Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sacrifice in Terms of Unintentional VIolence

Our class still continues on drafting our exam as the school year is reaching its end. This weeks topic was focused on the Buffalo soldiers and Native Americans during the 1800s. 

         The good weather has returned and our history class continues our journey of drafting our exam. Our previous topic last week was on the impact of the captains of industry, Carnegie and Rockefeller. This week our class focused on the impact of federal policies of the U.S. Government and Buffalo soldiers on Native Americans. Again we went through the process of learning the needed information by watching videos on the federal policies and Native American on the American History ABC-CLIO databases.  By splitting up the note taking process evenly (main ideas, events, people, and key terms) my class created a shared Google Doc with all the accessible notes.  Our teacher also provided us with primary sources and a visual timeline, to gather more information. After two days of research and analysis, each of us had to decide whether the impact of the federal policies towards the Buffalo soldiers and Native Americans match the intent, during the westward expansion.

         The Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers from the Union Army (yes everything always connects back to the Civil War) that continued on as permanent soldiers in the army. Their name comes from their appearance, with their hair resembling natives of Buffalo spirit, and their bravery that was similar to a wounded buffalo. They were the legacy of bravery, courage, and hard-work. They built forts, telegraph lines, roads, escorted stage coaches, and guarded the US Mail. They were well known for their association in the Indian Wars, and they fought several Native American tribes. Our class watched the following video for gaining knowledge on the Buffalo soldiers.

          There were several Native American tribes living on the Great Plains at the time. The main tribes consisted of the Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and the Sioux. The Native Americans were proud of their cultural traditions and practiced them with great passion before the Westward Expansion. They carried forward their various rituals such as the Sun Dance (a 12 day festival devoted to the Great Spirit), Vision Quests, and Shaman ceremonies. It was said that a Native American child always had the best childhood, filled with interactive and adventurous games and activities. The tribes valued respect for elders, selflessness, bravery, and courage.

          Then came the Westward Expansion, and the President Andrew Jackson initiated the policy of Indian removal in the 1830s. This act was to clear the Indians off the land and make room for white settlers. Jackson almost bribed them by saying that they would gain their own piece of land if they moved, but if they stayed that had to Tribes such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole were forced to move from the Great Plains to west of the Mississippi River. Approximately 100,000 Native Americans were forced to leave. The Native Americans did not agree with this plan and wished to stay in their homeland rather than move to unknown territory provided by Jackson.

In the 1840s, the California gold rush attracted several prospectors and settlers down to the south and trespass Native American land, causing hostility from the tribes that demanded protection from the US Army. These conflicts resulted in the start of the American Indian Wars on the Plains that spanned from 1861 to 1890. Several battles were fought, such as the Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne village, fight at Bozeman Trail, and, an especially important one, the Battle of Little Bighorn. Several settlers moved into the Dakota region, due to the discovery of gold. The Sioux, a main tribe living in the region, were abused by these immigrants, and they fought back. The Congress approved the creation of six regiments of African-American troops. These regiments came together to form the Buffalo soldiers mentioned above. Out of the 138 campaigns, the Buffalo soldiers participated in 117 of them fighting the Native Americans.
Map showing division of land mentioned
 in Second Treaty of Fort Laramie


In 1868, the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed, promising the Native Americans possession of the Dakota territory west of the Missouri River. Only a few tribes agree to this treaty, however miners persisted on their settlement after gold was discovered in the Dakota region in 1874. The US
government issued orders for all Native Americans to return to their designated reservations against the threat of being considered hostile. Several tribes of the Plain Indians either weren't aware or rejected the treaty, leading to confrontation at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

In 1887, the Dawes Act was carried out and it grants title land and US Citizenship to the head of each household to Native American families of the tribes that agreed to adopt a new lifestyle leaving behind their tradition and culture. An excerpt of the Act is as follows: "...whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any Indian located thereon in quantities as follows..." The Act shows us how the government tried to strip away their dedication towards their culture and values by bribing (and almost forcing) them land in order to adopt an alien lifestyle.

