This assignment has several documents for you to read and view in order to answer the four required questions. Please follow any formatting guidelines and minimum length requirements as set by your professor. Please take your time to analyse these documents and submit thoughtful arguments supported by the evidence these documents provide.
1. Miss Columbia’s School House (1894)
2. Emilio Aguinaldo Criticizes American Imperialism in the Philippines (1899)
3. Eisenhower addressing Little Rock situation (September 24, 1957)
4. Alcatraz Proclamation (November 1969)
5. “The Soiling of Old Glory” by Stanley Forman (April 5, 1976)
6. President Ronald Reagan Defends American Morality (1983)
7. Senator Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” Speech (March 18, 2008)
Document 1: Miss Columbia’s School House (1894)
The caption for this cartoon read “Please, Ma’am, May We Come In?” with the male figure standing outside the gate representing Hawaii and the female figure representing Canada.
Document 2: Emilio Aguinaldo Criticizes American Imperialism in the Philippines (1899)
As one of the principal leaders of Filipino independence from Spain, Emilio Aguinaldo railed against American policies towards his people in this document published in North American Review in September 1899.
For this document, please read DOCUMENT 20-5 in Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents, Volume 2: From 1865
Document 3: President Eisenhower’s Little Rock Address (September 24, 1957)
Good Evening, My Fellow Citizens: — For a few minutes this evening I want to speak to you about the serious situation that has arisen in Little Rock. To make this talk I have come to the President’s office in the White House. I could have spoken from Rhode Island, where I have been staying recently, but I felt that, in speaking from the house of Lincoln, of Jackson and of Wilson, my words would better convey both the sadness I feel in the action I was compelled today to take and the firmness with which I intend to pursue this course until the orders of the Federal Court at Little Rock can be executed without unlawful interference.
In that city, under the leadership of demagogic extremists, disorderly mobs have deliberately prevented the carrying out of proper orders from a Federal Court. Local authorities have not eliminated that violent opposition and, under the law, I yesterday issued a Proclamation calling upon the mob to disperse.
This morning the mob again gathered in front of the Central High School of Little Rock, obviously for the purpose of again preventing the carrying out of the Court’s order relating to the admission of Negro children to that school.
Whenever normal agencies prove inadequate to the task and it becomes necessary for the Executive Branch of the Federal Government to use its powers and authority to uphold Federal Courts, the President’s responsibility is inescapable. In accordance with that responsibility, I have today issued an Executive Order directing the use of troops under Federal authority to aid in the execution of Federal law at Little Rock, Arkansas. This became necessary when my Proclamation of yesterday was not observed, and the obstruction of justice still continues.
It is important that the reasons for my action be understood by all our citizens. As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that separate public educational facilities for the races are inherently unequal and therefore compulsory school segregation laws are unconstitutional.
Our personal opinions about the decision have no bearing on the matter of enforcement; the responsibility and authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution are very clear. Local Federal Courts were instructed by the Supreme Court to issue such orders and decrees as might be necessary to achieve admission to public schools without regard to race and with all deliberate speed.
During the past several years, many communities in our Southern States have instituted public school plans for gradual progress in the enrollment and attendance of school children of all races in order to bring themselves into compliance with the law of the land.
They thus demonstrated to the world that we are a nation in which laws, not men, are supreme.
I regret to say that this truth – the cornerstone of our liberties – was not observed in this instance.
It was my hope that this localised situation would be brought under control by city and State authorities. If the use of local police powers had been sufficient, our traditional method of leaving the problems in those hands would have been pursued. But when large gatherings of obstructionists made it impossible for the decrees of the Court to be carried out, both the law and the national interest demanded that the President take action . . . .
The very basis of our individual rights and freedoms rests upon the certainty that the President and the Executive Branch of Government will support and ensure the carrying out of the decisions of the Federal Courts, even, when necessary with all the means at the President’s command.
Unless the President did so, anarchy would result.
There would be no security for any except that which each one of us could provide for himself.
The interest of the nation in the proper fulfilment of the law’s requirements cannot yield to opposition and demonstrations by some few persons.
Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts . . . .
A foundation of our American way of life is our national respect for law.
In the South, as elsewhere, citizens are keenly aware of the tremendous disservice that has been done to the people of Arkansas in the eyes of the nation, and that has been done to the nation in the eyes of the world.
At a time when we face grave situations abroad because of the hatred that Communism bears toward a system of government based on human rights, it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that is being done to the prestige and influence, and indeed to the safety, of our nation and the world.
Our enemies are gloating over this incident and using it everywhere to misrepresent our whole nation. We are portrayed as a violator of those standards of conduct which the peoples of the world united to proclaim in the Charter of the United Nations. There they affirmed “faith in fundamental human rights” and “in dignity and worth of the human person” and they did so “without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.”
And so, with deep confidence, I call upon the citizens of the State of Arkansas to assist in bringing to an immediate end all interference with the law and its processes. If resistance to the Federal Court orders ceases at once, the further presence of Federal troops will be unnecessary and the City of Little Rock will return to its normal habits of peace and order and a blot upon the fair name and high honour of our nation in the world will be removed.
