We the Teachers

Program Reports: Three East Coast Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites

Northampton LF 2016.04This past weekend TAH.org conducted three east coast colloquia at historic sites attended by history and government teachers from across the country.

The Liberty Fund co-sponsored program in Northampton, Massachusetts on President Calvin Coolidge was held at the Historic Hotel Northampton Inn. Dr. William Ruger led discussions on Coolidge’s Political Economy, Education, Self-Government and the Constitution. Participants enjoyed a private tour of Calvin Coolidge’s Presidential Library housed at the Forbes Library in Northampton, then enjoyed some time to tour the town where President Coolidge and his wife lived.


 

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Teachers from western Pennsylvania came to Philadelphia to enjoy a weekend on Alexander Hamilton chaired by Dr. Stephen Knott of the Naval War College. This program was sponsored through the generosity of the Allegheny Foundation of Pennsylvania. Dr. Knott, a Hamilton expert, led the discussion on Hamilton’s View of the Executive, the launching of the new government, the Citizen Genet episode, and the French Revolution. Participants then toured Independence Hall as well as the Liberty Bell.


 

Mt Vernon WEC 2016.04The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation kindly sponsored a weekend colloquium at George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, with Dr. Bill Allen at the helm. The conversation began Saturday morning on the topic of “Saving the Revolution” followed by “Washington and Union” and ended the day considering, “Why Did Washington Succeed”. Teachers were treated to a private tour of the General’s home and his vast estate.

 

Please visit our events calendar to find upcoming programs near you.

 

Weekend Colloquium: Ronald Reagan Library and Museum

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TAH.org hosted a group of teachers from across the country at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA, 8-10 April 2016. Reagan’s policies, ideas, and the crises he faced were discussed through a series of primary documents. Teachers were also able to visit the Reagan Library and Museum and take part in a two-hour presidential decision-making simulation, in which each person played the role of someone in Reagan’s leadership team or the media. The simulation challenged teachers to work through multiple policy and media crises, and utilized real-time simulated communications, news stories, and Situation Room information flow.

The discussion leader for the weekend was Dr. Joe Postell of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

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Program Report: Liberty Fund Co-Sponsored Weekend Seminar in Hyde Park, NY

Last weekend 18 teachers from around the country came together in Hyde Park, New York for a Liberty Fund Co-Sponsored Weekend Seminar on Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Topics of conversation considered whether or not the New Deal programs achieved their intended goal, the constitutionality of the programs and to what extent the New Deal has created today’s “entitled state”. Teachers discussed the need for expanded presidential powers when a crisis is at hand, yet, when the crisis abates, does any President relinquish the control? Roosevelt changed the dynamic of the Presidency and expanded government control over economics and domestic policies. After a long day of thoughtful discussion, teachers toured Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home and his Presidential Museum.

Abraham Lincoln Program Report

18 teachers from across the country gathered in Springfield, IL, April 1-3, to deepen their knowledge of IMG_0482Abraham Lincoln at our latest Liberty Fund co-sponsored weekend colloquium. Discussion sessions focused on Lincoln’s early public life, his election in 1860, and his handling of the many issues, challenges, and crises associated with sectionalism, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Special emphasis was placed on Lincoln’s keen legal thinking, his deep respect for the traditions of the Founding – especially those embodied in the Declaration of Independence – and the evolution of his ideas and solutions over time.

In addition to the six 90-minute discussion sessions, the group benefitted from visits to the Lincoln Home and his library and museum.

Program Report: 2 Thomas Jefferson Colloquia in Charlottesville, VA

This past weekend TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the Ashbrook Center hosted two weekend colloquia in Charlottesville, VA about Thomas Jefferson. Professor Eric Sands of Berry College, led a colloquium on The Politics of Thomas Jefferson while Professor Robert McDonald of the U.S. Military Academy, led a colloquium on Thomas Jefferson and Education.

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Teachers from across the country at Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson believed that “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.” Dr. McDonald’s group focused on only on Jefferson’s education and his plans for educational reform in Virginia but also his founding of the United States Military Academy in 1802 and the University of Virginia in 1819.

Dr. Sands facilitated conversation that centered on Thomas Jefferson and Politics, which considered topics as the Constitution, Race, Religious Freedom, Education and his lasting legacy. Participants enjoyed an afternoon tour of Monticello which was in full bloom with Spring tulips. After dinner Dr. McDonald delighted everyone with a tour of the University of Virginia to discuss Jefferson’s architectural designs.

Program Report: “American Founding” Seminar in Charleston, SC

TAH.org was delighted to hold our first South Carolina seminars in the historic town of Charleston at the Charleston History Museum this past weekend. Surrounded by historical artifacts and a replica of the Hunley submarine, Dr. David Alvis and Dr. Eric Sands chaired two separate seminars on the American Founding.

