History In Halstead

Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Miner Chapter 9: Like the Nations (Last Chapter!)

The final chapter of the book covers some of the most recent history in the state of Kansas. In retrospect many of the issues in the past forty years seem so common day that it becomes easy to forget that the issues were even debated. Having students list out the arguments against things that are so common today could be a productive use of this chapter. The issues that were argued about would include the establishment of Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant, Alcohol by the Drink, Severance Taxes and the lottery. From there the movement to other forms of gambling was quick to come about and is still being discussed. Another item to look at might be all of the legislation that has been proposed over the course of the book and look for any trends in it. The final issue s that students would probably be interested in are the abortion debates, the controversy of evolution standards and the idea of some of the western counties to secede for the state. This chapter would be very relevant to many student’s lives and would probably be a good way to get them more interested in the role of government in their lives.

Miner Chapter 8: Concrete Steps

This chapter begins with the famous Kansas “triple play” when Fred Hall resigned as governor and then was appointed to the Supreme Court by his lieutenant-governor, John McCuish. This ties to current events in Kansas because the triple play led to Kansas Supreme Court justices being appointed by a commission instead of by popular votes which some people want to do away with now (i.e. Kansas Republican Assembly). This chapter begins to drift from a strict historical analysis of the state and begins to fore-shadow into what the future of the state holds. With the 100th anniversary of statehood Kansas removed some of its long lasting moralistic strongholds such as prohibition. The push to be modern had finally started to win over in the state. The growth of Kansas also brought new issues that had never been discussed, principle among these was water. The issue of flood prevention, environmentalism and water for Wichita could be debated in a classroom setting, especially the tapping of the Equus Beds. The other main teachable topic would be that of school desegregation and the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case and the desegregation cases that came after them. The classroom teacher could have students research how these issues are still being played out today in current events around the state.

Miner Chapter 7: Dust and Democrats

This Chapter by Craig Miner takes the reader from the Great Depression up through World War II. The chapter might sound as if it would only cover mainly governmental affairs but a variety of issues are mentioned. One of the most important assertions made in this chapter is how with the massive failure of Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential campaign showed how far Kansas was from the other parts of the nation. This would coincide with the fact that many people looked at Kansas as more of a freak state and could not be taken seriously. Kansas also saw at this time the need to diversify its economy instead of being reliant on single commodities. The way that Kansas started to pull itself out of its economic crisis through the development of the Kansas Industrial Development Commission is important. This group helped pave the way for new business by encouraging new enterprises along with helping to present Kansas in a more favorable light. The book also makes a great point in looking at how the depression seemed to lessen the rhetoric that symbolized early Kansas history. As far as teaching, this chapter allows for some economic application dealing with the ideas of corporate farming and the pros and cons with their operations and the involvement of government in building up the state’s infrastructure.

Miner Chapter 6: Chastened and Changed

This chapter was probably my most favorite in the book. It covers a variety of social issues starting with involvement in World War I, progressing to African American Civil Rights, and the idea of censorship. The chapter also provides some insights in how Kansas dealt with labor unions, strikes and transportation issues. This chapter also goes into added detail about the establishment of the air craft industry in the state. The anti-German paranoia that erupted during World War I was very interesting. The central region of Kansas has a high Mennonite population and their pacifist beliefs along with Eastern European dissent made them major targets for the jingoistic beliefs that infected so many people. Miner also points out that as this was going on the civil rights of many African Americans were being stripped away. A positive note can be made about William Allen White’s work to get the Ku Klux Klan out of the state of Kansas and the support that he got in his run for office. Teachers can use the ideas of censorship from this period in their classrooms. The way that the movie Birth of A Nation was not allowed to be shown and all of the clips of other movies that were removed for being to scandalous, rude, of profane. Teachers can use this piece of history to have a discussion about freedom of speech issues.

