While slavery is not the only defect, its persistence and expansion indicate the overall shortcomings. In four of her chief works (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, Dred, and Oldtown Folks), Stowe teaches not only how to eliminate the defect of slavery, but also how to realize and maintain a regime founded on the basis of natural rights and Christianity. Further, she identifies the proper vehicle for educating citizens so they might reliably be ruled by decent public opinion.

Saturday Webinar: McCulloch v. Maryland

 

| Open Player in New Window

Drs. Chris Burkett, Jeremy Bailey, and Dan Monroe discussed the historical context, constitutional connections and reasoning, and legal and political legacy of the second in our Landmark Supreme Court Cases webinars, McCulloch v Maryland (1819). Access the archives of the program here and subscribe to our iTunes podcast.

50 Documents That Tell America’s Story

Required reading for students, teachers, and citizens.

Access Now

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)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org