Final Blog

June 22, 2010

FINAL BLOG:
On the way to the F.D.R. National Historical Site I learned about the diversity embraced and embodied by Fiorello LaGuardia and it will stay with me as I teach about New York. I also got to touch a banister that FDR touched at the Hyde Park National Historical Site and I learned more about Eleanor Roosevelt. I will teach about FRD and Eleanor with a renewed sense of importance and I will be more correct.
At the Museum of the City of New York the 24-minute video about the history of New York was a great way to begin, as it gave an overview of the entire history of the Big Apple and the guided gallery tour of Cars, Culture, and the City was interesting. The grid system activity might be useful in my U.S. History II class when we talk about urbanization. Also, the Mayor Lindsay exhibit was fascinating, as I knew nothing about this important mayor and I found it interesting and somewhat sad that some teachers could not comprehend the concept of a Republican being anti-war and anti-poverty (as I attempt to teach my American-Government high-school students that both sides of the political spectrum contain an array of ideologies). Further, the Jacob Riis photographs were interesting. We have seen them before and have discussed their often set-up nature, but the will be very useful in a U.S. History class.
Our bus tour of Harlem and the Bronx began at the Lower Eastside in the Bowery. This area has had a sordid history as skid row-yet has seen recent revival and gentrification since the 1990s. I also learned that New York was the most important industrial city in the world 50 years ago. I would have thought it might be Pittsburg, etc., yet our guide reminded us that we must not just think in terms of steel, etc. and that we must remember cigars, sewing, and so on. This makes sense and it is something to remember for my classroom. We also saw the Hotel Theresa and I learned that Nikita Kruschev and Fidel Castro stayed at this hotel while attending the U.N. This is interestingly linked to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame Civil Rights Exhibit and the Viva Baseball Exhibit which I will discuss later because at Coopersville they mentioned that African-American players and Latin-American players could not stay at the same hotels as their Caucasian counterparts and the Viva Baseball Exhibit mentioned that Castro had stayed at African-American Hotels. The visits to Strivers Row and the Sugar Hill areas of Harlem should be useful for my U.S. History II classes since they illustrate the rich diversity of Harlem itself. I must admit that when I teach about Harlem I over-generalize (generalization is something teachers must do, however over-generalization is the doorway to misunderstanding) and teach as if the entire area was poverty-ridden.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was impressive and it reminded me to remember that the North American also experience the Victorian Age.
The African Burial Ground Memorial/National Monument was probably the most overpowering place I visited on the entire trip, in some ways more overpowering than the fields of Ticonderoga and Saratoga. I teach about the hypocrisy of the North–not because some owned slaves, but because many New Englanders owned the ships that transported these human beings across the infamous (is there a more negative term to use here other than “infamous”?) Middle Passage, and because New Englanders were at the auction blocks where human souls were bought and sold, and on the African Coasts–but I usually only mention Massachusetts. This visit will help me to remember that New York was, from the 1680s to the 1750s, the #1 slave market and #1 slave importer in North America (which I assume to not include the Caribbean…). The Tweed Courthouse was also instructive and St. Paul’s Cathedral was profound and touching. I bought a flag with all those who lost their lives on 9/11 at the Cathedral and will now display it in my classroom. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge was amazing and I believe the experience of walking across the bridge will allow me to better relate the concept of turn-of-the-century America to my students. We then went to Central Park. I briefly teach about Central Park and the visit will enable me to teach about it more affectively.
The walking tour of the Lower Eastside taught me more about immigration than I knew, which is very important to me. With the national and local dispute over immigration in our time, I find it healthy to look to immigration in the United States’ past when I discuss this thorny issue with my American Government, Sociology, and U.S. History II students. Further, the Tenement Museum will allow me to better convey tenements to my students.
Ellis Island was also educational. Going into the areas that are basically of limits to most visitors will stay with me for a long time. I believe the immense size of what developed as the island grew is important to remember, and that most on the island had altruistic intentions, wil better allow me to teach about the subject. Also, standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty reenergizes my love for her and for what she stands for (despite one presenter’s assertion that she originally had nothing to do with immigration).
The New York Historical Society visit was very interesting and thought-provoking. We discussed the 1820’s rise of the African-American Middle Class- something that I was remise in teaching when discussing slavery. The New York African Society for Mutual Relief was also interesting. I sometimes discuss benevolent societies, but I did not know this type of society existed. Further, the slave badges in the display were disconcerting. I did not know of them, but I see the necessity in a state where there were free and enslaved African Americans. It made me think about the Holocaust’s Star of David. The importance of cotton to New York will also affect the way I teach. I would have assumed molasses and rum would have been more important and I will remember this when I discuss Independence. Finally, the Museum of Natural History was also great. The Slavery and Serfdom in Africa exhibit went hand-in-hand with what I teach. They said African slavery was more like serfdom (and I teach that African slavery (and most slavery) was not hereditary or based on skin color) which I believe as a way to word it that will help students understand the difference form chattel slavery. The exhibit eloquently stated that slaves in Africa were “put to work and gradually could secure for themselves and their descendents a full and honorable place in society.”
Sagamore Hill, the Theodore Roosevelt Museum, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown were amazing. I believe all of them will allow me to teach more realistically about their significance. The Fenimore Art Museum and the Farm Museum were also instructive. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls and the other sites regarding woman’s suffrage and equal rights con only help the way I teach. Finally the guided boat tour of the Erie Canal will help me teach about the Panama Canal better, and Fort Ticonderoga and Saratoga were awe inspiring.

