Thursday, April 20, 2017

American Life in 1815

  • Agriculture provided the livelihood for the overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of race. Even people engaged in other occupations usually owned farmland as well…even a pastor, a widow, or a blacksmith had a plot of land.
  • Whiskey was the easiest product to send by wagon from isolated backcountry farms. Instead of shipping grain that could easily spoil, farmers distilled the grain into whiskey themselves. The cheap whiskey worsened the U.S.’s problems with alcohol abuse.
  • Small farmers sometimes moved west when their soil failed. They would usually move directly west (not north or south) so they could farm the same crops using the same techniques. But some families failed repeatedly and kept moving west until they couldn’t afford to buy land and had to rent or work for low wages.
  • A season of bad weather meant major trouble for most farmers: they faced financial losses, but also hunger, cold, and the challenge of communicating with the outside world. Without telephones or electronics, messages could only be transported as fast as a person could travel—so snow slowed communication considerably.
  • Indoor light was scarce; families made their own smelly, smoky candles from animal fat. A single fireplace provided all the cooking and heating for the average household. In the winter, everyone slept in the room with the fire, several in each bed.

Economics of Farming
  • The main sources of agricultural labor were family members, neighbors helping each other, and (for those who could afford them) slaves. Children could perform many necessary tasks: fetching water from the well, feeding chickens, collecting firewood. In 1800, the white birthrate averaged seven children per woman.
  • An ordinary farming family would either produce a good for themselves or trade with a neighbor. For a few purchases, they would visit the local storekeeper. With currency scarce, people rarely paid for their purchases using coins or paper money. Instead, the storekeeper kept an account for each customer: when a husband bought a tool, money was taken from the account; when a wife brought in an extra ham, money was added to the account.
  • Most farmers would start by growing food for themselves, but as soon as possible, they would add something that they could trade, whether with a neighbor or across the ocean. This practice—growing enough for survival but also selling something—is called “composite farming.”
  • Most goods were made at home, but when farmers bought items from traveling salesmen or local stores, many came from overseas: “dry goods” (wool, linen, and silk), “wet goods” (wine, gin, brandy, and rum), household hardware, silverware, guns, and China-ware (porcelain dishes from China).

Men, Women, and Community
  • Two-thirds of all clothing and linens were produced in households. Such production would not necessarily be for the woman’s own family, for merchants “put out” spinning, weaving, and sewing to women to do at home for payment.
  • The man was the “head of the house,” but he could not control who his sons or daughters married. The common law of “coverture” deprived married women of legal independence from their husbands, but women looked forward to marriage. Only by marriage could a woman have a home of her own, gaining the respect of her husband as a fellow farmer.
  • Protestant Christianity focused on self-control and a rule-following morality. It encouraged literacy for Bible reading, broad participation in decision-making, and a sense of equality among members. This respect for religious tradition made people feel more united as a Christian community.
  • Women bore children in agony and danger, making their life expectancy, unlike today, slightly shorter than that of men. To help women through childbirth, neighbors and trained midwives took care of them. Doctors, who didn’t know modern medicine, and hospitals, where infections were easily caught, were often more dangerous than helpful.
  • The woman of the house often was the first to make purchases outside the local community. Wanting to introduce some luxuries into her simple home, she might buy a clock, a second book (to go with the Bible), or porcelain cups from a traveling salesman. Sometimes her husband resisted: one pastor wrote of instructing a husband to “give your wife and daughters a chance” by spending some money on the home.

Nutrition and Health
  • Country people of ordinary means went barefoot much of the time. White people of both sexes wore heavy fabrics covering their bodies, even in the humid heat of summer, for they believed (correctly) sunshine bad for their skin. People usually owned few changes of clothes and stank of sweat.
  • Only the most fastidious (attentive to detail) bathed as often as once a week. Since water had to be carried from a spring or well and heated in a kettle, people gave themselves sponge baths, using the washtub. Some bathed only once a year, some even less. An outhouse was considered a luxury; many people relieved themselves in the woods or fields.
  • The census listed the median age as sixteen, and only one person in eight was over forty-three years old. Infants often died of diseases like diphtheria, scarlet fever, and whooping cough. One-third of white children and over half of black children died before reaching adulthood. The women had enough babies to beat these grim odds.
  • The American of 1815 ate wheat and beef in the North, corn and pork in the South. Milk, cheese, and butter were plentiful; potatoes came to be added in the North and sweet potatoes in the South. Fruits were only available in season unless women preserved them in pies or jams; green vegetables were sometimes used as condiments; salads were almost never available.
  • The average American was stronger, better fed, and less likely to be sick than an Englishman of similar age. The American benefited from abundant food and rural isolation from contagious disease.

