Saturday, June 13, 2015

Minority vs Minority: Discrimination of Both Sides?

As we continue to look at life after the Civil War, an important aspect is buffalo soldiers and native Americans versus the government and citizens. After the war, many blacks still faced discrimination from white citizens and had a hard time finding jobs. Many black men who had fought in the Civil War for the Union become permanent soldiers and became Buffalo soldiers. These "black troops" went west to fight the Indians for the western lands and force the tribes into reservations. America's federal government wanted this land and this fighting was called the Indian Wars. In class, we learned about this topic both as a class and in groups. We first watched a series of videos from ABC Clio about the soldiers and Indians which not only introduced us to the topic, but also provided good detail. We then split up into groups to analyze a diagram, a primary source excerpt from a book by Helen Hunt Jackson from 1881, and a primary source excerpt from the Dawes Act of 1887. We then reconvened as a class to come up with our essential question for the unit: Were federal policies towards Native Americans and buffalo soldiers intentionally discriminatory or well intentioned?

For hundreds of years since colonists started coming to the "New World", the issue of how to deal with the Indians living on the land was prevalent. In the 1880's, Americans wanted more westward expansion, and the same problem arose. However, the American government was harsh and forceful and tried to take the land away without negotiation. This started the Indian Wars. During this time right after the Civil War, many African Americans who had fought in the Civil War and wanted to settle down in the west, became permanent soldiers for the U.S. This organization of colored troops became known as the buffalo soldiers and they had an extremely hard job and had to endure harsh conditions. They were ordered to fight against the Indian to conquer the land. However, along the way, both sides were discriminated against; the buffalo soldiers by white citizens and the Indians by the federal government's policies.

I think that the federal government was intentionally discriminating against the Indians with all of their actions and policies. They primarily wanted all of the Indians’ land for themselves and wanted all Indians to get rid of all their culture to become Americans. That does not sound like a fair deal, and it was very one-sided. The Americans were not willing to negotiate or compromise at all with the Indians, and instead used force. The Americans had been pushing the natives further and further west for hundreds of years, and Andrew Jackson's Trail of Tears during the 1830's was still a fresh wound to the natives. Yet, events like the California gold rush resulted in more American westward expansion and even more conquering of native land. The leaders of the Indian tribes tried to make compromises and peace, but the federal government wanted the land and didn’t care about the native leaders. In Helen Hunt Jackson's book A Century of Dishonor written in 1881, she wrote “These Indians found themselves of a sudden surrounded by and caught up in the great influx of gold-seeking settlers, as helpless creatures on a shore are caught up in a tidal wave. There was not time for the Government to make treaties; not even time for communities to make laws. The tale of the wrongs, the oppressions, the murders of the Pacific-slope Indians in the last thirty years would be a volume by itself, and is too monstrous to be believed.” The government also decided to try to Americanize the Indians on their reservations. They required all children to be sent to school, and above the doors of the school there were signs that said “kill the Indian in him, and save the man”. The policies stated and admitted that their goal was to completely get rid of Indian culture, and to minimize the power and influence of native leaders so that they learn to obey the American government. The federal policy of the Dawes Act in 1887 also gave each family a piece of land on their reservation, but they did this with the intent to get rid of Indian culture by splitting up the sharing of land that normal occurred in Indian culture and the traditional community atmosphere. The federal government was greedy and knew how to strategically make policies to discriminate against and lessen the Indians. They not only forced the Indians from their homes and took over it, they also forced the Indians to conform to their ways and squash all diversity in culture.
Picture from Quotes from Richard Pratt

Buffalo soldiers were also wrongly discriminated against by the white citizens in their own country of America, but the federal government didn’t discriminate against them. Even though slavery was abolished, whites still did not accept or agree with blacks' equality. They gave blacks a hard time and didn’t make it easy for them to find jobs, so many of them were stuck with a job in the military. Whites did not like having blacks be able to tell them what to do, and there were many altercations and fights started by white men against buffalo soldiers.This is extremely unfair and disrespectful because the buffalo soldiers were the people protecting the white Americans and fighting for more land. It was an extremely hard job that nobody else would do, and the soldiers were very courageous. They did not deserve these fights as a thank you for their service. However, the federal policies did not discriminate against buffalo soldiers. Since these soldiers were having a hard time finding jobs with whites and needed the military for a job, the government provided soldiers with food, shelter, and clothes. This was a generous and attractive offer. The government also knew how hard their job was, and would often give many of the soldiers medals of honor to acknowledge their service. Although the American government didn't discriminate against buffalo soldiers, they did against Indians by trying to get rid of their culture completely and conquer their land without compromise.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Would You Want Your Life To Be a Big Game of Monopoly?

