Posted by: history591seventeen | June 8, 2010

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A lovely display of chairs

The tour of the American and Americana Collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was delightful.  Our guide explained the different period rooms we saw and explained how they came to the museum. 

Young George Washington

We also saw some beautiful paintings of George Washington and a very cool painting of John Brown that happens to be one I have previously used in my classroom.  Usually John Brown is portrayed as an insane abolitionist, yet this painting displays a grandfatherly man calmly saying goodbye to an African American woman and child, which of course demonstrated a very different view of John Brown and that is how I currently use two different illustrations; after students describe each painting, we compare them as a group and discuss why they are different.  Then I have my students write down which painting they think shows the real John Brow and why they feel that way, and again we discuss their findings. 

While we were looking at George Washington, I also found some Abraham Lincoln sculptures that were very cool, and while I enjoyed the guide’s information about the things she was sharing with us, I almost enjoyed my discovers more; yet it would have been nice to know their backgrounds as well. 

 I think that is what I would like to take back to my classroom.  When showing students art, say in books, magazines or in museums, it is necessary to give them some background on some of what they are viewing, yet it is more important to allow them the chance of discovering their favorite pieces and give them the resources to find out the background themselves.  Then the students could bring this back to the classroom, whereas each student could present their art and background and become the expert on that piece for the moment.  I think that would be a great way to develop buy-in of the students.

After this day of touring, my friends and I made it to the Bowling Green, which was probably way too exciting for me.  I remember writing about the King George statue being pulled down; some of you know the DBQ I am referring to.  After doing this in my master’s class I then punished my students with writing about the same DBQ.  It was a challenge to explain this illustration to my students, but I feel I have a much better understanding of this illustration and event that I will carry back to my students.  That would be why I found it sooo exciting!  I know, I’m such a history nerd, but if you are reading this, you probably are one too!

Posted by: history591seventeen | June 6, 2010

Harlem and the Bronx

High Line

 We toured Harlem and the Bronx today, which were nice surprises. Both areas appeared cleaner than the areas around the hotel where we are currently staying.  Anyway, as our tour guide rambled on, revealing his in-depth New York knowledge, I began thinking about how I could relate this information to my classroom.   One idea I thought could be interesting to develop would be assigning students the responsibility to plan and map out a tour of their town.  They would have to include so many stops and the brief history of each of these stops.  What would be most interesting is hearing what sites the students would select for their tour.

We also had lunch in Little Italy.  We ate pizza at a very homey place.  Our waiter made the pizza and it was impressive to watch him.    While he was making the pizza I thought of the way to use food in my classroom; I could have students bring in pictures of their favorite foods, along with the recipes, that demonstrated their family’s culture.  They could include a map showing the location of their ancestors.  This would be a great way for my students to find out a little about their family.  I would love to have students bring in their favorite foods, but I cannot allow students to bring in any homemade foods or anything that is not considered healthy according to the district’s healthy foods standards.  Therefore, pictures would have to work in place of the real thing.

Food always brings friends together!

Posted by: history591seventeen | June 5, 2010

Museum of the City of New York

 Today we recieved a lot of information about the city of New York, which was presented in many different ways.  I liked the way EY Zipris demonstrated the fact that we all have some type of artifacts on display.  She said whatever we display in our homes is a reflection of the story we want to share with those who come in to our homes.  That is a great way to relate to students.  I can talk to them about what they may have placed out in the open in their bedrooms that they share with their friends and then I can ask them, “What is the story you want to tell?”and “Why are you sharing this story?” or something like that. 

We were also given a tour about Cars, Culture and the City.   I found some of the advertisements that were used in this display very interesting.  I plan to use some of these photos to work on higher level thinking skills.  The advertisements, of course, had a beautiful car in it, but there were other items in the photo as well.  I will have students list what they see in the ads and have them state why they think these items were added to the photo and what these items create or add to the photo.  Then I would like to expand this to having students pick their own theme (like the car theme) and bring in their own ads, about five, present the information to their peers, answering the same questions as to why certain items were placed in the photo with their chosen items.  I feel this activity could bring awareness to students as to how marketing influences some of the simple decisions we all make when it comes to purchasing the things that we buy.   It would be a great discussion!

