Sienna, you have a fantastic page here. I've really enjoyed reading it and I love your enthusiasm for history. Nice job! -SW

Unit 8
Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: Title IX
If you enjoy women's professional basketball as much as I do, you can thank Birch Bayh and the ingenious authors of Title IX for their selfless dedication to American women everywhere. The phrase "Title Nine" in of itself is synonymous with all things women. In fact my mom gets a magazine each month called, coincidentally, Title Nine. The entire publication is basically feminist propaganda, selling skorts, athletic dresses and other paddle boarding yoga-type gear. Beside each photo is a personal endorsement from another equality-loving mom.

Before it was a clothing company, though, Title IX was the name given to a passage of US law taking a remarkably firm stance on feminism. Up until 1972, women were treated as lesser, good-for-child-raising housewives with fewer rights and opportunities, etc, however, Title IX finally expressed a move in the right direction. While earlier Civil Rights movements helped African Americans finally dismantle the practically apartheid South, women felt they were left hanging. The world they lived in offered far too little opportunity. Most jobs were still limited to secretary or teacher work.

In 1972, when LBJ began to formulate some education reforms, NOW decided it was time to turn the tides. After some intense persuasion, LBJ agreed to include a clause explicitly demanding gender equality.

He came up with this:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

This especially left a resounding impact on athletics, and set a precedence for equal spending. Logically, any money that a federally funded college (like BSU) allocates for its beloved football team must carry an equivalent counterpart for another women's sport. There are ways to circumvent these requirements nowadays, but this kind of situation was Title IX's original premise.

Title IX has remained controversial throughout the years. On one hand we can be extremists and declare that "separate is never equal" and integrate everything. That's absurd. Yet on the other is the indisputable fact that men's sports receive more media attention, more money and more people. And this, of course, is by public choice. When given the choice between men and women's soccer, the majority of people choose men's: because they can run faster and kick farther, etc.

Title IX was created on the fairly progressive keystone that men and women are truly equal-- that I agree with. But I think that nowadays people abuse it, kind of the like the Confederate flag, and seek feminism to give women an advantage. Women that constantly highlight injustices just turn the entire movement into a joke. One time, a guy literally came up to me and said, "want to hear a good joke? Feminism." I also laughed. Title IX really just intended to create a level playing field. It wanted to provide the potential for women to do more-- but not the footstool.

Ah, so that's what that one sports shop is referencing (kidding, I knew that, just not the full scope of the significance). Always nice to see significant evidence of progress in women's issues. We can talk trends all day, but it's always nice to have some tactile evidence for a change. -L.C.B.

Great analysis, Sienna. - CH

This reminds me of another fascinating subject - women's wrestling. -HSC

I wonder how the creators of the original Title IV would feel knowing that their name was being shared by a women's clothing company. Just food for thought. E.S.

Great analysis! I agree with you that today people can use things, such as the Title IX, to seek aggressive advantageous feminism.-PM

I wonder how much conservative backlash LBJ got for this... -ED

Did Title IX include equality in the workforce? Or just silly things like sports? ES

The thing about equality in college sports is interesting. I keep seeing all of these schools with womens XC but none for men. And its weird. Maybe the idea has gone too far. -MG

It's funny though, unless it is University of Connecticut or some other like school, the scales are not equal. Men get the multi million dollar football stadium, and the women get the field-ball field 2 miles from the campus. MS

Nice job. In time I believe that the playing field will become more level, but just through the passage of time. -LG

Primary Source: Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" Speech

And the last that I'll read: "When we enter the moral equivalent of war, Mr. President, don't issue us BB guns."
These ten days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my long-standing concerns about our nation's underlying problems.
I know, of course, being president, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law -- and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Jimmy Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" speech was delivered before the American public on July 15th, 1979. Normally these speeches tend to be unapologetically bland and pander to everyone, but here Jimmy Carter takes a definite stance. His speech starts with an explanation of the prompt. Over the past week Carter had met with hundreds of Americans in an attempt to get a survey-like feel for the public's opinions. And instead of going belly-up and agreeing with everyone, Carter returns by saying the American public has lost grasp on what it means to be American.

The point of the speech is more than the energy crisis at hand. It is the "crisis of confidence" which swept America. The 1970s were a fairly terrible time. The Oil Embargo crippled the economy and since then the energy crisis had presented ongoing challenges. People doubted the strength of their country, a doubt which manifested in the stock market and their criticism. Americans had lost their sense of conformity throughout the 60s and the protest movement had fostered a general air of skepticism. I personally think that Carter took an admirable political risk to call America out on its cowardice. Not many people have the courage to tell America that they've failed to endure "a little sacrifice from everyone" and left the nation "abandoned like an orphan without support and without friend." Just look at his reference to an American mentioning "BB guns." What kind of lackluster spirit is that?

Carter outlines a plan without compromise. The agenda is clear: the US can no longer rely on foreign oil anymore. He decides to set and impose strict quotas that will never allow an embargo such as in 1973 to be so devastating. This speech is often cited as a classic example of liberal politics and contains a very Kennedy, ask-not feel.

(It's really a brilliant speech. If you have time I'd recommend reading it: Crisis of Confidence)

Nice primary source! this is very telling of what dire straits the American people were in at the time, and how their entire mentality about their nation would have changed. I recently watched this speech, and maybe it's just me, but let me tell you: Jimmy Carter is a spooky guy. He's been giving me the willies and personally I don't want to have to think about him anymore. -AR

Nice choice. Unfortunately it's hard to pick something about Carter and bring the good out of it.Great job! I thought he was a good speaker too.-PM

skip straight to :40 for the good stuff

What a great find! When they had nothing else, at least they had the bears! ~M2C2
Unit 7
Historian Points: 9/9

My Cousin: Famous
Throughout life I've come to the conclusion everyone has at least one interesting/talented/bigoted relative. Mine happens to be Ted Sorensen, Kennedy's speechwriter and confidante. (To be let in on a fun family secret: everyone jokes about how his name is always written "Sorenson" by journalists, especially Ted.)

