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?'

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.

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?

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Black Wall Street


In 1921, at the height of ‘Jim Crow’ America, rioters destroyed a beacon of Black prosperity and security: The Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma also known as ‘Black Wall Street.’

They killed hundreds of black Tulsans, left thousands homeless, and ransacked an entire neighborhood.

At the time, there were no prosecutions of the instigators. Almost a century later, there have been no reparations.

In fact, I had never even heard of it until I saw it on HBO’s ‘The Watchmen

100 - 300 Greenwood residents were killed. 9,000 Greenwood residents were left homeless. 1,200 Greenwood buildings destroyed $50-100 million in property damage.

NOT ONE sentence in our US history book! Why?

Read the story for yourself and then answer these questions:

1) Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Give examples.
2) What happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921? Why?
3) How did this incident test our nation's commitment to its founding ideals?
4) Why do you suppose this event is not in our History Textbook?
5) How is our nation still healing more than 150 years after the Civil War?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Prisoners Dilemma

 During the Cold War the opposing alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact both had the choice to arm or disarm. From each side's point of view, disarming whilst their opponent continued to arm would have led to military inferiority and possible annihilation. Conversely, arming whilst their opponent disarmed would have led to superiority. If both sides chose to arm, neither could afford to attack the other, but at the high cost of developing and maintaining a nuclear arsenal. If both sides chose to disarm, war would be avoided and there would be no costs. Although the 'best' overall outcome is for both sides to disarm, the rational course for both sides is to arm, and this is indeed what happened. 'Mutually Assured Destruction' was the idea that waging war would be so destructive to both sides that neither could possibly win. Both sides poured enormous resources into military research and armament in a war of attrition for the next thirty years until reform in the Soviet Union caused ideological differences to abate.

The Cold War and arms race can be modeled as a Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is the story of two criminals who have been arrested for a heinous crime and are being interrogated separately. Each knows that if neither of them talks, the case against them is weak and they will be convicted and punished for lesser charges. If this happens, each will get 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole. If both 'rat' on each other, its a slam dunk case for the prosecution and they both face death sentences. If only one person 'rats' and testifies against the other, the one who did not cooperate will get the death sentence while the other will go free.

What would you do? Why?

How is this famous variation different from our class example? What was the surprising outcome?

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Star Wars

If anything defined the 20th century as the age of anxiety, it's the cold war with its ultimate no-win nuclear endgame.  Reagan's 1983 Evil Empire speech sets the tone for a more aggressive US posture against the Soviet Union, and the costly arms race it renewed.  

1) How did the 'Death Star' reflect the very real fear of the atomic bomb during the Cold War 70's & 80's?

2) Why is the post-Soviet world so obsessed with Star Wars?

3) Who would Darth Vadar & the Empire represent in Cold War history? The Rebel Alliance? Explain?

4) What was Reagan's ' Star Wars' program and how did it bring about an end of the Cold War?

5) How will you be celebrating Star Wars Day?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Red Scare

In the 1950's the fear that communists both outside and inside America were working to destroy our way of life created a reaction known as the Red Scare. Pop culture reflected this fear of communists invading and taking over Americans minds.

Then a little known senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy charged that more than 200 communist agents had infiltrated the highest levels of our government. The charge provoked a furor and a witch hunt that quickly spread to all levels of American life.

"The Crucible", a play written by Arthur Miller centers on the similar events in colonial Salem and the subsequent trials. Those who demanded their innocence were executed, those who would not name names were incarcerated and tortured, and those who admitted their guilt were immediately set free.

3) Compare and Contrast the Salem Witch Hunts to the McCarthy Era.

4)  Who was persecuted and what was the evidence? What recourse did the accused have?

5)Which was more dangerous: the accusation or the actual witches?

6) Who was Edward R. Murrow and how did he respond to McCarthy's allegations?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tear Down This Wall....

President Reagan's remarks on East-West relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987.

How does Reagan support his statement "Freedom is the victor?"

How does Reagan challenge Gorbachev to prove that his reforms are not just 'token gestures?'

What is the tone of this speech?

How persuasive was this speech? Why? Give reasons.

Everything I learned about Cold War History I learned from watching 'Family Guy.'