Posted by: history591seventeen | June 5, 2010

Roosevelt and the Culinary Institute

                                                                                                      It was amazing to see where Franklin D. Roosevelt lived. I thought it was interested to hear the story of the elevator, as well as to be given a better understanding of how FDR hid his disability and why he hid it. The ranger told us that the only way you would know FDR couldn’t walk would be to spend the night because then you would see him use his wheel chair to get around. Otherwise, if you visited FDR, he would be found seated in the house somewhere with his legs crossed and would not leave that spot until after your visit was over.

FDR used a pulley system to hoist himself up to the different levels of the house. I find that to reflex his desire to want to care for himself as much as possible, using as little outside help as he could. Studying FDR with my students would assist me in explaining to students how some things have changed over time. People do not look down on other people , as much, in the same ways, if and when they find out that they have disabilities. It would be easy to go into some of the laws that have been passed and discuss if that may be why people have changed their view of individuals with disabilities.

We also experienced the Culinary Institute of America. This was a refreshing experience because the students who I interacted with were so excited about what they were doing and learning, that it was somewhat contagious. They explained their program and then fed us their delicious food. Of course my favorite part of the meal was the warm (yummy) chocolate pudding cake. The day was a lot to take in, but a great time had by one and all (I think).

Posted by: history591seventeen | March 27, 2010

The Great Bridge

            According to author David McCullough, the Brooklyn Bridge was a significant technological fate for many reasons.  The bridge was the first structure to use the technology of a caisson –a compressed-air foundation.  This technique was being used in Europe, which is where the engineer and designer of the bridge, John Roebling, sent his son, Washington to observe this technology, as well as their wire-making process, the latest developments in metallurgy and the Bessemer steel making procedure (167).  The plan for the bridge would also make it the longest bridge constructed in the world.  At the same time, the bridge had to be made in a way that it did not constrict the water traffic below.  Therefore, no pillars could be set into the water to hold the bridge; it had to be held up from above.  Certainly, John Roebling’s plan would be a challenge to complete; however, from the start, the difficulties of everyday life would challenge this project.  

            Because John Roebling understood that others would question his ideas for this bridge, he consulted with the most renowned engineers of his day prior to presenting his plan any further.  After answering all of this group’s questions, Roebling did present his idea to a select group from both New York and Brooklyn.  Finally, John Roebling was given approval to construct the Brooklyn Bridge.  However, soon after, John Roebling had an accident in which his toes of one of his feet had to be amputated, which actually led to John Roebling’s death.  This of course caused some to want to abandon the bridge project, for the chief engineer was dead.  Yet his son, Washington Roebling knew more about how to complete this project than his dad, because of the research Washington had done for his dad in Europe.  Therefore, Washington Roebling was allowed to continue this project of his father’s. Then politics got involved. 

            William Marcy Tweed, known as “Boss Tweed,” was a New York politician elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1852, who wanted his piece of the bridge profits; yet Tweed did not try to go in on this project until after the death of John Roebling.  Also many of the men involved in the committee were profiting from the project in the way contacts were being awarded to their own businesses; therefore, the public questioned this involvement.  Needless to say, many times the chief engineer and bridge committee were investigated because of public outcry, but they were always found to be following proper procedure and awarding contracts for the best materials. However, the controversies over money and politics were another hurdle that had to be overcome.

            The next problem Washington Roebling had to confront was a sickness that developed in his men who went down with the caisson.  It was called caisson disease, or “the bends”, and some men actually died as a result of it.  Therefore Roebling hired a Dr. Andrew Smith who came and did research on site; he was trying to figure out the best ways to treat this illness.  Smith actually understood that this illness was a result of being in compressed air and he understood that the men needed to be removed from this air in a much slower method.  However, Roebling did not agree and only adopted some of Smith’s ideas.  At the same time, this illness did slow down the descent of the caisson and therefore, slowed down the production of the bridge. 

