We the Teachers

Documents in Detail: A Time for Choosing

 

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Click for a full video of the 1964 speech

The last episode in TAH.org’s 2017-18 Documents in Detail webinar series, focused on Ronald Reagan’s 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech. Often referred to as “The Speech,” is was a persuasive, articulate, and powerful endorsement of then-Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater, and despite Goldwater’s loss that November, helped to propel Reagan to the forefront of national politics, keeping him in the public eye as he sought and won the governorship of California, went on to unsuccessfully challenge sitting Republican President Gerald Ford for his party’s nomination in 1976, and eventually win the presidency in 1980.

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Saturday Webinar: Iran Hostage Crisis

 

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TAH.org’s last Saturday Webinar for the 2017-18 school year, today we focused on the 444 day long crisis in which 52 American embassy workers were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries and held for over a year, bringing to a head conflict between that country’s new rulers and the United States, and likely contributing to the downfall of President Jimmy Carter. Relevant to the ongoing friction and sometimes hostility between the quasi-theocracy of Iran and the United States, this crisis ended with Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president in January 1981, and has had ripples and repercussions since.

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Documents in Detail: MLK’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

 

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Today’s Documents in Detail webinar focused on Dr. Martin Luther King jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” which was delivered on the heels of a Congressional filibuster that had been started to block civil rights legislation. With input from our two scholars and moderator, we explored the ideas expressed in the speech, language employed, reception and meaning of the seminal piece, and took a number of interesting questions from our teacher audience.

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Saturday Webinars: Watergate

 

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TAH.org’s 7 APril 2018 Saturday Webinar was about Watergate, and the ensuing political and seeming constitutional crisis that ensued. Panelists discussed the background of the break-in that led to the crisis, but also talked a great deal about Nixon’s background, his views on Democrats and other Republicans, and how his experiences and personality contributed to his actions as president.

Questions from teachers included those about presidential powers as related to subpoenas, how precedents established played out during the Clinton impeachment incident in the late 1990s, and some about pardon powers and their extent. And how to Congressional investigations differ from criminal ones?

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Document in Detail: The Long Telegram

 

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Wednesday 21 March’s webinar focused on the Long Telegram, the famous George Kennan communique from Moscow in 1946, on which so much of American foreign policy after World War 2 was based. Scholars discussed the origins of the telegram, the context around events in Moscow and Washington in the year after the war, and why Kennan wrote it in the first place. They discussed how the U.S. government received the news from Kennan, as well as how Kennan framed and explained himself over time, even to the point of seemingly contradicting commonly-held views of the meaning of his point.

 

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Saturday Webinar: Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL

 

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Saturday, 3 March 2018’s TAH.org teacher webinar was about Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. The violent response to a peaceful Civil Rights march on 7 March 1965, televised and immortalized in pictures, helped to spotlight the injustice of segregation and racially discriminatory systems of law and social norms found throughout the South at the time.

Although other crises in this series were political or security-focused in nature, what happened in Selma has a far more distinctly moral crisis, as it was made so clear that many Americans were not enjoying the same rights as others, and that the promises of the Declaration of Independence were, clearly, not yet fulfilled.

The event itself was discussed in detail and contextualized alongside other major moments and ideas from the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s.

Suggestions for additional reading:

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Documents in Detail: FDR’s Commonwealth Club Address

 

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TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s Documents in Detail webinar for Wednesday, 21 FEB 2018 focused on FDR’s Commonwealth Club Address, seen as his closing argument to America late in the 1932 election campaign, and as the foundational document for understanding his policies and actions as president.

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Saturday Webinar: The Cuban Missile Crisis

 

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TAH.org’s 3 FEB 18 Saturday Webinar looked deeply into the Cuban Missile Crisis, the ’13 days’ during which the world seemed to teeter on the bring of nuclear war.

How did this crisis come into being? How was evidence of the missiles discovered, and verified? What was the nature of the crisis – that is, were there people within JFK’s inner circle who saw it differently than it is typically portrayed? How did the upcoming midterm elections factor into decision-making and internal analysis by Kennedy and his people? How did JFK’s experience from the Bay of Pigs impact his view on Cuba? And what impact did the crisis have on Castro’s control over Cuba?

Our panelists dug into these questions and others, working with a live audience of over 100 teachers from across the country.

