Monday, March 27, 2017

Andrew Jackson - by B. L.

The documentary of Andrew Jackson did not argue anything in specific. The purpose of the documentary was to inform and talk about president Andrew Jackson. The documentary talks about Jacksons life and how he got to the presidency. The documentary also discusses major events in his life and what those events meant for Jackson’s career.
               In my opinion, I felt like the documentary was very positive. Andrew Jackson was a figure who was either loved or hated. In this film, it seemed that he was very loved. They made Jackson a hero to the public eye. They portrayed him as a strong and untouchable character. Jackson is viewed as a major icon in society at that time. The speaker talks about his achievements in his career and his personal life. I do believe that they could have addressed why Jackson was hated so much as a person besides his bad temper.
               During class, we discussed the documentary and we viewed an image of Andrew Jackson. In the image, they portray Jackson as the opposite of what they see him as in the film. The documentary talks about his followers who were also referred to as the jacksonians. The image on the other hand depicts Jackson as a dictator and a traitor of the American tradition. It shows him in clothing a king should wear. Also, he is stepping all over the constitution which tells the viewer that Jackson didn’t care about American roots.
               What I found to be very interesting was how in class we talked a lot about his scandals with his wives. We talked about how his first was older and how that significantly affected Jackson for the first couple of years. Then we see how the scandal continues with Peggy. We see a glimpse of Jacksons personal live and how his personal life greatly influenced the perception America had of him.
               A question that still remains unanswered is how is it that Jackson survived those bullets going into his chest? Especially at that time when medicine was not that advanced yet.

Andrew Jackson by A. B.

Summary/Main Argument
Andrew Jackson's Presidency was one of the more unorthodox presidencies that America has seen in its history. In 1824, Jackson ran against John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay for presidency; however, most politicians saw Jackson as unfit for office, which Jefferson openly and explicitly had stated. Clay placed last in the running, which prompted him to give all of his support to Adams in effort to surpass Jackson. Adams succeeded in gaining the presidency, in which he then offered Clay the position of Secretary of State. Jackson and his supporters saw this as a corrupt bargain and became disgruntled with the outcome. However, in 1828, Jackson ran again for the presidency along with taking advantage of the advances of the media: the lithographs. He and his supporters flooded towns with campaigning tactics, and Jackson eventually won the presidency. In his first term, he fired numerous employees, including 13 district attorneys claiming they were corrupt or incapable of their occupations. Along with rehiring officials to his liking, he was also advocating that the people of America should choose those that are elected. His presidency seemed to be very demanding and almost power hungry, but after all, Jackson proved to be one of the most influential democratic presidents, and quite possibly one of the first.
Purpose
In this particular documentary, we see many historians discuss the heroic yet jaded nature of Andrew Jackson. However, in light of these favorable explanations, we lack insight from historians who seem to oppose Jackson's approach to his presidency, yet alone his personal life. Although we lack this insight, we can still gather that Jackson still had an influential presidency. This documentary was truly used to educate viewers on not only Jackson's political life, but also his personal en devours, which would account for many of his choices and approaches to situations in his life. Perhaps the biggest example would be the death of his wife, Rachel. After her death, he fell into a deep depression which affected him greatly, to the point where his functionality as any of the titles he held could be threatened. However, when a scandal between his Secretary of War, John Eaton, and Peggy O'Neil, the slander that O'Neil received caused him to come to her defense. This particular event revealed a soft spot, or rather an open wound towards his wife, who had received similar slander. Using this example, we see that there were many reasons for why Jackson was the way he was. Despite his jaded nature, he had his reasons for it.
In Class Discussion
In class, we were instructed to draw a tree, which was then followed up by being prompted to write Andrew Jackson's character, presidency, etc. onto the tree to what would seem to resemble Jackson's sole nature.
Explaining conclusions
In discussing this, we realize that there were many external factors that had prompted Jackson to develop in the manner that he did. However, his character influenced others in various ways, such as what we could conclude as the first organized political parades; looking into this further, he was entirely hands-free in these movements, which implies that his influence was significant enough for the people of America to move upon their own accord.
Remaining questions
We still are left to hear at least a few thorough explanations from those who oppose Jackson's presidency and decisions. However, Jackson had an almost inexplicable aura to his nature, one that was borderline hostile, cold-hearted, and even jaded. Another aspect we are left without are deeper reasons as to why he was the was he was emotionally. Was he driven to a more aggressive nature based on external events such as his wife's death, or possibly the fact that his entire family was killed during the American Revolution? There must be some further explanation that could 'justify' Jackson's more aggressive approach to life.

