Teaching Impeachment and the 2020 Election

Alan Singer, Hofstra University

The “Answer Sheet” column by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post published a letter that an Edina, Minnesota social studies teacher sent parents explaining how he was addressing the House impeachment hearings in his middle school classes. The teacher, Jason Pusey, stressed that lessons “focused mainly on process, not so much on substance.” Pusey makes an important effort to include students in discussion of current issues without alienating parents and administrators or risking his position. But given the level of the threats to American democracy posed by the Trump administration, focusing education on process, not substance, while it is a safer approach to teaching about impeachment and the 2020 election, sells students and democracy short. There are alternative classroom approaches that promote analysis, decision-making, and active citizenship and are aligned with state and national learning standards.

The United States is in the midst of a constitutional crisis that may be the worst since the 1850s when Southern states, fearing a permanent minority status in the national government and federal action against slavery, attempted to leave the union precipitating the Civil War. The contemporary Republican Party has embraced two very dangerous ideologies, the Unitary Executive and “win-at-any-cost no matter what the consequences” that threaten constitutional government and democracy in the United States.

In schools we teach that fundamental principles of the United States Constitution are “separation of powers” and “check and balances” between three theoretically co-equal branches of government, the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. This scheme has roots in the writing of French Enlightenment thinker Baron de Montesquieu who believed that “separation of powers” and “check and balances” were the most effective way to prevent autocracy and the abuse of power.

James Madison, writing in Federalist Paper 51, argued that these principles were imbedded in the Constitution by design. Madison famously wrote: “To what expedient, then, shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the Constitution? The only answer that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.”

The problem, however, is that while the Constitution establishes three independent branches of government, in the case of the Executive and Judicial branches, it does not clearly delineate their responsibilities and the limits of their power. The Supreme Court’s authority to evaluate the constitutionality of laws and actions was assumed by the Court and accepted by the other branches following its decision in the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803). But the Court has no power to enforce its decisions and in the case of Worcester v. Georgia (1832), President Andrew Jackson refused to abide by the Court’s decision. In the 1950s and 1960s, states delayed implementing the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education school desegregation decisions while local authorities defunded public education and established white-only private academies.

While there are procedures for Congress to overrule the President and for the President to veto Congress, the words “checks,” “balances,” and “separation” do not appear anywhere in the text of the Constitution. There is also no definition of what is meant by Executive power. While Section 2 specifies some Presidential responsibilities such as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, the power to grant reprieves and pardons, and with the approval of the Senate, to make treaties and nominate and judges, Article II, Section 1, Clause 1, simply states “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

During the administration of President George W. Bush (2001-2009), Bush advisors advanced a “Unitary Executive Theory” claiming he had unrestricted authority to invade Afghanistan and Iraq because the Constitution assigned the president all “executive power.” This supposedly meant the President could set aside laws and court rulings that attempted to limit his power over national security.

With Donald Trump in office, “Unitary Executive Theory” advocates have expanded this interpretation of the Constitution to justify every Presidential action as inherently legitimate because Trump as President is chief executive. Legislative or judicial challenges to his authority are dismissed as harassment. His current chief defender is Attorney General William Barr. In a recent speech to the Federalist Society, Barr argued that the Constitution does not permit Congress to place any limits on a President, even if a President is covering up crimes committed by the President or an associate. Based on this theory, a President has dictatorial power for four years, power that can even be used to destroy the government and American society. Congress’ only redress is impeachment and removal from office, which is incredibly difficult to do.

A unit or periodic lessons examining the question “Is democracy threatened?” allows space for a range of viewpoints. Democrats in the House of Representatives launched the impeachment hearings because they believe Donald Trump’s actions violate the standards for constitutional government. In response, President Trump charges Democrats with an attempted coup, trying to overturn the results of his legitimate election and popular will.

I propose three classroom alternatives to engage secondary school students in understanding issues but also prepares them for participation in the 2020 election as civic activists. Preparing and supporting students as civic activists is mandated in a number of state social studies standards. I call these approaches (1) Policy Wonks, (2) Campaign Fact-Checkers, and (3) Civic Activists.

(1) Policy Wonks: In this approach social studies lessons focus on specific issues, rather than on candidates. Students research and define positions on immigration, climate change, gun control, economic growth, free speech and social media, democratic values, health care, foreign involvement, and Presidential leadership. They can send their recommendations to candidates, promote their ideas in public forums, and use their research to evaluate candidates.

(2) Campaign Fact-Checkers: This approach is especially important as students evaluate candidate claims in the 2020 election campaign and draw conclusions and make recommendations about which candidate to support. Important websites that do fact-checking include FactCheck.org, Fact Checker, and Politifact. Students can also conduct textual analysis of testimony and documents, including transcripts of the phone calls. Based on these investigations students can turn to an examination of the Constitution and legal precedents and make judgments based on their investigations. Is President Trump’s decision not to make some documents available and his order to members of the Executive branch not to testify a defense of Presidential pejoratives and the independence of the Executive branch or obstruction of justice by a legitimate and Constitutional Congressional inquiry? If the Democratic majority on the House Committee concludes that President Trump did use the Office of the President to solicit support from Ukraine to further his 2020 reelection campaign, does that in itself constitute an impeachable offense and grounds to remove the President from office?

            (3) Civic Activists: Teachers constantly worry whether they are allowed to express a point of view in class on major issues or how to handle student views that may be extreme or disrespectful of others. Teachers I work with expressed that these two concerns came up repeatedly in discussions of the 2016 election and I expect them to continue in 2020. A goal in a democratic classroom community is that students learn to respect themselves and each other. Democratic classroom communities provide students with emotional support so they can take intellectual and social risks. For communities to develop, teachers must play active roles. I believe they must also be willing to model what it means to develop a point of view based on evidence and what it means to listen and learn from others.

The New York State Social Studies Frameworks are aligned with the National Council for the Social Studies College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework and national Common Core Standards. They specifically call on teachers and students to collaboratively “Analyze evidence in terms of content, authorship, point of view, bias, purpose, format, and audience.” In addition, students are supposed to learn to “Compare the points of view of two or more authors in their treatments of the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.”

As part of this process, students are expected to “Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and classroom debates; respectfully disagree with other viewpoints and provide evidence for a counter-argument”; “Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, and presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed; “Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions”; and “Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.”

As students develop their views through research and discussion, they are encouraged to act on their understandings. New York State and the NCSS’ C3 Framework specifically endorse student activism through voting, volunteering, and “joining with others to improve society.” I can’t think of a better way of “joining with others to improve society” than becoming involved in the 2020 election.

Some projects students can create as they engage in any of these approaches include rapping about a candidate or issue, making a sixty-second infomercial, or producing memes, t-shirts, letters to the editor of local newspapers, blogs, and tweets. I tweet Donald Trump my latest meme about two or three times a week. You can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/ReecesPieces8.

Teacher Responses on Teaching Impeachment and the 2020 Election

Mariya Korobkova, Curriculum Specialist New York City Department of Education: Understanding current issues and events is an essential component of a robust civics education. As students learn about engaging in and having an impact on their communities it is important that they remain informed about the issues affecting our city, nation, and the world. Civics for All has created, and will regularly add to, a collection of supplemental lesson plans and resources to aid in teaching current issues and events. The Civics for All: Current Issues and Events collection is available on WeTeachNYC. It is recommended that teachers download and review Current Events and Civics Education before using the resources in this collection in the classroom. These materials include two resource types: Full K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and/or 9-12 lesson plans that connect fundamental civics concepts to current issues and events. The formatting of the lesson plans is consistent with the Civics for All lesson plans and are distinguishable by their purple color-coding.

A brief summary of the issue or event with suggested resources for lesson planning and teaching civics-related current events.

The first resources created for this collection are grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 lesson plans on the impeachment process. They are available for download now on WeTeachNYC.

Derek Pearce, Division High School, Levittown, NY: Levittown is an interesting place. Despite the fact that I grew up here, went to K-12 school here, and have lived here for much of my adult life, I still have difficulty understanding the people here. On paper, Levittown is “left leaning” with 51.3% voting Democrat in the last presidential election. However, conversations with my students and neighbors reveal ample support for President Trump. Teaching something as politically sensitive as impeachment in such a politically divided atmosphere has presented a unique set of challenges that I have attempted to address throughout the year. My first lesson on impeachment coincided with the House Speaker Pelosi’s press conference announcing the beginning of the House impeachment inquiry on September 24th. I predicted that most of my students would have only the vaguest sense of the impeachment process and the circumstances surrounding the impeachment- predictions that unfortunately proved to be accurate. To counter this lack of context, I started the students with several headlines from various newspapers that provided clues about the background circumstances surrounding the announcement of the impeachment inquiry. This allowed the few students who were aware of the details to explain the context to their less informed classmates. To connect the impeachment inquiry with the curriculum, we moved next to a brief mini-lesson on the system of checks and balances inherent in the Constitution which included various examples outside of the obvious check impeachment offers Congress over the Executive. Finally, students compared an excellent video on the impeachment process from Ted-Ed with a well-designed flow chart from the Conthat demonstrated the possible routes of the Trump impeachment inquiry. The lesson closed with a debate among students about the likely course of the impeachment proceedings. Using their newfound knowledge of the historical context and Constitutional procedures of impeachment, many of my students came to the realization that impeachment was likely in a Democratic controlled House of Representatives, but conviction and removal from office was unlikely in a Republican controlled Senate. Since my first lesson on impeachment did not allow my students much room for a debate or discussion on their views of the Trump impeachment inquiry- a conscious choice considering their lack of contextual or procedural knowledge, I decided to teach a second lesson on the impeachment inquiry that coincided with the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to recommend two articles of impeachment on Friday, December 13th. In this lesson, students were presented with reactions to the announcement from various Democrats and Republicans. After identifying the repeating themes associated with the quotes, students were tasked with identifying the quote that most aligned with their view of the impeachment process. Students whose views were not adequately represented by the available quotes were able to create their own. Using the foundational knowledge from the previous lesson along with the spectrum of perspectives presented by the quotes, students were able to have a reasoned, informed, and academic discussion on a topic that many of them were unable to define just a few weeks earlier.