            Because Washington Roebling was a very hands-on engineer, he went down into the caisson many times and finally came down with the caisson disease himself.  He became so ill that it was thought he would surely die.  Therefore, he began writing down all of his instruction for the bridge construction, including drawings, etc., to follow.  Clearly, his illness slowed down the project as well as created new problems for people to question; some thought Roebling should be replaced by another engineer, for Roebling was not on site anymore.  In fact in the fall of 1882, New York Mayor Low asked the Brooklyn committee to replace Roebling, because Low stated, “I am convinced, that at every possible point there is a weakness in the management of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The engineering part of the structure—the most important—is in the hands of a sick man” (491).  The board rejected Low’s claim and Washington Roebling stayed on as the chief engineer until the completion of the project.

            Additionally, laborers kept quitting, for the work was hazardous to their health (210), and the men who suffered the most from “the bends” were the new workers.  Therefore, this created another problem.  At one point, there was a fire inside one of the caissons and the charcoal had to be completely removed along with some cement before work could continue.  Then the panic of 1873 occurred, creating high unemployment in New York.  Many thought the bridge project should be stopped, for the cities were just pouring their money into a project that would create little benefit. Yet, the project continued.  There were also the deaths of some workers that occurred and when they happened, there were investigations into whether or not safety measures were being taken on site, which it was found they were.  Therefore, these deaths did cause a public stir, but the bridge company was not found at fault. 

            Lastly, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed by the spring of 1883; it had taken 14 years to complete and cost 15 million dollars.  As a result of its construction John Roebling lost his life, Washington Roebling lost his health, some men died and many men were crippled from “the bends” for the rest of their lives.  At the same time, there were many new technologies used for the first time in the United States used on the Brooklyn Bridge, which is said may last for ever.  Yet the bridge held another meaning to the people within the two communities of New York and Brooklyn.

            The Bridge was also important to the people, for the bridge joined two separate communities, it helped with overcrowding, property values in Brooklyn went up and people had another way to get back and forth to work in New York.  Prior to building the bridge, Brooklyn was the 3rd largest city in the country; it was also a major manufacturing center and its sea ports were bigger than that of New York (102). In addition, Brooklyn had lower gas rates and taxes, schools were better than in New York and the local government was considered to be honest; Brooklyn also had little crime (111).  The bridge therefore made Brooklyn more accessable. ”It was the great highway to New York, just as had been intended from the start” (513).    For almost fifty years it was thought of as, “. . .the most magnificent if not technically the largest, suspension bridge on earth” (543).  Some even called it “The Eighth Wonder of the World” 543).

Posted by: history591seventeen | March 27, 2010

The Island at the Center of the World

According to author, Russell Shorto of  The Island at the Center of the World the foundation for New York actually started with the founding of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and New Netherland was to become a trading center for the West India Company.  By using Dutch documents, translated by Charles Gehring, a more complete understanding of the Dutch story has been uncovered.    

            The new settlers for New Netherland came from Amsterdam, which was known as a multiethnic city.  “The Dutch stood out for their relative acceptance of foreignness of religious difference, of odd sorts” (26).  In fact, many of the settlers that came to New Netherland were refugees from Amsterdam that were willing to travel across the ocean and service the Company for six years in exchange for promised land. Upon arriving, the settlers found, “. . . beautiful rivers, bubbling fountains . . . basins of running water . . . agreeable fruits. . .” (43), and they wrote back home about this land of plenty (43).  The harbor and many available water ways made trade with the natives very easy as well.  Clearly, this new colony would be profitable. 

            Peter Minuit was the early director of the province, who purchased land for the Company directors from the natives of the area (52).  Of course after purchasing the land, the Dutch found that the natives had a different belief of land ownership.  The Dutch were free to use the land and coexist with the natives, for they did not leave.  Within a year of settling, there were thirty wooden houses constructed, as well as “two windmills:  one for grinding grain, the other for sawing lumber” and a fort was being built (56).  Minuit made peace with the Mohawks Indians in the north; he brought Manhattan and Staten islands, part of the Hudson River and part of the Delaware River from the natives, while maintaining good relations (65).

