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.