          Such violence faced by the Native Americans regarding their own way of life did not match the intent of the federal policies. Thousands of innocent lives were sacrificed for the benefit of the US government, which is not correct. The tension between the Native Americans and US Army, mainly Buffalo soldiers, led to the final Wounded Knee Massacre, in which more than 150 Sioux are killed, and effectively ending Native American resistance to white culture. The American Indian Wars show us the large extent of sacrifices the Native tribes had to face along with the unnecessary violent path of the US government and US Army. From my analysis on this topic, I do not believe the impact of federal policies on both the Native Americans and Buffalo soldiers did not match its intent at all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Impacting Society as a Captain

Our class has finally ended the unit of America's Civil War, and now we are approaching the end of school and, sadly, finals as well. We focused on the major leaders in industry: Carnegie and Rockefeller. 

          Finals is coming around the block for my history class this year, and regardless of how technology-oriented the class, we are to prepare for an exam. It was decided that our exam be on the topic of famous captains of industry, such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. To be on the fairer side, our class gets to draft our own questions that will appear on the exam. Before writing the questions, a thorough research on the topic had to be done, and with the resources given by our teacher, we collaborated together to learn the information. We watched videos on the ABC Clio database on the age of industry and got an overview of the subject of industry. We then read biographies of the two men and analyzed primary and secondary images and documents. During this time, our class took notes on the essential terms, key people, important events, and the main idea on shared Google Doc. After compiling a good amount of background research, we each had to decide whether Rockefeller and Carnegie, being one of the most important men in the industry, had a positive or negative impact on the public society.

          John Rockefeller was known for his huge contribution in creating America's petroleum industry. He gained the wealth needed to raise such a business empire by supporting the Union Army during the Civil War. With his ambition and hard-work, he founded the Standard Oil company in Ohio to provide a more flexible organization in 1870. He created a monopoly by taking advantage of
Political Cartoon by Udo J. Keppler
depicting Rockefeller's Standard Oil Tank
Americas nature fossil fuels. He bought several companies under fair terms, but a he also utilized cutthroat attacks to eliminate others. He often bribed politicians, and many suspected Rockefeller to be an underhanded businessman. It was thought that all his actions were motivated from greedy intentions. In the political cartoon by Udo J. Keppler, Rockefeller's Standard Oil tank is shown as an octopus. With its tentacles wrapped around the White House, US Capitol, State House, and shipping, steel, and copper industries, the octopus depicts Rockefeller's so-called selfish motives.

Due to his success in the industry field, Rockefeller's bank balance peaked to 900 million dollars, making him the wealthiest man in America's history. In an interview with William Hoster, Rockefeller said the following: " Having been endowed with the gift I possess, I believe it is my duty to make money and still more money and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of my conscience." From this wealthy balance, Rockefeller donated over 500 million dollars to charity and education. His efforts in supporting several charities helped eradicate yellow fever. Rockefeller was a believer in philanthropy and in two decades of philanthropic, he raised enough money to find the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, more commonly known as the Rockefeller Institute. In 1903, he established the General Education Board by spending $129 million to further advocate and encourage education in America. 

Regardless of his reputation in the industrial field, he spread his wealth and promoted education in America. Therefore, From his actions throughout his life, I believe Rockefeller had a positive impact on public society. 

          A story of rags to riches can be found in the life of Andrew Carnegie, a leading figure in the US steel industry. Originally an immigrant from Ireland, he began at the bottom of the ladder as a bobbin boy in a textile mill, with a weekly salary of $1.20. Soon he became a messenger in a telegraph office and amazed many by being able to differentiate the wire sounds without using the instruments, becoming one of the first operators in the country to take message by "sound". As he was promoted through several positions, such as the superintendent of telegraph lines, he was given advice and loans from a close friend of his, Thomas A. Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and he began to invest in telegraph, oil, iron, bridge, and railroad companies. Soon his annual income jumped to an astounding $50,000. 

