Thursday, December 8, 2022


 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 7, 2022

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.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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?

Monday, December 5, 2022

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.

1) Which of the Presidents would you bring to a party based on their personality?  Why?

2) Who would you want to lead your sleigh?  Explain.

3) Which president would make the best Santa?  Why?

4) Who gave the most to the 'American Worker?' Women?'

5) How would the current President compare to the 'Progressives?'  Would he be invited to their party?  Why or why not?

Friday, December 2, 2022

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Cross of Gold

The most famous speech in American political history was delivered by William Jennings Bryan on July 9, 1896, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The issue was whether to endorse the free coinage of silver at a ratio of silver to gold of 16 to 1. (This inflationary measure would have increased the amount of money in circulation and aided cash-poor and debt-burdened farmers.) After speeches on the subject by several U.S. Senators, Bryan rose to speak. The thirty-six-year-old former Congressman from Nebraska aspired to be the Democratic nominee for president, and he had been skillfully, but quietly, building support for himself among the delegates. His dramatic speaking style and rhetoric roused the crowd to a frenzy. The response, wrote one reporter, “came like one great burst of artillery.” Men and women screamed and waved their hats and canes. “Some,” wrote another reporter, “like demented things, divested themselves of their coats and flung them high in the air.” The next day the convention nominated Bryan for President on the fifth ballot. The full text of William Jenning Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech appears below. The audio portion is an excerpt. [Note on the recording: In 1896 recording technology was in its infancy, and recording a political convention would have been impossible. But in the early 20th century, the fame of Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech led him to repeat it numerous times on the Chautauqua lecture circuit where he was an enormously popular speaker. In 1923 (25 years after the original speech), he recorded portions of the speech for Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. Although the recording does not capture the power and drama of the original address, it does allow us to hear Bryan delivering this famous speech.]

from Harper's Weekly, 18 July, 1896.
You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.

 Therefore, we care not upon what lines the battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good, but that we cannot have it until other nations help us, we reply, that instead of having a gold standard because England has, we will restore bimetallism, and then let England have bimetallism because the United States has it. If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: 

You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!

William Jennings Bryant would lose to Ohioan William McKinley in one of the most dramatic presidential races in American History; and America would stay on the 'gold standard' more or less for the next 70 years.

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Ever since its publication in 1900 Lyman Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been immensely popular, providing the basis for a profitable musical comedy, three movies, and a number of plays. It is an indigenous creation, curiously warm and touching, although no one really knows why.

Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz include treatments of the modern fairy tale  as an allegory or metaphor for the political, economic and social events of America of the 1890s.

In a 1964 article, high school teacher Henry Littlefield outlined an allegory in the book regarding monetary policy. According to this view, for instance, the "Yellow Brick Road" represents the gold standard, and the silver slippers (ruby in the film version) represent the Populist Party's desire to construct a bimetallic standard of both gold and silver in its place.

Dorothy learns that to return home, she must reach the Emerald City, Oz's political center, to speak to the Wizard, representing the President of the United States. While journeying to the Emerald City, she encounters a scarecrow, who represents a farmer; a woodman made of tin, who represents a worker dehumanized by industrialization; and a cowardly lion, who represents William Jennings Bryan, a prominent leader of the Silverite movement. The villains of the story, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the East, represent the wealthy railroad and oil barons of the American West and the financial and banking interests of the eastern U.S. respectively.

Baum did not offer any conclusive proof that he intended his novel to be a political allegory and Historian Ranjit S. Dighe wrote that for sixty years after the book's publication, "virtually nobody" had such an interpretation. None-the less the comparisons are compelling.

Do you think Baum's portrayal of the Populists was positive or negative? Why?

What modern day movies could be used as allegories?

Why do you think The Wizard of Oz lives on in Popular culture? What about the story appeals to new and old generations?

Still not convinced? Watch The Secret of Oz for more on the symbolism.

The Dark Side of the Rainbow launched a whole new craze based on the movie. Coincidence, Apophenia, or Synchronicity?

