Today we commence with voting on Round 1, brackets 3 and 4. As a reminder, you can find the entire bracket here. Again, we’ve included arguments on behalf of various documents, written by either Junto bloggers or friends of the blog. Please feel free to add your arguments in the comments, because the purpose of this month’s “tournament” is to provide a resource for teachers of early American history.
Voting will close on Thursday at 5 p.m. EST. Round one results will go up on Friday.
BRACKET THREE: U.S. History Superstars
1. Stowage of the British Slave Ship Brookes Under the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788 vs. 16. Massachusetts Bay Colony Seal of 1629
Junto reader Zara Anishanslin, in her seconding of the slave ship image, commented: Has anyone ever taught slavery in the survey without using it?
2. Paul Revere’s Engraving of the Boston Massacre vs. 15. Elkanah Watson, “Men and Times of Revolution: Memoires of Elkanah Watson”
Michael Hattem: Revere’s engraving is one of the most important primary sources for teaching the Revolution prior to independence. It allows you to introduce students to the idea of information transmission in the colonies and the growing importance of print media. Students also like the exercise, following reading an account of the event, of having them identify “inaccuracies” and the reasons behind them. This use of a print is also a good break from a course based almost entirely on print sources. Finally, it forces to students to recognize that the patriots were not noble, liberal ideologues but instead were engaged in media politics (“spin,” they often call it) and were more than willing to bend the truth or lie to score political points. I use the whole exercise as a springboard for practically establishing the warning that students need to read patriot sources as critically as they would British sources.
Reader Liz Covart describes Watson’s work thus: Elkanah Watson was in the right place at the right time to witness important events of the American Revolution. As an apprentice & later factor of the Brown Brothers of Providence, RI, Watson embarked on a journey from Rhode Island to South Carolina, remarked about the state of revolutionary America and slavery and then went to France and England where he met Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and witnessed King George III recognize American independence. Rumor has it that he helped secret drafts of what became the Treaty of Paris 1783 across the English Channel.
3. Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin vs. 14. John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”
4. Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” vs. 13. Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon, Delivered at the North Church in Boston
5. Joseph Plumb Martin, A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier vs. 12. Dr. Alexander Hamilton’s Itinerarium
Rachel Herrmann: I use Joseph Plumb Martin’s text by pairing it with a lecture on the problems that British and American soldiers faced in the Revolutionary war. I talk in the lecture about food, dirt, and disease-related problems, then ask students to identify additional problems in Martin’s text. They pick up on pay and discipline problems, which sets them up well to write essays using additional historiography by the likes of James Kirby Martin.
In an interview with The Junto, James Merrell described the Itinerarium as follows: Colorful, opinionated depictions of both genders, all races, many colonies, and various sects; the way hierarchy and performance play out on the page; the fact that he crossed paths with Native peoples not just on the frontier but in a Boston church and a Princeton street: it’s an incredibly rich source.
Michael Hattem: Hamilton’s Itinerarium is one of the richest sources for teaching mid-eighteenth century colonial culture. Hamilton’s wit offers an unexpectedly easy entré for students into questions about class perception and social structure. Also, the fact that he is detailing a trip throughout the colonies makes it an ideal source to teach the importance and degree of regional difference pre-imperial crisis. It can even serve as the basis for an introduction to colonial medicine and health.
6. The “Stamp Act Repeal’d” Teapot vs. 11. Weems, A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits of General George Washington
Joe Adelman: [Weems offers] A great way to discuss the legacy of the Revolution, the creation of the Washington mythos, and the culture of the Early Republic. Also has myth-busting potential in chapter 2, if that’s your cup of tea.
7. The Salem Witch Trials Records vs. 10. The Joseph Smith Papers
Reader Spencer McBride, in his seconding of the Smith papers, offers the following document as a closeup look at why the papers matter: If, however, the folks at the Junto are wanting specific documents rather than entire collections, I nominate as an important document within the Smith Papers “History, circa 1832″ which represents a detailed, contemporary, primary source account of the Second Great Awakening.
8. Declaration of Sentiments from the Seneca Falls Convention vs. 9. Martha Ballard’s Diary
Jonathan Wilson: The richness of Martha Ballard’s diary lies in its ordinariness, in the way it reorients student expectations about what the stuff of history is. Its classroom effectiveness is increased by its silences–the way it demands extensive interpretation in order to be even comprehensible. There’s no middle ground between interpreting it for oneself and not understanding it at all. So I use it to demonstrate that history is a process of recovery, which does not necessarily privilege the kinds of people students expect to see as “historical.” I also use it to challenge students’ expectations about women’s labor “back in the day,” setting up a course-long discussion of the ways gender roles and economic life have changed over time. Ultimately, I think, the triumph of Ballard’s diary in this tournament would be a triumph for the historical value of ordinary people and daily life.