"Forty-Millionaire Carnegie in his Great Double Role,"
(July 1892) A cartoon depicting Carnegie's double role
 of being a philanthropist while destroying the steel and
 iron worker's union
Carnegie decided to retire and take up a scholarly life; he traveled extensively throughout Europe to expand his management and business skills. Carnegie decided to seek out a new path in steel manufacturing in the early 1870s. By teaming up with leaders of Great Britain's steel industry, particularly Sir Henry Bessemer, Carnegie was able to learn a process that allowed a higher quality of steel to be manufactured at a low cost. By introducing this method in America, US steel production surpassed that of Britain's in 30 years, and all thanks to Carnegie's efforts. However, his reputation was affected by the violent Homestead Strike, which revealed Carnegie's plans to take down the steel and iron workers' union. As shown in the cartoon on the left, Carnegie was seen as a dual figure in society. By 1900, the Carnegie Steel Company collected a total of $350 million, controlling the bulk of US steel production, and making Carnegie the second richest man in the world. In 1901, he sold his company to JP Morgan and dedicated the rest of his life to scholarship and philanthropist.

Similar to Rockefeller, Carnegie made donations to public that totaled to about $350 million. This money went to thousands of public libraries and churches, to promote higher education. One of his philanthropic donations funded large pensions and benefits to former workers of the Carnegie Company. He established several institutions and schools such as the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and the Carnegie Institute of Washington. He well known for aiding funding the schools that make up the Carnegie Mellon University, that advocated education for African-Americans at the time. He distributed several other funds towards educational and medical research purposes. He also supervised the construction of the three Temples of Peace in Costa Rica, Netherlands, and Washington DC. 

After analyzing Carnegie's actions, I believe his efforts in introducing the revolutionary steel manufacturing method changed America's stance in the steel industry. His several contributions to benefit and encourage education was a purely positive impact on society.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Resolving Riots

After observing the battles of the Civil War, our next lesson focused on the situations of the African-American slaves after the war.
  The gruesome Civil War finally ended on April 9th, 1865 with the Union victorious. Regardless the conclusion of the war, everyone knew that there was another situation to deal with- the status of African American slaves. The situation was dealt with in two ways, from authorities such as the government, and from the slaves who helped themselves. Abraham Lincoln was the president at the time, and a strong supporter of the Union. To observe how America would deal with the slaves, our class was assigned to read four documents authored by Lincoln. From these documents we had to conclude Lincoln's goal of the war, his position on freeing the slaves, and evidence of his personal feelings on slavery. We also observed a painting and a letter regarding the topic of freeing slaves. We then had to decide whether slaves received freedom from above or from below, and create a diagram depicting our conclusion.
Diagram showing conclusions from each document after

          There were many times the freedom of slaves was considered from "above". In Lincoln's reply to an open letter from Horace Greeley, he writes "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery." His response didn't promise any freedom for the slaves. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln redefines freedom, but doesn't act towards the situation.

Lincoln's priority was to save the north first, and if in doing so he could free the slaves, his plan would be fully accomplished. In his personal opinion, he believed that all men should have equal rights. However, Lincoln did not let him beliefs mix in with his presidential actions, in fear of losing half of the Union support. Not everyone in the north were solid abolitionists, and Lincoln kept this in mind. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln executed the Emancipation Proclamation in order to encourage
the Union to keep fighting. But in this case the slaves in the border states were not free. In the Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, Lincoln officially makes freeing slaves a goal of the War. These few actions can be defined as help from above to free the enslaved.

          The help from the government didn't ensure freedom for the African American slaves. The most the Second Inaugural Address did was state that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. No action was currently being made to rectify the situation, so the slaves themselves decided to act upon it and enforce the issue. My class was assigned to analyze a letter from General Ambrose to the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. In this document, Ambrose writes to Stanton, irritated by the fugitive slaves surrounding fields and plantations. Fugitive slaves began to act, in a non-violent way, and became "a source of very great anxiety" to the soldiers. The slaves would have to be "dealt" with, therefore getting their freedom by helping themselves.