Teddy* ended up working for Kennedy during his lowly senator days in Massachusetts in 1950. Teddy recalls he liked JFK because right off the bat, JFK had trusted Ted with a job of actual importance. From there, things escalated quickly. When Kennedy was encouraged to pursue presidential nomination, he toured the country and brought Ted in tow. During the next four years they would become great friends. Teddy said that he and Jack (JFK) " both had a sense of humor, liked to hear jokes and tell jokes... we both believed in progressive values, had some concern for the people at the bottom of the pyramid and not just pay attention to the people at the top, and we both believed in public service. We found we worked well together, and we both wanted him to win.” During this interim Ted honed his signature speech writing style and perfected his parallel rhetoric. JFK trusted him more and more as an adviser and a friend.

In 1960, JFK did win (barely) and suddenly Teddy (grown in a sod-roofed house) was in the White House, working as one of Jack's closest advisers. You might recall JFK's inaugural address, which is hailed as one of the best of all time. Good work, Ted. It turns out that he was actually brilliant. Everyone who was anyone was jealous of JFK. Even Nixon commented that a successful politician "needed a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time.” Robert Kennedy said that if "it was difficult, Ted Sorensen was brought in." Ted was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and told my Grandmom it was one of the most "stressful instances" of his life. Ted had to draft the letter to Nikita Khrushchev urging him to remove the missiles.

Matter of fact, Teddy seemed to have a knack for avoiding credit. What can I say, humility runs in the family. It's rumored he actually wrote Profiles of Courage and up to his death refused to specify who produced the famous "ask not" phrase. When JFK was assassinated, Ted resigned almost immediately, and for years was devastated. He did manage some impressive work as an international attorney, however, even working closely with Nelson Mandela at one point.

We look at some leaders and say they stand on the soldiers of giants. I like to think that Ted was one of those shoulders. He never sought the spotlight, only the pen. The immeasurable contribution he left on the Kennedy administration may never be recognized, but in the sense of success, and the reputation Jack has today, Teddy would be happy.

For fun commenting what about everyone name their favorite relative. If this sounds terrible you can just disregard that.

*an endearing nickname reserved for kin
an extrapolation

A Photo Album
sorensen kennedy.jpg
Kennedy's "I am a Berliner" speech. I'm 80% sure that's Ted in the background to Kennedy's left.

Wow incredible photos! You must be so proud to share your heritage with him, did your family have any of these original archives? E.S.

What an incredible connection! How fascinating to know that you are so few degrees of separation away from such intense and famous history. It's always slightly dazzling to learn about a classmate's connections; in a way, it' like meeting a minor celebrity and having a chat over tea and scones. Not sure why I imagined that last part. In any case, how amazing it is for you to have such intriguing connections and lineage. -L.C.B.

Wow! This is such a cool story! I knew very little about the man behind Kennedy's speeches, much less that you are related to him. This is fascinating and informative. -CJ

Incredible! History is always a little more interesting when you've got personal/family connections, and what a connection you have! Rolling with the Kennedy's! Nice!--M2C2

Well now I can't figure out how to change the text color. GOOD PERSONAL CONNECTION MATE. Wow, just think of all the background characters in history. I was wondering just today if Reagan really wrote his "tear down this wall" speech (which I'm going to bet he didn't), and if not, who did?! -EV

It is always eye-opening to be forced to recognize the men behind the scenes. I would never have considered the influence of the speech writer, instead focusing on the power or the orator themselves, and the power their voices could hold over our nation. You do have a rather interesting family-I can almost see the resemblance :P -CB

Sienna this is so cool that he was so close to everything going on. Sometimes its easy to forget that there are other people thinking up these great remembered speeches. -MG

Topic of Interest: The Navajo Code

I invite you to listen to the first 10 seconds of this Navajo speaking. If you like acapella singing you should listen longer. It sounds like sleep talking, you might think. I can't understand. Both your points are right. In a way, they were sleep talking, because the absurdly confusing Navajo language caught the dreams of our glorious nation.

Everyone's heard of the German's coding-machine, dubbed the "enigma." How ironic, because it turns out our code was the real enigma. During WW2 the US Marines fighting in the Pacific theater started poking around trying to figure out what kind of coding they could utilize to truly flummox their sworn Japanese rivals. We'd managed to crack theirs pretty fast (an elementary cipher-code system), so having our own decipherable code would be extremely advantageous. Someone suggested Navajo. The tribe itself was native to the Southwest United, and their language shared no Anglo, Germanic, Slavic or Romantic roots. In fact, the language was completely independent and virtually impossible to learn unless you happened to grow up "on the Rez." The inflection and tonality of a syllable could determine the meaning of an entire word.

The US Marines recruited a group of Navajos and taught them code words to make everything even more confusing. Then they sent their fleet of boys out onto the ocean where the Navajos successfully interpreted and transmitted thousands of messages. One commander said the capture of Iwo Jima would've been impossible without the linguistic talents of their Navajo friends.Overall, the Navajo contributed greatly to the war effort and should be applauded for their sacrifice. It was about time they gave back, though, that's what I say.

