Posted by: Ed Darrell | November 11, 2009

Site moved!

New posts and other updates to this site information can be found here, at Molina History.

If you’re looking for the practice TAKS test, on-line, please go to that site.  Check with this post.

[Borrowed completely from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, with permission of the author; from April 2007]

April 19. Does the date have significance? Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere HouseAmong other things, it is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.
April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?
What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies, or can do.
In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seemingly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm; but certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poems slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.

And that is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes next April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1860.

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower, as a signal light, –
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison-bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, –
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, –
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed on the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When be came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British regulars fired and fled, –
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, –
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.

The Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837)

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, –
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

Concord Monument, from Florida State U clipart site
The monument at Concord, the “shaft we raised to them and Thee” in Emerson’s poem. Image from Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse clipart collection.
Posted by: Ed Darrell | July 6, 2009

Beware the #1 hoax site on the web

Cross posted with permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

This may be the #1 hoax site on the web: Certainly it is a site dangerous for children, because it cleverly purports to be an accurate history site, while selling voodoo history and racism.

A racist group bought the domain name (note the “.org” suffix), and they’ve managed to keep it.  The site features a drawing of Martin Luther King, Jr., on the first page.  The racist elements are subtle enough that unwary students and teachers may not recognize it for the hoax site it is.

It is both racist and hoax:  Note the link to a racist argument on “Why the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday should be repealed;”  note the link to a hoax page, “Black invention myths.”

Students, nothing on that site should be trusted. Teachers, warn students away from the site.  You may want to use that site as a model of what a bad site looks like, and the importance of weighing the credibility of any site found on the web.

Why do I even mention the racist, hoax site? Because it comes upi #3 on Google searches for “Martin Luther King.”  Clearly a lot of people are being hoodwinked into going to that site.  I’ve seen papers by high school students citing the site, with teachers unaware of the site’s ignoble provenance.

Update: The site is owned by Stormfront, a white supremicist organization.

Here are a few good sites on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; you can help things by clicking on each one of these sites, and by copying this list with links and posting it on your blog:

Posted by: Ed Darrell | June 18, 2009

National History Day, June 18, 2009

Oh, gee, we’re running late:  The National History Day competition live webcast is this morning.  Go here:

And watch this, if you’re too late for the webcast.

Posted by: Ed Darrell | May 28, 2009

Moon Hoax: How do we know what really happened?

This is a rerun of a post from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, originally posted in 2006 – with explicit permission of the author.  For Ms. Luna.

In a classroom discussion of “how do we know what we know” about history, another student brought up the allegations that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) faked the manned Moon landings. That makes about a dozen times this year a kid has mentioned this claim (who thinks to start counting these things?). The kid was pretty unshakable in his convictions — after all, he said, how can a flag wave in a vacuum?

Astronaut from Apollo 14, on the Moon with U.S. flag - NASA photo via Wikimedia

Astronaut from Apollo 14, on the Moon with U.S. flag - NASA photo via Wikimedia

I usually mention a couple of things that the fake claimers leave out — that dozens, if not hundreds, of amateur astronomers tracked the astronauts on their way to the Moon, that many people intercepted the radio transmissions from the Moon, that one mission retrieved debris from an earlier unmanned landing, etc. Younger students who lack experience in serious critical thinking have difficulty with these concepts. They also lack the historic background — the last manned Moon landing occurred when their parents were kids, perhaps. They didn’t grow up with NASA launches on television, and the whole world holding its breath to see what wonders would be found in space.

Phil Plait runs a fine blog called Bad Astronomy. Five years ago he got fed up with the Fox Television program claiming the Moon landings were hoaxes, and he made a significant reply that should be in some hall of fame for debunking hoaxes. Since the claim that the Moon landings were hoaxes is, itself, a hoax, I have titled this “Debunking the Moon landing hoax hoax.”

In any case, if you’re wondering about whether the Moon landings were hoaxes, you need to see Phil Plait’s post. Phil writes:

From the very first moment to the very last, the program is loaded with bad thinking, ridiculous suppositions and utterly wrong science. I was able to get a copy of the show in advance, and although I was expecting it to be bad, I was still surprised and how awful it was. I took four pages of notes. I won’t subject you to all of that here; it would take hours to write. I’ll only go over some of the major points of the show, and explain briefly why they are wrong.

Also, consider these chunks of evidence, which Phil does not mention so far as I know:

First, the first Moon landing left a mirror on the surface, off of which Earth-bound astronomers may bounce laser transmissions in order to measure exactly the distance from the Earth to the Moon. The American Institute of Physics has radio stories about the research results. Those who claim the landings were hoaxes have never been able to explain this mirror to my satisfaction — ask them how it got there if it wasn’t delivered by Apollo astronauts.

Second, Apollo 12 astronauts retrieved parts of the unmanned lunar probe Surveyor 3, which had landed on the Moon in 1967. That would be impractical to fake. It’s possible, I suppose, that someone could have conceived of the hoax a decade before it was necessary, and made a duplicate probe — but it defies all logic and history to claim that NASA undertook Surveyor 3 solely to provide physical evidence to claim a lunar landing that didn’t happen. A simpler explanation is that the Apollo 12 astronauts really landed and really retrieved the parts from Surveyor 3. A side note: My recollection is that a mold was found inside a camera recovered, indicating that molds can survive trips through the vacuum of space, and the temperature extremes for at least three years on the Moon. I’m not sure a hoax inventor could have conceived of that little bit — it’s too fantastic, and as Twain noted, in fiction one must stick to the possibilities.