Due to these small rebel acts, the Fugitive Slave Act was repealed on July 5, 1864. The act stated that all free people, including local, state, and federal government officials, to assist slave catchers. Seeing as it was not effective having the law in place, Abraham Lincoln, signed the bill repealing the act into law. By cooperating with each other, the African-Americans succeeded in gaining their freedom on their own.

          While discrimination based on race is not as obvious as it was before, our society still struggles to treat everyone equally. Just by turning on the news channel, we can gather the calamities caused by the difference in race and skin color. Is it really necessary to seclude into groups because of the race we were born into? In cases such as the Ferguson unrest in Missouri, we can observe how society acts towards situations of discrimination. There has been a lot of heat towards the shootings taken place in Baltimore and Ferguson. Many claim that white policemen have taken advantage of their duty and use it against African Americans who seem "threatening". Using their power, the law enforcement has created quite a racket to protect to keep their good reputation up.

In my opinion, freedom for those who are facing such consequences are neither gaining freedom from above or below. The violent riots held by mobs in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri are only encouraging the law enforcement to fight back. The sad part, however, is that we have not yet seen the government take serious action to resolve the conflict. Perhaps it will take a few months or years to conclude these riots, and generations for people to realize that everyone should be given a fair chance, regardless of race, and not treated inferior to others based on their physical appearance.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hunting for Knowledge

This week our class observed the various battles that occurred in the East, West, and Naval theaters during the civil war. From these observations, we were able to understand the conclusions of the war.      
Map of major battles of the Civil War
      Now that our class has learned about the separations that were created due the elections of 1860, we began to observe the tactics of the Confederacy and the Union. The battles of the Civil War took place in three "theaters": in the west, east, and naval. Our goal was to conclude who the ultimate victor, the north or south, was in each of the theaters. To make this decision we went on a scavenger hunt!
Individuals or groups of two were assigned to a specific battle, and we spent a class to research the battle. Basic information such as the location, date, victor, theater, and reasons for the results were all gathered. This information was all put together in a Google doc with an image, and the first step in the hunt was done: creating the virtual stops. I was assigned to the battle of Antietam, that took place in Maryland. Once my online battle stop was created, a QR code and a shareable link to the Google doc was made, and printed out. The next day in class, we collaborated with the battle stops that came before and after, and exchanged the locations of our signs. After placing our battle signs in a place as tricky as possible, our class began the hunt.
The scavenger hunt took a total of two class, and in will admit that I got more of a workout during those periods than I did in my whole gym semester. I enjoyed learning about the battles using the hunt; it was more fun and hands-on than just taking notes. I think by engaging us in activities like this, classes can learn a lot about the subject without falling asleep.
      Once we gathered the basic information of all twenty battles, the victors of each theater were pretty obvious. My class used Padlet to put together everything learned from the hunt and analyze the conclusions.

Majority of my classmates concluded that the Union dominated in the western theater. Taking the advantages of the lack of supplies the Confederates had, in battles such as the Siege of Vicksburg, the Union. During the Chattanooga Campaign, the north created an effective advance that scattered the Confederate troops, and resulting in an ineffective strategy for the south. In both battles the Confederacy surrendered due to a loss of troops. 
It was concluded that the Union also dominated in the naval theater. The north was better prepared both in strategy and resources, causing a large loss of troops in the Confederate army (a situation similar to the one in the western theater). In battles such as the Surrender of Fort Donelson, the Union army received more reinforcements than the Confederates. These large number of troops surrounded the Confederates until they fled or surrendered.
However, when trying to decide which side conquered the eastern theater, our class was stuck. From the information of all the battles, the Union and the Confederacy seemed to have a fair share of victories. After furthering analyzing the dates of each victories, it was easy to observe that the north dominated in the east over time. As the Union learned new strategies and tactics to take on their rivals, the Confederates slowly ran low on supplies and troops. This imbalance allowed the Union to gain control of the once Confederate dominated eastern theater.
     Due to their lack of preparation and loss of troops the Confederates lost their battles, allowing the Union to conquer all three theaters. This lesson's format with the scavenger hunt and the use of padlet allowed me and many of my classmates to better understand the outcomes of the Civil War, and I hope we do more interactive activities in the future.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Linking Art

This week our class focused on the divisions and separations amongst the country right before the Civil War took place in 1861.