During this unit, we are learning about the monopolies in business following the Civil War. Huge businesses arose after the war and in many cases, one company would gain control of an entire industry, creating a monopoly. These monopolies are controversial because they both helped and hurt the economy and the people after the Civil War. Two men in particular prospered immensely during this time and became leaders of monopolies, Rockefeller and Carnegie. We learned about these topics by analyzing articles about them and watching videos from ABC Clio. We were split into groups and each group had to analyze these sources thinking about either the key people, main ideas, important events, and essential terms. We all took notes on these sources in one big class Google Document. Then, we all, as a class, had to come up with an essential question for this unit. We decided that our essential question was going to be: How did the actions of monopolistic leaders, such as Rockefeller and Carnegie, affect the common worker?

John D. Rockefeller was a very competitive man. He eventually became the leader of the oil industry. He became a wealthy man by helping the Union during the Civil War. When oil started being drilled, he saw an opportunity to prosper. He opened up a few oil companies to start pumping oil, and he started buying other competitors around him. When the depression hit, many oil companies around him started to crash, but his was able to stay efficient and strong. He saw this as an opportunity for even more power and was able to expand his company and prosper while others were crumbling. He bought out most of the oil companies in the U.S. and started partnering with intelligent business partners such as Henry Flagler. If he wasn't able to buy a company, he would partner with them so he was still able to regulate prices and gain power. He was able to keep production costs low meaning lower prices for the population. He founded the Standard Oil Company which absorbed almost all of the competing oil companies and was able to negotiate lower shipping prices, stabilizing and lowering oil prices. However, people got nervous about his ruthlessness and having too much power, and they thought he was just making decisions for greed and money. They eventually took it to the Supreme Court where he was forced to disperse his trusts. He gave lots of his money to charities and donated to education, medicine, and science. He believed strongly in spreading his wealth, and he said in an interview with William Hoster " I believe the power to make money is a gift of God ... to be developed and used to the best of our ability for the good of mankind. Having been endowed with the gift I possess, I believe it is my duty to make money and still more money and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man". He was able to become one of the wealthiest men in U.S. history because of his monopoly.

Andrew Carnegie controlled a similar monopoly in the steel industry. He too became wealthy by helping the Union during the Civil War. However, he was very poor as a child so he knew what it was like to be a common and poor worker. After the war, he realized that steel production was deteriorating, and he invested all his money in it to help it out. Carnegie knew the great need for steel, and tried to get advice from Europe on how to make it flourish. He was able to figure out a way to make high quality steel for lower prices he kept production costs, wages, and salaries low. He then grew even more with vertical integration which allowed him to control the raw materials, transportation, and dispersion of steel, meaning he controlled every part of steel. Common people became mad at Carnegie. A group called the iron and steel workers' union wanted to keep some power of their own and create better contracts for the workers, and word leaked that Carnegie planned to destroy them. This resulted in the brutal battle of Homestead Strike. However, he was able to keep expanding the company by buys materials at lower prices because of the depression, and he was the leader of the industry.

Even though these monopolies were able to help the U.S. by lower prices and increasing production, the common worker struggled immensely. Big monopolies also lowered wages and salaries to make bigger profits which was bad for the common worker. Monopolistic leaders wanted the most profit possible and since they had so much power, they could give workers very low wages. They controlled whole business so if a worker didn't like the way they did something, they had to stay in the job because they couldn't go anywhere else; everything was controlled by that one person. So workers had to deal with the bad wages to make sure they kept their jobs or else there weren’t many other job options. The common man didn't like one person controlling all of the business like a dictatorship and becoming rich in a time of depression. They tried to rebel a few times with events such as the Homestead Strike, but the leaders were very powerful. Carnegie grew up poor, so he knew the mindset and problems of the common and poor worker. However, he forgot about them and didn’t help them when he became rich and successful. This frustrated workers during economic depression, but they didn’t have much of a choice. The following picture shows how the common worker was completely at the mercy of the monopolistic leaders, and they could decide how to manage the money of the U.S.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Above or Below: What Direction Did Freedom Come From?