Andrew Jackson by N. A.

In the documentary, the author’s main argument was to explain the role of Andrew Jackson. I think the video wanted to show us how Andrew Jackson became the lovable or in some eyes a very hated president. Jackson created a whole new type of government with the way he approached things and who he had by his side. His rivals felt he was unfit for presidency and went to the farthest extent to dig things up to make sure Jackson did not win the election, even though it didn't work. 

The video discussed the way Jackson started off as a general and followed his heart. He was devoted to this new America. If he felt like it was best to kill someone for the country, he would not hesitate. It went over the fact that he had rivals; such as Adams and Clay. That did not stop him, even when Clay started a scandal about Jackson's wife. The scandal defeated his wife, but enraged Jackson and made him more willing to do anything to win. As he did that election, by being the first to campaign. He used posters, banners, prints, huge parties, and most known for Lithographs. Jackson was the first to do all this and he had help from his loyal democrats and the local men who came up with everything. Jackson had a personality that made him so likable or extremely hated. His rivals felt he was unfit for presidency because he had no experience, he had a temper, and also participated in duals which sometimes led to fights. Old Hickory became a president all for the people and had a lot of appeal from the mob. Jackson even took down Calhoun in front of a whole dinner party by taking away nullification. The video also discussed how Peggy Eaton reminded him a lot of his former wife that had passed , Rachel. Clay was stacking her with scandals and it reminded Jackson of how people did that to his wife. Jackson ended up spending so much time defending her that it was the downfall of his presidency.

In class we spoke about Peggy Eaton and the affect she had on Jackson's presidency. She was a lot of drama and a rebel herself. Back then, it was an unspoken rule to wait a year before remarry after a husband's death and wear all black for that year. Peggy did neither. We talked about how Jackson's one regret was that he never killed Clay. Jackson shaped the government and pretty much went in and cleaned house. We also discussed how Jackson felt about people being in the government too long, so he went in and fired all of them. He fired people that were there since Washington was there. Andy hired people that were inexperienced, but loyal democrats. He was a more of president who went to his friends, then the congress. We talked about how Jackson was so passionate, even when it was not a good thing. We also spoke about how Jackson loved Rachel so much and he would talk to her every night after she passed as he went to her grave. Clay and Jackson were huge enemies, but we actually alike. We also spoke about how every 20 years, there is national panic. One reason why that might be is that Jackson took away the national bank and seperated the banks into State banks.

I can say I learned so much about Andrew Jackson. I actually didn't know most of the things I learned about from the video. I learned that Jackson was a general, an Indian-killer, a passionate person, a person who would die to serve his country, a person for the people. I also learned that his name is attached to being the first to create this type of democracy and campaigning, but it was actually the local guys who came up with ideas. Jackson was the first person that democrats got excited about and would be willing to do anything for. I also learned that when he was campaigning, the woman were brought to make things more calm. I also learned punch is referred to alcohol.

I was left wondering if Jackson died a happy man. I had more questions about Rachel and her ex husband. I also wondered how Jackson met Rachel. I also wondered why Jackson thought it was corrupt that Adam elected Clay as Secretary of State, but it was okay for him to elect his friends.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Artificial River Ch 5-6 by D. A.

