Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Father Coughlin = Glen Beck?

I have been making the link between Coughlin and Beck during the Depression unit for years. I'm not the only one who has noticed the similarities.

Here are posters for their rallies for America:

From the Washington Post (article reprinted for educational purposes):

Why Glenn Beck lost it
By Dana Milbank, Wednesday, April 6, 5:19 PM

On Friday, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, as businesses added jobs for the 13th straight month.

On Wednesday, Fox News announced that it was ending Glenn Beck’s daily cable-TV show.

These are not unrelated events.

When Beck’s show made its debut on Fox News Channel in January 2009, the nation was in the throes of an economic collapse the likes of which had not been seen since the 1930s. Beck’s angry broadcasts about the nation’s imminent doom perfectly rode the wave of fear that had washed across the nation, and the relatively unknown entertainer suddenly had 3 million viewers a night — and tens of thousands answering his call to rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

But as the recession began to ease, Beck’s apocalyptic forecasts and ominous conspiracies became less persuasive, and his audience began to drift away. Beck responded with a doubling-down that ultimately brought about his demise on Fox.

He pushed further into dark conspiracies, urging his viewers to hoard food in their homes and to buy freeze-dried meals for sustenance when civilization breaks down. He spun a conspiracy theory in which the American left was in cahoots with an emerging caliphate in the Middle East. And, most ominously, he began to traffic regularly in anti-Semitic themes.

This vile turn for Beck reached its logical extreme two weeks ago, when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”

Griffin’s Web site dabbles in a variety of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including his view that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order.”

A month earlier, Beck, on his radio program, had described Reform rabbis as “generally political in nature,” adding: “It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way.”

A few months before that, he had attacked the Jewish billionaire George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, as a “puppet master” and read descriptions of him as an “unscrupulous profiteer” who “sucks the blood from people.” Beck falsely called Soros “a collaborator” with Nazis who “saw people into the gas chambers.”

Fox deserves credit for finally putting an end to this. Its joint statement with Beck’s production company, claiming that they will “work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects,” is almost certainly window-dressing; you can be confident Fox won’t have Beck reopening what his Fox News colleague Shepard Smith dubbed the “fear chamber.”

In banishing Beck, about whom I wrote a critical book last year, Fox has made an important distinction: It’s one thing to promote partisan journalism, but it’s entirely different to engage in race baiting and fringe conspiracy claims. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity may have their excesses, but their mainstream conservatism is in an entirely different category from Beck.

Fox has rightly, if belatedly, declared that there is no place for Beck’s messages on its airwaves, and Beck will return to the fringes, where such ideas have always existed. Because his end-of-the-world themes will no longer be broadcast by a mainstream outlet, there will be less of a chance for him to inspire off-balance characters to violence.

There are, happily, signs that the influences that undermined Beck are doing the same to other purveyors of fear. The March Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Sarah Palin’s favorability rating among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents had dropped to 58 percent from 70 percent in October and 88 percent in 2008. Her negative ratings among Republicans are higher than those of other prospective Republican presidential candidates.

In another indication of abating anger, a CNN poll released last week found that the percentage of the public viewing the Tea Party unfavorably had increased to 47 percent, from 26 percent in January 2010. Thirty-two percent have a favorable view.

Beck, in losing his mass-media perch, is repeating the history of Father Charles Coughlin, the radio priest of the Great Depression. Economic hardship gave him an audience even greater than Beck’s, but as his calls to drive “the money changers from the temple” became more vitriolic, his broadcast sponsors dropped him. He gradually faded from relevance as his angry themes lost their hold on Americans and his anti-Semitism became more pronounced.

It is a sign of the nation’s health and resilience that Beck, after 27 months at Fox, is meeting a similar end.

Questions for Review

World War Two Cooperative Learning Group members: ______________________

Discuss and answer each question within your group. Take notes for yourself.

A) Trace the course of Hitler’s aggression from the occupation of the Rhineland to the invasion of Poland.
B) Why did the Allies give in at Munich?
C) How did Churchill keep Britain in the war?
D) Why was isolationism so strong in America?
E) Explain how FDR helped Britain with the destroyers for bases deal and the lend-lease program.
F) Why did the United States impose an oil embargo on Japan?
G) Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? What did Japan hope to accomplish?
H) Explain the “Hitler First” policy.
I) Explain the strategy of “island hopping.”
J) Why did the United States drop atomic bombs on Japan?
K) Explain the role played by African-American soldiers.
L) Who were the Nisei and what role did they play in the war?
M) Who were the code talkers and what role did they play in the war?
N) Discuss the contributions of the braceros.
O) What happened at Nuremburg?
P) Explain how the United States financed the war.
Q) How did women’s lives change as a result of the war?
R) Assess the constitutionality of the Japanese internment.
S) Was America really fighting for the “Four Freedoms?”

Part II: Battles
Explain who won (and the significance of) each of the following battles:

Battle of the Atlantic
El Alamein
Coral Sea
Iwo Jima

Part III: People
Explain the roles each of the following people played in the war:

Rosie the Riveter

WW II Crib notes

WW II Crib Sheet

Europe: Hitler's aggression
Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
WW II in Europe:
Fall of France
Battle of Britain
German invasion of Soviet Union
Pre-entry America:
Aid to Britain
WWII in Asia
Japanese expansionism
1930s invasion of Manchuria and rest of China
Oil/Steel Embargo
Pearl Harbor
American Entry
Allied Strategy
Germany first
North Africa
Strategic bombing/carpet bombing
Coral Sea
Island hopping
Iwo Jima
Strategic bombing/fire bombing
American Changes
African-Americans in combat roles
Jump starting civi rights
Zoot suits
Internment of Japanese-Americans
Women in Industry
War economy ends depression
War bonds (borrowing) - Income tax to finance war
Draft calls 12 million into service
The Holocaust/
Social Darwinism
Mentally retarded/elderly/disabled
Nuremburg Trials
Two superpowers emerge
Division of Germany
Democratic Japan
Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe
United Nations
Security Council
Important leaders:
Chiang Kai-Shek
Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ripple Effects

In class we traced the "Nat Turner" hystrerical fear of the sexuality of the black man which led to rampant fears of miscegenation from Jefferson's hypocrisy through the antebellum period, through the Redeemer governments, lynching/castrations, Mandingo, Willie Horton, and Harold Ford, ending up with the Lexus commercial showing us a post-miscegenationist-fear world of comfortable race mixing.