            Around 1628, the colony was showing the West India Company a profit; yet the directors were sure more money could be made if more settlers came to New Netherland; however, because of letters Rev. Michaelius had written to the directors about Peter Minuit, in 1631, Minuit was summoned home to report to them.  Then according to the directors, Rev. Krol of the Fort Orange colony was to act as provisional director in Minuit’s absence. 

            Finally, in the 1630s, the English realized how strong a trading place for the West India Company New Netherland could become, and the English challenged the right of discovery of the Dutch, claiming this area as English.  John Cabot, an Italian, made “first discovery” in 1497, which in the English mind gave the English more right to the land, than to the Dutch.  The Dutch did not agree.  At this time in history, the Dutch were a stronger nation and they, therefore temporarily won this land grab (74).

            In 1634, when trade with the natives was drying up, a young man named Harman van den Bogaert went in to find the Mohawks and ended up making a very profitable deal with them for the Mohawk’s beaver pelt trade.   The company also replaced Peter Minuit with Wouter van Twiller who upon arrival proved himself to be “a drunk and a nonleader” (81).  However, other documents have been found that state Van Twiller was building forts and thereby creating protection for his colony against outer invasion (82).  Under Van Twiller, five shops were built and dozens of private homes were constructed.  The settlers were known to be a somewhat rowdy group, made up of “. . . a colorful collection of losers and scalawags. . .” (88), not like their English neighbors in Massachusetts who Van Twitter had contracted in order to set up friendly relations.  They were not really interested in relations, but by 1636 they had began moving into Dutch claimed land.  At the same time, a man who was part of the directors of the West India Company began eyeing land for himself.  His name was Kiliaen van Rensselaer; he was a diamond merchant who began working with the ousted Peter Minuit.  Van Rensselaer wanted Minuit to purchase land within the Dutch claimed land to set up his own fiefdom (87).  As a result of these outside actions and the lack of leadership in the Manhattan colony, the colony was dying.  The colony was only a trading post and had no formal governing body or government.  However, the colony set up by Van Rensselaer prospered.  Van Rensselaer then sent a young man named Adriaen van der Donck to New Netherland to become a sheriff and public prosecutor (103).

            In 1638 the directors replaced Van Twiller with Willem Kieft, who they hoped through his “iron authority” would turn the colony around.  However, in 1640, the company opened up the area to free-trade, which was what really helped the Manhattan colony by bringing more merchants and merchandise into this area. 

            The lawman, Adriaen Van der Donck came to understand that the colonies needed a proper government to continue to prosper (131).   Van der Donck wrote to the directors of the West India Company about his concerns of which they did not share.    At this point, it is important to understand the Dutch view of New Netherland.  “The Dutch preferred to set up military-trading posts at strategic spots and let the locals bring trade good to them.  The trading companies did not see themselves in the business of establishing permanent colonies” (113).  This belief would be what led to the end of New Netherland. 

            Peter Stuyvesant replaced Kieft in 1647 (165).  Stuyvesant served the directors well.  He continued their principle of treating the colony more as a military site, not a community; yet he did ask the directors more than once for more soldiers to be placed in New Netherland to protect it, which fall on deaf ears.  Stuyvesant was considered a fair disciplinarian and befriended Adriaen Van der Donck for a time.  However, Van der Donck continued to press for a form of government to be developed in the colonies, of which the directors did not want.  Yet the “Board of Nine” (193) was produced to help manage and moderate civilians of the colonies and to set up any needed sentences accordingly.  That was as far as the directors of the West India Company were willing to go.  

            Van der Donck kept pushing for more and eventually he and Stuyvesant had a permanent falling out.  By the spring of 1650, Van der Donck through his presentation, as well as personal letters, had won over the directors; Stuyvesant was recalled and Van der Donck was going to be allowed to set up a new government in New Netherland.  Then the winds of war changed everything.  The Prince of Orange was planning on overtaking Holland and in 1652, before Van der Donck could begin his new plan, the West India Company changed its mind; the directors wanted Stuyvesant reinstated and the military type colonies to continue as they were (249). 

