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.