But I bet that Lexus commercial was not aired in Mississippi.

A recent poll of Republican primary voters revealed:

History matters, folks.

(Sorry, Ama, I didn't see a breakdown by gender, but you are free to peruse the crosstabs in the linked poll).

Time's Civil War Article

Wow.  It's like two weeks of Tueting condensed into one article!

Article reprinted below for educational purposes:

Thursday, Apr. 07, 2011

The Way We Weren't

A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

It was not a controversial statement at the time. Indeed, Southern leaders were saying similar things during those fateful days. But 150 years later, Americans have lost that clarity about the cause of the Civil War, the most traumatic and transformational event in U.S. history, which left more than 625,000 dead — more Americans killed than in both world wars combined.

Shortly before the Fort Sumter anniversary, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,500 adults across the country, asking what the North and South were fighting about. A majority, including two-thirds of white respondents in the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, answered that the South was mainly motivated by "states' rights" rather than the future of slavery.

The question "What caused the Civil War?" returns 20 million Google hits and a wide array of arguments on Internet comment boards and discussion threads. The Civil War was caused by Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation. Or it was caused by high tariffs. Or it was caused by blundering statesmen. Or it was caused by the clash of industrial and agrarian cultures. Or it was caused by fanatics. Or it was caused by the Marxist class struggle.

On and on, seemingly endless, sometimes contradictory — although not among mainstream historians, who in the past generation have come to view the question much as Lincoln saw it. "Everything stemmed from the slavery issue," says Princeton professor James McPherson, whose book Battle Cry of Freedom is widely judged to be the authoritative one-volume history of the war. Another leading authority, David Blight of Yale, laments, "No matter what we do or the overwhelming consensus among historians, out in the public mind, there is still this need to deny that slavery was the cause of the war."

It's not simply a matter of denial. For most of the first century after the war, historians, novelists and filmmakers worked like hypnotists to soothe the posttraumatic memories of survivors and their descendants. Forgetting was the price of reconciliation, and Americans — those whose families were never bought or sold, anyway — were happy to pay it.

But denial plays a part, especially in the South. After the war, former Confederates wondered how to hold on to their due pride after a devastating defeat. They had fought long and courageously; that was beyond question. So they reverse-engineered a cause worthy of those heroics. They also sensed, correctly, that the end of slavery would confer a gloss of nobility, and bragging rights, on the North that it did not deserve. As Lincoln suggested in his second Inaugural Address, the entire nation, North and South, profited from slavery and then paid dearly for it.

The process of forgetting, and obscuring, was long and layered. Some of it was benign, but not all. It began with self-justifying memoirs by defeated Confederate leaders and was picked up by war-weary veterans on both sides who wanted to move on. In the devastated South, writers and historians kindled comforting stories of noble cavaliers, brilliant generals and happy slaves, all faithful to a glorious lost cause. In the prosperous North, where cities and factories began filling with freed slaves and their descendants, large audiences were happy to embrace this idea of a time when racial issues were both simple and distant.

History is not just about the past. It also reveals the present. And for generations of Americans after the Civil War, the present did not have room for that radical idea laid bare by the conflict: that all people really are created equal. That was a big bite to chew.

The once obvious truth of the Civil War does not imply that every soldier had slavery on his mind as he marched and fought. Many Southerners fought and died in gray never having owned a slave and never intending to own one. Thousands died in blue with no intention to set one free. But it was slavery that had broken one nation in two and fated its people to fight over whether it would be put back together again. The true story is not a tale of heroes on one side and villains on the other. Few true stories are. But it is a clear and straightforward story, and so is the tale of how that story became so complicated.

Bleeding Kansas
History textbooks say the Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter. The fact is, however, that the Founding Fathers saw the whole thing coming. They walked away from the Constitutional Convention fully aware that they had planted a time bomb; they hoped future leaders would find a way to defuse it before it exploded. As the Constitution was being written, James Madison observed, "It seems now to be pretty well understood that the real difference of interests lies not between the large and small but between the Northern and Southern states. The institution of slavery and its consequences form the line."

As long as the disagreement remained purely a matter of North and South, the danger seemed manageable. But then North and South looked to the west. All that land, all those resources — the idea that the frontier might be closed off to slavery was unacceptable to the South. It felt like an indictment and an injustice rolled into one. Slave owners were not immune to the expansionary passion of 19th century America. They too needed room to grow, and not just to plant more cotton. Slaves could grow hemp and mine gold and build railroads and sew clothes. The economic engine of slavery was immensely powerful. Slaves were the single largest financial asset in the United States of America, worth over $3.5 billion in 1860 dollars — more than the value of America's railroads, banks, factories or ships. Cotton was by far the largest U.S. export. It enriched Wall Street banks and fueled New England textile mills. This economic giant demanded a piece of the Western action.

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act proposed to let territorial settlers decide the future of slavery. Never in U.S. history had so much depended on so few so far beyond the rule of law. There was a footrace to the distant prairie, and Kansas, where the racers clashed, was where the war started, not Fort Sumter. And everyone involved knew exactly what the killing was about.

It was on May 21, 1856, that a proslavery army, hauling artillery and commanded by U.S. Senator David Rice Atchison of Missouri, laid waste to the antislavery bastion of Lawrence, Kans. "Boys, this is the happiest day of my life," Atchison declared as his men prepared to teach "the damned abolitionists a Southern lesson that they will remember until the day they die."

One of those abolitionists was John Brown, who tried to come to the aid of Lawrence but arrived too late. Three days later, as Brown pondered what to do next, a messenger arrived with news from far-off Washington: an antislavery leader, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, had been clubbed nearly to death by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks while sitting at his desk in the Senate chamber after delivering a fiery speech titled "The Crime Against Kansas." Brown went "crazy — crazy" at the news, his son reported. That night he led a small group, including four of his sons, to a proslavery settlement on Pottawatomie Creek. Announcing themselves as "the Northern army," Brown's band rousted five men, led them into the darkness and hacked them to death with swords.

Two contending armies, artillery fire and flames, bloodshed in the Senate and corpses strewn over dew-damp ground. People at the time knew exactly what to call it: civil war. Kansas Territorial Governor Wilson Shannon used the phrase himself in a warning to President Franklin Pierce. "We are standing on a volcano," Shannon added.

The reason for the eruption was simple. As Brown explained, "In Kansas, the question is never raised of a man, Is he a Democrat? Is he a Republican? The questions there raised are, Is he a Free State man? or Is he a proslavery man?" This is why armies marched and shells burst and swords flashed.

