A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's Good for the Goose ...

The idea which I've been wrestling with today is state's rights. Here's how the state's rights argument has played out for me in the past.

The statement goes something like this. The Civil War wasn't about slavery. No right thinking person could then or can now defend the institution. It was a moral wrong in 1619 when Dutch traders bartered slaves for ship repairs. It was a moral wrong during our founding and the founders knew it. It was wrong in 1861.
But then the statement takes a left turn:

The war was really fought over the rights of the states. A states right to secede. A states right to manage its economy as it saw fit. The right to an ethos and lifestyle unique to its people and culture; the noble Lost Cause.

When my student's raise state's rights, I send them to see Mr. Alexander Stephens of Georgia. Stephens served in the House of Representatives with Mr. Lincoln. He became the Vice-President of the Confederacy when Georgia secedes and will deliver what has become known as the Cornerstone Speech, a portion of which is excerpted here:
"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.  This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."
Alexander Stephens, March 21, 1861
Stephen's thesis is that the Confederacy's Constitution is stronger than the Union's because slavery is the manifestation of a 'physical, philosophical and moral truth' on which the federal document is silent.

It makes a pretty persuasive argument for the cause of the war: The second in command of the South says its about slavery. The challenge for me, is that today's lecture muddies the water a bit.

The concept of states rights predates the Civil War, but I don't know if I've ever really given it its due. In class, we breeze through the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and Calhoun taking up the Jefferson/Madison mantle. We look at Dred Scott as a case about slaves as citizens without looking at Chief Justice Taney's argument about federal supremacy in this case and Abelman v. Booth.

The argument I'm wrestling with is this: if Wisconsin can cry states rights in 1859, why can't South Carolina in 1860? Dr. Pinsker's suggestion is that states rights is a mean's to an end--the end being slavery. But I'm struggling with how cut and dry that feels.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A post with nothing to do with slavery.

I am still processing thoughts on Slavery Footprint but needed a break.

My son's showed me these videos this weekend and these guys are funny. The set up is simple: Two guys act out a scene, let a YouTube transcribe the dialogue. Then, repeat the scene using the transcription again letting YouTube transcribe that scene... and repeat one last time.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

All my friends have nearly 50 slaves each ...

This is a video someone put together about Slavery Footprint

Ok, For the past week I've asked folks to go to Slavery Footprint and see what their footprint is. I have been encouraged by the number of folks who did. Almost 20 brave souls also posted their number on the blog or on Facebook. I know, based on emails to me, that a larger number took the survery but decided not to post their footprint. (BTW--if you want to continue to post your number to the comments of that entry, please feel free--I will update the average every once and a while.)

Based on those who posted, the average number of slaves was

...almost 49

Many of you posted what items of services purchased explained your number. A short list includes:
  • Jewelry
  • BluRay players
  • Came Consoles
  • Computers
  • Smart Phones
  • Clothing
I've been wrestling all week with what my next steps should be. I've never been a good 'activist'. I tend to do better working from the inside. I served for a while advising the legislature on a couple specific community issues as well a professional trainer on those same issue and felt like I did more there than if I picketted and boycotted.

So, here is what I've decided to do.

The first thing was to take advantage of Slavery Footprints network already in place and send a few emails. I sent five emails to businesses I frequent:
  • Apple
  • Nike
  • Krogers
  • Samsung
  • Arby's
I also posted my status on Facebook. I try to stay out of politics (as a teacher I think I serve better neutral), but after spending a week at Frederick Douglass' home and Lincoln's Cottage, its hard to stay on the sidelines on this one.

The last thing I did today was to send notes to my political leaders:
  • Wichita Police Chief Williams
  • Both Senators Roberts and Moran
  • Governor Brownback
  • Oddly, the Kansas members of the House of Representatives weren't an option on the Slavery Footprint site.
AS I said, this is my start. I have decided to follow up electronic notes with personal one. I am adding a couple folks I know in the state legislature as well representative in the House. For my friends, you know I'm a bright shiny object kinda guy so don't be afraid to ask me what I've done lately on this issue. I also know that my passion may not be yours so, if human trafficking ain't it, I respect that. But ... what are you doing to make your community, nation and world better?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr. Mc owns 74 slaves! How many do you own?