BRACKET FOUR: Not Rush Limbaugh’s American History
1. The Papers of Sir William Johnson vs. 16. Roger Williams, Key Into the Languages of America
Jessica Parr: The Colony and Plantation of Rhode Island was founded in 1636, following founder Roger Williams’s exile from Massachusetts Bay Colony. The new colony, on land gifted by Narraganset Sachem, Canonicus, was an experiment in egalitarianism. More than perhaps any other European settlement, Roger Williams’s Rhode Island sought a good relationship with its indigenous inhabitants. Although efforts to produce Amerindian-language Bibles, pamphlets, and other material were not exclusive to Williams, this document was not exclusively a missionary tool. Rather, it is an effort to understand the language and customs of local peoples in a period where relations between European settlers and Native Americans had begun to seriously deteriorate. This document is also useful for exploring how ideas about race developed in the early years of English settlement.
2. 1721 Catawba Map vs. 15. Peter L’Enfant’s Plan for Washington City (1791)
From reader Jordan Taylor: It was a map made by the Catawba for SC governor Francis Nicholson. It can be used to challenge western preconceptions about geography and cartography, especially in tandem with some of the excellent recent scholarship on Native geographies.
3. Thomas Hariot, A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia vs. 14. Mathew Carey, “Advice and Suggestions to Increase the Comforts of Persons in Humble Circumstances”
Rachel Herrmann: I like using the images from Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia in lecture because the illustrations do a nice job illustrating the contradictions inherent in European accounts of the Americas. Hariot’s text talks about Indians starving in wintertime and failing to store food at the same time that the pictures depict them growing far more corn than they’d be able to eat and smoking fish on wooden barbecues for drying to eat later.
4. Jane’s Skeleton (Jamestown) vs. 13. Graham Crackers
Rachel Herrmann has blogged about Jane’s skeleton for The Junto.
From Junto reader Cam Shriver: Graham crackers exemplify antebellum reform. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Sylvester Graham supported temperance and argued that certain foods, particularly animal products and spices, increased lust. In part to curb “impure” sexual practices, he created incredibly bland crackers, which are still available in stores! (Go for the least sugary type. Do not purchase anything with cinnamon or chocolate and FOR THE SAKE OF POST-MILLENNIAL CHRISTIANITY STEER CLEAR OF S’MORES.) Graham crackers are an essential part of a discussion on the Second Great Awakening, reform movements, and utopias. After passing out the crackers, I go into a line of questioning including “what do you taste?” and “how do you feel?” Hopefully the crackers will be plain and dry and the students will feel, well, as Graham intended. Graham also influenced Kellogg of Battle Creek Sanitarium, who created corn flakes. (This author bears no liability if you accidentally promote Kellogg’s relatively unchaste Froot Loops™.)
Note: I first tasted Graham crackers in an academic setting in Carol Sheriff’s antebellum America course as an undergraduate.
5. Generic Names for the Country and People of the United States (1803) vs. 12. Samuel Woodworth, Songsheet for “Hunters of Kentucky”
Seth Rockman comments: You’ll never teach the cultural history of nation-building the same way again. And you’ll never feel more like a Fredon!
William Kerrigan notes: There are many modern recorded versions of these songs, and Hunters of Kentucky is also easy to play on the ukulele (C,G, and F, with the occasional Dm tossed in.)
6. Barry O’Connell, ed., A Son of the Forest and Other Writings by William Apess, a Pequot (UMass, 1992) vs. 11. Benjamin Rush, “Moral and Physical Thermometer”
Rebecca Goetz says that Apess is: Very teachable, A Son of the Forest (1829, 1831) is autobiographical, as are portions of The Experiences of Five Christian Indians of the Pequot Tribe (1833). His Eulogy on King Philip (1836) is rousing and a great way to think about Indian experiences in the Removal era.
7. Miguel Leon-Portilla, ed., The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Beacon Press, 2006) vs. 10. Rafter, Memoirs of Gregor M’Gregor
Joanne van der Woade calls the Leon-Portilla edition: Amazing narrative and lyric texts from indigenous sources.
Ernesto Bassi: [Rafter offers] great biographical sketches of some of the most famous South American revolutionaries; also very transnational in scope, taking the reader from northern South America to the US South.
8. Alden T. Vaughan, ed., Early American Indian Documents, Treaties, and Laws, 1607-1789 vs. 9. Winslow Homer, The Veteran in a New Field
In his justification for nominating such a large group of documents, Ian Saxine says: the whole multi-volume set! They’re invaluable for any Native American history course for allowing students to locate their own sources for research projects. I also scan sections of one volume for college-level “DBQs.” They are, simply put, fantastic.
Sara Georgini: JMM invites plenty of excellent founding-era and antebellum selections, but let’s also discuss when “early America” ends. This eloquent visual comment, painted in the summer and fall of 1865, highlights a lone figure (of indeterminate age/race) returned to seasonal labor, perhaps as a metaphor for the dawn of Reconstruction. Swinging away with an outdated scythe, the Civil War veteran-farmer works…well, whose land, exactly? Why not with more modern, mechanized tools? And what “new” field has wheat that high? To me, its title–and the figure’s open, planted stance–seems deliberately ahistorical: determined to look forward from early America, rather than reminisce on recent events, in order to heal Civil War wounds. Vetting changes wrought on the land and on the man, Homer upends antebellum ideals of military service and the agrarian republic. Using Homer’s eyes to see a century of change gives us another view of the American “everyman” of Reconstruction, and a new “field” to pick up in after the midterm.