Wonder which character of Oz you are? Take the quiz.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Baby Its Cold Inside

"He was nearly as close to the stove as he could get, and yet he could not persuade himself, that he felt the slightest heat, not withstanding the 'glass' door was still gently and serenely glowing. He tried to get a trifle closer to the stove, and the consequence was, he tripped the supporting poker and the stove-door tumbled to the floor. And then there was a revelation--there was nothing in the stove but a lighted tallow-candle! The poor youth blushed and felt as if lie must die with shame. But the Colonel was only disconcerted for a moment--he straightway found his voice again: What you want is the appearance of heat, not the heat itself--that's the idea. Well how to do it was the next thing. I just put my head, to work, pegged away, a couple of days, and here you are!  Stove with a candle in it and a transparent door--that's it--it has been the salvation of this family."                      
The period in the late 1800s known as the 'Gilded Age' derived its name from a satire written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner.  It was considered the first "social protest" novel in American literature and inspired future writers to expose social and political ills that they observed in the nation.

1) What does the contradiction between the Colonel's explanation and the cold the young man feels imply about "Gilded Age?"

2) What does it mean if something is gilded?

3) How was the 'Gilded Age' a scam?  Who were the only ones feeling the real warmth?

The Political Political Poor Relation-An Unwelcome Guest

Wealth Inequality

'Diamond Dog'

      During the "Gilded Age," every man was a potential Andrew Carnegie, and Americans who achieved wealth celebrated it as never before.  In New York, the opera, the theatre, and lavish parties consumed the ruling class' leisure hours.  Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish once threw a dinner party to honor her dog who arrived sporting a $15,000 diamond collar.  How much would that be in today's $$$$?

     While the rich wore diamonds, many wore rags. In 1890, 11 million of the nation's 12 million families earned less than $1200 per year; of this group, the average annual income was $380, well below the poverty line. Rural Americans and new immigrants crowded into urban areas. Tenements spread across city landscapes, teeming with crime and filth. Americans had sewing machines, phonographs, skyscrapers, and even electric lights, yet most people labored in the shadow of poverty.  Read more....

Is the Distribution of Wealth more equal today than in the Gilded Age?

What do the 'bean counters' say?

Make a prediction and then check out the reality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Sewer

We Sing this song of the Sewer....

Can a picture change History?

After a yellow fever epidemic swept through Memphis, Tennessee in 1878, the newly created National Board of Health sent engineer and Civil War veteran George A. Waring Jr. to design and implement a better sewage drainage system for the city. His success there made Waring’s national reputation, and in 1895 he was appointed sanitation commissioner of New York City. During his brief tenure, Waring made a huge impact on the city, making much-needed reforms that would become the foundations for modern recycling, street sweeping and garbage collection.

In 1895 street cleaning commissioner Colonel George E. Waring Jr. ordered his entire brigade of sweepers to wear all white uniforms and caps, eaning them the nickname the 'White Wings.'

Why White? He believed the eye-catching regulation whites would keep members of the force at work, and would prevent them from slacking off. Regulation whites remained in effect until the 1930s.

Who else wears white?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day

Dear US Service Member,
We don’t know each other and will probably never meet, but I want you to know that you and all of our troops are in our hearts and prayers each day. Please always remember what you're doing will always be appreciated and never forgotten. I wish you all the best and pray for your safe and speedy return home to your family and friends. Thank you.
Talawanda HS Student
Oxford, OH

Some of our soldiers don't get much mail from home. They don't often hear how much we appreciate all they do for our country, even though there are many easy ways in which we can let them know. Write your letters of thanks in class and we will compile and send them to our soldiers currently serving overseas.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Suffrage or Suffering?

We have all suffered through this election.  But are we willing to give up our 'suffrage?'

Women's suffrage in the United States was achieved gradually, at state and local levels, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, culminating in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provided: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

The fight to gain suffrage was not an easy one.  Not for Ourselves Alone explores the movement for women's suffrage in the United States in the 19th century, focusing on leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Was this cartoonist a man or a woman?  What should the caption be?