Pablo Muriel, Alfred E. Smith High School, Bronx, NY: This is a very exciting time to be a social studies teacher but it is also a vital time in our democracy and society as a whole. Currently we are facing a climate crisis that threatens the earth, income inequality that have led many historians to call this time period the second gilded age, immigration policies that place children in cages, massive cuts to social services and austerity policies that threaten public services. All of these current issues make teaching the impeachment process a vital part of participation in government. I begin my lessons with a 10-minute clip of democracy now and give the students time to write down issues that they believe have the most impact on their lives. Next students share out their ideas, this allows students to have a dialogue on the current issues and become acquainted with those issues. The class moves on to the lessons which this year have revolved around major issues such as climate, Immigration, and securing the social safety net (my students are mostly impoverished, 93% title one school). To this end students have read articles on these issues, have joined the climate protest, visited community board meetings (mandatory in my class) and are currently writing letters to their congressperson on bills they are in support of or against. During this process they are engaged in the topic of impeachment through reading newspaper articles daily as a do now assignment and must respond in writing on google classrooms and a share-out that typically leads to the lesson. The goal is to immerse students in dialogue, politics and activism so that they may take full control of their agency, use it to engage in government functions and ultimately include themselves as part of the larger system.

Debate and Inquiry-Based Instruction on Presidential Impeachment

Russell Hammack, Jacksonville State University

Lisa Matherson and Elizabeth Wilson, The University of Alabama

After the completion of the Russia political interference investigation and with the recent Ukrainian Presidential phone call controversy, the U.S. House of Representatives has moved forward in the last two months with an official impeachment inquiry, led by Representative Adam Schiff (Costa & Rucker, 2019). This impeachment process, can lead to the accusation of a criminal wrongdoing, but also the removal of office of the president. Britannica (2019) states:

In the federal government of the United States, the House of Representatives institutes impeachment proceedings by authorizing a formal inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee, which may then recommend articles of impeachment (an impeachment resolution) for a vote by the full House (articles of impeachment may also be introduced in the House without a formal inquiry). If the articles are approved, a trial is held in the Senate, and conviction is obtained by a vote of at least two-thirds of the senators present. In Great Britain conviction on an impeachment has resulted in fine and imprisonment and even in execution, whereas in the United States the penalties extend no further than removal and disqualification from office. (p.1)

            Historically, both the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton led to a formal charge of misconduct; however, in both cases, there were not enough votes to remove either president from office (U.S. Senate, 2018). However, with the rising controversy over President Trump’s administration, is there enough evidence to bring forth articles of impeachment and conviction? To thoroughly examine the issue of impeachment within the classroom, we recommend using a method of inquiry; the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) coupled with the richness of academic debate (C3 Teachers, 2016).

Inquiry Using the IDM

  “Historical inquiry involves a process of learning and discovering in a cultivated culture of thinking and doing” (Kalmon, O’Neill-Jones, Stout, & Wood, 2012, p. 18).  Participating in this process gives students the ability to research, inquire, and gather information to support one side of an argument. Historical inquiries allow students to develop and construct interpretive accounts based on incomplete, complete, or contradictory information (van Drie & van Boxtel, 2008). “Students who research an issue then argue in support of it have a deeper, more meaningful encounter with the material than they do merely reading about it in a textbook” (Tumposky, 2004, p. 52). Thus, inquiry is a student-centered approach, along with guidance and facilitation from the teacher, resulting in a productive classroom environment (Grant, Swan, & Lee, 2017).

Inquiry fosters academic investigation and gathering evidence-based research for supporting arguments and conclusions (Levy, Thomas, Drago, and Rex, 2013). Inquiry also develops a deeper understanding through historical thinking skills that promote a democratic citizenship (Barton & Avery, 2016; Lévesque, 2008). Inquiry-based instruction embodies the rich fullness of the C3 Framework by engaging in disciplinary exploration that leads to defending ideas and concepts (NCSS, 2013). Social studies teachers can begin to introduce topics through developing compelling questions. These questions frame out the inquiry and provide a reference point for students. In addition, at the end of the inquiry, each student should be able, through careful research and collaboration, to develop a concise argument that answers the compelling question. Therefore, the compelling questions become the catalyst for the starting the inquiry.

Inquiry Design Model (IDM) Blueprint

Compelling QuestionWhat is the legal standard and procedure to impeach a president?
Standards and Practices2010 Alabama Course of Study- Social Studies 6th
Grade- 12-2 Recognizing domestic issues that shaped the United States since World War II Examples: McCarthyism, Watergate scandal, political assassinations, health care, impeachment, Hurricane Katrina 10th

Grade- 15-5 Explaining causes for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson 11th

Grade- 16 Describe significant foreign and domestic issues of presidential administrations from Richard M. Nixon to the present.

Examples: Nixon’s policy of détente; Cambodia; Watergate scandal; pardon of Nixon; Iranian hostage situation; Reaganomics; Libyan crisis; end of the Cold War; Persian Gulf War; impeachment trial of William “Bill” Clinton  

College and Career Readiness Standards – History/Social Studies 11-12

CCSS.ELA-Literacy. RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5 Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.  
Staging the QuestionUsing the video clip on Presidential impeachment, how successful has the impeachment process regarding the removal of a President?
Impeachment Video  
Supporting Question 1 Supporting Question 2 Supporting Question 3
What is the process of impeachment described by the Constitution?  What were the charges and results of President Andrew Johnson’s and President Bill Clinton’s impeachment?Is there evidence to impeach President Trump?
Formative Performance TaskFormative Performance TaskFormative Performance Task
Write a paragraph describing the constitutional process of presidential impeachment.      Students will compare and contrast the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.      Students will participate in a debate on the impeachment of President Trump. Students will be asked to work in collaborative groups, using the Debate with Inquiry Mode for Social Studies, to develop their argument and reach a conclusion.
Featured SourcesFeatured SourcesFeatured Sources
  U.S. Constitution      Trial of Andrew Johnson The Articles of Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson
Trial of Bill Clinton
The Articles of Impeachment of President Bill Clinton
Mueller Report Mueller’s Testimony Ukraine Transcript      
Summative Performance TaskArgumentStudents will develop an interactive website, detailing the processes, historical aspects (former Presidents), and current examinations of Presidential impeachment. The purpose of this assignment is for students to display their understanding and expertise, while presenting their final product to their peers.  Website development using Wix
ExtensionStudents will construct a Presidential Interactive Timeline on impeachment; thus, providing information on the process, past impeachments, but also listing information to support or oppose the impeachment of President Trump. Timeline using Sutori
Taking Informed ActionAfter understanding the process of impeachment, and examining the evidence concerning President Trump, construct a letter to a local (Alabama) legislator arguing for or against articles of impeachment for President Trump.

Emphasizing Debate with the Inquiry

One of the most exciting and engaging activities among teachers and students is debate (Doyle, 2007). Debating in class incorporates the development of various types of skills that correlate with critical thinking, such as research, oral communication, organization, and logic (Jackson, 1973). According to Hooley (2007), debates and classroom discussions grants students the opportunity to gather information, discern what is essential, analyze the content, and frame their argument. Debating in the classroom embodies an open-ended format of historical scholarship with the emphasis placed on student discussions with colleagues in formulating deeper understandings of history (Musselman, 2004).  “Despite this political emphasis, middle and high school U.S. curricula rarely delve into the political bickering that surrounded governmental acts or discuss how historical events have helped today’s political landscape” (Journell, 2014, p. 57). In the deeply political divisiveness of our nation, having students respectfully debate political issues in a social studies classroom could be considered instructionally controversial (Taylor, 2017). However, with the growing need for students to understand multiple viewpoints and to construct decisions that engages their active citizenship, there is a need to model and experience the concept of debate while exploring evidence through the instructional method of inquiry.

Likewise, within the IDM model, additional supporting questions can be used for groups of students based on the affirmative and the opposing positions while implementing a debate as an activity within the inquiry. Social studies teachers could also provide featured sources or guide students through the research process of the inquiry.

Along with the C3 teachers IDM Model, we also developed a debate model that overlaps the IDM. Although the IDM offers an excellent framework for developing an inquiry-based investigation into multiple topics, we added an additional resource that extends from the IDM, in which students can develop their arguments by using pertinent information and also write down opposing points of view on the topic. Formulating historical arguments are based on using quotes, citations, and references (Poitras & Lojoie, 2013). By adding a place for an oppositional viewpoint, the student is then able to view the topic from multiple perspectives. Therefore, by the end of the debate, students can reflect in a debriefing session and ultimately reach their own decision based on the classroom debate.