The implementation of the Navajo language into WWII was incredible. It was a clever, simple, and effective decision, that indeed, i believe, led to the successes on Iwo Jima. Nice job. -KD

It would be cool to follow Native American influence in American wars across United States history. Neat topic.-PM

Unit 6
Historian Points: 9/9

Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary is the rather unfortunate nickname given to Mary Mallon, a middle-class cook. During the early 20th century Mallon scraped by working in various kitchens around New York. She wasn't an extraordinary person by appearance or stature-- slightly squat with, apparently, a fairly thick Irish accent. She was certainly not bound for glory. But it turned out, through unfortunate fate, that Mallon had been cursed with typhoid, a deadly disease, that inexplicably lay dormant and asymptomatic in her blood. And wherever Mallon worked, the disease would follow, and no one ever connected the dots.

In 1907, however, a health inspector had finally pieced together the link between the various houses of the afflicted. Medical science had advanced enough to support theories of transmission through humans, even if the carrier doesn't seem sick. The state forcibly quarantined Mallon on an island to isolate the disease. It's kind of sad, how Mallon ended up on a miserable island when she didn't intentionally do anything wrong. It's said that she refused to believe she could spread the disease up to her death. Her case has become the classic example of the "carrier" theory, or just the idea that a single person can single-handedly spread a disease. Worst of all, though, Mallon's famed case further enforced discrimination against immigrants. Whites didn't need to be paranoid that new immigrants would accidentally "infect" them, but Mallon proved otherwise. For a fun sympathy exercise, I tried to imagine what I would do if Health Services showed up tomorrow and told me I had been spreading some disease, let's say, H1N2 around-- from Boise to California-- and I was to be banished to some dreary island off Oregon. I would definitely feel betrayed and upset too. That's just awful. No one wants to hear that.

I had never heard of that story before. Poor Mary Mallon. That would be a terrible and lonely demise. I am glad, however, that medicine underwent advancements so that we could move out of the leeching stage. -CJ

Interesting story, albeit sad. That's a great depression right there. I just hope the island was well-furnished like a luxury resort. I also wonder if she indeed was infected with the disease, those new medical practices could be rather inaccurate. ~AR

A Depression Story
My grandmother, Mary Howard, lived in Chicago during the Great Depression. Neither she nor her husband had a job and were enjoying a life of poverty until Mary was finally able to find work-- modeling. While seemingly a great gig, it turned out that modeling sucked. A lot of photographers liked to "lay their hands on her" (my grandfather's wording) which she didn't especially appreciate. After all, before the Depression, she had been one of the first women like to graduate from the University of Chicago with a degree in mathematics. (One of three women). So, despite the hard times and value of the income she was earning, Mary quit modeling in order to preserve her dignity. Mary and her husband, Ross, then hitchhiked down to Atlanta to meet up with their family and start anew. I couldn't be more proud. Also Ross ended up being an architect and designed a lot of the mansions in Atlanta. History!

This is such a unique story. It is too bad that even though your grandmother was able to receive a college degree, she wasn't able to find a job in which she could put her education to work! E.S.

That's pretty crazy. It would be interesting to compare the modeling of the 30's with today's pretty racy modeling!-PM
Unit 5
Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: The Johnstown Flood

As America plunged into the Gilded Age, it seems sadly logical that shoddy workmanship would happen as people tried to cut corners and save a few bucks. And indeed, that did happen, with perhaps the most tragic example being that of the Johnstown Flood. It all started when the local South Club Fishing Resort built a dam 14 miles north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania in order to create a fishing lake which came to be frequented by many high-profile Americans, including the Carnegies. The resort prospered and everything was good. The dam itself seemed sturdy enough but unfortunately it just ended up being deceptively weak.
1889 proved to be a particularly rainy year. The timber industry had depleted most of the forest, causing above-average run off (coinciding with above-average precipitation) that culminated in massive amount of water in said fishing lake. On May 31, a huge thunderstorm had caused the Stony River to overflow. For the citizens of Johnstown, however, the river flooded each year, and they were unfazed. Everyone knew that when the river flooded you went upstairs and sat around. 14 miles upstream, the Club officials were faced with the thrilling prospect of the dam failing. They made several attempts to reinforce the dam, but were reluctant to relieve too much pressure as they would lose most of their stocked fish, which were extremely expensive. And the dam probably wouldn't break, after all, that was an extreme thought. It had stood for several years. It could make it through one afternoon. Or at least that's how I envision their logic.
The fishing lake was two miles long, one mile wide and sixty feet deep when the dam failed. Apparently the water just pushed the entire dam forward like it was pushing a gigantic shopping cart. If, like me, you've ever had nightmares about Lucky Peak disintegrating spontaneously,then you can probably imagine the horror of people who witnessed a wave of water 40 feet tall and 1/2 mile across thundering through town. It destroyed everything, and killed over 2,000 people. It is regarded as the greatest single-day loss of civilian lives besides 9/11.

"Darn." -Photographer

Nice find. I can't believe that that was so destructive in the scheme of all American accidents. I imagine it was a bad day to be the owner of a fishing resort. - HSC

Sienna, darling, you have now made me positively terrified about living in this town. Good show! In any case, I'm surprised I've never heard about this until now, given that it claimed such a staggering number of civilian lives. In a way, it was the perfect storm, wasn't it? Overzealous timbering, corporate circumvention and corner-cutting, an unusually rainy year and a startlingly unprepared resort. One can only hope we've learned from history on this score (which makes its lack of mention all the more unsettling). -L.C.B.

Wow, I can't believe I haven't heard of this disaster, being at the scale that it is. I wonder what happened to the town and the resort after the flood? Terrifying. ~AR

Great example of how the gilded age showed more corruption than figures like boss tweed, I live up in the foothills so i have determined that if lucky peak were to burst I could sit on my roof and watch….id probably try to save some people…..probably -CD

Why isn't this a more studied disaster? It's almost like the tragedy was so shameful that we want it completely out of our history books. -MS

THats incredible!! How have we not heard of this more??? Great job! -KD

This is a crazy story, and I'm surprised we haven't heard about it before. Great analysis, although I'm a little disappointed you didn't jump on the possible pun of the photographer's comment. - CH

Way to shed some light on a not too familiar topic. Its sad the way that industrial advancement and ecological devastation seem to go hand in hand. E.S.

