Yearly Archives: 2018

Documents in Detail: Madison’s Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

 

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Today’s episode of Documents in Detail focused on excerpts from James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 – the Constitutional Convention. James Madison was the only delegate to attend every day of the convention, and to take notes of all the proceedings, to include summaries of speeches and vote tallies throughout the proceedings. The Debates, published after his death, provide scholars, students, and those interested in American constitutional government an insider’s view of the process by which the Constitution was considered, debated, and eventually signed, and then released to the states for ratification.

An authoritative, contemporary edition of the Debates, edited and prefaced by Professor Gordon Lloyd, is available electronically and in print from Amazon.

Access the full program archive here.

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Core American Documents: Reconstruction

 

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Reconstruction is one of these times in American History where you can learn the limits of what law can accomplish.”

TAH.org’s latest Core American Documents volume, on Reconstruction, is now available. Composed of 31 documents, study questions, an introduction to the topic by Professor Scott Yenor, a thematic table of contents, and a list of suggested additional readings, this volume will greatly expand your understanding of this watershed moment in American History. Yenor’s collection looks at the beginning, middle, and end of Reconstruction, going back to policies and plans implemented by the Lincoln administration during the early years of the war, and concluding with a speech by Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, as he looked back, decades later, on what had – and hadn’t – been accomplished.

The volume is available for free in PDF or iTunes eBook formats, or for $.99 on your Amazon Kindle, or $10 for a paper copy.

Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport: Full Reading

 

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…to bigotry no sanction…” 

After receiving congratulations from people and groups from across America upon becoming the first president, George Washington took the time to respond to many of them, personally. In this letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, RI, Washington not only expresses his personal thanks for the group’s letter, but then goes on to present his thoughts on the centrality of freedom of conscience and religion in America, and why those liberties are so essential to a free people working within a republican-style government. This concise document presents a powerful defense of the American core value, that of the freedom of religion.

Saturday Webinar: Federalists vs. Antifederalists

 

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Why read Federalist writings, and perhaps of even more interest, why read Antifederalist writings?

The second of TAH.org’s Great American Debates webinar series took place on Saturday, 8 September. Our episode focused on the Federalist-Antifederalist Debates that took place most obviously from late 1787 through 1788, when the Constitution was being considered for ratification throughout the 13 states. Our program took a serious look at the ideas of both sides, considering them as ideas expressed and debated at the time, and looking at how some of these issues have been alive as points of contention throughout American history. For more information about the “out of doors” debates over the Constitution, take a look at our Ratification of the Constitution exhibit.

See the full archive page here.

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Teaching America’s Founding

How do you make a country from scratch? Leaders during the American Founding, the  period from 1776 through 1789, would dedicate themselves to pursuing the answer until bringing their plan to fruition with Washington’s inauguration. Along the way, they would wrestle with defining, expressing, and applying what Jefferson would call “The American Mind” to their goals.

For today’s students, it’s hard to imagine America as a new idea, as a radical experiment in democracy. But for the people fighting a revolution, attempting to govern  a group of disparate states, and finally creating the Constitution, it was uncharted territory. By transporting students to that era with original documents, American history teachers can begin to help them understand the incomparable drama of this exhilarating time.

Transform Your Classroom Experience with the Teaching American History American Founding Toolkit

The Teaching American History American Founding Toolkit, centered on original documents, is designed to bring you and your classroom into lively conversation with the Founding Fathers.

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the Colonial era to life.

Accessing the American Founding Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the Colonial Era into your classroom today!

Access the American Founding Toolkit

SYNOPSIS: Add original documents, speeches, and dynamic lesson plans into your high school American history with this Founding era curriculum.

Documents in Detail: James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance

 

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James Madison authored a powerful defense of religious liberty while serving in the Virginia state government, arguing that there should be no tax collected to support any established – that is, state-supported – church or other religious group. Seen as one of the seminal discussions of the topic in American political thought and discourse, Madison’s multi-point argument expressed both the belief that the mind is free, and that no man’s conscience can be dictated by the state.

Register for more Documents in Detail webinars.

Access the full archive here.

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And thanks to the U.S. Army Blues Band for providing their excellent music online for free use.

The Declaration of Independence: Full Reading

 

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TAH.org is doing a trial run of making recorded readings of essential original documents available online. These documents, selected from our library and various documents collections, are read verbatim from our collection, meaning that students can follow along, word-for-word. Each document will be preceded by a short introduction identifying the author, and providing some background information to help contextualize the piece.

This first recording is of the Declaration of Independence, among the most important documents of the American Founding, but also of American political principles. Be sure to read Thomas Jefferson’s original draft, from which several sections were deleted before it was accepted, most notable of which were Jefferson’s comments on African slavery.

Feel free to use this audio in any way you see fit, and let us know what you think by taking a moment to answer three survey questions.