6-15-10

June 15, 2010

Our last full day in New York and we began at Fort Ticonderoga. I do not get to teach much about the battles of the American Revolution (U.S. History II begins after Reconstruction) but it was well worth while. I have never been to a French and Indian War and Revolutionary War site before and it was very humbling. I do teach a little about the French and Indian War and although some say the larger Seven Years War, I disagree with the comparison. Although the Seven Years War did take place over a long period of time and in many places across the earth, calling it a “world war” inherently puts it side by side with World War I and World War II. The Seven Years War is in almost no way comparable to the two great wars–not in size, scope, destruction, refugees, famine, military strategy and weaponry, etc. I tell the students that the Seven Years War took place across the world, and I believe the terminological distinction is apt.

Our guide explained that General Abercrombie (Abercromby?- I saw it spelled both ways at different locations within Fort Ticonderoga), in 1758, assembled the largest army ever in North America. Later I asked him to elucidate what he meant and he said “up to that point in history.” The French (and I believe some Native-American allies) force consisted of 3,568 soldiers under Montcalm, while Abercrombie (and, again, I believe some Native-American allies) had a force of around 15,000-16,000 soldier—and the French won. The importance of this to my classes is that, as our guide Jim Hughto

Jim Hughto


elucidated, this defeat showed many future Colonial soldiers (and French soldiers) that the hegemonic British army could be defeated. This obviously has tremendous ties with the American Revolution.

Seeing the Fench entrenchments, field fortifications remains, and abates remnants was amazing and I believe it will help me to relate conditions of the time to my students better, especially with my training in the U.S.M.C. Infantry.

One of our teachers (I think it was C. Jones) asked simply, why did the French win? This was a good question, as the French were almost hopefully outnumbered and Jim said part of the reason was the discipline of the British (Scottish) Royal Highlanders Regiment or the “Black Watch.” He said that they kept moving forward (an exhibit in Fort Ticonderoga said that they eerily used bagpipes to scare their enemies and move their soldiers forward) and that some were impaled on the wooden abatis spikes from being pushed forward from the ranks toward the rear. In 3 hours over 600 were killed or wounded.

As we moved forward and crested a hill the fort came into view. It was an amazing thing to see and I believe that site, along with the French lines’ remnants will stay with me throughout my teaching career. Also seeing Mt. Defiance was interesting. I had no idea that the British guns placed there later in the American Revolution could shoot so far. Jim said they could have reached the fort and beyond–to Mt. Independence—the line of American retreat connected to Fort Ticonderoga by a bridge at that time.

