We just finished studying Andrew Jackson's administration and I would like to summarize the key concepts that all students should take away from his career as a general and President:
I. The Battle of New Orleans:
Jackson gained national fame as the victorious general in the final battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans (an unnecessary battle, since the Treaty of Ghent was signed a couple weeks beforehand... oops!). He absolutely crushed the British in the battle.
II. Jackson Gets Florida:
In 1818, Jackson was sent into Florida, then owned by Spain, to maintain the peace, since some Native Americans were ravaging Georgia plantations. Jackson went further than he was commanded. He killed some foreign rulers and captured others, demonstrating to Spain that Florida was not able to be protected by them. As a result, Spain and the US signed the Adams-Onis Treaty, giving Florida to the US (among other things that it did).
III. The Presidential Election of 1824 was a four-way one: Andrew Jackson [West] vs. J.Q. Adams [NE] vs. Henry Clay [Old Northwest] vs. William Crawford [South]. The result was that, while Andrew Jackson led in both electoral and popular votes, he was unable to obtain a majority (more than half). Thus, the election was then thrown into the House of Representatives, where each state would cast one vote to select the President. Clay was dropped, as he was in last place, Crawford had a stroke…so it was down to Jackson and Adams. It was close, but all of a sudden, Clay [Speaker of the House] decided to back Adams. Jackson supporters called Adams’ victory the “Corrupt Bargain” b/c soon after the election Clay was chosen Secretary of State in Adams’ administration and his American System was supported. So, with that slight issue, the DR party split into the…
- National Republicans [J.Q.A. supporters] – the NRs generally favored a more involved gov’t that had an active role in numerous aspects of peoples’ lives.
- Democrats [Jackson supporters] – the Democrats had a wide range of views, but basically they stuck to the Jefferson concept of an agrarian society w/limited gov’t intervention and feared the concentration of economic and political power. They stressed the importance of individual freedom and were against reform b/c it required a more activist gov’t.
Anyhow, during his administration J.Q. proposed a strong nat’list policy [Clay’s American System] that included protective tariffs, a nat’l bank, and internal improvements. J.Q. believed that the gov’t should play an active role in the economy, education, science, and the arts.- However, J.Q.A. stunk as a politician, and the Democrats made it all worse by sabotaging him at each opportunity. So basically he got nothing done. And then came the Election of 1828.
III. Jackson wins the Election of 1828:
- Jackson, now nicknamed "Old Hickory," gets his revenge in the Election of 1828, with the help of his supporters. He wins easily, beating J.Q. Adams. This election was the slimiest, sleeziest, nastiest, dirtiest campaign in all American history. Jackson's wife, Rachel, was attacked so badly that she died right before the election!
IV. The Spoils System:
-Jackson began a practice that was called the Spoils System, where he fired government employees and replaced them with his Democratic supporters.
V. Jackson vs. South Carolina: The Nullification Crisis
- The main issue of Jackson's first term was the Nullification Crisis, which is a little bit complicated at first, but turns out to be a hugely important moment in US history... it is a mini-preview of coming attractions: The Civil War! Here's what happened in the Nullification Crisis:
- The whole nullification thing started in 1828 when the Tariff of Abominations (nicknamed by the South) passed. A tariff is a tax on imported goods from another country. Remember, Southerners hate tariffs because they help Northern factory owners, while hurting Southern plantation owners who do lots of their trading other countries.
- South Carolina, basing itself on ideas expressed in the 1798 Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, began protesting the tariff and declaring their right to nullify (cancel) it. Calhoun, the VP, wrote and left unsigned the South Carolina Exposition and Protest [special state conventions can nullify nat’l laws].
- But in the Senate it was Robert Hayne [SC] who argued in favor of states’ rights vs. Daniel Webster [MA] in the 1830 Webster-Hayne Debates [“Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable” – DW].
- Even though Jackson was a states’ rights person, he believed the ultimate authority rested with the people, not with the states. With Calhoun obviously on the state sovereignty side, Jackson turned away from him and began to rely more on Secretary of State Martin Van Buren.
- So in 1832 Congress tried to make the problem go away by reducing some of the duties but keeping them on iron, cottons and woolens. This was not good enough for South Carolina, who not only disliked the duties themselves but also feared that they could set a precedent for legislation on slavery.
- In November 1832, then, a South Carolina state convention nullified both tariffs and made it illegal to collect them w/in state boundaries. In response, Jackson passed the Force Act, which gave the president authority to call up troops and to collect duties before ships reached the state, while at the same time recommending tariff reductions to give SC a chance to back down.
