When President Trump became United States President in January 2016, ISIS (also known as the Islamic State and DAESH) controlled roughly 1/3 of Iraq and 1/3 of Syria. By the end of November, 2017, the U.S. and its allies had defeated ISIS. ISIS no longer controls any territory. While ISIS still exists as an Islamic terrorist organization, it is now unable to collect any taxes or terrorize entire towns. The defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a monumental success in the war on terror and it has a stabilizing effect on peace throughout the world.
ISIS has its roots in the early 2000s, when many of its founding members were part of the al Qaeda organization, once led by Osama bin Laden. In 2013, Islamic terrorists reorganized into what they called “ISIS,” or, the Islamic State in Syria. The enemies of ISIS call them DAESH, which is an acronym for ISIS but also a derogatory term in Arabic. After President Obama pulled American troops out of Iraq, ISIS took over large areas of Iraq and Syria. Initially calling ISIS the “J.V.” of terrorist groups, President Obama was forced to send back American soldiers into Iraq to take back the land American soldiers had previously won.
The Classical Historian had reported the devastation ISIS had caused, not only in the Middle East but in the world. In “Syrian Refugee Crisis,” we reported that of the over 1,000,000 refugees fleeing Syria, many were in fact Islamic terrorists pretending to be refugees. In November, 2015, ISIS killed 130 people and wounded 413 in Paris, France. It was the worst attack in France since World War II. In December of 2015, two members of ISIS, an American-born Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife murdered 14 and wounded 21 in the barbarous attack on Americans in San Bernardino, California at a holiday party. On New Year’s Eve, 2015, in Cologne, Germany, over 600 German women were assaulted by Muslim immigrants from Syria. It is unknown if any of the immigrants were ISIS. In March, 2016, ISIS killed over 30 and wounded up to 230 in coordinated attacks in Brussels Belgium. Of course, there have been countless other terrorist attacks and it is impossible to list them all.
When President Trump campaigned for the Presidency, he promised that he would wage war against Muslim terrorists differently than President Obama had. Trump declared that his administration would clearly state that the terrorists were Islamic fundamentalists, and that naming clearly who the enemy was would help in the fight. President Obama’s administration refused to state that ISIS was an Islamic fundamentalist organization. Trump also stated that he would change the rules American soldiers fought under, so that they could more easily attack and defeat the terrorists. Rules of engaging the enemy has been changed, according to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, though because these rules are classified, it is impossible to know exactly how they were changed.
Though ISIS remains a threat to the Middle East and to the world, their threat has been greatly diminished by the policies of the Trump administration. ISIS no longer holds any territory, is unable to terrorize large communities, and collect taxes. ISIS and other radical Muslim terrorist groups exist, but they appear to be a much lesser threat than just a few years ago.
On May 13, 2018, Americans will honor their moms by bringing them flowers, taking them out to eat, and spending time visiting either by phone or in person. But when did this idea of celebrating mothers begin and how did it come to America?
Thousands of years ago, in ancient Greece and Rome, pagans held spring festivals honoring their mother goddesses. Rhea is the Greek mythological mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses and was worshipped as the goddess of fertility and the mountain wilds. In statutes, Rhea is depicted as a matronly woman, seated on a throne flanked by lions. An ancient Rome, Romans celebrated “Magna Mater” (Great Mother), however, these celebrations became so wild and notorious that the Roman government banned Magna Mater’s followers from Rome. What do mothers and wild parties have in common? Ask the ancient Romans.
During the first centuries after the crucifixion of Christ, early Christians celebrated Mary as the mother of God, “Theotokos” in Greek and “Mater Dei” in Latin. By the 7th century, Christians around the world set aside January 1st as a special day to honor Mary.
In America, Mother’s Day was the brainstorm of Anna Jarvis in 1868. Jarvis wanted to establish a day where Americans would unite for peace and friendship. In 1868, she created a committee to establish “Mother’s Friendship Day,” a day set aside for former Civil War combatants and their families to reunite and form friendships. When Jarvis died, her daughter, also Anne Jarvis, took up the call. Anne Jarvis wanted a day to honor all moms and was upset that America’s holidays were too male dominated. Jarvis sponsored the first U.S. celebration of Mother’s Day at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, in the early 1900s. Anne Jarvis was so successful in promoting the holiday that in 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. President Wilson issued a proclamation that on the first Mother’s Day, Americans should show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
Mother’s Day has become a major American and commercial holiday. It is the third largest holiday for sending cards. Americans take their mothers out for brunches or lunch on Mother’s Day, and it has become a source of great wealth for the card and restaurant industries. The founder of Mother’s Day, Anne Jarvis, decried the commercialization of the holiday she championed. In fact, in 1948, Jarvis was arrested for disturbing the peace during a protest against Mother’s Day.