Thursday, November 3, 2022


How many of you hope to leave Talawanda and live in ' the Big City' someday?  Why/ not?

This footage is from a San Francisco cable car shortly before an earthquake and fire destroyed the city in 1906. What social, political, and environmental problems do you see on the ride?

How about this trip through New York City 1911?

In a Writing for Understanding activity today in class you will  act as muckrakers to conduct field investigations using primary sources.  You will then use your notes to write newspaper reports exposing problems in American society in the early 20th century.  Be sure to use shocking and vivid language that will stir your readers into action.

Trying to imagine what a bustling city street in the late 1800's/early 1900's sounds like?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

How the Other Half Lives

Jacob Riis, the third of fifteen children, was born in Ribe, Denmark, on 3rd May, 1849. He worked as a carpenter in Copenhagen before emigrating to the United States in 1870. Unable to find work, he was often forced to spend the night in police station lodging houses.

Riis did a variety of menial jobs before finding work with a news bureau in New York City in 1873. The following year he was recruited by the South Brooklyn News. In 1877 Riis became a police reporter for the New York Tribune. Aware of what it was like to live in poverty, Riis was determined to use this opportunity to employ his journalistic skills to communicate this to the public. He constantly argued that the "poor were the victims rather than the makers of their fate".

In 1888 Riis was employed as a photo-journalist by the New York Evening Sun. Riis was among the first photographers to use flash powder, which enabled him to photograph interiors and exteriors of the slums at night. He also became associated with what later became known as muckraking journalism.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween!

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Click here to learn more.

Friday, October 28, 2022

What Does it Mean to Be an American?

If you wish to become a US citizen and neither of your parents are US citizens, you’ll first need to immigrate to the United States and become a legal permanent resident.  You must reside in the United States as a permanent resident continuously for five years. The only exception to this rule is if you are married to, and living with the same U.S. citizen spouse; then you can qualify after only three years.

Before immigrants to the United States can take the final Oath of U.S. Citizenship they must first pass a naturalization test which assesses their knowledge of basic U.S. government and history. Applicants must correctly answer at least 6 of the 10 randomly selected questions to pass.

Do you know more about America than the immigrants who want to become citizens? 

Click here to find out.

Are these questions fair? Why are they so hard? 

What questions should we be asking?

What does the US citizenship exam actually test? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Angel Island

How were new immigrants 'welcomed' differently by Americans already living here (old immigrants)? Were all immigrant groups treated the same? How are immigrant groups today treated differently?

Friday, October 21, 2022

Golden Lamp

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

These lines from Emma Lazarus famous poem 'The New Colossus' are engraved within the pedestal upon which 'Lady Liberty' stands; but what do they mean? What was the 'Old Colossus?' Who are these tired masses? Wretched Refuse? Why were they coming to America?  Were all immigrants to the US so welcome?  Is America a true 'Melting Pot?'

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Mission US: City of Immigrants

It’s 1907. You are Lena Brodsky, a 14-year-old Jewish immigrant from Russia. How will you start a new life in America?

Click the link to play the game. The goal of Mission US is to understand history, not to win. In each mission, you’ll meet a range of people with very different viewpoints, explore historical settings, and witness key past events, and will have to make difficult decisions. The fate of your character is based on your choices in the game, which will also impact the outcome of your character’s story. You can replay the game and make different choices to see how your character’s story might have turned out differently.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Isle of Hope

On the first day on January,
Eighteen ninety-two,
They opened Ellis Island and they let
The people through.
And the first to cross the treshold
Of that isle of hope and tears,
Was Annie Moore from Ireland
Who was all of fifteen years.


Isle of hope, isle of tears,
Isle of freedom, isle of fears,
But it's not the isle you left behind.
That isle of hunger, isle of pain,
Isle you'll never see again
But the isle of home is always on your mind.

Like Isle of Hope, The Pogues’ Thousands are Sailing (written by guitarist Phil Chevron) ties the economic emigration of the 80’s in with a prior wave of emigration—in this case, the post-Famine emigration to the United States.

