Obama Signs Overhaul of Financial System

The New York Times article I chose is about passage of the legislation, The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a response to the 2008 financial crisis that tipped the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The law subjects more financial companies to federal oversight and regulates many derivatives contracts while creating a consumer protection regulator and a panel to detect risks to the financial system.

The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s (commonly referred to as the S&L crisis) was the failure of 747 out of the 3,234 savings and loan associations in the United States. The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990–1991 economic recession.As a result of the savings and loan crisis, Congress passed the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) which dramatically changed the savings and loan industry and its federal regulation.Some commentators believe that a taxpayer-funded government bailout related to mortgages during the savings and loan crisis may have created a moral hazard and acted as encouragement to lenders to make similar higher risk loans during the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/business/22regulate.html


The Decline in Manufacturing Employment

Manufacturing Employment

Foner pointed out that in the 1990s Walmart emerged as the nation’s largest employer, whereas it had been General Motors in the 1970s. The shift which took place in 1990s, symbolizes the way the whole economy was shifting toward a service economy, a retail economy, and de-industrialization, as well as the continuing decline of manufacturing in the United States due to globalization, the shifting of jobs overseas in search of cheap labor, and the increasing importation of manufactured goods into United States. The problem with that was that the manufacturing jobs were very well paid and had strong union protections, pensions, and health benefits, and many of the jobs in this newer area were low-paying and offered very few benefits, so this became a problem for the American standard of living.


Protest Songs

“Draft Dodger Rag” is a satirical anti-war song by Phil Ochs, a U.S. protest singer from the 1960s known for being a harsh critic of the American military industrial complex. Released in 1965, “Draft Dodger Rag” quickly became an anthem of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Ochs wrote “Draft Dodger Rag” as American involvement in the Vietnam War was beginning to grow. The song is sung from the perspective of a gung-ho young man who has been drafted. When he reports for duty, however, the young man recites a list of reasons why he can’t serve, including poor vision, flat feet, a ruptured spleen, allergies and asthma, back pain, addiction to multiple drugs, his college enrollment, his disabled aunt, and the fact that he carries a purse. As the song ends, the young man tells the sergeant that he’ll be the first to volunteer for “a war without blood or gore”

Tom Waits has covered increasingly political subject matter since the advent of the Iraq war. In “The Day After Tomorrow,” Waits adopts the persona of a soldier writing home that he is disillusioned with war and thankful to be leaving. The song does not mention the Iraq war specifically, and, as Tom Moon writes, “it could be the voice of a Civil War soldier singing a lonesome late-night dirge.” Waits himself does describe the song as something of an “elliptical” protest song about the Iraqi invasion, however.


Freedom and Equality for the Least-Advantaged

Soon after assuming office in 1963, Johnson resurrected the phrase “freedom from want”, all but forgotten during the 1950s. Recognizing that black poverty was fundamentally different from the white one, since its roots lay in “past injustice and present prejudice”, he wanted to redefine the relationship between freedom and equality. He insisted that “we seek not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result”. The powers of the national government were mobilized to address the needs of the least-advantaged Americans, especially those, like blacks, largely excluded from the New Deal entitlements, such as Social Security. Coupled with the decade’s high rate of economic growth, the War on Poverty succeeded in reducing the incidence of poverty from 22% to 13% of American families during the 1960s.


The Demand for Suburb Housing

By 1960s, suburban residents of single-family homes outnumbered urban dwellers and those living in rural areas. The shift of population from cities to suburbs created an enourmous demand for housing. During 1950s, the number of houses in US doubled, nearly all of them built in suburbs. William and Alfred Levitt, who shortly after the war built the first Levittown on 1200 acres of potato fields on Long Island near NYC, became the most famous suburban developers. Levittown’s more than 10000 houses were assembled quickly from pre-fabricated parts and priced well within the reach of most Americans. The building of one of such houses shown in this video. Levittown was soon home to 40000 people. Levittown was the first truly mass-produced suburb and is widely regarded as the archetype for postwar suburbs throughout the country.


The Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry Truman on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere. Truman stated the Doctrine would be “the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”  Truman reasoned, because these “totalitarian regimes” coerced “free peoples,” they represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States. While his request was limited to $400 million in military aid to two governments, Truman’s rhetoric had assumed that the US had assumed a permanent global resposibility.

If Truman never became president and made this doctrine, Greece and Turkey could have been taken by th Soviet Union and fallen to cummunism. Communism could have spread to major portions of the world as well as to the US. Then the fear of the Americans that the communist will take away their freedom would come true.


The Redistribution of Wealth

By Robert Day, appeared in September 1935

This cartoon, by Robert Day, appeared in September 1935. The key to the gag is that the speaker seemingly can no longer afford to maintain her enormous yard, fill her swimming pool, or repair her crumbling walls and front gate. Roosevelt argued that taxation according to ability to pay was ‘the American principle’. There was a huge gap between the richest and the poorest people in America. Roosevelt wanted to redistribute the wealth among people through the taxation of incomes in order to end the Great Depression.


Bread Lines During The Great Depression

"Breadline" sculpture by George Segal in the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.

Bread line during the Great Depression

During the Great Depression thousands of unemployed residents who could not pay their rent or mortgages were evicted into the world of public assistance and bread lines. Unable to find work and seeing that each job they applied for had hundreds of seekers, these shabby, disillusioned men wandered aimlessly without funds, begging, picking over refuse in city dumps, and finally getting up the courage to stand and be seen publicly – in a bread line for free food. To accommodate them, charities, missions, and churches began programs to feed them. Men who experienced the waiting in line recall the personal shame of asking for a handout, unable to care for oneself or to provide for others. On the first picture, you can see  the “Breadline” sculpture by George Segal in the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC. The sorrowful faces of the life-size statues are a powerful expression of the times, showing the inactivity and troubles of everyday citizens during the Great Depression. On the 2nd picture, you can see a real bread line in NYC during the Great Depression.


Sacco & Vanzetti


Nicola Sacco  and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during a 1920 armed robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts. After a controversial trial and a series of appeals, the two Italian immigrants were executed on August 23, 1927.

There is a highly politicized dispute over their guilt or innocence, as well as whether or not the trials were fair. Very little evidence linked them to this crime. The dispute focuses on small details and contradictory evidence. As a result, historians have not reached a consensus.


The Crises before 1914

In 1904 Morocco had been given to France by Britain, but the Moroccans wanted their independence. In 1905, Germany announced her support for Moroccan independence. War was narrowly avoided by a conference which allowed France to retain possession of Morocco. However, in 1911, the Germans were again protesting against French possession of Morocco. Britain supported France and Germany was persuaded to back down for part of French Congo.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary took over the former Turkish province of Bosnia. This angered Serbians who felt the province should be theirs. Serbia threatened Austria-Hungary with war, Russia, allied to Serbia, mobilised its forces. Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary mobilised its forces and prepared to threaten Russia. War was avoided when Russia backed down. There was, however, war in the Balkans between 1911 and 1912 when the Balkan states drove Turkey out of the area. The states then fought each other over which area should belong to which state. Austria-Hungary then intervened and forced Serbia to give up some of its acquisitions. Tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary was high.

The effects of these crises had been a hardening of attitudes and an increase in distrust between the different European powers. It led to a strengthening of the different alliances: Britain and France during the Moroccan Crises and Austria and Germany during the Bosnian crisis.


The Espionage Act

Eugene V. Debs, convicted in 1918 under the Espionage Act for delivering an antiwar speech. His sentence was 10 years. Surprisingly, Debs RAN FOR PRESIDENT WHILE STILL IN PRISON in 1920 and received 900,000 votes.

According to Foner, the espionage Act of 1917 prohibited not only spying and interfering with the draft, but also “false statements” that might impede military success. It basically made it illegal to say anything against the government—anything which criticized the government, which brought the government into disrepute, as the law said. Foner also mentions the Sedition Act of 1918 that made it a crime to make spoken or printed statements that intended to cast “contempt, scorn, or disrepute” on the “form of government”, or that advocated interference with war effort. Many people were arrested under these acts. I did more research and found that citizens convicted of these crimes were subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both. I also found that other groups use these acts as the opportunity to fight old battles against old enemies (employers used these acts to get labor leaders and IWW radical laborites arrested not because of what they said about the war, but because they wanted them out of their factories).