The Classical Historian family expresses great admiration and gratitude to all mothers. We see mothers as the teacher of culture, manners, standards, and morality. The author of this article is the 10th of 11 children. He’s glad his mom didn’t stop at number 9. Thanks Mom! The author’s wife is the mother of seven beautiful children. Thank you, Zdenka! The author’s mother-in-law bravely raised her children as a single mom. Thank you Maminka! And we wish all moms on May 13th, and on every day, a Happy Mother’s Day!
In honor of the United States federal holiday of Mother’s Day, all purchases from The Classical Historian are discounted 20% through May 13th, when you use the coupon code Mothersday.
There is a very close connection between a child and parent. Parents are the people who gave us life, who feed us, who provide us a bed to sleep in, and who teach us how to brush our teeth and say “thank you.” We also look like our parents, speak the same language, and we pray, or don’t pray, as our parents do. In many ways, who we are depends greatly on who our parents are. If someone wanted to determine what kind of a person you would become when you get older, or what type of work you might do, he could study your parents and make some good guesses.
In the same way, a country looks very similar to the culture that founded it. The best word to describe this is heritage. Heritage means something inherited from the past. The United States of America started as 13 English colonies, originally founded by Great Britain in the 1600s. Because of this, much of America can be traced to our British heritage.
When we look at a person’s past for understanding, we do not stop with studying his or her parents. We also look at grandparents, great-grandparents, and ancestors as far back in time as possible. It is the same when we study America’s heritage. Even though Great Britain founded the 13 English colonies that would become the United States of America, we can trace America’s heritage to thousands of years ago, to cultures and countries much older than Great Britain.
Historians divide history into different periods, or times, so that we can understand them better. Ancient history refers to the beginning of the history of man up to the end of the Western Roman Empire (A.D. 476). Medieval history begins with the end of the Roman Empire and continues until about 1500. And modern history refers to the time from about 1500 to today. Our first unit focuses on the ancient heritage of America. Although the United States of America is a modern nation, beginning with the founding of Jamestown in 1607, its heritage can be traced back to ancient times.
The United States of America is strongly influenced by the great civilizations of the Ancient Near East and northern Africa. By great, we mean that the civilizations had a large influence on future civilizations. By civilizations, we mean that these peoples had complex agricultural, urban settlements that allowed for inventions and societal developments that made life better. Early, uncivilized peoples are hunters and gatherers who roam over an area (nomads), who do not read and write, and who do not have the technology to build permanent structures. Their lives are short and they do not give much to later nations. Great civilizations, however, are marked by people who develop writing, and who pass on to others inventions or technologies that prolong or improve life. Civilized nations in the ancient world used farming technology that allowed people to have permanent homes and a consistent food supply.
The world’s great early civilizations began on the banks of rivers. Ancient people who lived near rivers could fish for food, drink water, travel on boats, and use the water to irrigate their lands. Irrigate means to water fields so crops can grow. Water from large rivers allowed these people to build strong societies.
One of the beliefs of nearly all ancient people was that the world was created and ruled by many gods. There was a god for the wind, a god for the ocean, and a god for the rain. People who believe in many gods are called polytheists. Polytheists believe that if you want something, you can make a sacrifice to a god, and this god might then give it to you. If you want it to rain, you might kill an animal and burn it to make the rain god happy. Sadly, some polytheists sacrificed other humans, even children, to their gods.
Polytheists did not believe that there was a clear right and wrong. Since there were many gods, and sometimes the gods competed with each other, what was right often depended on what the ruler said was right. In Egypt, in ancient Africa, the leader was called pharaoh, and all Egyptians had to consider pharaoh a god. For the pharaoh, right was whatever made him strong. This meant that if the pharaoh believed killing someone made him strong, then killing was right.
One people of ancient times, the Hebrews, believed in one God. This idea is known as monotheism. The Hebrews believed that their God created a moral system built on what was right and what was wrong. Hebrews believed that God gave them their moral system as well as their system of laws. It is from the Hebrews that Western man received these foundations. America’s laws are founded on Mosaic Law, which includes the well-known Ten Commandments.
Much of America’s culture, language, laws, government, philosophy, and performing arts comes from ancient Greece and Rome. Classical Greece and Rome established democracy and representative democracy, cultural norms, and artistic practices that are exhibited in the United States of America today. The American Founding Fathers thought so highly of ancient Greece and Rome that they used the architectural styles of the Classical world, known as Neoclassicism, for the most important buildings in Washington, D.C. To appreciate American history, it is necessary to understand ancient Greece and Rome.