1) Compare and contrast the two songs.

2) What was it like to really experience Ellis Island

3) What 'pushed' Immigrants from their homelands?  What Pulled them here? (t-chart)

4) Why do you suppose Ellis Island closed in 1954? 

5) How is immigration today different than a century ago?

How would you do as an immigrant?  Play from Ellis Island to Orchard Street.

How was this experience different than Angel Island in the West?  How and why were the Chinese Excluded?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Homestead Strike

What was the Homstead Strike? Were the workers justified in their words and actions? Did they have the right to strike against their employers? Why or Why not?

A Ballad is a narrative composition in rhythmic verse suitable for singing. Originally ballads were not written down. They were a way to pass tradition and culture down from generation to generation; the music helped people to remember the story. The traditional ballad form has a few easily replicated characteristics that have made it a popular storytelling device for hundreds of years.

Listen to the ballad written about the Homestead Strike (1892) and read the lyrics.

Now the man that fights for honor,
 none can blame him.
May luck attend wherever he may roam.
And no son of his will ever live
 to shame him.
Whilst Liberty and Honor rule our Home.

Now this sturdy band of working men
 started out at the break of day
Determination in their faces
 which plainly meant to say:
"No one can come and take our homes
 for which we have toiled so long
No one can come and take our places ---
 no, here's where we belong!"

A woman with a rifle
 saw her husband in the crowd,
She handed him the weapon
 and they cheered her long and loud.
He kissed her and said, "Mary,
 you go home till we're through."
She answered,"No. If you must die,
 my place is here with you."


When a lot of tramp detectives
 came without authority
Like thieves at night when decent men
 were sleeping peacefully---
Can you wonder why all honest hearts
 with indignation burn,
And why the slimy worm that treads the earth
 when trod upon will turn?

When they locked out men at Homestead
 so they were face to face
With a lot of bum detectives
 and they knew it was their place
To protect their homes and families,
 and this was neatly done
And the public will reward them
 for the victories they won.

What is the mood created by the lyrics of the song? (Answers might include pride, anger and determination)

What words might contribute to the mood of the song? (Select 3 words or phrases and discuss how each word/phrase contributes to the emotional impact of the lyrics. Answers might include shame, bum detectives, like thieves in the night, grasping corporations.)

What words could be used to predict tension and violence?

Read 'How to Write a Ballad" and then write your own labor song about the Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Affair, or the Pullman Strike. Be prepared to share your song in front of the class.

Research more Union Songs.

Which Side Are You On?

The Union Song Playlist

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Haunting History


There were many failures on part of the factory owners and management that led up to the deadliest workplace disaster of the 20th century. Join Dominique Dibbell as she uncovers the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the events leading up to the tragedy, the aftermath and the fight for better conditions that followed.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Under the Boardwalk

In 1934, Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania, presented a game called MONOPOLY to the executives of Parker Brothers. Mr. Darrow, like many other Americans, was unemployed at the time and often played this game to amuse himself and pass the time. It was the game’s exciting promise of fame and fortune that initially prompted Darrow to produce this game on his own.

With help from a friend who was a printer, Darrow sold 5,000 sets of the MONOPOLY game to a Philadelphia department store. As the demand for the game grew, Darrow could not keep up with the orders and arranged for Parker Brothers to take over the game.

Since 1935, when Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the game, it has become the leading proprietary game not only in the United States but throughout the Western World. As of 1994, the game is published under license in 43 countries, and in 26 languages; in addition, the U.S. Spanish edition is sold in another 11 countries.

1) What is a Monopoly?

6) How are monopolies regulated today?

7) If you were part of the Federal Trade Commission how would you change the rules of Monopoly to make the game more fair and ensure competition?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Social Darwinism

According to the idea of Social Darwinism who would the Lion be? And the giraffes?  What happens to the 'unfit?'  Can a giraffe ever hope to beat the lion?   What do the trees think?

When Science meets History: Consider this case of 'survival of the fittest' in the Florida Everglades. Talk about your hostile takeovers! 

