We the Teachers

The 15th Amendment: Providing the Vote


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On 21 July, NCSS and TAH.org hosted the last of three episodes in their joint Summer Webinar Series about the Reconstruction amendments. Professor Scott Yenor discussed with a group of teachers the reasoning behind the 15th Amendment, different ideas about how to achieve its goal, and the resulting impact of access to the vote – real or imagined – by African-Americans over time. You can download a copy of the slideshow here, and the reading packet for the entire series here.

Session 2: The American Mind, Part 1

Lecture, Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Thomas Jefferson wrote that in drafting the Declaration of Independence he meant to give expression to “the American mind.” What does the Declaration tell us about the American mind as it related to the foundations, forms, and purposes of the newly sovereign United States? What is the political logic of the argument of the Declaration? What is the philosophical and historical heritage on which the Declaration draws? Reflections on the course of human events, people, the laws of nature and of nature’s God, decent respect for the opinions of mankind, self evident truths, equality, rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, consent, prudence, the ends of government, the right to abolish government and institute new government, facts submitted to a candid world, sacred honor, and more.

The 14th Amendment: How it Completes the Constitution


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In part 2 of the TAH.org/NCSS Summer Webinar Series, Professor Scott Yenor discusses the need for, development of, and implementation of the 14th Amendment. Starting with conjecture over an ideal resolution to the Civil War, Professor Yenor and a group of teachers worked through the competing ideas and practical challenges of Reconstruction as applied to what became the 14th Amendment. You can access the slideshow used during the webinar here, and the reading packet for the three-session series here.

Session 1: Intro and the “Apple of Gold”: – The Centrality of the Declaration of Independence in American Political Life

Introduction, Dr. Peter Schramm:  

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Part 1, Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Part 2: Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Why is it important to understand the Declaration of Independence? What does the Declaration say, and why and how does it say it? What does the Declaration not say, and why and how does it not say it? What is the significance of Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration? What does the Declaration mean, and what does the Declaration not mean?

Standards-Based Search Tool for Our Documents Library

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is very happy to announce the launch of our Standards Search Tool for our Documents Library. You can now search for standards by type (Social Studies or Common Core ELA for History), state, and grade level and get lists of documents that are relevant to teaching them. You can also select a specific document and see which standards are most appropriate to it. A short how-to page is here, and you’ll see the interface for the tool on any document page – like this one - on both the right side of the screen and on the ‘Academic Standards’ tab right above the text of the document.

The 13th Amendment: The Beginning of a Constitutional Revolution?

Professor Scott Yenor:   

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On the evening of 7 July, 2015, TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the National Council for the Social Studies presented the first of three webinars in a series based around the three Reconstruction Amendments. Professor Scott Yenor, of Boise State University, worked with a group of teachers from across the country to consider the constitutional, legal, and practical issues surrounding the 13th Amendment. Did the amendment represent a departure from constitutional precedent, or a culmination of it? How was the question of slavery dealt with as a constitutional and legal issue through this amendment? Were the Reconstruction amendments truly a coherent ‘package,’ as often portrayed? These questions and others were addressed in detail using this documents packet and this slideshow. Download those files and follow along with the attached podcast.

Presidential Academy: The Declaration of Independence and the American Founding

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is proud to offer the first 11 of 30 sessions of our Presidential Academy documents-based survey course of American history and American political thought through iTunesU, iTunes, and this blog.

Starting on Tuesday, 14 July, we’ll publish one session per week, excluding some weeks due to holidays. This first portion of the course will end on Tuesday, 22 September, and will be followed the week after by Part 2, and then Part 3 in 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 all session titles in Part 1 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 1: Introduction and the “Apple of Gold”: - The Centrality of the Declaration of Independence in American Political Life, 14 July
Session 2: The American Mind: Part I, 21 July
Session 3: The American Mind: Part II, 28 July
Session 4: The Revolutionary Era, 4 AUG
Session 5: The Constitutional Convention, Part I – The Alternative Plans, 11 AUG
Session 6: The Constitutional Convention, Part II – The Connecticut Compromise, 18 AUG
Session 7: The Constitutional Convention, Part III – The Committee of Detail Report and the Close of the Convention, 25 AUG
Session 8: The Constitution and American Self-Government, 1 SEP
Session 9: The Proposed Constitution of 1787 and Its Defense in The Federalist Papers, 8 SEP
Session 10: The Federalist Papers – The Sum of Power and the Separation of Powers, 15 SEP
Session 11: The Federalist Papers – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, 22 SEP

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.

Presidential Academy: A full course in American History

Presidential Academy, a program run by the Ashbrook Center for teachers and held in Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C., is now available on iTunes U and will soon be available through this blog.

We’ve taken all 30 sessions of the program and packaged them into three parts, listed below, and we’re making them available in two formats, as indicated. Each session is made up of a lecture, usually 60-90 minutes long, and set of readings, which are linked from our documents library on TAH.org.

We invite you to subscribe to our iTunes podcast – through which all the audio for the Presidential Academy will be made available – and to use all these materials to expand your knowledge and understanding of the American experiment in republican self-government.

Part 1: The Declaration of Independence and the American Founding

Part 2: The Gettysburg Address and the Civil War

Part 3: MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Modern America

American Controversies: Did the Founders Misunderstand Equality?


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The first of the 2014-15 Saturday Webinars, this session not only introduced the theme for the season, it also addressed an issue perfectly relevant to any American History, Government, or Civics course. The archive page for the program is here, and you can subscribe to our TAH.org podcast here.

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.

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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