Within the Roman Empire, a Hebrew carpenter and his wife had a boy named Jesus who founded the first universal belief, the first religion open to all people in the world, and brought the idea of equality before God to all. This belief would have a direct role in the establishment of the United States of America. Jesus Christ taught that God loved all people in an equal manner and that salvation was open to all, regardless of one’s tribe or nation. About one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-six years after the birth of Christ, Thomas Jefferson wrote in America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, “…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.” Jefferson linked the ancient religious beliefs of Christianity to the founding of the world’s first modern republic. This heritage from ancient times shaped the United States of America that we know today.
Liberty means at least two things: having freedom to and having freedom not to. A goal of liberty is to provide maximum development of an individual’s capacity to be human, to love, to think, to choose to be charitable, to believe in God and follow a religion or not to, to start and run a business, to have a family or to choose not to. It is the freedom an individual has to live his life to its full potential. The story of liberty is as old as the human race, and for much of our world’s history, including today, the great majority of people have not lived in liberty. Only recently, within the last few hundred years, have some people enjoyed a great deal of this freedom.
In modern times, the United States of America has been the leader of liberty. This is why France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States in the 1800s. It is why immigrants have come first to the United States of America, over other countries, since its inception in 1776. It is the reason that, even though the United States trails China and India in population by about 1.3 billion to 325 million, the U.S. has the greatest economy on Earth. Liberty is a universal idea that continues to fill the hearts and minds of people around the world.
The American Founding Fathers defined liberty in the American founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Like John Locke before him, Thomas Jefferson believed liberty rested on the principles that “all men are created equal,” and “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The founders believed that the rights of Americans rested on the idea that the Creator formed man with rights that no government had the authority to remove. God existed as the authority above government, above man, and the government was always subject to uphold and defend the rights given to man by the Creator. Jefferson and the other Founders fought Great Britain to establish a limited government so that individuals would have maximum freedom.
In the Constitution, liberty is defined in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, and the right to assemble. The founders were very concerned about freedom of political speech, meaning the right to campaign or financially support the candidate of one’s choice without limitation. They wanted to make sure that government would never become so strong that it would limit Americans’ ability to participate in politics. Regarding freedom of religion, the founders wanted to make sure the government would not enforce a state religion, however, at the same time, they wanted Americans to never be limited in their practice of religious worship. There are other important rights in the first ten amendments, such as the right to bear arms, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the main point of the Bill of Rights was to make sure that government would never take away the liberty of Americans.
The story of liberty is the story of Western Civilization. It begins with early man, develops over the centuries, and in many ways, it comes to fruition with the birth of America. In ancient times, most humans on Earth believed in many gods; leaders imposed unfair laws on their subjects; and life was short and miserable for those without power. Unfortunately, this remains the case in some places today. However, about 4,000 years ago, the Hebrews believed in one God, in justice, and in morality, regardless of the circumstance of one’s birth. Then, around 2,500 years ago, the ancient Athenians created democracy, the idea that citizens had the right to vote for their leaders and laws and not be subject to a king. At about the same time, the Romans established a republic. Citizens had rights the government had to respect. As the Roman Republic spread, liberty decreased. In 27 B.C., the Roman Empire arose and the liberties people had under the Roman Republic greatly diminished. However, within the Roman Empire, Jesus Christ established a new religious belief where God loved everyone in an equal manner. For the first time in history, a religion offered salvation to all people, not just people of a certain nationality or tribe. This religious understanding of equality under God was transformed over time into the idea that all people should be treated the same by the law. And thus, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal.”
The story of liberty in America has not been a perfect one. From 1776 to 1865, slavery was legal in half of the country. How could a person have liberty if he were owned by another person? In addition, women were not allowed to vote and did not have the same property rights as men. From 1861 to 1865, Americans fought their greatest war, the Civil War, which resolved this paradox of liberty and slavery. Though it took 89 years, the rights Jefferson spoke about in the Declaration of Independence finally did spread to all men, black and white. In addition, throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, the political rights of women expanded to be equal with men. However, liberty in America is still not perfect. It remains today an ideal that Americans strive for.
This volume of history is the story of liberty, specifically as it relates to American history. It traces the influence of ancient and medieval civilizations on the establishment and development of the United States of America through the Civil War. It is written with the hope that young Americans will appreciate the uniqueness of America as a leader of liberty. It is these young people who are called to further the cause of liberty within our country and throughout the world. p
Abraham Lincoln was the most hated and despised president of all time, yet he is one of America’s greatest presidents. During the years before the presidential election of 1860, Lincoln clearly stated that slavery was a morally evil and corrupt institution, and that one day, the country would be either all free or all slave. His clarity on this issue led the South to believe that Lincoln would try to abolish slavery, even though he never stated he would. His election to the presidency in 1860 pushed the first Southern states to secede and form the Confederate States of America. Over the next four years, 1861-1865, Lincoln led the effort to crush the rebellion in the South.