Geography and Transportation
  • Most Americans lived not far from the coast. Of the 7.23 million people counted in the 1810 census, only about 1 million lived in new states and territories west of the Appalachians.
  • To get from New York City to Cincinnati on the other side of the Appalachians took nineteen days in 1817. (You can now fly there in 2 hours.) Travel over water was always faster; sailing along the coast, one could get from New York to Charleston in eight days. (You can now fly there in 2 hours too.)
  • If you lived close to a port or a river, you could send a crop nationally or internationally; without a river, you had to depend on bumpy transportation by wagon. To transport a ton of goods by wagon to a port city from thirty miles inland cost nine dollars; for the same price the goods could be shipped three thousand miles across the ocean.
  • Ocean travel was much easier than overland travel. People had been crossing the Atlantic regularly for more than 300 years. No American citizen had crossed North America in 1815 except for the veterans of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1805-6.
  • A network of short unpaved roads connected family farms with nearby towns or docks on streams. These “country roads” were muddy when it rained, dusty when dry, and frequently impassable. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Homework Due Monday 12/19

Hi my dear students!

Thank you all for your helpful feedback about this week's activities. Based on your suggestions, we will spend a day making sure we understand the basics of colonies and their relationship to their mother countries. Then we'll study more about everyday life for colonial Americans.

Your homework for the weekend is to explore the Colonial House website, which will teach you about everyday life in America in the 1600s.

Based on the website (again, here is the link) you must submit two written assignments:
1. As you explore, take notes on what you learn. You must take notes that fill up at least one side of a looseleaf paper. The notes can be a bulleted list or in whatever format you wish.
2. After you explore, write a paragraph about your exploration. Describe what parts of the website you visited, what you learned, and your reactions to the site.

Please remind your classmates who might have forgotten about this assignment that they should check the blog.

Looking forward to seeing you Monday!

Mr. Toomajian

Friday, November 4, 2016

Addresses for Argument Letters

If you are writing to Councilman Rodriguez, here is the address:
The Honorable Ydanis Rodriguez
New York City Council
618 West 177th Street, Ground Floor

New York, New York 10033

If you are writing to a friend or family member and need a name and/or address, use this:
Ms. Maria Martinez
5000 Broadway
New York, New York 10034

Sunday, December 14, 2014

HW Questions for 3rd period

Respond to as many of these questions as you'd like in a minimum of one well-written paragraph on looseleaf:
-What was the strategy that made the most money?
-Which team made the least?
-What was your strategy and how did it work?
-Did it help to talk to other teams?  Why?  How did you decide how much to produce?

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yale Glee Club at Grand Central Terminal

Members of the Yale Glee Club visited our school on Friday and did a vocal workshop with the cast of Once Upon a Mattress.  Everyone had a great time--Glee Clubbers and CCAA singers alike!  Then, that evening, the whole Glee Club performed their traditional Christmas concert at the Yale Club, a private club in Midtown Manhattan.  Around ten o'clock, before taking the train back to Yale's campus in New Haven, Connecticut, they sang Christmas carols in Grand Central Terminal.  It was beautiful, guys.  I wanted to share a little with you.  Here's a clip from Silent Night.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Perennial Extra Credit Assignments

If you are looking to boost your grade, you can always write a review of a social studies-related film or book.
To get started:
·         Watch a PBS American Experience documentary or an episode of the PBS show Frontline.  Watch the entire film and then write a film review.
·         Read a book about U.S. history and then write a book review.  Ask Mr. Toomajian for a book recommendation or suggest a book and ask Mr. Toomajian if he will approve it.
In your review, you must:
·         Summarize the events in the movie, show, or book.
·         Explain what you learned from the movie, show, or book and describe how it relates to the concepts that we've learned in class.
·         Give your opinion about the movie, show, or book: what surprised you, what feelings you had while watching it, etc.
The review must be in your own words and must be typed and double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font.  Use perfect grammar and spelling.  Indent paragraphs and organize your review logically with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  Your grade on this review will help to boost your project and test grades.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Back-of-your-hand essay topics

If you know these ten topics, you'll be able to write good essays about almost any thematic essay that's given to you!  Know them like the back of your hand!

