Ian, I've enjoyed your scholarship this year. You've put together a really nice page that reflects your interests as an historian. Well done! -SW

Unit 8

Historian Points: 9/9

Primary Source: Ouch, Carter
external image holb080423.jpg
I was a little bit shocked by this political cartoon when I came across it. Plenty of American presidents have been widely disliked, but this level of blatant disdain is not often expressed. It's easy to criticize a president, but not easy to accusing him of sharing the ideas of Hitler and Stalin. This late 1970s political cartoon shows Jimmy Carter as a wildly stupid, unattractive, and exhausted looking figure, crawling into the arms of his "buddies Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot. The use of these, perhaps the three most widely despised names in the entire twentieth century, makes a tremendous statement. What prompted conservative Americans to have such absolute disgust for their leader? Certainly, Carter presided over tough economic times. Whether or not he was responsible, the American economy dipped severely over the years of his administration, seeing inflation rise hand in hand with unemployment. He was weak in foreign policy, responding unsuccessfully to the hostage crisis in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and disruptions to the oil market. He was forced to spend much of his presidency attempting to keep America running during an enormous energy crisis, and thus made few significant policy decisions. Perhaps the most important reason why he is so profoundly disliked, however, is his inability to fit smoothly in the two-party system developing. In a time when liberals were becoming increasingly secular, Carter was both exceptionally liberal and deeply religious. In a time when both Southerners and the devoutly religious were falling in line behind the Republican elephant, Carter stuck out like a sore thumb among the Democratic party with his well-publicized faith and southern charm. Perhaps the reason Carter was so open to disdain is that he didn't have anyone to defend him. He certainly wasn't the worst president we've ever had, but without an ideologically united coalition behind him he was left vulnerable to vicious attacks like the one in this cartoon.

Always better to shock someone than to be ignored, right? HSC

Good work Ian. Your mastery of wikispace formatting never fails to blow me away. Maybe work on sentence structure. -SW

Great Job Ian! I wonder if the lack of American confidence in presidents after Watergate influenced the authors extreme criticism and the fact that he published it though it disrespected the president? - TP

Unpopular American leader associated with big-name historical villains; some things never change (fun fact: there have been enough comparisons of people to Hitler in fiction, criticism and conversation that the phenomenon is now known in some circles as Goodwin's Law. The folks who came up with that are just like Hitler, really). -L.C.B.

Carter did seem to be quite the anomaly in terms of his liberalism seeming to not fit in with his faith. I wonder if this stigma is simply political history, and the conclusion jumped to linking religious devotion with southern Republicanism is just a fable of history and assumptions. Great analysis and good point about him straddling and being "vulnerable to attacks."-PM

Nice Job by supple safari brother! I had no idea that this much enmity surrounded Carter, I just thought he was “meh...”. It seems to me that although most likely un fit for the job, he was thrown into a horrible mess of foreign and domestic policies which truly ruined him. I wonder where and why this was published? -JLR

They not only attack his policies but his face, it just seems like a fairly low blow. MS

Topic of Interest: Ross Barnett Loves Mississippi

One of the most alarming speeches in American history may have been Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi's 17-word address at halftime of an Ole Miss Runnin' Rebles football game in 1962, now commonly referred to as the "I Love Mississippi" speech. In the weeks before, riots had broken out on campus decrying the enrollment of the first African American student in the university's history, James Meredith. Meredith, who had already faced angry mobs for weeks, was then being led around campus by national guardsmen. After Governor Barnett had personally met him at the doors of the admissions office and attempted to deny him admittance, Meredith had earned the support of President John F. Kennedy, who sent in federal troops and began talks with Barnett. On the Friday before the Runnin' Rebels played, Kennedy had talked to Barnett on three occasions on the phone, beseeching him to stand down. They had worked out a deal that Barnett would would give a conciliatory speech at the next evening's game in exchange for a removal of many of the federal troops. Barnett, however, an unpopular leader who was still basking in the new found admiration he had gained by opposing Meredith's admittance, had other ideas. He took the field in front of tens of thousands of Rebel fans, stating simply "I love Mississippi! I love her people! I respect them! I love and I respect our heritage!" His hand waving wildly in the air, Barnett's pledge to fight for racism in Mississippi sent the stadium into a frenzy. Spectators would later recall their shame at being swept up in the affair, describing it as "A scene straight out of Nuremberg." The following day, the Ole Miss riot of 1962 occurred, pitting segregationists against troops from the National Guard, the U.S. Army military police, and the U.S. Navy. 2 were killed in the event that would later become the subject of the Bob Dylan song "Oxford Town." The whole saga is chronicled in the ESPN 30 for 30 film "Ghosts of Ole Miss," which I have embedded. The speech is discussed and shown at the 9:30 mark.

Good work I like the neat format of this page. HEY GUESS WHAT WE'RE DONE WITH THESE BOOM. However, I shall miss these pages, these comments, these memories. Poor Carter, he seems to be one of the first of the profoundly victimized modern-day presidents. -EV

Unit 7

Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: Munich

external image maxresdefault.jpg

One of the most fascinating tragedies of the Cold War era, the Munich Massacre, provides an incredible encapsulation of the intense global tensions that developed in the second half of the nineteenth century. The event, which occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, remains one of the most legendary terrorist attacks ever carried out. At 4 a.m., eight members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September entered the Olympic village, succeeding in capturing nine Israeli hostages, all athletes. As police and media began to respond to the scene, the terrorists dropped a list of demands out of a window. Predictably, they demanded the release of 234 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. A little more intriguingly, they demanded that two leaders of the German Red Army Faction be released from German jails. As it turns out, German neo-Nazis had provided extensive help to the Palestinians. This particular request illustrates one reason why the Munich Massacre is such an incredibly unique and fascinating event. Never before had connection over ideology established this level of cooperation between such geographically separated entities. In many ways, the Munich Massacre represents the new diplomatic methods of the twentieth century- instead of relying on proximity for alliance and trade, governments and organizations began connecting based on shared religious, economic, and political principles- from the USSR and Cuba to Black September and the RAF. As for the story of the hostages, the ordeal lasted nearly twenty four hours before a massive gun fight broke out, killing all nine hostages, five terrorists, and a German police officer. The ultimate response was Israel’s launch of operations “Spring of Youth” and “Wrath of God,” in which Mossad systematically tacked down and murdered Palestinians suspected to be involved in the attack.

