Thursday, April 30, 2015

Above or Below

Intro: what we did in class
freedom from above
freedom from below
my opinion/modern example

Prior to leaving for a much needed vacation, my Honors History 10 class discussed the freedom of slaves and how they were trying to achieve it. Our Essential Questions for the unit were:Who 'gave' freedom to enslaved Americans? Did freedom come from above or below? To what extant where Abraham Lincoln's actions influenced by the actions of enslaved Americans? We discussed the differences between freedom from above and freedom from below. Along with reading some documents about Abraham Lincoln, we also watched a video by Ken Burns. After watching the video, discussing the documents, and answering some questions we made a chart about each of the documents and whether they exemplified freedom from above or below.
Our chart shows whether the freedom was from above or below, why, and how much it exemplified its type of freedom.

The picture we analyzed during out activator
for the lesson. 
At the very beginning of the lesson we learned that freedom from above is when the government worked the free the slaves. This meant that the slaves had to depend on the government to free them. In the documents that we read surrounding Lincoln and slavery there were several examples of power from above being used to free the slaves. In Lincoln'c second Inaugural address he recognized that "These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than restrict the territorial enlargement of it." He recognizes that the slaves had been the cause of the war all along but that everyone ignored them. He also recognized that in the past the government had not seen this but now they were going to work at it. Slavery had officially become the goal of the Civil War. It was no longer about the Union, it was about the people of the country and what was best for them.

Edwin M. Stanton 
Freedom from below was when the slaves took it upon themselves to gain there own freedom. They would have revolts, protests and escapes in order to get the government ot recognize their need for freedom. They would help each other to escape. One example of this was Harriet Jacobs. She was a born into slavery in Virginia. She managed to escape and hide in an attic for several years. After that she managed to get to the North where she became a nurse and wrote a very famous slave narrative. She needed the help of others in order to be able to escape, but she also managed to do it without involving the government or depending on them.In a different document that my group looked at, there were examples of power from below rather than above. Document X was a letter from General E. Burnside to the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. In this letter the general states that " the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations— Two have reported themselves who have been in the swamps for five years— it would be utterly impossible if we were so disposed to keep them outside of our lines as they find their way to us through woods & swamps from every side" By joining the Union soldiers in this abandoned town, the slaves are forcing the soldiers to deal with them. They aren't hiding and being submissive anymore. They are bringing their problem to the government and showing them just how wrong they have been treated in the past. This is power from below because the slaves took matters into their own hands in order to show people that they needed to be freed.

Protests in Baltimore
Recently, in the news there have been lots of protests. These protests in major cities like Boston and New York, were sparked by more violent protests in Baltimore, Maryland. The citizens of Maryland became outraged when they heard that Freddy Gray, an African American man, died of his injuries while in police custody. This news sparked protests that later turned into violent riots. While the protesting makes sense and was a good idea to catalyze change, the violence was not okay. The rioters ended up looting and burning down a CVS Pharmacy. Right across the street from said pharmacy was a senior citizen residence that relied on the pharmacy for medicine. There are no supermarkets or other pharmacies in the general area for the senior citizens to get their medicine from. I do not support the violence, but I do believe that the people were right in protesting. Something needs to be changed.They were letting the government know what their problem was. They made their issue with the way cops treated black people known. They supported each other and worked together in order to make a change in the world as they know it. The looting and burning of buildings was not necessary. If anything it probably made the police less likely to want to change things and more likely to be more forceful. The violence got so bad that the National Guard was called in. I happened to be in Baltimore Tuesday morning and saw all of the armed men at their temporary base at Camden Yards. I had just gotten back from my vacation, but it shocked me that there needed to be so much police/army presence. If the people had managed to keep the protests from turning into riots, then they probably would have made more of a change. These days they seem to have more people shocked and disgusted by what they did rather than trying to help them fight for change. In Boston, protests stayed calm and nonviolent. In New York, however, some were a little violent. I feel that the more peaceful protests are a better idea. It shows the government that there is a problem while also showing them that it should be fixed. It doesn't provide more opportunities for cops to violent or give the people more reason to be upset with law enforcement. This is an example of power from below because the people of the states are catalyzing the change that they want to see happen.

'Baltimore Riots'
'Edwin M. Stanton'

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