Summary/ Author's Argument
In chapters 5 and 6 in The Artificial River Carol Sheriff discusses the working side of the Erie Canal. She discusses that the laborers who actually worked on the canal underwent tedious work and working conditions. Often times, when people started working on the canal, they knew they only had a short amount of time after to live because working on the canal would be something that shortened their life span whether it being from dying from an accident on the job or the labor affecting them so much negatively that they would be so worn out in a short amount of time later. Later in chapter 6 the author talks about how people thought that the making of the canal would be such a beneficial thing in terms of allowing trade to flourish better, but Sheriff states how years later the canal brought a different side out of the people including drunks and prostitutes. The author's argument was that working on the canal was not always such a great thing and that behind the canal was tedious labor that workers underwent to make the canal such a great thing.
Author's Purpose
The author's purpose was to inform her reader's about the working conditions and the things that the laborers went through in the making of the Erie Canal. She wanted to inform people that there was negative things about the canal as well as positive things. We heard the voice of the author and her explaining the situation of the canal and the people that were not only helped build it, but also the people who were affected by it in both a negative and positive way. She mentions how it was good for people in the sense that it brought business for people like farmers and vendors a long the canal and it was negative in terms of people's homes being affected by the actual canal and the fences. The author did a good job of stating both the good and bad things about the canal and how it changed the community over time.
Making Connections
Our work in class enhanced our understanding of the Erie Canal by the primary source questions serving as another source to help us understand what really happened regarding the Erie Canal. In our small groups we discuss the questions that help us to really think about our topic and we get the chance to share our thoughts on The Erie Canal and mention things that maybe not everyone in the group interpreted in the correct way. We also got to ask questions and have a class discussion to talk about any questions that we may have had while reading chapters 5 and 6. While discussing the chapters, people get to share things that they found interesting while reading and I really enjoy that because sometimes what they found interesting while reading, I found interesting as well. Having class discussions really helps to better understand what we are reading and really helps clarify anything that we might not understand the first time we read it.
Explaining Conclusions
Regarding chapters 5 and 6, we concluded that the making of the Erie Canal was something that didn't just happen over night. It was a long process that many people saw coming and when it actually did get made people loved it. The canal was such a beneficial source of transportation of not only goods across America, but also of people and their interest in taking joy rides with their families for fun. We also concluded that the author did a really good job of explaining the factors of the canal and how it affected people's lives on an everyday basis and made it easier for them to live their lives. The Erie Canal was something that changed the era in a positive way and helped the transportation of goods and mail much easier.
Remaining Questions
Some questions that may still remain and that people may still have regarding the Erie Canal are why did it take so long to come up with the idea of the canal? The book did mention that some people knew that something like the canal was coming because they had to make transportation of goods easier and faster but why did it take so long for the idea to actually get a yes? Another question that may still remain is whether people regretting working on the canal itself after so many years? Did they regret it because it made their health weaker? Why did the author choose to write about the Erie Canal? Was it something that was very personal to her or her family? Overall, I'm sure that many people still have a lot of questions remaining regarding The Artificial River, although, many of our questions were answered in the book as we read.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Artificial River Ch 5-6 by B. L.