The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911

In the spring of 1911, a small fire broke out in the workshops of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York City. Because of the highly flammable fabrics in the workshops, the fire quickly spread and soon engulfed the upper floors of the Factory. Triangle’s mostly immigrant employees soon found that the doors leading out of the upper floors were locked, and that other safety precautions in the building were faulty or nonexistent. To escape the smoke and flames, many of the Factory’s workers (most of them women) jumped from the 8th and 9th floor windows to the sidewalks below. 146 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which made people realize that the government needed to regulate industry, and led to the passage of new factory inspection laws and fire safety codes.


Detained immigrants on Ellis Island, New York harbor. Drawn by M. Colin. 1893 Aug. 26.

Immigrants at Battery Park, New York, N.Y. Byron (Firm : New York, N.Y.), photographer. 1900.

These two primary documents were taken from The Libabry of Congress.  The first one was drawn by a painter M.Colin for “Harper’s weekly” newspaper. The second one was taken by an employee of The Byron Company, which is a New York City photography studio in Manhattan that was founded in 1892. The quality of the photo is much better compared to others taken at that time. I also think that people from that photo are from the middle or even upper class, whereas people from the first image appear to be from the lower class. There is also a time difference: the images were created 7  years apart.


The Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”  It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation’s 4 million slaves. The declaration highlighted freedom of all slaves within any state that did not submit to Union control and specified the states where the proclamation was to be unconditionally applied. The freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

The Emancipation Proclamation enjoined emancipated slaves to “labor faithfully for reasonable wages” in the United States. For the first time, it authorized the enrollment of black soldiers into the Union Army. The proclamation set in motion the process by which 200,000 black men in the last two years of the war fought for the Union. This added to the much needed manpower for winning the war against the Confederacy. Putting black men into the military implied a very different vision of their future place in American society than earlier plans for settling freed slaves overseas.

Source: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=34


Remembering The Past

David Blight’s “Race and Reunion” seems to be a very good history book because it shows that some historical evens can be remembered differently. There were two opinions on why the Civil War started. The emancipationists believed that slavery was a cause of the Civil War. The reconciliationists dismissed this thought and claimed that the Civil War happened because of the disagreement in the state rights. What i found very interesting is that the book overthrows the concept that winners always get to write history. Even though the South lost the Civil War, the reconciliationists “won the war over memory”.  I think politics probably played an important role in ensuring that the Southern view of history would prevail.

Another example in history of a shared experience that is remembered in many different ways is the origins of the Cold War. People disagree over the question of who was responsible for the breakdown of American-Soviet relations. In addition, the debate over what resulted in slavery in 17th century is another example. Some people say that  slavery was a result of white racism, while others claim that racism was a result of slavery.

I believe anyone with an interest in the Civil War will benefit from reading this book because it provides both sides of the story. It is important for people to know how history gets distorted in an absolutely unfair manner and how some books don’t speak the truth.  It is not fair when important events and people who deserve recognition are left out of the history.


The Future of Historians

I’m not a Twitter user, but from what i know about this  social network, i think it’s a great idea to digitally archive all public tweets because it can be quite useful for future historians. I agree with one of the comments on the blog post about Twitter and history http://cac.ophony.org/2010/04/16/archiving-tweets/ that there’s more useless information on Twitter than useful one. However, historians can filter information by, for example, searching by keywords. Having all public tweets archived will allow historians to collect a lot of historically important and interesting information, such as people’s reaction to important events or tweets of presidents and other political figures. In addition, Twitter will allow historians to use rel time every day information.

After reading the article about Wikileads http://hnn.us/articles/134077.html, i think that while the Wikileads documents dump will help historians in the short term, it will probably have a bad effect for the future historians.  Because if this leak, in the future all the information will be much more secured. It will be harder for historians to get access to the important information,  which will probably make them less relevant.