Miner Chapter 5: The Bone and Sinew of the State

Kansas in the pre-World War I period shows the merging of the Populist ideas with the Progressive Era along with the modernization that technology brought to the state. In Kansas this means debates and resolutions on schools textbooks, the flood of 1903, Standard Oil litigation, railroad and anti-trust regulation, capital punishment, public health, city reform Teddy Roosevelt, and isolationism. The chapter was interesting in how with certain issues the Kansas Legislature was very involved and hands on while in other issues the government cared less about regulation in favor of education. The chapter also shows the beginning of the divergence between the old pioneer leaders and a more modern form of government. A final aspect of the chapter concerns the role of technology in everyday life of Kansans. While many might feel Kansas are a bit slow to adapt the chapter makes it clear that this is not correct. Farmers quickly saw the advantages of new machines and automobiles and integrated them into their farming businesses. A classroom teacher could use this chapter very effectively in a class. When studying the progressive era, a teacher could compare issues and actions taken at the national and the issues that were important in Kansas.

Favorite Quotes From Chapter 5:

About the early airplane “It hasn’t yet become addicted to the rising habit.”

“Knowledge is no longer to be monopolized by those who chance first to get it.”

“Regions which produce only corn, cotton … or silver usually wear the same badge – the badge of poverty.”

The Normal school at Emporia (Emporia State University) was “too much like high school.”

Richmond Chapter 18: Change, Controversy and Commemoration

The past thirty years in Kansas has seen some major changes. The biggest change for the state has been the movement of people out of the state and how many Kansans have shifted from a rural setting to an urban setting. In order to maintain a high quality of living Kansas has created some relatively impressive environmental controls in place and loosened many of its morality based laws to make the state more appealing to a wider group of potential citizens. Kansas has also been forced to make some changes especially in the realm of civil rights. The Brown v. Board of Topeka case forced desegregation of schools in the state and some of the larger districts in the state are still dealing with desegregation issues. Educationally the material from this chapter could be used to once again discuss what the future for the state needs to be and what direction the state should take to create a more prosperous future.

Richmond Chapter 17: Kansas and the Arts

The arts in the state of Kansas are something that people probably do not think about very often. Still, the state has had an impressive impact on the arts over the course of its history. They run the gamut from newspaper journalists like Jim Leher, writers such as Margaret Hill McCarter, a variety of musicians and actors. Students could research the works of the people listed in the chapter and create PowerPoint slideshows showing the works of some of these people. Another idea would be to look at selections of works that represent the state to see how they mention or portray the state of Kansas.

Richmond Chapter 16: The Second World War and Its Aftermath

While Kansas was not particularly worried about World War II before Pearl Harbor they strongly supported the war after the attack. The second World War would end up changing Kansas in numerous different way but in particular it helped to really launch the aircraft industry in the state. In addition Kansas supported the war effort through the usual methods of mobilization, victory gardens and sending 215,000 soldiers to fight in the war. Kansas agriculture once again found eager markets which helped the state but once again the aircraft industry really propelled the state. After the war, Kansas seemed to modernize very quickly. Kansas ridded itself of prohibition, set out to create a modern road system, took steps for flood prevention via dams and elected Eisenhower as president.

Richmond Chapter 15: The Dirty Thirties: Kansas and the Great Depression

The Great Depression hit the entire nation but in some ways it hit Kansas twice. The economic problems the plagued the entire nation hit Kansas but then the dust bowl literally blew Kansas away. The depression hit many aspects of Kansas life such as the extreme deflation, lower wages and high unemployment but the dust bowl brought the physical despair on top of the economic problems. Out of this trouble some interesting things came out of Kansas. Dr. John Brinkley gained fame for his attempt to be governor. He was a doctor of disputable ability and but he was wildly popular due to his common man ability, his radio show and his flying around the state in a plane. The other aspect of the depression was the political life of Alf Landon. The Kansas governor ran for president as a tight fiscal conservative and could be used in the classroom as a debate about what the role of government in the economy should be.

Richmond Chapter 14: The Changing, troubled Twenties

The rapid changes that the United States experienced during the 1920s were also experienced in Kansas. Some of these items were very positives such as the spread of new technology and the automobile but it also brought the neoconservative movement that attacked the radical left and worried about the potential degradation of morals in the country. An interesting aspect of Kansas in the 20s was the ability of the Democrats to gain the governorship in the state. Johnathan Davis became governor in 1922 but had little success against a strong Republican legislature. William Allen White’s crusade against the Ku Klux Klan was impressive during this decade. It would be good to teach about why the Klan revived during this time period and the how the lawsuits of White helped to cripple it in the state

Richmond Chapter 13: the First World War and a Return to Normalcy

The start of World War I and the subsequent US entry into the war led to an economic boost for the state of Kansas. There was a large demand for Kansas wheat but there was very little interst in participating in the war. It is interesting that many around the nation criticized Kansas for not showing more support of the war. Still, when the war was declared, even with the opposition, the state of Kansas did lots to support the war effort. It bought more than its quota of bonds and supported the rationing that was done. After the war Kansas did not continue its economic prosperity but did continue its anti-immigrant policies. The Ku Klux Klan revived itself and was strongly supported in the state of Kansas which is interesting because of the strong socialist influence in the southeastern part of the state.