Okay, I back at home and the laundry is going, my Grape Nuts have been eaten and I'm getting ready to go into my classroom. I like working in there a little bit each week during the summer. Sometimes, I even practice lessons without kids in the classroom. Keep your dork comments to yourself, I know I am. Had a nice chat with wife and two youngest sons last nights. Spencer and Max travelled at the same times as me and so we shared travel war stories. Maggie has been holding down the fort and I tell you I am a blessed man.

Alright, let me explain the title of this post. At Lincoln's Cottage there was a travelling display on modern day slavery. I wrote another post on it about the tragic Wichita connection about ten days ago. One of the suggestions in the display was to see how many slaves work for you. There is a organization named Slavery Footprint which does just that.  When you go there, it asks you questions and then calculates the number of modern days slaves are used to make the products you use, the food you consume and the businesses you frequent.

My footprint was 74. 74! The average footprint, according to the website, is 38. I had 74. It says to not feel guilty but that is crazytalk! 74. Now I might be able to argue it down to 70 but ...

[A note to my smug, granola-eating Birkenstock-wearing liberal friends. Get off the moral superiority platform right now. I don't care about your lifestyle, I care about the young women and men whose lives are being shattered by my casual consumer choices.]

[A note to my smug, red meat-eating, cowboy boot wearing conservative friends. Get off your high horse-literally! I love my country as much you do, but we are doing harm; this issue is at odds with every 'American' ideal we hold dear.]

Here is my challenge. Go to www.slaveryfootprint.org and take the quiz. Come back to my blog and post the number of slaves you own accoring to it. No names. No guilt. Just the number. I have decided that this is my first step. My stats shows that there are about 250 people who read my blog this month.  I am going to post this blog entry on facebook and twitter every day this week in the hopes that my friends (and their friends?) will take the challenge.

Will you do this for me?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Storytelling with fallen monuments in a building of glass

I spent my last afternoon in DC at the Newseum. It was designed as a living history museum devoted to journalism and the first amendment. It is one a few locations to charge you for entrance, but it is well worth the 20 bucks.
As a former journalist, there is a lot I was fascinated by, but was moved this time by artifacts borne of tragedy. Maybe it's what just happened at Aurora. I dont know. The pieces below moved me. The Holocaust Museum moves me this way, I just never expected the Newseum to.

A section of the Berlin Wall

A handmade newspaper detailing the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Wreckage from the 9/11 attacks

Wreckage from the World Trade Center

Part of a display on war reporting

Wreckage from the World Trade Center

Cell Phones recovered from ground zero.

Detail from one section of the Berlin Wall.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Yesterday, the Bill of Rights Institute program ended. The final speaker, Robert Levy spoke Thursday and Friday on ways, he thought, the federal government (all three branches) had overstepped the Constitution. Our area this week has been property right so those were the majority of the cases he talked about. He is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and so sees things from a more libertarian lens and makes his case passionately and articulately. The final session was an preview of the Supreme Court cases and legislation he sees having a significant impact. There were several areas but the one he spoke most about was the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). He dissected Chief Justices Roberts opinion and I was impressed at his analysis. Not sure I completely aggree with it, but I see his point of view.

The aftrnoon and evening was spent settling in to hotel number three. I have stayes at the hostel before and I got tickled thinking about how two Sundays ago I was at the Willard, one of the premiere hotels in the city. The next Sunday I was at a Hyatt, nice but not plush. Now, I'm one for 8 people sleeping on the lower berth of a bunk bed. The hostel is not the nicest but the nicest as far as welcoming and helpfulness. Also the laundry room is cheap.

I'm sitting here writing because it has been raining on and off for the past 24 hours. I met up with a few of the folk from a previous conference last night and we had a nice dinner at Lincoln. I think you can guess the theme. I'm gonna try and get to a couple more places today, if the rain holds out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mall Tour Number Two

The answer to 'Ghost Clock's' secret is ...

