“I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” So wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1963 as he served a ten-day jail term for violating a court injunction against any “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing” in Birmingham. He came to Alabama’s largest city to lead an Easter weekend protest and boycott of downtown stores as a way of forcing white city leaders to negotiate a settlement of black citizens’ grievances. King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to a public statement by eight white clergymen appealing to the local black population to use the courts and not the streets to secure civil rights. The clergymen counseled “law and order and common sense,” not demonstrations that “incite to hatred and violence,” as the most prudent means to promote justice. This criticism of King was elaborated the following year by a fellow Baptist minister, Joseph H. Jackson (president of the National Baptist Convention from 1953-1982), who delivered a speech counseling blacks to reject “direct confrontation” and “stick to law and order.”
By examining King’s famous essay in defense of nonviolent protest, along with two significant criticisms of his direct action campaign, this Edsitement lesson will help students assess various alternatives for securing civil rights for black Americans in a self-governing society.
The Thomas Paine version that is. This pamphlet was originally published anonymously, and advocated independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history. Credited with uniting average citizens and political leaders behind the idea of independence, “Common Sense” played a remarkable role in transforming a colonial squabble into the American Revolution.
At the time Paine wrote “Common Sense,” most colonists considered themselves to be Englishmen. Paine fundamentally changed the tenor of colonists’ argument with the crown when he wrote the following: “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”
This Edsitement lesson looks at Thomas Paine and at some of the ideas presented in Common Sense, such as national unity, natural rights, the illegitimacy of the monarchy and of hereditary aristocracy, and the necessity for independence and the revolutionary struggle.
As the new year dawns another Civil War sesquicentennial can be celebrated with the Emancipation Proclamation. There are a number of great resources to be found at TAH to aid in the teaching of this great document. Check out this lesson developed by Professor John Moser and High School Teacher Lori Hahn. Through primary documents, students examine Abraham Lincoln’s role as a wartime president. Students will focus on Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, the Emancipation Proclamation, his decision to arm the freed slaves, his refusal to accept a compromise peace with the South, and the election of 1864.
This podcast of a lecture devlivered at the Ashbrook Center by Professor Allen Guelzo from February 28th of 2004 tells of the complicated story of the first of January, 1863, Lincoln’s “Emancipation Moment,” and the greatest moment of the American Civil War.
On December 18, 1620, the British ship Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its passengers prepared to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.
The story began in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. Accused of treason, they were forced to leave the country and settle in the more tolerant Amsterdam. However, after years of struggling to adapt and make a decent living, the group sought financial backing from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 pilgrims–named by William Bradford who was another passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony–crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.
On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod. Before going ashore, 41 male passengers–heads of families, single men and three male servants–signed the famous Mayflower Compact, agreeing to submit to a government chosen by common consent and to obey all laws made for the good of the colony.
To learn more about the significance of this document check out this archived Ashbrook podcast (session 1) recorded Saturday September 24th, 2005 by Professor Larry Schweikart.
On this day in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France to take part in World War I peace negotiations and to promote his plan for a League of Nations, an international organization for resolving conflicts between nations.
In an Edsitement lesson created by Professor David Krugler (University of Wisconsin-Platteville) students can study this event as well as the formation, application, and successes/failures Wilson’s foreign policy. Students will subsequently appreciate the profound legacy of Wilsonianism in U.S. foreign relations as they continue their study of modern U.S. history.
On this day in 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution, by a vote of 46 to 23. Pennsylvania was the first large state to ratify, as well as the first state to endure a serious Anti-Federalist challenge to ratification.
If you didn’t already know, Professor Gordon Lloyd of Pepperdine University has created a website in collaboration with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University on the Ratification of the Constitution. Professor Lloyd organizes the content on the Ratification in various ways on the website. One lesson plan has been created to align with the content of the “in doors” conversations of ratification. There are four main component parts to the “in doors” coverage on the website. 1) A Commentary that breaks down the “in house” ratification into The Six Stages of the Ratification of the Constitution. 2) Elliot’s Debates is the major source for learning what took place at the various state ratifying conventions. 3) We have provided a day-by-day summary of each of the three ratifying conventions Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York. This summary highlights the particular clauses of the Constitution that were under consideration on that day along with a synopsis of the main points that were made by the delegates. Each of the three Day-by-Day Summaries is preceded by a brief overview of the entire ratifying convention. 4) A set of individual Maps along with a comprehensive map that shows the location of Federalist and Antifederalist strength throughout the thirteen states.
The full lesson can be found here.
In 1953, the Abraham Lincoln Association published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, a multi-volume set of Lincoln’s correspondence, speeches, and other writings. Roy P. Basler and his editorial staff, with the continued support of the association, spent five years transcribing and annotating Lincoln’s papers. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln represented the first major scholarly effort to collect and publish the complete writings of Abraham Lincoln, and the edition has remained an invaluable resource to Lincoln scholars. Through the efforts of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the edition is now available in electronic form.
Pearl Harbor Day is sadly fading from being commemorated in many U.S. classrooms. For students of the war the day still serves as an amazing event that truly placed the world into a war that would last for four more years and impact every continent. This interactive site from National Geographic illustrates the events of that infamous day in an extraordinary way.
Many APUSH classes are beginning their study of the reasons that Colonial America sought separation from Great Britain. One of the many significant undercurrents of this era was the First Great Awakening. TAH has a fabulous curriculum unit that, through the use of primary documents, introduce students to the First Great Awakening, as well as to the ways in which religious-based arguments were used both in support of and against the American Revolution. These lessons can be found here.
Constitution Day is less than a month away. Check out some of these amazing resources for classroom use created by the Bill of Rights institute.
TeachingHistory.org provides this terrific lesson to help students learn to write more effective thesis statements. A great series of activities to help students develop stronger writing skills at the start of a new school year.
The “Valley of the Shadow” Project created by the Virginia Center for Digital History (University of Virginia) details life in two American communities from the time of John Brown’s raid through Reconstruction. The Northern community in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and its Southern cousin in Augusta County, Virginia provide unique perspectives from hundreds of people of Civil War era events. Students, Teachers, and fans of this time period can explore thousands of original letters, diaries, newspapers and speeches, and more from this unique archive.
This lesson that was created by Professor Lucas Morel and Teacher Constance Murray, explores the political thought of Abraham Lincoln on the subject of American union. Students will examine Lincoln’s three most famous speeches—the Gettysburg Address and the First and Second Inaugural Addresses—in addition to a little known fragment on the Constitution, union, and liberty to see what they say regarding the significance of union to the prospects for American self-government. These speeches and other lesson resources can be accessed through this interactive. Upon completion, students should have a better understanding of why Lincoln revered the union of the American states as “the last best, hope of earth.”
In 1953, the Abraham Lincoln Association published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, a multi-volume set of Lincoln’s correspondence, speeches, and other writings. Roy P. Basler and his editorial staff, with the continued support of the association, spent five years transcribing and annotating Lincoln’s papers. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln represented the first major scholarly effort to collect and publish the complete writings of Abraham Lincoln, and the edition has remained an invaluable resource to Lincoln scholars. Through the efforts of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the edition is now available in electronic form at the linked above site. These works can be searched using a variety of methods which will help teacher and student alike save time to more fully grasp Lincoln’s ideas.
Why is it important to understand the Declaration of Independence? What does the Declaration say, and why and how does it say it? What does the Declaration not say, and why and how does it not say it? Explore the answer to these and other questions asked and answered in this lecture delivered by Professor Christopher Flannery from June of 2002. Happy 4th!