In the museum in Fort Ticonderoga I noticed many weapons, but I also noticed a ceramic whistle, a mouth harp, dice, a fiddle, and a Rosary. These items reminded me that soldiers are the same everywhere. They are usually just people following orders and trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I also saw shackles (which make sense) and an unlabeled torture device called a thumbscrew device (which I am not sure what it might have been used for).

Also there was a display of a silver bullet. This contained a secret dispatch which a British soldier was carrying from Clinton to Burgoyne. He was supposed to swallow it if found and he was found. However he is seen swallowing the bullet and he is captured and the bullet is “retrieved.” The British prisoner was condemned as a spy and hung.

We then travelled to Saratoga and it was equally educational. In the museum there was a picture of a painting depicting the death of General Montgomery at the failed assault on Quebec City. Interestingly, in Teddy Roosevelt’s Home which we visited a few days ago, the same scene was depicted in a drawing of an engraving on an upstairs wall. The image is stirring.

At the Saratoga museum, the fiber optic battlefield was an important part of this trip for me. It illustrated one way in which a battle can be overviewed with students in a way that makes it more understandable. Even with many of the computer generated or illustrated battle resources, this was hard to beat. I wish we had the time to see the whole battle at the museum and I will think about a way to use the concept in my future classes.

Our guide mentioned three defensive attributes that were crucial to the battles of Saratoga: (1) bluffs close to the Mohawk River, (2) steep ravines protecting these bluffs, and (3) the Saratoga Great Vly- a wetland/quasi-swamp for most of the year a deep mud at other times.

I also learned that the Barber Wheat Field was the turning point of the Revolution. At the last stop I walked the British lines by myself. At a distance I heard fireworks or possibly some type of reenactment. There were 20-30 of what sounded like distant gunfire volleys. Several minutes later I heard it again. It made me think about what those brave men (and women) did for my freedom and it made very emotional. Also in the distance I heard our guide asking about veterans in our group and I was glad I was not with the group, as I did nothing like the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of combat veterans that have given more than I can understand.

6-14-10

June 14, 2010

Today we began at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls. The Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments was fascinating and its purposeful likeness of the Declaration of Independence is something I will use in my classrooms- possibly for American Government and U.S. History II. There also is a Women’s Rights Travelling Trunk that is available for classroom use and I may look into that. The tour was interesting; however I could not get a song from a Women’s Suffrage Movement video I used to show in class out of my head. It ridiculing women who wanted equal rights and the vote, and it was called In the Land where the Women Wear the Trousers.

I also found the Susan B. Anthony quote: “Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences” very profound, true, and admirable.

Susan B. Anthony

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Home was interesting and comparing it to the picture of when it was dilapidated (before her father put her in charge of its renovation) was a testament to her force of will.

The M’Clintock House was also interesting and standing in the parlor where the Declaration of Sentiments was written was important to me. It should remind me in the future to cover the Declaration of Sentiments in my U.S. History classes (I have been remise in this in the past). I also did not know that the M’Clintock House was an active part of the Underground Railway.

The William Seward Home was also enlightening. I also did not know that this home was another active part of the Underground Railway and that it was used as such even when Seward was a U.S. Senator. I believe touring this site will remind me to teach about Seward’s (and his wife’s) abolitionist beliefs and practices. Admiration is how I felt upon learning that he practiced what he preached. As a lover of books, the book collection was entralling.

The Harriet Tubman Home was something I was really looking forward to seeing; unfortunately we did not get to spend much time there. There was a wall exhibit about branding slaves. I have heard of this infamous practice, but I thought it was a rarity. They had a picture of some of the actual brands and it said they were often branded on their breast or shoulder and that the brand conveyed the ship’s name which was shipping them. I will try to teach about this now that I know it was so common (and so horrific).


It was also important to me to get something I do teach about reaffirmed. I teach that some slaves committed suicide by refusing to eat. The exhibit said the same thing, although it did not mention the device used to force slaves’ mouths open so they could be forced-fed because slavers did not want to lose such valuable cargo (“Black Gold” or “Living Gold”).