            In 1664, Englishman Richard Nicolls set sites on overtaking New Netherland.  He sailed with four gunships and four hundred and fifty men.  Nicolls planned to bomb New Netherland, if needed.  Stuyvesant asked the people to defend their colonies for the company, which they refused, because of the lack of involvement made by the company in the colony.  If the company would have sent soldiers to defend this colony, they could have had a chance, but as it was, they had no chance.  Therefore, Stuyvesant gave up the fort and the English moved in.  At the same time, the influence of the Dutch remained in New Netherland, newly named New York, because, according to the terms of surrender, the people did not have to leave and therefore they stayed and continued to thrive in what became New York City.  These are the people who helped shape the culture of being American, which became “America’s first mixed society” than the select setting that the previous English colonies, the Puritans and Pilgrims, had started.  Its location alone, made New York a key in world trade, and from its beginnings, this place was grounded in Dutch tolerance and diversity (309). Yet the Dutch also left some of their term and/or traditions behind.

            The terms, “the boss,” “St a Claus” and “cookies” all have Dutch connections.  “The Boss” was whom the directors of the West India Company wanted to employ when they hired Peter Stuyvesant;  St a Claus was a slim gentleman who left treats in Dutch Manhattan children’s shoes on Saint Nicholas Eve; cookies were the name the Dutch used for sweet biscuits; therefore Americans eat cookies, not biscuits.

Posted by: history591seventeen | March 27, 2010

Up in the Old Hotel


            Author, Joseph Mitchell chose to show the underclass in a better light than others viewed them.  On the surface, these people just seem to be odd ducks of society. 

            In the stories contained within McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon, Mitchell gives many very interesting accounts of the stories of the people within each sub-topic.  He seems to be trying to explain why each individual became the way he or she was. For example, Mitchell gives the history and talks about the bar owner, John McSorley in “the Old House at Home”.  After reading about John, it is felt that one has a better understanding of how John conducted business and why he did things the way he did.  For one thing, John distrusted banks, which many people of this time period did, and he did not allow women in his bar; John had a horse, which he brushed daily, right outside the saloon (5), and John loved memorabilia.  He had it hanging on all the walls of the bar (7).  Then Mitchell brings in John’s son, Bill, who ran the saloon after John died.  Mitchell explains how devoted Bill seemed to be to the memory of his father, for he kept everything the same as it was when his father ran the bar.  However, Bill really did not like noise and when Prohibition occurred, Bill just ignored it and continued serving (11).  Bill decided to retire and sold the bar to a retired policeman named, Daniel O’Connell.  Of course, O’Connell had to promise not to change anything, which he promised (13).  Whereas, Bill would throw out a dunk, O’Connell would try to somber him up with soup or coffee, and kind words (14).  O’Connell died and left the bar to his daughter, who hired her uncle, who in the end, hated bartending.  When Dorothy found this out, she offered the job to her husband, who was excited to run it.  Therefore, in the end, no changes were made to the saloon and another man, Harry Kirwan was happy just to be there. 

            Another short story, “Mazie” is an interesting tale.  This is the story about a woman who works, selling movie tickets to folks going into her sister’s theater.  However, the story about what Mazie does after work is most interesting.  She walks around the area looking for bums; in her rounds, she makes sure the bums have a few dimes to go get something to eat or enough to stay in a flophouse, out of the weather for the night.  She judges no one, and definitely helps those in need (37-38). 

            “Professor Sea Gull” is a gentleman out of place with the times.  According to him, he was a Harvard graduate who walks the streets educating others along his way, for he states he is a Bohemian, a social gypsy.  He is happy to give a lecture, debate or walk like a seagull, however the individual wants to be entertained (63).  When people question him, they think he will show himself to be a fool; however, he then proves how very smart he is, making them feel like a fool.  The story of Professor Sea Gull proves that what appears on the outside is not always what is on the inside.