     The buildup of conflict amongst the states eventually led to varying opinions and separations. In order for our class to understand the reason for these divisions, we learned about the Election of 1860. The results of the election were representative of the deep divisions over slavery. The four parties were: Republican represented by Lincoln, Northern Democrat represented by Douglas,
Southern Democrat represented by Breckenridge, and Constitutional Union represented by Bell. All these parties wished to benefit the states they represented. However, Lincoln won the election with majority of the north voting for him.
     To learn more about this topic, our class split into group of two. We then visited an informational site of artwork on the Civil War. Our class was assigned to look further into the story behind the artwork. We had to then connect each topic to the Election. Using these pieces of art that depicted events before and during the war, each group was asked to create a brief documentary. We also had to choose other primary source artwork to fill in the time between the events from the online gallery. Our overall goal from this project was to figure out the results from the Election resulted in the divisions of the country. Below is the almost four minute video:

Civil War in Art
Civil War in Art. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum.  http://www.civilwarinart.org/exhibits/show/causes/introduction/the-election-of-1860-and-seces

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Guide On How to Win the Civil War

Once learning about the major reasons that led to the Civil War, our class was given several statistics related to the war. From this we were to analyze them and determine how they affected the strategies and success of the Union and Confederacy.
     The United States was entering a time of conflicting decisions and opinions in the mid-19th century. In my previous blog I discussed a few events that led up to the final decision of war. The anti-slavery advocates from the North were known as the Union, and the South fought for slavery as the Confederacy. Our class was given the statistics of the situation in the 1850s-60s. From this each student was assigned to create a pictorial representation, using the website Infogram, and determine how they impacted the outcome of the Civil War. While some points were obvious through the statistics, a few were a little tricky to connect and analyze.

     My infogram above holds statistics that I felt was necessary in helping understanding the situations faced by the Union and Confederacy at the start of the war. After analyzing the statistics, it was clear to notice that the North had several more advantages in the war than the South. With their easier modes of transportation, booming industries, and beneficial economy the North was better prepared than the South. A much larger portion of the population lived in the North giving them the advantage of a stronger Union army while allowing a sufficient labor force to remain behind.
The South also had a few advantages while compared with the North. Most of the nation's military colleges were in the South and the majority of trained officers were Southerners. These officers sided with the Confederacy, giving the South a better advantage of military technique and a trained army. The Southern army only needed to maintain a defensive position and keep from being beaten, while the North had to attack and conquer.
     Both the Union and Confederacy used their advantages and resources, and incorporated it in their military strategies. For example, the North shut down the ports so the South couldn't ship cotton, their most important industry, to Europe. The Northerners also prevented the South from importing the manufactured goods they needed. With no income from cotton exports, the South could not earn the money it needed to buy guns and maintain its armies. The Confederacy strategized a war of attrition: a military strategy in which one side inflicts continuous losses on the enemy in order to wear down their strength, then attacking until they surrendered. However, the North had the same strategy in mind and the Confederacy's plan backfired.
Both sides felt that they were fighting to preserve their way of life and believed their right to self government. While the Union for the free rights of slaves, the Confederacy fought to use them for their benefits. I found the infogram assignment interesting. I liked working independently and expressing my knowledge on the Civil War creatively. It also allowed me to analyze the war in a different perspective, enabling me to understand reasons behind the outcomes of one of the most disastrous events in America.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Elephant Named "Slavery"

