Saturday, October 02, 2004

Latin American Studies

Latin American Studies. This is an essay which gives teachers ideas for teaching about Latin America in the classroom. This includes covering social studies and history.

From the site:

Social studies textbooks and media often present an incomplete or biased portrait of the countries comprising Latin America. Newspapers and television news programs tend to focus on such spectacular events as earthquakes, terrorism, coups, and American foreign policy related to the region. "It is rare to find stories on the arts, humanities, or culture of Latin America" (Glab 1981).

The same is true of textbook representation. A recent survey of ten high school texts revealed that "with the exception of one textbook, little recognition was given to cultural characteristics" (Fleming 1982). Latin American history was presented primarily in the context of United States foreign policy. The point of view of Latin American countries was rarely considered. Textbooks often created or reinforced negative stereotypes of Latin America and its citizens.

THE NEED AND RATIONALE FOR TEACHING ABOUT LATIN AMERICA

Glab (1981) offers the following considerations for including more about Latin America in the curriculum:

--Foreign Policy. International controversies over the influence of other governments in the politics of Latin America need analysis and examination.

--Physical Proximity. Latin American countries are virtually next-door neighbors, "with close political, commercial, and cultural interactions with the United States extending over many years."

--The American Heritage. Latin American culture and the Spanish language are part of the American heritage, exerting early and continuing influence on what are now the states of Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona.

--Negative Stereotyping. It is well documented that Hispanic-Americans in general "suffer from explicit negative stereotyping."

Friday, October 01, 2004

History of Barbados

History of Barbados. This is a short but informative essay on the history of Barbados.

From the site:

British sailors who landed on Barbados in the 1620s at the site of present-day Holetown on the Caribbean coast found the island uninhabited. As elsewhere in the eastern Caribbean, Arawak Indians may have been annihilated by invading Caribs, who are believed to have subsequently abandoned the island.

From the arrival of the first British settlers in 1627-28 until independence in 1966, Barbados was a self-funding colony under uninterrupted British rule. Nevertheless, Barbados always enjoyed a large measure of local autonomy. Its House of Assembly, which began meeting in 1639, is the third-oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, preceded only by Bermuda's legislature and the Virginia House of Burgesses.

As the sugar industry developed into the main commercial enterprise, Barbados was divided into large plantation estates, which replace the small holdings of the early British settlers. Some of the displaced farmers relocated to British colonies in North America. To work the plantations, slaves were brought from Africa; the slave trade ceased a few years before the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire in 1834.

Plantation owners and merchants of British descent dominated local politics. It was not until the 1930s that the descendants of emancipated slaves began a movement for political rights. One of the leaders of this movement, Sir Grantley Adams, founded the Barbados Labor Party in 1938. Progress toward more democratic government for Barbados was made in 1951, when the first general election under universal adult suffrage occurred. This was followed by steps toward increased self-government, and in 1961, Barbados achieved internal autonomy.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Scalping during the Seven Years' War

Scalping during the Seven Years' War - The French and Indian War (1754-1760) is replete with incidents of scalping by French, English and Native American combatants. Newspapers, diaries, journals, and other period sources all document these occurrences.

From the site:

Scalping, of course, predated the mid-eighteenth century. Historical records, archaeology, and other sciences strongly indicate the practice originated among certain Native American tribes. A French soldier, identified by the initials J. C. B., related in his memoirs that "this horrible custom was practiced by these savages alone, and sprang from their own barbarism, for it seems never to have existed in any other nation, not even among nations, who, like them, have never received any idea of civilized life."