Figure 1. Debate with Inquiry Model for Social Studies by Hammack, Matherson, and Wilson, 2018.

Using Debate Instructionally

Debating in the classroom grants students the opportunity to strengthen the development of an argument, supported by evidence, while allowing students to meet the challenges of critical thinking and oral persuasion (Dundes, 2001). Hunt (2006) contends that the benefit of debate extends past the content alone, helping with the advancement of critical thinking skills, research, and self-esteem. The National Council for the Social Studies (2008) notes that students can learn necessary skills in solving issues and problems through debates and discussions, which include the use of inquiry. However, to make a debate successful in a class that allows students to evaluate multiple viewpoints respectfully, a debate framework, that includes inquiry, must be modeled and implemented. This is our proposed classroom debate framework:

  1. Display great debate models before you start a debate Example: CNN Crossfire (CNN, 2014).
  2. Before the debate, divide the class equally into small or large groups (Larson & Keiper, 2013).
  3. Cite evidence to support your argument (through inquiry-based instruction— Inquiry Design Model (C3 Teachers, 2016).
  4. Once the debate begins, only one person speaks at a time. (Doyle, 2007).
  5. Attack the argument and not the person. (Doyle, 2007).
  6. Have students take time to debrief; to be able to see both sides of the issue or topic. (Larson & Keiper, 2013).
  7. Allow students to reach a decision. (Larson & Keiper, 2013).

Model the Debate

Debate is an exciting method that naturally incorporates inquiry while developing ideas and arguments based on evidence. However, to have a great debate within a classroom, teachers must carefully select a platform of debate. One method of debate that we recommend within our framework is a “Crossfire” platform (CNN, 2014). Taken from CNN’s Crossfire program, this debate platform allows a moderator to delegate questions and equal amounts of time for both sides of a debate to put forth their best argument concerning a specific topic. For classroom purposes, teachers could easily serve as moderators within a class; allowing for students to present their best arguments. Also, modeling expectations regarding a debate could serve as a great example: thus, playing several excellent excerpts from the CNN Crossfire show could be a superb example for students.

Equally Dividing the Class

            Equally dividing the class is also a crucial element within our framework of debate. A division must happen so that the class, as a whole, can experience the multiple perspectives concerning the topic. This will later add to the cognitive ability and skill of the students to be able to reach a conclusion after hearing and experiencing both sides of a particular issue. This will allow every student the opportunity to critically think about the evidence that has been presented and draw upon both the affirmative and the opposition. Even if the group or groups of students might already have a bias toward a particular issue it is important for students to argue from multiple perspectives so that they can have greater expertise concerning the subject matter and evaluate the issue after considering different subjective opinions.

Starting the Debate

            After students have gathered their information from using the IDM model, they can meet either collaboratively in small groups or large groups to discuss their findings relating to their research and inquiry. This collaboration allows time to formulate their potential arguments and examine counter-arguments that could be raised in the debate. Doyle (2007) contends that a well-organized debate should allow one person to speak at a time. Doyle’s (2007) position coincides with the CNN Crossfire model, which allows the moderator to give a specific amount of time, that is undisturbed, for each person to express their perspective. Jackson (1973) stated that, “since debate usually requires a cooperative effort, with at least one other person, in preparing for the final presentation, students should gain valuable insights into the processes involved in a dyadic relationship. This learning experience also offers an opportunity for the teacher to utilize the principles of peer-teaching” (p. 152). 

Debates can often spark emotions due to the nature of the issue and how it might affect the participants. To give students a civil experience in social discourse, teachers might consider explaining how to attack and defend the argument, and not the person (Doyle, 2017). Therefore, social studies teachers need to provide a respectful environment, so that multiple perspectives and opinions are valued, even if students do not agree. Respect is often defined as “worth of high regard or esteem.” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). “There is, then, an opportunity to discuss controversial issues in a context where participants have real disagreements and positions in which they have some investment” (Zimmerman & Roberston, 2018, p.13).

Debrief the Debate

            Once the debate has concluded, one of the compelling perspectives of using debate is to allow for students to debrief. Debriefing allows each student an opportunity to reflect on the inquiry-based research and presentation of arguments given concerning the topic. This type of cognitive reflection allows students to employ their critical thinking skills to examine their positionality now that they have heard multiple perspectives on the topic.

Duhaylongsod (2017) argues that using debates as a type of instruction gives “students valuable opportunities to practice both listening to different perspectives and sharing their differences in a manner that is civil, which is what we want future citizens to do in public discourse, whether on paper, online, or face to face on a stage” (p. 114). 

Having Students Reach a Conclusion

            After debriefing the debate, the students will have an opportunity to metacognitively reach a conclusion based on the information and oral arguments that were performed during the debate. This portion of the debate is often missed in classrooms but offers a time of crucial reflectivity for students. After finishing all arguments, and after carefully reflecting and evaluating both sides of the issues presented, students now have to reach their own conclusion. Instead of viewing information from personal perspectives, students can reflect on all the information that was presented and argued; thus, leading each individual student in constructing their own personal opinion on the topic.

Beyond the Debate by Informed Action

            After the debate has concluded, classroom teachers might decide to extend beyond the debate with greater relevance by offering students a taking informed action activity as part of the IDM model. “Informed action can take numerous forms (e.g., discussions, debates, presentations) and can occur in a variety of contexts both inside and outside of the classroom” (Grant, Swan, & Lee, 2017, p. 110). Other activities might include becoming a part of a local or community organization, or leading or starting a new community project. This form of social action allows students to become engaged within the community; therefore, using their knowledge from the debate and inquiry into active citizenship. This begins the process of encouraging students to take ownership of a civic challenge, developing the skills to take meaningful action; thus, learning through their practical citizenship (Levinson, 2012).  This part of civic participation has greater meaning as students extend from their classroom environments into community environments.

            For this specific inquiry, we have asked students to construct a letter to their local congressional legislator in support or opposition to developing articles of impeachment regarding President Trump. Our curriculum goal for this inquiry is for students to explain and describe the constitutional requirements of impeachment, comprehend by comparing and contrasting historical outcomes of past presidential impeachments, and evaluate and assess the current impeachment inquiry, while making a decision regarding the recent evidence concerning President Trump.


             For our democratic society to have participatory citizens that are active in researching, evaluating information from multiple viewpoints, and developing their arguments, classrooms must be able to display and engage in a similar form of social discourse. Inquiry along with debate grants classroom teachers an opportunity to model democratic principles by giving students a venue to model democratic ideals through the free exchange of ideas and concepts (Dewey, 1918). In addition to simple argumentation, students must be able to inquire, research, collectively articulate ideas and concepts, and to cognitively reflect in a respectful setting. Students that regularly participate in classroom discussions are more engaged, more likely to vote, follow the news, and be involved in political discussions (Hess & McAvoy, 2015).  According to Vygotsky, the scaffolding of higher-order thinking skills of cognitive development is accomplished through the social interaction of peer learning; such as peer discussion, cooperative learning, and project-based learning (Vygotsky, 1978).

            Our goal for sharing this impeachment inquiry, along with a debate framework, is to present social studies teachers with the resources to develop a meaningful instructional method that can be applied in multiple topics throughout the social studies curriculum. By doing so, students will gain the necessary skills and intellectual growth to continue this process from the classroom to their communities; thus, exploring, searching, and modeling solutions that involve a rich social, but respectful discourse.


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Levinson, M. (2012). Prepare Students to Be Citizens. Phi Delta Kappan93(7), 66–69.

Levy, B. L., Thomas, E. E., Drago, K., & Rex, L. A. (2013). Examining Studies of Inquiry-Based Learning in Three Fields of Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 387-408. doi:10.1177/002248711349643

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Musselman, E. G. (2004). Using Structured Debate to Achieve Autonomous Student Discussion. The History Teacher37(3), 335–349.

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Poitras, E. G., & Lajoie, S. P. (2013). A domain-specific account of self-regulated learning: The cognitive and metacognitive activities involved in learning through historical inquiry. Metacognition and Learning, 8(3), 213-234.

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Teaching a People’s History of Abolition and the Civil War

Edited by Adam Sanchez

Review by Aleisha Forbes

     First, I want to state that I am reviewing this book from three perspectives: from the standpoint of an educator with an advanced certificate in Secondary Education, as a historian with a master’s degree in History, and as an African American woman. This book, Teaching a People’s History of Abolition and the Civil War, is essential for various reasons. Primarily it pushes students to challenge their assumptions about enslavement and the response to the question of “who freed the slaves?” Students are taken on a journey in which they recognize the agency of the enslaved while dispelling the “Great Man” narrative that names Abraham Lincoln the “Great Emancipator.” Finally, this book aims to be encouraging and uplifting by promoting the possibility of social change by often overlooked historical actors. It inspires students to recognize their parts in resisting unjust authority figures in their own lives.

     Although this book may seem idealistic in its aims, it takes a very systematic approach to increasing student engagement when dealing with a polarizing segment of American history. The authors aptly include poetry and art, along with primary and secondary source analysis. The book offers units of varied lengths depending on what the teacher is able to implement in their curriculum. As a teacher with knowledge of the students in my classroom, I wouldn’t follow their prescribed trajectory completely. The lessons that seem most valuable from my perspective are lesson one: Frederick Douglass fights for freedom; lesson two: poetry of defiance; lesson five: raising the voices of abolitionists through art; lesson eight: a war to free the slaves; and lesson nine: who freed the slaves.