Monday, April 25, 2022

The Wall

Within a short period of time after the war, living conditions in West Germany and East Germany became distinctly different. With the help and support of its occupying powers, West Germany set up a capitalist society and experienced such a rapid growth of their economy that it became known as the "economic miracle." With hard work, individuals living in West Germany were able to live well, buy gadgets and appliances, and to travel as they wished. Nearly the opposite was true in East Germany. Since the Soviet Union had viewed their zone as a spoil of war, the Soviets pilfered factory equipment and other valuable assets from their zone and shipped them back to the Soviet Union.

When East Germany became its own country, it was under the direct influence of the Soviet Union and thus a Communist society was established. In East Germany, the economy dragged and individual freedoms were severely restricted. By the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out. No longer able to stand the repressive living conditions of East Germany, they would pack up their bags and head to West Berlin. Although some of them would be stopped on their way, hundreds of thousands of others made it across the border. Once across, these refugees were housed in warehouses and then flown to West Germany. Many of those who escaped were young, trained professionals. By the early 1960s, East Germany was rapidly losing both its labor force and its population. Having already lost 2.5 million people by 1961, East Germany desperately needed to stop this mass exodus.

The obvious leak was the easy access East Germans had to West Berlin. With the support of the Soviet Union, there had been several attempts to simply take over West Berlin in order to eliminate this exit point. Although the Soviet Union even threatened the United States with the use of nuclear weapons over this issue, the United States and other Western countries were committed to defending West Berlin. Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany decided to build a wall to prevent them from crossing the border.

 How was the Wall both a physical and ideological barrier?

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Battle of the Superpowers

If Superman is a metaphor for the United States post World War II then who is Lex Luther?  The Warsaw Pact?  NATO?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. NATO was the first peacetime military alliance the United States entered into outside of the Western Hemisphere. After the destruction of the Second World War, the nations of Europe struggled to rebuild their economies and ensure their security. The former required a massive influx of aid to help the war-torn landscapes re-establish industries and produce food, and the latter required assurances against a resurgent Germany or incursions from the Soviet Union. The United States viewed an economically strong, rearmed, and integrated Europe as vital to the prevention of communist expansion across the continent. As a result, Secretary of State George Marshall proposed a program of large-scale economic aid to Europe. The resulting European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan, not only facilitated European economic integration but promoted the idea of shared interests and cooperation between the United States and Europe. Soviet refusal either to participate in the Marshall Plan or to allow its satellite states in Eastern Europe to accept the economic assistance helped to reinforce the growing division between east and west in Europe.

1) What are the similarities/ differences between NATO & Wilson's failed League of Nations?
2) What are the benefits of being part of NATO?  Risks?
3) Has NATO been effective?  Give examples?
4) How has NATO evolved & changed over the decades?
5) In your opinion should the United States continue to lead NATO? Why/ Not?

Read More

Is This Tomorrow?  America Under Communism!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Its a Bird... Its a Plane.... Its....

Over the years Superman has come to represent truth, justice, and the 'American Way!' Perhaps the most famous of the War Year's comics is Superman #17 (July-Aug 1942). On that cover, Superman is shown standing on the Earth, holding both Hitler and the Japanese Emperor by the scruff of their necks and giving them a good shake as if that would put sense back into their heads. While Superman's storyline intentionally avoided much of WWII (Clark Kent was declared unfit for the draft after failing his eye exam; He was reading the chart in the next room with his x-ray vision) the Man of Steel did face the Japanese on the big screen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Winning WWII

Throughout 1943 the leaders of the Allied Forces squabbled over when they would start a second front in France.  Up to that point Soviet troops had done most of the fighting in Europe.  Stalin had insisted that Britain and the United States carry more of the military burden by attacking Germany in the west.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was promoted over 350 other more qualified generals to lead the operation.  He  called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Europe. The D-Day cost was high -more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded -- but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.

Monday, March 28, 2022

WWII: Origins

In 1936, German troops occupied the Rhineland, a German region bordering France. Although the Versailles Treaty had banned military activity in this region, the League of Nations did nothing in response to Germany’s occupation. Two years later, Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland, a German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia, be surrendered to Germany. Many Europeans feared that Hitler was provoking Europe into war.

France and Britain distrusted Hitler, but they had already agreed on a policy of appeasement—yielding to an enemy’s demands in order to maintain peace. Germany would obtain the Sudetenland, despite Czechoslovakia’s objections. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain explained to the British people that it was illogical to declare war over such a small territory, saying, “If we have to fight, it must be on larger issues than that.”