For this unit, we were learning about how big social changes can either be brought about from below or from above. More specifically, during the Civil War, how were slaves freed? Who 'gave' freedom to enslaved Americans? Did freedom come from above or below? To what extent were Abraham Lincoln's actions influenced by the actions of enslaved Americans? When I say "freedom from above or below", I am talking about social status. Throughout history, big social changes have been accomplished by either the efforts of the lower class people (such as slaves) or the upper class people (such as the president). Freedom from above would mean the higher class citizens are granting freedom to the lower class whereas freedom from below would mean the lower class is going out and gaining freedom for themselves. These ideas can be seen in the two pictures in the proceeding paragraphs. To help answer these questions, we looked at both the higher and lower classes. We looked at many of Abraham Lincoln’s documents or speeches as the war progressed. In groups, we analyzed Lincoln’s reply to a letter from Horace Greeley (1862), Emancipation Proclamation (1863), Gettysburg Address (1863), and Second Inaugural Address (1865). We also looked at documents that describe what actions fugitive slaves took to force people to revisit their problem and hopefully help end slavery. We also watched a video describing the events that were happening as we were going through the documents.

Lincoln’s documents show freedom from above even though he has many changes of heart throughout the war. He states in the reply to Horace Greeley that, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that”. He views freeing all slaves as secondary to saving the Union. He doesn’t seem opposed to slavery and he doesn’t want to get rid of it. However by 1863 he starts to change his mind and starts using his power to free some slaves.”All persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” was stated in the Proclamation, meaning all slaves are free in rebelling states. He continues to make his opinion that he wants to free slaves stronger as he states, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth" in the Gettysburg Address. He is making clear statements about equality and freedom for slaves. Finally in 1865 he states that, “These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war” explicitly saying that the abolition of slavery was the true reason for war. Lincoln used his power and authority to help the issue of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation, the law that all slaves are free in rebelling states, and eventually the 13th Amendment were all accomplished because Lincoln was president and had the power to do so; no slave or lower class citizen could have demanded these things. I don’t think the slaves could have been as successful in this war without a powerful government figure on their side fighting for them. Below is a picture showing freedom from above:

However, the slaves did not sit back and watch this happen. The slaves took many actions themselves to make themselves nuisances to the government so that the government was constantly reminded of the issue of slavery. They forced the government to deal with them and their problem by being pests. A letter from General Ambrose E. Burnside in 1862 states, "they are now a source of very great anxiety to us; the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations... it would be utterly impossible if we were so disposed to keep them outside of our lines as they find their way to us through woods & swamps from every side". The Union troops stationed in the Confederate states didn't know what to do with all the fugitive slaves that kept running around the town. They would not leave, and therefore the troops had to send to ask for a solution which then reminded the government of the slaves. This is an example of freedom from below because the low class slaves were fighting themselves for their freedom. This mentality is shown by the picture below. However, during the Civil War, I think that the slaves needed Abraham Lincoln to help them accomplish slavery because the government wouldn't have made laws against slavery without him in office.

I think that a big social change usually starts from below, however the lower class citizens need the higher classes to recognize their efforts. For the Civil War, the slaves tried to help fight for their freedom, but overall, it was the political efforts of Lincoln and the government who recognized their problem and wanted to fix it who made the change. Recently in the news, there have been many incidents with police regarding racism. There have been multiple shootings where police have shot African Americans, and many believe the police are only shooting them because they are black. There have been two major incidents; Ferguson, Missouri and North Charleston, S.C. In Ferguson, it is reported that Officer Darren Wilson was too violent to Michael Brown. He was unarmed and he and the officer were supposedly in an altercation near his care when the officer fatally shot him. The African AMerican man from North Charleston, Walter Scott, supposedly dropped his gun and was running away from the officer, unarmed, when Officer Michael Slager shot him in the back. The debate about these two cases is whether the police were too quick to use force, especially in cases involving black men. The reaction by the average people has been huge, and there have been many large protests that have gotten the attention of the government. Their technique is very similar to the fugitive slaves. I think many social changes start from average people getting upset with a certain situation, and they have to start to make a difference and fight for what they believe. However, the government has to recognize their efforts for any big change in the laws to occur.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Put Our Blood, Sweat, and Scavenger Hunts into the Civil War