The Fracture
From there, the remaining steps to Fort Sumter seemed to follow inexorably. The Supreme Court, in its infamous Dred Scott decision, tried to answer the question in favor of slave-holders. The backlash was furious. In Kansas, settlers passed competing constitutions, one slave and one free, and the battle over which one Congress should accept splintered the Democratic Party. When Stephen A. Douglas failed to reunite the Democrats in 1860, he opened the door to a Lincoln victory.

Meanwhile, Brown organized a quixotic plot to invade the South and stir up an army of slaves. Quickly captured at the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va., tried for treason and hanged, he was hailed by abolitionists as a martyr. After that, the idea that Northern Republicans supported slave rebellion became the defining theme, for Southerners, of the 1860 election. A vote for Lincoln was in many minds a vote for the sort of blood-soaked insurrection that had freed the slaves of Haiti and left thousands of white slave owners dead.

Abolitionists had "inspired [slaves] with vague notions of freedom," explained President James Buchanan as he prepared to leave office. "Many a matron throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and her children before morning," making "disunion... inevitable." As Southern states began to declare their independence, they echoed this theme. South Carolina's leaders indicted the North for encouraging "thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and those who have remained have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection." Mississippi affirmed, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world," adding, "There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union." Georgians declared, "We refuse to submit."

Even as the conflict turned to all-out war, many people still hoped for a way to put things back as they had been. As George McClellan, General in Chief of the Union Army, wrote to a friend in 1861, "I am fighting to preserve the integrity of the Union & the power of the [government] — on no other issue. To gain that end, we cannot afford to raise up the negro question — it must be incidental and subsidiary." His words go to the root of a persistent question: How could slavery be the cause of the war when so many in blue had no interest in emancipation? McClellan was speaking for the millions whose goal was not to free the slaves but to preserve the Union.

What McClellan did not perceive, though, was that the Union and slavery had become irreconcilable. The proposition on which the revolutionaries of 1776 had staked their efforts — the fundamental equality of individuals — was diametrically opposed by the constitution of the new Confederacy. "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition," explained Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. In other words, the warring sides had stripped their arguments to first principles, and those principles could no longer be compromised.

Fogging Memory
The forgetting began with exhaustion. "From 1865" — the year the war ended — "until the 1880s, there was a paucity of writings about the war that really sold," says Harvard historian John Stauffer. "Americans weren't ready to deal with the reality of the war because of the carnage and the devastation." When an appetite for the story began to return, readers embraced only certain kinds of memories. There was no market for books of war photographs. Ulysses Grant's 1885 memoirs were a best-seller, but the Union general gave almost no attention to the events leading up to Lincoln's call for troops, while his touching account of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox strongly conveyed the idea that it was best to move on. There was an avid audience for essays by military leaders in the magazine The Century, describing their battles in minute detail but paying scant attention to the big picture. This "Battles and Leaders" series spawned an endless literature that, some critics say, treats the terrible conflict as if it were America's original Super Bowl, Yankees vs. Rebs, complete with watercooler analysis of the play calling, fumbles and Hail Marys.

The first publishing success to really engage the reasons for the war was a strange and rambling book by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Twenty years earlier, Davis had framed the choice to secede in simple terms: "Will you consent to be robbed of your property" —meaning slaves — or will you "strike bravely for liberty, property, honor and life?" But looking back, he preferred to say that the slavery issue had been trumped up by "political demagogues" in the North "as a means to acquire power."

Davis' book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, became a polestar for the Lost Cause school of Civil War history, which takes its name from an 1866 book by Richmond newspaper editor Edward Pollard. Highly selective and deeply misleading, the story of the Lost Cause was immediately popular in the South because it translated the Confederacy's defeat into a moral victory. It pictured antebellum life as an idyll of genteel planters and their happy "servants" whose "instincts," in Davis' words, "rendered them contented with their lot... Never was there happier dependence of labor and capital on each other."  But then: "The tempter came, like the serpent of Eden, and decoyed them with the majic word of 'freedom.'" Though outgunned and outnumbered, the South fought heroically to defend itself from aggressors whose factories up north were the true slave drivers. And though God-fearing warriors like Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson outgeneraled their foes at every turn, ultimately the federal swarm was too large and too savage to repel.

The Lost Cause story required a massive case of amnesia. Before the war, Southerners would have scoffed at the idea that the North was overwhelmingly stronger. They believed that King Cotton was the dominant force on earth and that powerful Britain — where roughly 1 in 5 people depended on cotton for a living — would intervene to ensure Confederate victory.

But people were eager to forget. And so Americans both Southern and Northern flocked to minstrel shows and snapped up happy-slave stories by writers like Thomas Nelson Page and Joel Chandler Harris. White society was not ready to deal with the humanity and needs of freed slaves, and these entertainments assured them that there was no need to. Reconstruction was scorned as a fool's errand, and Jim Crow laws were touted as sensible reforms to restore a harmonious land.

A Quarrel Forgotten
Instead of looking back, postwar Presidents stressed the future, adopting the reconciling tone of Grant at Appomattox. William McKinley, assassinated in 1901, was the last Civil War veteran to lead the country. His successor, Theodore Roosevelt, was the living embodiment of reconciliation and moving forward. His father had served the Union cause; his plantation-raised mother had supported the South; his childhood was a master tutorial in leaving certain things unsaid in the pursuit of harmony.

By the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, it was nearly impossible to know from the commemoration why the war had happened or who had won. The year was 1913, and the President was Woodrow Wilson, the first Southerner to hold the office since 1850. Wilson had been a historian before entering politics, and his book A History of the American People was tinged with Lost Cause interpretations. He described the Ku Klux Klan as "an empire of the South" created by men "roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation." It was no surprise, then, that his remarks at Gettysburg completely avoided slavery. Instead he chose to talk about "gallant men in blue and gray ... our battles long past, our quarrels forgotten."

So what was remembered? Two years after Wilson spoke at Gettysburg, partly influenced by Wilson's book, filmmaker D.W. Griffith debuted The Birth of a Nation. It was the first film in history with a six-figure production budget, yet by selling out theaters at the unheard-of price of $2 per ticket — nearly $44 in current dollars — Griffith made a fortune. The movie brought the Lost Cause to cinematic life, with the Klan saving the day in the final reel, rescuing white families from a group of marauding blacks. Then in 1939, a new Lost Cause melodrama made an even bigger impact: David O. Selznick's Gone with the Wind. The story of plucky Scarlett O'Hara and the sad destruction of her "pretty world" of "Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South" is the top-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation, according to the website Box Office Mojo.