Also the Harriet Tubman Home had a quote from a slave ship captain that was horrible: Thomas Phillips- 1746- “I have been informed that some commanders have cut off the legs or arms off the most willful slaves, to terrify the rest.” This was truly chilling in itself, but also because some African indigenous beliefs thought that loss of a limb meant one could never return home.

The guided boat tour of the Erie Canal was also very educational. I do not teach much about the importance of the canal (my U.S. History Ii class begins at the end of Reconstruction), but maybe I will mention it when I discuss the Panama Canal. The locks are very similar to the Panama Canal and I asked the guide if the doors were held shut by the weight of the water like in the Panama Canal’s locks, he said yes. I also did not know that the Erie Canal reduced New York shipping costs by over 90%. The guide, interestingly, told us that there is approximately 500 miles of canals in this system and that the original version had 84 locks, whereas this version has only 35. Much of the canal is still original from when it was completed in 1825.

6-13-10

June 14, 2010

Today we began at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. What a great experience. Baseball is intertwined with U.S. history and the visit was educational. One of the things this tour reminded me of is the civil-rights role that baseball players (and other athletes) have played in our history. As ambassadors of good will, Americans saw that African Americans share the same goals, aspirations, and athletic capabilities of all Americans.

Learning about the Baseball Hall of Fame website, distance learning opportunities and lesson plans was exceptional. I hope to use the Civil Rights Exhibit and the Viva Baseball exhibit together in my U.S. History classes. The Civil Rights exhibit was very powerful and meaning to me. Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother, and Bud Fowler were some Civil Rights leaders I did not know about, but will now hopefully mention (and put in the African-American Civil Rights timeline I made to go over with my students).

Jackie Robinson’s picture in his military uniform was also important. I have a picture of Jackie Robinson on my classroom wall in the Civil Right’s area of my room, but I would now like to put this picture with the other.

Two artifacts of Robinson’s hatemail were also heart-wrenching, as were several mentionings (by other players) about the hate Robinson had to endure to change the United States.

Pop Lloyd was someone I did not know about and I found it telling that he was called “the Black Honus Wagner” and that Honus Wagner said it was a privilege to be compared to the ballplayer.

John Henry “Pop” Lloyd


Honus Wagner

The Diamond Dreams Exhibit will influence the way I teach woman’s rights. These athletes furthered the cause of equal rights and their roles cannot be diminished. This tour will help me to remember to include women baseball players when I discuss the Woman’s Suffrage Movement.

The Viva Baseball Exhibit about Latin-America’s contribution to the sport was interrelated and I hope to mention some of the things I learned, including Jose Mendez from Cuba) in the Chicano Civil Rights timeline I made to go over with my students. That some Latin Americans played in the Negro National League because the color of their skin (while lighter-skinned Latin Americans did not have to…) reaffirms what I teach about the stupidity of dividing the single human species into these arbitrary divisions of “race.” It was also telling that African-American ball players from the U.S. were “treated like kings” in many Latin-American countries. Further, I found the oral accounts from Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, and Rod Carew, about obstacles in the U.S. overcome by Latin-American ball players very important. Finally, the exhibits reminded me to put Jim Thorpe into the Native-American Civil Rights timeline I made to go over with my students.

I must end by saying that seeing Joe DiMaggio’s locker and equipment, Mickey Mantle’s jersey, a bat used by Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig’s glove, the Babe Ruth Room, the Hank Aaron Room, and learning about Satchel Paige’s “jump ball,” “hesitation pitch,” “midnight creeper” pitch, and “trouble ball” were awesome (one player remarked that his fastball would seem to come right out of his shoe).

Satchel Paige

The Fenimore Art Museum was more interesting and educational than I thought it would be. The Native-American Exhibit will help my teaching. Seeing a quiver, case, and bow made by Geronimo was both amazing and sad. Amazing because it was made by the hands of Geronimo, and sad because he made it to be sold at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair after he had already been captured and subdued.