This soldier also described how the act was executed. "When a war party has captured one or more prisoners that cannot be taken away, it is the usual custom to kill them by breaking their heads with the blows of a tomahawk . . . When he has struck two or three blows, the savage quickly seizes his knife, and makes an incision around the hair from the upper part of the forehead to the back of the neck. Then he puts his foot on the shoulder of the victim, whom he has turned over face down, and pulls the hair off with both hands, from back to front . . . This hasty operation is no sooner finished than the savage fastens the scalp to his belt and goes on his way. This method is only used when the prisoner cannot follow his captor; or when the Indian is pursued . . . He quickly takes the scalp, gives the deathcry, and flees at top speed. Savages always announce their valor by a deathcry, when they have taken a scalp . . . When a savage has taken a scalp, and is not afraid he is be ing pursued, he stops and scrapes the skin to remove the blood and fibres on it. He makes a hoop of green wood, stretches the skin over it like a tambourine, and puts it in the sun to dry a little. The skin is painted red, and the hair on the outside combed. When prepared, the scalp is fastened to the end of a long stick, and carried on his shoulder in triumph to the village or place where he wants to put it. But as he nears each place on his way, he gives as many cries as he has scalps to announce his arrival and show his bravery. Sometimes as many as 15 scalps are fastened on the same stick. When there are too many for one stick, they decorate several sticks with the scalps."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

James Buchanan

James Buchanan. This is a short and accurate biography of American President Buchanan.

From the site:

James Buchanan ( April 23 , 1791 - June 1 , 1868 ) was the 15th ( 1857 - 1861 ) President of the United States . He was the only President never to marry, and the only citizen of Pennsylvania to hold that office. He has been criticized for failing to take any positive action in order to attempt to prevent the country from sliding into schism and civil war .

Buchanan was a Representative and a Senator from Pennsylvania. He was born at Cove Gap, near Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania , on April 23 , 1791 . He moved to Mercersburg with his parents in 1799 , was privately tutored and then attended the village academy and was graduated from Dickinson College , Carlisle, Pennsylvania . In 1809 he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania . The same year he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1812 and practiced in Lancaster. He was one of the first volunteers in the War of 1812 and served in the defense of Baltimore, Maryland . He was a member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from 1814 to 1815 . He was elected to the Seventeenth and to the four succeeding Congresses ( March 4 , 1821 - March 3 , 1831 ). He was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary (Twenty-first Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1830 . Buchanan served as one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1830 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against James H. Peck, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Missouri . Buchanan served as Minister to Russia from 1832 to 1834 .

Buchanan was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Wilkins. He served from December 6 , 1834; was reelected in 1837 and 1843 , and resigned on March 5 , 1845 , to accept a Cabinet portfolio. He was chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations (Twenty-fourth through Twenty-sixth Congresses).

Buchanan served as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Polk from 1845 to 1849 , then as Minister to Great Britain from 1853 to 1856 . He was elected as a Democrat President of the United States in 1856 and served from March 4 , 1857 , to March 4 , 1861 .

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Wikinfo: U.S. presidential election, 1800

Wikinfo: U.S. presidential election, 1800. This is an entry on this historical event from Wikinfo.

From the site:

The election of 1800 is often considered a realigning election.

The flaws incumbent in the electoral college were brought into full focus in this election. Under the United States Constitution, each presidential elector cast two votes, without distinction as to which was for President or for Vice President. The recipient of the greatest number of votes was elected President, while the Vice Presidency went to the recipient of the second greatest number of votes.

Though incumbent president John Adams was opposed once again by 1796 opponent Thomas Jefferson, it was Jefferson's running mate, Aaron Burr, who caused the nation's first constitutional crisis. Electors, intending to cast their votes for a Jefferson-Burr ticket, each cast their two votes for Jefferson and Burr, giving each of them 73 votes - a tie.

And while it was common knowledge that Jefferson was the candidate for President and Burr for Vice President, the dominant Federalists were loathe to vote for Jefferson, their partisan nemesis. Adding to the situation was that the ever-opportunistic Burr now was in fact vying for the Presidency in his own right.

The election went to the United States House of Representatives, which over the course of the next six days cast a total of 35 ballots, with Thomas Jefferson receiving the votes of 8 state delegations each time - one short of the necessary majority of nine. Finally, a group of Delaware Federalists led by James A. Bayard reasoned that a peaceful transfer of power would require the majority to choose Jefferson, and on February 17, 1801 - just 15 days before inauguration - Thomas Jefferson was elected President on the 36th ballot. 10 state delegations voted for Jefferson and 4 voted for Burr, while two state delegations remained deadlocked.

