We the Teachers

Saturday Webinar: Secessionists vs. Unionists

 

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The first Great American Debates webinar of 2019 took place on Saturday, 12 January, with a deep dive into the causes and ideas behind the opposing – and both diverse and complex in and of themselves – sides in the debate over states’ right, supposedly, to secede. Drs. Scott Yenor, Jonathan White, and Chris Burkett discussed the constitutional, legal, and political dimensions of an issue that had roots far earlier than the flare-up in late 1860.

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Documents in Detail: Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to Roger Weightman

 

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Thomas Jefferson wrote this letter only weeks before his death in 1826, and in it seeks to explain, in effect, what he meant by some of the key ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Coupled with his 1825 letter to Henry Lee, this piece provides an interesting perspective on those ideas, from their key author. Jefferson not only reflects on American independence, but looks far into the future, when “all,” he believed, would seek political liberty, perhaps even in the American tradition.

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Great American Debates: Lincoln vs. Douglas

 

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TAH.org’s last Saturday Webinar for 2018 took place on 1 December, and featured another Great American Debate: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, in their famous ‘Lincoln-Douglas Debates’ of 1858. Our panel of scholars, with the assistance of great questions submitted by our live audience of teachers addressed the ideas and issues, rhetoric and reasoning, and immediate and long-term impact and meaning of these singular debates in American history.

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Documents in Detail: Bill of Rights

 

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Our Documents in Detail episode for 14 NOV 18 focused on the Bill of Rights: the politics behind its proposal and adoption; interpretations over time; and place in our history, government, and society. Among the many questions asked during the lively 58-minute program included those about James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and why they initially did not support an enumeration of rights, but in Madison’s case, eventually went on to promote the legislation that led to the Bill of Rights. Also considered was the notion that to understand the Bill of Rights today, one must understand the original arguments against it.

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Saturday Webinar: Frederick Douglass vs. William Lloyd Garrison

 

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TAH.org’s Saturday Webinar for 10 NOV 2018 focused on the debate between Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, and their divergent views on the Constitution, solutions to slavery, and the future of America as they saw it. Suggested additional readings include:

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Documents in Detail: Brutus I

 

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The 24 OCT 18 episode of Documents in Detail took a look at Brutus I, one of the essential Antifederalist writings, dated 18 OCT 1787. The program opened with a question from the moderator about why it’s worth reading an argument for one of the “losers” of the ratification debate that waged from 1787-88. Most of the program dug into and drew conclusions and observations based on the root of Brutus’ argument, which was about his concerns over consolidation, and the creation of a single, large republic that would eventually trample the rights of individuals and would be distant and separate from the people it existed to represent.

We experienced a software glitch while recording this program, resulting in the last 12 minutes being muted. We are working to recover this block of audio, and will replace the current, incomplete audio file with the full one if we are able to do that.

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Saturday Webinars: Jefferson vs. Hamilton

 

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The Saturday Webinar for October 2018 featured a discussion of the political and personal split between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, with a focus on how their differences contributed to the development of the first political parties, and how their ideas informed the first decades of American economic policy.

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Core American Documents: The Executive Branch

 

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“[The concept of executive power]…in our system of government, which subscribes to the rule of law, is very hard to come to terms with…”

The latest volume of the American History and Government Core Documents Collections – the Executive Branch – is available on Kindle, iTunes 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 as print-on-demand on Amazon!

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This collection of documents on the Executive Branch is part of our extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. This is the first of our Political Science/Government-focused volumes, especially appropriate for use in Government and Civics courses.

Consider taking a look at these books by Professor Bailey mentioned in the interview:

See a list of all titles in TAH.org’s Core Documents series.

Constitution Day Lecture: “The Least Dangerous Branch”

 

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Professor Gordon Lloyd gave the attached address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as part of the commemoration of the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. Professor Lloyd shared his vast knowledge of and keen insights on the American Founding, particularly the Constitutional Convention. In addition to using TAH.org’s Constitutional Convention online exhibit, created by Prof. Lloyd, he also used the famous Howard Chandler Christy painting depicting the signing of the Constitution as a focus for his talk.

Professor Lloyd also referred to the “Issues Debated” page within the Federalist-Antifederalist Debates exhibit, where the primary issues over which the two sides debated are compared and the most essential documents linked, and the origins of the Bill of Rights.

Questions and answers begin at the 40-minute mark, and the primary program, therefore, ends at that point. The Q&A portion did include some very interesting questions, with some making connections between history and contemporary politics.

You can watch the video of the presentation, with additional opening remarks , as well.

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.

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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 paperback on Amazon.

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.

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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.

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

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