Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Government Killed the Buffalo :(

Last week I learned about Native Americans and Buffalo Soldiers. My class came up with the essential question of “Was the discrimination that the Buffalo Soldiers and the Native Americans faced intentional or did the white settlers and federal government actually believe what they were doing was just.” Buffalo Soldiers were composed of African American troops who continued to be soldiers after fighting as a part of the Union army in the civil war. There are differing opinions on how these men got the name Buffalo Soldiers, one of which is that their name came from their wooly hair and their supreme courage and fighting skills. In order to further learn about Buffalo Soldiers and Native Americans my class studied several primary source documents, watched videos, and looked at a visual representation about the two groups. We read about how both groups were subjected to horrible treatment even though they hadn’t done anything to deserve it. Both the Buffalo Soldiers and the Native Americans were intentionally discriminated against by the federal government.

Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers were treated horribly by the government. Theses brave men were given orders to do extremely difficult tasks in poor conditions. The Buffalo Soldiers would patrol 90 miles a day on horses that were old and unfit to ride any longer. Buffalo Soldiers were used in many battles against Native Americans who were also being unfairly by the government. These soldiers would also get into conflicts the people they were trying to protect because some white people would not obey a command from an African American man. The government gave Buffalo Soldiers the very worst jobs in the worst conditions with horses that could barely carry them.

Members of the Sioux tribe
Native Americans were treated just as poorly if not worse than the Buffalo Soldiers. The Native Americans in the Great Planes were many different tribes of Sioux Indians. These Native Americans followed many traditions and religious ceremonies. They also depended greatly on buffalo for everything from food to bone tools and clothing. As Americans moved into the Great Plains after the Civil War, the government decided to use the policy of total war in order to wipe out Native Americans. Total war tactics have soldiers destroy anything and everything that sustains life in an area. The government began by killing tens of millions of buffalo that the Native Americans needed to survive. Soldiers would sweep across the plains on horseback destroying any Native American tribes that they encountered. 

The discovery of gold in the Great Plains led to a large immigration of white settlers to the region. These immigrants would get into conflicts and would disturb Native Americans. When the government declined to help the Native Americans the Sioux retaliated. In the Battle of Little Big Horn that followed these immigrant and Native American
Wounded American soldiers in the Battle of Little Big Horn
conflicts General Custer led troops into battle against 5,000 Sioux. Although the Native Americans won the battle they were quickly subdued as the government flooded the area with troops. The Native Americans were then forcibly relocated into smaller and smaller reservations in order to accommodate American setters.

The American government knowingly treated Native Americans and Buffalo Soldiers unfairly as more and more immigrants moved west. I believe that the government purposely discriminated against these people. The Sioux Native Americans had their entire tribes uprooted, and they received no positive help from the government when people started immigrating into their territories. The Buffalo Soldiers were given nearly impossible jobs with poor equipment and were tasked with protecting people who were racist. It is horrible to think about what people from the two different groups had to go through. Hopefully with this knowledge about how unfairly these people were treated I can help prevent anything as unjust as what the Sioux and Buffalo Soldiers had to go through from ever happening again.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Captains and Robbers with FAT STACKS OF MOOLA!!!

