Saturday, May 29, 2004

The Election of 1800: Teaching about a Critical Moment in the History of American Constitutional Democracy

The Election of 1800: Teaching about a Critical Moment in the History of American Constitutional Democracy. This is an essay which looks at the U.S. Presidential election of 1800. It argues that the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another helped established the lasting constitutional democracy in America.

From the site:

As America approaches its 54th presidential election in 2000, we take it for granted that the candidate who wins that election -- no matter how partisan or contested it might be -- will become the 43rd President of the United States following a peaceful transfer of power in a familiar ceremony. Indeed, this sense of inevitability is clear evidence of the strength of constitutional democracy in the United States. Aside from the election of 1860, which led to the Civil War, for two centuries America has met the test that a country is an established democracy when it consistently makes peaceful changes of government via free elections (Huntington 1991, 7-9).

But this democratic tradition had to be earned. In 1800 American democracy faced one of its most serious challenges when Republican Thomas Jefferson defeated Federalist President John Adams. World history reveals that in all too many cases, political leaders defeated at the ballot have not honored the voice of the people. But America followed a different course. The Federalists handed over the reins of power to their hated rivals, setting a precedent that has guided American politics ever since.

Do students recognize the peaceable outcome of the election of 1800 as one of the most critical moments in the establishment of constitutional democracy in America? The approaching bicentennial of Thomas Jefferson's election is an appropriate time to reflect upon the central place this momentous event should have in the school curriculum. This Digest connects the election of 1800 to the social studies curriculum, summarizes core content on this key event in American history, proposes the use of historic documents by teachers and students, and recommends World Wide Web sites as sources of documents and related information.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt This is a biography of President FDR.

From the site:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ( January 30 , 1882 - April 12 , 1945 ), often referred to as FDR , was the 32nd ( 1933 - 1945) President of the United States . He was elected to an unprecedented four terms of office - the only U.S. president elected more than twice, and part of the reason the United States Constitution was amended to limit presidents to 2 full terms (8 years). His main contributions were the instituting of major economic and social assistance programs in response to the Great Depression , leading the country through a successful involvement in World War II , and the formation of the United Nations .

He was born on January 30 , 1882 in Hyde Park, New York , and died on April 12 , 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia of a cerebral hemorrhage , leaving the famous Unfinished Portrait . He suffered from polio at the age of 39, which left him with severe difficulty in moving his legs. He often used a wheelchair , but took efforts to hide this disability throughout his life. In fact, there are only two known photographs of Roosevelt in his wheelchair. When a statue of Roosevelt sitting in a wheelchair was commissioned in Washington, DC in 2001 , some criticized this as unnecessary political correctness .

From the age of one, through until 1936 , Roosevelt spent his summers at Campobello Island, New Brunswick but because of his worsening polio, in later years he had to spend much of his time in Warm Springs, whose namesake warm springs provided him and others relief from their symptoms , and where he built the Little White House , now a Georgia state historic site . [1] He also created the town's Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation , which continues to help others with disabilities to this day. [2]

He graduated from Ivy League Harvard University in 1904 , and from Ivy League Columbia Law School with a J.D. in 1908 before taking a job with a prestigious Wall Street firm. On St. Patrick's Day , 1905 , he married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt , a distant cousin, who was the favorite niece of Theodore Roosevelt , his fifth cousin.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


ORIENTAL INSTITUTE MUSEUM VANISHED KINGDOMS OF THE NILE: The Rediscovery of Ancient Nubia Images from an exhibit at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago.

From the site:

The earliest of the Nubian cultures (the A-Group and C-Group) were located in northern Nubia. Until recently it was thought that A-Group people were semi-nomadic herdsmen. However, new research suggests that a line of kings 1ived in Qustul in northern Nubia as early as, or perhaps even earlier than, the first pharaohs of Egypt. The people of these early cultures buried their dead in stone-lined pit graves, accompanied by pottery and cosmetic articles. At this time, Nubia was known to the Egyptians as "Ta Sety," the "Land of the Bow," because of the fame of Nubian archers.
By 1550 B.C. kings at Kerma were ruling Nubia. They were buried in huge round tombs, accompanied by hundreds of sacrificed retainers. People of the Kerma culture were accomplished metal workers, and they also made thin-walled pottery on a wheel. This was a time of increased contact between Egypt and "Kush," as Nubia was then called.

Egypt dominated parts of Nubia from about 1950 to 1000 B.C. Forts, trading posts and Egyptianstyle temples were built in Kush, and the Nubian elite adopted the worship of Egyptian gods and even the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system. The gold, ebony and ivory of Nubia contributed to the material wealth of Egypt, and many of the famed treasures of the Egyptian kings were made of products from Nubia.

By 800 B.C., Egypt had fragmented into rival states. In 747 B.C., the city of Thebes in southern Egypt was threatened by northerners, and the Egyptians called upon the Nubian king for protection. The Kushite king, Piye, marched north from hiscapitalatNapata,rescuedThebesandreunified Egypt. For the next 100 years, Kushite kings ruled both Nubia and Egypt. This era was brought to a close by the invasion of Assyrian armies in 663 B.C., and the Nubian king fled south to his capital at Napata.

By 200 B.C., the capital had shifted yet farther south to Meroe, where the kings continued to be buried in pyramid tombs and to build temples to Nubian and Egyptian gods in a hybrid EgyptianRoman-African style. Roman historians record the skirmishes and treaties which marked the relation ship of Roman Egypt and Nubia.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Teaching the Bill of Rights

Teaching the Bill of Rights. This paper presents a brief history of the American Bill of Rights with ideas for presenting the topic in the classroom.

From the site:

The two-hundredth anniversary of the federal Bill of Rights in 1991 is the culmination of a multi-year bicentennial celebration of the U.S. Constitution. It is also a special occasion for renewal and improvement of education on core values and principles in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

The great importance of the Bill of Rights in the civic life of Americans justifies placing great emphasis on this document in the curriculum of schools. And effective teaching and learning about the Bill of Rights are required to prepare young Americans for citizenship in their constitutional democracy. This ERIC Digest examines education about the Bill of Rights in schools: (1) the status of it, (2) deficiencies in it, and (3) means to improve it.


Understanding of the Bill of Rights is an important part of education for responsible citizenship in the United States, as indicated by curriculum guides and standard textbooks in American history, government, and civics. Constitutional rights and liberties are emphasized in statements of goals for education in the social studies published by local school districts, state-level departments of education, and the National Assessment for Educational Progress (1988, 12-13).

Most Americans have studied the Bill of Rights at least four times in school--(1) in a fifth-grade American studies course, (2) in a junior high/middle school American history course, (3) in a high school American history course, and (4) in a high school American government or civics course. In addition, a growing number of students learn about Bill of Rights concepts and issues through special units or elective courses in law-related education. These formal courses of study expose students to ideas in the Bill of Rights as well as the document's origin and development, and it's relevance to citizenship and government in the United States.