Richmond Chapter 12: Progressive Politics and Progress In a New Century

The heroics of Fredrick Funston and Kansas’ support of the Spanish American War open the chapter which shows the state of affairs in Kansas as a new century began in the state. Populism had died down but Progressive politics entered the spectrum around the state. In some ways there are some key similarities between the two in that they both looked towards the government for regulation in order to cure the ills they saw around the nation. In tis aspect students could compare and contrast the motivations, issues and methods that were implemented between the Populists and Progressives. It would also be advantageous to look at the results of both groups and discuss why the Progressives were more successful in the long run than their Populist counterparts.

Richmond Chapter 11: Prohibition to Populism, 1870-1900

Richmond does a good job of outlining the origins of Populism, its rise and its subsequent fall. The Populist ideas were very popular in rural areas and especially strong in Kansas. Many of the farmers faced large economic difficulties after the Civil War and did not feel the establishment in Washington DC listened to their needs and problems. They also felt victimized by the railroads, bankers and business interests in the east. The farmer’s alliances that would later evolve in the People’s Party tried to unify these concerns into a political movement. Republicans with their pro-business position became the natural enemy of the Populists. Students could investigate the Populist Platform to see how the positions would help farmers in the state. The could also read William Allen White’s What’s the Matter With Kansas to see how some felt the Populist ideas were misguided.

Richmond Chapter 10: Immigrants On The Prairies

This is the first chapter and really the first instance that the book mentions any immigrants or minorities. The Mennonites settled originally in Pennsylvania but slowly drifted westward to Kansas and brought their farming techniques and peaceful nonresistant ways. In western Kansas there were many German-Russians who farmed and kept their Roman Catholic religion. Both of these groups became major targets during the First World War. Other groups include the Balkan influence in Southeast Kansas and the African American exodusters who came into the state after the Civil War. It might be beneficial for students to use maps of Kansas and color in different areas that were settled by different groups of people. Another idea would be to go through last names from phone books to see the origin of different names that are common in the area.

Richmond Chapter 9: The Frontier Is Settled

The establishment of the Homestead Act followed by the Timber Culture Act led to a general increase in the Kansas population. While many people tried to take advantage of the opportunity for land they found that living on the frontier was very difficult. There were difficulties in getting supplies and the Indian conflicts led to raising tensions, fears and distrust between Kansans and the Native Americans. The other key issue was weather and economic fluctuations. They weather was unpredictable but the economic depressions was going to become the origin of some of the Populist ideas. The chapter once again gives a good overview of life for the people in the state. The innovations and the adaptations people made include changing the landscapes by digging wells and trenches to provide water, and finding alternative fuels due to shortages of timber. Students could generate a list of “essential items” needed by the settlers of this time period in order to survive a difficult life on the plains.

Richmond Chapter 8: The Cattle trade: Trail herds, Towns, and Ranchers

This short chapter deals with another part of the early Kansas economy, the cattle industry. The chapter deals with the actual life on the trail followed by a good over of the different cattle towns and finally the end of the cattle drives. The best teaching that can come from this chapter is looking at the four main towns involved in the cattle drives. These towns are Dodge City, Abilene, Ellsworth and Wichita. Students could look at what the cities did after the cattle drives ended and compare their status in Kansas today with the way they were in the past.

Richmond Chapter 7: The Development of Railroads

The development and spread of the railroad is not only important in the state of Kansas but the entire nations. In Kansas many individual towns knew that their future was based on whether or not they had a railroad going through. The book gives interesting information on some of the different railroads that were developed starting with the Elwood and Marysville and spreading to the Union Pacific and the Atchison-Topeka and Santa Fe. The material and spread of the railroad can spur a lesson of how the railroad changed the economy of Kansas as it spread. Students could come up with both the positive and negatives aspects that came from the new industry and how it influenced so many parts of life, not just transportation.

