Saturday, March 28, 2015

"It was a short walk into slavery."

The Relationship between cotton and slaves in 1790
Recently, in my Honors History 10 class, we discussed the morality of slavery and how it was entrenched in American society by the early 19th century. As shown by the graphics, slavery was very much correlated to the amount of crops being grown in the South. As the people of the South started to rely more and more on slaves to work in their fields, slavery became more and more entrenched in American society. Slave worked crops brought in so much of America's export that if it stopped the country would be likely to have an economic collapse. It was for that reason, slavery could not be abolished very easily and was allowed to continue.

The difference in 1860. Use the hyperlink above to see
all the maps and statistics available. 
In order to better understand all of these concepts and actions that went on during slavery, we watched the PBS Documentary A Prince Among Slaves. Before watching the movie however, we got an idea of the differences between slavery in Futa Jallon, Africa and Natchez, Mississippi.  Slavery in America was a lot crueler than slavery anywhere else across the globe. The documentary highlighted the lack of dignity involved with becoming a slave. The owners of slaves would often beat their slaves and change their appearance. The owner has taken away their slave's identity. They have effectively wiped a human off the face of the earth.  This signified the start of a new life for the slave. However, this has effectively taken away the dignity of the slave. They are now longer the proud person they once were, but a shell of their old self who has been beaten into submission. While dignity is very important, the system of slavery based off of race also tends to forget the value of human life. It gives one specific group of people the power to control another based off of the color of their skin.  In Futa Jallon, there was  more fair system of slavery. People could only become slaves if they were a prisoner of war or had committed a great crime. There was also a better chance of freedom in Futa Jallon. The system there was not based on the color of one's skin so more people found it fair and fewer people tried to change it. Another thing that America's system of slavery ignored was the value of family. Oftentimes families would be split up and sent to work at different plantations. Because owners felt that the slaves were their property, they also felt that they were completely within their rights to do this to families. Plantation owners would split them up in the way that would earn him the most money.

Maps and Graphics from The University of Oregon

 'A Prince Among Slaves' from Google Images

Title is a quote from Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Succession of Secessions

The Election of 1860 was a very good indicator of the divide between the north and the south prior to the Civil War. In the highly populated North states Lincoln was the favored candidate because he was against slavery. Lincoln wanted to find a compromise by stopping the spread of slavery,  but not interfering with it where it was already established. People in the south did not like that idea so they voted for Breckenridge because he believed that there should be no limits on slavery. people of the sates in between the North and South turned to Bell for a compromise. His idea was to leave the Constitution and slavery as it was. People of the middle states were in favor of this because they knew that if war were to break out, it would be fought on their land. Missouri didn't like any of these ideas because there was a lot of unclaimed land to the west of them, were they could establish slavery. So Douglas got their vote because he opted to let the expansion of slavery be determined by popular sovereignty. When Lincoln was declared the winner of the election southern states started to secede. South Carolina was first, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Later Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia joined them. These states declared themselves the Confederacy and created their own government separate from the Union. The video below explains these events and include pieces of artwork connected to them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stats and Strategies

Recently, in my Honors History 10 class, we made infographics about the strategies and statistics of each side of the civil war. My infogram is about evidence that the North had more advantages and a better strategy which could help them win the war. I chose to represent facts that would support my opinion; such as the North's advantages in industry, the economy and railroad mileage. However, I also chose to include information about the slaves because some of them would have been able to show small signs of support to the north which would be yet another advantage. 
Organizing the information given to us and figuring out which pieces to include was very difficult. The process of analyzing the information helped me to get a better understanding of where each side stood at the beginning of the war. It helped me to understand how unprepared the South was and how ready  the North was.

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's a Small Room

During the time period right before the civil war slavery was the elephant in the room. People didn't discuss it although events occurred that were a direct result of it. During this time many things such as the Caning of Charles Sumner, the Dred Scott Decision, and the Gadsden compromise  happened

All of these were a direct action caused by the dispute about slavery, but no one named it as the main instigator. They blamed the people who partook in the events and their actions, but never what caused those people to do what they did. For example, when the caning of Charles Sumner happened, everyone blamed Preston Brooks's actions on what Sumner had said about his uncle. In reality, Sumner was talking about Brooks's uncle's involvement in the encouragement of slavery. Slavery was the root of the problem but it wasn't directly blamed for being it. This incident also furthered the divide between the North and South because pro-slavery people supported Brooks while anti-slavery supporters were outraged about what happened to Charles Sumner.