            In Joseph Mitchell’s next section the underclass is portrayed as a very respectful group. In “Old Mr. Flood” of Up in the Old Hotel he writes about a man named Mr. Flood, who as stated by the author, is based on many different men.  In the last section Mitchell wrote more about the underclass; whereas with Mr. Flood, Mitchell seems to be writing about his interactions with the underclass.  The men Mitchell writes about as Mr. Flood love their fish and the live that exists around the fish industry.  Fish is viewed by these men as the most natural food, for other foods have had things added to them (377).  At one point in the story  Mr. Flood is checking out the fish that was brought in for the day and one of the dock workers asked another worker who Mr. Flood was and the worker states that he is trying to live to be 115 by just eating fish.  In fact, others refer to Mr. Flood as the Mayor of the Fish Market.  Mitchell also included information about the way Mr. Flood dressed, which made people think he was a part of the Fish Community (395).  When explaining about the different types of fish, Mr. Flood seems to know and understand all there is to know about them (399-400).  Therefore, Mr. Flood has done the needed research to better understand the food he chooses to eat.  Lastly, Mitchell brought in information about racial differences of the time.  Mr. Flood got in an augment with another man about blacks and questioned Mr. Flood as to what race he was a part of and Mr. Flood said, “The human race” (405).  This demonstrated how accepting Mr. Flood was of the differences of others.

            Then in Mitchell’s last section, “Joe Gould’s Secret”, he seems to be demonstrating how the underclass takes care of its own.  He decided to revisit a previously written topic and subject, Professor Sea Gull.  Again Mitchell tells of how Joe Gould makes the rounds in the village visiting with old friends and acquaintances getting money from them to contribute to what Gould calls the Joe Gould fund.  Gould uses this money for food, drinks and lodging as needed.  Gould says he is writing the greatest oral history ever written and that is why he can not hold a job, for it would get in the way of his working on his writing.  Mitchell decided to write a profile on Gould and wanted to read his oral history, of which Mitchell finally discovered did not exist.  However, Mitchell knew once this secret was out, the funds others gave Joe would be gone.  So Mitchell kept his mouth closed.  As a result of an article Mitchell had written, the people from Gould’s past step up and help him out in providing even more for him; therefore, he would have more time in which to write his oral history (700).  In the end Joe Gould died alone in a mental hospital; yet Mitchell kept Gould’s secret and did not release the fact that the oral history was never written until 1964 (716).  In a sense, Mitchell was also taking care of the underclass, Professor Sea Gull, Joe Gould.

Posted by: history591seventeen | March 27, 2010

Generous Enemies

            According to author Judith Van Buskirk’s Generous Enemies, clear battle lines between the American Rebels and British Army did not exist.  Friends, family, and personal needs pulled individuals into each other’s claimed areas regularly.  Van Buskirk explains that there were laws on the books “that forbade communication with the enemy” (3). Therefore, the appearance of clear enemy lines were drawn up, just not observed.      

            Van Buskirk paints a picture of a different type of war for many British officers; the Revolution sounded more like a vacation than a war.  Sir Henry Clinton is referred to as “the Knight” because it is stated that he made “many excursion to the country for fox hunting and riding” (30) during his time in New York as Commander-in-Chief of the British forces.  General James Robertson of the British forces while in New York was said to have been “running after little misses . . . too busy for military matters” (30-31).

            The American Revolutionary War was a civil war, which split many families.  At the same time, political differences were not enough to completely separate some families.  These families continued to keep in touch through physical visits as well as through letters.  The Alexander family was certainly one of these families.  Even though family members (husbands) were on both the Whig and Tory sides, sisters obtained passes and still visited each other during the war, crossing emery lines.  Buskirk states that there was a “distinguish between the private and public demands of the war” (46-47).  Therefore, explaining why these communications were allowed.  At the same time, Van Buskirk explains throughout her book that these women who acquired passes to cross enemy lines were carrying military information back and forth, as well as family news.  Officers of both sided acknowledged this and tried to limit the amount of passes they would write; yet if a woman came from a certain upbringing (upper class) the woman was almost sure of receiving permission to move over these imaginary lines.  Additionally, “market women and slaves also conveyed information. . .” (57) from the people they met daily.

