Constitution Week: George Washington (Pt. 2)

Be sure to see Pt. 1 first.This entire episode focuses on how the character and temperament of George Washington played a vital role in the peaceful transition to republican democracy after the Revolutionary War. While I think we can be quick to fall into hero worship of the founding figure, I do think that Washington played an import role both for what he did do (as General and by showing up at the Convention) and what he did not do (assume power after the War and stepping down after two … [Read more...]

Constitution Week: George Washington (Pt. 1)

Author's Note: This post is part of a series looking at resources for teaching children about the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day (Sept. 17).The cartoon series Liberty's Kids aired on PBS from 2002-2004. It is a historical fiction account of the events of the Revolutionary War and the early United States told through the eyes of Sarah (15), James (14), and Henri (8).Elements of such an approach can be cheesy. However, I think Liberty's Kids does a good job of developing some … [Read more...]

It is Constitution Week: A Preamble!

Actually, Tuesday is Constitution Day. September 17 is the anniversary of the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.Tomorrow, I will be posting a number of video resources that I think will be of use to elementary school teachers, homeschool teachers, and anyone looking to talk more about The United States Constitution with their children.I will be sharing some reasoning behind why these are sound resources. I will also share some possible discussion questions. … [Read more...]

What is Religious Freedom? A Brief Response

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced yesterday that it was initiating an effort to promote the freedom of religion.Here is a video title "What is Religious Freedom?" released by the LDS Church that addresses the meaning of the freedom of religion and the current status of the freedom of religion.A few quick points:1. I found it interesting that the video provided two arguments or philosophical foundations for the freedom of religion. The first was the natural … [Read more...]

Turns Out Emerson Wrote Some “Very Stupid” “Trash”

I love John Stuart Mill. However, it is probably a good thing he never read anything I ever wrote, because he was rather brutal and harsh.Historian Frank Prochaska has discovered Mill's comments of the American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in letters by from Mill and in Mill's notes on a copy Emerson's Essays.History Today reports the following:The words ‘fudge’, ‘nonsense’, ‘oh’, ‘pooh’, ‘sentimental’, ‘superficial’, ‘stupid’, ‘very stupid’, ‘trash’ are among the many pencille … [Read more...]

“I Don’t Mind Stealing Bread…” Remembering Mitch Snyder (Hymns of Social Justice)

"Hunger Strike" by Temple of the Dog brings us a duet by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. The band is largely the line-up which we better recognize as Pearl Jam, including Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, and Matt Cameron.Maybe it is just the vocal power Vedder and Cornell combined, but few songs strike me more emotionally in the way the "Hunger Strike" does.The image of the hunger strike in this song reminds my of DC-area homeless activist Mitch … [Read more...]

Thomas Paine on Monarchy and Hereditary Succession (Happy Birthday to the New Royal!)

One of my favorite sections of Thomas Paine's Common Sense is his section on the monarchy and hereditary succession. It is one of the most interesting uses of a social contract-style historical critique.Of Monarchy and Hereditary SuccessionMANKIND being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance: the distinctions of rich and poor may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the … [Read more...]