A dagger from the Tlingit people in Alaska was also interesting, as it still had blood stains on it.

The Magnum Photo Exhibit was very influential. Many of the photos were hard to view (especially the war pictures for me…), but I will mention some that moved me: Gandhi’s Funeral, 1948, Mothers of Naples Lament their Sons, Naples, Italy, 1943, D-Day Landing, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, A Woman is Rescued from her Home Wrecked by a V-1 Bomb, London, England, 1943, and especially: A Gestapo Informer Impersonating a Refugee in a Displaced Persons’ Camp is Exposed, Dessau, Germany, 1945, Women Training Northeast of Tehran, Iran, 1986, and West Bank, Israel, 1967. Finally, North Carolina- the picture of “colored” and “white” drinking fountains during Separate but Unequal, was important to me. I have the picture on my classroom wall, yet did not know where it came from.
For photos see:
http://www.magnumphotos.com
http://www.eastmanhouse.org

6-12-10

June 13, 2010

Today we left New York City. As I my Dad said when I was little and we were leaving a town, “AMF.” To the good people of that town it meant “adios my friends.” To the people who he did not like (like the friendly young lady leaving Yankee Stadium who say my Denver Broncos coat and yelled “F*** the Denver Broncos” I leave it to you to figure out what “AMF” means. It truly was a great and educational experience to visit the greatest city on earth.

Out visit to Sagamore Hill was very instructive. Theodore Roosevelt’s home was amazing and, as mentioned in my previous blog about touching the banisters that Lincoln and F.D.R. touched, I now can say the same thing for Theodore Roosevelt, although this time I also got to sit on the porch in a rocking chair like T.R. often did (it reminded me a little of our trip to F.D.R.’s getaway house and porch). It was also important to me to see T.R.’s Rough Rider hat and saber, and to learn how much T.R. believed (and practiced) in the institution of the family.

A print in Theodore Roosevelt’s home was very interesting to me. The gift from Kaiser Wilhelm illustrating every ship in the U.S. Navy (including one that had not been built yet) made one think. As the park Ranger posed, “was it meant as a threat or a gift?” This is particularly poignant when one remembers Teddy’s love of the Navy, his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Roosevelt Corollary, the Great White Fleet, and eventually, World War I. This allowed me to look at the time period from a broader perspective and will, thus, allow me to present the era in a more correct fashion for my students in the future.

The extent of T.R.’s writing (36 books on a range of topics and 150,00 letters and articles) was also very impressive.

The Theodore Roosevelt museum was educational and interesting also. His quote about the Spanish-American War, “For the last year I have preached war with Spain. I should feel distinctly ashamed…if I now failed to practice what I have preached,” was also telling regarding what kind of man T.R. was. I only wish more politicians felt and acted in the same manner. I might utilize this in my Honors American Government classes. Also, Roosevelt’s decision to draw attention to poor conditions for his troops, despite this meaning his not receiving the Medal of Honor, also spoke volumes about his character. Fittingly he eventually and posthumously would receive this great honor.

I also did not know the extent of Teddy Roosevelt’s appointments of African Americans to federal positions. I knew about the infamous 1906 Brownsville dishonorable discharge of the 167 African-American soldiers, but this will allow me to temper that act with his other acts.

Finally, the importance of the media available to the 1912 Election (motion pictures and audio recordings) was educationally important. To be able to hear his actual voice was profound for me.

6-11-10

June 12, 2010

Today was a great day. The New York Historical Society visit was very interesting and though-provoking. To begin, I did not know that the 1834 Abolition Riots (4 days) were the largest civil insurrection in U.S. History.

We also discussed the 1820’s rise of the African-American Middle Class- something that I was remise in teaching when discussing slavery. The New York African Society for Mutual Relief as also interesting. I sometimes discuss benevolent societies, but I did not know this type of society existed.

The slave badges in the display were disconcerting. I did not know of them, but I see the necessity in a state where there were free and enslaved African Americans. It made me think about the Holocaust’s Star of David.