Both films begin in an antebellum South where all is peaceful and bright and trace the sad fall from paradise into a hellish postwar world of carpetbagging Northerners and rapacious, incompetent freed slaves. Such powerful cultural images were buttressed by the academic work of leading historians. At Columbia University, William A. Dunning established himself as the leading authority on the postwar South, and he brought up a generation of scholars with the belief that blacks were incapable of equality and that Reconstruction was a disastrous injustice.

Equally influential was University of Illinois historian James G. Randall, who towered among Lincoln scholars. Horrified by the senseless carnage of World War I, Randall saw it foreshadowed in the trenches and torched fields of the Civil War. The chief villains, in Randall's orthodoxy, were Northern abolitionists with their "reforming zeal."

Reigning over the study of slavery was Yale's U.B. Phillips, the son of slave owners. For decades he was the only scholar to undertake a systematic examination of the plantation economy, which, he argued, was a benign and civilizing force for African captives. He concluded that slavery was an unprofitable system that would have soon died out peacefully. That would have surprised the Southerners who in the 1850s certainly believed there was money to be made in slavery. In the decade before the war, per capita wealth grew more than twice as fast in the South as it did in the North, and the prices of slaves and land both rose by some 70%. If slavery was dying out, it sure was hard to tell.

Why It Matters
Historians began to break the grip of forgetfulness after World War II, as the civil rights movement restarted the march toward equality. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt ordered equal treatment for "workers in defense industries or government." The next President, Harry Truman, desegregated the armed forces. The next one, Dwight Eisenhower, dispatched federal troops to enforce school desegregation in Arkansas. And so on, step by little step.

In 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line, John Hope Franklin, a black historian then at Howard University, published From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. This runaway best seller revolutionized academic discussion of the black experience. The same year, Columbia's Allan Nevins published the first of eight volumes of Ordeal of the Union, which explored America's road to disaster in great depth and clarity.

The Dunning School lost its grip on Reconstruction when C. Vann Woodward of Johns Hopkins published The Strange Career of Jim Crow in 1955. The following year, Kenneth Stampp at Berkeley did the same to U.B. Phillips with The Peculiar Institution, which examined the slave system through the eyes of the slaves themselves for the first time.

With the centennial of the war approaching, a flood of outstanding Civil War history books hit shelves, and the half-century since then has been rich in scholarship. Robust controversies rage and always will, but the distortion and occluded memory that shaped the Lost Cause story is found now only on the academic fringe. What energy exists in the modern version comes from a clique of libertarians who view the Union cause as a fearsome example of authoritarian central government crushing individual dissent. Slave owners make odd libertarian heroes, but by keeping the focus narrowly on Big Government, this school uses the secession cause to dramatize issues of today. Outside academia, denial remains an irresistible temptation for some politicians. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell last year issued a 400-word Confederate History Month proclamation without a single mention of slavery. "There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states," McDonnell later explained. "Obviously it involved slavery, it involved other issues, but I focused on the ones that I thought were most significant for Virginia." (Barraged by criticism, he corrected the omission.)

And in popular culture, as University of Virginia historian Gary Gallagher writes, "The Lost Cause's Confederacy of gallant leaders and storied victories in defense of home ground retains enormous vitality." It shows up in movies like Gods and Generals, in commemorative paintings, decorative plates and battlefield re-enactments. By contrast, Gallagher searches in vain for a scene in any recent film that "captures the abiding devotion to Union that animated soldiers and civilians in the North."

Why does this matter? Because the Civil War gave us, to an unmatched degree, the nation we became — including all the good stuff. Had secession succeeded, it's unlikely that there could have been a stable, tranquil coexistence between an independent North and South. Slaves would have continued running away. The riches of the West would have been just as enticing. There never would have been the sort of roisterous hodgepodge of wide-open energy that America became. One of the blessings of being able to set up shop on a new continent was that Americans never had to be defined by clan or tribe or region. We're the people who order a Coke from Atlanta and some New England clam chowder at a diner in Las Vegas. The place where a boy from Mississippi goes to California to make a movie called Blue Hawaii. Secession was about making more borders. At its best, Americanism is about tearing them down.

To be blind to the reason the war happened is to build a sort of border of the mind, walling off an important truth. Slavery was not incidental to America's origins; it was central. There were slaves at Jamestown. In the 1600s, writes Yale's David Brion Davis, a towering figure among historians, slave labor was far more central to the making of New York than to the making of Virginia. As late as 1830, there were 2,254 slaves in New Jersey. Connecticut did not abolish slavery until 1848, a scant eight years before the fighting broke out in Kansas. Rhode Island dominated the American slave trade until it was outlawed in 1808. The cotton trade made Wall Street a global financial force. Slaves built the White House.

Furthermore, if slavery had spread to the West, the country would have found itself increasingly isolated in the world. Russia emancipated its serfs in 1861. The once sprawling slave system that had stretched from Canada to South America was by 1808 still vital only in Brazil, Cuba and the U.S. The first nation founded on the principle of liberty came dangerously close to being among the last slave economies on earth.

Two fallacies prop up the wall of forgetfulness. The first is that slavery somehow wasn't really that important — that it was a historical relic, unprofitable, dying out, or that all societies did it, or that the slaves were happy. But slavery was important, and not just to the 4 million men, women and children enslaved — a number equal to the population of Los Angeles today. And the fact that it ended is important too.

The second fallacy is that this was only the South's problem and that the North solved it. Not long ago, the New-York Historical Society mounted its largest-ever exhibition, titled "Slavery in New York." You can still visit the website and listen to public reactions. Over and over again, visitors repeat the same theme: as a teacher, as a college graduate, as a native New Yorker, "I knew absolutely nothing about this." As long as that belief persists, spoken or unspoken, Americans whose hearts lie with Dixie will understandably continue to defend their homes and honor against such Yankee arrogance.

Lincoln's words a few weeks before his death were often quoted after the war by those who wanted not just to forgive but also to forget: "With malice toward none, with charity for all." But those words drew their deepest power from the ones he spoke just before them: "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

In other words, the path to healing and mercy goes by way of honesty and humility. After 150 years, it's time to finish the journey.