Back of your hand topics:
Louisiana Purchase
Homestead Act/Transcontinental RR
Slavery/abolitionism/Civil War
Progressivism/The Jungle
New immigrants
New Deal
Atomic/nuclear energy
MLK/Brown v. Board
Korematsu v. U.S.

Louisiana Purchase
Historical background: early 1800s
-Jefferson was president
-U.S.’s western border was Mississippi River, but farmers wanted to be able to expand
-Louisiana Territory was controlled by France, as was the port of New Orleans
-Napoleon ruled France and wanted to sell Louisiana to pay off his debts

-Jefferson decided to buy entire Louisiana Territory for $15 million
-He made the deal, even though the Constitution didn’t give him explicit power to do so—example of loose interpretation of the Constitution

-doubled the size of the U.S.A.
-gave U.S. full control of Mississippi River and port of New Orleans
-Lewis and Clark were sent to explore the new territory
-Pioneering farmers moved west
-Fueled a belief in manifest destiny that later led to Texas Annexation, Mexican War, etc.

Homestead Act/Transcontinental RR
Historical background:
Manifest destiny: U.S. got land from Atlantic to Pacific
Acquired land through La. Purchase, Mexican War, Texas Annexation, treaty for Oregon

Western land has:
Raw materials, land for farming, Native Americans, buffalo

Govt. action: Homestead Act
-Govt. gives land to people who will pay an application fee and farm land for 5 years
Pacific Railway Act
-Govt. gives money to help build transcontinental RR

-Native Americans forced to leave homes, forced onto reservations, loss of buffalo, Dawes Act forces them to assimilate
-farmers get new land and grow food
-people move west
-western cities develop
-more territories become states
-railroads formed monopolies
-farmers lost money and started Granger Movement

Slavery, abolitionism, Civil War
Slavery: Africans were enslaved in America since colonial times, transported from Africa via Middle Passage route in inhumane conditions, auctioned when they arrived, labored on plantations, grew rice and cotton, whipped and beaten, denied the ability to read and write

Causes of Civil War:
Sectionalism: North industrialized and depended less on slave labor, while the South became more dependent on slaves and plantations when the cotton gin made cotton production easier.
Abolitionism: Frederick Douglass (book), Harriet Tubman (Underground RR), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) fought to end slavery in USA
Slavery in territories: N & S competed over expansion of slavery into territories, compromises (Missouri, 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act) were meant to keep peace between N & S, but Dred Scott decision forced North to accept slavery in all territories
States’ rights: South said federal govt. was intruding on their power
Election of Lincoln: Republican

Lincoln’s actions during war:
-fought war to preserve and protect Union
-made Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in states in rebellion, thereby making abolition a goal of the Civil War

13th Amendment—abolished slavery
Presidential Reconstruction—lenient treatment of South led to black codes
14th and 15th Amendments—gave blacks citizenship, equal protection of laws, suffrage
End of Reconstruction-->Jim Crow laws

Progressivism/The Jungle
Historical circumstances:
U.S. industrialized after Civil War
-corporations grew and became monopolies and trusts led by “robber barons” (Carnegie, Rockefeller) who charged high prices and paid low wages
-Immigrants moved to USA to work in factories and live in tenements
-Cities grew and became overcrowded, unsanitary, and politically corrupt
-Manufactured products included unhealthy ingredients (e.g. pharmaceuticals that were mainly alcohol or cocaine)

Action of reformer:
Muckraker Upton Sinclair went undercover to a meatpacking factory in Chicago.
His book, The Jungle, exposed the unsanitary conditions and poor treatment of workers.

Many people read book, including Pres. T. Roosevelt.  He supported the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (required accurate labeling of products and regulation of industry by FDA)
This was part of a larger Progressive Movement, in which the govt. took responsibility for regulating industry, public health, corrupt politics, etc.  Other reformers included: Jacob Riis, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Mother Jones, Alice Paul, etc.