- Calhoun, who had resigned as VP and become a South Carolina Senator, decided to work w/Henry Clay and eventually came up w/ the compromise Tariff of 1833, which reduced duties over a 9 year period. SC was satisfied and repealed its nullification law [but nullified the Force Act, which Jackson ignored].
- Although the crisis was over, neither side really had won a decisive victory... although Jackson had shown that the laws of this nation must be followed (just like Lincoln, thirty years later).
VI. Jackson kills the National Bank:
- First of all, in the Presidential Election of 1832, the main issue was the early removal of the Second Bank of the United States’ charter, which was due to expire in 1836. Jackson was all for the bank’s removal, attacking it as a center of special privilege and economic power; Henry Clay wanted to recharter it.
- In reality, the Second Bank of the US held federal funds and was an important source of credit for businesses. It also kept state banks honest by not accepting notes w/o gold to back them – so state banks weren’t exactly the nat’l banks biggest fans [saw it as private institution unresponsive to local needs].
- Anyhow, Jackson was reelected easily [random note: this election first in nation’s history where candidates chosen by conventions] and quickly proceeded to take down the bank in 1833. Here’s what he did…
- Basically, Jackson began by taking the $ in the nat’l bank and putting it in state-chartered banks – thereby shrinking the bank and making it just another private bank after 1836.
- Then came the Deposit Act of 1836, which allowed the Secretary of the Treasury to choose one bank per state to do what the SBUS used to. The act also provided that any federal surplus over $5 million be given to the states starting in 1837. The surplus [from speculation in public lands] was then put into bank notes by state banks. This worried Jackson, who hated paper $, so…
- He convinced Secretary of the Treasury Levi Woodbury to issue the Specie Circular, which said that after August 1836 only gold/silver could be used to pay for land. This reduced sales of public land and killed the surplus and the loans to the states.
- This policy was a total disaster. This economy stuff is confusing, but the idea is that even though there were fewer land sales and less land, people continued to speculate. The increased demand pressured banks, which didn’t have enough specie, and credit contracted – fewer notes issued, fewer loans made.
- Jackson just made things worse by continuing his hard $ policies, and his opponents had a field day. Congress then voted to repeal the circular, but Jackson pocket-vetoed this and the policy stood until in mid 1838 a joint resolution of Congress killed it.
- Jackson was the first President to really use his veto powers, which was another reason why he was attacked as being “King Andrew.”
VII. Jackson vs. Native Americans:
- As Americans increasingly pushed West, the former occupants inevitably were forced onwards as well. Although the Constitution acknowledged Indian sovereignty and gov’t relations w/Indian leaders followed internat’l protocol, in reality, it was a bunch of garbage.
- Basically, the US used treaty making to acquire Indian land – through either military or economic pressure the Indians were forced to sign new treaties giving up more and more land. Some Indian resistance continued after the War of 1812, but it only delayed, not prevented, the US.
- Many Indian nations attempt to integrate themselves in the market economy. For example, some lower Mississippi tribes became cotton suppliers and traders. This turned out badly, though, b/c the trading posts would extend debt to chiefs that would later be used to force them off the land.
- As the cotton economy spread, then, Indians fell into patterns of dependency w/the Americans, which made it easier to move them. Indian populations also fell drastically due to war and disease.
- The US gov’t also attempt to assimilate the Indians into American culture [in 1819 $ was appropriated for that cause and mission schools were est.] Missions taught the value of private property and Christianity. For most, however, assimilation seemed too slow, and illegal settlers began crowding Indians everywhere.
- By the 1820s it was obvious the Indians just weren’t about to give up land fast enough, and attention turned to the more powerful, well-organized southeastern tribes.
- In 1824, prompted by pressure from Georgia, Monroe suggested that all Indians be moved beyond the Mississippi River [no force would be necessary, he thought]. This was aimed primarily at the southern Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees, who all rejected the proposal.
- In the end, all the tribes were moved, making it clear that even adapting to American ways could not prevent removal. The Cherokees were the best example – they had a written language created by Sequoya, schools, churches... even a constitution and political structure, but the South refused to respect them. They appealed to the SC in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and the court ruled in their favor. Still, Georgia refused to comply.
- Jackson decided not to interfere b/c it was a state matter [really b/c he just wanted to kick out the Indians anyway] and allowed the Indians to be forced out w/funds from the Removal Act of 1830. The Choctaws were moved first, then the Creeks.
- Finally the Cherokees [who were divided – some wanted to give up and exchange their land for western land, most didn’t want to give up] were marched by military escort in the Trail of Tears in 1838 after their lobby to the Senate failed.