This is a very tragic story, and it really is interesting that an Israeli-Palestinain conflict would explode in a nation divided by the East and the West in the middle of the Cold War. The World is a far more connected place than it was in 1776. Great job, this was very informative. -CJ

When you are talking about the connection between the Palestinians and the neo-Nazis, I am assuming that you are referring to their anti-semitism. Germany has done extensive work to eliminate the continuation of Nazi values withing their nation-what was their response to this tragedy occurring withing their nation? The diplomacy involved with dealing with such a touchy subject would have been most interesting to juggle and witness. -CB

When I first heard this story from my parents, I was very young, very naive, and very appalled that there would be people out there who would do such a thing during such a socially and culturally sacred display of peace and harmony between the nations. As a near-adult, I though I would understand more about the workings of prejudice, and while I know the delicate political, religious and cultural conflicts that led up to this atrocity, it still startles and horrifies me that people, no matter how bigoted, would go that far, not seeming to hesitate (or, I would like to think, telling themselves not to hesitate). Excellent work. -L.C.B.

Well done with this Topic of Interest. The Munich Massacre certainly does represent the evolution of diplomatic measures in the more "modern" world. It is unfortunate that the Olympics were the stage upon which this tragic event unfolded. -LG

It was an amazing terrorist attack. If one thinks about it, it was a milestone, in a respect. An event like this could never be carried out like it was then. This was, if you ask me, the first example of large scale modern terrorism. -KD

Primary Source: "The Gift"
external image ilw2578.jpg

This political cartoon from the early Cold War era depicts the Soviet Union and the United States as competing Santas, each burdened with “presents” of steel, workers, dams, and urbanization. They seem to be competing for the privilege of delivering their “gifts” to less developed nations. Though I’m not familiar with the racist caricatures of the 1950s, I would guess that China, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East are represented among the figures in the windows. The conflicting ideologies of the USSR and United States, where not exchanging blows like in Korea or Vietnam, could only extend their influence by advertising their brand of industrialization to less developed areas. In the race to gain control over the political and economic systems of strategically important areas, both Americans and Soviets attempted to provide evidence that their particular system would bring prosperity to smaller nations. Sometimes, this was accomplished by providing unsolicited financial aid to regions in the hopes of winning support for ideological systems. Never was this strategy used more broadly than in the 1948 Marshall Plan, by which America funneled huge amounts of money into war-torn areas of Europe, hoping to rebuild them in the democratic, capitalist image. All told, this program spent an inflation-adjusted $148 billion to win the right to play Santa across eastern Europe. Appealing to the masses was especially important to the United States, as American foreign policy was attempting to follow a model of self-determination. While the Soviet Union was willing to remove elected national governments and install unpopular puppet regimes, America generally tried to avoid this process, building trust across unsteady areas in the hopes that people would eventually choose to follow the American model themselves. Of course, this didn't always work. Especially in South America and the Middle East, American Santa was left with only the uncomfortable choice of forcing himself into the chimney despite immense public backlash. Though both the USSR and USA would have loved to see their ideologies universally adopted, both were willing to defer the peoples’ desires in order to earn control. In this way, this cartoon portrays both sides as a being significantly more polite than they generally were.

This is a fascinating cartoon, I would never think to compare the Cold War to Christmas, but it seems to really work! Well done. E.S.

Nice work Ian! I had though that the idea of ideological gifts was from SW, interesting to see that it was legitimate rhetoric! I think that the fluctuations in the amount of attempted gift givings between the presidents is very interesting, and gives you an idea of who they were. I wonder, if the cold war never ended, would all of the land in the world eventually be divided between the soviets of the Americans... two super powers that dominate absolutely everything- seems dangerous. Great topic!-JLR

I always thought that "the gift" was one of StanWiens weird little sayings, but now I see that I am mistaken. It's very cool to see how much the Soviets and the US spent on convincing countries to take their "gift". _MS

Interesting pick of an interesting cartoon. Please see me in class tomorow. - SW Hmmm, this isn't the real SW.... -SW Sienna White?


Great Analysis! I wonder why the steel workers are included in both gift bags - TP

How disturbing to see these two competing santa clauses! either way, good analyasis IF - LR


Unit Six

Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: Yankee Stadium

external image YankeeStadium-NewYork-SeatingBowl-990x442.jpeg
Perhaps one of the grandest monuments to the wealth and urban dynamism of the “Roaring Twenties” is the late, great Yankee Stadium. After an unhappy ten years of sharing the “New York Polo Grounds” with the New York Giants, the fastest growing club in professional baseball, the New York Yankees, decided to build a park of their own in 1923. Designed by the Osborne Engineering Company of Cleveland, Ohio, this structure would permanently revolutionize the architecture of the world’s meeting grounds and large public spaces. The first ever three tiered sports venue, Yankee Stadium also holds the title of the first athletic venue termed a “stadium.” With an advertised capacity of 70,000, which would place it in the fifty largest American stadiums even today, Yankee Stadium was a sight to behold. Encased by 20,000 square yards of cement, it was said that it was “impenetrable to all human eyes, save those of aviators.” Though the triple tiers did not originally reach either foul pole, the facility was expanded in the off season of 1926-27, giving the park an aura of impenetrability both inside and out. Throughout the 1920s, the ballpark spent much of its time at 120-130% capacity, as New Yorkers came out in droves to watch Yankees legend Babe Ruth lead the club to four World Series championships. “The House That Ruth Built” survived until 2008, when demolition began and the Yankees moved into their new home, a $1.5 billion behemoth (designed by Kansas City-based Populous) blessed with a similarly imposing design and, most importantly, the same white metal frieze (pictured) that lined the top roofs of the 1923 “Cathedral of Baseball.”

Nice topic. Its interesting to think about how much baseball affected the spirits of people during the war. Baseball was one of their outs and Babe Ruth and the Yankee Stadium was one of the most well known.~MG

Very interesting topic Ian. I had no idea that Baseball was that big that long ago.

I had no idea that the stadium was that big, and its fascinating how when times are darker entertainment seems to blossom as a kind of shield. HRM
Cool topic. I wonder if there was another big worldwide war, which American sport, if any, would provide a home front moral boost.-PM
SO great, I can't even right now. I think you really hit the nail on the head with this one. The facts and analysis flow together so well. --FB
Depression Stories!

external image Funny_farm_(film_poster).jpgAfter failing to contact my grandparents, I found a few exceptional depression anecdotes from the Elgy family of Wisconsin. Russell Elgy, my brother's friend, has an 86 year-old father who came of age during the depression. These are the stories Russell told me about his father and grandparents:

- His father was half Native American and was born under a wagon during the depression because they couldn't afford a hospital or midwife.

- His father remembers bandaging his cuts as a child with tree sap and old socks because they couldn't afford bandages.