Dam, that was great topic of interest ;) Great job on shedding some light on an event that seems to be forgotten in history! -JN

Primary Source: Reconstruction Cartoon

Title: “The American River Ganges”

Artist: Thomas Nash

This reconstruction-era cartoon bears the primary text “The American River Ganges--" clearly not an American river. Furthermore, there’s the distressing image of a crocodile emerging to devour a group of frightened, multi-racial children. Some of the kids are crying, others praying, running, etc. The crocodiles are wearing masks that resemble a bishop’s hat, and a brave schoolteacher stands guard, a bible seemingly tucked in his shirt. While his posture says, “courage,” his eyes say, “I am about to eaten." When this cartoon was published in 1871, a major issue plaguing American politics was that of public education. People were beginning to question the use of federal and/or state funds to sponsor religious schools. After all, doesn’t it say in the Constitution that church and state are separate? Nash here is clearly trying to antagonize the church’s efforts to retain their funding—especially, it seems, the Catholic Church. The American flag in the background flies upside-down as a universal sign of distress. The last question remaining is that of the title. At the time, the reputation of the Ganges river wasn't especially developed. Most Americans, however, would recognize it as a place of Hindu worship and perhaps associate the river with religious involvement. Let me know if you have any other educated guesses.

BAZINGA! What a great analysis! I think this is one of the most interesting cartoons I have seen this year. It has so many layers of meaning, which you do a great job uncovering. I especially like how you managed to get inside the minds and the raw emotion of the people portrayed. It is so creative how the cartoonist fashioned the bishops hats into the ominous gnashing teeth of the crocodiles they have been so effortlessly converted into. -EV

Those are some crazy looking crocodiles. Great analysis on this cartoon. - CH

Really interesting! I didn't know that people at the time would understand the Ganges allusion..and I didn't know that this was another issue at the time. -ED
Unit 4

Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: Idaho's Gold Rush
While often teased or shunned, Idaho has more claim to fame than most Americans give it credit for. The Boise Basin area, or general watershed around Boise, was largely unsettled and rural until George Grimes and his team of prospectors discovered gold near Idaho City in 1862. The Civil War was raging in the West, but it didn't distract thousands of miners from pouring into the area all hoping to strike it rich. The area was ridiculously fertile in gold. Rumor had it that any idiot with a pan could get down to the river and pull out a hundred dollar's worth of gold in a day. The population of Idaho City in particular exploded, especially in the Chinese sector. Chines immigrants were infamous for mining the worked-over regions and extracting copious amounts of gold. The success of the Chinese brought them a lot of prejudice and hatred from unsuccessful whites. Idaho City's bit of history is still very apparent today. Rocky Canyon Road was the route used during the 1860's, and if you drive down it you can still see old advertisements and signs. My personal favorite reads "men's cloaks" and has a picture of a cloak. Advertising at its finest.

Overall, historians have estimated that of all America's gold rushes (including California's and Alaska's) the Gold Rush of the Boise Basin was the most profitable for America. Over two billion dollars in gold was removed. Idaho, being strongly connected to Northern settlers over the South, supported the Union in the Civil War. At a time when the Union needed help most, Idaho's gold filled the banks and gave Lincoln much-needed financial support. It's hard to say what would have happened if Idaho hadn't supplied the Union with all that money, but considering the Union ended up winning, one can conclude Idaho must have helped.

Wonderful topic of interest! The Idaho gold rush holds special importance to me as my great, great grandfather, Lloyd Magruder, was among the men who made the journey in hopes to strike it rich. However, upon arriving, Magruder saw all the prospectors meandering about and became discouraged. Ever a keen mind, Magruder hatched a new plan: he'd sell the swarms of miners supplies in return for gold--the man was a Genius! So he set up shop for a few weeks, acquired roughly $18,000 in gold dust, set off for home, and was murdered with an ax.
The perpetrators of the murder were three unsavory men (Magruder had hired them to help him on his journey back), who wanted his hard-earned gold dust. Later on, a friend of Magruder's named Hill Beachey became suspicious of the men after they bought passage for a stage headed to Washington. Beachey tracked the men down until he captured them and brought them back to Idaho where they were put on trial and hung, making my Great, Great Grandfather the first official murder victim in the state of Idaho. ~AR

I guess were not just about potatoes after all. Good work. - HSC

"All spuds, no duds!!!" I can totally imagine this being a quality mining/advertisement motto. Just a thought. Great connection to our good 'ole Idaho. --M2C2

Way to bring history back home! Who needs California when we have Idaho eh? I wonder how many young Idahoan boys ended up fighting for the Union Army. -MT

If any idiot could make 100$ panning gold in Idaho City, then I'm pretty sure I need to take quick up there over the weekend. On another note, how much did the Idaho City gold actually benefit the Union troops? Wouldn't the travel distance make it hard to have a large impact on the Union's coffers. MS

I never knew that Idaho's rush was one of the most profitable ones in the country...didn't Idaho also have lots of silver? Did the Chinese settle in towns and set up lasting businesses, or were they shunned like in California? -ED


Primary Source: Virgil Earp on Doc Holliday (America's favorite desperado dentist)

"There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man and yet, outside of us boys, I don't think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet, when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced to Doc's account.He was a slender, sickly fellow, but whenever a stage was robbed or a row started, and help was needed, Doc was one of the first to saddle his horse and report for duty."