Cool Source For Twenties Morality

Google NGram lets you see the changing frequency of word usage over time.  This can be an excellent way to do a holistic check on what society is concerned about in any given period.  Go play around with it.  To get you started, try "shellshock" and see how closely it is associated with World War One.

Bonus Class Notes: Morality in the Twenties

Morality of the Twenties

“The Revolution of Morals”
William Leuchtenburg’s “Perils of Prosperity”

Split reactions to WW I and rejection of “progress”:
Reactionary return to past
Live for today/nihilism

Decline in fear of hell = materialism
Advertising (third stage in American history: conspicuous consumption driven by wants characterized as needs)
“Turn your armpit into a charmpit”
Status revolution
Credit: Avoid hardship today.

Decline of politics

Urban/Rural cooperation untenable; too many issues at odds. World view differences (and reaction to WW I) drive a stake through progressivism’s heart.

Decline of family

Anonymity (camp effect)
Modern connection: Front porch, broken window theory
Clarification: premarital sex is not new: exists throughout history
Channeled by culture (Bundling in colonial period)
Quantitative history – 7 month premies everywhere in late 1800s.
Pre-1920s premarital sex was monogamous, controlled by societal mores, and done in the context of pre-marriage courtship (checking compatibility/fertility)
Post WW I: Promiscuity ‘cause it is fun (but not for you. Wait until you are married).

Female assertiveness (maelstrom with other factors?)
War work
Definition of self outside of family caretaker
Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Not only an American phenomenon – Henrik Ibsen’s Doll House
Margaret Sanger: Autonomy over own decisions, particularly decision to be a mother.
Women no longer seen as receptacles of virtue; acknowledgement of female sex drive. Previously, women were taught that liking sex was wrong.
If they did like it, they couldn’t share that shameful secret with their partners/friends: self disgust.
“Close your eyes and think of England”
“Every woman is at heart a rake!” – Alexander Pope
Flappers “Lovely, expensive, and about 19” – F. Scott Fiztgerald
Gender blurring with hairstyles, dresses, language, and smoking (hemline counterargument)
Fed by World War One males: “Camp effect”/anonymity: French prostitutes and shaved legs
Rural: Honey, this is what I find attractive (but private within couples) – imprinting from first experience
Urban: Young women, ‘cause they like it to, want to send availability signals: Shaved and REVEALED legs (1980’s: Tongue ring. 2000: Tramp stamp)

Vulgarity: Challenges to acceptable language (Hemmingway a leading light).
“Farewell to Arms” - Sex outside marriage.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Romantic “A rose is a rose is a rose” becomes “A bitch is a bitch is a bitch.”
NGram of word usage: “Bitch” – now refers to women and not just breeding canines. Also acknowledges the idea of “heat” – women’s sexuality while at the same time demeaning it.

Sexual repression?
Misunderstood by population (compare to Darwin)
Responsibility, self control, NOT lascivious liscentatious libertine libidos
If mental illness is cause by repressing sexual drives, don’t repress them (justification)

Mass culture
Yellow journalism
Sex sells!
Novels too: Hemmingway’s Sun Also Rises (bitch!) paves the way for South Park (shit!)

Reaction against past spreads to history
“History is more or less bunk!” – Henry Ford
Historical homes as conspicuous consumption
Dada movement


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jon Stewart, Mike Huckabee, and David Barton

Start at 4:05.

A very civil discussion.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Mike Huckabee Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Math Tutorials

These aren't US history related, but here is a site full of youtube videos explaining all kinds of math activities (and a few other things):

Khan Academy

AP Point Opportunities

From AP Alum Sam's dad:

This free event is the first in a series inviting JMU and community members to attend lectures delivered by JMU Faculty Emeriti on a wide variety of interesting topics.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:00 p.m., Memorial Hall

Choose from one of two concurrent lectures: 

Civil War Humor 
On this 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil 
War, Cameron Nickels will share stories from his new 
book about humor during the period 1861—1865. 
(Hiner Room 2110) 

A Narrative and Musical Introduction to the Blues 
Greg Versen and Bob Bersson will introduce and 
discuss this decidedly American musical genre, its place 
in our history and its contribution to our culture. 
(Room 3150)

The Bully Pulpit

(We didn't have time to do the TR biography, but if you are a TR fan (and who isn't), you might skim over my notes.  I'd offer a bonus class but we already have something scheduled every afternoon through a week from Friday.

Theodore Roosevelt recast the role of the presidency.

He viewed his political position as an opportunity to persuade the American pulpit.
Of course, previous presidents tried to influence public opinion (one example: Gettysburg Address).  However, T.R. used the new media to create a celebrity persona – he’s not just aiming at the decision makers but at the man on the street.

Bully Pulpit (define)

Other good practitioners:
FDR (Fireside chats)
Kennedy (I have a dream)
Reagan (Morning in America)

Force of personality, speaking ability key (overcame voice with force of personality, study of great speakers of past).

T.R.’s rise:

From a Patroon family (review term) Roooooos e velt: Family money; made transition from land wealth to industrial wealth.
Sickly lad: Eclectic autodidact bibliophile.  Fiercely honed intellect.  Eidetic recall. Capable of divided attention.
Wide interests: Politician, historian (1812,WW, over a dozen others, AHA), novelist, scientist, explorer, hunter, athlete, warrior, bon vivant, policeman.

Overcame asthma by sheer force of will and exercise –
Horatio Alger; importance of willpower.  Man is in charge of his own destiny.  Individualism can triumph over circumstance.
            The Strenuous Life
Bullied as child: Response?

Father joined Republican party; government as a way to advance social good (end slavery)
Father a war profiteer, took $300 exemption – had a deep impact on TR.
Gilded Age wealth – could follow interests BUT urge to prove himself.