- His father continues to eat apple cores to this day.

- His father and grandfather had to carry Russell's grandmother around the house on their back. She needed a wheelchair, but even if they could have afforded it. the doors in their house were not wide enough to accommodate one.

- His grandfather went crazy during the Great Depression but there wasn't enough money to send him to an asylum, which were rare anyway. He ended up being sent to a farm where crazy people lived, and became the leader of the group. This kind of living arrangement gave rise to the term "funny farm," meaning insane asylum, popularized by the very mediocre 1988 Chevy Chase film of the same name.

  • Okay eating apple cores is not a Depression thing I do that all the time it's called NOT BEING WASTEFUL. The wheelchair one is pretty amazing. Nice job actually taking the time to research personal Depression stories! ES

Pfft, and people say old socks aren't useful. Great work, my friend. Fascinating Depression stories all around, I must say. These people must have had an interesting time adjusting to the post-war world, once everything had ostensibly gone back to a relative "normal", an age of prosperity that was entirely foreign to the children of the 30's. Might this have contributed to the huge comeback of the culture of excess and a massiv e surge in virtually everything commercial in the 50's? -L.C.B.

I still really enjoy everything about these stories, especially the source. Let's make an eruv soon. -EV

These are some really....interesting stories. I've always kind of wanted a "crazy uncle" story to tell, and now I've most certainly got one. On a different note, the concept of "funny farms" reminds me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Had the treatment of mentally disabled or incapacitated individuals improved at this point in American history, or were such individuals still just "tucked away"? - M2C2

Mr Porter definitely ate the apple cores-his reasoning was that it would help him build immunity to cyanide poisoning-CB

Primary Source: Speech in the House of Representatives on the 18th Amendment

external image newspaper1.jpg

"What is the object of this resolution? It is to destroy the agency that debauches the youth of the land and thereby perpetuates its hold upon the Nation. How does the resolution propose to destroy this agent? In the simplest manner.... It does not coerce any drinker. It simply says that barter and sale, matters that have been a public function from the semicivilized days of society, shall not continue the debauching of the youth. Now, the Liquor Trust are wise enough to know that they can not perpetuate their sway by depending on debauching grown people, so they go to an organic method of teaching the young to drink. Now we apply exactly the same method to destroy them. We do not try to force old drinkers to stop drinking, but we do effectively put an end to the systematic, organized debauching of our youth through thousands and tens of thousands of agencies throughout the land. Men here may try to escape the simplicity of this problem. They can not. Some are trying to defend alcohol by saying that its abuse only is bad and that its temperate use is all right. Science absolutely denies it, and proclaims that drunkenness does not produce one-tenth part of the harm to society that the widespread, temperate, moderate drinking does. Some say it is adulteration that harms. Some are trying to say that it is only distilled liquors that do harm. Science comes in now and says that all alcohol does harm; that the malt and fermented liquors produce vastly more harm than distilled liquors, and that it is the general public use of such drinks that has entailed the gradual decline and degeneracy of the nations of the past."

This is a 1914 speech by Richmond Hobson, a representative from Alabama, addressing the prohibition amendment, which the Democratic congressman supported. The claims he makes in support of his condemnation of alcohol are truly remarkable. He claims that the prohibition amendment will clean up America by creating a young generation that is fundamentally opposed to drinking. His argument, indeed, rests of the promise of the new generation. By claiming that alcohol producers have engaged in “systematic, organized debauching of our youth” he attempts to stir up outrage at these companies. After developing this moral argument, he plunges into (supposedly) factual evidence of the evils of drinking, claiming that science has proven that the danger of alcohol comes from moderate drinking, not strictly alcoholism. It would be interesting to know what kind of study he is referencing, and whether this was a prevalent viewpoint of the day. Today, we grow up believing that alcohol is okay in moderation and at the right time. Were children of the 20th century raised to think otherwise? Was there ever time to build a generation of Americans, as Hobson refers to, that were averse to drinking? It’s difficult to know what to think of the prohibition amendment. On one hand, we must respect the power a cultural movement must wield to produce a constitutional amendment. However, it must go down as a failed (and somewhat foolish) experiment. Furthermore, the amendment's surprise is not limited to its practical implications. Symbolically, the banning of such a tremendously popular substance (even one with addictive qualities) would appear to many Americans, past and present, to overstep the bounds of good limited government. Perhaps the moral overtones of this speech can provide the beginning of an explanation for how prohibition found such success.


Unit Five

Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: America's First Ballparks

external image hilltop_PC_TW.jpg
In the late nineteenth century, new ideas about work, rest, and leisure invaded American culture, which resulted in Americans flocking to new, public forms of entertainment and diversion. Perhaps the most notable of these early American cultural spectacles was the rise of baseball to cultural prominence. As the game developed into a spectator sport, means of accommodating large crowds of people had to be created. The roots of many stadiums, theaters, and halls, buildings we now see as commonplace, can be traced to the dawn of a new American entertainment culture in the 1880s and 1890s.

The very first stadiums in America were wooden baseball parks. These were modestly sized, accommodating no more than four or five thousand fans. They were, as the name suggests, constructed mainly out of wood, but relied on the structural integrity of steel and iron frames to hold them up. They mostly consisted of one lower deck with a roof, though some larger parks included a small second tier. They were constructed out of wood because, before the formation of the American Association (later to be come the American League) or National League, very few local clubs had the requisite capital to build with anything else. These early teams probably were not much considering the long term importance of their ballparks when they went up. Though stadiums are essential to the identity of modern sports teams across the globe, they were, at the outset, seen as little more than a quick and easy response to growing demand to watch the game. Because of this short-term mindset, the threats wood construction posed to the longevity of these structures were rarely considered. Wood would age and dry up relatively quickly, making these stadiums exceptionally susceptible to fire. Out of the 20-30 association ballparks constructed before 1900, three were destroyed by fire and two more damaged at some point. Some parks were rebuilt with supposedly fire-resistant materials, including Polo Grounds III in New York and National League Park in Philadelphia. But after this short-lived trend, the industrial might of steel and concrete took over the stadium industry, and have remained the materials of choice for over a century. No wooden ballparks still exist.

These first ballparks, now the sites of car junkyards, interstates, hospitals, parking lots, and high schools, wouldn't have been entirely unfamiliar to us. The were set up, like baseball stadiums today, with the majority of seats in slanted banks along the first and third baselines and behind home plate, with some seats scattered just beyond the fence. And much like the Boise Hawks' Memorial Stadium, the fences were covered in advertisements for local businesses. Despite the fact that team names consisted of "Chicago White Stockings" and "Boston Beeneaters," we might all have felt perfectly at home watching a game in one of America's first shrines to our national pastime.

