Playlist Statement:

This playlist came together as I wondered how many songs have American place names in the title of the song. It turns out there are many and this forced me to choose from a long list of songs. For example, one of my favorite songs, Mississippi Queen, didn't make the cut. However, I did include two songs about New York that illustrate the importance of that city to American history. Included in this list are also a number of songs that I heard growing up. All of these songs say something important and capture the attitude of the place which they are about. For example, anyone who has visited Colorado knows that Rocky Mountain High is a musical visit to that state. And every time I have visited Oklahoma in my life, I have to sing out Ooooklahomaaaa.... What better then Elvis to sing Viva Las Vegas? And although I hate the LA Lakers, every time they win a playoff game, their loudspeakers blare "I Love LA" from Randy Newman. It's so cheesy, and so LA. Together, these songs represent so much about what America is in its diversity of place. From coast to coast, and in between. Music should speak to us, leave us with images and memories, and capture our emotions. And I know I'll use this playlist for my next road trip across America!

Unit 6: Chrysler Building


Ok, so this is gratuitous architecture celebration and the only connection between this and the perennial question is the explicit celebration of business during the 1920s when the "business of America was business" and the government only supported business in its laissez-faire approach. Clearly, the fact that this building was built to celebrate the age of the car, see how the gargoyles echo the "hood ornament idea" and the art deco design shows movement and energy like a car, illustrates how the twenties were a time of corporate progress. Nothing shows the power of a great corporation than a great corporate headquarters!

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Check out the "radiator cap"



Great Depression:

Dorthea Lange's Migrant Mother:

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In March 1936, after picking beets in the Imperial Valley, Thompson and her family were traveling on US Highway 101 towards Watsonville in hopes of finding more work. On the road, the car timing chain snapped and they coasted to a stop just inside a pea-picker's camp on Nipomo Mesa. While Jim Hill, her husband, and two of Thompson's sons took the radiator, which had also been damaged, to town for repair. Thompson and some of the children set up a temporary camp. As Thompson waited, Dorothea Lange, working for the Resettlement Administration, drove up and started taking photos of Florence and her family. Over 10 minutes she took 6 images.
Lange's field notes of the images read:
"Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers’ camp … because of failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tires to buy food."
Lange later wrote of the meeting:
"I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was 32. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food."

These photographs are among the most famous in American History for their emotion and poignancy. However, as with all photos, there is a "backstory." Does that story matter? Or has the "migrant mother" become somebody different than the real woman?

Unit 3: Did American society become more or less democratic during the Age of Jackson?

Crazy about the Shakers! Alert....there are only three confirmed Shakers left in America! SAVE the Shakers!
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Shakers are perhaps the most democratic of the fringe movements to come about in the Jacksonian Age. They valued the equality of the sexes, practiced democratic values of hard work, honesty and thrift, and practiced what they preached. Unfortunately, the movement experienced high turnover due to some of their unpopular beliefs. They focused on perfectionism of society and were instrumental in showing the American Romantic idea of change, progress, and perfectionism. Furthermore, Shaker furniture is still sought after today for its durability, simplicity, and strength. And, we all know the song "Simple Gifts" or sometimes called Lord of the Dance because of that great American composer Aaron Copeland. Thanks Shakers!

Unit 2: Was the Constitution a revolution or a counter revolution?



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Ham the MAN!


"Hamilton's role in the framing and ratification of the Constitution was a curious one. He did not prove to be a particularly distinguished or influential delegate at the Convention -- many members thought his proposals went too far in strengthening the central government. Indeed, the ideas Hamilton presented on June 18, 1787, after approximately a month of peripheral involvement, included some shockers: state governors would be appointed by the President; the President and Senators would hold office for life; and the Congress would retain exclusive authority to make all the laws of the country."