Lincoln’s circumstances of youth were common to many Americans. He was born on February 12, 1809, in Kentucky, in a log cabin. His family was part of the Separate Baptist Church, which forbade alcohol, dancing, and slavery. Abraham’s dad, Thomas, saw Indians kill his own father. When Abraham was 9, his family moved north to Indiana. Then, Abraham’s mom died. About a year later, Thomas remarried to Sarah, called “Sally.” Abraham came to love Sally and called her “mother.” As a young person, Abraham learned to read and write at an “ABC School” a few weeks per year. In ABC Schools, children in a larger community met at a log cabin and were taught by a private tutor. Lincoln read the Bible, Robinson Crusoe, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Franklin’s Autobiography, and law books, whenever he had extra time. At the age of 21, Lincoln moved west to Illinois.
As a boy and young man, Lincoln was known as physically strong and a person of wit. He was 6 feet, 4 inches tall, lanky and wiry. For fun, he would tell stories and wrestle. Lincoln is enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame, and had a 300-1 record. Once, after beating his opponent, Lincoln looked at the crowd and declared, “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” Nobody took him up on the offer.
Lincoln was a reader, a hard worker, and a person of character whom others respected. He read the few books he had many times, and when possible, he borrowed books from other frontier settlers. While living with his parents, he worked on the family farm all day. Lincoln traveled by flatboat down the Mississippi River in 1828 and 1831, and he later received a patent pertaining to flatboats. In the Black Hawk War, Lincoln was voted militia corporal. When he lived on his own, Lincoln opened a store with his partner, who then embezzled all the money. Lincoln worked to pay off the resulting debt of $1,000 (equal to about $26,000 in 2017). Later he decided to be a lawyer.
Lincoln’s understanding of religion changed over time. As a young man, he was skeptical that God and Jesus Christ existed. Later, he believed in Christ, but he still rejected joining a religious denomination. Toward the end of his life, Lincoln was convinced of the truth of the New Testament and was led by his faith. In the election of 1846, he campaigned, “I am not a member of any Christian Church…but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures.” During the Civil War, Lincoln professed a conversion experience to Christianity. Immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln visited the battle scene. He wrote this of what happened:
"When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I love Jesus."
After this, Lincoln prayed every day and read the Bible. To a friend he wrote, “Take all of this book [the Bible] upon reason you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier and better man.”
Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842 and had four boys. Though Lincoln left Mary Todd at the altar during their first wedding attempt, Lincoln called marriage a “profound wonder.” His son Edward died at the age of four of thyroid cancer. William died at the age of 12 of typhoid fever. Tad died of pneumonia at the age of 18. Only Robert lived into adulthood, dying in 1926. The boys’ deaths were a source of great sadness for the Lincolns.
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Lincoln was known for physical beauty, but they were known for their character, ideas, and determination. Mary once said of her husband, “Mr. Lincoln is to be president of the United States some day. If I had not thought so, I would not have married him, for you can see he is not pretty.”
In 1858, Americans learned a great deal about the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln through the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Republican Abraham Lincoln was running for an Illinois U.S. Senate seat against the incumbent Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas. Lincoln was relatively unknown in the country, and many believed Douglas would one day be president. Lincoln and Douglas debated seven times, with each debate lasting around three hours. The debates were big events, with bands, food, and whiskey. At the end of each debate, the candidates shook hands, and maintained a cordial, friendly attitude toward each other. There was no questioner or moderator, only the two men on stage, speaking at great length.
At the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the two candidates expressed greatly different views, especially on slavery. Lincoln spoke strongly against slavery, calling it a moral evil. Lincoln’s clear and unequivocal talk on slavery angered Southern Democrats who wanted slavery to expand. Douglas stated that he was personally against slavery, but he favored popular sovereignty, that the decision should be left to the people in the individual states.
At the last debate, Lincoln stated,
"The real issue is the sentiment on the part of one class that looks upon the institution of slavery as a wrong…The Republican Party look(s) upon it as being a moral, social and political wrong…and one of the methods of treating it as a wrong is to make provision that it shall grow no larger…That is the real issue.” [The black man is] “entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…In the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.”
In the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Lincoln argued that the new Republican Party believed the Southern states opposed the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln saw slavery as a sin, as evil, and as a threat to liberty and equality for all. How Lincoln foresaw ending slavery, however, was through legal means, either by voting or appointing Northern judges who would chip away at slavery in the courts. He wanted to peacefully abolish slavery through law, over time.
Stephen Douglas won the 1858 Senate election against Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln became a national political figure. All Americans understood that Lincoln and the Republicans saw slavery as morally corrupt, and that over time, they would work to end it. When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the Southern states believed they had to secede from the Union in order to preserve the Southern culture, which included slavery.