Thus will be restored the image of America and of all its parts as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Good night, and thank you very much.
Document 4: Alcatraz Proclamation (November 1969)
From November 20, 1969 until June 11, 1971, Alcatraz Island was occupied by a Native American rights group called Indians of All Tribes. Alcatraz Penitentiary was closed in 1963 and the U.S. Government had declared the island as surplus federal property. Indians of All Tribes claimed the island by citing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the United States and the Sioux. The treaty returned to Native peoples all retired, abandoned and out-of-use federal lands. Between 1964 and 1969, several small-scale attempts were made to claim Alcatraz on behalf of native peoples. On November 20, 1969, 79 members of Indians of All Tribes managed to land on Alcatraz despite a Coast Guard blockade and issued the following proclamation:
Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People
We, the native Americans, reclaim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.
We wish to be fair and honourable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:
We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47¢ per acre that the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land. We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of that land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian Affairs [sic] and by the bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity—for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilisation and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honourable in our dealings with all white men.
We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations in that:
1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.
2. It has no fresh running water.
3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.
4. There are no oil or mineral rights.
5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.
6. There are no health care facilities.
7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game.
8. There are no educational facilities.
9. The population has always exceeded the land base.
10. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.
Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.
Document 5: “The Soiling of Old Glory” by Stanley Forman (April 5, 1976)
In 1965, Massachusetts passed the Racial Imbalance Act that required school districts to desegregate or risk losing state funding. In 1974, federal judge Wendell A. Garrity Jr. ordered a compulsory busing program in Boston that required white and black school children to be bused throughout the district to finally bring about desegregation. While Garrity’s ruling would eventually be upheld by the Supreme Court, racial tensions immediately boiled over in the streets of Boston. This photograph was taken as Theodore Landsmark, simply walking to Boston City Hall, was attacked by a group of white anti-busing protesters, including Joseph Rakes who attempted to assault him with an American flag.
Document 6: President Ronald Reagan Defends American Morality (1983)
Known as “The Great Communicator,” Ronald Reagan addressed a meeting of the National Association of American Evangelicals in 1983 to articulate his belief in America’s moral righteousness, particularly in relation to the Cold War.
For this document, please read DOCUMENT 30-4 in Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents, Volume 2: From 1865
Document 7: “A More Perfect Union” Speech by Senator Barack Obama (March 18, 2008)
In running for President of the United States in 2008, Senator Barack Obama faced severe criticism over his prior attendance at a church where the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary sermons about America and race stirred anxieties about the presidential candidate’s own feelings about race in America. Speaking at the National Constitution centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Barack Obama delivered a campaign defining speech that paved his way to winning the Democratic Party nomination and ultimately the White House.
Realising one’s “liberties” following the Reconstruction era was no easier for many Americans than it was prior to the Civil War. Industrialisation and immigration in the late nineteenth century only served to draw deeper and clearer distinctions on who and what an “American” was or could be. As the United States became an empire through the Spanish-American War domestic relationships of inequality transcended across the globe through our foreign policies. Domestic issues of race, class, and gender found expression throughout America’s foreign policies in the twentieth century, culminating in the near simultaneous onset of the Cold War and rise of the modern Civil Rights Movement. As minority groups found domestic and global audiences for their grievances, America’s moral authority to lead the world came under intense scrutiny. In many respects, America’s past continues to profoundly shape America’s view of the world and their view of us to this very day.
Based upon your reading of these selected primary documents and incorporating such secondary sources as your textbook and lecture notes, I would like you to answer the following 4 Questions & provide specific examples from these documents that support your arguments.
1) What perceptions of “others” are reflected attending Miss Columbia’s School House (Document 1)? How does Aguinaldo’s criticism of America’s policies towards the Philippines (Document 2) echo the 1894 political cartoon? What do these two documents suggest about the way America perceived conquered peoples and the likelihood that they would ever be fit for American citizenship and its liberties?
2) What relationship does President Eisenhower draw between events in the modern Civil Rights Movement and the goals of the United States in waging the Cold War (Document 3)? How does the Alcatraz Proclamation (Document 4) and the “The Soiling of Old Glory” photograph (Document 5) reflect the increasing radicalization of the Civil Rights Movement by the 1970s as well as the violent responses it could produce within Anglo American communities? Based upon Eisenhower’s speech, how do you believe he would respond to Documents 4 and 5 in the context of the Cold War?
3) According to President Reagan (Document 6), what does “having a positive view of American history” mean and what values does the country stand for? What should modern Americans think of their country’s past in regards to race relations according Senator Obama (Document 7)? Do you agree with these documents arguments about America’s past? Why or why not?
4) Based upon your reading of these documents, to what extent do you believe America’s past continues to influence American society and modern debates about inequality? Does our past and efforts to confront and resolve issues of inequality empower us with a moral authority to dictate world affairs today? Why or why not?