African Burial Grounds

Today New York is known as a mosaic of cultures and races, as it happens to have been known in the mid 18th century. However New York during the 18th century was not as accepting of peoples as it is today nor was it isolated from the issue of slavery. With over 20 percent (2,000 people) of the population of New York being slaves, tensions rose within the city that culminated in a rebellion when about 25 slaves in 1712 burned an outhouse and killed nine whites. Following this the white population was uncomfortable and when a fire erupted in 1741, the black population was instantly condemned. Trials were held that resulted in 30 people being burned and hung, and to this day it is unknown if the fire was a result of a rebellion or an accident. In 1991, workers discovered the burial site of these “rebels” in what would turn out to be the African Burial Ground, resting place of an estimated 15,000 people. In 2007, a memorial was built to remind New York of its role in the slave trade and of the struggles of those buried.

The African Burial Ground is located near what used to be known as the Collect Pond. Just as today New York fights to make room for the residents and immigrants, the city of New York was trying to house its growing population during the 19th century. In an attempt to protect New Yorkers from the dangers of cattle slaughtering, the city relocated the slaughterhouses by the Collect Pond. The Collect Pond was a large fresh water pond that covered the area of what is now Foley Square and more. By relocating the slaughterhouses the city ruined this water source and in 1803, voted to drain the pond. After the draining of the pond it was filled with earth to create some of the worst real estate in New York. This swampy area was inhabited by African Americans, making it no surprise that the African Burial Grounds were located nearby. Furthermore, the canal that was built to drain the pond is now better known as Canal Street, and you can experience the change in topography from high ground to the swampy low ground of the graveyard at Foley Square.


Changing regulation stems from cells

As everyone posts the obvious regulation changes taking place in the financial news, very little attention is given to biology and the shifts in policy regarding stem cell research. Recently a court had ruled that embryonic stem cell research could continue. Stem cell research is absolutely crucial to the development of biology including fields regarding sentience, disease, and much more. Scientists are hoping that with the use of stem cells they would be able to cure diseases such as “cancer, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclereosis” and many more. To further research in this ground breaking field, Obama passed EO 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells on March 9, 2009. The order allows for new and more numerous sources of funding, an essential part of stem cell research.

Stem cell research was never banned in the US but was heavily limited during the Bush administration. Some states also passed laws limiting stem cell research. Bush even vetoed multiple laws that would help provide funding for stem cell research.











My sources:




Federal Register of the Executive Order (Actual Order)




What has changed?

Foner devotes a measly 2 paragraphs to “Human Rights.” During Clinton’s presidency human rights organizations gained influence throughout the world. Governments were now beginning to respond to crises in foreign nations both judicially and militarily. The idea that you were not to interfere in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs began to change with the growing Amnesty International organization, as well as the hundreds of other nongovernmental agencies that sought to protect human rights.

In modern day, we hear of reports of infractions upon human rights (although not frequently enough as news of Trump’s new escapades overshadow the suffering of peoples) in Syria, Lybia, Egypt, China, Sudan, and countless others. One begins to wonder, why do we get involved in conflicts so petty when, sadly, hundreds upon hundreds of undeniably justifiable reasons exist for aiding other countries in protecting humans. It seems that the influence of Human Rights organizations on foreign and even domestic policy has weakened unforgivably.

Below is a video regarding the UN conviction in the Rwandan Genocide case:


Below is a video on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:





Wake us up

The video above is of a song released in 1965 titled “The War Drags On” by British folk singer Mick Softley. It was written to protest the Vietnam War and follows the story of a soldier who is sent to Vietnam and has nightmare of the world ending due to nuclear warfare.



The video above is of a song released in 2004 titled “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by the American rock band, Green Day. The video follows a young couple in love that have an argument because the boyfriend enlists in the USMC.

Both videos are very moving however “The War Drags On” is much more direct in it’s anti war sentiment. Furthermore, the 1960s video uses (or so it seems) actual scenes from the Vietnam war where as Green Day’s video is staged. It seems that as time has passed many people have grown to accept, or rather tolerate the pointless wars we are in. Maybe its more of a feeling of insignificance, in regards to our influence on government action. The 1960s video clearly addresses the irony of bringing freedom to the country. The 1960s video is also more graphic and calls people to action. This difference between videos reflect a change in social protests. Nowadays people have become much more reserved with their opinions and due to the economic situation most people have found themselves in, are too busy with work and family to have the time and desire to do anything that would stimulate social change. The world has become infantile and even as we become more connected via the internet, we have become isolated from the world, narrowing our scope of interest and concern to a very close proximity.



The closet door breaks open…

As the world was experiencing movements that included women’s rights, civil rights, and more, one group of people were unaware that they were permitted a voice. Hiding in the background for fear of ridicule the gay community wasn’t developed into such. But as the other movements were gaining momentum the Gay community found solace in the Mattachine Society. The society sought to dissolve the presumed boundaries between gay peoples and “average Americans.” Without the societies work, and the defensive position that gay people were put into following McCarthyism, the gay movement wouldn’t have been able to grab hold.