The Civil War
Nearly the entire Presidency of Abraham Lincoln consisted of the Civil War. Over 600,000 Americans gave their lives, and over that number suffered injuries. The North defeated the South and the United States remained as one country. Immediately after the war, the northern states passed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Five days after Lee’s surrender and just over one month after Lincoln’s second inauguration, a Southern actor conspired with others and then shot Abraham Lincoln on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Lincoln was attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., when his bodyguard John Parker left his post to get a drink at a nearby tavern. John Wilkes Booth snuck behind the president, aimed his .44–caliber gun inches from the back of Lincoln’s head, and fired. President Lincoln was carried across the street to a nearby inn and died nine hours later.
After the assassination, Booth jumped to the stage below, shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus be it ever to tyrants”), and escaped on his waiting horse. Soon after, Federal soldiers trapped him in a barn, set it on fire, and a cavalryman shot Booth as he tried to escape. Lincoln’s conspirators had planned to murder a number of Republicans, but failed in their attempts. Four of Booth’s conspirators, three men and one woman, were hanged. Three others received life sentences, and one went to jail for six years.
Lincoln’s assassination immortalized the 16th President, alongside Washington and Jefferson, as one of America’s greatest heroes, and it led Congress to punish the South for its rebellion. The morning after Lincoln’s murder, Walt Whitman wrote the poem “O Captain, My Captain.” This poem expressed the grief many people in the North felt after Lincoln’s death.
In Lincoln’s second inaugural address, given a little over a month before his assassination, he stated:
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.
Lincoln had planned generous peace terms for Southerners who had joined the Confederate States of America, but his assassination gave control of the government to the Radical Republicans, who wanted to completely change the South.
For a more detailed version of Abraham Lincoln, slavery in America, and the Civil War, read The Story of Liberty, America's Heritage Through the Civil War, by John De Gree. For a Video Lesson on Lincoln, Go Here and scroll down.
1. Did Abraham Lincoln experience tragedy as a young boy?
2. What did Lincoln do for work before he left home?
3. Did Lincoln read many books or a few books many times as a young person?
4. Before becoming President, what did Lincoln do for work?
5. What did Mary Todd think about Abraham's physical appearance?
6. What was Lincoln's stance on slavery before the Civil War?
7. Describe Lincoln's conversion experience regarding Christianity.
8. Why did Southern Democrats secede from the United States of America?
9. How did Lincoln die?
10. Why do Americans celebrate the life of Abraham Lincoln?
Labor Day, the first Monday in September
Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is a holiday in honor of the workers of the United States of America. In the 1880s, various states and cities began to celebrate workers with parades. Labor Day is typically a celebration of the average city-worker, and was the culmination of a growing labor movement in American cities. It marked the end of a chiefly agrarian society in America and the beginning of a modern one. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day legislation into law.
It is challenging to remember life in the United States before the era of industrialization. 90% of Americans grew up and worked on farms before the second half of the 19th century, and up to World War II, most Americans were farmers. Life on a farm is often glamorized, with romantic visions of beautiful sunsets, sweet-smelling grass and corn, and quiet and peace.
In reality, the workday for the typical farmhand in pre-industrial America was tough. My Dad grew up in 1930s and 40s Minnesota, a true Depression-baby farm boy. Starting at the age of 12 until he reached adulthood, he was hired out to a local family each summer to work on their farm. His experience was similar to most boys growing up in farm country, America. He lived in the family’s basement, Monday through Saturday. He awoke before dawn to feed the animals, clean the stalls, and continued to work throughout the day, as long as the sun was up. He did all the work a man would do, from driving tractors to repairing anything that would break. And, his workday was over 12 hours a day. When my Dad earned $1 a day, it was big money. He was able to use his summer earnings to pay for his school clothes, any books, and extra money throughout the school year.
When American society changed from an agrarian society to an industrial one, families faced great challenges, both socially and economically. Whereas before, the family who owned a farm would work altogether, in a city, family members worked in different locations. Where most family farms were independently owned in the 1700s and 1800s, workers in cities didn’t own the businesses they worked in. And, because America was such a huge attraction to foreigners, city life offered a constantly changing society.
In 1800s America, life for a factory worker was challenging. Workers had little or no rights, factories could be physically dangerous, and an evil business owner could get away with horrible acts. Workers could be killed by working in dangerous factories, or they could lose limbs and then be fired from their jobs. Still, the American worker most likely did better than other workers of the world. If this weren’t so, the U.S.A. wouldn’t have been the destination of so many millions of immigrants. The opportunity of America overrode the hardships of life when it came to where people wanted to live.