As William Graham Sumner, the father of social Darwinism in America, put it in the 1880s: "Civilization has a simple choice." It's either "liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest" or "not-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members."

Social Darwinism offered a moral justification for the wild inequities and social cruelties of the late nineteenth century. It allowed John D. Rockefeller, for example, to claim the fortune he accumulated through his giant Standard Oil Trust was "merely a survival of the fittest... the working out of a law of nature and of God."

What would it be like to be eaten by a boa constrictor? 
Do Boa Constrictor's feel guilty for who they eat?
Should the rich 'eat' the poor? 
What was Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal?

The social Darwinism of that era also undermined all efforts to build a more broadly based prosperity and rescue our democracy from the tight grip of a very few at the top. It was used by the privileged and powerful to convince everyone else that government shouldn't do much of anything.

Do the rich have a responsibility to help the poor? 
What does wealth inequality sound like?
Why does it matter? Why should the 'lion's' care about the 'trees?'

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Thomas Edison's Shaggy Dog

"It was back in the fall of eighteen seventy-nine," said the stranger at last, softly. "Back in the village of Menlo Park, New Jersey. I was a boy of nine. A young man we all thought was a wizard had set up a laboratory next door to my home, and there were flashes and crashes inside, and all sorts of scary goings on. The neighborhood children were warned to keep away, not to make any noise that would bother the wizard. "I didn't get to know Edison right off, but his dog Sparky and I got to be steady pals. A dog a whole lot like yours, Sparky was, and we used to wrestle all over the neighborhood. Yes, sir, your dog is the image of Sparky."

Would you want to be Edison's Shaggy Dog?

Monday, October 3, 2022

Richest People In the World

Who are the 5 richest people in the world today? Sure you can name Bill Gates but what about the rest? How did they make their fortunes? The answers may surprise you.

Who were the TYCOONS of the late 1800s? In what ways are they similar or different from today's tycoons?

Is Greed Good?  What is the legacy of the Business Tycoons?

Friday, September 30, 2022

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk.

Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin's last 'silent' film, was filled with sound effects and was made when everyone else was making 'talkies.' Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress.

Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. Then he is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad.

The idea of the film was apparently given to Chaplin by a young reporter, who told him about the production line system in Detroit, which was turning its workers into nervous wrecks. In the film, Charlie becomes literally trapped in the machine.

This was one of the films which, because of its political sentiments, convinced the House Un-American Activities Committee that Charles Chaplin was a Communist, a charge he adamantly denied. He left to live in Switzerland, vowing never to return to America.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Peculiar Patents

The U.S. Constitution states in Article 1, section 8, clause 8 that one purpose of the legislature is:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

This is known as the "patent and copyright clause" and states the rationale for a patent system. The government is counting on commerce involving successful inventions, and the infectious inspiration which hopefully will encourage other inventors.

A great many inventions that receive patents never earn their inventors anything. We're not worried about that now. What we want to know is: what makes an invention patentable over those that aren't according to U.S. law?

In short your invention will qualify if it fits one of these five criteria:

1)Process: doing something?
example: toasting bread

2)Machine: something that can do something
example: a pop up toaster

3)Manufactured: something made by man
example: a Pop tart

4)Composition of Matter: substance made by man
example: snozzberry Pop tart filling

5)New Use: doing something new with something that isn't new.
example: Pop tart as body fragrance?  Toaster as musical instrument?

Now take a look at these peculiar patents and you decide whether they 'cut the mustard.'

Have a great idea for an invention you think would make our lives here at school easier?

Think it could get patented?

Founded in 1973, The National Inventors Hall of Fame meets every year to honor a new group of inventors. To be considered for induction, an inventor must hold a US patent and the invention must have benefited society and advanced science and technology. Inventors in the Hall of Fame include Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright for the airplane, Rudolf Diesel for the internal combustion engine, and more recently Les Paul for the solid body electric guitar. Click here to see the complete list.