Lots of great adjectives on your part, Ian. This is a really interesting document I'm glad you found i

Way to dig deeper Ian, quality stuff! It’s a shame none of these historical ballparks still exist, darn you wood and your poor qualities... haha i’d like to know more about the “Boston Beeneaters”, that’s quite the team name! Nice work historian!- JLR

I never even considered that ballparks would be made out of wood; I always though that they were originally designed with steel and made to last. Thank you for enlightening me on this life changing fact. -MS

Primary Source: KKK Threat Letter, circa 1868
external image KKKThreatFinal.jpg.CROP.article920-large.jpg

"Notice, To Jeems, Davie, you must be, a good boy and quit hunting on Sunday and shooting your gun in the night, you keep people from sleeping. I live in a big rock above the Ford of the Creek. I went from Lincoln County during the War I was Killed at Manassus in 1861. I am here now as a Locust in the day Time and at night I am a Ku Klux sent here to look after you and all the rest of the radicals and make you know your place. I have got my eye on you every day, I am at the Ford of the creek every evening From Sundown till dark I want to meet you there next Saturday tell platt Madison we have, a Box. For him and you. We nail all, radicals up in Boxes and send them away to K K K - there is. 200 000 ded men retured to this country to make you and all the rest of the radicals good Democrats and vote right with the white people you have got it to do or leave this country no nigger is safe unless he Joins the Democratic Club then you will be safe and have friends. Take heed and govern yourself accordingly and give all your Friends timely warning. –Ku, Ku, Klux, Klan"

This threat sent from an anonymous Ku Klux Klan member to a black elected official in Lincoln County, Georgia demonstrates the level of Southern disgust directed at reconstruction-era state governments. This letter, sent just after the state elections of 1867 and 1868, makes it abundantly clear that the Klan did not appreciate being governed by people they viewed as threatening and disgusting. In fact, these elections were what most directly spurred the organization of the Klan. Southerners saw a number of African-Americans and freedmen sympathizers elected, and responded negatively. Though this letter is clearly racist and despicable, it is more notable for its clear outside political implications. This kind of threat was not an exclusively racial matter, as we assume in the modern day. Rather, it is a political statement, a cowardly method of coping with a government that was viewed as oppressive, threatening, and foreign. It is tied to the Southern disdain for opportunist Northern carpetbaggers, who made the voyage south to take advantage of lucrative positions in forced reconstruction-era state governments. The disgusting death threats that appear in this letter are not only an indication of racism, but a sign of deep distress over the South’s perceived loss of political power and cultural identity.

What a great analysis Fauchedawg! I can always count on you for something great! I wonder if the spelling mistakes are actually secret KKK code and are actually part of some larger conspiracy? -JN

Lots of great adjectives on your part, Ian. This is a really interesting document, I'm glad you found it...i wonder if the grammatical incorectness of the letter was intentional, or just indicative of the lack of education of these white southerners in the KKK. I also find it surprising that this Klan member said that as long as blacks were part of the Democratic Party, they were safe...I thought they were against blacks in any political party. Nice job Ian! ES

Wow, not something you see everyday! Also, I spy some alliteration and some snazzy word choice on your part--applause for you. This document really makes the KKK real, and even more threatening. It is so personal; I would be sufficiently intimidated if I were to receive it. However, you can almost draw parallels between the KKK in the South and the Political Bosses of the South. Both gained supporters through recruiting minorities, and making their lives easier if they complied. Both under the table, shady, and even illegal forms of government, it is very interesting that they emerged at the same time. -EV


Unit Four

Historian Points: 9/9

Primary Source: 1864 Political Cartoon, "Columbia Makes Her Choice"

external image the-two-plarforms-columbia.jpg

This political cartoon targets the paths that Lincoln and the Democratic candidate McClellan envisioned for America in the 1864 election, mocking the ideas (and stature) of McClellan. Lincoln, a gentleman to the last, offers to guide Columbia (the symbol of America) across the chasm of war, offering the safe option of the “Union Plank.” McClellan’s option, on the other hand, seems somewhat more treacherous. He suggests that Lady Columbia cross his bridge, a questionable looking combination of war democracy and peace democracy. Meanwhile, Napoleon III of France and John Bull of Britain suggest she take McClellan’s option, presumably because they know it will fail.

The goal of the cartoon is to mock the Democrats, who were split between two distinct and seemingly irreconcilable stances. The Peace Democrats, or Copperheads, believed that a gentler stance should be taken in regards to southern secession. They argued that union could be achieved by two-sided negotiation and compensation. The War Democrats supported the policies of President Lincoln but still identified with the greater Republican Party. This incongruity presented a challenge for McClellan, who was forced to represent two entirely separate political entities at once. The artist is arguing that to successfully combine two such incongruous ideologies would be an impossible task, and one that would lead to deeper and more destructive war.

The cartoon, however, has its flaws. It seems to claim that McClellan’s stance was a combination of those of the War Democrats and Peace Democrats. In reality, the election of 1864 saw the creation of the Union Party, which largely absorbed the War Democrats, leaving McClellan to represent mainly the peaceful Copperheads. The reason the artist may have felt justified in taking this stance is that McClellan himself was more of a War Democrat who was forced to represent a portion of his party which he disagreed with.

Good analysis here Ian. I agree. McClellan is certainly an interesting foil to Lincoln in history. -SW

Very Interesting. It really shows the political conflict of the time. Its always funny to see how reporters and comic artists are bias and advocate for their belief. ~MG

What I find intriguing is the ambiguity of the cartoon's percieved fallacy. It seems like a careless mistake to lump both Peace and War Democrats together, especially since, as you said, after the formation of the Union Party, only Peace Democrats were effectively left standing. However, could it possibly represent not only that McClellan was one with War Democrat sensibilities, but that his opinions and status were sufficiently malleable to the point that he could easily be rendered a "puppet" of the Copperheads in spite of his own conviction or public platform? -L.C.B.