Monday, September 27, 2004

History of Belarus

History of Belarus. This is a brief but informative essay on the history of Belarus.

From the site:

While archeological evidence points to settlement in today's Belarus at least 10,000 years ago, recorded history begins with settlement by Baltic and Slavic tribes in the early centuries A.D. With distinctive features by the ninth century, the emerging Belarusian state was then absorbed by Kievan Rus' in the 9th century. Belarus was later an integral part of what was called Litva, which included today's Belarus as well as today's Lithuania. Belarus was the birthplace of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Belarusian was the state language of the Grand Duchy until 1697, in part owing to the strong flowering of Belarusian culture during the Renaissance through the works of leading Belarusian humanists such as Frantzisk Skaryna).

Belarus was the site of the Union of Brest in 1597, which created the Greek Catholic Church, for long the majority church in Belarus until suppressed by the Russian empire, and the birthplace of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who played a key role in the American Revolution. Occupied by the Russian empire from the end of the 18th century until 1918, Belarus declared its short-lived National Republic on March 25, 1918, only to be forcibly absorbed by the Bolsheviks into what became the Soviet Union. Suffering massive population losses under Stalin and the Nazi occupation, Belarus was retaken by the Soviets in 1944. It declared its sovereignty on July 27, 1990, and independence from the Soviet Union on August 25, 1991. It has been run by the authoritarian Alexander Lukashenko since 1994.

Since his election in July 1994 to a five-year term as the country's first President Alexander Lukashenko has consolidated power steadily in the executive branch through authoritarian means. He used a non-democratic November 1996 referendum to amend the 1994 Constitution in order to broaden his powers and illegally extend his term in office. The new constitution has a popularly elected president who serves a 5-year term. The bicameral parliament consists of the 64-seat Council of the Republic and the 110-seat Chamber of Representatives. The president appoints the prime minister, who is the head of government. Administratively, the country is divided into six regions or "voblasts".

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Chinese Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi

Chinese Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi - The life of Tzu Hsi, who rose from being a concubine in the Forbidden City to become the empress of China.

From the site:

Tzu Hsi (pronounced "Tsoo Shee" and spelled Cixi in Pinyin) was born on November 29, 1835. Her clan name was Yehonala or Yehenara. Little is known about her background, but according to some accounts her father was a captain in the banner corps that guarded the emperor's home, the Forbidden City.

China at that time was ruled by the Manchus. The Manchus were originally nomads from Manchuria, located northeast of China. Around 220 BC Emperor Shih Hwang-ti of the Ch'in (or Qin) dynasty built a wall to keep Manchus and other barbarians out of China. More walls were built over the next 1,500 years, and the Ming dynasty (which ruled from 1368 to 1644) joined them together, forming the Great Wall of China, which still stands today. It was 1,500 miles long, on average 25 feet tall, and 15 to 30 feet thick at its base. Despite the wall the Manchus ultimately conquered China and established their own dynasty, the Ch'ing dynasty (Qing in Pinyin), so called because they claimed descent from the Ch'in dynasty.

Like the emperor and most other prominent people in China at that time, Yehonala and her family were Manchu, and had little contact with Chinese people. Some writers have claimed that a teenager Yehonala fell in love with a Manchu garrison commander, Jung Lu and they planned to marry. But Yehonala's beauty and charm attracted the attention of others, and at the age of 16 she was chosen to be one of the concubines of Emperor Hsien Feng. Instead of marrying Jung Lu she went to live in the Forbidden City, a vast complex of palaces and gardens run by thousands of eunuchs.

The Forbidden City contained an outer palace with three ceremonial halls where the emperor held audiences. His family lived in the inner palace, surrounded by twelve courtyards where the emperor's concubines lived. Yehonala was now one of those concubines. The emperor would pick which woman he wanted to see each night. To make sure she couldn't smuggle a weapon into his bedroom, she was escorted there by eunuchs and left naked on the foot of the bed.