An amazing movie about the founding of our country. We will watch particular excerpts from this movie as we move from learning how the Enlightenment and other eras factored into the ideas used by our Founding Fathers.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is a well-researched work of historical fiction and focuses on the events of January 1865. Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is by far the best characterization of the man recorded on film. The acting and writing for the character of Thaddeus Stevens should lead to a new appreciation for this almost forgotten leader of the Radical Republicans. Stevens' view of race relations was a hundred years ahead of its time. The movie contains one of the best historical extrapolations, whether on film or in print, of Lincoln's reasons for demanding that the 1865 lame-duck session of the House of Representatives join the Senate in proposing the 13th Amendment to the States. Because of the tight focus on that, we will preface this viewing with a thorough look at the abolitionist movement outside of the White House during the Civil War. We will also be looking at famous speeches and writings on the issues of this war, both slavery AND state’s rights.
Most people don't know that in order to get the vote American women suffered imprisonment and torture. It's not taught in the history books but Alice Paul and the women who picketed the White House developed, the tactics and techniques of non-violent mass action which Mahatma Gandhi was developing independently on the other side of the globe. For picketing the White House they were arrested on false charges and tortured in prison. The scandal that resulted was one of the major factors in forcing President Wilson to support votes for women..
Gone With The Wind helps viewers understand how America’s young men clamored for the thrill of war, the horrors of war once they got there, the issues faced in the South both during and after the war; Sherman’s March to the Sea, carpetbaggers, freedom of the slaves, and so much more! While Scarlett and Rhett battle it out, we’ll see a first hand account of the South during the Civil War.
Iron Jawed Angels
Gone With The Wind
US History for High Schoolers
Using Movies, Literature, Discussion, Debate & Projects to make history come alive!
Material Fees: $40
Cost: $330 or $310 if taking 2 or more classes. Can be split into 3 equal payments
two hour class
Homework: reading and some writing. This class that is designed to last a full year. Reading must be done weekly at home and there weekly homework assignments.
“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the 11th grade” - James W. Loewen
When high school students list their favorite subjects, history invariably comes last. But why is this so? Our history is a fabulous story, and an important one. Outside of school, American history is big business, a serious money maker. Historical novels are often bestsellers. Movies and museums of American History alike are exceedingly popular. So why isn’t history a beloved subject? Perhaps it lies in the way the class is taught. We will be reading several books for each of our eras.. Our main emphasis will be to understand the relevance of our history. What are the causes of war, ignorance, or bigotry, and more importantly, how can we avoid these travesties in the future? Join us as we walk down the path of US History.
HuckleBerry is an affiliate school with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and is privy to many special US History documents, seminars and writing contests. We will be using this site in our unit on Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, in addition to listening to the music and watching videos from the smash hit Hamilton now playing in Broadway, and soon to be playing here in Los Angeles.
** This class is tied to the US History standards for high school and is open to students in the 9th - 12th grades.
Some of the books,or excerpts from books, we will be reading:
Hamilton by Ron Chernow
A People's History by Howard Zinn
Grand Expectations, from the Oxford History of the United States series. Beginning in 1945, America rocketed through a quarter-century of extraordinary economic growth, experiencing an amazing boom that soared to unimaginable heights in the 1960s. At one point, in the late 1940s, American workers produced 57 percent of the planet's steel, 62 percent of the oil, 80 percent of the automobiles. The U.S. then had three-fourths of the world's gold supplies. English Prime Minister Edward Heath later said that the United States in the post-War era enjoyed "the greatest prosperity the world has ever known." It was a boom that produced a national euphoria, a buoyant time of grand expectations and an unprecedented faith in our government, in our leaders, and in the American dream--an optimistic spirit which would be shaken by events in the '60s and '70s, and particularly by the Vietnam War.
Now, in Grand Expectations, James T. Patterson has written a highly readable and balanced work that weaves the major political, cultural, and economic events of the period into a superb portrait of America from 1945 through Watergate. Here is an era teeming with memorable events--from the bloody campaigns in Korea and the bitterness surrounding McCarthyism to the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, to the Vietnam War, Watergate, and Nixon's resignation. Patterson excels at portraying the amazing growth after World War II. Of course, not all Americans shared in this economic growth, and an important thread running through the book is an informed and gripping depiction of the civil rights movement--from the electrifying Brown v. Board of Education decision, to the violent confrontations in Little Rock, Birmingham, and Selma, to the landmark civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. Patterson also shows how the Vietnam War--which provoked LBJ's growing credibility gap, vast defense spending that dangerously unsettled the economy, and increasingly angry protests--and a growing rights revolution (including demands by women, Hispanics, the poor, Native Americans, and gays) triggered a backlash that widened hidden rifts in our society, rifts that divided along racial, class, and generational lines.