Chapter 5

In this chapter the author’ main argument was the politics of the business on the Erie Canal.  The Grand Celebration of 1825.  The celebratory flotilla that made its way from Buffalo, NY to New York City, which would dock at thirty towns, where local celebrations were to honor the Erie Canal.  The state of New York touted the Canal would benefit the whole state, but acknowledged that the waterway would bestow it benefits primarily to people living within twenty miles of the Canal.
The author talked about the different businesses that was affected by the Erie Canal.  Sheriff cited that the town of Rome and Schenectady, that when the flotilla came to their towns for the “universal jubilation” of Grand Celebration of 1825, held what amounted to a mock funeral due to the fact that these cities owed much of their prosperities to the improvements in the natural landscape.  Rome was located on a two-mile canal built in the 1790s by the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company and Schenectady was a commercial hub and boat-building, on the navigable portion of the Mohawk River.  The Erie Canal produced economic rivals to the east and west and lost its status as a transportation center to Albany.  For the residents of both cities the Erie Canal close more opportunities than it opened.
Some cities that were not close to the canal wanted the Canal Board to include them on the canal route, even if they would have to pay for it themselves. They argued that the banks of the canal and its tributaries made ideal locations for small businesses – groceries, taverns, supply stores –serving boat works and passengers.  Sheriff also individuals who moved from their town, which was not on the canal route, to cities that was on the canal route and how these individuals that flourish in their new towns.
In class we talked about how the canal made some businesses and cities and how some businesses and cities became a victim of the canal. How some cities flourish due to the canal.  How some individuals made money and built businesses that flourished due to the canal’s boat crews and passengers.  The canal also effected the prices of the goods that was being transported in the canal, by levying tariffs on some goods. 
One things that I can take away from this is at that the canal, as we talked about in class, is the model for the future.  We talked about in class on how, in the present time, when we travel we noticed that at most freeway exits there are a cluster of restaurants and gasoline stations and in some cases there are hotels.  The canal was a perfect model for the future of travel in the US.
Chapter 6
In this chapter Sheriff talked about the cost of progress.  Sheriff talked about how the boat drivers, most of them were orphaned children, sleep with the horses they drive and how these children were not dressed appropriately.  They slept with other boys and waited for their next assignments on the canal.  Sheriff also talked about how the boat crews acted.  Sheriff also talked about the Second Great Awakening.  How Bethel Society attempted to reform boat crews, longshoremen and boat driver.  Sheriff also talked about how Bethel Society acquired the services of the local churches to reform the people that directly worked in the canal.  Sheriff talked about what the people that worked directly in the canal do on their free time.
Sheriff illustrated how the boat crews would leave their boats to shop or drinks while their boats were in line to go through inspections and waiting for the locks.  Sheriff also illustrated how corrupted the crews and people who are directly involve with the canal.  The way they acted and how the drivers were treated, that they were overworked and under fed. Sheriff talked about how boatmen formed a distinct class and are considered outcast of the society.  Canal workers threatened both the Jacksonian and Whig visions of progress.
In class we talked about how the Second Great Awakening failed at convincing businessmen to take the Sabbath off, so that the canal workers can go to church.  Businessmen argued that if given a choice, the canal workers would rather go to the bars and prostitution houses, than go to churches.  We also talked about how the Bethel Society encouraged the boat captains/owners to have a paternal role towards their boat drivers.  We also talked about how the slave owners would use this reasoning, having a paternal role on the workers, as a defense for owning slaves. 
I was left wondering why people looked at the canal workers were treated the way they were.  The canal workers were a necessary evil at the time.  These people were doing work that middle class people would not do.  The boat owners and captains tolerated the way these people acted because they knew that the work has to be done.  

The Artificial River Ch 3-4 by H. A.

