The 2000 Election

"I don't care who wins anymore, I just want to stop counting."

The 2000 election was definitely a shocking one. There has not been such a close election since 1876 and the outcome of the election was simply stunning. Bush had won the state of Florida by a shocking 537 votes. Although the 2000 election could easily be explained and covered with no difficulty, it is interesting to imagine what could have happened. If only Gore’s request for a hand recount was able to be finished before the dead line of December 12th (safe harbor deadline),the 2000 election may have had a completely different result. For all we know, the United States would have had Al Gore as president from the time of 2000-2008. Imagine the different policies and approaches he would have approved while he is in office.

The 2000 election could have easily been Al Gore’s as it could have been Bush’s. As Foner had mentioned, 960,000 ex felons were unable to vote in the election. Excluding nearly one million people from election could have been the changing factor. Another factor being the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to declare a hand recount unconstitutional.


The right to vote

Although this is an old news story, it proves to have a very controversial point. The right to vote has always been a right worth fighting for and many ex-felons are speaking up now. Felony disenfranchisement is a term used to describe the practice of prohibiting people (often times inmates and ex-felonies) from voting based on the fact that they were convicted for a criminal offense. The United States has more than two million people incarcerated meaning more than two million Americans (although they are criminals) do not have the right to vote. That is a large piece of opinion or voice unable to speak up for decisions regarding the government. In many states even ex felons (approximately 2.1 million) who have completed their sentence is still unable to vote. However, in 2007 in the state of Florida a portion of non-violent felony convictions will regain the right to vote for the first time in year.

This action to partially restore the right to vote to ex-felons is definitely a very important one. Although these Americans were once criminals, it does not mean their voice does not count. In the election of 2000, between Al Gore and Bush, a whooping 537 votes was the difference between the winner and the loser of the election. In the year 2000, nearly one million ex-felons (960,000) in the state of Florida were unable to vote. If they had the chance, the outcome of the election would probably have a lasting effect on our history today.



Different times, different causes


In the first song, “People Got to Be Free” by The Rascals tries to convince listeners that everyone should be free. Through out the entire song, the Rascals explains it very simple and natural for everyone to see. Everyone is the same and everyone should be free. The group refers to civil rights movement in the 1960s in their last verse when they mention the “Train of Freedom” that is coming and has been long over due. The second song, “Living with War” by Neil Young refers to the need for peace and the protest against war. Although Neil Young does not explicitly mention which war he is singing about, he is referring to the Iraq War. “I take a holy vow, to never kill again.” He tries to convince listeners to there is no need to fight. In the song he says he lives with war everyday and killing will only mean more people dying on both sides.

Since the 1960s, many protest songs have been geared towards event that happen in their current time. In Neil Young’s song, he sings about the war taking place in 2006, the Iraq War. In The Rascals’ song, they were singing about the need to be free and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Both songs are fairly general songs as they can be applied to the protest against war and the call for peace and freedom. Neither of the songs explicitly reveal details of a specific event that has happened.


The bill of rights for the disadvantaged

Civil and economic rights movement

With only a few victories in the civil rights movement, African Americans began their journey to fix economic problems in the black community. With nearly twice as many African Americans unemployed as whites, and the average black family income slightly over half the white norm, Leaders like MLK attempted to solve economic hardships. King had proposed the Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, which was aimed at poverty in the country. King had argued it was time for the government to step in to do something special for black people after they had suffered hundreds of years of hardship. This bill later became associated with affirmative action which calls for the consideration of race, color, religion and gender in the field of employment to give an equal opportunity to underrepresented groups. In 1966, MLK started the Chicago Freedom Movement to end further discrimination in employment, mortgages accessibility, public homes and low income housing. King had used previous methods to lead the movement but eventually failed because of the heavy opposition from white home owners.


A Ford For Everyone

During the 1950s, “the standard consumer package” [Foner 878] consisted of a home, television set and a car. The new Ford automobile opened up a new way to enjoy the many freedoms that life had to offer. The Ford symbolized a individual’s freedom and private choice that allowed him or her to travel where ever they please. With the later development of interstate highways, car owners were able to travel long distances for vacations. By the 1960s roughly 80 percent of american families owned a car and 14 percent owned two or more. This soon meant people would be able to commute to and from work everyday, regardless of the distance between them. Songs and advertisements constantly reminded car owners of the many ways to enjoy freedom with the purchase of a car.

This brought about a huge change in the car manufacturing and oil industry. The increasing demand for cars gave jobs to tens of thousands of factory workers and both the oil and auto manufacturing companies boomed. Profits soared as each year brought about a new and more advanced car that would easily go out of style that same year. The video above is just one of the many advertisements that advocated the advancement of the new Ford model car and used the theme of freedom to sell in the consumer market.


What do you think?