It was also interesting to see the 1863 Draft Wheel, and to be reminded of the Draft Riots. It still is not the rich that fight our wars today.

The commode chair was also interesting. It powerfully illustrated one of the many dehumanizing aspects of slavery.

Another interesting artifact I came upon was a anti-prohibition metal hatchet. It said “All nations welcome except Carrie” and had her likeness in the head of the hatchet.

The importance of cotton to New York was also enlightening. I would have assumed molasses and rum would have been more important. The property restriction on voting was also enlightening. I teach about poll taxes and literacy tests often, but now I will include the property restrictions.

The Arrest and Trial of Dixon was a great activity. I hope to use it in my I.B. classes.

The Museum of Natural History was also great. The Slavery and Serfdom in Africa exhibit went hand-in-hand with what I teach. They said African slavery was more like serfdom (and I teach that African slavery (and most slavery) was not hereditary or based on skin color) which I believe as a way to word it that will help students understand the difference form chattel slavery. The exhibit eloquently stated that slaves in Africa were “put to work and gradually could secure for themselves and their descendents a full and honorable place in society.” The Mexico and Central American exhibit was also interesting.

Finally I went to a Yankee game, which is intertwined with the history of New York City. What a great experience.

9-10-10

June 10, 2010

Today we began at Ellis Island.
As we were waiting to get on the ferry at Battery Park something caught my eye and my breath caught in my throat. It was a sculpture of three men trying to save a drowning victim, with one man reaching down towards the water and an arm and hand reaching up out of the ocean in desperation. Every time a wave withdrew the head and shoulders of the man in the water were visible. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever seen and I asked a National Park Ranger what it was. He said it was the American Merchant Marine Memorial and that it was inspired by a photo of survivors of a U-boat attack who later died at sea on a ship with all hands lost. I told him that I had been in the Marine Corps and I knew that many Merchant Marines gave their lives for their country. The Ranger got a little emotional and said that a close family member was in the Merchant Marines and had perished. Regrettably I often forget to talk about the Merchant Marines when I teach history. This will help me remember to do so in the future. It was truly a just way to begin the day with the Statue of Liberty in view.

The ferry out to the island was fitting and I tried to think what it would have been like as a young (younger than me for sure) Irish immigrant leaving Ireland for the United States and arriving in New York Harbor. I believe I would have felt joy and apprehension (no- fear…), mixed with relief at arriving and sadness knowing I was leaving my home forever.

The presentation by the Save Ellis Island organization (the National Park Service fundraising and programmatic non-profit partner for the rehabilitation of the twenty-nine remaining buildings on Ellis Island, with the mission and mandate to raise the funds necessary to create and sustain, within these buildings, the Ellis Island Institute and Conference Center) was interesting and useful in my classrooms. I teach about immigration in my U.S. History II and American Government classes. I honestly did not know that all ship passengers who arrived in New York Harbor did not go through Ellis Island. It was informative (and it made common sense) that 1st and 2nd Class passengers did not need to go through the institution. I always taught that steerage passengers were the bulk of Ellis Island’s visitors, but I failed to mention that many others did not have to go through the process–or they went through a much simplified process. The altruistic purpose of much of Ellis Island’s procedures also will change the way I teach. I knew that some of the processes were altruistic, but stories of name-changing, anarchist-hunting, and undesirable-excluding colored what I taught. These things still occurred, but I will attempt to temper what I teach in the future. The endeavor to weed-out indentured servitude was also new (and common sense) to me; as was the fact that Ellis Island had interpreters for almost every language on earth.

It also made sense that the medical facilities, practices, and employees were at the pinnacle of their filed. It would stand to reason that the psychological employees would also be at the top of the psychological field (although I forgot to ask), especially with the vast array of humans and their obvious array of psychological differences.

Ellis Island Psychological Testing

Further, I did not know that it cost money to be treated at Ellis Island and I had no idea that 12 year olds and older were deported without necessarily an accompanying adult.