            Last week in history class I learned about John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. These two extremely wealthy businessmen monopolized the steel and oil industries in the United States. Both men can be considered captains of industry and/or robber barons based on their actions while controlling each of their respective industries. Captains of industry is the term used to describe people who were respected leaders of industry who were liked for their positive actions. Robber barons were captains of industry who were disliked, corrupt, cruel, and unsportsmanlike industry leaders. My history class came up with our own essential question for this unit. Our question asked, “Were Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller robber barons or captains of industry?” In order to answer this question we watched several videos on ABC-CLIO and then read biographies about the two men. After several days of analysis my group and I came to a decision about these two men. We decided that Andrew Carnegie has characteristics that make him a captain of industry, while John Rockefeller is both a captain of industry and a robber baron.
            Andrew Carnegie, the overall better-liked of the two men, was a captain of industry. Carnegie had humble beginnings as an immigrant child, but he climbed the social ladder and became involved
Andrew Carnegie
in the production of steel. Thanks to Carnegie, the United States exceeded Britain in steel production by 1900. Carnegie took advantage of an economic depression to buy up rich iron deposits. Carnegie controlled every part of steel production from the raw materials to transportation, manufacturing, and sales. Carnegie believed that certain men were made rich by God so that they could use their money to benefit the public. This ideology is called the “Gospel of Wealth.” He believed that having and worshipping excessive amounts money was unhealthy and wrong, so he donated large sums of his fortune to philanthropic organizations. He built hundreds of libraries and founded Carnegie Mellon University, and the Tuskegee Institute.
John Rockefeller
            John Rockefeller monopolized the oil industry by partaking in actions that classify him as both a robber baron and a captain of industry. Rockefeller can be considered a robber baron for his actions as he expanded his small oil company into a monopoly. Rockefeller  expanded by buying up his partners and rivals that were struggling after the civil war. Rockefeller believed in the “Gifts of the Great creator,” which was the idea that it was the responsibility of men to drill and refine oil. Rockefeller used intimidation and bribery of politicians to keep the cost of shipping his oil to a minimum. Whenever Rockefeller was challenged by rival oil companies he would drop his oil prices to such a low rate that the other company would go out of business. Rockefeller would then buy up the companies that he ruined, thus adding to his oil monopoly. Although not very well liked, Rockefeller can still be considered a captain of industry for his large donations to public service organizations and to schools.
A political cartoon by Udo Keppler depicts Rockefeller's giant oil tank as a octopus destroying the government and many different industries.
            Both of these men robber barons or not made huge contributions to American society. I enjoyed the freedom that my class was given about how we wanted to learn about this unit. I also really liked how this unit was about business from the United States’ past, and how the unit relates to current-day struggles with monopolies and robber barons in business today.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Really Long Post About People Changing Really Big Things!

Last week in history class I explored whether or not freedom from slavery was given from the top or the bottom of the social pyramid. My class began this lesson by using Skitch to place speech bubbles on the adult African Americans and Abraham Lincoln in the painting titled Freedom To The Slaves. We then outlined the social pyramid of American society at the start of the Civil War. The rest of the lesson notes were attained by my group analyzing different primary source documents. Our
notes answered the following essential questions for this lesson. Who ‘gave’ freedom to enslaved Americans? Did freedom come from above or below? To what extent were Abraham Lincoln’s actions influenced by the actions of enslaved Americans? Gradually my group and I discovered how freedom for enslaved African Americans was spurred by the bottom of the social pyramid, but were actually carried out by Abraham Lincoln’s actions at the top of the social pyramid.

      Although slaves were deprived of their human rights on a daily basis, they still couldnt take any actions to help abolish slavery because of their low social class. General Abrose Burnside wrote a letter to the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton about how many former slaves were showing up at a city that his troops were camped at. He wrote that, “the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations— Two have reported themselves who have been in the swamps for five years.” The only way for slaves to escape slavery was to run away because they had no influence at the bottom of the social pyramid to try to abolish slavery.

      Unlike the slaves, Abraham Lincoln had power and influence as President of the United States, which put him at the top of the social pyramid. In a letter to Horace Greeley in 1862, Lincoln wrote that, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” At this time Lincoln had just taken office and didnt show any desire to free slaves. All that Lincoln wanted to do was to save the Union regardless of what factor slavery had to do with it. No attempts were made to help or free slaves at this time because Lincoln didnt display any desire to do anything about slavery.

Here is a bar graph that my group and I made displaying what viewpoint each of the documents represented.  
      Three years later in 1865, Lincoln issued his 2nd Inaugural Address. Lincoln stated that the real cause of the war was slavery and how it should be abolished. He said that, “One eighth of the whole population was colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war.” By this point Lincoln had realized that he should have abolished slavery sooner. Slavery was declared illegal and was enforced now that Lincoln had changed his opinion from his prior letter to Horace Greeley. Slavery was finally abolished because of Lincoln’s high position on the social pyramid, which gave him influence.