Because of the harsh work conditions, labor leaders sought to gather workers into unions in order to bargain for worker rights. Initially in the United States and elsewhere, there was great opposition to worker rights both by the government and by business owners. Those in power feared that the workers would take away the power, rights, and property of the business owners. In Russia in 1917, a “Workers Party” called the Communists, did take away the property of individuals and went on to be responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Russians who opposed them.
In the U.S.A., however, the labor movement focused on making the lives of workers better by pushing for an 8 hour workday, safer work conditions, and demanding fair treatment of all workers in every situation. In 1894, railway workers in the American Railway Union demanded better work conditions and went on strike against the Pullman Company. During the strike, the U.S. government attempted to crush the strike, as did other worker’s unions. There was violence, and workers died. It appears this strike helped Americans realize that working conditions needed to drastically change for city workers.
President Cleveland and the U.S. Congress initially opposed the strike, but later realized that the workers’ demands were reasonable. The Pullman Company was forced to change in favor of the workers. In 1894, the U.S. government passed a law declaring the first Monday of September a national holiday to honor workers. Today, this holiday is also celebrated as a seasonal event, with families marking it as the end of summer and beginning of fall.
Lesson Ideas for Grades K-5:
1. Ask children to think of all of the occupations, professions, and jobs they can think of. Make a list of them.
2. During dinner, have an adult in your family talk to the children about what he does every day at work.
Lesson Idea for Grades 6-12:
Direct your children to interview three people (one of them should own his own business) and ask five questions about the work he does. After the three interviews, have your children decide what sounds good about each of the three jobs and what sounds unpleasant. Have a short discussion about what type of work your child could imagine doing.
Here are sample questions for the interview:
a. Can you describe a typical day at work?
b. What is the pay range of someone in your field?
c. What are the highs and lows of your job?
d. What type of education does someone need to have your
e. If you could give me one piece of advice regarding my future
work, what would it be?
by Adam De Gree
Charles R. Drew was born in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 1904. By the time of his death just 45 years later, he had become the ‘father of the blood bank’ and one of the great scientists of the 20th century. Along the way, he pioneered new medical techniques, broke down racial barriers, and saved thousands of lives. As a black man born in a time when segregation was still practiced all over the United States, his achievements stood as an example of the great potential of African-American doctors and researchers. Yet despite his laboratory success, his early life was marked more by sports greatness than academic excellence.
Drew was not a good student until well into his university years. However, his natural athleticism earned him a scholarship to Amherst College for football and track and field. It was there that he developed an interest in medicine. After graduating, he chose to attend medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where his academic pursuits finally took center stage. Drew earned the annual scholarship in neuroanatomy and won multiple awards on his way to graduating 2nd in a class of 127 students.
After graduating from McGill with honors, Drew began his work with transfusion at Montreal Hospital. There, he worked with bacteriology professor John Beattie to develop treatments for shock. Drew hoped to pursue transfusion therapy studies at the Mayo Clinic, but racial prejudice against African-Americans barred him from joining the organization. However, he was admitted to doctorate studies at Columbia University, where he studied with John Scudder and aided in the establishment of an experimental blood bank.
At Columbia, Drew overcame racist treatment to successfully complete his award-winning dissertation, “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation.” His research brought significant progress to the growing field of transfusion. Drew’s understanding of fluid balance, shock therapy, and the processing and storage of blood samples allowed him to develop new and safer ways to collect and store blood. This earned him a post at the head of the Blood for Britain Project. Thanks to his work, thousands of liters of blood were sent to Britain as it bled in World War II.
When the United States joined World War II there was a great need for blood donations. Naturally, Drew was the man for the job. He was named assistant director of the National Blood Donor Service, where he pioneered the invention of ‘bloodmobiles’ – blood donation trucks with refrigerators.
Yet even though Drew was an African-American, the Red Cross did not allow blacks to donate blood. This meant that Drew could not donate to his own program. Eventually, this policy changed to one of segregation, where the blood of black donors could only be used by black recipients. Drew called this “unscientific and insulting to African Americans.” He resigned after a few months.
Drew spent the rest of his career at Howard University, where he had taught on and off in between other assignments. He headed the Department of Surgery and sought to “train young African American surgeons who would meet the most rigorous standards in any surgical specialty.” In addition to training surgeons, Drew campaigned relentlessly for the inclusion of black doctors in local and national medical associations.
On April 1, 1950, Charles Drew fell asleep at the wheel on the way to a medical conference. He died despite being given a blood transfusion at an all-white hospital nearby. In less than half a century, Drew earned numerous awards and appointments unique for his age and his race. His work on blood transfusion has undoubtedly saved the lives of millions of people. Today, he is remembered as one of the greatest medical scientists of the last century. He is also remembered for powerful words such as these:
“So much of our energy is spent in overcoming the constricting environment in which we live that little energy is left for creating new ideas or things. Whenever, however, one breaks out of this rather high-walled prison of the "Negro problem" by virtue of some worthwhile contribution, not only is he himself allowed more freedom, but part of the wall crumbles. And so it should be the aim of every student in science to knock down at least one or two bricks of that wall by virtue of his own accomplishment.”