Saturday Webinar: Patriots vs. Loyalists

 

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The 2018-19 season of TAH.org’s Saturday Webinars got off to a great start on 18 August with our first episode, Patriots vs. Loyalists, in which our scholars dug deeply into the political, social, and economic rifts that grew between neighbors and even within families during the American War for Independence. Access the full program archive page here, and check out our podcast options below. Also, be sure to download the free PDF copies of our Documents and Debates volumes, which form the foundation of this year’s Saturday Webinars.

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And thanks to the U.S. Army Blues Band for making their excellent music available for free online.

Teaching the Civil War and Reconstruction

The country was divided. A “nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” was struggling to define that equality in light of slavery and calls for emancipation. Questions stalked the minds of political leaders and citizens alike: What was the nature of the federal union and Constitution in relation to state sovereignty? How would the war progress and end, and how would the nation rebuild? As a teacher of American History, you know there is nothing remotely boring about the Civil War and Reconstruction.

But for students in the 21st century, the era conjures up images of muskets and southern belles–if any images at all–making it difficult for them to connect with the real human emotions and events experienced during the time. The Teaching American History Civil War and Reconstruction Toolkit, centered on original documents, is designed to bring you and your classroom face to face with the realities:

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the Civil War to life.

Accessing the Civil War & Reconstruction Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the drama, voices, and complexities of the Civil War into your classroom today!  

Access the Civil War & Reconstruction Toolkit

SYNOPSIS: Add original documents, letters, and dynamic lesson plans into your high school American history Civil War era curriculum.

Core Documents Collection: Religion in American History and Politics

 

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“You can’t understand American History without understanding the role of religion in our history and politics…”

TAH.org’s Core American Documents collection on Religion in American History and Politics is now available on Kindle, iTunes eBook, PDF, and print on demand.

This volume, the companion to TAH.org’s Religion in America site, includes 25 documents with summaries and annotations, an introduction to the theme of religion as a part of American history and politics, appendices with additional information, study questions for each document, and suggested further readings.

Sign up for early access to each upcoming volume!

As in the other volumes, each Core Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story. We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

Please contact Daniel Mitchell if you have any questions or would like more information about using the Core Documents Curriculum in your classroom.

Thank you for all that you do!

Core American Documents: The Constitutional Convention

 

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The best way to study the advantages and disadvantages of compromise is to study the Constitutional Convention – through documents.

The third volume of the American History and Government Core Documents Collections – the Constitutional Convention – is available on KindleiTunes and PDF. Hard copies are also available for $10 each – email dmitchell@tah.org if you would like a copy. You can also buy it on Amazon!

Sign up for early access to each volume!

This collection of documents on the Constitutional Convention is part of our extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. This is the second of four volumes that will cover the Founding of the United States. The American Founding, already published, is the capstone of the four. The others – this collection, and volumes on the ratification of the constitution and the Bill of Rights, which will follow it – tell aspects of the founding story in more detail.

The documents in this collection explain why the constitutional convention was held and illustrate the ideas of government and politics that the delegates carried with them to Philadelphia, ideas wrung from their reading and, more important, from the extensive experience of self-government the colonists had enjoyed. Its pages recount the Convention’s critical debates over the purpose and powers of government, the nature of representation, and the relation between the states and the central government. They recount as well the way that slavery and the interests of the various states shaped those debates. Together, the four volumes on the Founding provide the essentials for understanding the Founding as the Founders understood it.

See a list of all titles in TAH.org’s Core Documents series, and access our online exhibit on the Constitutional Convention, mentioned by Professor Lloyd.

Teaching the American Founding and the Constitutional Convention

Over the course of 100 days in 1787, American history would be made in a boisterous and sweltering Independence Hall. While the 55 delegates who showed up thought they were “just” going to revise the Articles of the Confederation, they ended up delving into so much more, eventually arguing for, and writing a final draft of, the U.S. Constitution.

These are the basics, of course, but they can seem so far removed from your students’ daily lives. In order to help them understand the intellectual and political depths of that historic summer, you need to help them see, hear, and feel the lively drama of the Founding of the United States. By exploring the core documents of that time, you can bring the Convention to life.

The TAH American Founding and Constitutional Convention Core Document Volume and Toolkit is designed to bring you and your classroom into Independence Hall alongside the spirited voices of those delegates. Imagine your students experiencing the Convention through these engaging resources:

  • Educational background, Continental experience, economic interests, and personal details of each delegate
  • The Convention organized as a four-act drama to help students understand how the story of the Founding unfolded
  • Correspondence among delegates and family members, linked to specific days throughout the “script”
  • Charts and tables, including an interactive Attendance Record that helps students visualize daily events and delegate attendance throughout the Convention
  • Menus, entertainment, and other fascinating “non-political” details that bring personality to the historical
  • Interactive maps and artwork
  • Multimedia resources, including videos corresponding with each of the acts.