- Removal was a disaster for the Indians [you think?] – many became dependent on the gov’t for survival, internal conflicts arose, as did problems with existing tribes.
- In Florida a small band of Seminoles continued their resistance through a small minority under Osceola that opposed the 1832 Treaty of Payne’s Landing, which provided for their relocation. When troops were sent in 1835, Osceola used guerilla warfare against them until his capture and death in prison, after which the group fought under other leaders until the US gave up in 1842.
Jackson is one of the most divisive figures in history... people tend to either love him or hate him. Sometimes people ask me my opinion of him, so I thought I would share it here. Basically, while I think Jackson did a few good things and had a few good policies, overall I think Jackson is a terrible American and terrible president. I share the same view as Thomas Jefferson, who said:
"I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws and constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate, he was Senator; and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. His passions are, no doubt, cooler now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man."
Watch the following video for a very thorough explanation of Jackson:
Soon, we will be analyzing the heated debates that took place at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The 55 delegates at the secret meeting debated many topics, including:
1) How much power should the National Government have?
2) How much power should State Governments have?
3) What rights of the people should be protected by the government?
Below is a painting depicting a scene of prayer, following Ben Franklin's speech to all the delegates, reminding them that "God governs in the affairs of men."
This week we began a unit on the Critical Period, the time period after the Revolutionary War from 1781-1789. During this era, America was governed by our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. It had many problems and the United States had some serious issues.
Memorize and sing this song in front of the class for extra credit!
t the end of Constitutional Convention, which was over three months of debate and compromise in creating the US Constitution, Ben Franklin made a comment regarding George Washington's chair. Franklin was waiting to sign the Constitution, when he stared at the chair (seen below) and said:
"I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was a rising or setting sun. Now at length I have the happiness to know that it is indeed a rising, not a setting sun."
One of the most helpful things I do for parents and students is offer a Text Message Notification system (which allows everyone to keep their privacy). I highly recommend parents and students sign up. In order to sign up, here are the different codes:
History Class Text Notifications (non-GATE class): Text @vhmscortez to (925) 230-0006
History Class Text Notifications (GATE class only): Text @gateclass to (925) 230-0006
2014 East Coast Trip Text Notifications: Text @ect2014 to (925) 230-0006
For more information, visit www.remind101.com.
ATTENTION 8TH GRADERS:
(DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO SIGN UP BELOW)
I am happy to announce that, once again, we will be offering a seven-day, four-city East Coast trip next May! This is the kind of opportunity that can influence your child’s view of history and the United States because it will make all that they’ve learned come alive. The trip is scheduled for May 17-24, 2014.
Minimum 2.0 GPA required and no behavioral record allowed in order to attend. In order to allow the maximum number of students to attend, no parents will be permitted to attend.
Here are some particulars of the trip:
-- The trip cost is $2,325. This price includes all meals!
-- It is from May 17-24, 2014. You will miss five days of school. We will leave on a Saturday afternoon and return on a late Saturday night (or early Sunday morning).
-- Sign up as soon as you can, because the top 50 are guaranteed a spot on the trip. If you sign up after the Top 50 spots have been filled, you will be placed on a Waiting List.
-- I can take a maximum of 100 students (2 buses, 50 per bus). Currently, we have 61 students signed up.
-- We will visit 4 cities - Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
-- Minimum 2.0 GPA required and no behavioral record allowed in order to attend. In order to allow the maximum number of students to attend, no parents will be permitted to attend.
-- Get your friends to sign up and I will make sure to place you in the same room in the hotels.
I strongly recommend this experience for all students. It is strategically organized, safe, and a great time for students to bond. But most importantly, it is life-changing. Your child will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with many of the historic sites and topics that are studied throughout the course of middle school and high school.
HERE'S HOW TO SIGN UP:
To sign up no, simply go to www.apple-tours.com and click on "Register For a Tour Online", then follow the directions. Make sure you write "Vista Heights - May 2014" when it asks you for the School/Trip name. A $250 deposit is required for registration. Total trip cost is $2325.
The American navy in the early part of the Revolution was pathetic... basically, it was 15 gunboats, led by Benedict Arnold.
The boat below is the only surviving gunboat from the Revolutionary War... it is called the U.S.S. Philadelphia, and it was salvaged in 1935 from the cold waters near Lake Champlain. It is currently on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Every Tuesday during second lunch, Mr. Cortez and Mr. Curran play softball on the sixth grade field. Bring your glove!
I've seen soccer players do some of the most despicable acts I've ever seen in athletics... but this may be the worst!