     The authors explains that if necessary, a teacher can begin at lesson eight, which is focused on Lincoln, in order to increase student “buy-in” to the unit’s topic. Lesson eight challenges the myth that the civil war was a war to free the slaves. It does this from an inquiry-based perspective where students investigate the statement that Lincoln and the North fought the Civil War to free the slaves. It also poses the question: How might U.S. history have turned out differently had the Southern states accepted Lincoln’s offer in 1861 to support the original 13th amendment to the Constitution which would have guaranteed slavery forever. This is a compelling question because in my experience, students are always interested in examining alternative versions of history and answering the question “What If?” Overall this lesson seems to be very engaging for students because it is discussion centered, however it needed more direct teacher modeling if this would be the first lesson in the unit. If presented to a classroom of diverse learners, the text would need to be chunked while defining challenging vocabulary for students and pushing them to write gist statements of what they read in their own words. This would ensure that they are able to grapple with the rigorous material of Lincoln’s inaugural address and the Emancipation Proclamation.

     A method that the authors included to assist diverse learners was “role-play. “Lesson seven, a role-play on the election of 1860, was in my opinion the most complicated lesson in the series. It was a multi-step lesson that required vast preparation on the part of the instructor. Although it is worthy because it will increase student involvement and ownership of their learning, the teacher may be apprehensive due to the theatrical nature of this lesson. The major benefit of this lesson is the fact that is outlines the campaign points of the various candidates. However, it assumes that all students will be compliant and get into character in order to achieve lesson outcomes. All in all, this lesson is a great support for students with varying learning styles who need a more hands on approach to learning, but it can be time consuming to implement properly.

     The most intriguing lessons were lesson two: poetry of defiance, and lesson five: raising the voices of abolitionists through art. Both lessons present the narrative of resistance in captivating ways. Lesson two uses poetry to challenge the notion that slaves were happy and protected while in the system of enslavement. Students examine quotes that illustrate several methods that the enslaved incorporated to resist the system of oppression. This lesson lends itself to the opportunity to make several text-to-world connections in the form of Negro spirituals such as “Wade in the Water” and popular movies such as “Beloved 1998” and “Birth of a Nation 2016.” Making these instructional decisions will assist students in the culminating poem writing exercise. It is a spectacular tool in shifting the narrative of enslavement for the next generation of students, especially with present day figures such as Kanye West spewing false accounts that slavery was a choice. The powerful quotes that are included in this text illustrate that the enslaved were far from mentally imprisoned. On the contrary, they were the architects in their own form of resistance and freedom.

     Lesson five brings this project full circle because it connects the voices of abolitionists through art with contemporary artists who use art as a form of opposition. Two of these pieces, Frederick Douglass’ “the meaning of July fourth for the negro” and Sojourner Truth’s “ain’t I a woman” are poignant pieces that are sure to draw out responses from students, especially in the era of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest and the growth of the Me-Too movement. In the social studies classroom, we often task students with image analysis of political cartoons and various art pieces, but there is value in having them create their own illustrations to powerful speeches that were aimed in invoking strong feelings from the reader. In my own classroom, I use illustrations for vocabulary practice and poster presentations. However, using it in response to famous historical pieces is an important instructional decision.

     All in all, this book is a valuable tool in a 21st century social studies classroom. It challenges students’ misconceptions and pushes them to be more civic minded. The use of role-play and the incorporation of art and poetry along with primary and secondary source analysis present a balanced approach to teaching about a difficult topic.

     In my own instructional practice, I have struggled to find effective lessons on slavery, abolition, and the Civil War. This book of lessons will allow me to incorporate new techniques into my teaching. My main concerns about the implementation of role-play activities, the chunking of challenging texts, definition of challenging vocabulary, and modeling of rigorous material are all instructional choices that a teacher can make to adapt the material to meet the needs of students in their classroom. This book will help Rethinking Schools achieve their goals of helping students realize the possibility of social change, especially on the part of ordinary citizens by analyzing the toppling of the institution of slavery by abolitionists and the enslaved alike. Students will be able to realize the impact they can make in the world, whether they aim to tackle school shootings, racism and injustice, or immigration and female empowerment in order to shift their outlook.

Evaluating the New Global History and Geography Regents

     In June 2019, New York State high schools had the option of having students take the new Global History and Geography Regents or one based on the earlier format. Both exams cover world history and geography since 1750. The three-part new exam included 28 multiple choice question, each based on document analysis of a quote or image (Part I); two sets of constructed response questions, each based on a pair of documents (Part II); and an “enduring issues essay” requiring students to identify “a challenge of problem that has been debated or discussed across time” and “that many societies have attempted to address with varying degrees of success” (Part III). For the “enduring issues essay” students were provided with five documents and expected to identify and define an enduring issue presented in the documents, argue why the issue they selected is significant, and how it has endured across time. There essay was required to include a “historically accurate interpretation of at least three documents” and “relevant outside information from your knowledge of social studies.” The initial “enduring issues essay” had documents on the industrialization of Great Britain in the 19th century and its impact on world trade, the continuing problem of child labor, the export of electronic waste across international boundaries, a contemporary commentary of globalization, and an advertisement for South Asian tea in a British newspaper. The easiest enduring issues to discuss would be “Impact of Trade” or “Impact of Globalization,” however students could also make a case for “Impact of Technology,” “Impact of Industry,” “Impact of Imperialism,” and “Tensions between Traditional Cultures and Modernization.” The EngageNY website has an online enduring issues chart (https://www.engageny.org/sites/default/files/2enduring-issues-chart.pdf . A video describing the new exam is online at https://www.engageny.org/resource/regents-examglobal-history-and-geography-ii. Both Global Regents formats will be issued through June 2020. The United States History Regents will have a similar transition from June 2020 through June 2021.

Below is a sample document pairing with two multiple choice questions from the exam:

. . “I started from Cork, by the mail, [coach] (says our informant), for Skibbereen and saw little until we came to Clonakilty, where the coach stopped for breakfast; and here, for the first time, the horrors of the poverty became visible, in the vast number of famished poor, who flocked around the coach to beg alms: amongst them was a woman carrying in her arms the corpse of a fine child, and making the most distressing appeal to the passengers for aid to enable her to purchase a coffin and bury her dear little baby. This horrible spectacle induced me to make some inquiry about her, when I learned from the people of the hotel that each day brings dozens of such applicants into the town. . . .”

Source: James Mahony, “Sketches in the West of Ireland,” Illustrated London News, February 13, 1847 (adapted)

What is the most likely purpose of this document?

  1. to highlight the benefits of free markets
  2. to record the negative impact of child labor
  3. to minimize the impacts of agricultural innovations
  4. to inspire social and political reform  

The conditions described in this passage directly resulted in

  1. Ireland invading Britain
  2. millions of Irish emigrating to the United States
  3. most landlords forgiving the rent the Irish owed
  4. Britain agreeing to withdraw from Ireland

Teaching Social Studies asked New York State social studies teachers to comment on the new exam.

Karla Freire, Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning High School, Queens, NY:  I am concerned that if the new framework for the Global Regents, if not improved in some areas, will ultimately harm rather than help our students. The areas of the exam I find problematic, are Parts II and III. Both of these sections contain questions that need rephrasing or concepts that need to be changed completely, in order for students to better understand what is being asked of them. For example, several constructedresponse questions need to be clarified. Providing a document and asking a student to describe the historical context or events that led to what is being described, is not enough. It is vague and confusing. Having an open-ended question like this, with an endless possibility of answers, may appear to be helpful, however, the reality is that it is too broad of a question for any student to answer in a timely manner. If a student was anything like I was in school, the first instinct for a very studious student is to overthink the question. For example, a myriad of factors led to major events and paradigm shifts in history. Events, such as, conquest and colonization cannot be explained by one sole factor or motive. Therefore, by asking a student to explain which events led to a major historical event, it can be overwhelming for the students to go through all the possible answers to this question. How will they be able to determine which events are the “correct” ones to mention in their answer? On the other hand, if a student did not prepare as much for this exam, they would not be able to determine an answer, either. He or she may be greatly discouraged to even attempt to answer such a question, given the enormity of history. It’s much too broad, and one cannot ask anyone to historically contextualize an image or text within 2-3 lines of space. Additionally, within the 2-3 lines that are provided, the chances that students are producing actual analysis is slim. It is more likely that a factual, rote answer regarding historical chronology will be constructed. We need to reframe the question and ask for specifics. For example, “explain 1-2 factors that led to the Industrial Revolution” and allow for space for a larger response. Otherwise, it should be eliminated, given that our goal as educators is to push students towards critical analysis. In Part III, the “Enduring Issues” essay is flawed in the sense that anything can be described as an enduring issue in history. Once again, history is being viewed much too broadly. Accepted enduring issues, such as “interconnections,” can be anything from cultural diffusion to trade to peace treaties. It is an unusual and unrealistic way of interpreting history. Other acceptable enduring issues, like “conflict,” is problematic given that history is filled with conflicts. Having a student write an entire essay on a general category, can lead to redundant answers that are void of analysis. Overall, as a Social Studies teacher, the new Global Regents will shape how I will plan curriculum, as I will have to schedule time to teach students how to successfully take this exam. Ultimately, it is more classroom time dedicated to teaching solely for a test, because historians do not interpret history in the same way the Regents does.