Good criticism of the editorial--everyone is forced to pander and exaggerate their beliefs for political success. - HSC

Most triumphantly done fellow historian! I especially appreciate the use of extremes in this cartoon, ie Lincoln being enormously tall and skinny, green-bean-esque, and McClellan being a midget. Though I am rather short, I believe my McClellan genes have excelled since the Civil War era to be at my current stature. Also, how do you think this cartoon mirrors the condition/roles of women around, during, and maybe even after the war? -EV

Poor Lady Liberty, both of those "bridges" look pretty sketchy. Especially over the "Abyss of War" which sounds immensely dramatic.... Couldn't they have put railings on the planks or something....? Anyhow, excellent analysis and critical review of the artist's bias and accuracy. Lovely cartoon, and well done! --JA

What I find particularly interesting is the different views of one or from the North and South. Robert E Lee famously said "it is good that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it.", In spite of being in general I do think we sums up what was the opinion of many Southerners at the time, or as Northerners were reluctant to go to war seen it as a large and treacherous abyss.--FB

Good analyasis, and good primary source Ian! Where do you find these things? -LR

Great analysis on the two types of democrats. HRM

Topic of Interest: Civil War Photography- Technology and Cultural Impact

The Civil War is known for being a premiere for a number of tremendous new battlefield technologies. One such advance is battlefield photography, which exploded during the war, bringing amazing new dynamics to the public view of combat. The Civil War is considered to be the first major conflict in the history of the world to be extensively photographed.

The photographic process of the 1860s was a daunting undertaking to say the least. Photographers like Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan ventured to battlefields with their heavy equipment (including their darkroom) trailing behind them in wagons. Photos were taken and stored by the wet plate photographic process, in which a plate of glass was sensitized to light by a chemical called collodion, immersed in silver nitrate, exposed to light, developed in pyrogallic acid, and protected and varnished by sodium thiosulfate. This would create a glass negative which could later be stored and printed on paper. Each chemical had to be mixed by hand by the photographer. Though we may see this technology as antiquated and overly complicated, it was a shockingly easy method compared to the previous (highly limited options) for photography.

external image link153c.jpg

Though there weren’t many photographers who had the resources or specialized skills to capture life on the battlefields of the Civil War, the few who did played a massive role. It was the first time the public had been able to experience such graphic, honest depictions of war from the comfort of their own home. The photographers, however, were unlikely to provide the public viewer with action scenes. Rather, they would capture the troops marching into battle or simple scenes of encampments. Many of their most famous pictures were captured on battlefields after the fighting had ceased. These photos found their way into magazines or newspapers on occasion, but were mainly displayed in galleries. This exceptionally realistic medium and immersive museum experience combined to make a significant impact on all who witnessed it. The New York Times even proclaimed of the most famous photographer, Brady, that “if he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.” Photography also aided generals, who occasionally hired photographers to help them scout natural features or transportation lines. Many soldiers also had pictures of themselves taken as they headed to war for their families to keep. This kind of photography was a slightly more open profession than actual battlefield photography, which was dominated by no more than five men. Each of these few men, however, was instrumental in the complete transformation of the role of public perception in warfare.

History! This was a great account. Did you know that people didn't used to smile for photographs because it took so long to take the photo that people couldn't hold the expression? Now you know. It's interesting how much photography revolutionized the media industry, conveniently in time for the Civil War. Also it's weird thinking about how few photos we see of Afghanistan nowadays. -SW

Wow, great discussion! I've always loved photography so this was especially interesting to me. This new use of photography must have had a tremendous affect on American society; I wonder how people reacted to have such eye-opening photographs taken and shown throughout the nation. ~AR

Its amazing how the Civil War was one of the first wars to have easily taken photos. I wonder how the public perceived these images. Its one thing to hear of the war but another to actually see it.~MG

Which five men dominated the industry? You mentioned Brady and his powerfully moving images, but what of the other men? It's surprising that none of those photographers were shot. Maybe their was a code of war in place? Southern honor? -WW

Nice work Ian! It’s really amazing to think that the public was finally able to experience they war visually, rather chilling! That is a great point SW brought up! Why don’t we see many pictures of Afghanistan or Syria! I think pictures speak much louder than words, and we need to always document out history with them! Once again quality work historian!-JLR

Some of the most powerful and shocking photographs are from the Civil War. I've always found the photographic documentation of war to be fascinating, for all the power lies in the hands of the man with the camera. He decides the frame, the context, the filter, the image that the public will see. How dangerous was it to be a photographer? -CB

Unit Three
Historian Points: 9/9

Primary Source: excerpt from George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! Chapter VII, Liberty and Slavery

external image 0149colortitle.jpg

"Paley defines slavery to be, “An obligation to labor for the benefit of the master, without the contract or consent of the servant.” The sick, the superannuated, the infirm, and the infant slaves are under no such obligation in theory or practice. The master is under an obligation, legally, theoretically and practically, to labor for them. Therefore, the master of twenty slaves is always a slave himself. If he be a good man, he is the happier for performing his duties as slave to those classes of his slaves. But what becomes of that slavery of the ancients and of China, where the slave, by actual contract, sells himself? This is not slavery according to Paley.

The great and glaring defect, however, of Paley's definition is, that he omits the obligation on the master to provide for and protect the slave. 'Tis but half of a definition, and that half false. It does often happen that the obligations of the master are more onerous than those of the slave. Yet Paley omits those obligations altogether. The slave, when capable to do so, must work for the master; but the master, at all times, must provide for the slave. If incapable of doing so, the law gives the slave a new master and protector. His situation is less honorable, but far more secure than that of the master.

Democracy and liberty are antagonistic; for liberty permits and encourages the weak to oppress the strong, whilst democracy proposes, so far as possible, to equalize advantages, by fairly dividing the burdens of life, and rigidly enforcing the performance of every social duty by every member of society, according to his capacity and ability."

This excerpt from George Fitzhugh’s book Cannibals All! explains Fitzhugh’s belief that slavery is a social system that works to the benefit of society as a whole, and indeed sometimes to the benefit of slaves themselves. It discusses the idea that slaves are obligated to work for the master only when they are able, whereas the master must provide for the slaves all the time, and must risk losing his workers if he does not fulfill this obligation. In this sense, Fitzhugh argues, slaves are in a position of security, safety, and consistency. Masters are the ones subject to the concerns and variables of the outside world. This argument incorporates some of the most common defenses of slavery. First, Fitzhugh responds to the idea that slaves are not compensated by stating that slaves must be provided for and protected by their master. Next, he trivializes the pains and injustices of slavery by painting the master-slave relationship in an artificially bright light. He makes it sound like the two are so interdependent that a master wouldn't dare cause harm to his slaves. This conveniently supports his claim that the position of the slave is “far more secure than that of the master.”

