Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chapter 14

Welcome to my history class blog. Last semester, we started here, and there was much rejoicing:

We're now up to Chapter 14 in Howard Zinn's Young People's History of the US, and I thought we might benefit from a blog to help organize our additional readings, assignments, and videos. It can also be a forum to continue our discussions outside of class time.

In class today we discussed Chapter 14 and looked at some World War One recruitment posters:

Then we discussed patriotism and how it relates to the Espionage and Sedition Acts, enjoying a reading of one of Emma Goldman's speeches by actress Sandra Oh:

Several of you shared the information you learned outside of class about Goldman, the Wobblies, and Clara Lemlich. (If anyone is interested in learning more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, check out this PBS documentary.)

For next class (Feb 13) read Chapter 15 in your book, and complete ONE of the following:

In January 2003 officials at the University of California at Berkeley refused to allow a fund-raising appeal for the Emma Goldman Papers, which are housed on its campus. The appeal contained a quote from Goldman about the suppression of free speech and her opposition to war. The university deemed the topics too political as the United States prepared for a possible military action against Iraq. Find out more about this controversy. Do you think the university officials acted appropriately? Why, or why not? How was the problem resolved? Can you think of any other incidents since the military invasion of Iraq in which similar free-speech issues have arisen? Explain.


More than two thousand people were prosecuted under both the Espionage Act and the Seditions Act, and thousands of others were intimidated into silence. Learn as much as possible about both acts. Was there congressional and/or public opposition to the legislation? How and why was the federal government able to pass such legislation?


The Selective Service Act of 1917 allowed the United States government to raise an army after entering into World War I. Unlike previous draft laws, the new act placed conscientious objectors (COs) under military authority before they obtained religious exemptions, thus making them subject to military justice. Who were COs? What was their historical role in exemption from military service? How were they treated during World War I?


Write a letter to Eugene Debs in prison. In this letter you should outline your opinions on his antiwar stance. In addition, be sure to discuss your thoughts on the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

Super Dooper Bonus Assignment:
Watch this current commercial. What themes are relevant to our class discussions on patriotism?

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