Along with the Caning, the Dred Scott Decision was influenced by slavery. Dred Scott and his master had lived in free states for a long period of time so Scott felt as though he should be considered a free man. SCOTUS ruled 7 to 2 against Scott because a)slaves were not considered citizens, so they did not have the right to sue in court, b) enslaved people could not win freedom by simply living in a free state and c) the Missouri Compromise was ruled unconstitutional and all territories were opened to slavery. Clearly, slavery was not completely ignored, but it was definitely not recognized the way that it needed to be by the government.
The Gadsden Compromise was also an event that was heavily influenced by slavery and the possibility for more slave states. The US paid $15 million for all of Nevada, California, Utah and much of Arizona and New Mexico in the Treat of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The US also paid $10 million for a much smaller strip of land known as the Gadsden Purchase only 5 years later. The smaller strip of land was to be used to make a transcontinental railroad to the new territories which were established with no mention of slavery. Southerners and pro-slavery  people wanted to be able to move people out to these new territories. This way, when the territories applied for statehood, they would want to be slave states because the majority of their population supported slavery. The overall goal was not stated as to further pro-slavery states, but to extend the amount of land in the United States. Like the caning of Charles Sumner, it was pretty obvious to everyone else that slavery was really the number one motive to buy the new land and to build a railroad in the South that conveniently led right to the unestablished territories.... Because that's not suspicious at all.  Clearly slavery was still a major issue at the time, but no one wanted to talk about it; that is why it was the elephant in the room. 
Picture of my group's timeline
Description of the event specified on timeline
Continuation of descriptions

'Elephant in the room' Google Images
"Gadsden Purchase", "Dred Scott" "Dred Scott Article" and "The caning of Charles Sumner"

Liberty, Equality, Sorority

Recently in my Honors History 10 class, we discussed Women's Rights during the mid 19th century. We talked about their roles in society, how oppressed by men they were, and how they fought for their rights. Women were extremely limited by their rights. Women were allowed to own land but once they got married it became their husband's, they couldn't vote, women could  not control who got custody of her kids when her husband died, they could not sue their husbands, and it was very difficult for them to divorce their husband. along with lots of restrictions, there were also many things that women were expected to do. They were expected to clean the house, watch the children, mend/make clothes and teach their children. This was a lot of responsibility for one mother and the father would not be around to help her because he would be doing "manly" things.
One of the many ways they fought for there rights was by publicly speaking about them. The first time they ever did this was at the Seneca Falls Convention. There were many different reactions to this convention. Some newspapers published reactions to the convention. Some reactions were supportive of the movement while others were not. The Oneida Whig newspaper thought that women had already tried to get rights, a long time ago, and that it was bound to fail again. The Mechanics Advocate felt as thought women were meant to stay at home and cook dinner.The two major arguments that they made against women having rights were that Adam was made before Eve and that Eve sinned before Adam. They used thee arguments to trap women into complying to men. Neither of the two newspapers had very strong arguments,. The National Reformer responded to the Mechanic's Advocate's claims by saying that they "had done them a great injustice" by making them inferior to men.

In today's 21st century society there are still a lot pf prejudice's against women. In the video above, women and men are depicted doing the same thing, but words in the background show how society perceives the actions based on their gender. I think that this is a fairly accurate representation of what goes on in society. There are definitely things about men and women that have to be different, but in terms of politics, jobs, and actions men and women should be treated equally. While this is very accurate, I also feel that in recent years the prejudices have become less prominent. A lot of people are still working for gender equality. Recently, I went to a lunch seminar about women in Science, Engineering, and Math. It was very interesting to hear about how they were treated at the place they work. Some said that everything was equal, while others said some men treated them as inferiors, but were then scolded by their boss. This is a huge step in the right direction for our country.