The video above goes to tell the story of the Stonewall Bar incident where after police raided an actively homosexual bar, instead of fleeing, the people began to fight back physically and soon politically with the coming of marches and parades.



Don’t you just love humanity?

Here is the article that I was referring to when I mentioned the Soviet Doomsday machine. It’s a miracle that humanity has existed for as long as it has…



Did we run out of kitchens?

This seems to be an old video of the historic “Kitchen Debates” between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev. The debates signaled a slight change in sentiment towards the Soviet Union as well as the Soviet’s politics both domestically and internationally. A few people, including President Eisenhower voiced their opinions about the massive build up of missiles and defenses. Furthermore, after the Soviets successfully tested their hydrogen bomb people became nervous. However in 1958 the two nations stopped testing nuclear weapons as per an agreement. They began to seek “peaceful coexistence.”


The paranoid curtain pullers

Had Churchill not declared that an “iron curtain” should be descended so as to separate the Soviet Union and it’s sphere of influence from the West many things may have turned out differently. This idea of the Iron Curtain threw the world into a state of paranoia that inevitably led to the Cold War. Furthermore, it greatly hindered the development and reconstruction of the Soviet Union by barring them from any significant trade partners leaving the Soviet Union effectively in a dark corner of the world. It would be very easy to go on and on about the possible outcomes, had the fright of Soviet Union’s strength and influence been nonexistent, but fear is a very strong player in political control and effectively led to the demise of the Soviet Union, whose struggle is still evident today.


Not everyone liked the dealer

“I Think I’ll plow under every third parnip.”

This cartoon was published in 1935 by George Shellhase as a critique of the 1933 Agriculture Adjustment Act. George Shellhase was commenting on the inefficiencies and idiosyncrasy of the methods proposed by the act. In a bid to raise farm prices and income in order to help ailing farmers. Ironically, at the same time people were suffering from hunger whilst the government ordered farmers not to plant more and even had over 6 million pigs slaughtered. Although the AAA was successful in its goals not everyone benefited. It also brought upon inefficiencies and resulted in the eviction of numerous rural residents.


Will we ever learn?

This photograph (taken in 1933) depicts a shantytown in Seattle known as Hooverville. Shantytowns sprang up all over America housing thousands of unemployed families.

This is a wonderful video produced by PBS in the Cosmopolis series. It summarizes the speculation and activities of stock brokers before Black Tuesday as well as the aftereffects. PBS used great archival materials, including photographs, audio, and video from 1929.

The photograph depicts the dire consequences of American (humans in general) greed. The smoke in the background symbolizes the hell that the persons in the foreground will face. Furthermore the black & white nature of the photograph adds a feeling of lost hope, capturing this moment in America’s history perfectly. Contrarily, the video describes a major cause of the great depression and has tons of outstanding material however it fails to portray the chaos and solemn reality of the Great Depression due to it’s focus on videos and pictures of the mass, thus not allowing the viewer to sympathize with an individual. However it does get the point across, I just wonder if the federal reserve and banking institutions ever heard of this mysterious event that occurred in 1929…


History teaches us not to repeat our mistakes. I guess Texas BOE failed history class.


In 1925, there was a trial of a Tennessee public school teacher, John Scopes. Scopes was said to have violated the state’s Butler Act which forbade teaching evolution. Scopes was convicted but later appealed and the judgment was overturned due to a technicality. The trial (also known as the Monkey Trial) was actually a publicity stunt in order to gain Dayton, Tennessee some attention. Scopes even convinced students to testify that he taught evolution in class. Regardless of this back story (which was unknown to me) this trial is a very important part in scientific history as well as that of the United States. It indirectly contributed to the National Defense Education Act as well as struck a blow to fundamental theologians. The video posted above is a collection of pictures and recordings from the actual trial as well as scenes from the 1960s movie, Inherit the Wind. Within the video you see and hear every major player in the trial including, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Bryan.


Wikileaks of 1916

In January 1916, Arthur Zimmermann, foreign secretary of Germany, send a coded telegram to German’s ambassador to Mexico. This telegraph was intercepted by British agents and decoded, exposing its contents. Within the telegraph Zimmermann wrote to their ambassador to Mexico, that if America looked to join the war, they (Germany) should approach the Mexican government and offer support and reward their support in return for Mexico’s allegiance in the war. This telegraph was exposed to the American public in March, leading to widespread anger, and thus contributed to the declaration of war in April.

Had the telegraph not been intercepted, or had the attempts to decode it failed, there was plenty of other causes that justified America’s entrance into the war. Furthermore, Mexico had analyzed Germany’s proposition and concluded that war with America wouldn’t achieve their goals of recapturing lost territories, nor would it be beneficial.