"His philosophy rested, in true colonialist fashion, on the notion of "the public good" and the superiority of a government which derived its power from the consent of the governed: the essence of republicanism. Where Hamilton differed from his contemporaries was, first, in believing that only a "talented few" -- understood to mean men drawn from the wealthy and aristocratic strata of society -- had the wisdom and dispassionate foresight to implement the measures necessary for the public good. The great majority of people, in Hamilton's eyes, operated primarily out of self-interest and could not be trusted to think or act judiciously in matters of state power. Hence, a proposal such as seating the President for life, so that he would not be subject to the whims of a fickle electorate."

Alexander Hamilton may have been overbearing, egotistical, even power hungry. But where would this country be without his ideas? Is it so odd that he proposed a president for life? It wasn't necessarily for power, he argued that if you found someone good in politics, you should keep him. Before 1800, there were truly few men that rose to the founders' abilities so why not focus on the "best and brightest" to be in charge. The talented few Hamilton called them. Don't let the riff raff vote, run for office, write laws; they'll just destroy the government with their self-interest. Ok, sure, this could be considered counter revolution to the ideals of the Declaration and the Revolution. But practicality (Hamilton) wins out over theoretical (Jefferson). Today's argument that only super rich should run for office because they won't be tempted to be swayed by other people's money and therefore will govern well is an off shoot of this argument. What do you think?

Unit 1

U1 Perennial Question:
How unified were Americans by the implementation of the Articles of Confederation in 1783?

Primary Source: REGULATORS' ADVERTISEMENT No. 9. May 1768


To the Governor & Councill &c.
The humble Petition of us the Subscribers sheweth that We the Inhabitants of Orange County pay larger Fees for recording Deeds than any of the adjacent Counties and many other Fees more than the Law allows by all that We can make out from which a jealosie prevails that we are misused and application has been made to our representatives to satisfy us But we were disregarded in the said application upon which the said discontent growing more and more so as to threaten a disturbance of the public peace, we therefore beg that those matters may be taken under your serious consideration and interpose in our Favour so that we may have a fair hearing in this matter and [be] redressed where we have been wronged Our complaints are too numerous and long to be notified in a Petition, but have sent herewith copies of the Applications Petitions &c that has been made on this Occasion with a small sketch of our Misusage and begging your protection and aprobation in so just and equitable an undertaking and an opportunity to be heard We conclude your humble Petitioners.

This document illustrates how a group of backcountry farmers in the colony of North Carolina attempted to redress their grievances on what they believed were exorbitant colonial taxes. This group of men issued many such written grievances which stand as a record of attempts to change local tax policy. However, they eventually felt that they were forced to turn to violence, attacking court houses and other symbols of local government. The significance, besides illustrating that taxes have ALWAYS been at issue in American history, is that between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, the American colonists were hardly unified. In fact, there may have been in some places more animosity on the part of the colonists towards their own government than towards the British system which hardly effected them in every day life. This split was especially pronounced in the southern colonies where, during the Revolution, Americans conducted a virtual civil war amongst themselves.



Topic of Interest

Colonial Architecture: The Chesapeake vs. New England
America developed into generally two different colonial models from the twin foundings of 1607 and 1620. Jamestown and Plymouth offer drastically different ideas about what America would become and this is echoed throughout the debates in the Continental Congress during the war and during the peace in the 1780's when a national government was being debated. The differences in architecture of the two regions reflects the differing perceptions of life in each region. America was thus hardly united in 1783.

The Architecture of New England and the Southern Colonies as it Reflects the Changes in Colonial Life

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Located at http://tinyurl.com/3hpz7sy, Fort James at Jamestown
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Located at http://tinyurl.com/3pgcxoj, Plimouth Plantation


Historic buildings in New England

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Putnam House, 1650, Danvers, MA
John Whipple House, Ipswich, Massachusetts
John Whipple House, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Whipple House, 1638, Ipswich, MA


Paul Revere House, 1680, Boston MA

The Old House
The Old House

Adams Family "Old House", 1731, Braintree, MA