As for the most widely cited and most important criticism of slavery, the issue of basic human liberty, Fitzhugh’s response is very different. He makes no effort to contend that slaves have any measure of freedom. Rather, he claims that the system of slavery is not one based on the concept of liberty but on the concept of democracy. Southerners generally believed that the new definitions of liberty and equality that were emerging in the North were artificial and dangerous concepts. Slavery, according to Fitzhugh, is only obligated to uphold the concept of democracy, and in his analysis, this means the functioning of a social system for the benefit of the entity or state as a whole. Democracy, he believes, is meant to fairly divide the burdens of life “according to his capacity and ability.” Unfortunately, this argument requires one simple belief to maintain its legitimacy; it requires Southerners to believe that blacks are the ones who should be given the most menial, backbreaking burdens of society. It rests on the concept that blacks do, in fact, have the lesser capacity and ability. Assuming you subscribe to this unfortunate notion, slavery seems to be an admirable and honorable system.

This seems to be a legitimate argument. The slaves were, oftentimes, the investments of their owners, who had paid for them initially. This investment was that of a labor force, but also caused the slaveowners to take responsibility for every aspect of their slaves' lives, making them provide food, housing, and care for them in addition to work. In this sense, the master had an equal, or greater, duty to provide for his slaves, or the investment would not be as profitable. However, if this argument were to be less easily refuted on the platform of humanity and racial equality, it would have to be able to go both ways. Whites would have to have an equal risk of being purchased as subservient labor, and the system would not have to be based on merely skin color. That is where the true racism and dispute lies--mere pigments of color. -EV

Dispute Fitzhugh's claims that the slave was "more secure than that of the master", the system of slavery also made sure that the slaves were not secure in their humanity and human rights. Despite the argument that slave owners were to take of their slaves, the reality is harsher. Slaveowners bought and owned slaves to make a profit, at the expense of another life, and as such usually provided the bare minimum to sustain working life with the limbs of their slaves. Further, slaves were considered property and not only an investment, but a commodity. Even if the Masters were to go bankrupt and fail at their business, they could always sell of the slave to the next owner, perpetuating the slave's loss of value to life and protecting their comforts. -WW

What a curious piece; an excellent representation of the Southern viewpoint, nonetheless (where did you find this? I'd love to see more period pieces on this issue if it was from an archive). Really, it highlights two very quintessentially Southern ideas: that of economic pragmatism on the plantation and that of a strictly-regulated socioeconomic hierarchy, with slaves as an integral--but voiceless--part of said hierarchy. The latter seems to stem from the Southern "cavalier" culture, one based upon aristocratic ideals wherein the upper crust lives a life of dignity and extravagance whilst providing economically for all the lower classes, including the slaves, in a characteristically "paternal" manner. Taking slavery out of the equation would be equivalent, to the average Southern genteel, to removing a load-bearing column from a building. -L.C.B.

WOW!!!!!!!!!!, this was very interesting both in content and analysis. I can not help but notice the Romantic philosophy and the way it influenced his writing. Is seem as is globalization is alive and well in the 19th century. --FB


Topic of Interest: Was the northern labor system oppressive?

On numerous occasions in class, we arrived at a discussion of oppression. There were many among us who believed that the “wage slaves” of the North, those whose dependence on factory wages was total and immediate, were “oppressed.” I objected to that notion on the basis that there was no oppressor that could have been blamed for the struggles of the lower classes, excepting possibly the capitalist economic system as a whole. This explanation, to me, seems rather ridiculous, so my topic of interest is an exploration of how historians define oppression and whether or not the position of wage slaves in the North would fall under most scholars’ definition of the concept.

There are a variety of recognized forms of oppression. Institutionalized oppression is the easiest to understand; it is the creation of iniquities by recognized laws and customs. Systematic oppression is much like institutionalized oppression but applies more directly to governments and to unjust threats or uses of force by people in positions of established power. When these exertions of power result in the subordination of a social group, it is classified as systematic oppression. Internalized oppression is the creation of a feeling of inferiority in a social group due to external oppressive forces. Internalized oppression would be difficult to prove in the system of factory work, and the other two simply do not apply to the situation. There were certainly no laws, no police force, no decrees of authority, to keep factory workers immobile and dependent on their pay. It is even a stretch to call it oppression by the customs of the day, as the system was in such consistent flux and growth. There were no established customs of factory work, it was just a system that people ended up in.

This leaves one more type of oppression, with much more relevance to the situation. Social oppression is defined as a “relationship of dominance and subordination between categories of people in which one benefits from the systematic abuse, exploitation, and injustice directed toward the other.” Wage slaves, we can be sure, were exploited. They were paid artificially low wages and kept in sweatshops and on factory floors by their absolute need for the wage they were paid. Poverty and starvation threatened them, but they were equally disadvantaged by the social stigma associated with constant factory work.

Many people, under this definition, would support the idea that Northern wage slavery can be considered oppression. Many historians, however, contend that factory workers “are neither wronged nor oppressed,” as free market economic systems will always create inequalities. Much like other lower classes throughout the world and the history of man, Northern factory workers had little social mobility, little choice in occupation, and little choice in living practices. At what point we call this natural economic disparity slavery and/or oppression, though, is up in the air.

Thanks for reading more into this Ian. I think that the idea that the northern market economy oppressed its workers is generally proliferated through a modern mindset, and may not have been a general feeling of the time. MT.

Our free-market economy makes it challenging to label and group together "oppressors," for our concepts of freedom and the ability of every individual to follow the "pursuit of happiness" create false ideals of success for the participants in our economy. Wage slaves were under the impression that they were striving for economic mobility/profit, and I would argue that this caused them to oppress themselves. They subscribed to the tedious, repetitive menial labor of the industrialized factory economy, and in this way made themselves easily replaceable pawns in the new economy. Social mobility was not an option when such a large population of individuals, from women to immigrants, was available as a work force. In this way, though the factory system did not directly "oppress" them, it did increasingly limit social mobility, but because of the lower classes' willingness to participate in the new economy itself. Would you argue there is an oppressive force today in America? And if so, what is it? -EV

I think that it is inevitable for a society to not be oppressed when going through any kind of Industrial Revolution. From Europe, to the US, to East Asia, and currently South Asia there has always been a trend of industry exploiting the workforce. This simply has to do with the nature of the workforce that a marginally industrialized society provides. For instance, in China there is an incredible amount of people working in conditions so bad that the factories have nets below the windows to stop suicides, but until the population adapts or fights against the working conditions (unions, strikes, etc) then there are very few options for the working people. So yes, the northern labor system was oppressive but it wasn't surprising or even bad that it was this way; it was simply the way things happen. MS

Sigh. So here it begins - the roots of capitalist exploitation, already infecting America like a disease, leading to racism, poverty, and yes - global nuclear war. Actually, thats just something we talk about in debate. Really, despite the troubles of this labor system, it did not seem too bad after all - it was better than the slaves in the south had! -LR