A stray dog learned the hard way during a soccer match in Argentina that you apparently don’t interrupt lower-league player Enzo Jose Jimenez.
And what, exactly, did the Bella Vista player do about the match interruption? He picked the dog up by its neck and hurled it off the field, right into a fence!!
Watch the sad video below:
Click on the painting above to turn this painting into a interactive painting - John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence. Then, scroll your mouse pointed over the various figures to see their names and importance.
Here are some more photos regarding the Declaration of Independence...
On the left is Independence Hall, in Philadelphia - the building where it was signed. On the right is the room where it was signed.. it's called The Assembly Room, in Independence Hall.
This is where the Declaration rests today - in the National Archives Rotunda. In the photo below, it is on the left side. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are also in there.
Here is a photo of the actual Declaration of Independence. Notice the mysterious hand print in the bottom left.
Watch this video of the President quote the Declaration of Independence... or, should I say, misquote! Remember, Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers said that our rights come from our "Creator" and "Nature's God," thus cannot be given or taken away by the government (Social Studies Standard 8.1.2).
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Also, President Obama said that Mexicans were "here long before America was even an idea." Not to be too technical, Mr. President, but Mexico did not become a country until 1821, whereas the United States declared its independence in 1776. In other words, Americans came before Mexicans by 45 years!
The Trading Cards Project has ended and cards have been submitted. The best ones will put on the classroom wall.
Located in Saratoga National Historical Park in New York is a strange national monument. It's a boot. There is no name on the monument, making it the only war memorial in the United States that does not honor the soldier by name.
This "Boot Monument" is in honor of infamous traitor Benedict Arnold, who fought heroically at the Battles of Saratoga. His leg was wounded in the battle, and a few years later he became a traitor after disagreements with the Continental Congress.
The Battles of Saratoga were the turning point of the Revolutionary War, and caused France to agree to join the war effort on the American side.
As we study the Revolutionary War period for the next few weeks, we will study such broad themes as Justice, Power, Rights, Conflict, and Diversity. But another theme we will touch on is Technology. Yes, the Revolutionary War produces some technological advances, such as the world's first submarine - the Turtle. Below is the Turtle - and yes, it WAS used in combat! For more info, click here.
Video footage showing players milling around a field during a club soccer match in Isfahan, Iran, captures several objects on the ground. Some of them appear to be trash or plastic bags. One of these objects though turns out to be an explosive.
The footage posted on YouTube shows a player picking up what is being described as a live “grenade” (although it doesn’t seem it is a grenade in the traditional sense of the word), seemingly not recognizing what it was, and throwing it casually off the field seconds before it went off.
Often, people in our country will say that America is a democracy. This is an error that would make our Founding Fathers furious! We are a Republic, according to Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution. Our Founders made it very clear what they thought about democracies, as you will see below in the quotes. After you read, watch the video.
Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. - James Madison
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. - John Adams
A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way. The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty. - Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment
We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt. - Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution
[T]he experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived. - John Quincy Adams
A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils. - Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration
In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth. - Noah Webster
Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage. - John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration
It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion. - Zephaniah Swift, Author of America's First Legal Text
As a kid, there were times when I questioned the importance of getting an education. If that sounds like you, then you need to realize that there are many reasons why taking your education seriously is important. Just watch this girl answer a question in the Miss Teen USA competition a few years back. You will never take your education for granted ever again!
As you know, I hate soccer and think it is the world's worst sport. I believe it is racist, violent, and boring. But the number one reason I hate it is because of the fakers it produces. Watch the video below to see some of the world's WORST actors!
The second president in US History to be assassinated was James Garfield. But he didn't have to die... watch to find out the details behind his death:
In his inaugural address in 1801, Thomas Jefferson laid out what he believed were the five purposes of government. Click here to read his Inaugural Address.
It's sad, but a significant portion of African-American history is largely forgotten or simply ignored. For some reason, dozens of black heroes in American History are not even mentioned in our school textbooks. Watch the videos below to learn things you've probably never learned before!
More videos of Black Heroes in American History coming soon!
A while back, I posted some videos about black heroes in American History (scroll down to view those). Some of my students were excited about the topic, since most of our textbooks leave out this kind of information. So I decided I would post some more videos for your education and enjoyment.
Traveling on the ocean 400 years ago was a very different experience than it is today. Mayflower didn’t have private cabins with windows and beds for each person. There were no computers, televisions, air conditioners, fancy meals or swimming pools.