By Adam De Gree
Martha Washington, or “Lady Washington,” as she was later called, was born Martha Dandridge on June 2, 1731. She is best remembered today for her second marriage and her role as America’s first ‘First Lady.’ Yet, most people don’t know that Martha was a widow when she and George Washington were married in 1759. While she enjoyed great wealth throughout her life, Martha Washington also suffered greatly. Today, she stands as an example to all American First Ladies.
As with many Virginia colonists, Martha was born into a large family. Yet unlike most women, she learned to read and write, and enjoyed doing so. When she turned 18, she married Daniel Parke Custis. Custis was about 20 years older than Martha, and very rich. They had four children together, but within several years, Daniel Custis and two of their children were dead. At the young age of 25, Martha oversaw 17,500 acres of land, 300 slaves, and numerous investments, alone.
In 1759, Martha Custis married a young George Washington. Washington was neither older nor richer than Martha, and most historians think they had a good marriage. The couple lived together in Mount Vernon in Virginia. While they had no children together, they cared for Martha’s two remaining children from her first marriage, Martha (“Patsy”) and John (“Jacky”). Tragically, Patsy died during an epileptic seizure as a teenager.
Shortly after Martha’s second marriage, the French and Indian War broke out. George Washington fought on the British side against the French. During the war, Martha oversaw the family’s estates capably. George Washington returned home to her at the end of the conflict.
In 1775, the Washingtons were brought away from Mount Vernon once more, this time by the American Revolution. When George Washington was named Commander of the Continental Army, he and Martha began their years of service to the United States of America. Martha would leave her home each winter to live in army camps with George. Even though she preferred a quiet life at home, she entertained the officer’s wives and foreign dignitaries at Valley Forge and other encampments. Her son, Jacky, served in the Continental Army and died of camp fever.
At the end of war, the Washingtons retired to Mount Vernon to enjoy some peace. However, not a decade would go by before they were called to duty once again. George Washington was elected President of the United States in 1789, and Martha went with him to New York, the nation’s first capital. There, she mindfully set a precedent for future First Ladies. Despite her private nature, she arranged social events and parties, held public receptions each Friday, and oversaw household affairs.
After George Washington’s second term in office was complete, the Washingtons returned to Mount Vernon. There, they lived a peaceful life until George’s death in 1799. George Washington released his slaves upon his death; Martha did not approve of this. She was heartbroken by his death, shut up their bed chamber, and lived on the third floor of their mansion until her death in 1802. Shortly before she died, she burned almost all of her letters to George.
Copyright ©2017 by The Classical Historian. All Rights Reserved. www.classicalhistorian.com
By Adam De Gree
Henry Ossian Flipper
Henry Ossian Flipper was born a slave in 1856, but he would achieve much by the time of his death in 1940. His life serves as an example of the courage and the challenges African Americans faced during Reconstruction. As the first black man to graduate from West Point and command African-American ‘Buffalo Soldiers,’ Flipper served with distinction. Yet white officers framed him for embezzlement only a few years into his military commission. Not until 1999 was his reputation restored by the United States government.
Flipper was born the eldest of five to Isabelle and Festus Flipper in Georgia. His father worked as a shoemaker and carriage-trimmer for a wealthy slave dealer. After the Civil War, the family did as much as they could to better their own lives. As a young man, Flipper attended Atlanta University. There, he earned an appointment to West Point, the United States Military Academy.
At West Point, Flipper and his fellow black cadets faced many challenges. White students at the academy regularly mistreated them. For example, Flipper wrote extensively about the many ways that white cadets would bully black students in order to gain the attention and favor of their superiors. Within several years he was the only black cadet who had not left the school. Flipper persevered in part because of his strong commitment to good behavior.
After graduating from West Point in 1877, Flipper was given a commission as a second lieutenant. His command was a company of African-American troops in the Western outpost of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. These black frontier troops were called ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ by Native Americans. The Indians thought the hair of the black soldiers resembled buffalo fur. Flipper was the first black officer to command Buffalo Soldiers.
According to army records, Flipper served with distinction at Fort Still. In addition to fighting in the Apache Wars and the Victorio Campaign, he contributed to many engineering projects. For example, he developed a system to drain stagnant pools of water that provided breeding grounds for malaria epidemics. In addition, he developed a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness with the local residents. He also started a close friendship with a white woman named Mollie Dwyer.