Who in our class would we induct?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Edison vs. Tesla

Sure you know about Thomas Edison the Ohio entrepreneur and inventor. But who was the real genius behind many of his inventions?

Starting in the late 1880s, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were embroiled in a battle now known as the War of the Currents.

Edison developed direct current -- current that runs continually in a single direction, like in a battery or a fuel cell. During the early years of electricity, direct current (shorthanded as DC) was the standard in the U.S.

But there was one problem. Direct current is not easily converted to higher or lower voltages.

Tesla believed that alternating current (or AC) was the solution to this problem. Alternating current reverses direction a certain number of times per second -- 60 in the U.S. -- and can be converted to different voltages relatively easily using a transformer.

Edison, not wanting to lose the royalties he was earning from his direct current patents, began a campaign to discredit alternating current. He spread misinformation saying that alternating current was more dangerous, even going so far as to publicly electrocute stray animals using alternating current to prove his point.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Little House On the Prarie

Little House on the Prairie, a series of eight mostly autobiographical books about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life as a white settler on the American prairie, has been a perennial favorite ever since it was first published in 1935.  My second grade teacher started reading it to us.  In the 1970s the TV series with Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon came onto the scene. I watched it as a child, and watched it again with my own children.

Pa, Ma Wilder and the children, Laura and Mary of the prairie. We went with them through all their obstacles, the sickness of Mary, the birth of children, moving to their own farm, the store owner and his family, the teacher at the school, all of the issues and problems that the family, the children and Ma and Pa had together. This was a time in our history when the West was young, the earth was new, the farming good. New lives, new adventures, to share, and this series gives us hope. So much love and kindness in this family, and that won the day, every time.

The Ingalls family were people of their time and place. In the words of Laura June Topolsky writing for The Awl, that meant they were “Manifest Destiny personified.” Even Pa, the adult character who is most sympathetic to the Osage Indians on whose land the Ingalls family are squatting, sees white people as having a right to the land, writes Laura Ingalls scholar Amy Fatzinger. She quotes Laura’s Pa from the text:

Portrayals of Native American characters in this book and throughout this series have led to some calls for the series to not be taught in schools.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

OK Land Rush

At precisely twelve noon on September 16, 1893 a cannon's boom unleashed the largest land rush America ever saw. Carried by all kinds of transportation - horses, wagons, trains, bicycles or on foot - an estimated 100,000 raced to claim plots of free land in an area of northern Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. There had been a number of previous land rushes in the Territory - but this was the big one.

'As the expectant home-seekers waited with restless patience, the clear, sweet notes of a cavalry bugle rose and hung a moment upon the startled air. It was noon. The last barrier of savagery in the United States was broken down. Moved by the same impulse, each driver lashed his horses furiously; each rider dug his spurs into his willing steed, and each man on foot caught his breath hard and darted forward. A cloud of dust rose where the home-seekers had stood in line, and when it had drifted away before the gentle breeze, the horses and wagons and men were tearing across the open country like fiends. The horsemen had the best of it from the start. It was a fine race for a few minutes, but soon the riders began to spread out like a fan, and by the time they had reached the horizon they were scattered about as far as eye could see. Even the fleetest of the horsemen found upon reaching their chosen localities that men in wagons and men on foot were there before them. As it was clearly impossible for a man on foot to outrun a horseman, the inference is plain that Oklahoma had been entered hours before the appointed time.'    -Harper's Weekly 33 (May 18, 1889): 391-94.

How did the Homestead Act encourage settlement of the new Western frontier?

Who were the real Sooners and why should the Oklahoma football team change their name?

What was appealing about Oklahoma?  Would you want to live there?  Why?

In 1890 the national census concluded there was no longer a square mile of the US that wasn't settled.  According to Historian Frederick Jackson Turner's  'Frontier Thesis' the closing of the American Frontier means the gradual decline of our Democracy.  Do you think the United States needs to continue to expand?  If not why? If so where?