Alicia Szilagyi, Hutchinson Central Technical High School. Buffalo, NY: Overall, the exam was fair, and what I had expected. The questions for the most of the multiple choice and document selections were fair and expected. The Enduring Issues piece was excellent. There are a variety of topics that could apply to the EI. The CRQ was nicely done as well. The only questions I really was not a fan of were: 9 & 10. The Political Cartoon had too much symbolism going on, and the choices were not that great. Given that we cannot rate our examinations, until we have our conversion charts, and are unable to analyze trends – I feel I cannot answer this question yet. In the future, my primary focus will be on writing skills, cross-topical teaching, and applications. A lot of the questions were not comprehension-based, but content-based. It required our students to draw on content knowledge that is very specific.

Kim Cristal, West Irondequoit Central School District:  I am responding before we’ve started scoring… but my and my department’s feeling was that the assessment was totally fair and aligned with our expectations. We felt our efforts for preparation aligned to what the test looked like. We will continue refining the major shifts we’ve already made over the past two years. Overall, we feel relieved and confident that we did all we could to prep our students.

Fayezeah Fischer, Buffalo School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management:  The exam was basically a DBQ question with choices. The readings were too long. The readings were too lengthy for a special education student. If the person creating the question, had to pick a document that required them to re-read several times, that person should reconsider the document or the wording of the question. The Mao Zedong document was a terribly worded document and discussed a time period that is not discussed in length. It was difficult to prepare the students for the multiple choice. I think we all had a false sense of the length of documents to be used for multiple choice, and the amount of inferring the student would need to do. The enduring issue wasn’t too bad. I think that ended up being the most subjective item to teach. The Irish Potato famine question, and the Mao Zedong question were terrible questions. Again, these are not topics well covered (or enough time to cover Mao to that extent.) As a department we also believed that the point value on the 3rd CRQ should be two not one. If this type of exam is going to be given, then the amount of curriculum to be taught needs to be reduced. We cover so much, and the true depth and understanding can’t truly be met that is expected from this exam. I think the enduring issue did a fair assessment though. That was the student demonstrating their knowledge. I plan on getting to the 20th century sooner, and using more readings to help the students get use to longer documents. I also plan on changing the multiple choice to more document based than I did this year. I did use New Visions multiple choice, and I don’t think they used anything as rigorous as we saw on this exam. Rigorous questions will need to be created by myself to better prepare my students. We can only hope for a generous conversion chart for this first exam.

Student Takeover at Cornell University (1969)

Steven Rosino and Alan Singer

Background: During the 1968-1969 school year racial tension escalated at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York following the burning of a cross on the lawn of the Wari House, a dormitory for African-American women, and disciplinary action taken against African-American who protested against what they experienced as racism on campus. On April 18, 1969, members of the Cornell University Afro-American Society (AAS) occupied its student center, Willard Straight Hall, to protest what they believed was Cornell’s institutional racism, its biased judicial system, and its slow progress in establishing a Black Studies program. In the early morning of Parents Weekend, Black students evicted visiting parents from Willard Straight Hall and seized control of the building. After white students from the Delta Upsilon Fraternity unsuccessfully attempted to retake the building by force, some of the occupying students left the building and returned with rifles and shotguns in case of another attack. The Black students were supported by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a predominately white student group, which formed a protective cordon outside the building. The occupation of Willard Hall lasted 36 hours and ended when the university’s administration agreed to student demands. It led to the formation of a University Senate, restructuring of the Board of Trustees, a new campus judicial system, and the foundation of the Africana Studies and Research Center. The takeover drew national media attention because of photographs and television coverage of the African American students carrying rifles. By the end of the academic year, Cornell President James Perkins, under pressure because he had negotiated with the AAS students, resigned.

Instruction: Documents A-D are photographs of the student takeover of Willard Straight Hall. Document E is a link to a video about the events. Documents F-P are headlines and excerpts from New York Times articles. The final four documents, Q-T, are reflections on the events written from different perspectives. Examine the documents, answer guiding questions, use the New York Times articles to establish a chronology of events (article dates are one day after the actual events), and answer the following five questions with extended responses.


  1. Were African American students justified in the takeover of Willard Straight Hall?
  2. Did Cornell University administrators handle the takeover in an appropriate way? Explain.
  3. In your opinion, was the New York Times coverage of the events impartial or biased? Explain you view citing evidence from the text?
  4. Wicker, Muller, Sowell, and Jones (R-U) have different perspectives on the events at Cornell in April 1969. Based on you reading about the events, whose point of view is closer to your own? Explain your choice and support it with evidence from the coverage and the quotes.
  5. In your opinion, what is the “legacy” of the Willard Straight takeover?


  1. Why did the white student urge the faculty to reject the settlement ending the takeover?
  2. In your opinion, how did the presence of rifles and shotguns escalate the situation at Cornell?
  3. What point of view about the takeover is presented in the narration of the video footage?

F. Negro Coeds’ House Is Target Of a Cross Burning at Cornell, New York Times, April 19, 1969, p. 16.

“A cross was burned on the doorsteps of a Negro women’s cooperative house at Cornell University early this morning and 11 false alarms were set off in campus buildings. The rash of false alarms continued tonight, with five campus call boxes being pulled and two telephoned bomb threats between 8:13 and 10:40 P.M. One of the false alarms drove several hundred people into a chilly rain from Willard Straight Hall, the student center. They included some of the parents gathered here for Parents Weekend. After the last false alarm, half a dozen black students were picked up for questioning and released. The cross made of 1-by-2 inch strips of lumber that resembled the legs of an artist’s easel was discovered on the porch of the small wooden frame house at 2:52 A.M. The house, known as Wari House (“Wari” is Swahili for home) – is a co-op residence for 12 Negro coeds. A stone was also thrown through one of the windows . . . The cross burning took place less than an hour after the university’s student-faculty board on student conduct gave reprimands – a light punishment – to three black students and dismissed charges against two others for their part in the demonstrations last December . . . Resentment has simmered among some white students, particularly athletes and fraternity men, and among some faculty members who feel that the administration has maintained a separate standard in its efforts to deal with the 250 black students on the 14,000-student campus.”

G. Cornell Negroes Seize a Building; 30 Visiting Parents Ejected as 100 Students Protest Disciplining of 6 Blacks, New York Times, April 20, 1969, p. 1.

“About 100 black students at Cornell University staged a surprise raid on the student union building at dawn today. They ran through the halls shouting ‘Fire!’ and pounding on doors, and ousted 30 sleeping parents from guest rooms. The invaders ordered the parents, and about 40 university employees, to leave the building. Then they seized it, chaining the doors shut . . . Black students briefly seized the campus radio station, WVBR, in the building and announced their action on the air. Minutes later an engineer at the transmitter, five miles away, cut the station off.”

H. Armed Negroes End Seizure; Cornell Yields; Armed Negro Students End 36-Hour Occupation After Cornell Capitulates, New York Times, April 21, 1969, p. 1.

“Carrying 17 rifles and shotguns, Negro students at Cornell University marched out of the Student Union Building today, ending a 36-hour occupation. A few minutes later, rifle-carrying students stood by in front of the cottage that the Negro students used as their headquarters, while university officials signed an agreement . . . The administration also capitulated to a series of other demands by the Afro-American Society.”

I. Excerpts From Talk by President of Cornell University on Student Dissension, New York Times, April 22, 1969, p. 34.   

“We meet this afternoon at a time of trial and anguish for our country, for higher education and for Cornell University. And the question before the house today and in the immediate days to come is whether we have the collective wisdom and sensitivity to sufficient measures to deal with what I am sure future historians will doubtless call one of the great testing points in that peculiar institution we call the university.”

J. Cornell Negro Plan Begun in ‘65; Officials on Campus View Curriculum as Best in Nation, New York Times, April 22, 1969, p. 34.

“Four years ago, Cornell University began a program to recruit Negro students from the slums, and last fall announced plans for an Afro-American curriculum, actions which officials here believe put Cornell far in advance of any university in the country. More than 100 students in that program seized the university’s student union building . . . and emerged 36 hours later carrying 17 rifles and shotguns, bandoliers of ammunition, home-made spears and clubs. The events of the weekend left white Cornell shocked, angry and baffled . . . Perhaps the strongest emotion among the blacks is one of fear, for they feel themselves in a hostile environment. They are also angry and bitter because they feel the education being offered will fit them only for white society.”

K. Cornell Faculty Votes Down Pact Ending Take-Over; Resolution Assails Seizure of Student Center and the Carrying of Guns,” New York Times, April 22, 1969, p. 1.

“The Cornell University faculty voted overwhelmingly tonight to reject an agreement that armed black students signed with administration officials yesterday . . . By a hand vote of more than 1,000 members of the faculty – the faculty meeting was the largest in Cornell’s history – a proposal . . . to dismiss penalties imposed on three black students following campus disorders last December and January was decisively defeated. The vote, taken at a closed meeting also condemned the occupation of Willard Straight Hall and the “carrying and use of weapons.”