Suddenly, in 1881, Flipper was accused of embezzling over $3,000 worth of commissary funds by Colonel Shafter, his commanding officer. He was arrested and put before a court martial. During the trial, it became clear that there was little evidence to support the allegations. Colonel Shafter repeatedly contradicted his own testimony and many witnesses testified to Flipper’s honesty.
Since there was little chance of convicting Flipper of embezzlement, the court introduced a new charge – conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. Many argue that this charge had more to do with Flipper’s friendship with a white woman than any error he made in keeping track of military funds. He was found guilty and dishonorably discharged.
Lieutenant Flipper was crushed by the dismissal. However, he resolved “to go forth into the world and by my subsequent conduct as an honorable man and by my character disprove the charges.” Over the next decades, Flipper worked throughout Mexico and the American Southwest as a civil and mining engineer, translator, surveyor, and cartographer. He became a well-respected Senate foreign relations expert on Mexican relations. Later, Flipper oversaw the planning and construction of the Alaskan railway system. His many achievements left an indelible mark on the West.
Despite his continual efforts, Flipper could never get his name cleared by the Army. He tried to enlist again during the Spanish-American War and the first World War, but was denied both times. After attaining old age, he retired to Atlanta and lived with his brother until his death in 1940.
Flipper’s death did not signal the end of the battle to reclaim his legacy. Several friends and family members continued to challenge the official narrative, and in 1976, the Army granted him a full pardon. However, his military rank and record would wait until a 1999 pardoning by President Bill Clinton.
Today, the U.S. Army gives the Henry O. Flipper Memorial award to the most outstanding cadet at West Point in the areas of leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance. Numerous landmarks and memorials dot the country in his memory. Henry Ossian Flipper paved the way for thousands of black West Point graduates and officers who have served their country nobly. In his conduct in the Army and in the world, he set a fine example for all Americans.
Interesting Questions for You to Discuss with Your Children and Students:
by Adam De Gree
John Buford Jr. was born on March 4, 1826. Just 37 years later, he would lose his life in the Civil War after receiving a deathbed promotion to the position of major general of Volunteers from Abraham Lincoln. Known for his key role in major battles including Gettysburg, Buford had a profound impact on Union victory and is remembered as an American hero.
Buford was born in Kentucky, which became a battleground state in the Civil War. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Illinois. His father was a well-known Democrat who opposed Abraham Lincoln. Like many Americans, Buford’s ancestors had fought in the Revolution; his grandfather served under Robert E. Lee’s father. Growing up in a political family, Buford was very patriotic. After one year at Knox College in Illinois, he was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Divisions between American society increased as Buford grew older. The issue of slavery split the country into two factions – North and South. But while the split sounds simple, it wasn’t – many families were split into two opposing camps. For example, Buford’s father owned slaves, although he did not want to leave the Union. On the other hand, Buford’s wife Pattie was from a Southern family, and his in-laws fought for the Confederacy. At West Point, young men from the north and south trained to become officers, only to fight against each other when war broke out.
In 1861, the Civil War erupted. While Buford could have chosen to fight with the rebellious Confederates, he stayed in the United States Army and quickly rose to the rank of brigadier general. Buford was a cavalry officer, and one of the finest in the war. He served with distinction in major battles such as the Second Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Brandy Station. However, John Buford is best remembered for his role in the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most important battles of the entire Civil War, and Buford secured the field for a Union victory. As tens of thousands of troops from North and South neared one another, Buford’s cavalry arrived in the town of Gettysburg, located on high ground. As he looked down, the general saw thousands of Confederate troops marching up the road and knew that he had to hold the high ground if the Union was to win the battle. He boldly ordered his much smaller force to defend their position against the advancing Rebels. They held out just long enough for reinforcements to arrive and staked out a strong defensive position that held for three bloody days of fighting.
Buford served ably for some months after Gettysburg. However, it became clear that he was sick, possibly with typhus. This was a serious issue because during the Civil War, more American soldiers died of an illness than of a bullet wound. Buford was quartered at the home of a fellow general in Washington for his last days. President Lincoln, upon hearing that the hero of Gettysburg was on his deathbed, promoted him to “Major General for distinguished and meritorious service.” Buford, upon hearing of his promotion, asked, “Does he mean it?” and then said, “it is too late, now I wish I could live.”
John Buford’s funeral was attended by the President, and his pallbearers were Union generals. He was buried at West Point, where he joined other American war heroes. In response to his death, the Philadelphia Enquirer ran the poem:
No more to follow his daring form
Or see him dash through the battle's storm
No more with him to ride down the foe
And behold his falchion's crushing blow
Nor hear his voice, like a rushing blast
As rider and steed went charging past ... Buford is dead!
Interesting Questions to Discuss with your Children:
Copyright ©2017 by the Classical Historian. All Rights Reserved.
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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