The Civil Rights Era was a time of turbulence. Throughout the turmoil and conflict this time presented to the American public, four organizations formed and kept the new hope of the Civil Rights Movement alive. Playing a key role in the activities of the movement, these organizations—the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—helped run the various boycotts, protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations that history records during this vital era. Continue reading
Uncle Tom—a loving husband, father, friend—lived in Kentucky, a black man enslaved because of white superiority. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author deals with the harsh realities of slavery by emphasizing how slave masters treat their slaves. The entire story centers on a slave named Tom who was sold after his original master could not pay his debts. The three masters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin are Shelby, St. Clare, and Legree, each playing a key role in portraying a picture of slavery. Stowe’s firm belief that blacks are humans and therefore should be treated as such plays itself out in how these three masters treat poor Uncle Tom. Continue reading
Ever since the discovery of America by Europeans, the nations of Indians and whites have clashed over and over again in bloody battles of human brutality. This conflict would continue until the late 1800s. Many books have been written about the struggles between the Indians and the colonists, but one of the most gripping accounts is that of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity, which started after her house was attacked by Narraganset Indians on January 20, 1676. After her rescue, Rowlandson wrote a detailed account of her captivity in order that her friends might be able to see how good God was in sparing her life. Not only does she thank God for His many provisions in the narrative, but she also blames the Indians for their savage nature. During the eleven weeks that she spent as an Indian captive, Mary Rowlandson observed Indian life and agreed with her original prejudice that Indians were indeed barbarians.
Born April 13, 1844 in Limerick, Maine, Leroy Plummer Chase McKusick enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of the District of Columbia Infantry at the beginning of the Civil War. He fought at Bull Run (1861), Antietam (1862), and had his boot heel shot off at Gettysburg (1863). McKusick joined the military band in 1863, playing the solo alto horn until the end of the war in 1865. He played at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral as the band escorted the late president’s body from the Capitol at Washington, D.C. to the railroad station where Lincoln’s body rested in the funeral train before going to Springfield, Illinois.
On August 22, 1867, McKusick married Martha Eleanor Rand of Southport, Maine. They had six children: Mabel Lavinia Baker (1868), Arther Leroy McKusick (1870), Albert Rand McKusick (1875), Meredith Hall McKusick (1878), Jennie Ardelle Lyman (1880), and Forrest Nahum McKusick (1883). One of McKusick’s daughters recorded his war experiences in a letter to his grand-daughter Martha, named for his wife. Continue reading
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I finished my master’s thesis on the diary of Almanzo Litchard. He guarded Washington, D. C. during the first year of the Civil War. During this time, he visited the Smithsonian, the White House, and Mount Vernon, met President Lincoln, and listened to Congressional debates. My research adds historical significance to his diary entries as well as telling his life story.
My book can be purchased here.
– Hannah S. Bowers
Race is a major theme in American social history since 1865. Although the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s changed racial views, a true definition of race has never been created. Race is not an absolute, but rather it is an artificial social construction. Throughout history race has trumped religion, gender, and social class. The three races which have impacted America the most are the Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans, and African-Americans.
First of all, Jewish-Americans have played a vital role in American social history since the Victorian era. Since the Victorian culture believed in segregation, Jews were not allowed into the regular high-class businesses so their only option was to work in show-business. Jews had access to money because most of their assets were liquid since in Europe they could not own land. The film industry started in New York but the Jews moved the industry to Hollywood to escape the Victorian anti-Semitism. During the late eighteenth century, famous Jewish entertainers like Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Houdini, and Sophie Tucker left their marks on music and the theater. Continue reading
Objectivists and relativists continually argue over the connection between history and value judgments. Every historian uses value judgments when writing history. Objectivists believe that historians can still present history as it really happened because they can explain facts and show the necessary or sufficient conditions despite value judgments. Relativists say that objectivity is impossible because historians impose a structure on the past through their own personalities and values.
Value-free judgment is desirable, but impossible because of selection, language, history itself, and historical documents. Every historian picks and chooses what he needs to tell his story, and normally he only picks what is important to himself. History is a reflection of values because human activity is value-charged. Moral value judgments are more present in history because historians use ordinary English to write history, and English does not have a specialized non-value-laden set of terms. English words carry value judgments because they are used in so many contexts. Even primary documents have value-laden language. Continue reading
Marx proposed that an understanding of the mechanics of economics was necessary to understand changes in history. He borrowed ideas to shape his own utopian world view, and he chose to study Auguste Comte, Georg Hegel, and Adam Smith.
Comte believed that thought progresses with the material world. Being a Positivist, he claimed that man was governed by natural law. Comte also believed that society was independent of man, and society was driven by law.
Hegel noted that private property caused problems because it involved the division of labor. Every epoch had its own tools which were the basis of the social and economic relations, and change occurred when the tools changed. Man must superimpose his will over the progress in order to bring about revolution. Marx could not reconcile Hegel with Comte because if the process was driven by law, then man could not change the process. So Marx redefined the dialectic instead. Continue reading
Positivists offer many criticisms of historical narrative, and François Furet was the leading critic. First, Furet argued that narrative puts history into a sequence of events. Historians cannot discuss two simultaneous events when writing in the narrative, therefore historians construct history. Secondly, narrative is unscientific in focusing upon subject matters which it characteristically treats as unique. Furet argued that historians should write about classes of events like wars, revolutions, or famines. The purpose of such study would be to find a theoretical understanding of the material. Third, narrative historians are dependent on literary sources. Literary sources only contain the recollections of the original writers who were the elites of society because they were literate so historians have no concept of how the lower classes really lived. Fourth, narrative history is passive in the sense of not being problem-oriented, and history should be used to solve the problems of today. Lastly, narratives are always geared towards a final result because they are written like novels. Sometimes historians even look into details that seem to have no significance at all, and they come up with some great secondary meaning that does not really exist. Continue reading