For this unit in class, we learned about some of the many battles that took place during the Civil War through a scavenger hunt. Each person chose a battle to research, and found out the name, date, victor, theater, and reasons for the outcome of their battle. Each person created a Google Document with their information and a picture of their battle. Then, we had to create a Bitly shortened URL and a QR code for our document which we printed out so that the other students could scan into our information. Each person placed their code wherever they wanted around the school. We had to get organized as a class by telling the person with the battle before us where we were going to put it. Once everybody had written on the bottom of their document where to find the next battle, we were ready to start. We went around the school to find all the battles and we copied down the key information about them into our Evernote. Once everybody was finished the Scavenger hunt, we reviewed the information individually to look for trends in the battles. We looked at which side, the Union or the Confederacy, dominated in certain theaters. We each posted our observations under at least two columns on the Padlet website seen below:

Our essential questions for this unit were: who was the ultimate victor in each of the theaters of war, and what are some commonalities you can identify in the reasons for the results of the battles? As you can see from the Padlet, the Union dominated the Western Theater and the Naval Theater, and the Confederacy dominated the Eastern Theater. The Union had many gunboats and ironclads, and they were able to use the rivers in the western theater to attack not only by land but also by river. They had a very strong naval force, and this helped them win many battles by surrounding their enemy. In the Western Theater, the Union also dominated on land. In battles such as the Battle of Fort Donelson and the Battle of Shiloh, they were able to surround the Confederacy and weaken them until they were forced to surrender. The Anaconda technique was often used to cut off the Confederacy and slowly beat them. However, in the Eastern Theater, the Confederacy dominated because the Union didn't have a unanimous plan. The President Lincoln and certain generals didn't see eye to eye on the technique, so the Confederates were able to succeed with heavy artillery like in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

I liked this scavenger hunt activity because we got to be active and travel around the school. It was a nice break from sitting in classrooms and listening to lectures all day, and I think it will be more memorable because of that. There were some challenges with the wifi connection the first day which was frustrating because I couldn't access many of the documents. However, the second day of the scavenger hunt, the wifi was much better and we could complete the activity much faster. I also liked that in this activity, the whole class had to work and organize together for the activity to work, and with each person tackling one battle, we learn about 20 battles in the activity.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Story Through Pictures: Leading Up To the Civil War

The events leading up to the Civil War, and especially the Election of 1860, are essential pieces of history that are needed to understand what happened during the war. In class, we have been learning about these events, and our task was to create an Educreations video using pictures to explain the events. We found pictures that represented the different events and wrote captions for them to try to cover all of the events leading up to the Civil War. We used pictures about John Brown, Dred Scott, Abraham Lincoln, the Election of 1860, the seceding of many southern states, and the attack on Fort Sumter in our video, and these pictures help to tell the story of the Civil War. We used the pictures from the website The Civil War in Art and we also found 3 other pictures to help complete the story. The essential question was were the results of the Election of 1860 representative of the deep divisions over slavery? Many of the maps and pictures in our video show the deep divisions very clearly, and it is clear that the northern states were all unanimous in voting for Lincoln, whereas the deep southern states all wanted Breckenridge and the middle southern states all wanted Bell. Each state voted for their specific candidate because of their views about slavery; Lincoln believed in no slavery, Bell wanted to preserve the constitution as it is with slavery, and Breckenridge wanted there to be no limits on slavery. The southern states seceded from the Union very close thereafter, and these deep divisions were made clear as Civil War became inevitable. Our Educreations video can be seen below:

Dred Scott:
Election of 1860:
The Confederacy:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Will It Be the North or Will It Be the South?