L. Peaceful Sit-In at Cornell Ends New Seizure Threat; Peaceful Sit-In at Cornell Eases the Threat of a New Seizure by Negro Students,” New York Times, April 23, 1969, p. 1.

“A threatened seizure of campus buildings by militant students of Cornell University and faculty sympathizers of Negro student demands turned into a peaceful sit-in tonight on a basketball court.”

M. Cornell’s Whites Try to Understand, New York Times, April 23, 1969, p. 30.

“Cornell’s non-radical white student’s expressed today both their fear and an attempt to comprehend the black militancy that has thrown this hilly 730-acre campus into turmoil . . . Many of the white students feel that the university administration has given in to the blacks, has appeased them . . . Many white students have adopted a ‘black-is-right’ stance: that is, they condemn the seizing of the building and carrying of guns, but believe that black demands on the university are justified. ‘I can understand how people from the ghettos, the Afros, are lost up here.”

N. Cornell Faculty Reverses Itself on Negroes; Disciplinary Action Is Nullified,” New York Times, April 24, 1969, p. 1.

“The Cornell faculty, facing the threat of building seizures by militant students and by some of its own members, reversed itself today and nullified disciplinary action against five Negro students . . . But a minority of senior professors expressed disgust. Calling it ‘abject capitulation,’ they ridiculed the idea that the faculty’s dramatic reversal of its own decision . . . was brought about by a sudden fresh perception of the complexities of the crisis. They charged that the faculty reversal was nothing short of ‘surrender to intimidation.’”

O. Negroes at Cornell Charge They’re Liberal Window-Dressing, New York Times, April 24, 1969, p. 34.

“They brought us here for their benefit — to integrate the place. This is Cornell, the great liberal campus in the East. And you can’t be liberal without Negroes.”

P. Faculty Revolt Upsets Cornell; Charges of Sellout Made — Many Won’t Teach Until Assured Guns Are Gone, New York Times, April 25, 1969, p. 1.

“The administration of Cornell University, accused by some leading faculty members of ‘selling out to terrorists,’ faced a growing revolt today by professors who refused to teach until they had written assurance from President James A. Perkins that the campus was disarmed.”

     Documents Q, R, S, and T are opinion pieces discussing events at Cornell from different perspective. Tom Wicker, who is white, was an opinion columnist for the New York Times. His second column is based on an interview with a Cornell University administrator, Steven Muller, who was also white. Thomas Sowell, who is African American, was an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University from 1965 to 1969, and is a leading conservative academic. In this article he described the Cornell students occupying Willard Straight Hall students as “hoodlums” with “serious academic problems” who were “admitted under lower academic standards.” He denied seeing or experiencing “the pervasive racism that black students supposedly encountered at every turn on campus.” Tom Jones, who is African American, was part of the AAS leadership team. In a radio interview during the takeover he declared that Cornell “has three hours to live.” After graduation Jones became head of the nonprofit workers’ retirement fund TIAA/CREF and a Cornell trustee. In 1995, he endowed the Perkins Prize for Interracial Understanding in honor of former President James Perkins.

Q. “In the Nation: These Guns in These Hands” by Tom Wicker, New York Times, April 22, 1969, p. 46.

“The widely distributed photograph of black students at Cornell carrying their rifles and shotguns out of a building they had seized may well be the most shocking evidence yet — at least to white people — of the extent to which the American people have been divided into hostile, nearly warring forces . . . These guns in these hands, no matter how unjustified and even irrational, are what white Americans must face up to – not because there necessarily are all that many of them but because they are symbols of a profound and potentially disastrous national failure to make clear and unmistakable, to blacks as well as whites, an imperative national commitment to bridge this dark and yawning gulf that divides and threatens us. If that commitment exists, not enough blacks can believe it. And the burden of proof is not on them.”

R. In the Nation: Humanity vs. Principle at Cornell” by Tom Wicker, New York Times, April 27, 1969, p. 17.

“Steven Muller, Cornell University’s Vice-President for public affairs, came to New York this week for a television appearance, then flew right back to the troubled upstate campus. Tired from too little sleep, Mr. Muller yet managed in a brief conversation to put recent events at Cornell into a rather different perspective . . . Muller dares believe that Cornell ultimately will find itself the better for its week of upheaval – its students and faculty more the free and open community that is the university ideal, and its blacks more fully a part of that community. And although he is saddened that a number of Cornell faculty members, including some with high standing, plan to resign in protest, Muller believes that they have then opportunity to stand on principle this week only because university officials were willing, last Sunday in Straight hall, to put real concern for humanity above abstract principle.”

S. “The Day Cornell Died” by Thomas Sowell (Weekly Standard, May 3, 1999).

“No one who was at Cornell University in the spring of 1969 is ever likely to forget the guns-on-campus crisis that shocked the academic community and the nation. Bands of militant black students forcibly evicted visiting parents from Willard Straight Hall on the Cornell campus and seized control of it to back up their demands. Later, after the university’s capitulation, the students emerged carrying rifles and shotguns, their leader wearing a bandoleer of shotgun ammunition. It was a picture that appeared on the covers of national magazines and was even reprinted overseas. What happened behind the scenes was at least as shocking. Death threats were phoned to the homes of professors who had opposed their previous actions or demands. Shots were in fact fired into the engineering building. In a decade noted for its student riots, this was the most violent in the nation. In an academic world noted for its weak-kneed administrators, Cornell had the quintessential appeaser and dispenser of pious rhetoric in its president, James A. Perkins. As an assistant professor of economics at Cornell at the time, my characterization of Perkins in the media was that he was “a veritable weathervane, following the shifting cross-current of campus politics.” After thirty years, there is no need to take back any of that . . . The Cornell tragedy began with one of those good intentions with which the road to Hell is paved. When James Perkins became president of Cornell in 1963, it had an almost totally white faculty and student body. When I joined the faculty two years later, I did not see another black professor anywhere on this vast campus. Perkins, like other presidents of elite colleges and universities, sought to increase minority student enrollment — and to do so by admitting students who would not meet the existing academic standards at Cornell. The emphasis was on getting militant ghetto kids, some of whom turned out to be hoodlums who terrorized other black students, in addition to provoking a racial backlash among whites . . . Certainly there was a racist backlash among some white students after innumerable incidents of unpunished violence and disruptions by black militants, as well as other needless provocations by ghetto kids with chips on their shoulders. The racial atmosphere on campus became so charged that one of the black students moved in with my wife and me to escape dangers from both blacks and whites in the dormitory. The local black community in Ithaca was also not thrilled by the importation of hoodlums by radical chic whites at Cornell.”

T. An Interview with Tom Jones, part of the AAS leadership team (“Getting It Straight,” Cornell Alumni Magazine, March/April 2009).

“I was in the Class of ’69, so I came to campus in the fall of 1965 . . . To be totally honest, I was not in favor of taking over the building. We voted, and the majority thought it was necessary to do something that would shock the University, grab its attention. Parents’ Weekend would be a perfect time. The Straight was a good target . . . At first, it was kind of fun. Then the guys from Delta Upsilon came in. I was playing pool and I heard this commotion. I went to see who it was, and here were some frat boys who had decided they were going to throw us out. Something clicked inside of me: ‘This cannot end this way. Not with some frat guys deciding they’re vigilantes.’ I went up to the first guy and I punched him. There was a fight, and we threw them out. After that, the atmosphere changed, because now there was an element of ‘Are they going to come back with more people? Are the police going to do something?’ That ultimately led to the decision to arm ourselves for self-defense . . . I’m proud of the courage of all of those black students who didn’t crack, who didn’t succumb to the fear of what might happen . . . I’m proud that so many white students said, ‘We’re not going to let these black students stay isolated. We’re going to rally and create a buffer between them and the police’ . . . Some of the black students, particularly those from southern and rural backgrounds, had never stood up to white people in their lives. I intentionally took the position of being the last to leave the building, because I wanted that symbolism to reflect what I felt, which was 100 percent commitment . . . It not only shocked Cornell, it shocked the country. I believe it’s one of the reasons this country decided to try to fully incorporate all of its citizens, whatever racial or ethnic background . . . When I used words like ‘Cornell has three hours to live,’ it was a metaphorical statement. Because if violence erupted, it would have been the end of Cornell as we knew it . . . I’m not proud that an implicitly violent act was used to settle a dispute, when that’s counter to everything that the University stands for. I’m certainly not proud that President Perkins became a scapegoat for the rage that erupted. He was a good person and that is the tragedy of these things . . . I do not think Barack Obama would be president today without what we did in Willard Straight Hall in 1969. I believe Barack Obama stands on our shoulders. The Straight was part of a series of historical events that began with Rosa Parks in 1955 and continued through the Sixties with the Freedom Riders and the marchers at Selma, Alabama, and made possible this magnificent thing that happened in January 2009. I think we’re part of a chain of history. I’m not saying the most important part, but we’re one of the links.”