Hahvahd man.  Thesis: War of 1812 (naval power: Link to Mahan; Henry Adams)
Columbia – dropped out – Elected to New York legislature at 23.  Elected speaker of the House.  Allied with mugwumps: Anti-corruption crusader.  Like most progressives, (small p) in favor of government for people but distrustful of people’s ignorance: “A vote is like a rifle”

Wife died.  Heartbroken. (Will eventually remarry and have five more kids)

Moved to Dakota territory.  Cowboy or “dude?”
Could be friends with Harvard swells and Vaqueros (review term)

Kept academic interests: “Winning of the West”
            Thesis: Individualism of Western Americans was caused by frontier.   Social Darwinism (Immigration + frontier = more fit Americans (pro-war as improving fitness)
            Influenced FJT (Review)

Came back:
Civil Service Commission (Review Pendleton Act) Stamped out corruption.  Efficiency!
Appointed by both Rep and Dem presidents
Law experience: Became head of NY police
            Stamped out corruption.  Efficiency!
Appointed Undersec of Navy (Like Churchill and FDR – comparisons)
            John D. Long
            New fleet (Mahan)
            Dewey to the Phillippines
Once war begins, doesn’t want to be left out (Dad, individualism, strenuous life, service)

Recruiting the Rough Riders
            From all aspects of his life; integrated unit. (pg. 45; all men judged for individual worth, but some stereotype of “average worth”)
            Could have been elected Colonel – but instead asked professional (Civil service comparison) Colonel Leonard Wood (best soldier in army, future COS).
                        BUT threw himself into study – after long physical days, read war strategy.  Unbelievable energy.
            Corruption meant no equipment – paid to arm his regiment out of his own pocket.  Hideous expense.
            Cuba – corruption still exists (examples)
            San Juan Hill
                        Gloried in combat (like Churchill) and wrote stories for back home (like Churchill) and won fame (like Churhcill)
            Medal of Honor (and son) – only other pair is MacArthurs and jr. didn’t get it for combat.
            After war: Wool Civil War uniforms.  Plagues.
                        Tried to use chain of command
                        When it didn’t work, was a muckraker: Published articles (ending his mil career)

Governor of New York
            Stamping out corruption.
            Review stalwarts, halfbreeds.  Endangering Republican profits.
            Dollar Mark Hanna: Bwaahaahahahaha
                        Appeal to vanity
            V.P. candidate in 1900 (new bloody shirt!)
            “Your most important job is to keep breathing.”
            “That damn cowboy is in the White House!”
            As President:
            Root out corruption
            Boston Brahmin view: Assembled best and brightest in each field (like he had been as undersec of Navy)

            Square Deal
            First president to interfere to allow strikers to negotiate
            Resistance from his own party: Called imperial president (review term)

            Power of government to efficiently promote common weal.
            The Jungle.  TR’s response: FDA

            Conservationist: Government action to preserve environment
                        Compare to a preservationist
                        Uncle John’s wildfire example
                        Multi-use management – today’s Active management?

            Advanced causes through Bully Pulpit
                        Larger than life
                        Kids in the White House
                                    Anecdotes (time permitting)
                        Family the center of his world view: Government should protect individuals (treat each man on his merit as a man) and families (“A man must be a husband and father first and foremost!”)

            Religion: Changes with age
                        Believes in Separation: Government to protect freedom, not impose
                        Judges people based on character, not religion.  Several close Jewish advisors.
            Big Stick
                        Mare Nostrum
                        Panama Canal
(Corruption of Columbian legislature)
                                    “I made the dirt fly”
                        Roosevelt Corollary
                        Banana Republic and Caudillos: Stamping out corruption!
                        Pragmatism merged w/COTH: What is good for America is good for everyone else, even if they don’t know it.
                        Russo-Japanese War – Treaty of Portsmouth – Nobel Peace Prize
                        Gentleman’s Agreement

            After White House:
                        Prepare for WWI
                        Wanted back into combat – Wilson denied
                        Archie, Theodore, Kermit, Quentin all go: Quentin dies

How did he leave white house?
Accepts two term tradition (review)
Taft as designated successor.

Becomes enraged at Taft’s policies

Progressives challenge Taft
            Fightin’ Bob
Won primaries, but denied nomination at convention by “bosses in smoke-filled rooms”
Bull Moose party gives election to Wilson
            Did he think he could win?
            Narcissism or calculation?

Quips as time permits.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Progressive Era Notes

Progressive Era Lecture

Labor movement
Populist movement

Real change: Middle class
            “Accurate” generalization?
            Today: Collapse of housing market? Outsourcing?  Walmart? Union busting (are union members middle class?)

Echo of ferment of reform? (1820s to 1860s)
            Difference: Use of government as answer; massive expansion of national power
                        Review trend of national power

Technical term: T.R.’s Progressive party
            Generally used in broader sense to describe reform movements of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century
            Reclaim effective government for the common weal; reaction against gilded age corruption/social climate of the 1890s (Again, compare to ferment of reform)
            For the common weal, but distrusts lower class’ ability to make good decisions: schizophrenic on democracy (hope to lead lower class to “better” voting).
            State/Local government:
                        City governments (city manager model/city councils)
                        Good government: control corruption
                        Break power of party bosses (paternalism toward immigrants)
                        Primary selection of candidates
                                    The governator

            National government:
                        Regulation of “natural monopolies” (transport/utilities)
                                    Microsoft a natural monopoly?
                                    Ma Bell/Baby Bells?
                        Regulation of business excess w/o challenging capitalism
                        Progressive taxation:
                                    Redistribution vs. concentration
                                    Benefit of society argument
                        Women’s vote (suffrage achieved post WW I)
                        Direct election of Senators
                                    Constitutional Convention review: FOM vs. FOT
                        Australian Ballot

                        Evangelical Protestantism
                                    Walter Rauschenbusch
                                                Reaction to Strong et al.
                                                Christianity requires social justice
                        Distrust of immigrants
                        Hard to generalize: people are all over the map

Towering figures:
                        Jane Addams (forerunner)
                        John Dewey: Philosophy applied to democracy
                                    Lincoln Steffans
                                    Ida Tarbell
                                    Jacob Riis
                                    Upton Sinclair
                                    Hiram Johnson
                                    Fightin’ Bob LaFollette
                                    Woodrow Wilson
                                    Charles Evans Hughes
T.R. Biography as time allows

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Yo - Strong Suggestion

I highly, highly recommend you take the SAT II US History - it is given the day after the AP test so you can study once for both tests.  The deadline to register is April 8 (Late registry is April 22).

You can register here.

Thursday Breakfast Poll

Which topic would you like?  Vote in the poll in the right sidebar.


Spreadsheet on a Hill

(Hat tip to Gwen)

Jon Stewart mocks the bifurcation of American foreign policy: "City on a hill" exceptionalism vs. realpolitik:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Notes on Imperialism

Previous: Manifest Destiny
New: Non-contiguous, no intent to incorporate into the body politic.