This quote comes from a interview with Virgil Earp about Doc Holliday with the Arizona Daily Star on May 30th, 1822. As one can see, Earp is discussing the legendary reputation of a classic Wild West figure-- Doc Holliday.

Holliday was a dentist by day, murderer by night. While he never served any jail times for his actions, he was arrested 17 times for a variety of crimes. Originally born in Georgia, John "Doc" Holliday lived a fairly normal life dabbling in dentistry until he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Knowing that his days were numbered, Holliday decided to arbitrarily pack up and move West, where he began a slightly more exciting lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Virgil Earp, the author of this quote, was a sheriff of the unfortunately named town of Tombstone. When prompted to speak of Holliday in an interview, Earp deliberately remained polite, clarifying there was never any evidence of actual foul play connected to Holliday. In fact, Earp is careful to that the dentist himself was an honorable fellow that would always help out around town, even if he didn't have any friends. It's interesting to hear this legendary figure of history described as "slender" and "sickly." Hearing a more personal account gives us historians an opportunity to develop a much more accurate view of Doc. He was a real character.

What a great analysis! Doc Holliday is indeed a real character. I wonder what he was accused of but was never held accountable for? -JN

I really appreciate his mustache, though I can't decide if it serves to make him more intimidating or docile...Did his dentistry skills come in handy for any murders? -EV

This is so ridiculous! Almost reminds me of a Sweeney Todd style premise. Great analysis. E.S.

Wow...this dude seems sort of a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde kind of thing going on. What kind of personality would allow one to be a dentist/murderer. Interesting. -KD

Ooh, how creepy. What all did he actually do on his western extravaganza? Good choice for a topic of interest. Very.... holiday-appropriate. Merry Christmas, or should I say, merry Nightmare before Christmas....? --JA

Unit 3

Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: Andrew Jackson and the Great Wheel of Cheese

A tale often forgotten in the folds of American history, Andrew Jackson and the Great Wheel of Cheese is a story that deserves to be told. In 1836, a farmer mailed Jackson a wheel of cheese that weighed approximately 1,500 pounds. His reasons have not been recorded. Anyhow, Jackson didn't know what to do with the cheese and decided to let it sit in the entrance hall of the White House, probably smelling quite strongly, for over a year. It was one of the first things visitors saw upon entering the White House.

By that point in time, the cheese had certainly aged a great deal and accumulated a lot of mold on all fifteen hundred pounds of it. Undaunted, Jackson decided the cheese was fit to eat. He invited hundreds to a party at the white house, and a huge mob of people dressed to the nines descended upon the wheel of cheese. According to legend, is was gone within two hours. The only thing left was a large oily stain, which stayed on the entrance hall carpet for several years, until the establishment decided it was disgusting and had the carpet replaced. This episode serves to further demonstrate just what a character Andrew Jackson is, and maybe remind everyone that Washington DC isn't what it used to be. The political scene was much more open then-- Jackson was known for opening the White House up to visitors on many occasions.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was a joke. It's not. Here are some paintings as proof.

Andrew Jackson says "dig in" and everyone enjoys a tasty morsel of cheese [Benjamin Perley Poore, 1886]
[Peter Waddell]

Well...dear lord. What was the farmer thinking? How did he make a 1500lbs wheel of cheese? This isnt France, this is America. We dont just do that. Also, what was Jackson thinking? "DUDES! Check this out. Joe Schmoe the farmer just sent us 1500 pounds of cheese. Lets put it in the doorway." Was there political significance to this movement? Maybe the masons sent it as a gift? This story inspires so many questions. -KD

Ohmygoodness! This is the best - I love when I read people's wikispaces and they have a really intresting and unique topic and that is certainly what this post is! I just think Andrew Jackson was a character (and a bit mad) but it's strange to think that he just left cheese in the entrance to the White House! And then all the visitors eating really old, moldy cheese is just crazy.I must have been quite old too because I imagine that if the cheese was truely that big it would take a long time to transport (and thus be old upon its arrival.) I just don't see a wheel that large being delivered any other way then ship - the roads simply weren't good enough. Furthermore, I doubt a block that large existed to make the wheel. Maybe it was smaller? - SM

Wow, what a story. I wonder what would happen if a wheel of cheese that big arrived at the White House today. I feel like mass hysteria would ensue. Anyway, way to unearth that one, fellow historian. -IDF

My lord this is fabulous. Way to have another eclectic topic of interest. Perhaps if Jackson had a wife then the cheese would have been disposed of much sooner. MT.

1500lbs is a lot of cheese--I'm mainly wondering about the aging process. The farmer/chessemaker that made this work of art must have planned it for a while, for it probably took years to age it properly. Was he originally planning on giving it to Jackson, or was he just looking for someone to pawn it off to? Gotta say that's a pretty good present, I hope someone provided bread. Boom, snacking for any time in the White House. -EV

This sounds a bit "cheesy"......but great job on bringing light to this interesting tale. I wonder the actuality of there being 1500lbs?

This is wonderful! 1500lbs in 2 hours, that must have been a pretty hungry bunch. Great work, you are a natural story teller. Thank you for sharing your gift. E.S.