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Participants opened the session entitle “A New World of the Ages” with Lincoln’s “Fragment on the Constitution”, that asks readers to ponder the Declaration of Independence as the Apple of Gold encased by the Frame of Silver, that being the Constitution. Conversation centered on causes for Independence, British Taxation and the second paragraph of the Declaration. Session Two focused on the “Frame of Silver – Republicanism and Separation of Powers”. To what degree did the Articles of Confederation fail and what improvements in the “science of politics” did Publius think necessary to make this new form of republicanism? Readings and consideration focused on Federalist Papers #10 and #51. The final session centered on the Judiciary and Protection of Rights, which we – as a Nation – deem essential. Participants discussed Federalist #78, Brutus – The Anti-Federalist, and Marbury vs. Madison.

We look forward to adding more programs in South Carolina and hope to see many new attendees.

Program Report: “The Great Depression” Seminar in Knoxville, TN

This past weekend TAH.org hosted a seminar at the Museum of Appalachia on the Great Depression to Knoxville, Tennessee. Teachers from as far away as Asheville, North Carolina sat with Dr. John Moser in front of a blazing fireplace to discuss Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt policies on this economic tragedy.

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Our first session focused on what caused the Great Depression and Hoover’s response. Participants read Hoover’s Statement on the Economic Recovery Program, his message to State Governor’s, and Special Message to the Congress on the Economic Recovery program to name a few. Contrary to common belief, Dr. Moser provided data that President Hoover spent more investment dollars than Roosevelt in the first few years of the crisis. In the second session, the discussion centered on the Election of 1932 and how Hoover’s assessment of the causes and course of the Great Depression differed from Roosevelt’s. Readings included Hoover Analyzes the Development of the Depression and Roosevelt’s Commonwealth Club Address. In the third, and final session, Teachers discussed several of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, the Legislation to Create the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the lasting legacy of the New Deal and it’s program.

Program Report: Andrew Jackson Weekend Colloquium in Nashville, TN

The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee hosted teachers for a weekend colloquia on Andrew Jackson chaired by Dr. Dan Monroe from Milliken University. Dr. Monroe led conversations that discussed Jackson’s military career, heroism in the Battle of New Orleans, Presidency, political reform and his lasting legacy. Participants analyzed Jackson’s Inaugural Address to Congress, Bank Veto Message, Force Bill, and Nullification writings. Dr. Monroe also compared several of Lincoln’s writings (and policies) to Jackson’s policies when dealing with South Carolina and secession. Participants also enjoyed a private tour of the Hermitage, grounds, graveyard and museum.

One program participant stated, “I feel very fortunate to have gotten to learn about Jackson in Nashville. The location, information, and resources provided will enhance my lessons on Jackson. Thank you for this opportunity.”

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Program Report: Truman Weekend in Independence, MO

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Teachers in the White House Decision Center

TAH.org hosted two groups of teachers – a total of 37 – from across the country for a Weekend Colloquium at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, 16-18 October 2015. Focusing on Truman’s actions and challenges during the early years of the Cold War, teachers had an opportunity to study primary documents related to the first years after World War 2, Soviet espionage abroad and in America, and how Truman and his administration managed the impact of the Cold War on the American public.

In addition to the discussion sessions, teachers visited the Truman Library’s White House Decision Center and took part in a documents-based roleplay/simulation about Truman’s desegregation the Armed Forces in 1948, and were then able to tour the museum. Teachers: if ever you have the chance to visit the Truman Library with students, it’s worth the effort. The WDC staff and simulation were excellent – well-organized and entirely primary documents-based, making for a rich and thoughtful learning experience. They have programs for both adults and students.

The picture above  shows teachers in the role of Harry Truman giving a press conference in which the decision to desegregate the military is announced, explained, and defended to the press corps.

Program Report: Philadelphia Liberty Fund Weekend Colloquium

19 teachers gathered in Philadelphia, PA, over the weekend of 18-20 September for a Liberty Fund co-sponsored colloquium about the Federalist Papers. In addition to six 90-minute discussion sessions, teachers visited Independence Hall and were able to take in the sites of the historic downtown area. Dr. Jeremy Bailey, Associate Professor at the University of Houston, served as discussion leader and facilitated a detailed study of almost half the Federalist Papers, focused on topics such as the selection and separation of powers, Congress, the Executive, and the Judiciary. You can download a copy of the full course reading packet here.

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Ashbrook Weekend Colloquium at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Last weekend the Ashbrook Center hosted a group of teachers from across the country at Mount Vernon for an in-depth discussion of George Washington’s role as president. Topics included his actions that helped to shape the office itself and the Cabinet, his handling of the growing split between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, and his management of foreign affairs. These discussion sessions on Saturday and Sunday were all supported by a wide and diverse selection of Washington’s letters and other correspondence.