Okay, I was asked to finally tell folks what secret of Ghost Clock is. If you look at three earlier posts, I asked readers to try an exercise. In one of the posts I alluded to the secret kept by this piece of art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery.

The secret is: cloth doesn't cover anything because there is no cloth.

Here is the link to the SAAM's webpage for this piece. The truth is that its all wood. Base and cloth. The artist has bleached the wood to make it look like a cloth. It's so good, I was at the Renwick the other days and a couple people there wouldn't believe the docent that it was just wood. they wanted to reach out and touch the piece to see (or feel) for themselves.

I use it in class to explore how things aren't always what you think they are. Think propaganda and rhetoric. Thanks for your comments and questions. It'll help next year in the classroom.

Was FDR wrong?

Today's morning session were conducted by Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education. It comes at economics from a more conservative (read that as free market rather than political) perspective and Mr. Reed spoke on Witchhunt of the Robber Barrons and Myths of The Great Depression.

Source: PBS

Robber Barron was an analysis of monopolies and a case study on John D. Rockefeller, whose compan, Standard Oil, was deemed a monopoly by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. Reed's argument is that Standard wasn't a monopoly in the villanous sense of the word but was an 'efficient' monopoly. Rockefeller was just better at his business than his competitors. Not corrupt. Not oppressive. But not afraid to take advantage of existing legislation and market practices either.

Source: The White House

The Myths of the Great Depression took FDR to task. Reed's thesis is that Roosevelt's action extended the Great Depression rather than shortening it. He makes an interesting case.
On both of these issues, there is a different perspective to argue from and it is the one I've heard most of my life so this was quite interesting to wrestle with. Did FDR's skill as a communicator blind many to his erroneous and negative policies?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

First in war, first in peace, first entrepreneur.

At Mount Vernon this morning. I've been here a few times before but I learn something new each time.

Thing one--Mount Vernon had a dung repository. Yup, it's exactly what you think it is.

Thing two--the term "sun up to sun down" -- slaves referred to it as "can see to cant see."

Thing three--the exterior color of paint at Mount Vernon is white but it turns tan with the addition of sand to give the wood a sandstone effect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Which came first: Racism or Slavery?

The Bill or Rights Institute's sessions today were on the origins of American goverment and the central part property plays in its development. Locke and Jefferson and Mason and Hershey's kisses. Roanoake and Jamestown and Plimoth and the trading of dollar store finds. Six are people and places. Two of the eight listed were classroom exercises we tried and will be added to my tool kit back home. Great ways to explain limited resources, self-interest and industry versus inacation.

There was a story today that is me pondering. 1676. Virginia. Nathaniel Bacon leads a group of former indentured servants to press the government to build more forts and send more troops to the western edge of colonial Virginia. Governor Berkley says no. His reason is 'Indian Affairs', but the real reason is to lower the number of tobacco farmers therefore raising its price. Bacon and his men rebel and ... I won't finish the story ... there's massacre of indians, the burning of a city and dysentary ... google Bacon's Rebellion for all the good stuff.

What struck me was the result. The reaction to the rebellion caused the virtual end of indentured servitude as well as a series of rules ending autonomy for enslaved people. Enslaved people, some of whom had been supportive of the rebellion, were not allowed to own guns, buy their freedom or enter into legal contracts. Prior to 1676, blacks could enter into legal contracts and sue in court. In one case an all white jury sided with the black litigant. A significant number of enslaved people had been able to buy their freedom in the same way indentured servants had and, so, had, many of the same rights as their white counterparts. They had owned businesses and become successful. The response to the rebellion ended that. The article above suggests that the reaction to Bacon's Rebellion is the genesis of "The Old South".

I've been thinking about the idea of slavery without racism. Is it even possible? Thoughts?

A Morning at the National Archives and Ellis Island

We were among the first folks in the National Archives today. By 11 am it was pretty full so that 30-45 minutes or so was a gift. The three founding documents are always cool to see as well as the Faulkner murals which overlook them. The permanent exhibit is cool but I was drawn to the newest exhibit, Attachments. It uses immigration document to tell the story of men and women trying to enter the country.

the exhibit does an excellent job of storytelling. You see these documents and pictures and you are curious how thikngs turned out for them. Not all of the stories end well but that's in keeping with the reality of what actually occurred.

