We the Teachers

NCSS and TAH Partner for Summer PD

National Council for the Social Studies and TeachingAmericanHistory.org have partnered to bring a three-episode webinar series to teachers. The Reconstruction Amendments: A Constitutional Revolution, will take place on 7, 14, and 21 July from 6:30-8:00pm Eastern time. Registrants will receive a PDF reading packet in advance of the program and during each episode will learn from Professor Scott Yenor of Boise State University, who will lead a discussion about the three Reconstruction amendments, one each week. Each amendment will be accompanied by additional readings to help contextualize its constitutional and legal meaning and impact.

Additionally, participants in all three webinars will be able to register with Ashland University’s Founders School of Continuing Education to earn one graduate credit in Education after completing a lesson plan based on the program content. Information about this option will be provided during the webinars.

You can find more information about the series here.

September 2014 Webinar: Did the Founders Misunderstand Democracy?

 

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What is democracy, and what did it mean to the Founders as they fought the Revolution and then laid out the plans for a new government? Did their definition of the term, and its implications for the structure, powers, and role of the new government differ from ours, or from that of Americans in the centuries between us? September 2014′s Saturday Webinar dealt with these questions and issues attached to them, and can be viewed – and its associated documents accessed – right here. And now that our iTunes Podcast is running smoothly, you can download the audio file to your mobile device, as well.

American Controversies: Is there a Right to Nullification or Secession? – the podcast

 

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November 2014′s Saturday Webinar, “Is There a Constitutional Right to Nullification or Secession?” was a great panel discussion about the legal, constitutional, and revolutionary arguments made over the years to justify either nullification of federal actions our outright secession. One glaring omission from that program, however, has been the lack of an audio-only version of the discussion. Now that our podcast is running smoothly, it was time to remedy that oversight.

FDR’s D-Day Prayer

At a crucial moment in the struggle to defeat Nazi Germany, Franklin Roosevelt dispensed with more conventional wartime rhetorical forms and resorted to a public prayer. “My fellow Americans,” he began, “Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far. And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.”

Roosevelt’s prayer movingly evokes the urgency and uncertainty of the moment we remember as D-Day. Of course, his prayer expressed all the themes that he would have put into a rousing wartime speech, but it couched them in a form that implicitly acknowledged the contingent hopes of men amid a large historical struggle. It bespoke a kind of humility in the face of enormous odds, and the insufficiency of mere human effort to achieve success in a struggle against worldly powers threatening decent human life. It prepared Americans to endure the long struggle ahead, as Allied forces would fight to take and hold each square foot of Nazi-occupied Europe. Asking the Creator to guide American soldiers, he said:

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

TAH Podcasts Now Available on iTunes

TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s Saturday Webinars are now available as archived audio through iTunes. Click here to open iTunes and subscribe to our audio podcast. Every month during the school year our Saturday Webinar will be posted to iTunes, along with any other audio from programs, courses, and other events that we believe would be useful to teachers, students, and citizens.

You can also find our podcast on the iTunes store by typing ‘TeachingAmericanHistory.org’ into the search box.

Veto Message of the Bill on the Bank of the United States

Proclamation Regarding Nullification, Andrew Jackson,December 10, 1832

 

For suggestions on how to guide students in analyzing the document, see the EDSITEment lesson plan, Lesson 1: An Early Threat of Secession: The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Nullification Crisis in The Growing Crisis of Sectionalism in Antebellum America: A House Dividing. The lesson was co-authored with high school teacher Constance Murray by Washington and Lee Professor Lucas Morel, a faculty member in Ashbrook’s Master of Arts in American History and Government program. Excerpts from Jackson’s Proclamation and a student worksheet make the document accessible to students.

Final Days to Apply for Summer 2015 Ashbrook Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites for Teachers

If you have not yet applied, or are waiting to apply, now is your last chance! Apply today for elite Ashbrook Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites on American History and Government during the summer of 2015. 

The application deadline is this Sunday, May 31st.

You and teachers like you from across the country will have the opportunity to:

  • Visit historic sites, like Independence Hall or Monticello
  • Experience Ashbrook’s unique discussion-based format
  • Engage in thoughtful conversation with fellow teachers, guided by a historian/political scientist
  • Explore primary source documents
  • Increase your expertise and develop content knowledge
  • Reignite your passion for your subject area
  • Take ideas back to your classroom that inspire your students
  • Earn up to 8 contact hours, with the option to earn 1 graduate credit
  • Receive a stipend of $425 to defray the cost of travel, plus have your program accommodations for the weekend provided by Ashbrook
  • Be treated to complimentary continental breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments during the program

Click here to see the schedule of Summer Colloquia and to apply.

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American Controversies: Is the Modern Presidency Constitutional?

 

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Is the Modern Presidency Constitutional?

The last of the 14-15 school year’s Saturday Webinars, today’s program, was hosted as always by Dr. Chris Burkett of Ashland University, who moderated the discussion between professors Jeremy Bailey and David Alvis. The topic considered the Constitution itself, interpretations of the executive found in the Federalist Papers, and actions, laws, and events from throughout American history, in an attempt to differentiate between the ‘constitutional presidency’ and the ‘modern presidency.’ Some 65 teachers from across the country attended, who asked a wide variety of questions.