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The weekend began with a reception and dinner on Friday night, May 1st, during which teachers were treated to a visit from Nellie Custis, portrayed by one of the professional historical interpreters at Mount Vernon. Her knowledge of Washington’s granddaughter was encyclopedic, and through her participants were able to learn about what life was like at Mount Vernon for family members, and how Washington was when at home and among family.

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Outside of discussion session time, attendees were able to explore the grounds of the estate and spend time with some of the 500 Revolution-era reenactors who were taking part in a massive encampment there over the weekend. Teachers also had the opportunity to take part in a special wreath-laying ceremony at George Washington’s tomb while on a guided tour of the mansion and grounds, and watch fireworks over the Potomac on Saturday night.

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Check on our schedule of summer programs at TeachingAmericanHistory.org for future professional development opportunities.

Gainesville Seminar in American History & Government

On Saturday, March 14th, the Ashbrook Center held another One Day Seminar in American History and Government in Gainesville, Florida with Dr. John Moser on the topic of the Origins of the Cold War.

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Participants discussed the complex relations between the Soviet Union and the United States that spanned a period of six decades. As one participant stated, “These two countries virtually held the world hostage as they jockeyed for position and tried to one up each other in the nuclear arms race.”

As Dr. Moser mentioned, “The Cold War extends far beyond the basic tenets of Capitalism versus Communism.” Lively discussion permeated the day and continued into the lunch hour as well. The first session “Wartime Alliance” focused on several wartime documents such as Roosevelt’s Message to Congress on the Atlantic Charter and Protocol of the Proceedings of the Crimea (Yalta) Conference. Session two explored “The Origins of Containment”, George Kennan writings on Soviet policy and the US response to the Soviet provocations. The third session focused on “the Practice of Containment” and post World War II policies. Participants discussed the effectiveness of Truman’s administrative policies, why did the US join NATO, the Marshall Plan and the division of Germany. The effects of the Cold War still resonate today and debate still continues over Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb.

Ashbrook Weekend Colloquium in Colonial Williamsburg, VA

The Ashbrook Center hosted a group of teachers at Colonial Williamsburg this past weekend, to discuss the topic of slavery as it is related to the Constitution. Teachers from across the country – as far away as North Dakota – engaged in a discussion about how the treatment of slavery evolved during the Convention of 1787, how the 3/5 clause was added and where the number really came from, and how the Founders wrestled with slavery as an institution with political and economic aspects and impacts.

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Professor Gordon Lloyd led our discussions, helping participants dig deeply into a diverse collection of documents, including notes from individual states’ ratifying conventions in 1787 and 1788, as well as from the Philadelphia Williamsburg 2 2015.03Convention itself. Along with 9 hours of outstanding discussion, participants were given a guided tour of Colonial Williamsburg, led by a resident scholar in the history of slavery and African-Americans at the historic settlement, and viewed a dramatic presentation of the lives of three African-American women who lived in Williamsburg in the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries.

Denver Seminar on American History & Government

The Ashbrook Center and Denver Public Schools partnered on February 17th, 2015 to present two one-day seminars to teachers from DPS and surrounding districts. The session for middle school teachers focused on Abraham Lincoln and his plans for Reconstruction, while the high school session focused on the role of religion in three different eras of reform in American history.

Our discussion about Lincoln dwelled in part on the difficulty he faced in trying to win the war while simultaneously planning for what was eventually called Reconstruction – how does one wage a war for victory, without doing so in a manner that alienates the enemy population, preventing amicable relations in the future? Unlike foreign wars, the American Civil War presented political and military leaders with unique challenges, all of which Lincoln needed to consider as he sought a resolution to the conflict.

The role of religion in American history is significant, and arguably no more so than in a number of reform movements throughout our history. Both the abolition movement, and the greater debate over slavery, and the temperance movement were fueled by perspectives themselves rooted in issues of faith. Participants discussed the role of religion in personal and corporate decision-making, and its impact on policy over time.

Take a look at our upcoming programs in various states on our programs calendar, found here on TeachingAmericanHistory.org.

Happy Birthday George Washington!

Sunday, February 22nd is our first president’s birthday. In celebration of Washington as a man, as a precedent setter, and as a leader calling Americans to embrace the full promise of our national experiment in self-government we encourage you to re-visit his Letter to the Hebrew Congregation. In this Letter, which celebrates its 225th anniversary this year, Washington notes, “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

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The George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom is offering an Educators Kit to help teachers and administrators guide a classroom reading and discussion of Washington’s Letter. The Institute even provides the Letter’s translation from English into nine (9) languages.

Click here to get your GWIRF Educators Kit.

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