Still focusing on the topic of slavery, our class spent the week following the events that took place in America during the mid-19th century. 
     Slavery was still an evident problem in the 1850s, with the rifts that were caused between the north and south. While the North advocated against slavery, the South equally fought against it. This debate in American politics was conspicuously caused by slavery. This type of situation in politics is known as an elephant in the room. In this case, the elephant, root issue, of slavery causing problems in society was avoided during this debate. To explore this issue further, our class followed and learned all the major events that took place. After being split into groups of three, we were assigned to create a timeline of the incidents that occurred between the North and South from 1820 to 1860. Our timeline was organized with all the events benefitting the North above the line and the events benefitting the South on the bottom:

Timeline: 1820-1859
     The event that led to several other occurrences relating to slavery to take place was the Compromise of 1850. All was fair in 1820 when the United States was evenly split into eleven free states and eleven slave states. This allowed the slave states and the free states to have an even number of votes in senate. However, the States were still growing and new territories were added. In order to settle any possible imbalance in the number of slave and free states, it was decided that all new territory north of the 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude line will be free in the future. The only reason this compromise was put in place was because of the two conflicting opinions of slavery. If the misunderstandings caused by the situation had been taken care of ahead of time, the events following the compromise would not have occurred.
     Three years after the Missouri Compromise, the Gadsden Purchase (1853) caused another
Gadsden Purchase vs
the land purchased through
the Treaty of Guadalupe
imbalance between the free and slave states. In 1848, the US paid $15 million for all of Nevada, California, Utah and much of Arizona and New Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a result of a victory of the war between Mexico. However, the US paid $10 million for a much smaller strip of land known as the Gadsden Purchase. The huge price difference per square mile is quite obvious. The small strip of land would eventually be used to provide a route for the southern transcontinental railroad, which would give the pro-slavery Southern citizens better access to the new territories. From the South's benefit from this purchase, it is easy to conclude why there was so much conflict between them and the North. With the results of the purchase, the North would decide their next move to excel above the South. This continuous process would end up in more drastic events than the one before it. Nevertheless, neither side looked out to find a solution to the main problem of slavery.
Effects of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854
     Out of the eight events discussed, I believe the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 was an occurrence that caused citizens to settle in the new territories. Due to the increase of railroad transportation in the North, travelling to the new territories was significantly easier and faster. The anti-slavery Northerners would have the same advantage as the Southerners, or pro-slavery settlers. Both regions would have a chance to send people to the new territories in order to vote for their state of slavery. However, this act violated the Missouri Compromise that was settle in 1850. Any place above the latitude line was open to slavery, and this benefitted the southerners to expand their pro-slavery land farther up North. These "small" actions led to further dangerous and violent situations with the main cause of slavery.
     One of these violent reactions from the build-up of events was the caning of Charles Sumner in 1856. Due to the misconceptions caused between the North and South, leading Senators and Representatives from both sides vigorously fought against each other. Not only was violence seen in the citizens but was also seen in the politicians who refused to believe that slavery was the root issue. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was one of the most anti-slavery voices in Congress. He gave the fiery speech "the Crime Against Kansas", attacking southerners for forcing slavery in the new territories. In this three day speech, Sumner pointedly blames Senator Andrew Butler from North Carolina. Sumner's words against Butler angered his nephew, Representative Preston Brooks, and Brooks beat Sumner with his cane. Sumner never fully recovered from Brooks' violent reaction and was unable to participate in Congress due to traumatic injuries. This event served as a reminder to both the sides of the consequences resulted from their battle of slavery.
      The build up of frustration and clash of opinions coming from the North and South resulted in a chain of events that lasted 10 years and into the Civil War- one of the bloodiest wars in American history. The slavery "elephant" was allowed to roam around the room and watch over all these events take place without being noticed. If only politicians had not ignored the debate over slavery and had tried to find a solution, those ten years could have been spent more wisely; and if the politicians had given some attention to the root cause of these occurrences, those thousands of lives lost in the course of this battle would have been saved.

Gallagher, Kerry. Elephant in the Room Lesson. Edline.net. Accessed: March 10.