Unit Two

Historian Points: 9/9

Primary Source: From the Last Will and Testament of George Washington

July 9,1799

“Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will and desire that all the Slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, tho' earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages with the Dower Negroes, as to excite the most painful sensations, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same Proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the Dower Negroes are held, to manumit them. And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves; it is my Will and desire that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably cloathed and fed by my heirs while they live.... The Negroes thus bound, are (by their Masters or Mistresses) to be taught to read and write; and to be brought up with some useful occupation .... And I do hereby expressly forbid the Sale, or transportation out of [Virginia], of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever. And I do moreover most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the Survivors of them, to see that this clause respecting Slaves, and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place; without evasion, neglect or delay....”

external image geo-washington-and-slaves-part-iii_leader.jpg

This excerpt from George Washington’s will, the section dealing with the slaves he still owned upon his death, reveals a tremendous amount about the character of our first president. It is clear from his writing that he genuinely cared about his slaves and hoped the best for them. He requests that most be freed, that all be given an education, and that those who cannot support themselves be cared for by the Washington family. He also expressly forbids the sale of any of his slaves after his death.

Washington, in fact, was the only one of the seven Founding Fathers to emancipate his slaves. Throughout his political career he may have always been a privileged slave owner, but he was also a consistent advocate for the gradual abolition of slavery. This contrast raises important questions about the stereotypes associate with early political divisions in America. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the grand statements of equality in the Declaration of Independence and one of the earliest champions of individual rights in America, failed to free more than five of his slaves, and all of those freed came from a family in which Jefferson is strongly suspected of having fathered children. Washington, who certainly leaned toward the Federalists while in office, fails to meet the stereotype of the standard Federalist; in all his dealings he seems to be direct, honest, and considerate, even with slaves. This document certainly makes it clear that he wasn't the aloof elitist many Federalists were cast as.

Nice review on this Ian. It does bring up an important point: can a slave owner be "nice" to his slaves? In other words, is there any humanity in owning another person? Perhaps GW was that guy. He couldn't see a way out of owning slaves so he decided to make the best of it. There still is the stigma though of "owning" a human. -SW

Did Washington ever formally push for abolishing slavery? I love that Jefferson is such a hypocrite. Perhaps Washington is the perfect mix between the two parties. MT.

Ian-good document, I've always wondered what Washington specifically expressed in his will regarding slaves. Although I agree that Washington possessed a sufficient amount of rectitude, is it possible that this was a publicity stunt? It was pretty obvious that slavery could not continue as a viable economic labor force indefinitely, so could Washington, having known this, sought the reverence of future generations by being "the only one of the seven Founding Fathers to emancipate his slaves"?--ES

Its Interesting to analyze the two side-by-side. Its also good to know that Washington was not a conformist. I wonder if they could have passed the Constitution and abolished slavery? I also wonder how active he was in abolishing slavery?-MG

Very interesting topic! I wonder how the emancipated slaves of Washington and the other six presidents emancipated slaves were treated in comparison to other emancipated slaves? Coupled with this, I wonder it they kept their emancipation for the rest of their lives, or if they were forced back into slavery? -TP

Great analysis Ian, John R. Did a similar topic maybe you could discuss this with him. I find it interesting that Washington who was arguably the most traditional and formal of the founding fathers was the one who emancipated slaves. I wonder why he did it?, Was it possibly religious motivation?--FB

external image Aaron-Burr-9232241-1-402.jpg

Topic of Interest: What Was Aaron Burr’s Master Plan?

In 1805, the former vice president Aaron Burr was apprehended and charged with treason for a variety of reasons that remain unclear to this day. What we know is that after having politically and socially estranged himself (thanks in no small part to his duel with Alexander Hamilton), he was forced to make a getaway. Along with his friend James Wilkinson, the commanding General of the Army, he moved to a base on an island in the Ohio River from which he tried to convince anyone he met to join his planned adventures in Mexico. His scheme was to claim the land that had been leased to him by the Spanish government and form a small, independent nation there. At some point in this process he joined forces with a group of criollos bent on conquering Mexico.

This plan seemed to lose importance to him, however, and he soon turned to gaining power over the Mississippi and New Orleans. Though we will never know his ultimate goals, there is evidence to suggest that he was interested in leading the secession of the states of the Southwest along with parts of Mexico. He wanted to form a self sufficient, agrarian community separate from the American system. Some of his communication with a Spanish mister indicates that his ultimate goal was the capture of Washington DC. Though it would have certainly provided a good story today, we are fortunate Burr’s ideas never quite panned out. He was turned in by Wilkinson and some of his other most important confidants, and, despite his rather prompt acquittal, the Burr Conspiracy was no more.

A very interesting topic of interest! Burr has always entertained me, because trying to get get some states to secede is such an inconspicuous way of avoiding the consequences of killing somebody. Surely nobody would remember... That bit about him actually communicating with the Spanish minister is interesting, were they ever actually working together or did Spain just regard Burr as a sort of nutter? -MA

Way to shed some light on a really interesting topic! I find it difficult to believe that a man as well versed in politics would think it feasible to form an independent agrarian community in the 1790s, Burr must have been delusional near the end of his life! E.S.

Well, this is quite the social faux pas. Regardless, one thing that I have failed to find any indication that Burr had planned for anything after his rebellion. It seems to me that Burr was striking out against a society that he felt had wronged him, without any true notion of creating a stable society. Also, Wilkinson turned Burr in when he felt that there was absolutely no chance of the plan actually happening, and that Burr was just bluffing. -WW

What, indeed, were his plans? It sounds like he lost his marbles after he shot Hamilton. Any sane person would be able to comprehend how insane his plans were. -KD

Was Burr just power hungry, or was there a specific reason for his desire to secede? and did he betray his followers somehow so that they would turn him in? -LR

Great writing Fauchdawg, while it does seem that Burr "lost his marbles" in the later end of his life, I wonder what the actual reality of seceding from the union and creating a separate and independent community? J.N.

Nice Topic Ian, Burr is an odd man... I wonder why he charges he faced caused him to act so strangely? how do you go from a treason charge and then decide the best way to fix it is to create a new agrarian nation, what a nut! I wonder what his plans were to annex Washington DC? Did he really have large enough a following to support his whack job goals? Nice work historian!- JR

It's indeed curious that a secessionist would come from the north - so much for stereotypes! Perhaps an even greater conspiracy lies in the 3 "Zinns" committed by our history teachers...I certainly hadn't heard of Burr and his great conspiracy before this class. Great analysis and insight! -MM

‍‍Unit One‍‍

Historian points: 9/9

external image AWEJackCompassFountainSearch.jpg

Topic of interest: Why did the Mayflower land at Plymouth?