If you could go back in time and stop Hitler before he started the war, would you do it?  Why/ not?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Back In My Day...

Why is it that our parents & grandparents are always reminding us of how hard they had it way back when?

What is your reaction when you hear these stories? Do they make you grateful for how good you have it today? Why/ not? What will you be telling your kids about how hard you had it 40 years from now?

What was FDR's plan for getting America working again?

What were the 3 'R's ?

How did FDR's programs benefit both the economy and the environment?

Monday, February 28, 2022

Original O.G.

Dillinger and Capone were the 'Original' Original Gangstas. How 'Gangsta' are you?

However 'well-intentioned,'   the 18th Amendment had some rather unintended consequences.

Gangland violence in Chicago captured headlines and attention across the nation the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 14, 1929, and fueled rumors in Butler County. The crime later was called "the most spectacular of the decade in Chicago." There were more than 500 gangland murders in the Windy City in the 1920s.

The 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre took the lives of seven men by machine-gun and shotgun fire at about 10:30 a.m. in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago. The mass shooting climaxed a struggle for control of Chicago's North Side. It pitted the powerful gang of Al Capone against the faltering group led by George (Bugs) Moran. Capone ordered his lieutenants to annihilate the entire Moran gang -- and they almost did it. Moran and two other gang members approached the garage, but fled when they believed police were raiding the building.

Moran had been lured to the massacre site by the prospect of buying bonded whisky. At stake was the security of Capone's illicit liquor business, estimated at more than $60 million a year by federal authorities. The killings solidified the 30-year-old Capone's control over the Chicago whisky trade and other criminal activities.

The Chicago crime still dominated conversations four days later when three strange men checked into the Anthony Wayne Hotel at High Street and Monument Avenue in Hamilton. They aroused suspicion by arriving in an expensive car with Illinois license plates and asking for the hotel's highest priced room.

Who were these mystery men and why did they come to Hamiltion, Ohio?

What connection did other notorious gangsters like John Dillinger have to this area?

How were gangsters of the '30s different from gangsters today?

Bet you didn't know Mr. Kelly is related to a notorious 20s gangster either.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

You Don't Know Schenck

Do you have an absolute right to free speech? The Supreme Court gives its 1919 answer.  Learn the basics about the must-know US History Supreme Court Case challenging the constitutionality of the Espionage Act. If you are in a US History course you best be knowing this case. Trust me.

The First Amendment of the constitution guarantees that each person has the right to free speech. But the Supreme Court has restricted free speech that includes obscenities, libel, slander, words that incite violence or words that pose a threat to the rights of individuals or national security. You do not have the right to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out in Schenck v. United States (1919), when the "circumstances are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger."

How does the Schenck decison still affect free speech today?

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Treaty of Versailles & Wilson's 14 Points

At the Treaty of Versailles in France President Wilson outlined his '14 points' promoting openness, encouraging independence, and supporting freedom. At its heart was his idea of 'peace without victory;' a peace inspired by noble ideals, not greed and vengeance.

Should the United States have ratified or rejected the Treaty of Versailles?

In this activity, you will act as senators debating the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. Students sitting on the left will be internationalists—senators who support ratification of the Treaty of Versailles.
Students on the right will be irreconcilables—senators who want to reject the Treaty of Versailles.

Below are the six debate prompts. Starting with prompt one, begin the debate! 
 Internationalists answer the odds. Irreconcilable's answer the evens.

1)  Honorable Senator, the Treaty of Versailles is clearly full of flaws. How can you support it? (Discuss for one minute.)

2) My esteemed colleague, you say the treaty is “full of flaws,” but I wonder, can you even describe two of them? (Discuss for one minute.)

3)  Senator, it looks to me like that League of Nations could drag the United States into a lot of trouble. Why do you admire it so much? (Discuss for one minute.)

4) My fellow Senator, you talk about the League causing trouble. Just what kind of trouble are you talking about? (Discuss for one minute.)

5) Why can’t you internationalists understand that our national sovereignty is more important than foolish dreams of collective security? (Discuss for one minute.)

6) Are you kidding? Do you irreconcilables ever consider that collective security might have prevented this tragic war from ever occurring in the first place? (Discuss for one minute.)

The League of Nations was US President Woodrow Wilson's tool for a new and peaceful world after the war of 1914-1918 - and the US should have been their most important member. But the United States never joined and today the League of Nations is often seen as a failure. Was it doomed from the start?