The following books were recommended for additional reading:

One Hell of a Gamble,” Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali

We Now Know, John Lewis Gaddis

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Documents in Detail: Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism speech

 

 

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TR’s New Nationalism speech was the focus on 24 January’s Documents in Detail webinar. The importance of the political context around the speech – trends in Republican politics, recent electoral results – were discussed, as well as the meaning of the location of TR’s speech. Roosevelt’s rhetoric and attempts to take hold of the ‘mantle of Lincoln’ in the speech were also discussed in detail. Also discussed were TR’s audience, and how his message and wording were tailored for them.

Questions included those about TR’s views of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and the place of the Panama Canal in popular opinion, taken alongside this speech and its message.

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Saturday Webinar: Attack on Pearl Harbor

 

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2018’s first TAH.org took place on Saturday, 6 January, and focused on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Professors Chris Burkett, David Krugler, and John Moser, discussed the reasons behind the attack, the Japanese military and political rationale for the attack and what they hoped to achieve, and how they believed such an attack would enable them to reach their goals. American responses to Japanese involvement in China played a role in driving Japanese policy, in context alongside Nazi views on American character and willingness to shoulder burdens or deal militarily with other great powers. Also discussed is the concept of America’s “reluctant interventionism,” which has become a preferred term among scholars to the more-often used “isolationism” to describe American foreign policy, especially during the years between World War 1 and World War 2.

This program, along with digging deeply into a number of interesting questions about the why and how of the attack – as a political and diplomatic, as well as military, event – also forms a comprehensive telling of the story of the beginning of the war in the Pacific, working forward from Japanese expansion in China during the 1930s, and even going back as far as Japanese designs on Asia following World War 1.

Suggested books for further reading include…

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Documents in Detail: Gettysburg Address

 

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The last TAH.org Webinar for 2017 took place on December 13th, with a discussion of the Gettysburg Address. Drs. John Moser, Jon White, and Dan Monroe discussed the words and ideas in Lincoln’s most famous speech. The place of Gettysburg, as a site of national reconciliation, helped to solidify Lincoln’s words in American history and myth, was introduced as location of the famed, pivotal battle. Lincoln’s singular place in American history was also discussed, and when and how the words of the Gettysburg Address contributed, in the years close after his death, to his central position in our story.

The panelists also brought Lincoln’s response to the Dred Scott case, and other addresses and writings over time, into the discussion, demonstrating consistency by Lincoln on several key issues over time.

A books mentioned is Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death, by Mark Schantz, which delves into significant changes in American traditions related to death, burial, and memorial wrought by the Civil War.

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Saturday Webinar: Sinking of the USS Maine

 

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The last Saturday Webinar of 2017 aired on 2 DEC, with a lively discussion about the sinking of the USS Maine, and its role in the Spanish-American War, as well as its place within the context of late 19th Century colonial and imperial expansion.

The panelists discussed American motivations for involvement in Cuba and the Philippines, and in relating to Spain as it did, and the complex interactions between Progressive ideology and policy goals and imperial designs. Parallels with other American international interventions, including that in Vietnam, were also discussed, as well as domestic opposition to imperialism.

Jennifer Keene has published extensively on a variety of topics in American history, especially on World War I. Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America is one of her titles.

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Saturday Webinar: Lincoln’s Assassination

 

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TAH.org continued its Saturday Webinar series on November 18th, 2017, looking deeply at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A far larger, more complex, and more ambitious plot than many people understand it to be, John Wilkes Booth’s attempt to ‘decapitate’ the leadership of the United States government shook both North and South, creating immediate and lasting political, legal, and cultural waves, shaping what became post-war Reconstruction and the years beyond.

In addition to a lively discussion of the plot itself and its immediate and longer-term impacts, the panelists suggested James Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer for those interested in further reading about the assassination itself.

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Documents in Detail: What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

 

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15 November’s Documents in Detail webinar was about Frederick Douglass’s What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, his oration delivered on 5 July 1862. There were some technical difficulties in the first minutes of the program, which resulted in one of the panelists being a few minutes late. Otherwise, it was an interesting discussion of the occasion on which Douglass spoke, his place as one of the leaders of the abolition movement in the 19th Century, and the importance of the ideas he expressed in the speech.

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Documents in Detail: Monroe Doctrine

 

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18 October’s Documents in Detail program focused on the Monroe Doctrine – that which gave rise to the politics that led to it, what it said and meant, and how it represented a growing sense of American identity in the world and a guide for relations with other countries at the time, throughout the rest of the 19th Century, and even to today.

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