In class we discussed potential motivations and justifications for the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock rather than Jamestown, its original destination. There are, in fact, conflicting accounts of storms, confused navigation, and even deliberate escape from the authority of the British crown and Anglican Church. However, it is highly unsatisfying to lack consensus on the story of America’s most famous boat and most famous settlers. Stories of the original pilgrims abound, so the narrative of their journey must be somewhere for us to find.

As it turns out, the arduous voyage of the Mayflower started in the waters of Southampton, England, where, shortly after departure from London, the ship accompanying the Mayflower, the Speedwell, sprang a leak on two separate occasions. After a month of repairs, consolidation onto one ship and constant weather concerns, the Mayflower departed. This allowed only enough time to arrive in November, 1620, just in time for winter. Even in September, western gales make the North Atlantic highly dangerous for sailing,

This late arrival, however, does not explain their woeful lack of precision, correct? As it turns out, the Puritans sailed into the American coast at Plymouth Rock, latitude 42 degrees north. The patent given to them by the Virginia Company of London provided for settlement between 38 and 41 degrees north. While we hear that the Mayflower was wildly off course, this was a routine mistake. While it was a minor miscalculation, their repeated attempts to sail south were foiled by the horrible winter weather ‍‍‍‍‍(which they hadn't anticipated encountering). Running out of supplies and lacking a home for winter, the passengers of the boat made the easy decision to settle where they knew they would survive.‍‍‍‍‍

The last piece of the puzzle is the Mayflower Compact, which some would cite as evidence that the Puritans on the ship had meant to establish a theocracy all along. It is more likely that, as the largest cohesive contingent aboard, the Puritans naturally gained authority and the 46 “Saints” established a society based on their most essential beliefs- their religious ideology. After all, the colony required at least a small dose of political legitimacy, which it was clearly lacking in, and which the compact provided. A written declaration was essential to the colony’s survival.

Great explanation Ian! It is interesting to note the historical discrepancies over the settlement of Plymouth. This proves to be a more legitimate rationalization, than the Puritans having planned the deviating course all along. ES

Hey-oh Ian! I deeply enjoyed your analysis of what could be called one of history's biggest mysteries. Weather is one of those things that I think a lot of people overlook. I think that if I was on the ship, I would have endorsed the decision to bunker down for the winter, and maybe form a new colony. Though I do wonder why they didn't still try to meet up with Jamestown come spring. Keep up the excellent work. -SW

I'm glad you took up interest in this topic. It's interesting to think that they could be swayed by something as simple as a horrible winter, yet it's a nicely elegant explanation for what happened. Funny one of our founding colonies resulted from a simple navigation error. MT.


Primary Source

external image image048.jpg
“That the Salvages live a contended life.

A Gentleman and a traveller, that had been in the parts of New England for a time, when he returned againe, in his discourse of the Country, wondered, (as he said,) that the natives of the land lived so poorly in so rich a Country, like to our Beggars in England. Surely that Gentleman had not time or leisure while he was there truly to informe himself of the state of that Country, and the happy life the Salvages would leade were they once brought to Christianity. . . .

If our beggars of England should, with so much ease as they, furnish themselves with food at all seasons, there would not be so many starved in the streets, neither would so many gaoles [jails] be stuffed, or gallouses [gallows] furnished with poore wretches, as I have seen them. . . .

According to humane reason, guided only by the light of nature, these people leades the more happy and freer life, being void of care, which torments the mindes of so many Christians: They are not delighted in [[#|baubles]]external image arrow-10x10.png, but in usefull things.”

-Thomas Morton, New English Canaan, 1637

In this excerpt from the 1637 book New English Canaan, the lives and civilizations of Native Americans are described admiringly, a position not very often taken in the New England colonies. Thomas Morton, author of New English Canaan, argues that natives were well provided for, in touch with the earth, and generally extremely happy. Certainly, this was not a commonly held view in his area at the time. Throughout the history of the Puritan colonies violence between colonists and natives sprang up regularly, motivated by disdain from the colonists and resultant distrust from the Native Americans. Puritan doctrine did not emphasize conversion, and thus natives were rarely recognized in New England society. It is, thus, surprising that Morton, as a Puritan, would take such an empathetic stance. However, Morton made a life out of examining and criticizing ways of life in New England; he was one of the most vicious critics of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, even advocating in court for its charter to be revoked.

Morton argues that the lives of natives were, in a sense, more wholesome than those of their Christian counterparts. Though in the beginning he discusses the “happy life the Salvages would leade were they once brought to Christianity” he concludes that they were, in his estimation, happier, freer, and more guided by nature. This is a philosophy that we wouldn’t [[#|associate]]external image arrow-10x10.png with any British colonies (and especially not Puritan ones). We also wouldn’t expect this mindset from the Spanish, due to their emphasis on conversion. Perhaps the only Europeans that would share Morton’s views are the French, who were renowned for their genuine cultural connections with natives.

This is quite an intriguing source and analysis! It does seem odd that a Puritan would be so tolerant, and even as in this case fascinated, by another belief system. However, this proves that not everyone, and thus not every Puritan, was the same, which is refreshing because it seems that history and stories often end up grouping people like say, The Quakers, or the Puritans, or The British into one big lump without much acknowledgement for the individuals within each category. Great job with this! --JA
Nice analysis of this interesting primary source. I think the title is the most interesting thing of the document. I find it strange that Morton named his book New World Canaan; clearly implying that he thinks the settlers in the colonies felt they were going to a promised land, like when God led the Israelites to the land of Canaan. Judging by Morton’s idea, this would mean that people felt called by God to colonize America. Even if the colonists were provided for, that does not then permit them to virtually enslave the natives, kill them if they don’t convert within 10 seconds, and steal their land. Great analysis! -PM
What a fascinating document to run across. Given everything we've learned about European-native relations, particularly the tense relationship the Puritans and their native neighbors famously shared, one wouldn't expect such a tolerant, understanding take on the people who had occupied the continent alone before the Europeans' arrival. It makes sense that the Puritans wouldn't emphasize conversion, considering the contemptuous way they viewed the natives and how suspiciously they viewed outsiders, rather than "embracing" and trying to convert them. Of course, it's always important to remember that for nearly every rule there is an exception, even if those singularly, astonishingly enlightened views did not ultimately prevail. -L.C.B.