We the Teachers

Session 28: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP

Juan Williams:  

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Focus

What role did Thurgood Marshall play in the Civil Rights Movement? What was his view of the American founding? What was his opinion of contemporary activists for civil rights, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X?
Readings

Session 27: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Democratic Leadership

Prof. Kesler:  

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Focus

The political and constitutional legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt is impressive. What was his extraordinary achievement? In what ways did he improve upon Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, and the Progressives’ understanding of democratic life and political structures? How did his New Deal envision a powerful, active, and programmatically ambitious national government? How was this related to the possibility of self-government? What is his legacy?

Session 26: The Progressive Reform and Self-Government

Prof. Kesler:  

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Focus

The Progressives fought for reform at the turn of the century. What principled form did their criticism take of the Declaration, the Constitution, and political decentralization take? They revered Lincoln, yet did not emulate his devotion to the Declaration of Independence, but invoked the preamble to the Constitution to make democracy more active. Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s views became living arguments again, but with interesting shifts. Self-government was in need of some assistance. What effect did their reforms—for example, direct primaries, initiative, referendum—have on federalism, separation of powers, and political parties? What legacy did the Progressives, Woodrow Wilson in particular, leave the nation?

Session 25: Booker T. Washington; W.E.B. Du Bois

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

What did Washington believe were the most urgent priorities for blacks at the close of the 19th century? On what issues was Washington prepared to compromise and why? What were the goals of Washington’s program and how did these differ from the recommendations of W.E.B. Du Bois? Why does Du Bois seek to “conserve” the races? How would “the conservation of the races” help the future of the Negro race as well as the future of world civilization? What principles of the American regime appear to run counter to Du Bois’s emphasis on “race organizations” and “race solidarity”? What does Du Bois mean by the “talented tenth”? Compare Washington and Du Bois on the purpose of education.
Readings:
Du Bois:
Supplemental/Optional Readings:
    Booker T. Washington:

  • Washington, Up From Slavery (1901), chap. 3, “The Struggle for an Education”
  • Washington, “Address on Abraham Lincoln,” (February 12, 1909)
  • Louis Harlan, “Booker T. Washington in Biographical Perspective” (October 1970), 1581-1599
  • Fairclough, Better Day Coming, chap. 3
W.E.B. Du Bois:

American Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt

 

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TAH.org kicked off 2016 with the sixth episode in this year’s American Presidents webinar series. Today’s 75-minute program, moderated as always by the Dr. Chris Burkett of Ashland University, included discussion of TR’s economic, domestic, and foreign policy moves and ideas, his place in American presidential politics, and his impact on electoral politics even today.

In addition to answering the many excellent questions posed by teachers, the scholars recommended the History of American Political Thought as a good resource for learning more about TR’s ideas and ideology.

You can also access the documents and a YouTube archive of the program here, on TAH.org.

Session 24: The Modern Era Confronts the American Founding

Profs. Morel and Kesler:  

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Focus

What did the American founding and Civil War look like to politicians and public intellectuals at the start of the 20th century?
Readings:

Presidential Academy: MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Modern America

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is proud to offer the third and final part of our Presidential Academy documents-based survey course of American history and American political thought through iTunesU, iTunes, and this blog.

This segment of the course, consisting of 7 sessions, focuses on the Modern America, with the ideas expressed in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the foundation of study. The first session in this part of the course will be posted on Tuesday, 5 January 2016.

Presidential Academy was a grant-funded program that TAH.org presented to groups of teachers who met and studied in three cities over two weeks, with discussions rooted in three separate documents. The first days were in Philadelphia, beginning with the American Founding, through the Declaration of Independence. Additional documents and ideas were addressed and analyzed throughout the several sessions there before the group moved on to Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Finally, the group moved to Washington, D.C., and study of modern America, with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as the focal point.

Each session is made up of a set of readings, all linked from its blog post, and usually one lecture. Guiding questions and focus issues are at the foundation of each week’s study. A list of the session titles for Part 3 of the course is below, along with the dates on which each will be published on this blog, and the audio made available through iTunes. You can subscribe to our iTunes Podcast feed by clicking here. The entire course, divided into the three major sections – Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington – is already available on iTunesU.