Recently we have been learning about the Civil War, but to understand the Civil War you must understand the situations in the north and south leading up to it. I created an infographic using Piktochart explaining the situations in the north and south before the war and how they impacted the war. We read a few sources with statistics in it, and our task was to choose the facts we wanted and represent it visually in our infographic. I chose the specific statistics in my infographic because I thought those facts showed the clear reasons why each side chose their strategy, and why it led to their success or failure in the war. I think these statistics show how much more prepared the north was than the south. The Union led in many more statistics than the Confederacy because the Confederacy really only had their military skill and cotton production as strengths. The north was very organized and had much more money saved. The statistics I chose also display the clear reasons why what the Union did made them so prepared. It can be clearly seen that in the Union the railroads made for better transportation, the factories and many workers made for easier manufacturing of supplies, and the population made for a bigger army. I wanted to organize my infographic into these steps where you can firstly see the statistics, then see why these statistics helped, then see how they contributed to the war strategies, and lastly see the war results. I thought this helped me learn the information because I was trying to organize the information in a way that can be taught. If you can teach something, that means you truly understand it, so by trying to present the information in a way that others can easily learn from, I feel like I benefited and learned as well. I understand better how the situations between the Union and Confederacy before the war eventually led to the Union's Victory because of its preparedness and its domination in many aspects including money, supplies, labor, army, manufacturing, and transportation that the south was lacking. My infographic can be seen below:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Elephant in the Room

In this unit, we learned about many different decisions made by the government in the 1850’s leading up to the Civil War. The country was divided and each decision stepped closer and closer to war. Slavery had to do with almost every problem, but nobody wanted to deal with it. The government tried to work around it and keep each side satisfied for as long as possible, however the problem finally became too big to ignore any longer. In the decisions made during the 1850’s leading to the Civil War, slavery was the elephant in the room because nobody ever tried to make a decision about slavery; instead they worked around the issue to try to strike a balance with everyone to postpone the problem.

In groups, we made a timeline of all the major events that occurred in which slavery was the elephant in the room, as seen above. For example, the Compromise of 1850 settled 5 major disputes regarding slavery, but it settled them without dealing with the true problem of slavery. If the north was given something, the south had to be given something as well so everything was balanced and everyone was happy. For example, in the compromise, the north wanted California to be a free state. However, the south wasn’t okay with that, so to keep everyone happy the government created the Fugitive Slave Act. The Fugitive Slave Act required all citizens to turn in any slaves that have run away, meaning even in the north runaway slaves were not safe. With both of these put in place, the north and the south were temporarily happy, however it didn’t fix the problem of slavery, it just tried to work around it. Another example is the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The north wanted a railroad going west just like the south, so they made one but the south wasn’t okay with the north gaining the land of Nebraska and Kansas. So, Kansas-Nebraska was declared popular sovereignty to make the southerners happy, and northerners could now move west and increase their trade. Charles Sumner said to the President that with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, "the eminent question (is) now before you, involving the peace of the whole country, with our good name in history forevermore", and Charles wanted to start solving the problem of slavery. But once again, the president didn’t want to touch or upset the problem; he made a temporary solution to postpone the inevitable bigger decision. The John Brown Raid shows the same neglect for the true problem. John  Brown worked to seize weapons to give to slaves so that they would be armed to start a rebellion. However, he and his troops were defeated and he was sentenced to hanging. He was seen as a martyr who died unfairly for a great cause. A song about him states, “They hung him for a traitor, but themselves the traitor crew, His soul is marching on, He’s gonna be a soldier in the army of the Lord,” and this song shows how he became a symbol of fighting for freedom. But the government was just trying to shut him up and stop the whole rebellion from the start. Brown was trying to start fighting for a solution to slavery, but they didn’t want to answer it; they only wanted to move around it. Lastly, the Dred Scott Decision tried to put off the question of slavery when Dred Scott, an enslaved man living in Missouri, filed a lawsuit against his owner. He says that he should be free since he once lived in a place where slavery was illegal. Not only did he lose the case, the government also made some new rules regarding slaves; slaves didn’t have the right to court, enslaved people could not win freedom by living in a free state, and the Missouri Compromise was no longer in effect. The government saw something threatening the balance of the north and south, so they made restrictions so that slaves could not keep upsetting the balance with the law. As shown by all of the events on the timeline, slavery was the problem in the United States but the government refused to make a decision about this elephant in the room to try to push it off for as long as possible and keep everyone satisfied without having to deal with the complicated issue of slavery.