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections, light bulbs going off as the Convention, in a way, teaches itself.

Accessing the Core Documents and Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring Philadelphia, 1787, into your classroom today!

American Founding & Constitutional Convention Core Document Volume and Toolkit

 

Core American Documents: The American Founding

 

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The American Founding, which took place from 1776-1791, is book-ended by the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

The first volume of the American History and Government Core Documents Collection – the American Founding – is now available on iTunes, Kindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each – email dmitchell@tah.org if you would like a copy. You can also buy it on Amazon!

Each Core American Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – America’s presidents, labor leaders, farmers, philosophers, industrialists, politicians, workers, explorers, religious leaders, judges, soldiers; its slaveholders and abolitionists; its expansionists and isolationists; its reformers and stand-patters; its strict and broad constructionists; its hard-eyed realists and visionary utopians – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

The documents are all about this – the still unfinished American experiment with self-government. There is no better place to begin to understand that experiment than with these documents from the American founding.

Core Documents: The Great Depression and New Deal

 

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The Great Depression and New Deal can be more easily understood by thinking of it as a story in six parts.

Today’s interview is with Dr. John Moser, Professor of History at Ashland University and editor of the Core Documents volume on the Great Depression and New Deal. A complex and multi-faceted event that played out over a more than a decade, it can be understood by thinking of it as having taken place in six parts, chronologically:

  1. Hoover and the Great Depression
  2. Hoover vs. Roosevelt: The Election of 1932
  3. Roosevelt First New Deal, 1932-1934
  4. Criticism of the New Deal
  5. Roosevelt’s Second New Deal, 1934-1936
  6. The New Deal in Decline, 1936-1938

John talks about how he went about selecting documents to fit this model, how the documents fit together, and how using these documents can greatly improve the quality and interest level in a unit on the Great Depression and New Deal.

The second volume of the American History and Government Core Document Collections – the Great Depression and the New Deal – is available on iTunes, Kindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each, which can be accessed through our Facebook store. Email dmitchell@tah.org for more information.

Sign up for early access to each volume!

The Benefits of Team Teaching American History and Literature

It’s impossible to separate a culture’s literature from its history, yet every day, in classrooms across the country, the two subjects function in isolation. It’s easy to understand why: with an ever-increasing list of requirements and standards, teachers often find themselves scrambling to deliver basic instruction of their subject, let alone combine with another class. However, with the right planning, American history and literature teachers can team up to cohesively teach units. In the end, combining curriculum can give your students more educational bang for their buck. Making connections between two disciplines drives home the “how” and “why” questions of both.

Story Lovers

For today’s teens, popularly referred to as Generation Z, it’s all about story. They post their stories on social media. They shop brands that invest in marketing their own digital narratives. Their common literature is viral videos. And although today’s teens consume most of these stories on screen–whether through YouTube, Snapchat, or Twitter–they’re still spending the better part of their days immersed in story.

For students who love story, history can come alive through literature. According to a 2017 article in Forbes, “Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience and they even enjoy the challenges of being a part of it. For instance, 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing while only 12% said they learn through listening.” Learning history through story–for example, the Salem Witch Trials as portrayed in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, is a much more immersive experience than taking notes. By reading and visualizing characters and situations (or even better, acting out scenes), students participate in making meaning. The facts, and more importantly, how those facts influenced the evolution of American society, become embedded in a story many students will remember for life.

History Buffs

What about those students who prefer history to English class, the ones who do like memorizing dates and names but can’t seem to concentrate on a novel? For those who love the nuts and bolts of American history, the right literature can be a doorway to appreciating good storytelling. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, for example, is both a memoir and a treatise on the abolition of slavery, drawing readers into this dark portion of American history through detailed personal experience. This engaging autobiography can lead more reluctant readers to sample other historical narratives, such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, or Tim O’Brien’s semi-autobiographical The Things They Carried, which explores the personal horrors of fighting in the Vietnam War.

Bringing the Two Together

Team teaching American history and literature can be a powerful experience for both teachers and their students. Even when two classes aren’t able to team up throughout the year, just one or two special cross-curricular units can electrify key themes with unique literary voices. If you’re a history teacher working alone, you can still deliver content through the vehicles of narratives, poetry, plays, and essays as a way to enrich your students’ learning.

Teaching American History is offering two Summer History & Literature Seminars designed to help teachers of American history and American literature to examine historical documents and literary texts through the lenses of both disciplines. Each seminar will be taught by a historian or political scientist teamed with a literary scholar. Get inspired by history and story this summer, and learn how to inspire your students as well.

Register for Seminars in July

SYNOPSIS: When American history teachers and American literature teachers team up in the classroom, history and story are both enriched to create a dynamic learning experience great for every student.

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