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Real All Americans

Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian School, founded by Richard Pratt, may have failed to assimilate Native Americans  in society but the school's football team proved their respectability by challenging — and beating — their counterparts in the Ivy Leagues and Military Academies. Although the school shut its doors in 1918, the winning team established Jim Thorpe and coach Glenn "Pop" Warner as two of the best-known names in American sports. It also introduced plays, including the forward pass, that are standard in the game today.

Hear author Sally Jenkins read from her book: The Real All Americans

Pop Warners playbook included more than just the forward pass. His 'hidden ball play' and other 'trick plays' became legendary in football lore.

Watch these 'Trick Plays' and then design one of your own.

Who knows? If its good enough maybe the Braves can use it Friday night.

How did Football, in many ways, became a substitute for war?

Friday, September 16, 2022

THS: Home of the Brave?!

The "Braves," an American Indian warrior, became the symbol of the Talawanda Schools in the 50s after a contest was held to name the newly consolidated district formed by Sommerville, Hanover, Milford, and Oxford.  Hannover 5th grader Karen Irwin won with the name 'Tallawanda' because Tallawanda Creek (aka 4 Mile Creek) flowed through the three newly merged townships.  After some discussion the second 'l' was dropped and the new High School on Chestnut Street opened in 1956 where it remained for then next half century.

But who was Talawanda?  What did the name mean?


In 2018 the Talawanda school board voted 3-2 to change the high school’s mascot from “Braves” to “Brave” after a meeting lasting more than three hours.

A heated crowd filled the Performing Arts Center at Talawanda High School to listen to the recommendations made to the board by the superintendent-appointed branding committee.

The change responds to complaints that the name and logo currently used by Talawanda are offensive. Many feel that the logo is more of a “caricature,” depiction of what a Native American would look like, and others feel that they are simply honoring Native Americans with the “Braves” name.

Should we be proud to have the 'Brave' as our Mascot or change it to something else?

Is Talawanda alone in its use of Indian Mascots?

Do Indian Mascots honor or insult Native American Groups?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Battlefield Detectives

George Armstrong Custer, the young Civil War hero turned Indian fighter, was trapped on a desolate ridge overlooking the Little Bighorn River in the territory of Montana. Swarms of well-armed Indians surrounded him. According to legend–and many historians–Custer rallied his vastly outnumbered troops. The desperate 7th Cavalry soldiers shot their horses to make barricades and fought ferociously as hundreds of Indians, led by famed Sioux war chief Crazy Horse, overran the ridge.

But because Custer's men were wiped out before reinforcements arrived, a definitive account of the Little Bighorn battle has eluded historians. The only eye witnesses were the Indians, who had conflicting recollections. And so the legend of "Custer's last stand" began to take shape. "The image of Custer blazing away till the very end with his pistols was an icon of the American West," says John Dorner, chief historian at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

The lack of reliable accounts has kept the details of the battle a hotly debated topic, and discoveries in recent years have challenged the heart of the legend. "The myth is the gallant, heroic last stand–that the Indians drove him to the killing field, where he fought to the last man and last bullet against overwhelming odds," says Richard Fox, a professor of anthropology at the University of South Dakota.

Fox, who specializes in archaeology, completed an extensive battlefield survey after a 1983 wildfire and revealed evidence that cut to the core of the Custer legend. "My research says the outcome was a function of panic and fear, a very common thing in battle. There was no last stand in the gallant, heroic sense."

Wednesday, September 14, 2022


What in the World:  The title and key of this map have been removed.  What does it show?  

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and his dealings with a group of Lakota Indians. In this dramatic scene we see Costner as he joins the Lakota on a Buffalo hunt.

Clearly the Plains Indians were expert horsemen and hunters. But were they always?

What was the United States government policy regarding Indians? The Buffalo?

How effective was it?

Unfortunately the number of wild buffalo herds in the United States has decreased significantly over the past two centuries. However it is still possible to view wild buffalos. The Yellowstone National Park maintains the largest number of wild buffalo in the United States and many other National Parks provide habitats for buffalos. It is estimated that there was once 60 million buffalo in North America. According to the National Bison Association there are only 350,000 buffalos in North America today.