“We Are All Bound Up Together” (May 1, 1866)

Speech by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper at the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City

Background:   In May 1866, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a leading African American poet, lecturer and civil right activist, addressed the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City. Other speakers included white suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott. New York Times columnist Brent Staples (“When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy,” February 3, 2019) charged that “official suffrage history reduces . . . Harper to a bit player, even though she was central to the struggles for both African-American and women’s rights and delivered what has come to be recognized as a visionary speech on the relationship between the two.” History of Woman Suffrage (six volumes published between 1881 and 1922) by Stanton and Anthony et al report on the 1866 meeting but ignored Harper’s speech. Historian Nell Irvin Painter argues that Harper’s words were “too strong” for white suffrage leaders. They viewed her “polished, self-assured style as antithetical to what they viewed as blackness,” preferring the “uneducated version of black womanhood embodied by the formerly enslaved suffragist Sojourner Truth, who entertained her audiences as she imparted her ideas.”

Instructions: Read excerpts from the speech by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and answer questions 1-4.

  1.  Harper claims that when “the hands of the black were fettered,” white men were also deprived of the liberty. In your opinion, what did she mean by this statement?
  2. According to Harper, what prevents this “grand and glorious revolution” from reaching its “climax of success”?
  3. What is Harper’s view on women achieving the right to vote?
  4. In your opinion, why did some white suffragist react negatively to Harper’s assertion that “white women of America” needed to be “lifted out of their airy nothings and selfishness”?
  5. Harper argued “We are all bound up together”? Do you agree with Harper’s assertion? Explain.  

A. I feel I am something of a novice upon this platform. Born of a race whose inheritance has been outrage and wrong, most of my life had been spent in battling against those wrongs. But I did not feel as keenly as others, that I had these rights, in common with other women, which are now demanded . . . We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul. You tried that in the case of the Negro. You pressed him down for two centuries; and in so doing you crippled the moral strength and paralyzed the spiritual energies of the white men of the country. When the hands of the black were fettered, white men were deprived of the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press.

B. Society cannot afford to neglect the enlightenment of any class of its members. At the South, the legislation of the country was in behalf of the rich slaveholders, while the poor white man was neglected. What is the consequence today? From that very class of neglected poor white men, comes the man who stands today, with his hand upon the helm of the nation. He fails to catch the watchword of the hour, and throws himself, the incarnation of meanness, across the pathway of the nation. My objection to Andrew Johnson is not that he has been a poor white man; my objection is that he keeps “poor whites” all the way through. That is the trouble with him.

C. This grand and glorious revolution which has commenced, will fail to reach its climax of success, until throughout the length and breadth of the American Republic, the nation shall be so color-blind, as to know no man by the color of his skin or the curl of his hair. It will then have no privileged class, trampling upon outraging the unprivileged classes, but will be then one great privileged nation, whose privilege will be to produce the loftiest manhood and womanhood that humanity can attain.

D. I do not believe that giving the woman the ballot is immediately going to cure all the ills of life. I do not believer that white women are dewdrops just exhaled from the skies. I think that like men they may be divided into three classes, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. The good would vote according to their convictions and principles; the bad, as dictated by prejudice or malice; and the indifferent will vote on the strongest side of the question, with the winning party.

E. You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs. I, as a colored woman, have had in this country an education which has made me feel as if I were in the situation of Ishmael, my hand against every man, and every man’s hand against me. Let me go to-morrow morning and take my seat in one of your street cars — I do not know that they will do it in New York, but they will in Philadelphia — and the conductor will put up his hand and stop the car rather than let me ride.

F. In advocating the cause of the colored man, since the Dred Scott decision, I have sometimes said I thought the nation had touched bottom. But let me tell you there is a depth of infamy lower than that. It is when the nation, standing upon the threshold of a great peril, reached out its hands to a feebler race, and asked that race to help it, and when the peril was over, said, “You are good enough for soldiers, but not good enough for citizens.”

G. Talk of giving women the ballot-box? Go on. It is a normal school, and the white women of this country need it. While there exists this brutal element in society which tramples upon the feeble and treads down the weak, I tell you that if there is any class of people who need to be lifted     out of their airy nothings and selfishness, it is the white women of America.

Source: https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/directory/franc es-ellen-watkins-harper/

4th Grade NYS and Slavery Inquiry

Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Integrated Social Studies/ELA Curriculum

April Francis

Editors Note: This is the first multi-day lesson in a three lesson sequence designed for fourth grade on slavery and New York developed by April Francis for the Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES Integrated Social Studies/ELA Curriculum. Lessons 2 and 3 will be included in future issues of Teaching Social Studies. Lesson 1 addresses the compelling question “What were the experiences of enslaved African Americans in New York State?”

Compelling Question: Why did New Yorkers have differing views of American Slavery in the 1800s?

Supporting Questions

  1. What were the experiences of enslaved African Americans in New York State?
  2. Why did some New Yorkers show support for slavery?
  3. How did some New Yorkers resist the slave system?

Staging the Compelling Question Narrative & Procedure

     This beginning activity will help frame the compelling question and deepen student understanding of this hard history topic. Teachers should be mindful of how they present this information in their classroom, by using techniques that support all students. Teaching Tolerance has a guide entitled “Let’s Talk: Discussing Race, Racism, and other Difficult Topics with Students” that provides strategies and support for teachers in this area. Some of these strategies have been included in this inquiry’s narrative. Additionally, to build their own historical context, teachers can view the videos: New York State & Slavery: Complicity & Resistance (19 minutes) and TedTalk-Ed: The Atlantic Slave Trade. (approx. 6 minutes) Additional Resources for Slavery in the North: https://peoplenotproperty.hudsonvalley.org/

Preparation for the Lesson: Queue video

Discovery Education Streaming Subscribers: “Slavery Begins in America”        https://app.discoveryeducation.com/learn/videos/7bbeb461-871c-411b-a1ff-1eb44ed89381/ (4 minutes) OR Free video: “Slavery in America” https://www.teachertube.com/video/slavery-in-america-a- history-ofamerica821-316094 (show only the first 6 minutes)

● Make copies of “Vocabulary Terms,” “K-W-L chart,” and “Circle Map”

Lesson 1 / Day 1 Engage (20 minutes)

1. The teacher can begin this unit by informing students that “We will be learning about an important topic this week, this topic often can be hard to discuss because it involves how people’s rights were taken away from them, and the harsh treatment forced on them for many years in our country. This topic is called Slavery in America.”

a. The teacher can introduce some strategies in the “Let’s Talk” booklet to ensure students feel they are in a safe environment to learn about this topic. Some helpful strategies can be found on pgs. 7-11.

2. Next, the teacher should display the compelling question “Why did New Yorkers have differing views of American slavery in the 1800s?” And ask for a student volunteer to read it aloud. The “teacher should also highlight that “when we are referring to people who have been forced into slavery, we state ‘enslaved people’ since no one is born a slave, but can be enslaved.”

3. Next, the teacher should display Source 1 on the smart board and distribute the “K-W-L” chart. Using source 1 as a stimulus, the teacher can have students record what they “know” about slavery in America. This activity will allow students to share their prior knowledge of the topic, as well as what they want to know. (Note: Source 1 is a picture of a Virginia Slave auction)

4. Once students have filled in their charts, the teacher can ask students to share what they “Know” and what they “Want” to know. The teacher can write these answers on chart paper (or students can write their answers on sticky notes and place them on the class chart paper). Teachers can use the following questions to guide their discussion: “What do we know about where slavery was located in the United States? What do we want to know?

Using the lens of social sciences:

Geography: – Where was slavery located? – Where did slavery exist in the U.S.? -Where did enslaved Africans come from? – How did they get here? – How the geography of a place affected the work and conditions for enslaved people?

Economics: – What type of work did enslaved people do? – Who benefited from their labor? – How did the labor and industry for enslaved people change from place to place?

Civics: (Political, Social, Law & Life – Was slavery legal in the U.S.? – What laws existed that protected slavery in the U.S./New York State? – Could you escape slavery? Did many enslaved people escape? – How many enslaved people were there in the U.S./New York State? – What was life like for enslaved people? (And what sources can we turn to help us understand the experiences of enslaved people in America/NYS?)

Explain (15 minutes): Next, the teacher can transition the lesson by displaying the vocabulary terms and review each word with the class as a foundation for the inquiry. (Alternative activity – have the students       participate in a “word sort” activity.) After reviewing the vocabulary terms, inform students they will watch a video regarding the history of slavery in America. (This will provide historical context for students, and can be referred back to throughout the lesson) The teacher should have the students watch the video and, and as a class, fill out the circle map based on what they learned. (Teacher can repeat video for emphasis.)

a. After the video the teacher should do a “check-in” with students to ascertain their emotions regarding this topic. The “Thumbs up/Thumbs Down” strategy found on pg. 11 of the Teaching Tolerance “Let’s Talk” booklet can be helpful.

Explore & Elaborate (15 minutes): Next, the teacher can ask students to share some of the information from the video to create a class “circle map.” The teacher should remember this is a sensitive topic, and be mindful of student responses and how information is written on the map (i.e. enslaved person, rather than “slave”) Next, the teacher can have students journal or draw (see “Let’s Talk” guide) how they feel about the video. The teacher should collect this, and follow up with any journal or drawing that may need extra attention and support.

Evaluate (10 minutes)

1. The teacher can ask students to fill out the “L” portion of their K-W-L chart and ask “What are 3 things you learned today about slavery in America?” (an additional strategy- students can write on sticky notes and place it on a class K-W-L chart.)

2. The teacher can close the lesson by informing students, “I know that some of the questions you asked in the “W” portion of your chart may not have been answered today, I do hope by the end of our inquiry, you will have those answers.”

