Monthly Archives: October 2014

“Political Parties & Presidents” One-Day Seminar in Colorado

On Friday, October 24th, teachers from around Colorado met in Colorado Springs for a one-day seminar entitled ‘Political Parties and Presidents,’ and spent the day discussing the evolution of the relationship between presidents and political parties. Primary source readings focused on three general phases of these relations: during the earliest years of the republic, when parties were in their infancy; in the mid-19th Century, when parties controlled the nomination and platform development processes; and in the early 20th Century, as presidents rose about parties in power and prominence.

Participants, ranging from 5th to 12th grade teachers, made the sessions lively and interesting with questions and comments about the evolution of parties, platforms, and presidents. Those in attendance reported that the day helped them see these topics from new angles, and the documents in the reading packet would be helpful in their classes.

To view selected readings from this One-Day Seminar about ‘Political Parties and Presidents’ please follow the document links below:

Saturday Webinars – “American Controversies” Series

On Saturday, October 25th, The Ashbrook Center presented another outstanding webinar, this time focused on whether or not the Constitution was pro- or anti-slavery. Christopher Burkett, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University, moderated a discussion between Peter Myers, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Lucas Morel, Professor of Ethics and Politics, Washington and Lee University. If you missed it, you can listen to a recording of the entire program here, and you can register for future webinars, held monthly, here.

Florida Teacher Programs Underway with Our Orlando Colloquium

Over this past weekend the Ashbrook Center unveiled it’s newest program Rediscovering America in Orlando, Florida. Middle and high school teachers from around the state convened at the picturesque Caribe Royale Resort to discuss and analyze Lincoln’s rhetoric and writings with Professor Eric Sands.

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Teachers dissected the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr, Alexander Stephens and referenced those influences upon Abraham Lincoln’s Peoria Speech, Gettysburg Address and Inaugural Speech. President Lincoln endured deep crises and his writings and musings reflected his struggle with the moral and legal issue of slavery, states’ rights and constitutional limits.

Over the weekend participants enjoyed profound conversation mixed with levity and laughter within the sessions, as well as into the after hours as well. Half of our teachers had not participated in an Ashbrook program and have already registered for other seminars and webinars.

Please visit our site often to see updates about joining in the conversation or participating in future Ashbrook events. We look forward to seeing you there.

Our Philadelphia Colloquium

Last weekend, the Ashbrook Center hosted a group of U.S. History and Government teachers in Philadelphia for a colloquium on the theme, “Liberty and the Constitution: The Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention”.

In the city where the Constitution was debated and drafted, and where Pennsylvanians examined the document before ratification, our group of teachers explored the critical issues raised by both supporters and opponents of ratification. Participants noted George Mason’s fear that the Constitution would ultimately “produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy,” and Brutus’ concern that “History furnishes no example of a free republic, any thing like the extent of the United States.”

In exploring the defense of the Constitution offered in the Federalist essays, participants noted that Federalists listed as strengths certain features of the Constitution that Anti-Federalists saw as weaknesses. We paid special attention to Madison’s Federalist 10, in which he criticized the Anti-Federalist vision of small republics where people share what Brutus called the same “manners, sentiments, and interests.” Madison argued it was impossible to give “every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests” without robbing them of their liberty. But where there is liberty, Madison noted, there is disagreement; and where there is disagreement, there can be faction. Madison observed, “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man” – Americans, too, are in danger of falling to the same divisions that had undermined every previous experiment in self-government. Madison’s response to this sobering recognition was to propose something new – an extended, representative, federal republic.

In addition to our discussion, participants had the opportunity to visit what is now known as “Independence Hall,” but what was then known as the Pennsylvania State House. It was in this building where, in the summer of 1787, Washington, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, and others gathered to frame the most frequently emulated form of government in the history of mankind.

2014.10.15 Liberty Fund Philly

 

Our Colorado Colloquium in September

Fourteen teachers from around Colorado joined Dr. Chris Flannery to discuss Abraham Lincoln and his views on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, governance, and the crises he faced. Representing grades 1 through 12, this diverse group of educators came from private, public, and charter schools across the state, and from both urban and rural areas.

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Rooted in documents such as Lincoln’s two inaugural addresses, his speech at Peoria in 1854, and works from Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr., the group focused on topics such as Lincoln’s views on equality, the rule of law, and slavery. Participants wrestled with difficult and differing points of view over what the Founding Fathers meant in writing “…all men are created equal…” and how they saw slavery fitting within a country founded on such beliefs. A great deal of time was spent on Lincoln’s ideas, character, and statesmanship, with all discussions firmly fixed on the primary source documents selected for the weekend.

Discussions continued during meals and social time on both Friday and Saturday evenings, providing teachers with new ideas, new contacts, and some well-deserved time to reflect and re-energize for their classrooms.

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