The Jungle. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the appalling working conditions in the meat-packing industry. His description of diseased, rotten, and contaminated meat shocked the public and led to new federal food safety laws. Before the turn of the 20th century, a major reform movement had emerged in the United States. Known as Progressives, the reformers were reacting to problems caused by the rapid growth of factories and cities. Progressives at first concentrated on improving the lives of those living in slums and in getting rid of corruption in government. By the beginning of the new century, progressives had started to attack huge corporations like Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, and the Armour meat-packing company for their unjust practices. The progressives revealed how these companies eliminated competition, set high prices, and treated workers as "wage slaves." Theodore Roosevelt was the president when the progressive reformers were gathering strength. Roosevelt favored large-scale enterprises. "The corporation is here to stay," he declared. But he favored government regulation of them "with due regard of the public as a whole." Even so, Roosevelt had to admit, "There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck-rake." The term "muckraker" caught on. It referred to investigative writers who uncovered the dark side of society. We’ll be using The Jungle as an introduction to the Progressive Movement, Unionization and other issues of the early 20th Century.
Lies My Teacher Told Me. We will be reading excerpts from this entertaining re-telling of American History written by James Loewen, who spent two years at the Smithsonian Institute surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American History. What he found was an embarrassing amalgam of bland optimism, blind patriotism, and misinformation pure and simple. This book is a wonderful retelling of American history as it should - and could - be taught. Loewen supplies the conflict, suspense, unresolved drama, and connection with current-day issues so appallingly missing from textbook accounts.
The Butter Battle Book. Is Dr. Suess Political? You better believe it! For young readers, The Butter Battle Book is a book teaching us all to respect differences in others and to be curious about different customs. For older readers, this is an anti-war story; specifically, a parable about arms races in general mutually assured destruction and nuclear weapons in particular. This book was written during the Cold War era, and reflects the concerns of the time, especially the perceived possibility that all life on earth could be destroyed in a nuclear war.
Night: Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about his feelings of the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver. "If only I could get rid of this dead weight ... Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever." In Night, everything is inverted, every value destroyed. "Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends," a Kapo tells him. "Everyone lives and dies for himself alone."
The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Alexis de Toqueville and more!
Below is a collection of movies about US History that you may enjoy at home to augment this course. We may be watching slips from these and several other movies, but we will not have time in class to watch any of these in their entirety.
The Grapes of Wrath
This classic tale of the Oakies, forced off their farms in the mid-West, and their mass migration to California, brings to life what many Americans faced during the 1930’s.
Fat Man and Little Boy
This film is an account of the Manhattan Project, the super-secret crash program by the United States to make the first atomic bomb. It centers on the relationship between General Leslie Groves, the military man in charge of the entire project, and its scientific director, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer led the scientific and engineering team that solved the physics and technical problems involved in creating and delivering the bomb. The movie also explains the development of "Little Boy," the uranium bomb detonated over Hiroshima by a gun-type device, and "Fat Man," the plutonium bomb detonated through implosion at Nagasaki.. Through the dialogue we hear much of the debate concerning the use of atomic weapons and whether the U.S. should have dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We’ll use this as a platform for learning about the beginnings of the war, the rationale for Japan to enter the war, and why America decided to take such drastic measures. It will lead us to a debate on this critical decision.
This film depicts the heroism of Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,100 Jewish people from death in the Holocaust. The film is based on the historical novel by Thomas Keneally, in which only the dialogue and certain details are fictional. Mr. Keneally based the book on events reported to him by the "Schindlerjuden", people whose lives had been saved by Schindler and who were eyewitnesses to Schindler's heroic actions..This film draws viewers into the reality and horror of genocide and better prepares them for clarity about the several cases of ethnic cleansing that have occurred in more recent times.
Good Night and Good Luck
In the early 1950's, the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States and exploiting those fears was Senator Joseph McCarthy. CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly decided to take a stand and challenge McCarthy and expose him for the fear monger he was. Their actions took a great personal toll on both men, but they stood by their convictions and helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history.
Made in 1951 and 1952 when the Red Scare was at its peak. The power of the Red-baiters became so great that in the early 1950s anyone who dared criticize their methods became a target for investigation. As a result, the Hollywood studio owners would not permit any criticism of McCarthy, the House Un-American Activities Committee or their associates. Movies which raised issues relating to the Red-Scare were disguised as being about other subjects.
OR, is the film really about the failure of the United Nations in keeping peace and stopping the advance of Communism? Marshal Kane is somewhat like America going to the U.N. pleading for help in stopping the advance of Communism, getting rejected, and carrying on anyway because it’s the right thing to do. In the late 1940’s one of the issues in America was Communist penetration into Korea. When the Justice of the Peace tells Will Kane, “This is just a dirty little village in the middle of nowhere. Nothing that happens here is really important,” is he making the classic isolationist case? He might be speaking about Korea, Vietnam or Iraq.
Is Amy’s shift from Quaker Pacifism to taking up arms to protect her husband a quiet move to only give peace a chance if it works easily?
Director Fred Zinnemann, an Austrian Jew, saw himself as steering the film toward a message movie about European failure to fight fascism until it was too late. Is Kane’s little town populated by Joe McCarthys, or by Neville Chamberlains???
The Butler gives us an overview of pivotal events over several Presidencys, from Eisenhower in 1957 through the Reagan administration. Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, integration in Little Rock, the Black Panthers and more appear in this well done movie. We’ll watch it as we approach the Eisenhower Presidency to give us some context of what’s to come!
ANY MANY MORE!
13 DAYS helps us understand the Cuban Missile Crisis,
Freedom Riders shows us how integration in the South was won
Mississippi Burning shows us why Freedom Riders were necessary...