NASA itself has a fine article debunking the hoax claims.

Jim Scotti’s site refutes the claims of hoax.

Photo above from Apollo 14, Alan Shepard’s “golf shot” trip.

Posted by: Ed Darrell | May 11, 2009

Between the Wars

Questions to answer about the Treaty of Versailles, Great Depression, New Deal, Rise of Fascism, Rise of Communism.

  1. Describe Wilson’s 14 Points.
  2. What happened to the League of Nations?
  3. What did the French hope to achieve with the Treaty of Versailles?
  4. Describe inflation in Germany, after World War I.
  5. What does the book describe as causes of the Great Depression?
  6. What happened to democratic states in Europe, after World War I?
  7. Describe the effects of the Great Depression in
    A.    Germany
    B.    France
    C.    Britain
    D.    United States
  8. What was John Maynard Keynes’s great idea in economics?
  9. Adolf Hitler achieved power in what year?  Why did Germany support him?
  10. Who ran in the U.S. presidential election in 1932?  Who won?
  11. Describe the New Deal, in detail.
  12. What was meant by the term “alphabet soup” when applied to Franklin Roosevelt’s programs?
  13. Make the chart asked in question 7, in the assessment on page 756, on the causes of the Great Depression.
  14. What is “fascism?”  Give examples.
  15. Identify Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and Adolf Hitler.
  16. If you call someone a “brown shirt,” or a “black shirt,” why might they take offense?
  17. Describe Lenin’s New Economic Policy.
  18. When did Lenin die, and who led the Soviet Union after him?
  19. What is a “five-year plan?”
  20. Look at the Picasso painting shown on page 764.  What does it represent?  How big is it?
Posted by: Ed Darrell | May 10, 2009

Sinking of RMS Lusitania

We’re talking about the sinking of the Lusitania, and the role that incident played in getting the U.S. into World War I.  The text book doesn’t do justice to all the implications.

Enlistment poster, after the sinking of the Lusitania

Enlistment poster, after the sinking of the Lusitania

94 years ago,  the German submarine U-20 sank the Lusitania, champion of the Cunard Line, on May 7, 1915.

World War I appears to have been a heyday for propaganda posters.  Google up “Lusitania +poster” and you can find a wealth of recruiting posters and just plain propaganda posters.  If only we had the time, there are a couple of lesson plans waiting in that search.

Note:  Details on the poster: Artist, Fred Spear, 1915; “Enlist,” published by Sackett & Wilhelms Corp.  Incidentally, this poster was pubished in Boston, in 1915 — two years before the U.S. entered the war; did this poster have much propaganda effect, do you think?

Other resources:

Borrowed, mostly, with permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Posted by: Ed Darrell | April 26, 2009

Political cartoons and magazine covers

Best, wisest and most cynical cartoon of the week, on the cover of the current North American edition of The Economist:

Cover, The Economist, North American edition, April 25-May 1, 2009

Cover, The Economist, North American edition, April 25-May 1, 2009; illustration by Jon Berkeley

For a week at least, you can get the story behind the cover for free, here.

THE rays are diffuse, but the specks of light are unmistakable. Share prices are up sharply. Even after slipping early this week, two-thirds of the 42 stockmarkets that The Economist tracks have risen in the past six weeks by more than 20%. Different economic indicators from different parts of the world have brightened. China’s economy is picking up. The slump in global manufacturing seems to be easing. Property markets in America and Britain are showing signs of life, as mortgage rates fall and homes become more affordable. Confidence is growing. A widely tracked index of investor sentiment in Germany has turned positive for the first time in almost two years.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

But, welcome as it is, optimism contains two traps, one obvious, the other more subtle. The obvious trap is that confidence proves misplaced—that the glimmers of hope are misinterpreted as the beginnings of a strong recovery when all they really show is that the rate of decline is slowing. The subtler trap, particularly for politicians, is that confidence and better news create ruinous complacency. Optimism is one thing, but hubris that the world economy is returning to normal could hinder recovery and block policies to protect against a further plunge into the depths.

The cover almost says it all, doesn’t it?  Week in and week out, The Economist has great covers, a phase of newsstand-oriented journalism that I hope never goes away, regardless the medium.

Borrowed in the entirety, with permission, from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Posted by: Ed Darrell | April 4, 2009

Great Depression: FDR’s First 100 Days

The FDR Library in Hyde Park has an exhibit on FDR’s legendary First 100 Days.  Accompanying the exhibit is a flyer, available on-line in .pdf, that offers a very quick overview of what every student of of history should know. (See the cover of the flyer on the right.

Cover of the .pdf flyer on the FDR Librarays exhibit on the First 100 Days

Cover of the .pdf flyer on the FDR Libraray’s exhibit on the First 100 Days

A 24-page guide to the exhibit is also available, with even more details.  Go look at the document — download it, or print out a copy.  This is great material, rich with graphics that will help you remember key points, and solid enrichment to make better AP essays.


Posted by: Ed Darrell | April 2, 2009

Industrial Revolution – right here!

So, you’re studying hard for that test on the Industrial Revolution tomorrow, and the page turning is getting to you.  You’re yawning.  Why can’t Mr. Darrell put all this stuff on the blog in an interesting fashion?

Fortunately for you, someone has already done that.

Well, not everything.  But the Ballenas Library’s entry on the Industrial Revolution, with links all over the place, is a fun place to start.

Warning 1:  It doesn’t cover everything we have on our test.

Warning 2:  It covers a lot of stuff you may find interesting that will lead you to spend time studying things you didn’t ever find interesting before.

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