Support Crime! Support the 18th Amendment!

One important change that occurred during World War I (The Great War) was the 18th Amendment, or better known as prohibition. As one reads Foner’s recollection of the Prohibition, you notice that Foner mentions the reasoning and support behind the 18th amendment. Even though he seems to mention every reason sarcastically, he doesn’t mention the outcome of prohibition in regard to ethical fathers/husbands, calm workers, etc. And he most certainly doesn’t mention the development of bootleggers and speakeasies that lead to the huge expansion of crime. On another note, neither did Foner mention, nor was I privy to the knowledge that during the prohibition many officers were trigger happy and caused the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of innocents as depicted by the picture below.


Tarzan goes organic

In 1906, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, which originated as undercover work for a magazine. He described the conditions of meat factories in Chicago, as well as the poverty of workers, their living conditions, lack of social programs and more. Initially, President Theodore Roosevelt  believe Sinclair a “crackpot.” However, after sending his trusted employees he still didn’t want to regulate the industry. Due to public pressure, the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed, leading to the founding of the Food and Drug Administration. These actions paved the way for federal inspection of consumer products and expanded the responsibilities and power of the federal government.

Inhumane Inspections

After the Mexican revolution of 1910, many Mexican’s began immigrating to America. With this influx, a new prejudice against Mexicans developed regarding their use marijuana.

In the 1900s, immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island were inspected by doctors, and those that were infected, were treated. However if the disease was untreatable, the immigrants would be sent back.

By comparing these two pictures, one of an inspection of Mexican immigrants, and the other of European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, the two peoples were treated very differently based on prejudices. Although taken around the same time, you could see that the first picture is much more personal and invoking. Furthermore the setting of the pictures, although similar, is vastly different. The second picture seems staged, and is formal, whereas the first picture is more exploratory and gives us much more insight into the stereotypes and attitudes of those times.


Fight for freedom after freedom

This picture was a democratic election campaign. In just under a year for the first time in history a president, Johnson, was placed on trial. Democrats openly appealed to racism during the election while Republicans concentrated on Reconstruction.

After the emancipation proclamation granted freedom to most slaves, the Freedman’s Bureau was organized by the government in an attempt to aid blacks whether it be in their attempt to attain an education, labor, etc. However, as was inevitable there was considerable resistance to granting freedmen and “freedoms.”


Capitalistic Influences

Many times we (the American public) is fed a story that tries to justify an action. However, knowledge as to whether or not this story is the sole reason or for that matter or even the most important one is often unattainable. Capitalism has a large influence on world events and should be taken into account when analyzing them.


Racial Propaganda

Eric Foner did a wonderful job of making a brave and insightful book sound painstakingly boring. His review was written as a monotonous summary void of any important historical implications that the book itself has. As to the book itself, I would see it as a study into racial propaganda, although neither Foner nor Blight seem to mention or point this out. Blight did a great deed in revisiting Civil War memories, simultaneously reevaluating our modern memories of history. Using “Race and Reunion” as the median, Blight was able to synthesize the past and present, showing us that memories need to be analyzed and studied just as thoroughly as historical evidence, and even more so as memories are more susceptible to alteration.

The book review alludes to the importance of historical memory and how memories may shape history more so than events. Foner showed us that memories were able to push the South’s agenda in a more effective manner than the North’s war victory was able to suppress it. Even to this day there are numerous events, whether it be America’s suppression of Native Americans, or Fascist Germany’s murder of Gypsies, gays, Russians, etc, or America’s invasion into Afghanistan and Iraq, and China’s censorship of Tibet, where memories of people, push personal agendas to the point of blinding us of objective facts. Memories are subjective and as such may very well be politically motivated. Leading me to think that had Blight written a book on historical memories and used the civil war as a chapter in a book full of historical examples of how memories shape history, he would’ve done the world a much greater service.


“History” wishes historians good luck

To say historical evidence is changing, in my view, would be misleading. Historical evidence will always remain to be the same however the popular view of it will change as will aspects of it, such as accessibility, quantity, and quality.

As time goes on, binary code will become the language of historians, and as it does, historians will have more data to filter until they can reach objective evidence. With the coming of computers, social networks, cameras, or technological developments in general, history and the jobs of historians are changing. Many opinions, accounts, events, etc, have come to light that may otherwise have lain dormant never to be explored. That is not to say that these opinions are inherently worth hearing.

Historical evidence will become more comprehensive, nevertheless that does not change what historical evidence is, but rather addresses the faults of historical, historical evidence. As tweets are logged, search histories tracked, cables uncovered, we gather data. This data mustn’t be limited to textual data, for videos, photographs, and audio files are just as easily captured and stored. Data, although not always to the same extent or detail, has always been collected throughout the ages. It will be up to historians to continuously analyze this new data and ensure that we use the right information to build our knowledge.