I'm having a hard time believing that the wheel of cheese was actually 1500 pounds....That's almost a ton of cheese, and something that no farmer would want to simply give away. That is their livelihood and food. MS
Author response-- Dear Historian Matt, thank you for your criticism and keen suspicion. I will ask the historians at the White House to fact-check. Your historian friend, Sienna

A key plot element in this historical tale, and one that, shockingly, your fellow historians have neglected to discuss is that this 1500 pound cheese wheel was mailed to the white house. The sheer heft of such a delicacy would no doubt result in a shipping and handling cost of the steepest denomination. Judging by the detailed paintings you've provided, the excessive bulk and abnormal shape of such a parcel would make sending it in a flat-rate postage box just as, if not more costly. $19.95 for a 12x9 in. flat rate envelope is already a highway robbery, I can only imagine the financial burden this kindly farmer must have payed out of pocket. An impressive story from all angles (especially considering that Wisconsin wasn't a U.S. state until 1848) and expertly told. I commend your efforts. -AR

This is, hands down, the best thing I have learned about the Jacksonian era. You have done a great job telling the tale of the ton of cheese. I originally thought that the AJ's "wheel of cheese" was some kind of metaphor. This is hilarious! I think that Jefferson also received a wheel of cheese, though I doubt that it was that large. How about that, the two presidents who caused "revolutions" when they were elected got cheese... is it a coincidence or not? -CJ

I'm not going to comment on how absolutely ludicrous this is, because everyone else has done it for me, but the thing that I want to know is how did someone mail Jackson a 1500 pound wheel of cheese. I don't think any amount of stamps could get my mailman to send a piece of cheese that big, but who knows, it might just get the USPS out of debt. - HSC

Wait - this may not be the most relevant to the great wheel of cheese topic, but Jackson gave this to the public for no particular special occasion - just like "hey everyone, i'm throwing a party at the white house - come get some free cheese! In addition, I am wincing at the cost to mail that hunk of cheese - there is no way it could fit in a flat-rate mailing box, so you gotta pay by the pound. ouch. -LR

Fellwo historians, I have a confession to make: I don't like cheese in most forms, and I quite frankly don't understand cheese culture in the slightest. That said, this was quite an enjoyable read, other than the visceral "oh, ew" reaction I had to the cheese moldering in the White House for a year before being released to the clearly very hungry public (health standards were, I suppose, different in those days, although perhaps that goes without saying). I have heard tell that Jackson and JEfferson were the only two presidents to have presidential cheese wheels. Is this true? If so, then perhaps cheese wheels ought to become the political symbol for the common man (both Republicans and Democrats could claim ownership; it's a win-win, as far as I'm concerned). -L.C.B.

The cheese story is already really bizarre, but...I'm just wondering how the farmer even shipped it to the White House in the first place. If it indeed weighed that much, wouldn't it be extremely difficult to transport that much cheese? Hopefully only a few people got sick from eating that moldy cheese... -ED

Primary Source: Jackson's Farewell Address


"We have now lived almost fifty years under the Constitution framed by the sages and patriots of the Revolution.... We encountered these trials with our Constitution yet in its infancy, and under the disadvantages which a new and untried Government must always feel when it is called upon to put forth its whole strength, without the lights of experience to guide it or the weight of precedents to justify its measures. But we have passed triumphantly through all these difficulties. Our Constitution is no longer a doubtful experiment; and, at the end of nearly half a century, we find that it has preserved unimpaired the liberties of the people, secured the rights of property, and that our country has improved and is flourishing beyond any former example in the history of nations."

This is a brief segment of Andrew Jackson's farewell speech, given on March 4th on 1837. Jackson speaks to the American people in this segment about the state of the nation, which, according to him, is going well. After all, Jackson claims that under his leadership, the country had "preserved unimpaired the liberties of the people" and overall, now "our country has improved and is flourishing." Jackson is giving himself a huge pat on the back. Some other ideas discussed in the speech reminded me faintly of the Gettysburg Address-- this whole aspect of romanticizing the "American Experiment" and attaching an emotional appeal to its success.

It's funny when one recalls how his "specie circular," passed right near the end of his term, would wreak economic havoc on the nation and all but spoil the presidency of Martin Van Buren. Also, it's ironic how Jackson glorifies the Constitution, as it is "no longer a doubtful experiment" and has brought America to unimaginable heights, when Jackson clearly violated the Constitution during his term. After all, wasn't it Jackson who refused to carry out John Marshall's court ruling, completely overreaching the powers of the executive branch? And wasn't it Jackson who was censured by Congress for abusing his power of veto? While Jackson speaks fondly of his presidential terms, it's clear he's glorified his successes and completely glossed over his mistakes. But then again, that's a classic move for a politician trying to gracefully step out of office.

Great Job! It is interesting to see how Jackson did indeed try to cover up his actions with a smooth farewell address. I wonder what he told Van Buren as he handed over the Panic of 1837? As you point out, it is a political trend, even today, to gloss over ones mistakes. -LG

I really enjoyed your analysis and thought it very insightful. I love how you pointed out Jackson's hypocrisy and inferred his motivations, and furthermore noticed a trend in modern politics. The past really can teach us about the present. --ES

Unit 2
Historian Points: 9/9
Topic of Interest: That Time We Invaded Canada

A mere year ago was the bicentennial of a classic American war-- the War of 1812. Often deemed the second Revolutionary War, it serves an important lesson in history that Americans love land, underestimating people, and disregarding Indians.
Most people blame this war on British impressment, which is partly accurate. Interestingly enough, British impressment often occurred to actual British citizens, who were deliberately evading the law. Its worst effect was that of disrupting US shipping patterns, but to Americans, it symbolically represented a violation of our rights-- in this way, impressment became a catalyst. Along with that, the British also reportedly supported Indian rebellions, and continued to meddle with American trade.
Angry Americans knew they'd had enough. "War hawks," (Waaaah Haaawks) such as Henry Clay, called for action. They pointed out that Canada was just to the North, and ridiculously tempting. The recent Louisiana Purchase had doubled the size of the United States, and now Americans were eager to get their hands on any land they could farm.
Thus began a long tradition of underestimating Canada. Everyone simply assumed that seizing the territory would be painless and quick. Jefferson laughed off the invasion as a "matter of marching." William Hull told Canadians he came "to protect you, not to injure you" and most importantly, "emancipate" them from "tyrannical" British rule. Yet the Canadians did not embrace the kind Americans, just as they turned down our invitation to join the Union in 1781.
Canadian fought back and managed to repel American forces. When Americans did win, they were often forced to retreat because the Canadians refused to help the Americans restock. Americans were forced to give up on their dream and the war shifted to other areas of the US.
Overall, disappointing.