Source 1

“K-W-L” Chart Directions: We are going to be discussing a “hard history” topic. What do you know about the economic system called slavery in America? What would you want to know (questions you have)?

Vocabulary Terms

Circle Map

Directions: As a class, we will watch the video about the history of Slavery in America. While you watch the video, fill in the bubbles with facts that you have learned.

Supporting Question 1: What were the experiences of enslaved African Americans in New York State?

Lesson 1 / Day 1 Narrative & Procedure

     In this lesson, students will be introduced to the origins of the slavery system in New Netherlands and later New York. Students will analyze both primary and secondary sources in groups, and then use this information to develop a timeline of important events. Note: Modify this script to meet your classroom needs.


  • Queue video: Sojourner Truth (History.com) 2:29 minutes
  • Make copies of Source 1-5, “Map of NYS Counties”, and the “Source Analysis” worksheet
  • Smart board to project documents for whole class analysis
  • Chart paper to record student responses

Engage (15 minutes)   The teacher should begin the lesson by displaying the Supporting Question for the whole class “Were there enslaved Africans in New York State?” The teacher should ask for a volunteer reader. The teacher should then remind students of what they learned yesterday, using student “K-W-L” chart responses.

Next, the teacher should distribute Source 1, and, as a whole class, read aloud the account of Sojourner Truth, and use the guiding questions to review key points. The teacher should then show the video “Sojourner Truth” (History.com) 2:29 minutes

Explore (15 minutes)      

1. Once students complete the guided reading and video, the teacher should distribute and display the Map of NYS Counties, and highlight that in the video, they included a political map of where Sojourner Truth grew up. The teacher can state, “A political map is a map that shows borders and boundaries of a state or country. Let’s review our own political map of the counties in NYS.” The teacher can use these geographic reasoning questions for a whole class map analysis:

  • a. Place a “star” next to the county we live in. Place a “square” around our state Capital. Place an “X” on NYC. “Circle” the county Sojourner Truth was born (Ulster).
  • b. How would Sojourner’s environment affect how she lived?
  • c. What type of work would be needed in Ulster county- farming, fishing, or shipbuilding? Why? (farming- more rural area)
  • d. What type of work would be needed in the NYC area- farming, fishing, or shipbuilding? Why? (shipbuilding and fishing- near water)

2. After students have shared answers, the teacher can inform students that today they will be working in teams, investigating the supporting question through various source documents. The teacher should review with students the difference between primary vs. secondary sources. The teacher can ask students, “What type of source was the reading on Sojourner Truth?” (Secondary source).

Explain (15 minutes)

3. Next, the teacher should distribute the “Source Analysis” worksheet, and inform students that in their teams, they will analyze sources and record the main ideas on this chart. The teacher should model this activity with the students, using the Sojourner Truth reading (Source 1).

 4. The teacher should place students in groups of four and have each student analyze one source from Source 2-5 and record the main idea on the Source Analysis worksheet an (alternative strategy- Jigsaw activity.) Note to Teacher: source modification is encouraged to meet the needs of your students.

5. The teacher should rotate between groups, and ask critical thinking questions:

  • a. Were there enslaved persons in New York State? How do we know?
  • b. Using your map, can you locate the counties Jupiter, Frederick, and Thomas were from?
  • c. Were there Africans who were not enslaved in New York State? How do you know? What does that mean?
  • d. What were some of the work enslaved persons did in New York State? Did the type of work depend on their geographic area? Why?

Elaborate (15 minutes)

1. Once students have completed analyzing the sources in groups (moderated and supported by the teacher), the whole class should review the “Source Analysis” worksheet. The teacher should record student responses on chart paper.

2. As a closing activity, ask students to identify one positive character trait they believe an enslaved person had to have to survive living in slavery. Students should then explain why they chose that trait.

Preparation for Day 2 –  Poster paper and markers for student group timelines

Lesson 1/ Day 2

Evaluate (55-60 minutes)

1. The teacher should ask students “What is a timeline?” “Why do we use timelines?” The teacher should share a sample timeline for students to review. After reviewing the different parts of the timeline the teacher should inform students they will be creating timelines based on the information they analyzed yesterday.

2. The teacher should inform students of the steps needed for them to create their group timelines:       

a. Each group must agree on three major events to include on their timeline- these events should be in chronological order and have a connection. The events should be taken from at least three sources.

b. Each timeline must have the following: (Teacher Timeline reference guide: http://dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/timeline.html)

  • i. Title
  • ii. A specific span of time
  • iii. Create time segments
  • iv. A summary of the importance of this timeline

3. Once student groups complete their timelines, each group will present to their final product to the class. Teacher should model presentation strategies for student groups.

Source 1: Slavery in the North (www.readworks.org)

     In 1806, 9-year-old Isabella Baumfree and her family lived on the property of Charles Ardinburgh of Ulster County in New York. When Ardinburgh died, Isabella found her mother in tears. “Mau-mau, what makes you cry?” Isabella asked. “Oh, my child, I am thinking of your brothers and sisters that have been sold away from me,” her mother replied. Soon after, Isabella too was separated from her mother. She was auctioned—along with other slaves, horses, and cattle—and purchased for $100. She was sold again and again, from master to master, until she was emancipated in 1828. Students of history know Isabella better by the name she chose as an adult—Sojourner Truth. Truth was an abolitionist. She spoke out against slavery. But what some people may not know is that Truth was one of thousands of slaves who were bought, sold, and forced to do labor in the North. “Many people are surprised when you talk about slavery in the North,” Alan Singer, a professor of education at Hofstra University, told Senior Edition. “We associate slavery with the South, even though the biggest importer of slaves—after South Carolina—was New York City.” Historians are beginning to bring slavery in the North into the spotlight. The New York Historical Society recently presented an exhibition on slavery in that state. Singer, who travels the country to talk to students about slavery in the North, wants people to remember that slavery was a national institution. It’s important to understand how slavery affected the entire country, because its effects linger through discrimination, Singer says. “Kids see slavery as something that happened in the deep past,” he told Senior Edition. “I want children to know that we still live with the effects of that slavery society.

Guided Questions for Source 1

  1. Where did Isabella and her family live? Why was her mother crying?
  2. What were some experiences of Isabella as an enslaved person?
  3. What did Isabella change her name to? Why do you think she did that?
  4. Who was the 2nd biggest importer of enslaved people in the United States? Why are many people surprised at the answer?
  5. According to Alan Singer, why is it important for us to discuss the effects of slavery?

 Map of New York Counties

  Source 3: Jupiter Hammon: First Colonial Published African American

     Jupiter Hammon was born on October 17, 1711 on Lloyd Neck. Jupiter’s father, Obadiah, was a slave belonging to Henry Lloyd and his wife, Rebecca. From the beginning Jupiter was close to the Lloyd family. He lived in the Manor house with the family, and went to school with the Lloyd children. This closeness is further evidenced by the fact that he is referred to as “brother Jupiter” in later correspondence between the Lloyd sons and their father.

     Jupiter worked alongside Henry in Henry’s business, and he was often sent to New York City to negotiate trade deals…It is clear from his writings that Jupiter Hammon was also a deeply religious man. His first published poem, which appeared in 1761, was entitled “An Evening Prayer”, when published the credits read: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760.

     Henry Lloyd died in 1763, and Jupiter went to live with Henry’s son, Joseph. Joseph Lloyd was a patriot during the Revolutionary War, and when the British captured New York and confiscated his land he fled to  Connecticut, taking Jupiter with him. When the war ended they returned to the Manor, where Jupiter continued to write poetry.

     Jupiter went on to become a leader in the African American community. In 1787 he delivered a speech to the African Society of New York City entitled “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York”. In the speech he empathized with their disappointment at not having been emancipated by the new American government…Jupiter Hammon’s death was unrecorded, but historians place it somewhere around 1806. SOURCE: http://www.lloydharborhistoricalsociety.org/jupiter.html

Source 4 from the Autobiography of Thomas James

     I was born a slave at Canajoharie, New York, in the year 1804. I was the third of four children, and we were all the property of Asa Kimball, who, when I was in the eighth year of my age, sold my mother, brother and elder sister to purchasers from Smith- town, a village not far distant from Amsterdam in the same part of the state. My mother refused to go, and ran into the garret to seek a hiding place. She was pursued, caught, tied hand and foot and delivered to her new owner. I caught my last sight of my mother as they rode off with her. My elder brother and sister were taken away at the same time. I never saw either my mother or sister again. Long years afterwards my brother and I were reunited, and he died in this city a little over a year ago. From him I learned that my mother died about the year 1846, in the place to which she had been taken. My brother also informed me that he and his sister were separated soon after their transfer to a Smithport master, and he never heard of her… fate. Of my father I never had any personal knowledge, and, indeed, never heard anything. My youngest sister, the other member of the family, died when I was yet a youth. Source: From the Library of Congress: selections from A Slave’s Autobiography by Rev. Thomas James: Post-Express Printing Company, Mill Street (1887).ROCHESTER, N.Y

Source 5 Narrative of Frederick Douglass

     In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a runaway enslaved African American wrote about his experiences on two plantations he lived on in the south, before he arrived in New York. He was born, Frederick Washington Bailey, into slavery in 1818 in Maryland. He later changed his last name to Douglass when he arrived in New York City in 1838 to protect his identity.