1- Summary:
            The Erie Canal was a project that led solely by New York State. While constructing the canal, New York State had to deal with tensions and angers of the properties owners, as their lands were torn, disrupted, or even appropriated. That included ruined fences and crops, diverted water channels, and destroyed buildings. Some of the damages occurred because of the unruly workers, and some because of the over flooding water. Those owners were more concerned with the agricultural value of the lands than the ventures that the Erie Canal can bring them. They had put so much time and energy in their lands, and the products of their lands are what kept them alive and paid their mortgages. Such a dilemma came from the confusion of the legal community not being able to fully compromise between the property rights and the economic improvement of the whole society.
            As a solution, the state offered compensation for the losses owners faced. Also, it made it legal for individuals and companies to alter their properties even if that harms other properties as long as compensation is paid. The Canal Board was created in 1826 to deal with any issue related to the artificial waterways of New York. The board was in the reach of all people, whether ordinary or with political connections. That did not mean that everyone would be compensated. The canal legislation stated that if a property benefited from the canal more than it lost, then the state does not have to pay the owners. On the other hand, landowners were not totally convinced, as they feared that their gains would decrease over time as more lands get access to the canal. Records show that ordinary people used persuasive rhetorical language in order to convince the Canal Board, as rhetoric was not the preserve of politicians. Despite the many petitions from farmers arguing for compensations, some of the properties owners, especially those who bought their lands while the canal was constructed, did not ask for compensation; instead, they argued that the state should assist their economic interest. For example, some farmers wanted to use the surplus water of the canal to grow their farms, and others wanted the state to build them a lock to transport their products around a dam.
            The Erie Canal was so successful as soon as its operation. In only 12 years, from 1825 to 1837, the tolls collected covered more than construction loan. Because of its time and cost efficiency, freight and passenger boats used it. People used the canal for different purposes. For example, slaves who sought freedom, entrepreneurs who modified boats into groceries, museum, or bookstores, merchants who did businesses in New York and nearby towns and tourists. Also, emigrants from Europe and New England as it became easier for them to go west from New York with their furniture and trunks. Emigrants’ predominant reason for moving West was economically as it provided them access to market.
            The canal had various social effects on the American Life. One social problem is the absence of the community interactions emigrants examined when they started their lives in the West. For instance, the isolation of neighbors, they could not find immediate help in some cases, like a birth, sickness, and death. They also feared attacks from Indians. Even with the fast pace of emigration to the West, people still did not feel as if they lived in a community. On the other hand, it made the life of the people in the frontiers less stressful as it ended their isolation of the their back homes. Mails and news get to and from the frontiers faster because of the canal.
            There are some shortcomings of the canal. Although some tourists were satisfied with the comfort of the packet boats, many criticized it, especially those of the high class, because of matters, such as the crowdedness of passengers in one boat, the many low bridges that were endangering passengers’ lives. Also, malfunctioning locks caused so many troubles as a lot of boats’ crews waiting are in anger. There are several incidents when they fought. The average delay because of the locks was about a day and a half. In addition, the canal dimension was of a great issue as it was not neither wide nor deep enough. Finally, the most annoying issue of the canal was water turning into ice in winter, which led the canal to be closed for about 5 months yearly. All the entrepreneurs’ inventions did not work. That meant more money to be paid as merchants had to take their goods and deliver them by land routes or to leave them until the ice melts as well as mails delay. When the ice melted, excessive water was in the canal, which swept away the canal bed, or even some property with it.

2- The Purpose and The Missing Voices:
            The purpose of the chapters is to give a broad insight of the history of the canal and its effect on the American life. The author tries to explain the different stages of the canal construction from the letters, and diaries of those whose lives were influenced directly by the canal as well as from the record of the NY’s administration.
            The missing voices would include those of the workers who did the hard job of digging the canal, and the companies and engineers who planned and directed the canal construction.

3- Class Connection:
            Our class discussion did greatly enhance my understanding of the topic. In class, Prof. Arrowsmith explained some of the important terms of the chapters. For example:
Antebellum: the time before the civil war.
Locks: a mechanism that takes boats and ships from one level of water channel to another.
Mills: a facility that convert raw materials into usable goods.
Also, a source that gave us a great insight of how it was to be a traveler of the canal was the account of Thomas Woodcock. In the account, Woodcock wrote about his journey to the Niagara Fall, and what he saw during the trip. He wrote about the low bridges, the locks, the location of the canal being so close to the Mohawk River, the towns they passed by, the real estate along the canals, the flour mills, the city of Buffalo, and the people he met. It is a great account that is full of details of an important American historical era.

4- Historical Questions Discussed In Class
            In the class, we discussed the important question of who the winners and losers are after the Erie Canal construction. Our conclusion was that winners are those who needed the canal to do business with towns to the west of the New York City. On the other hand, properties owners were the losers even though some of them got compensated.
            Also, the class discussed the corruption that came along the canal construction. And related it to the Anti-Federalist Nathaniel Macon’s strife to not allow the government to conduct projects. An example of the corruption was that some companies got paid for repairing the canal before they finished the work.
            Finally, we talked about the Stop and Tax Act, which was aimed to fund the public projects by increasing taxes instead of borrowing money from the public by issuing bonds. The farmers supported the Act because it would accelerate their compensation when the state ran out of money. They did not want to wait for so long to repair their bridges and the other damaged attachments of their lands by the canal construction.
  
5- Remaining Questions:   
            There some information that was not mentioned by the author in chapter 3 and 4 about which I am curious. For example, who worked on the construction of the Erie Canal? Were they free workers or slaves? Also, whether or not the states ever had slaves. Also, who was responsible for the guarding of the canal and the workers? What was the condition under which the workers did their job? And how many ones died during the construction of the canal?