Hm, brings up a philosophical question: Can Canada be underestimated? Ew, that's harsh. Anyways, nice focus on this. Fun stuff. -Mr. SW

I have to agree that it's extremely disappointing we never got this done. I like the Jefferson quote though, good find. It's interesting to think about the possibility of America including Canada- would our role in the world be significantly different? What would make the most impact? New resources? New land? The French language? There are a variety of intriguing possibilities. IDF
So is this the external image arrow-10x10.png of the cultural phenomenon this country possesses, which is having to step in on everyone else's business? "Quick, we should 'defend' Canada from tyrannical British rule! America, you're in!"-JF
That's an interesting quote from Jefferson. I wonder about the general Republican response to this? The Louisiana Purchase was already being heavily criticized by strict constructionists, I can only imagine their dismay about the hunger for more land and our eagerness to go to war for it. ~AR
I agree, Canada could have been an excellent addition to the U.S. Although it is ridiculous and quite frankly disrespectful for the Americans to think it could be conquered so easily. It's too bad that the American ego got in the way of a potentially great combination! E.S.
I would like to bring up the debate of whether we should invade Canada for a second time. I, for one, think that Canada would be one of the brightest spots in our country and would make us a generally happier people. Obama make it happen. -MS
Dearest MS- I would agree with you on the invading Canada idea, except that I wish to live there due to its non-American socialist free-healthcare status. So maybe hold off on that one. And Sienna, I love your topic of interest:) Although we like to brag that we are the best country in the world and constantly mock Canada (monopoly money, moose, etc), they defeated our forces and we marched south in shame. GO CANADA -CB
We, the Mighty Americans, lost to Canada. Well, at least it wasnt France. It definitely would have been interesting had we taken over Canada. Would we have better syrup? Obviously. Would we be happier? Possibly. Would hockey have a greater influence across the country? I hope so. -KD
WOWZA!! Good work! This reminds me of one time when I was in Canada--it was pretty cool. I personally think Canada would've been the coolest state in America. Do you think the British anticipating us becoming Canada's main support both militaristically and economically? -EV
Well written, historian. I find it humorous that you pointed out that America totally underestimated Canada from early on. We had a pretty big ego for a new country! I think that Canada saw the writing on the wall for the future of America, and decided to keep out of our union so that they could become the awesome country that they are and avoid our modern-day political squabble. -CJ

Primary Source: Letter to James Madison

"…But the [[#|power]]external image arrow-10x10.png of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be indeed if every form of government were so perfectly contrived that the will of the majority could always be obtained fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form. The people cannot assemble themselves. Their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents: and other impediments arise so as to prove to every practical man that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal."

This quote comes from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison. The letter is one of the last in a long, multi-year string of correspondence regarding new ideas surrounding the Construction. This particular one was written on September 6th of 1789, when the new Constitution had been ratified by nine states and had just appointed George Washington as the first government. Although the Constitution was already in the process of being implement, Jefferson was still clearly set on a Bill of Rights. In his letter to Madison, he admits that no government is equal, or "perfectly contrived." And therefore, it is inevitable the government will eventually tread on the rights of the people. He references several common sources of corruption, such as bribery. Incidents of less-than-fair politics were common in 18th century America. Politics were run by people with the [[#|money]]external image arrow-10x10.png (and rightly so in the federalist mindset) and found they could get their way by slipping a couple bills under the table.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson tended to be on opposite sides of the Constitution debate-- after all, Madison was a key player in the Virginia Plan, which was opposed by many anti-federalists such as Thomas Jefferson. This explains Jefferson's tone-- argumentative, but also respectful because Madison was widely respected and liked. Jefferson was clearly trying to use logic and reasoning to persuade Madison to sympathize. Overall, this letter summarizes the call for a Bill of Rights-- while the government now may be good, who knows what the future will bring, and only by concretely defining rights will they definitively be protected.
(Sneak peak: two years later, Jefferson got his way.)

external image arrow-10x10.png, Jefferson did get his way, but it is important to keep in mind that he did implement some right-trodding laws of his own. -JS

Unit 1

Sienna White, Period 3
Historian Points: 9/9

Topic of Interest: What were the motivations and results of the Boston Tea Party?

The Boston Tea Party is so widely known because it is everything a good American story should be: exciting, dangerous, patriotic, and highly controversial.

The infamous incident took place on December 16th, 1773-- nine days before Christmas. It leaves many lingering questions, such as: why did the colonists throw perfectly good tea into the harbor? How did the British react? And, potentially in the back of the mind-- did the harbor turn into tea?

Some background on the colonists' motivation to throw a bunch of tea into the harbor: as we all know, the British were deep in debt after the French-Indian war, and since the Americans got them into the whole mess, it made sense the Americans should pay.

This logic made less sense to Americans. Acts passed by the British began to face stiff resistance. The Townshend Act, passed in 1767, was one of these acts. Colonist boycotts and protests resulted in the repeal of the Townsend Act, with one key exception: the colonists still had to pay a tax on tea. Not to be outdone by themselves, Parliament added an additional element to the tea tax in 1773: they granted the financially struggling East India Company a monopoly on all tea being imported into America. It seemed like the best solution-- the colonists still had to pay a duty tax on the tea, generating money for the British Crown, but the monopoly actually made tea cheaper for the colonists.