In the 1600s, most ships were merchant ships. They were made for carrying cargo, like barrels of food or cloth, large pieces of wood, and casks of wine, from one place to another to be sold. Before Mayflower sailed to New England, it had been sailing around Europe carrying wine and cloth. This cargo was probably stored in the lower decks of the ship in one large, open storage area. There were no windows on this deck because windows might let in seawater that would ruin the cargo. A little water would leak in anyway, though, so this area was always cold, damp and dark.
The storage decks had very low ceilings. They didn’t need to make the decks very high because barrels and boxes weren’t very tall. The ship had low-ceilinged decks to make it safer and to save space for the decks where the sailors lived. A ship that was too tall might tip over or sink.
The crew (sailors and officers of the ship) lived on the upper decks. In 1620, there were about 20-30 crewmembers on Mayflower. The Master, in charge of sailing the ship, was Christopher Jones. We would call him a “captain” today. He probably had his quarters, or living space, at the stern (the back) of the ship. This was the driest and most comfortable area on the ship.
The common sailors, or regular workers, had their quarters at the front of the ship, or bow, in a room called the forecastle. The forecastle, or fo’c’sle, was not a pleasant place to sleep or eat. It was in a part of the ship constantly hit by waves, so it was always wet and cold. The sailors would have to get used to the swaying and pitching of the ship because it was at its strongest here. Also, most of the men would be going to the bathroom at the head, which was at the very tip of the bow, so the forecastle wasn’t very clean.
There were also officers on Mayflower. They were responsible for sailing and navigating the ship. They probably lived in the space between the Master and the common sailors. Their quarters weren’t as spacious or comfortable as the Master’s, but they weren’t as awful as the space for the common sailors.
Where did the passengers live on Mayflower? The ship carried 102 men, women and children passengers on its only trip to New England. The passengers were the cargo, so they all had to live in the dark, cold cargo decks below the crew’s quarters.
(taken from Plimoth.org, the official site of Plimoth Plantation)
So what's the big deal with the Mayflower Compact? Isn't just a bunch of old, stinky men signing a piece of paper? No! the Mayflower Compact is the planted seed that grows up to become the United States. Read about it here.
Roanoke Island is famous for having the first ever English colonial settlement in the New World. But what it is most famous for is how mysteriously these first English settlers disappeared after a short time. Some say that they were killed; others say that they hid; still others say that they were absorbed into the native tribes. These settlers in Roanoke Island, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace, are popularly referred to as “The Lost Colony.”
While Jamestown was the first permanent settlement in the New World, Roanoke Island was host to English settlers even before the start of the 16th century. Roanoke Island is where the first child of English decent was born in the New World, and there had been many speculations as to what happened to the colony after that. King James I of England even made it a point to go on the first voyage to Jamestown to search for the first colony in America.
It was in 1584 when the first group of English settlers made settlements in Roanoke Island. This first batch of settlers consisted of a hundred men, but the quickly abandoned their first settlement due to harsh weather conditions and their failure to keep a good relationship with the native tribes. After three years, the second batch of English settlers set foot on the island in July. After a month, the first English child was born in the New World. A week after Eleanor Dare’s child was born, his grandfather, Captain John White, set sail for England to bring them back food supplies and materials. What Captain White expected to be a short trip turned out to be a long stay in his motherland. The Spaniards attacked England, and there were many other unexpected events, and so he managed to return to Roanoke Island three years later.
What Captain John White saw was mysterious and utterly unbelievable. His daughter, Eleanor Dare, and his granddaughter, Virginia Dare, were nowhere to be seen! He saw no one from the English settlement he left three years ealier, and the place was bare of any signs of life as even the houses were nowhere to be seen. The letters “CRO” was sketched on a nearby tree and the word “Croatan” was found on a post, but even a visit to the Croatoan Indians gave him no answer as to where his family and the English colony had gone.
Some say that the colony was wiped out by a violent deadly storm, and it was easy to imagine that on an island. Others say that the settlers had been the subject of brutal attacks by nearby native tribes, to help prevent future colonization on the island. Others say that they had intermingled with and become absorbed into the native population, that they became so comfortable with living as natives that they ultimately decided not to return to the colony. The loss of more than a hundred people—consisting of 90 men, 17 women and 9 children—marks the mysterious end of the first ever attempt to establish a permanent settlement in the New World.
(The above taken from http://totallyhistory.com/roanoke-island-mystery/)
To view hundreds of East Coast Tour photos, click on "Photos" above. Videos can be found on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/cortezhistory.
Here's a video of some of my old students having the "Time of their Life," eating lunch in Plymouth, Massachusetts, overlooking Cape Cod Bay...
Here are some random East Coast Trip pictures from the past few years..