The Red Menace was one of many anticommunist movies and media that America produced during the Cold War. These movies acted as a propaganda that criticized communism and brought a negative view of it. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a policy called “militant liberty” was used in movie productions that inserted a theme of freedom. Militant liberty shaped many viewers’ opinions of communism and instilled a Pro-American view of the nation. This was used frequently in films during 1940s to 1950 proposing anti-Nazi and anti- communist opinions to viewers.
I am sure America would be very different today if this policy had not existed. By producing many anti-communism films, the opinion of Americans towards communism had undoubtedly become negative. If this had not happened, Americans probably would have had polarized views of communism. This would definitely hurt the nation’s unity and give communism a fight chance at changing our country today.


This will help … hopefully

The image is from the Library of Congress. (LIC)

The Great Depression was a trying time for all americans nation wide. With failing banks, droughts, unemployment and severe poverty everywhere, more and more americans sought help from the government. President FDR recognized this outcry and introduced the New Deal, a possible solution to the great depression. Although government spending would increase the nation’s deficit, FDR felt it was necessary in order to get the economy running again. By introducing new programs such as the PWA, NRA, TVA, AAA, CCC and SSA, FDR was able to implement more money to produce more jobs, consumer spending, and reforms to the current financial systems.

The cartoon above was produced in 1933 as a respond to FDR’s New Deal. In the cartoon FDR exclaims ” UNCLE I’M SURELY EXPECTING SOMETHING!”. This statement seems to signify a possible change in the economy after a number of welfare programs (stockings) have been created to help americans. Although the programs seem to relieve some desperation during the great depression, it seems like FDR is unsure what the final result will be. However, FDR expects to see a significant change that will eventually pull the nation out of depression and hopefully prevent a future one.


Hard Times Are Hoovering Over Us

This image has been taken from the Presidential Library & Museum of Herbert Hoover. Taken by Underwood and Underwood. This image depicts children insulting the president for letting nation slip into depression

Image taken in CA 1930, by Bettmann. Hundreds to thousands of people waiting on line for some free food to survive the great depression.

The great depression was very sad and difficult time in American history. After the New York stock market crashed in October 1929, thousands and thousands of people lost their jobs and their life savings. Thousands of people were forced to live on the street as they were unable to afford shelter. Many of these people took to living in small shanty towns, Hooverville, that grouped hundreds of homeless people. In the first image, a family insults the president Herbert Hoover by using his last name to describe a situation at the time. Plenty of blame has been placed on president Hoover as he was said to have let the nation slide into depression. Many other terms were coined during this time such as the hoover blanket (a newspaper), hoover flag (turned out pockets) and hoover wagon ( a automobile pulled by a horse). The second image, directly represented many people on the breadline that offered free food to the poor and homeless. Many individuals could not afford to buy their own food let alone afford shelter during the great depression.


The Emerging Black Culture

During the 1920s, there was a huge surge of black americans moving into northern urban cities from the south. With a huge spike in population, black culture began to emerge and self expression began to expand. New York’s Harlem was recognized as a “capital” for black americans and their expression through the arts. For the first time there were black actors performing on broadway shows. A few of the greatest writers and poets of all time were from Harlem such as Langston Hughes and Claude Mckay. Harlem boomed with new writers, poets, painters, musicians and entertainers that introduced a whole new perspective in all art fields. The Harlem Renaissance gave birth to many talented people and allowed blacks to create and thrive within their own culture and community separate from whites. The video above displayed a number of paintings, poems, pictures, writers, and songs that depicted the period of the Harlem Renaissance.


Who has the bigger stick?

Gas masks and Machine guns used in World War I

World War I brought about major changes in the advancement of weapons and technology. The arms race called for modernized and advanced weapons that could give any nation a huge advantage over others on the battle field. The latest technology such as armored cars, tanks, aircrafts and machine guns plowed the battle field killing hundreds of people with only a few blows. With quicker communication abilities such as wireless communicators and telephones, orders and commands could be sent across the country in just a few minutes. As if these advancements weren’t enough, dangerous gases were called into play. Soldiers used gas masks to protect themselves from gases such as chlorine, mustard gas and phosgene that burned enemies. U-boats (submarines), blimps and hydrophones were also used in the war.

Foner barely mentions the arms race in chapter 19. However, he does explain how such advancements led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in various countries.


He did what? That too?

The History of the Standard Oil Company originally written as 19 magazine articles in McClure’s Magazine has been compiled into a book in two volumes. The book exposed the corruption, the exploitation, business transactions and business influence John D. Rockefeller had in America.

Ida Tarbell’s famous piece in 1904, History of the Standard Oil Company, was a clever reproach towards John D. Rockefeller’s standard oil company. The published book helped bring to light the control of corrupted politics big corporations had and exposed the exploitation of factory workers. Ida Tarbell’s writing otherwise known as muckraking brought out the truth behind big corporations trying to form monopolies. Muckrakers such as Ida Tarbell ultimately helped pave the way for future reforms. For instances politics eventually passed laws and regulations restricting certain factory conditions. Later of the government began to regulate big businesses to prevent the formation of monopolies.