‍‍‍‍The colonists were conflicted. On one hand, they could buy the discounted tea, and consider it a bargain. But by buying the tea, they were consenting to a British tax on a staple. Wh‍‍‍‍en Parliament sent over several ships loaded with tea, Philadelphia and New York turned the ships away, Charleston confiscated the tea, and Boston was left with three ships in its harbor. (Charleston kept the tea in storage for three years, then sold it to pay for the Revolution).

Boston was conflicted. After a diplomatic attempt to tell the British customs that the colonists refused to pay the tax failed, there seemed only one solution. In the night, around 200 patriots dressed up as Indians and jettisoned the tea. In today's money, the amount of tea thrown into the harbor was around a four million dollar loss.

As a result, the British Crown did not repeal the tea tax, but instead passed the Intolerable Acts, which included measures such as forcing Massachusetts to be a crown colony and closing Boston's port. Due to the violence and tension the Intolerable Acts caused, the Boston Tea Party is often cited as being the sparkplug of the Revolutionary War.

Notably, the Harbor turned brown for several days. The Tea Party was clearly a defining moment in pre-revolution history.

It makes me happy to know that the Boston harbor turned brown for days after the incident. If only someone had tried to drink it. Also, I didn't know that about Charleston's use of the tea! I thought there could have been some more detail on Britain's reaction to the Boston Tea Party, specifically the Intolerable Acts, but overall I love your writing, so keep up the good work fellow historian! -Aidan Regan

I will not believe that the harbor was brown until you give sufficient evidence, and/or test it. I believe the salinity of the water, as well as the brisk temperature, would have made brewing tea very difficult. Not to mention that the harbor was relatively the size of a ten gallon bucket, with the tea being a tea bag in that bucket (valid: I calculated). However, creds to dem colonists for trying, it would have been a great tourist addition to the colony. -EV

Very comprehensive analysis, I appreciated this choice of a topic of interest as unconventional outlets of anger are always intriguing. How significant was the Boston tea party? Were all the colonists united in the opposition of the tea act, or will the Boston tea partiers seem as overreacting? -FB

I have always wondered if the harbor turned brown or not-- the question often kept me up late at night. But thank you for finally giving us an answer.
Also, I didn't know about Philadelphia, NY, and Charleston and their separate reactions. -ED

Great work Sienna. I had no idea that the colonists attempted to rationalize with the British diplomatically before the dumping or that the profits lost were so significant! E.S.

The Boston Tea Excitement is definitely one of the most notable points in the American revolution! I know that it was planned and carried out by the Sons of Liberty, however i would love to meet the genius who came up with this idea! "Hey, dudes. Alright guys, like, i know like, this is gonna sound crazy, but like, we should, like, totally like, dump the tea into the harbor." -KD

This is sly, Sienna. I agree with Aiden, I found it interesting that the harbor turned brown for a couple of days. I wonder what it would taste like. Do you know if this is similar to any other event in history? Could something like this have happened somewhere else, or is it strictly a location dependent incident? I thoroughly enjoy the way you write, I am reminded of your class president speech. -HRM

Primary Source: Sylvanus, "A Political Problem," March 1769

"As the Back Inhabitants [of South Carolina] were debarr’d from giving their Votes for Members of the Parishes in which they reside . . . how, and in what Manner . . . can they be said to be represented in the General Assembly? . . . Is it not Paradoxical, That the Frontier and Interior Inhabitants should pay Duties and Taxes impos’d on them by their fellow Provincials, to which they have not given, or had their Assent requir’d? And with what Consistency can our Assembly exercise such Powers . . . when they deny such Authority over themselves to be vested in the British Parliament?"

The speaker in this source is Sylvanus, who is speaking on behalf of South Carolinian citizens. While this statement was issued a full six years before fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord, it explores the ever-valid question of taxation without representation. Contextually, this speech was given in March, 1769-- the Townsend Acts had been passed in 1767, and the unpopular Stamp Acts had been repealed in 1766. Therefore, the Colonists had already been dealing with the issue of direct taxes by Parliament, and the fact this back-country resident is bringing up the issue demonstrates the reach these taxes had on people. Sylvanus points out how "paradoxical" it is that duties and taxes are forced upon colonists, who belong to the English government, but have not been given their "assent requir'd." He clearly believed that their consent was a key part of democratic government-- their "assembly," or local representation, " denied "such authority over themselves." This refers to the power local assemblies retained during Salutary Neglect of levying taxes. Yet Parliament was ignoring these local assemblies entirely-- Sylvanus argues a government did not have the right to tax citizens without giving them any sort of liaiason.

This document is significant in our studies of American History because‍‍‍‍ it demonstrates that long before 1775, Americans had set a precedence there are things a government can and cannot do‍‍‍‍. And from the beginning, when citizens were taxed without representation, political leaders were upset enough to speak out. It's debatable whether or not Sylvanus could have anticipated the growth of the issue he discusses-- and if six years later, he considered it grounds for a revolution.

How do you think the fact that he was a someone from the back country and South Carolina have affected his arguments towards taxation without representation? MS

Great find! This document is an excellent example of colonial outrage over the directly imposed English taxes. The speaker's demographic is indeed very interesting. I had wondered how reactions to taxation without representation may have varied from region to region/colony to colony, and this is a great answer! -MM

Great Primary source! I love it is about backcountry grievances, not just how the wealthy merchant class felt about the colonial situation (it’s refreshing). I wonder how great of an effect the backcountry folk had in the colonial governments. Most examples like Bacon’s rebellion, the Paxton boys, and the Regulator all support the idea that they had limited sway in the colony government, especially when the British intruded like in the case of your doc. Poor Sylvanus :(-JR