      Just like during the Civil War, in current day issues the bottom of the social pyramid usually raises awareness for social change, but the top of the social pyramid still has to take action for there to be a substantial change in society. Over the past few months police brutality has caused enormous protests in cities all across the country. These protests are carried out by ordinary people and are usually very successful at raising awareness about injustices that police have committed. The most recent of these protests were in Baltimore where people were rightfully upset over the death of Freddie Gray. After lots of destruction by common people during protests 6 police officers were charged with the homicide of Freddie Gray. Here is CNN’s news article about the incident. The charges placed against these officers were spurred by the harsh responses of regular people, but there couldn't have been any serious consequences for the officers without the power of the people at the top of the social pyramid like court justices. In both current day and after the Civil War social change has been initiated by people from the bottom of society who are forced to influence people from the top of the social pyramid in order to make a significant change in society.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Scavenger Hint!! Not For Easter… but Still a Scavenger Hunt!!!

           Last week in history class I learned about 20 different civil war battles and their outcomes. Instead of taking notes on every single battle, my class instead participated in a scavenger hunt. In order to prepare for the scavenger hunt everyone in my class chose one battle to research. Each person then went home and did research on their battle. Everyone then went home and created a google document about the victor, setting , and main reasons for the result of our assigned battle Each person then brought in a sheet of paper with their battle number and a QR code and to their google doc. We then too our sheets and posted them all thought the school. We then went on a scavenger hunt! Yay! During the scavenger hunt we copied and pasted the information from each google doc into our evernote accounts. Each google doc told us where we could find the next battle’s sign. After two tiring and sweaty days of scavenging we had notes on every single battle. We then used a Padlet to answer the two essential questions. The first question asked “who was the ultimate victor in each of the Theaters of was: East, West, Naval.” The second essential questions aked, “what are some commonalities you can identify in the reasons for the results of the battles?”
          After my class and I created the Padlet I started to notice patterns between the area each battle was fought, and who was the victor. The battles that we studied were fought in one of three different areas. The Western Theater battles were fought in the West, the Eastern battles were fought in the east and on the coast, and the Naval battles were fought in the Atlantic Ocean. My class and I were able to see that the Union dominated battles in the Western Theater. The Battle of Louisiana and the Battle of Shiloh were won by the Union in the Western Theater. We also saw that in the Eastern Theater the Confederacy won most of the early battles such as the Battle of Fort Sumter in 1861, but as time passed they started losing battles in the Eastern Theater like the Appomattox Campaign, which occurred in 1865. In the Naval Theater the Union won the majority of battles. Some of these Union victories include the Battle of Fort Henry, and the Surrender of Fort Donelson.
            At the end of the lesson I noticed that there were many commonalities between the results of the battles and why they were won. One of the reasons the Union was able to win so many battles was because they had more soldiers. The Union won the Battle of Fort Henry because the Confederates only had 3,000 troops compared to the Union’s 16,000. The Union also had a navy that was already established before the war began. The Confederates had to create a navy and build boats once the war had begun. The Union dominated the Confederates in battles that occurred in the water because they had a navy with more ships and troops. The Union was able to win the Surrender of Fort Donelson because they used one of their fleets of ships to shell the Confederate fort from the Cumberland River. The Union was also able to win many battles because it had more factories and railroads to transport and produce anything. The Confederates won battles with their military tactic of ambush. Many of the military strategy schools were located in the South so the leaders of the Confederate army had extensive knowledge of military tactics. The Confederates also were more driven to win battles because they were defending their way of life.
The Union shelling that took place in the Surrender of Fort Donnelson
            The Union had many more advantages than the Confederacy during the Civil War. These advantages were the reason that the Union was able to win the war. Although the Confederates had wise tacticians and the stronger desire to win, they still couldn’t overpower the Union.
Here is our Padlet!