(Review of AP with a twist)


Raw Materials

Captive Markets

Marx: Last stage of capitalism

Military Power
In relation to other nations
Big influence:
Alfred Thayer Mahan’s Influence of Sea Power Upon History
Europeans adopted him first (England and Germany)
Theodore Roosevelt
Theory: Sea power leads to the ability to protect trade and get colonies => Increased wealth => Ability to build ships => Sea power
Colonies => Coaling stations => sea power => colonies
Vicious/viscous Circle
Coaling stations and Panama Canal

Missionary Impulse
Two parts, may or may not be combined
Religion (Protestantism, particularly with Phillippines)

New rush for imperialism based on tech (Africa/Asia now vulnerable)
Review Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel
Steam ship
Breech Loading Rifles
Machine Gun
"Whatever happens we have got the Maxim gun and they have not." Sir Edward Arnold

Psychological Enablers
Christianity: Jesus loves White people

International Darwinism
Yellow Journalism
Make up a headline

American Imperialism short-lived
City on a Hill element of American foreign policy in relation to Europe’s pragmatism
Anti-Imperialism League
Turn over what we did take or incorporate them
Panama Canal
Puerto Rico

Three stages:
T.R.’s Big Stick
Pragmatic first, but also City on the Hill (helping Banana Republics)
Taft’s Dollar Diplomacy
Triumph of business in Gilded Age – pragmatism alone
Wilson’s Moral Diplomacy
COTH first, some pragmatism later (Mexico)
Freedom for Phillippines

Impact (time permitting)

First Week of April Plan

Monday, April 4: Imperialism

Wednesday, April 6: Progressivism

Friday, April 8: World War One

Due Monday: Amsco 20 and 21, notes or key terms and multiple choice

Due Wednesday: Finish Imperialism quiz; Amsco 22, notes or key terms and multiple choice

Due Friday: Read the Parable of Populism selection and complete the World War One review sheet. If you did not have AP Euro, I highly suggest you read and take notes on Bailey 31 (this is optional, but worth an additional homework grade).

Thursday at Mr. J’s (we’ll vote on a topic on Wednesday) 6:30 AM

Review classes:
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after school 2:20 to 3:00.
These don’t count as AP Points, but attendance will be worth an extra classwork grade.

Movie night:
Double Feature! “Far and Away” and the “Wizard of Oz.” 6 PM until Midnight with a pizza break in between.

AP Point possibilities:

Visit and tour Woodrow Wilson’s house in Staunton. This is worth two points. You’ll have more fun if you go with a few friends from class. I’ll give you a third point for making a poster about your trip.

Watch “Iron Jawed Angels”

Watch “Inherit the Wind”

Political Cartoons:
Find three political cartoons about the red scare and Palmer raids. Analyze the point of view of the artist.

Draw a (poster-sized) cartoon showing how the other members of the Big Four viewed Wilson’s actions and arguments at the Peace Conference.

Explain how “Blackjack” Pershing got his name, exploring what his nickname says about American society on the eve of the Great War.

Assess the legal culpability of Germany for the deaths of the Americans aboard the Lusitania.

Write a brief political biography of Jeanette Rankin.

Compare Woodrow Wilson’s international idealism with George Bush’s international idealism.

Assess the accuracy of the following statement: “Woodrow Wilson’s personality doomed any hope of America ratifying the Treaty of Versailles.”

Prepare a poster illustrating the new industrial technologies that made the Great War so horrifying.

Prepare a poster showing the terms and long term effects of the Treaty of Versailles.

Choose one war poet. Analyze three poems, assessing how they reflect the psychological horror of industrialized warfare. For a second point, write your own war poetry that includes at least 10 terms from your Amsco key term list.

Choose one American writer who emerged during the interwar years. Explain how his or her writing reflects the long term psychological impacts of the war.

Read “All Quiet On the Western Front.” (e-mail me to get credit).

Find three wartime propaganda posters and discuss how they appeal to either women or African-Americans. What do the posters reveal about gender attitudes or race relations in America?

Pretend you are a member of the United States Congress in 1917. Prepare a three to five minute speech supporting or opposing the declaration of war. Videotape yourself delivering the speech.

With a few friends, simulate a suffragist rally. Film yourselves making pro-suffrage speeches actually delivered by the historical leaders of the movement (it is okay to resort to anachronism – combing speeches from different time periods).

Friday, April 1, 2011

David Barton's Influence

AT one of our "history is argument" breakfasts I introduced you to David Barton and called him the most influential historian in America. Those of you who were not Fox news viewers had probably never heard of him.

(You'll also recall Barton's claim that 29 of the founders were ministers since they went to college - and colonial colleges were originally founded to produce ministers (with the exception of Penn). Of course, that makes me a minister too since I graduated from William and Mary.

Even though folks with a passing acquaintance with colonial education have pointed out the inaccuracy of this claim, Barton still makes it because it supports his political viewpoint that America should be an explicitly Christian nation. He made the argument again, just prior to introducing Mike Huckabee at a Christian conference. Mike Huckabee may be the next president of the United States.

And Huckabee thinks Barton's version of history is the truth:

History is argument, my friends.

Skewed sex ratios

When we covered social unrest in the colonial period, we used the primary sources of indentured servitude to see how southern sex ratios became so skewed and led to much greater social conflict than was experienced in the puritan colonies.  When we covered Bacon's rebellion, I joked about the social explosiveness of young men who were looking at a life as virgins without any access to the civilizing influence of females and drew an analogy to potential future problems in China.  Niall Ferguson makes the same point in Newsweek.  Added bonus: He incorporates literature into his argument.  We'll talk more about Hemmingway as a bonus class for the 1920s.

Article reprinted below for educational purposes:

Men Without Women

The ominous rise of Asia’s bachelor generation.