The museum was also amazing and I was reminded of one of the most powerful images I have ever seen regarding immigration. It was the Puck’s 1893 Joseph Keppler political cartoon “Looking Backward:”

They would close to the newcomer the bridge that carried them and their fathers over.

Finally, the jump drive that we were given has a tremendous amount of resources.

5-9-10

June 10, 2010

Today was a very interesting day. To begin, Dr. O’Donnell was discussing immigration and reaffirmed something that I have heard before, and of which I teach. He said that around 98% of incoming immigrants did not get turned away from Ellis Island (and that many who were turned away found their way into the United States through other means). He also mentioned that most immigrants only spent approximately three hours at Ellis Island. His point was that the tenements that we were about to visit were much more important (although he said Ellis Island was still tremendously important) in the big picture of immigration and settlement in New York City. The amount not turned away and the time spent at Ellis Island reaffirms my belief that comparing those immigrants to immigrants today fails in many contexts. The legal immigration process, today, can take several years, thus the comparison is not logical, although many still try to make it (e.g. – my family came here legally, why can’t others…). This does not negate the problems involved with illegal immigration into the United States today; it just means that I feel that the comparison of immigrants to Ellis Island (and the millions of immigrants to Castle Garden from 1855 to 1890; and immigration prior to record-keeping and regulation; and immigrants prior to there being a United States) is not comparable.

Castle Garden- Ney York City

Dr. O’Donnell also brought up a point that I will try to remember for my U.S. History classes- he reminded us that Tammany Hall, as corrupt as it was, still did a lot of good. I knew this, but his reminder that this was before a welfare system (other than charities and churches) was important.

I was very excited to go to 5-Points. I had asked Dr. O’Donnell if we could go there a couple days ago and he said we were not going there—he said there was not much there other than saying one had been there. As someone of very mixed European descent, but more Irish than other, it was important to me.

Chatam Square was a great reminder of the many ethnicities who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Lin Ze Xu (Lin Zexu) statue in Chatam Square was also very instructive. It is good to see a statue depicting a Chinese opponent to the Western Nations’ forced Opium Trade honored in the United States. I believe that is a part of our history that we have tried to “sweep under the rug” so-to-speak.

I also need to remember the Coconut Grove Fire that Dr. O’Donnell mentioned when I speak about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

We went to lunch at Katz’s Deli and I had the Pastrami. I usually am not a huge fan of pastrami, but this was delicious.

Finally we went to the Tenement Museum. This was an amazing way to make the tenements more real to me. I have wondered what a tenement was since I was a little boy and I heard Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence Maybe the most important song to me ever…). I teach about the tenements (and we had them in Pueblo) but this makes it much easier to convey them to my students. 97 Orchard Street will change the way I teach.

6-8-10

June 8, 2010

This evening’s blog will be a little shorter since my broken toe is hurting. To begin, today we stopped a short distance from our hotel to look at a Henry Ward Beecher statue.

I was unaware of the Beecher-Tilton Affair.

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and it was amazing. I believe the experience of walking across the bridge will allow me to better relate the concept of turn-of-the-century America to my students. I asked Dave H. to take a picture of the U.S. flag framed by the impressive and distinctive wirework, as it symbolizes to me the advanced nature and aesthetic value of the design. I do not believe I will ever forget the experience.

We returned to the African Burial Ground Memorial/National Monument, but this time we got to go inside the museum. The film was very powerful and moving. The “Laws affecting Africans in New York 1681-1683” and “A law for regulating Negroes and slaves…” were profound and Dr. O’Donnell said that he would get us a PowerPoint containing the documents.

We then went to Central Park. I briefly teach about Central Park and the visit will enable me to teach about it more affectively. I teach about Frederick Law Olmsted, but Dr. O’Donnell and today’s tour hopefully will help me to remember the crucial contributions of Calvert Vaux. The stream was really cool and reminded me of Monkey Mountain in Pueblo when I was a little kid. That tiny mountain seemed monstrous to a little kid from LaJunta.