Richmond Chapter 6: The First Years Of Statehood

The sixth chapter of the book analyses the large amount of conflict the state of Kansas had to deal with after statehood was granted. The first main issue was a drought that hit the state followed by the Civil War and the soldiers that fought in the war along with some of the skirmishes that occurred within the state. The book gives some interesting facts about Kansans in the Civil War including that the state had one of the highest casualty rates of any state in the war. After the war finally came to an end the struggles in the state did not end. The next main challenge was the Indian conflict. This chapter mentions numerous people who were influential in Kansas at this time. Students could do research and write out biographies about some of these people to explain their influence in the state.

Richmond Chapter 5: “Bleeding Kansas” The Territorial Period

This chapter covers the 1850s leading up to the Civil War when both proslavery and antislavery came to the state in order to gain the influence of the territorial government. Like the Miner book, Richmond makes it clear that the idea of Bleeding Kansas was greatly exaggerated by the media and has grown into legend over the years but the lack of violence does not diminish the importance of the actions taken during the time. The chapter covers the politics of the time period along with some of the violence that was experienced but an interesting aspect that Richmond takes a close look at is the variety of different people that came to the state and the lifestyle they dealt with when they arrived. This can be used in the classroom by looking at how the variety of people would bring with them tremendously different ideas and how that might influence future politics in the state.

Richmond Chapter 4: Trails and Early Transpiration

There are some interesting excerpts from different people who were traveling across the state of Kansas during the first half of the nineteenth century. These excerpts from letters and diaries include how difficult some of the journals could be and the hazards experienced along the way. The chapter also mentions the landmarks that marked the route across Kansas. Students could map these or even email schools near those areas and get pictures of some of the landmarks. Students could also map the forts that were established to protect those going across the trails. As more and more people moved west the trails started the change in nature. The pony express and stagecoaches began to move information and material both east and west.

Richmond Chapter 3: Indian Removal and Christian Missionary Efforts

The start of this chapter gives an interesting overview of Isaac McCoy who had helped with the Miami Indians in Indiana and did the same in Kansas. He wanted the separation of the Indians from white settlers but he did not want to only move the Indians he wanted to improve their lives. His unrealistic goals might go along with the attempts of Christian missionaries to work in the Indian tracks of Kansas. While successful with some educational aspects, the missionaries were never successful in spreading Christianity. The final part of the chapter looks at Indian removal FROM Kansas. With the establishment of Kansas as a territory, more and more settlers headed into the territory. The book does not explain how the Indian removal came about other than to say it was complex but this chapter could be used to debate whether other strategies should have been used to deal with the native Americans in Kansas.

Richmond Chapter 2: Exploration of the Great Plains

This chapter goes over the first Europeans entering the Midwest and Kansas. It is divided up between the Spanish and French followed by the American Exploration after the start of the nineteenth century. A teacher could use the material in this chapter by having students make a chart showing not only the goals of the explorations, the motivations of the explorations, the results of the movements and most importantly look at how the different groups viewed the state of Kansas. Another aspect might include how the different explorations dealt with the Indian groups that they met along the way.

Richmond Chapter 1: The Land and Its People

This book is bit shorter than the Miner book and there are a more chapters so these overviews will be a bit shorter by comparison. The first chapter of the book, as the title implies, goes through the geography of the state including how it differs in different parts and the original natives of the state dating back to the paleo-Indians that entered the central plain 11,000 years ago. The best method for this material in the classroom would be to look at how geography of a given area can influence the way people lives. Another idea would be to create a timeline showing the different aspects of native life in Kansas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Back From The Dead

I have not written in a lon time and to be totally honest I am not sorry about it. I have just finished a paper for my Kansas History class and I am still finishing some reading for the class. Additionally, basketball has started and that means practices at 6:00 AM and after school. My wife is working on her Masters Degree so I am trying to help keep her sane and she does the same for me. Further more I am involved on two leadership teams at school. This is all in addition to my regular teaching profession. I am not complaining by any stretch of the imagination but with all my work the blog has taken a temporary backseat. Things are onthe upswing and I think they will continue to get better.

PS My stocks have been doing great!

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