You can access a list of some of the documents used and a video archive on here.

Subscribe to our podcast here.

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.

Peter W. Schramm commentary: Lincoln earned the many tributes he’s receiving

On April 29, 1865, the Lincoln Funeral Train from Washington arrived in Columbus. It was on its way to Springfield, almost exactly retracing the route Lincoln had taken to Washington for his inauguration in 1861. The nearly 1,700-mile trip would take 13 days and was met at every stop with grieving Americans. Fifty thousand Ohioans welcomed Lincoln’s remains in Columbus on that cold and rainy day.

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This Wednesday, April 29, the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board will re-create the memorial decoration that the state of Ohio installed in 1865. All Ohioans are invited to pay their respects to the 16th president of the United States, and are encouraged to bring fresh flowers to the Statehouse Rotunda. We can view a replica of his casket between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and we can do this until May 4.

Abraham Lincoln, the first president ever assassinated, died on Good Friday, April 15, just two weeks after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. The truth is, Lincoln did not think he would live to see the end of the war. Many months earlier, Lincoln had said to Harriet Beecher Stowe: “ Whichever way the war ends, I have the impression that I shan’t last long after it’s over.” And he said this to his friend Owen Lovejoy: “This war is eating my life out; I have a strong impression that I shall not live to see the end.”

When Lincoln heard that the Confederates had abandoned Richmond, Va., on April 2, he said: “ Thank God I have lived to see this. It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.”

So on April 4, Lincoln and his 12-year-old son, Tad, walked into Richmond, escorted by 10 Marines. Once recognized, he was fairly mobbed by thousands of newly freed blacks. One woman shouted: “I know that I am free for I have seen father Abraham and felt him.”

Some knelt before Lincoln, and he said to them: “Don’t kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.”

The president was deeply moved by these events. He also took some satisfaction in sitting in Jefferson Davis’ chair in the Confederate White House only two days after Davis vacated it.

On April 9, Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va.

On April 11, revelers outside the White House demanded a short speech from Lincoln.

Instead of giving them a celebration of victory speech, Lincoln talked about reconstruction. He focused especially on Louisiana, where a new anti-slavery constitution had been passed and some 10,000 men had pledged their allegiance to the Union. Lincoln looked favorably on these developments, revealed how liberal his reconstruction policy would be, and also said he also hoped that newly freed blacks, either the educated or those who served in the military, would be allowed to vote.

John Wilkes Booth was in the audience, but he wasn’t cheering. He turned to a friend and said: “ Now by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.” And it was. Four days later Abraham Lincoln was dead.

On April 19, the funeral train left for Springfield. About a million Americans came out to pay their respects along the way, including thousands in Columbus. The grieving was heartfelt. Lincoln saved the Union, what he called “the last, best hope” of republican liberty. Even while waging an all-out war, he knew that the rebels were Americans and would be brought home. He once said: “I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.”

This was a self-educated man, learned only in the Bible and Shakespeare. He was deeply thoughtful, spoke and wrote with grace and exceptional eloquence. His judgments were spot on and he inspired confidence and trust. When he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he said, “My whole soul is in it.” The Second Inaugural, a meditation on the Divine will, sold briskly at every train depot and state house on the long way home.

The Lincoln biographer, Michael Burlingame, writes that the greatness of Lincoln’s character was the secret weapon in the Civil War. He had a kind of psychological maturity and honesty about him that is truly rare. He was full of moral clarity and unimpeachable integrity. Perhaps we should not wonder why more books have been written about Lincoln than any other person in history, save Christ.

The invitation to bring flowers to the Rotunda in memory of this great American is an opportunity for us to remind ourselves how and why Abraham Lincoln rendered himself worthy of our esteem.

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Peter W. Schramm is senior fellow at the Ashbrook Center.

ConstitutingAmerica.org – We The Future Contest

Our friends at Constituting America, A Republic for Which It Stands – Constituting America – “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” John Adams, 1765, have an amazing website filled with resources and materials for students, teachers and citizens. One that has especially caught our eye is their We The Future Contest. This contest is for Patriots of all ages and lets you use your creativity to showcase your love for our great Nation. Check it out!

Also, check them out on Facebook!

 

American Controversies: Are Congress and the Courts Too Strong or Too Weak?

 

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Are the Courts and Congress Too Weak or Too Strong?

11 April’s webinar,  Are Congress and the Courts Too Strong or Too Weak? is now available for podcasting. You can also view the video archive on this page at TeachingAmericanHistory.orgSubscribe to our podcast here.

Register Now for this Saturday’s “American Controversies” Webinar

Join teachers from across the country for our next web discussion this Saturday, April 11th at 11:00 AM EST. This month our topic of conversation is, Are Congress and the Courts Too Strong or Too Weak? Prof. Christopher Burkett will be moderating the discussion between Prof. Joseph Postell of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Prof. Kevin Portteus of Hillsdale College.

Register Now

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.

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