6-7-10

June 8, 2010

Today we began with something I can, and will, definitely use in my classroom. We walked through the African Burial Ground Memorial/National Monument. I teach about slavery and the “Atlantic Slave Trade” (yes I used that term despite the Texas State Board of Education’s attempt to remove the word “slave” from the trade)–

–in my American Government and I.B. History of the Americans classes. I teach about the hypocrisy of the North–not because some owned slaves, but because many New Englanders owned the ships that transported these human beings across the infamous (is there a more negative term to use here other than “infamous”?) Middle Passage, and because New Englanders were at the auction blocks where human souls were bought and sold, and on the African Coasts–but I usually only mention Massachusetts. Today’s visit will help me to remember that New York, as our extremely knowledgeable guide Ed O’Donnell explained and I did not know, was, from the 1680s to the 1750s, the #1 slave market and #1 slave importer in North America (which I assume to not include the Caribbean…). This is extremely important to me because I want my students to understand that slavery was endemic to the colonies and eventually to the nation. This, I hope, helps my students understand the endemic nature of de facto segregation and discrimination in the North and the West after slavery.


The Monument itself was very meaningful and powerful to me.


Over 400 men, women, and children were uncovered at this site, but probably over 15,000 bodies were interned here—mostly African Americans, but also some other undesirables (Irish, the poor, etc.). The monument is dedicated:
For all those who were lost
For all those who were stolen
For all those who were left behind
For all those who are not forgotten
The memorial is meant to resemble a ship and the water is symbolic of the Middle Passage–and (as the Park Ranger explained) the fact that so many slaves were thrown overboard. I mentioned that I know of at least one incident where a slave ship was foundering and the captain knew that the insurance would be greater if the “cargo” was lost along with the ship, so he left the slaves chained in the hold and let the ship slip under the waves. The Ancestral Chamber narrowed as it became higher and it made me feel claustrophobic-as it should, because it was made to relay the confinement of slave-ship’s holds. Being inside the chamber was one of the most profound things that I have ever experienced.

As we walked, my eyes kept being drawn to the Woolworth Building (The Cathedral of Commerce).

It is amazingly beautiful, yet I could not help lamenting that I was given one stock in Woolworths when I was a young man. I received an annual check for a little over one dollar until the company went under. I wonder what could have happened had that stock been in one of any number of other companies that took off in the 1970s. I might be living the high life…instead of living the low life.

The Tweed Courthouse was also instructive. I teach about Boss Tweed in my U.S. History II class, but I had forgotten that that the building of the courthouse was what brought the Tammany Tiger down. I also did not know that Tweed was able to use his wealth to escape from prison and that he fled to Cuba, before moving on to Spain. I guess an American in Spain recognized Tweed from one of Thomas Nast’s cartoons and Tweed was arrested and sent back to the United States. I also forgot that William Tweed died in prison in 1878. This was very useful for my classes.

I also learned that there was an incident between British soldiers and colonials in New York prior to the Boston Massacre and that New York had a Tea Party just after the Boston Tea Party.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was profound and touching. It was not the Governor’s box, nor Washington’s box that got to me. It was a letter from a small child to a New York firefighter. In it the child described himself and thanked the firefighter for being a hero. Tears welled in my eyes as I remembered 9/11. I walked outside into the cemetery and could not help but to glance up—picturing the towers as they stood before. Tears again welled up in this grizzled Marine’s eyes and I walked toward the towers. A colleague of mine (Dave Henderson) came up behind me and quietly and simply stated “the bastards…” This was not meant towards any ethnic group nor any religion; it just described the monstrous perpetrators of that horrific tragedy, and visiting the USS Arizona memorial sprang to mind… “The bastards…” Well put my friend. Well put.

The 1712 New York slave rebellion was also news to me; as well as the subsequent fact that afterword 6 slaves committed suicide and 20 were executed by being burned alive (and another slave suffered the just as horrific fate of being crushed to death under a wheel of a wagon.

We also visited Bowling Green, the U.S. Customs House, and Fraunces Tavern.

LeMo