Session 24:  The Modern Era Confronts the American Founding, 5 JAN 16
Session 25: Booker T. Washington; W.E.B. Du Bois, 12 JAN
Session 26: The Progressive Reform and Self-Government, 19 JAN
Session 27: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Democratic Leadership, 26 JAN
Session 28: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, 2 FEB
Session 29: Brown v. Board of Education; Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-Violent Resistance, and the American Dream, 9 FEB
Session 30 pt1: Martin Luther King, Jr; Malcolm X, 16 FEB
Session 30 pt2: The Reagan Era and the New Deal Legacy; George W. Bush’s Founding Faith, 23 FEB

We invite you to deepen your knowledge of American history through this series, and use these materials in any way that will benefit you and your students, and we hope that you have enjoyed this course series.

Session 23: Frederick Douglass – Reconstruction and the Future of Black Americans

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

How did Douglass answer the question, “What Country Have I?” What was his critique of the emigrationist position? What was the basis for his greater optimism about race relations in America? Just as Douglass was the leading figure in the fight to secure the natural right to liberty for blacks in America, he was the leading figure in the post-war struggle to secure civil rights for African-Americans. Why does Douglass favor justice (“fair play”) over charity (“benevolence”) for black Americans? Why does Douglass counsel black Americans against “race pride”? Why does Douglass consider “the Negro problem” a misnomer for “the nation’s problem” and how does this affect the kind of solutions proposed to help black Americans? What was his critique of the emigrationist position? Does he believe in black reparations? If color prejudice is the bane of black Americans, what principles and policies does Douglass propose to eliminate it from American society?

Session 22: “A New Birth of Freedom” and Lincoln’s Re-Election

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

Why does Lincoln call “all men are created equal” a “proposition” instead of a “self-evident truth”? How does he see the Civil War as a test? What does he define “dedication” and why does Lincoln depreciate what was said at the Gettysburg dedication? What is “the great task” that remains for the American people? What is the “new birth of freedom” he calls the nation to experience?
What are Lincoln’s objectives as the newly re-elected president? Why emphasize that both sides tried to avoid war? Why is there no explicit mention of the South as the cause of rebellion in the Second Inaugural Address? According to Lincoln, who or what was the cause of the Civil War? Why does he appeal to God’s judgment to discern the meaning of the Civil War? How does the Second Inaugural Address forge a connection between America’s past and America’s future? In other words, why does Lincoln use his Second Inaugural Address to explain the meaning of the preceding four years?
Readings:

American Presidents Webinar: Richard Nixon

 

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On Tuesday, 1 December 2015, TeachingAmericanHistory.org presented a bonus webinar in its American Presidents series. Put on in conjunction with NCSS, this one-hour episode was a bonus program for NCSS members who had attended other TAH.org webinars this year. Dr. Chris Burkett, of Ashland University, moderated the lively discussion between Drs. Eric Pullin and John Moser, who emphasized Nixon’s foreign policy decisions and policies throughout most of the program. The documents used for the program can be downloaded here.

Session 21: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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Focus

The Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave under the authority of the Federal government, e.g., the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, or Missouri. What did it accomplish? What did Frederick Douglass think about the Emancipation Proclamation at the time and then in retrospect? On emancipation, Lincoln moved too slowly for the radicals and abolitionists and too fast for the Democrats. How would you assess Lincoln’s actions?
Readings
Supplemental/Optional Readings:
  • Lucas E. Morel, “Forced into Gory Lincoln Revisionism”
  • Don E. Fehrenbacher, “Only His Stepchildren: Lincoln & the Negro”
  • James M. McPherson, “The ‘Glory’ Story”

Session 20: Lincoln and Civil Liberties

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

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.
Readings

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

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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Focus

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?

Session 18: The Rights and Wrongs of Secession

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

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

Saturday Webinar: James K. Polk

 

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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.

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