Friday, December 13, 2019

Buffalo Soldiers

The Buffalo Soldiers were a segregated regiment of black cavalry fighters during the American campaign to rid the West of "Indians" so that "civilized" white people could gain the lands used by Native Americans. They were given their name by the Native Americans who called them Buffalo Soldiers because their short & curly hair was like the hair on the back of a buffalo's neck. They were compared with the buffalo's strength and tenacity. Duties were settling railroad disputes, building telegraph lines, repairing and building forts, helping settlers find a place to live and protecting the settlers from Indian attacks.

1) Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?

2) What was is the great IRONY of the Buffalo Soldier?

3) Who were America's forgotten cowboys?

4) Why would they want to be a cowboy?  Would you?

5) Why haven't we ever heard their stories?

6) What are their names and stories?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Campfire Conversation

During a private, three-day camping trip in the Yosemite Valley in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and preservationist John Muir shared their views on wilderness use while "talking freely around the campfire." Both men shared a life-long appreciation for the wilderness and its natural inhabitants. But each brought different views on how, why, and to what extent that environment should be protected. Their exchange of those views eventually led to the expansion of Yosemite National Park under the federal government.

In this lesson, students will use online tools – as well as information contained in this episode – to research the backgrounds, experiences, and points of view of both men. They will then share that information in a re-creation of one of the pair's "campfire conversations."

1. What was Muir’s point of view on wilderness use? What was Roosevelt’s view?

2. In what ways were their points of view similar? In what ways were they different?

3. For each man, what was the value in hearing the other’s point of view?

4. In what ways was the campfire setting an appropriate one for the conversation?

5. If you were in attendance at that campfire, what would you have liked to say to either man?

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Teddy Bear

In 1902, on an unsuccessful hunting trip, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that expedition trackers had caught and tied to a tree. The incident struck a chord with the American sense of fair play. Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman immortalized the incident in “Drawing the Line in Mississippi.” Tugging at American heartstrings, Berryman drew the old, injured female bear as a helpless cub. With Roosevelt’s permission, Morris Mictom, a Russian immigrant and Brooklyn toy-shop owner, sewed a cuddly stuffed toy and dubbed it Teddy’s Bear. With its big head and ears, and eyes as appealing as the future Mickey Mouse, the bear became a hit. German toy manufacturer Margarete Steiff created a stuffed bear, too, and began mass-producing copies in 1903. The stuffed bears became a hit with adults and children. Visitors who flocked to the boardwalks in New Jersey’s seaside resorts took home teddy bears as prizes and souvenirs. Women’s magazines featured ads for bear accessories and offered up-to-date patterns for sewing bear clothes. Books, songs, and even a 1907 feature film marked the rising popularity of teddy bears. This fascination has persisted ever since, making Teddy Bears the most popular plush toy in history.

What popular children's story does the silent film retell? 

How is the ending different from the actual event?

What do you do if a bear attacks?

Still think it's weird for a grown man to play with a Teddy Bear?

Look at these other toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame. Where does the Teddy Bear Rank? What toy is your favorite?  What toys would you add to this list?

Friday, December 6, 2019

Life Motto

-Teddy Roosevelt to Larry the Night Watchman; 'Night at the Museum'

While not an original Teddy Roosevelt quote (credit must be given to Shakespeare) this line accurately portrays the kind of leader Roosevelt was: determined, resourceful, self-reliant.

What is your life motto?  (Write your answer on your own sheet of paper.  Include an explanation of what that motto means to you.)

Was Roosevelt born great?  (Copy the question and then list 3 'obstacles' to TR's greatness and how he overcame them.)

Thursday, December 5, 2019


 Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856-February 3, 1924) was born in Staunton, Virginia, to parents of a predominantly Scottish heritage. Since his father was a Presbyterian minister and his mother the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Wilson was raised in a pious and academic household. He spent a year at Davidson College in North Carolina and three at Princeton University where he received a baccalaureate degree in 1879.  A scholar,  Wilson would go on to earn his PHD, becoming the first and only President to do so.

 Following College Wilson enlisted in the Navy and becomes marooned on an island in the South Pacific. Far away from home, his girlfriend, and any human contact, he engaged in a battle of wits with himself as he is tested mentally, physically and emotionally in order to survive.  These survival skills would serve him well in politics when he miraculously returns home.

Wilson won the presidential election of 1912 when William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt split the Republican vote. Upon taking office he set about instituting the reforms he had outlined in his book The New Freedom, including the changing of the tariff, the revising of the banking system, the checking of monopolies and fraudulent advertising, the prohibiting of unfair business practices, and the like. But the attention of this man of peace was forced to turn to war.

 In the early days of World War I, Wilson was determined to maintain neutrality. He protested British as well as German acts; he offered mediation to both sides but was rebuffed. The American electorate in 1916, reacting to the slogan «He kept us out of war», reelected Wilson to the presidency. However, in 1917 the issue of freedom of the seas compelled a decisive change. On January 31 Germany announced that 'unrestricted submarine warfare' was already started; on March 27, after four American ships had been sunk, Wilson decided to ask for a declaration of war; on April 2 he made the formal request to Congress; and on April 6 the Congress granted it.

Would I lie to you? I tell at least 1 lie every day... Can you find it?

Would the REAL Woodrow Wilson please stand up?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Progressive Presidents

In which John Green teaches you about the Progressive Presidents, who are not a super-group of former presidents who create complicated, symphonic, rock soundscapes that transport you into a fantasy fugue state. Although that would be awesome. The presidents most associated with the Progressive Era are Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. During the times these guys held office, trusts were busted, national parks were founded, social programs were enacted, and tariffs were lowered. It wasn't all positive though, as their collective tenure also saw Latin America invaded A LOT, a split in the Republican party that resulted in a Bull Moose, all kinds of other international intervention, and the end of the Progressive Era saw the United States involved in World War. If all this isn't enough to entice, I will point out that two people get shot in this video. Violence sells, they say.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Trust Busters

"Trustbusting" was one of a number of progressive reforms enacted at the national level in the early 1900s. In addition to local and state issues, progressives were also concerned about problems in the country as a whole. Many of them believed that the national government no longer served the interests of all Americans. In an age when big business seemed all-powerful, many reformers felt the United States was abandoning its promise of freedom and opportunity for all. They wanted the government to play a stronger role in promoting democracy and solving national problems.

Three presidents—Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson—worked to advance the progressive reforms. Their efforts helped change how Americans thought, and continue to think, about the role of government.