The Struggle to and in America

Crowded ship

The S.S. Batavia carried 2,584 immigrants to Ellis Island on June 8, 1903. This ship set a record for the greatest number of passengers to arrive at New York City at one time.

Chinese immigrants

Although America was said to be the land of great opportunity, many immigrants had to endure many hardships. For example the Chinese immigrants in the photo above had to cramp into small rooms and call it home.

The first photo gives a clear image of how crowded immigrant ships were during the early 1900s. Lucky for these people, they were able to pass inspections and literacy exams that ultimately allowed them access to American. However, their struggles for a better life didn’t end there. In the second photo, chinese immigrants who were lucky enough to pass through Ellis Island had to live in cramped spaces. Often times immigrants of all ethnicity came to American with little to no money, which forced immigrants to share small tenements with others. The tenements were often dirty and crowded making it very difficult to even find a place to sleep. By comparing the two images, it is clear the different struggles immigrants had to live through coming to and living in America.


Free Land For Everyone!

Back in May 1862, President Abraham Lincoln passed the first law that granted land to most people, the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act entitled immigrants, freed slaves and Americans to 160 acres of undeveloped land to increase the expansion to the west. In order to gain access to 160 acres of federal land, Settlers had to follow three steps. Those interested in the new law needed to file an application in order to obtain a homestead title. Next, applicants needed to improve and cultivate the land. Although the first two steps seemed fairly easy to fulfill, there was one other requirement. All applicants needed to remain on the granted land for a minimum of five years in order to file for a deed of title which completed step 3.

Despite the promise of the Homestead Act, many applicants were unable to seize the opportunity the new law offered. Only about 40% of applicants who started the process were able to obtain titles to their homestead land. That 40% amounted to 270,000,000 acres of land which equaled 10% of all the land in the United States.

The Homestead Act was also greatly abused as many individuals committed fraud. Instead of building farms and using the land for agriculture, owners used the land to gain access to water and other minerals. A few owners used the land to gather timber and oil. Eventually the Homestead Act was discontinued in 1976 when the government decided to take control of public land and passed the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.


Before 1938, children of all ages had to work long hours in poorly lit factories for next to nothing just to survive. The Fair Labor Standard Act established in 1938 not only banned child labor but also set working regulations for children under the age of 18.


Thats not how I remembered it!

I found David Blight’s book fairly interesting as he tries to introduce a new way to look at past events. There are always two sides to a story and historical events are no different. Take the Civil War for instance. Although the Southerners lost the Civil War, their opinions to the cause of the war greatly differs from the opinions of Northerners. Simply said, people who retell the story of the civil war often include their bias opinions making it difficult to understand the true nature of such an historical event. For example, many white Americans remembered African Americans fighting in the Civil War merely because they were being faithful and loyal to their “masters”. In another person’s mind, the African Americans fought in hopes to end slavery. This new perspective allows readers to scrutinize how history is remembered and how it greatly influences our values on race today. In other words, David Blight’s book may give a unique insight to historians or politics.

Based on Eric Foner’s book review, historical memory plays an important role in politics. Certain periods of time such as the Civil War may have influenced many political decisions. An example would be Abraham Lincoln’s decision to start reconstruction in the south rather than administering punishment.

On December 7th, 1941 the attack on Pearl Harbor shocked many Americans. Many individuals have their own opinions and viewpoints of why such an attack was necessary. Japanese soldiers may have felt this attack was necessary in order to divert the U.S. ‘s attention from other Japanese plans in Asia. It could be possible Japanese politics felt it was time for the U.S. to be involved in WW II. Many Americans probably felt the attack was completely uncalled for, after all the U.S. had not implicitly joined into WW II. Nonetheless, many people have different opinions about the attack on Pearl Harbor and surely some opinions are more tuned to facts than others.


Tweeting for a Better Picture

That is absurd! Who would want to record every word any regular person uses to describe their mundane everyday duties. Historians might. Believe it or not, the Library of Congress’ plans to archive every public tweet might actually be of some use. Picture this, an earthquake had just hit New York and already it is in the news. One person tweets about it and like a domino effect millions of others start tweeting the same thing. Except this time tweeters include their reactions and a broken promise to help ease suffering in New York.

One way or another news travel fast and soon billions of people are talking about the tragedy in New York. Picture this scenario and imagine how recording billions and billions of tweets would help future historians draw a picture of one of the darkest times in New York. Although an earthquake may never hit New York, the scenario is very real and can be applied to any event, like the protest in Egypt today. Many U.S. citizens have an Egyptian heritage and a good number of them probably tweeted their opinions about the President who vows not to run for reelection. The tweets can be considered as a small part of a diary or chat room that allows others to read and respond. None the less, the tweets would be used as primary sources to describe the reactions opinions of a wide collection of people.

Certainly Wiki Leaks has become very controversial as it publicly posted national secrets that could potentially hurt our nation. For historians, these leaks may prove to be a good thing as they gain more insight on foreign policies and political affairs. However, these leaks are a sign that calls for greater national security to ensure the safety of our country.