New Immigrants
Historical circumstances that led to immigration:
Push factors: civil wars in home countries, poverty, crowded/poor land, persecution
Pull factors: factory jobs (industrialization), economic opportunity, prosperity
Time period: late 1800s, early 1900s
From: S+E Europe: Greece, Italy, Armenia, Russia

Immigrants move to tenements
--dirty, crowded, unsanitary, poor sewage treatment, 10 people per room
How the Other Half Lives—book of photos and facts about immigrant life in the Lower East Side of NYC
Economic: long hours, low wages, child labor, unsanitary conditions, meatpacking factories from The Jungle, Triangle Shirtwaist fire
Political: nativism, opposed for cultural differences “failure to assimilate,” argument for quotas—limits on immigration
-Chinese Exclusion Act
-Quota Acts of 1921 and 1924—after WW1, Red Scare—communism
Sacco and Vanzetti trial

Historical circumstances:
Problems with drinking: domestic violence, inability to provide for family, religious opposition
Temperance movement: people first tried to get friends and family to stop drinking so much
Examples: Washingtonian Society, Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)

Govt. Action:
18th Amendment prohibited alcohol in the U.S.—1919

-Bootleggers, moonshine, bathtub gin, speakeasies
-Organized crime: Mafia and other groups step in to provide alcohol—increased crime, violent crime, gangs, etc.
-21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in 1930s
-Unpopular laws that try to legislate morality are difficult to enforce

New Deal
Historical circumstances:
Great Depression
--caused by stocks being bought on margin, overproduction, stock market crash, risky behavior by banks and in stock market
--Hoovervilles, extreme poverty, bank runs and bank failures, Hoover blankets, unemployment at 25%, hunger, foreclosure of home, lower birth rate, marital stress, suicide
--Dust Bowl: drought and overfarming in Great Plains lead to Dust Bowl, famine, poverty for farmers, migration to California

Govt. actions:
--led by FDR
--Relief: CCC, money for needy families
--Recovery: AAA
--Reform: FDIC, Social Security, SEC, National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act)

-Fed govt. took greater responsibility for well-being of Americans
-Power of fed. govt. and president grew
-Deficit spending was accepted (govt. borrows money to spend and support economy during recession)
-Great Depression didn’t end until WW2

Korematsu v. U.S.
Historical circumstances:
World War II:
Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  US declared war
-US suspected Japanese Americans of espionage (spying), despite NO EVIDENCE that J-A were spying
-FDR issued an executive order that J-A on the West Coast would be put in internment camps for national security
-Motivated by security but also by nativism/racism

Court decision:
Korematsu disguised himself and was arrested
-He sued, saying his 14th Amendment right to equal protection was violated
-Court said internment WAS CONSTITUTIONAL
-Justification: In times of war, civil liberties can be limited for national security

-J-A were released after war
-1980s: U.S. Congress officially apologized and J-As and their families were given $20,000 each

Atomic/Nuclear Energy
Historical circumstances/causes:
·        Manhattan Project: government research to create atomic bomb
·        During WW2 Einstein warned FDR that Hitler might build a bomb
·        Bomb uses uranium and plutonium-radioactive
·        1945 the US created an atomic bomb and told Truman

Decision: Truman ordered bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Positive effects:
·        ended WW2—Japan surrendered
·        saved American lives that would have been lost in Japanese invasion
·        prevented future wars
·        used for nuclear power plants

Negative effects:
·        Deaths of thousands of Japanese
·        Radiation poisoning
·        Arms race cost millions of dollars
US is only country to drop atomic bomb on humans

MLK/Brown v. Board
Historical background:
-segregation—Jim Crow laws
-“separate but equal” was acceptable according to Plessy v. Ferguson
-economic: poor sharecropping—blacks work plots of land, and they pay a share of their crop as rent
-political: literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clause kept blacks from voting
-terrorized by Ku Klux Klan
-Jim Crow South: 1877-1960s

-Brown v. Board: 14th Amendment requires equal protection of laws, so school segregation must be unconstitutional (NAACP argued the case)
-nonviolent resistance/civil disobedience: led by MLK
Montgomery Bus Boycott, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, demonstrations, March on Washington—“I Have a Dream”

-integration of schools, buses, public facilities, etc.
-Civil Rights Act of 1964: bans Jim Crow
-Voting Rights Act of 1965: bans literacy tests
-24th Amendment: bans poll taxes
-affirmative action: minorities receive advantage in job apps and colleges