            New York resident, John Varick, Jr.’s father was imprisoned and Jr. obtained a pass to daily visit his father, most likely bringing him food and any other supplies the father may have needed (50). Loyalist Vincent Pearse Ashfield was imprisoned, only to be later released due to actions from an unknown family member on the rebel side (50).  Surely these men had family connections that helped them survive war times. 

            In order to have a little more control over this movement, both sides began using flag boats to transport individuals.  It was thought that they would be able to keep better track of these people in this manner (59).

            Letters were even forwarded through enemy lines.  British General Howe was known to not open letters of high-society women.  In fact, a letter from Martha Washington addressed to her husband, George Washington was forwarded unopened, as it was assumed that the information between a husband and wife was purely personal and of a private matter, unrelated to war (65). 

            Another interesting practice Van Buskirk explains is the parole system that both sides used in New York.  Captured officers were allowed to stay in nice accommodations (homes), not prison cells and allowed to walk the streets of the area in which they were confined. An officer was clearly a gentleman and could be trusted to stay where he was told to stay.  “. . . the British accorded such liberties to colonel, majors, captains and lieutenants as well” (73).  In fact, British officer, John Mc Namara Hayes thanked American General Gates for his treatment while a prisoner, “I shall ever acknowledge with gratitude your attention to me while a prisoner” (82). 

            Some business dealings that took place before the war continued during the war.  People did not view this as trading with the enemy, just good business sense.  Not everyone supported the war and saw no need to stop selling to those who did, no matter which side they were (108).  At the same time, family members were known to cross the lines to bring much needed medicine as well as extra grain to other family members. 

            The British also utilized the African American to their benefit, for the British believed in librating the slaves (7), whether they were owned by a Patriot or a Loyalist master.  This created a hardship for the Americans in taking away their black labor source (130).  Of course, the British support created more movement by the slave population as well, as the slaves began joining the British forces in order to secure their freedom.  According to Van Buskirk, “. . .the New York theater of war allowed a degree of leverage never before experienced by African Americans” (147).

            Certainly, when one thinks of a revolutionary war, one does not expect to view two different armies tolerating each other’s personal obligations; yet Judith Van Buskirk clearly explains how these two differing political ideologies supported each other.  The occupation of the British in New York did not create total warfare and therefore, when the war was over and it was time to repair the damages that war brings, Van Buskirk states, “New Yorker were aided by this simple fact: in 1783, they did not have to begin building bridges to one another; those bridges had never been destroyed during the war” (195).  Buskirk used “family letters, diaries, memoirs, soldier pensions, Loyalist claims, committee records, laws, newspapers, and church and meeting records” (5) to support her study.  Clearly, she utilized primaries to allow her subjects to tell their story.

Posted by: history591seventeen | June 19, 2009

Closing Thoughts on Chicago

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago


     As I think back over the last 10 days in Illinois, my head just swims in the amount of new information I have gained.  Of course the fact that we had professors and guides that knew what they had talking about, with us at all times helped.  There was always someone there to try and answer our many questions, or lead us in the right direction to find the information. 

            Looking at the labor history in Chicago has enriched my understanding of the labor history in my own town.  The struggles in Chicago are some of the same struggles that were experienced and are still experienced right here in Pueblo, Colorado.  I have a better understanding of how and why unions have been formed and why they have been such an important part of the industrial history.     

            I really enjoyed learning what the Labor Statue really stood for; freedom of speech is such a fundamental right to most of us, and I have seen the statue, but never understood the symbolism.  This statue will be something that I share with my own students, for it does show the rebuilding of a wagon, which represents rebuilding or reclaiming that freedom of speech. 

            Another significant thing that happened to me from the labor tour was remembering how important it is to define terms, anarchy for example, with the definition of the time period in which the term is being used.  I plan on doing a better job of this for my students.  When people place modern day definitions on words, misunderstandings do occur. 

