Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Andrew Jackson: For the People Or Not?

For this unit, we learned about Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States. The essential question for this unit was: is Andrew Jackson's long-standing reputation as “the people’s president” deserved?  Why or why not? Together as a class we watched two videos on the the background of Andrew Jackson, one from Ted- ED and one from Crash Course. We briefly learned background about him such as he was a great military general before he was president, but he was a gambler and a drunk. But more importantly we learned about how though he had many contributions as president, good and bad, his three main contributions were the Bank War, the Spoils System, and the Indian Removal, and there are many different opinions on whether or not he contributed positively or negatively. We started to see how different people can have different opinions on whether or not Jackson was a good, people's president, and we started to think about the essential question. The essential question is also not only something that is important when analyzing Jackson's career, but it is a question we should ask about all leaders. We should keep in mind that our leaders and presidents should be representing the people and their rights. If they are not, they are not a good leader and something must be done. Once we learned some background on Jackson, we split up into 6 groups, with two groups per contribution. Each group had to make a project about either the Bank War, the Spoils System, or the Indian Removal using primary and secondary sources about their topic. My group researched the Indian Removal and we made a Google presentation for our project, as shown below.

As president, Jackson was very concerned with the white man's needs, and at that time a big necessity was land. The native Americans were living on the land as well as Jackson's people, and he thought that he knew what was best for them. He said that Indians and whites cannot live together without fighting, and many Indians are getting killed off. He thought it would be better for them to move west where they could live peacefully and he initially wanted them to voluntarily leave the colonies. However, the Indians refused to move because they felt that they had just as much right to stay there as the whites had, and Jackson resorted to law and harsh treatment to force them out. He forced them to walk the Trail of Tears which moved them west but killed thousands in the process. So, in this case Jackson was only a people's president to the whites, and he had no consideration for the Indians. Jackson also was the first president to bring about the Spoils System. This was a system that valued loyalty over skill when appointing government officials. This was a very unfair system because he wasn’t putting the people with the greatest ability into the best positions, he was only putting people that supported him into the positions. He used the veto more than any other president, and Jackson didn’t care who was put into power as long as they supported him. In this way, he was not a people’s president because he was trying to help himself by hiring his supporters instead of helping the country by hiring the best government officials. Lastly, Jackson started the Bank War that caused a huge economic collapse. Jackson ran for president as a champion of the common man to try to relate to the common citizen, and his main goal was to protect the average man. Jackson believed that the big banks were gaining too much control and could easily take advantage of the average person. He didn’t want the rich people owning the banks to get too much power, and he encouraged smaller businesses. He risked his re-election to veto against the bank, however this ended up causing a terrible economic collapse. In this way, Jackson was a people’s president because he was fighting for the rights and protection of his people and especially of the common man. Jackson was a very controversial man, and it is hard to say for certain whether he was or was not truly a people's president.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Blueprint of America's Democracy

For this unit, we have been learning about the rise of democracy. The essential questions for the unit were: how should we define democracy? How democratic was the United States in the early 1800s? In separate groups, we were assigned to make a project about the rise of democracy that answered the essential questions using primary and secondary sources. We could decide whether we wanted to make a poster, Common Craft video, or a skit video, and my group decided to make a poster, as shown below. We defined democracy as a government controlled by the whole population through elected representatives. We answered the second question by saying that although democracy was the prominent government system that was being used in the 1800s, main aspects of it hadn’t been fully developed and corrected yet. For example, women and African Americans still weren’t allowed to vote, and the process of voting was not yet perfected; when people voted, the system relied on people’s honesty to tell the truth about whether or not they had voted anywhere else before. Also, as seen in the Dorr War, some states still hadn’t changed their laws about only letting the richest landowners vote, and people weren’t happy about it. However, these events were leading to a developed system of democracy for the United States like we have today. These events helped bring about the ideas of democracy and, they were a big step in the right direction for America, which is why we titled our poster “The Blueprint of America’s Democracy”.