Is property a civil right?

I'm at the Bill of Rights Institute and that was the question proposed by their president, Tony Woodlief.
His argument is that the founders didn't make the distinction between natural rights. All rights, including the right to property, are civil rights.
He traces the separation to the 1870s and the 1930s. He makes a compelling argument...still processing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Test Driving an Idea ... the sequel

About ten days ago I asked for help with a lesson plan I was playing with. In the original blog from July 6th and one other follow up the same day, I showed some images of a piece at the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Someone asked me if I had any video and I didn't, until today.

Here are a couple more images I took today as well:

I will continue to take comments for a day or so and then give you a hint. The docent who was at the Renwick said today that this piece has a secret? Can you figure it out?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Comtweeting for DC Cupcakes (competeing--comtweeting...get it?)


Okay, the Ford's Theater conference is over and I'm working on the lesson plan they requested. My plan focuses on the Gettysburg Address. I saw an amazing video the theater's education center did on his writings and I'm gonna try and do a remix of that as well as a line by line analysis of the speech.

BUT...I also want to ask the kids to condense the address into 140 characters, twitter style. There was a cool contest done for the Declaration of Independence (here is the Slate story) and I want to try for the same with my kids.

I want to see if it works, though ...

sum up perhaps the finest example of American rhetoric in 140 characters. The contest is simple. My favorite wins. You must submit it with your full name (students-first and last initial) in the comments box. You may also tweet it to d_mcintire or #littleaddress. (I will post some of the twitter suggestions on the blog) I will only accept submissions to the blog and twitter--sorry Facebook friends.

I will make my selection on Friday (July 20th) afternoon and have them shipped out by Monday.

What, you say, you need a copy of the Gettysburg Address? Here you go!

This contest is open to anyone (student or adult; teacher or administrator; friend of Dave's or complete stranger) in the Continental US. The more the merrier!!!

My kingdom for a washer and dryer

Part of my to do list today is laundry. At home, simple enough. Through a series of unimportant and, yet, annoying events, I'm in the Shaw-Howard University area of DC at a laundromat. Yesterday at the Willard next to the White House. Today in a laundromat in an area of the city not on the tours. Talk about a reality check. I did get to meet G, which I assume is short for Grandma. And she seems to be everyone's. When I called before leaving the hotel, I asked if it had both washers and dryers and her response was direct, "it's a laundromat isn't it?" I've watched her greet everyone whose come in. I walked in and saw her assessing me. I'm the only white person I'd seen in three blocks from the Metro and so she was right to assume I was out of place.
She has loaned extra quarters til 'next time' and shared her breakfast with another patron who asked. Even folks not doing laundry have stuck their head in to say hi. There is a man who appears to have a mental illness and she sat him on the bench I was on. I had to smile. As he sat down, he eyed me cautiously and G said, "that white boy ain't gonna hurt you." then she shot me a look I remember from my childhood. My grandmother was a formidable woman too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sleeping in the president's deathbed

This afternoon was spent touring the Peterson House, where Lincoln died, and examining Lincoln's Second Inaugural. More on the speech in a later post.

The Peterson House was a boarding house across the theater and where they look the president after he was shot. The house is narrow and it is hard to imagine the dozens of people who would have been in there. Jake reminded us that is became the seat of power as Lincoln lay dying. Secretary of War Stanton was running the investigation in the room a few yards from Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln was sitting inconsolable in the front room.

The room in which Lincoln died was rented by a young military clerk named Willie Clark. He was out celebrating the end of the war on April 14 and came home to his room being used. Lincoln died the next day and, Willie, with nowhere else to sleep, slept in the bed which, hours before had held the dying president.

The room Mary Todd Lincoln was in when not at the bedside.

Stanton's room.

The back room they took Lincoln to.

Willie Clark's room. Imagine Lincoln's 6'4" body on that small bed.