            Madison, Wisconsin offered me some much needed resources.  My students complete History Day projects and Wisconsin happens to be the home of “Mr. History”, so they have developed some great resources in the name of History Day that I can now use in my classroom.  The curator also shared some different ways to use primaries in the classroom; these ideas will also impact my students.

            I learned so much in Springfield, Illinois.  The Lincoln Library gave me a lot of new resources I can use when studying Lincoln.  Walking in the same areas as Abraham Lincoln will help me relate him to my students.  He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.  Students need to understand that great men and women are not born that way; they all have to work towards those types of goals.  In being able to remove all the celebrity from Lincoln, I will be able to show my students that they too can achieve much. 

            As I consider what I have gained from this Chicago Advantage, I must mention the fact that this has been a very emotional experience for me as a person and as a teacher.  To see and touch history is what makes my teaching come alive for my students, thereby affecting my instruction and presentation to my kids.

Abraham Lincoln the Surveyor

Abraham Lincoln the Surveyor

            Thank you for allowing me to continue learning more about our history and thank you also for providing me with new tools in which to deliver it!

Posted by: history591seventeen | June 14, 2009

Labor History in Chicago

Rebuilding Free Speech

Rebuilding Free Speech

After seeing the Labor Statue and listening to our speaker, I have a much better understanding of this statue.  It is always helpful to find out the intended meaning from the people who create it and present it. 

Stockyard Gate

Stockyard Gate

Stopping at the Stockyard Gate was also a powerful experience.  So many different people walked through that same place in search of their American dream of which few were able to find.  I also notice the location of the railroad tracks right in front of the gate.  I am sure that was for ease of transporting goods to and from the stockyard. 

Lunch was very enjoyable and also an experience, as Jonathan stated.  I do use food in different lessons in my classroom.  I have made Johnny Cakes and butter with my students when we have studied the Revolutionary War to name one example.  Food is a great conversation with students anyway.  We talk about traditions that occur in different families and discuss where they might have originated.

 Saturday, June 13 021

We stopped by the cemetery where the anarchists are buried.  I know there have been controversies that this statue has generated.  Today it was obvious that this has continued.  There were different places on the monument where people have spray painted comments onto the statue.  I really liked the fact that our guide explained how the meaning of anarchy has changed since that time period.  Misunderstanding issues can be a dangerous thing. 

Florence Hotel in Pullman

Florence Hotel in Pullman

George Pullman tried to care for everything his workers needed.  He called his workers his children.  After studying the Colorado Coal Strike of 1913-14, I see that Pullman’s ideas are really no different from the mine operators in Colorado who developed the mining towns.  These men wanted to take care of all their workers needs too; however, the result was the same in both places.  Yes Pullman was a nicer place than any mining town would have been, but the main problem of both was the removal of free choice.

Saturday, June 13 080

I think both systems were a continuation of the Feudal system.  Within this system, there were Kings, Lords, Knights and Serfs.  Each class was given different degrees of personal freedoms; the serfs were given none.  Does this sound a little familiar?  With Pullman, you just got a taller ceiling the higher up on that social class you were.

Ethelbert B. Stewart, mediator for President Wilson during the Colorado Coal Strikes of 1913-1914, made this statement, “The companies created a condition which they considered satisfactory to themselves, and ought to be to the workmen, and jammed the workmen into it, and thought they were philanthropists.  That men have rebelled grows out of the fact that they are men, and can only be satisfied with conditions that they create, or in the creation of which they have a voice and a share”. 

In the history of man, one group taking over another and doing so in what is said to be the best interest of the other group has never met with success.  My father always said, “Don’t tell me what to do!”  I think that sums up how we all feel.  Once we have become adults, right or wrong, we want to make decisions for ourselves. 

George Pullman wanted to treat grown men as children, and they rebelled for many reasons.  In the end, it did not matter that he provided a beautiful environment for his workers to live in; he still cheated them out of money and jobs by lowering their pay and raising their rent at the same time. 

I think the Pullman strikes and the Colorado Coal strikes would be fabulous to compare with students.  It would be exciting for me to see if they could come up with the reasons both of these town systems failed so badly.

Pullman Factory Today

Pullman Factory Today

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »