Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Second Founing by N. R.

John Ellis argues in his speech “The Second Founding” that America did not become the established nation that it was right after the Declaration of Independence in 4th July 1776. He rather said that it was the result of hard work and dedication of four men. These four men known to be George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.  Ellis also gives credit to men like Gouveuner Morris, Thomas Jefferson and Robert Morris. Joseph Ellis further talks about the Articles of Confederation, which was the first government set up by the Continental Congress. This government was a failure which lead to the country drowning under debt. And the government was unsuccessful and weak as the sovereignty resided into the states rather than the national government. He said that the unity among states were only good enough to win the war with the British Empire but failed as whole system. Ellis states that the quartet diagnosed the dysfunction under the Articles of Confederation which manipulated the political process to calling of a Constitutional convention with a purpose in Philadelphia. The Delegates (55 men who attended the convention) agreed that the government needed executive, legislative and judiciary branch. They went there along with delegates from other states to revise the articles. During this process, the American Constitution was created and so did the Bill of Rights as an insurance policy.

Throughout the duration of his speech he concentrated on the years 1783 to 1789 to give a vivid description of incidence that leads to a reform of convention. One of the most significant incident he mentions is the Shay Rebellion where the farmers of Boston rose to close the court and prevent from foreclosing their debt-encumbered farm. Ellis goes to further details of the meeting in Philadelphia were the six states attending wrote a charter of a new government with some significant alterations, that leads to the formation of constitution at we live under today. John Ellis wants the audience to know the backstory of the American constitution. And he also wants us to know how the history has influenced us by this date. Joseph Ellis is also aware that most people misunderstood that the organized government existed back when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.
During our class discussion, we revised on Joseph Ellis’s speech and we also watched a documentary “The Constitution” which gave us a clearer understanding and explained the roles of each of the men. For instance Hamilton writing 51 federal papers, the nature of James Madison and John Jay being one of the finest negotiator in American History. The video had lots of humor in it which made more interesting. We also read the letters sent by George Washington to John Jay and John Jay to Thomas Jefferson. The letters addressing to the problems that caused the government to almost fall apart. After watching the video, we discussed about the conflicts between competing interest that arose quickly in the Philadelphia convention. The first concern was the size of the state and its population. Larger states supported James Madison’s Virginia Plan, which called for a two-house legislature with representation in both proportional to state’s population. This further lead to the great compromise and the 3/5 compromise. In our class discussions, we answer to questions like why were the government failing and why was the government made weak on purpose. We concluded that the confederation congress recognized that states are essentially establishing tariffs against each other.
Everything was pretty much to the point in the class discussion and Joseph Ellis's lecture video. However I would like to know the roles of Federal paper and more details about the great compromise that lead to the success of American Constituion.

The Second Founding by S. S.

The lecture The Second Founding by Joseph Ellis is about how the Founding Fathers had to completely scrap the weak federal government and start over. In the lecture Ellis spoke about the Articles of Confederation. The Articles gave ultimate power to the individual states. The speaker then talks about how the Founders did this on purpose, so that the government would be weaker than the people as they didn't want to become a monarchy or a dictatorship. Unfortunately, this lead to the government having absolutely no authority, and like a naughty child with a soft spoken babysitter, the states began to break the rules laid down by the Articles and the government was unable to do anything about it. The Founding Fathers knew that something big needed to happen as soon as Shays Rebellion started up. The rebellion represented the breakdown of justice and legality, but most of all it represented the breakdown of a new nation. The Founding Fathers began to meet in secret in order to create an improved government. The speaker's main point being that men with absolutely no authority whatsoever, completely changed the nation from one that was divided, to the United States of America. The purpose of this lecture was to educate the listener upon the thought behind everything that lead up to the Constitution being drafted, as well as the aftermath rather than the Constitution itself. There were many voices heard in this lecture however, they were all the voices of the Founding Fathers who were white, property owning men. The voices that we didn't hear were those of women and slaves, and even poor men of the time. These people were completely unaware of what was going on behind closed doors, but the aftermath must have been explosive. I would have loved to hear something from an outsider's perspective looking in. The accompanying letters from John Jay to George Washington were about the same. However, unlike the lecture the letters spoke more of the Constitutional Convention and how the change needed to happen, rather than the change itself. They give the reader more insight as to how these great men thought, and how they assembled to deal with the ever present issue of a new nation divided. One question that was gone over in class was about why the Constitution wasn't as important back then, the reason being that though it would be of great importance later, there were other things to worry about other than a document that was drafted experimentally and not expected to last. Another question that was gone over was how long the Shays Rebellion was. Shays Rebellion was not a complete event. It was a series of protests, carried out by farmers, that occurred over the span of 1786 to about 1787 against state and local enforcement of tax collections and judgements of debt. I was personally left wondering how the people reacted to the aftermath of the convention, were people happy? How did the states react? And if they were how did the Founding Fathers gain enough authority to begin to boss the states around?

Independence by J. T.

  1. In Dr. Joanne Freedman’s lecture, Independence, Freeman explains that The Declaration of Independence was an expression of the American Mind. Freeman argues that Independence was not the sole purpose of The Declaration of Independence; the purpose was to disclose the charges made against the king. Joanne explains that before The Declaration of Independence, there was a lot of talk about the ideas of Independence, from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, to each individual colony writing their own declaration of Independence. Freeman provided evidence of events, from The Olive Branch Petition; which was asking the king for reconciliation, to the Prohibitory Act. Dr. Joanne also provided quotes from the American colonist about their opinions on separating from the king, and their ideas to form a new government.

  1. The purpose of Freeman’s lecture is to acknowledge that The Declaration of Independence was not just about the rights of the colonist, and independence was not a spur of the moment idea, it was talked about all over the colonies, from the ordinary citizens of the colonies to the continental congress. In Joanne’s lecture we heard the voice of the American colonist, we also heard the voices of the inhabitants of the colonies. Joanne quoted, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Joanne did express how the colonist felt in reaction to the king’s prohibitory act, but the king’s voice was missing in this account. The voice of women was missing, and the voice of  slaves was missing.   

  1. In class we discussed, that the purpose of The Declaration of Independence was to let other countries, like Spain and France know that the 13 colonies were Independent from England. This document was also to draw charges against the king, for mistreatment, and for misrepresentation. We also discussed that the king had practically disowned the colonist. And because England wasn’t governing them anymore, the colonies had to come up with their own form of government, which resulted in writing The Declaration of Independence. In class we also read over Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, where we got an understanding of the first idea’s of independence. Paine claimed that the king, and Britain were using and mistreating the colonies. Paine argued, that the colonist should end their ties with England and become their own Independent states.  

  1. One of the historical questions we addressed in class was, why slavery was left out in The Declaration of Independence. When Jefferson had first drafted The Declaration of Independence, he mentioned that slavery was the king’s fault and made several charges blaming the king for slavery and for attempting to free the slaves. In class we drew conclusions about the south and how southerners didn’t want the mention of slaves to be in the document. In class we discussed, how slaves were given freedom if they ran away and survived the war fighting in the british army. In our class discussion we talked about the accounts between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams about writing the draft of The Declaration of Independence. John Adams believed he was obnoxious and not as popular as Jefferson. We discussed that because John Adams was from MA, the people in the colonies wouldn’t appreciate him writing the document opposed to Jefferson who was from Virginia and a better writer.

  1. A few questions that still leave me pondering are, What was it like for the soldiers fighting in the war, who knew they could lose everything? What struggles did the ordinary people of the colonies go through during the war, and What was it like for a slave to be enslaved during this time of revolution and a fight for American Independence?

Independence by C.B.

Dr. Joanne Freeman is a history professor at Yale University. She has been teaching early American history for over twenty years and has featured several lectures on Alexander Hamilton. In her lecture about the events of the American colonies declaring independence from Great Britain, she discusses the buildup of decisions that lead to the Second Continental Congress preparing the Declaration of Independence. Freeman argues that the events leading to the Declaration of Independence were an underestimated series of actions made by both the colonists and Great Britain in 1775-1776 that lead to separation. Freeman presents the case of both The Olive Branch Petition and the fighting that takes place at Bunker Hill outside of Boston and how the news reached King George III and parliament at about the same time. King George boldly declared the colonies in a state of rebellion. Parliament responded with the Prohibitory Act which removed British protection of colonial ships and allowed foreign nations to attack the colonies’ vessels. The colonies perceived the news as an act of disownment from their parent nation. Congress now formally upheld the idea of separating from Britain. Before independence was decided on, Congress asked about the colonies if independence was the path to take from the current events. 90 pre-made declarations of independence with several state constitutions were found within the colonies to suggest independence from Great Britain. Congress thus than the planning of the formal Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was voted upon by the delegates of Congress the write the final letter along with support from John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
Freeman’s purpose in her lecture is to point out that the colonists did not originally want independence and that the decision to separate was an overwhelming event. Throughout the events of 1775 of 1776, the main voices heard during this time come from the colonists that support independence from Britain. During the editing of the final letter, the delegates wrote out every complaint that they felt had impacted them and forced the decision to seek independence. Parliament, on the other hand, was not in full favor that the colonists wanted separation. Despite the disagreements, the majority of Parliament supported the king’s actions into taking an aggressive role to keep the colonists in order. The colonial response was arguably an action that the colonists had no choice but to make in order to persevere the natural freedoms they believed were right to maintain.
The Congressional Congress was America’s first acting body of government. Had the decisions made by the delegates been thwarted, the United States would not be the nation it had been today. Jefferson thought to himself as he wrote the Declaration of Independence that the events he participated in undertaking were not a major deal as seen viewed today by historians as students.  The letter was merely a list of complaints that were openly said by the colonists to their parent nation. The colonists never wanted independence but natural rights they believed their origin nation should protect for them as justly so.
In Class questions included; How did the fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill create tension between the colonies and Britain; Why was independence such a long process to declare; Who would rule the colonies after the separation from Britain? The battle of Bunker Hill represented an act of rebellion versus the most powerful empire in the world at the time. Independence took a long time to reach due to the actions the delegates of Congress had to take before declaring it. State government constitutions were already in the process of being created.

Where were the loyalist resistance forces during 1775-6?
Why did the Parliament voices that favored the colonists’ views outvoted?

Independence by J. A.

Dr. Joanne Freeman has been a professor of early American History for about 20 years. My class got to see the fabulous speaker she is through the video that was posted on canvas. In this lecture that she was giving to her students, she speaks about the Declaration of Independence and the importance of it. In the lecture, Freemans main argument was that the Declaration of Independence was more than just a piece of paper written by a bunch of guys in a room. Freeman wanted to enlighten her class and any viewer watching, that it’s not necessarily the paper that was the most important thing but rather the events that were going on leading up to it.
 In Freeman’s lecture, she talks about what the point of the Declaration of independence really was. What we found out was that the document during that time, was not actually as important as we make it to be today. Jefferson quoted, “Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing. It was intended to be an expression of the American mind.” What he is saying in this quote is that the Declaration of Independence was not seen as the main focus of the process of declaring independence. What it did was reflect American assumptions about government and the rights of the body politic. In this lecture, we hear a lot of what the people had to say about declaring independence from Great Britain and how they contributed to the Declaration of Independence, but we could have heard more of Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts, opinions, and steps he took toward writing the document. Also, I think it would have been valuable to hear King George’s thoughts and feelings toward this event. Although it does briefly go over Jefferson and the king, it is not nearly as much as what we could have heard.
            Today in class we discussed Freeman’s lecture and heard questions and feedback from the class. Ms. Arrowsmith presented some musical videos by Schoolhouse Rock that entertainingly explain the certain events that were happening around the time of the creation of the Declaration of Independence. This is a god contribution to learning facts about the that time in history because it is studied that you can your brain can hold onto things better when in the form of a rhythm or song. The believe this because it causes both sides of your brain to work at once so when the next time you hear the song, it’ll be easier to follow along. This is a great studying option. Also, Ms. Arrowsmith presented us with the “Common Sense” document which was written by Thomas Pain. This document was written six months prior to the Declaration of Independence and gives a visual of what certain colonist felt about King George the third. He was pretty much calling him out for all the let-downs the king had brought to the colonies. The Declaration of Independence was, in other words, a revision of the Common Sense document but in a nicer way.
In class, Ms. Arrowsmith gave us some historical questions to answer as well as students had the chance to discuss questions they had on the subject. One question that was asked was; What was more important than the Declaration of Independence at the time? The conclusion the class drew was that the war was a big deal at the time and that took away much of the attention from the Declaration.  Another thing that was more important than the document was how the Olive Branch Petition, which stated the act of no more bloodshed was received by the king at the same time as the king received information on Bunker Hill. Another question that we came by was; What does the Continental Congress have to take into consideration? Some conclusions the class drew was; Who will replace King George? How will we organize our government from scratch? How do the people of the colonies feel about it? Although Freeman’s lecture covered many topics, my classmates and I were left wondering the opinions of Jefferson and King George? I found Joanne Freeman’s lecture to be very entertaining and interesting and I would love to learn more about the topic!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Founding Mothers and the Stamp Act by J. V.

  1. In the 1760's women were not allowed to own land, they did not have the benefit of a formal education, women were not able to read or write, and often they were believed to lack basic knowledge to make informed decisions about politics and economics, but when it came to the American resistance movements and the boycotts of the 1760's and the 1770's women were proven to be anything but quiet and nice. In yesterday's assignment, we were set to watch a video about a speech Dr. Rosamarie Zagarri gave at the University of Oklahoma. In this speech, she mentioned four main women known to have changed and shaped the ways of history, these women were: Ester Debert Reed, Phyllis Wheatley, Elizabeth Alexander Stevens, and Hannah Leigh Corbin. As mentioned in her speech, "the boycotts depended on the support of the people, they needed the support of the primary consumers in the colonies, [they needed the support of the] women." During that era, even though women were unknowledgeable in politics, they held an enormous power, they held social and economic power. It was the support of the female "shopper" whom the men counted on for the boycotts to be successful, and successful they were. In 1780 Ester Debert Reed, wrote letters called "The sentiments of an American woman," to call to other woman in other colonies to help support our troops. She would go door to door asking for donations of any kind. Phyllis Wheatley, helped bring resistance to slavery, people soon saw that black people were capable of much more than what they were credited for. Phyllis believed that the rhetorics of the American Revolution also applied to the slaves, to the black people. Elizabeth Alexander Stevens, was a woman who owned property and paid taxes. After her, it became a law that only woman who were single, widowed or unmarried, could own land, and only those who owned a certain amount of land could vote or hold public office, including women. Rosamarie's main argument in this speech is to let her listeners know that women also helped shape the ways of this nation. That women started to have a voice and right before the American revolution and that they were a big part of the resistance. She argues that women should be considered founders just as men.
  2. The authors purpose was for her listeners to be able to understand the role women had in the years before and after the American Revolution. The voice that I would have liked to hear in this speech would have been Ester Reeds. According to Rosamarie, Ester lived through the times the colonies formed the boycotts and was there supporting the resistance or the "cause" as it was called then, it would have given me pleasure to hear her story and the accounts she had of her years during that time. We all know facts and hear stories through other people and what they have heard or read but it is always more memorable to hear it directly from a person who lived through an experience. In this case, it would have been memorable to hear directly from Ester how her life was during this era and the experiences she went through firsthand. The primary voice that was heard was Rosamarie, as woman, as a historian, it was her knowledge on the subject that we heard.
  3. When an assignment is given to us, whether it is a reading, or a speech to listen to, we are often left with questions, or misunderstandings that often need clarification. In yesterday's class discussion, our group talks and questions answered by the professor enhance our understanding of this topic. In our own groups, we ask each other questions and we tried to help each other get a better understanding on the subject based on our own views and understanding, or we just fill in the gaps, maybe there was something one of us heard that the other did not pay attention to. We then ask these same questions to the professor and she truly gives us the insight and responses we need to fully understand the subject. For example, she gave us a better understating of the New York Merchants Non-Importation Agreement, most of us believed that this agreement was just to not allow merchants of the colonies to import goods from the English as a boycott. That the colonists were not allowed to import and the orders already being received just be sent back until the Stamp Act be repealed. When, what the colonist wanted to do was to hurt the English colonies and make the English merchants hurt so they (as in the Englishmen) could go back to Parliament and say, "œhey whatever you are doing you need to stop."
  4. Some historical questions that were discussed in class were: what did women do before the American Revolution to help and support the resistance? What did the women do during and after the American revolution to help and support the resistance? We also received clarification and further information about the resolutions of the Stamp Act and the Non-Importation agreement of New York. In class, this is some of the conclusions we drew up from the Founding Mothers speech by Rosamarie Zagarri. In the 1760's before the revolution, women stopped buying imported cloth and started home spinning their own, in often cases they even held what were then called, "patriotic spinning bees," where all the women of the colony got together and homespun the cloths. Women formed groups, called the Daughters of Liberty, as female counterparts to the Sons of Liberty. As soon as men were called away into the war, the wives had to not only take care of the home but now they were left with the responsibility of the farm, the businesses, the family, and if they had any, the slaves and servants. Some followed their husbands to the war and others would either sell items to troops of do deeds for them in support. Some of these deeds could have included washing clothes for them and cooking. In the years that came after the American revolution woman like Phyllis Wheatley and Elizabeth Stevens helped form a new revolution on woman's rights. Phyllis also helped help blacks and slaves see they too have as much potential and they too deserve equality, liberty, and rights. When is can to the resolutions of the Stamp Act, we concluded, that the colonies wanted to also have say in these acts, they wanted to enjoy their rights and liberty. In other words, colonists wanted to also have a say in government not just have to obey the laws of parliament. And lastly, we concluded that the non-importation agreement of 1765 was to hurt the merchants of the English colonies to they, could add pressure to parliament.
  5. Some of the questions that are left lurking in my head are: 1. Even though women did help with the resistance movements why then did it still take a long time for women to be able to have equal rights, were they afraid to remain fighting? And 2. When did Parliament lose power and gave in to what the colonist wanted all along? When did they listen to the cries of the people?