Children play at a primary school in Fuli, China. Tim Graham / Getty Images
Children play at a primary school in Fuli, China.
In 1927, Ernest Hemingway published a collection of short stories titled Men Without Women. Today, less than a century later, it sums up the predicament of a rising proportion of mankind.
According to the United Nations, there are far more men than women on the planet. The gender gap is especially pronounced in Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. This may come as a surprise to people in the Western world, where women outnumber men because—other things being equal—the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups. Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen calls it the mystery of Asia’s “missing women.”
The mystery is partly explicable in terms of economics. In many Asian societies, girls are less well looked after than boys because they are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies.
When Sen first added up the missing women—women who would exist today if it were not for selective abortion, infanticide, and economic discrimination—he put the number at 100 million. It is surely higher now. For, even as living standards in Asian countries have soared, the gender gap has widened. That’s because a cultural preference for sons over daughters leads to selective abortion of female fetuses, a practice made possible by ultrasound scanning, and engaged in despite legal prohibitions. The American feminist Mary Anne Warren called it “gendercide.” Notoriously common in northwestern India, it’s also rampant in the world’s most populous country: China.
In China today, according to American Enterprise Institute demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, there are about 123 male children for every 100 females up to the age of 4, a far higher imbalance than 50 years ago, when the figure was 106. In Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, and Anhui provinces, baby boys outnumber baby girls by 30 percent or more. This means that by the time today’s Chinese newborns reach adulthood, there will be a chronic shortage of potential spouses. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one in five young men will be brideless. Within the age group 20 to 39, there will be 22 million more men than women. Imagine 10 cities the size of Houston populated exclusively by young males.
The question left open by economists is what the consequences will be of such a large surplus of young men. History offers a disquieting answer. According to the German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn, European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male “youth bulge.” Japan’s imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge, Heinsohn argues. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries—Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon—that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone.
That has scary implications. Remember, most of Hemingway’s stories in Men Without Women are about violence. They feature gangsters, bullfighters, and wounded soldiers. The most famous story is called simply “The Killers.”
It may be that the coming generation of Asian men without women will find harmless outlets for their inevitable frustrations, like team sports or videogames. But I doubt it. Either this bachelor generation will be a source of domestic instability, whether Brazilian-style crime or Arab-style revolution—or, as happened in Europe, they and their testosterone will be exported. There’s already enough shrill nationalism in Asia as it is. Don’t be surprised if, in the next generation, it takes the form of macho militarism and even imperialism. Lock up your daughters.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

History Is Argument: Cronon

(Please read the preceding post first)

Cronon's editorial in the New York Times goes right along with what you are reading in Amsco right now: Wisconsin, led by Fightin' Bob La Follette, was in the forefront of Progressive Era politics.  Cronon's op-ed, reproduced below for educational purposes, links Wisconsin's progressive past with today's brutal politics.

March 21, 2011
Wisconsin’s Radical Break
Madison, Wis.

NOW that a Wisconsin judge has temporarily blocked a state law that would strip public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights, it’s worth stepping back to place these events in larger historical context.

Republicans in Wisconsin are seeking to reverse civic traditions that for more than a century have been among the most celebrated achievements not just of their state, but of their own party as well.

Wisconsin was at the forefront of the progressive reform movement in the early 20th century, when the policies of Gov. Robert M. La Follette prompted a fellow Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, to call the state a “laboratory of democracy.” The state pioneered many social reforms: It was the first to introduce workers’ compensation, in 1911; unemployment insurance, in 1932; and public employee bargaining, in 1959.

University of Wisconsin professors helped design Social Security and were responsible for founding the union that eventually became the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Wisconsin reformers were equally active in promoting workplace safety, and often led the nation in natural resource conservation and environmental protection.

But while Americans are aware of this progressive tradition, they probably don’t know that many of the innovations on behalf of working people were at least as much the work of Republicans as of Democrats.

Although Wisconsin has a Democratic reputation these days — it backed the party’s presidential candidates in 2000, 2004 and 2008 — the state was dominated by Republicans for a full century after the Civil War. The Democratic Party was so ineffective that Wisconsin politics were largely conducted as debates between the progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party.

When the Wisconsin Democratic Party finally revived itself in the 1950s, it did so in a context where members of both parties were unusually open to bipartisan policy approaches. Many of the new Democrats had in fact been progressive Republicans just a few years earlier, having left the party in revulsion against the reactionary politics of their own senator, Joseph R. McCarthy, and in sympathy with postwar liberalizing forces like the growing civil rights movement.

The demonizing of government at all levels that has become such a reflexive impulse for conservatives in the early 21st century would have mystified most elected officials in Wisconsin just a few decades ago.

When Gov. Gaylord A. Nelson, a Democrat, sought to extend collective bargaining rights to municipal workers in 1959, he did so in partnership with a Legislature in which one house was controlled by the Republicans. Both sides believed the normalization of labor-management relations would increase efficiency and avoid crippling strikes like those of the Milwaukee garbage collectors during the 1950s. Later, in 1967, when collective bargaining was extended to state workers for the same reasons, the reform was promoted by a Republican governor, Warren P. Knowles, with a Republican Legislature.

The policies that the current governor, Scott Walker, has sought to overturn, in other words, are legacies of his own party.

But Mr. Walker’s assault on collective bargaining rights breaks with Wisconsin history in two much deeper ways as well. Among the state’s proudest traditions is a passion for transparent government that often strikes outsiders as extreme. Its open meetings law, open records law and public comment procedures are among the strongest in the nation. Indeed, the basis for the restraining order blocking the collective bargaining law is that Republicans may have violated open meetings rules in passing it. The legislation they have enacted turns out to be radical not just in its content, but in its blunt ends-justify-the-means disregard for openness and transparency.

This in turn points to what is perhaps Mr. Walker’s greatest break from the political traditions of his state. Wisconsinites have long believed that common problems deserve common solutions, and that when something needs fixing, we should roll up our sleeves and work together — no matter what our politics — to achieve the common good.

Mr. Walker’s conduct has provoked a level of divisiveness and bitter partisan hostility the likes of which have not been seen in this state since at least the Vietnam War. Many citizens are furious at their governor and his party, not only because of profound policy differences, but because these particular Republicans have exercised power in abusively nontransparent ways that represent such a radical break from the state’s tradition of open government.

Perhaps that is why — as a centrist and a lifelong independent — I have found myself returning over the past few weeks to the question posed by the lawyer Joseph N. Welch during the hearings that finally helped bring down another Wisconsin Republican, Joe McCarthy, in 1954: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy. Their political convictions and the two moments in history are quite different. But there is something about the style of the two men — their aggressiveness, their self-certainty, their seeming indifference to contrary views — that may help explain the extreme partisan reactions they triggered. McCarthy helped create the modern Democratic Party in Wisconsin by infuriating progressive Republicans, imagining that he could build a national platform by cultivating an image as a sternly uncompromising leader willing to attack anyone who stood in his way. Mr. Walker appears to be provoking some of the same ire from adversaries and from advocates of good government by acting with a similar contempt for those who disagree with him.

The turmoil in Wisconsin is not only about bargaining rights or the pension payments of public employees. It is about transparency and openness. It is about neighborliness, decency and mutual respect. Joe McCarthy forgot these lessons of good government, and so, I fear, has Mr. Walker. Wisconsin’s citizens have not.

William Cronon is a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.