Saturday, June 10, 2006

Abby Week #1 Blog

Web Assignment #1:
Both James Reeves' and Frank Wise's interviews begin by talking about where they are from, when they were born and more background on their lives. They both also discuss their family backgrounds. James Reeves talks about his family and how they were affected by slavery. He personally was not alive during the time of slavery, but he tells the interviewer about his parents and grandparents experiences in slavery. Frank Wise, however, was born into slavery. He talks about the war and what he remembers of his time in slavery. The interviews clearly explain how both had to deal with tyranny during slavery and afterwards. Both Reeves and Wise talk about life after slavery was abolished. They speak of the trouble that came with the Ku Klux Klan and also with their right to vote. James Reeves said that his parents were told the following when they were set free: “Henry, you all just as free as I am. You can stay here with Miss Lucy or you can go to work with whomsoever you will. You don’t belong to Miss Lucy no more” (pg. 4). I believe this sentence truly describes what both men are talking about in their interviews.
Both James Reeves and Frank Wise bring up the issues of the Ku Klux Klan. Reeves says, “Some of the people formed the Ku Klux Klan to keep the Negro down” (pg 6). Reeves and Wise also both talk about the issue with voting. Reeves says, “They went around and commanded the Negroes not to go to the polls the next day” (pg. 7). Finally, the interviews also have in common that both men talk about how they discovered they were free. Wise says, “I don’t remember how we got the news of freedom. I don’t remember what the slaves expected to get. I don’t know what they got, if they got anything” (pg. 2). These all represent the issue of “power and participation.” The Ku Klux Klan affected their lives and shows the white southerners trying to hold on to their power. The Ku Klux Klan was one last fight they were putting up to keep control of the newly freed slaves. This theme also is shown in the issues of voting. Voting is a major way to have “power and participation” and this was one of the first aspects of power the freed slaves were given. Last, the theme of “power and participation” also is seen when the men talk abut how they were freed. The slaves are getting power by no longer being anyone’s property.
I believe that when someone has gone through a traumatic experience they often do have trouble remembering the exact details of an event especially after a significant amount of time has passed. However, the questions they are being asked are very general and I do not think that the interviews are unreliable. I especially believe Frank Wise’s interview to be very accurate considering that he has some first hand knowledge of slavery. James Reeves also is probably very consistent since he has been given the information directly from his parents and grandparents. I know that when my parents tell me stories I can repeat them years later and still tell them very precisely. I do believe that their experiences since slavery have colored their perception somewhat considering that they have lived many years with freedom. They probably cherish their freedom more now that they have experienced it. They also have seen a very harsh side of many white southerners, with the lynching and torture that was happening. Even though they experienced some of this during slavery some of them might have been household slaves or high ranked slaves that did not experience the harsh torture that others endured.
The structures of the interviews are very clear and easy to read. They have very easy subtitles and are divided very clearly so that the information is easy for the reader to read and later find. The sections are also, in clear chronological order. The interviewer asked questions to give us background and then also information on not only their lives in slavery but also their lives during the Civil War and after the war. I felt like the interviewer covered all aspects of slavery si the reader gets in-depth and complete information.
There was not anything in the interviews that was completely new to me, however, I did find it very interesting that both men commented that the Ku Klux Klan did nothing to anyone they knew and that all the did was scare people. I always thought that the Ku Klux Klan was very present and that everyone in the south was constantly affected by this group of white southerners.

Web Assignment #2:
In Emanuel Leutze’s painting “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” Leutze portrays the pioneers examining the skyline and all that lays in front of them. You see the men walking with the guns to protect them and women in the wagons. Leutze also shows the native people, however, in a somewhat undignified way. He has them in the background on top of a rock with a weapon in hand. It looks like he is portraying them as if they are going to attack the settlers. On the other hand, he has in the front right hand circle a picture of what looks like it could be a native in a very peaceful pose. The picture gives a vision of hope. The light is dark in the area that the settlers are traveling from and very light in the area that they are traveling towards. I believe it truly shows a bright future. The interesting part of the painting is what seems to be a frame. The area framing the photo has nothing to do with the west; in fact it seems to be the complete opposite. The frame seems almost very classic and proper. The bottom part of the frame is also interesting; it is a picture of the sea. The painting is very interesting and so it the frame, they just do not seem to go together.
Fanny Palmer’s drawing, “Across the Continent: Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way,” is very much making fun of Leutze’s image of the west. She makes that very obvious by the title. In Palmer’s version, the train is the center focus. She is showing how the country became developed very fast. On one side of the train is a town, where children are pictured playing and men are picture working as what looks like loggers. Palmer is showing how the west has become industrialized and is no longer an unknown path. Native Americans are also pictured; however, they do not seem as aggressive, even though one does have a spear. They are divided from the town by the train. Palmer seems to have drawn the smoke from the train to be entrapping the Native Americans, like American development entrapped them on reservations. Palmer’s version does not capture the beauty of the west, but instead shows the viewer the development of the west.
In “Pioneers of the West,” the pioneers are shown in a very different light then in the other pictures. There are several stereotypes of the west in this picture. First of all the women is in the back doing the laundry and taking care of the house. In the front, a man drinks what is probably suppose to be an alcoholic drink. Also, he is showing his son how to cut wood, which is a man’s job. The son looks up to his father and looks like he wants to get involved and help. Finally, they live in a log cabin and it seems to be very isolated. The picture shows them living out in the middle of nowhere. Many of these stereotypes clash with what life was really like out west for the pioneers. For example, many times people did live in towns and not in log cabins. This picture is very different from Emanuel Leutze’s picture for not only does it not show the beauty of the west like Leutze picture, but it also depicts the west as a place where everyone is alone. In Leutze picture, although, a large number of settlers move together to settle the land and set up a city. The woman are also seen as more of a part of the group in the other picture as in this one the women is very small in the background. Also, in Leutze painting a man has carried his wife to a rock to show her the view of the land and is cradling her in his arms. In this photo the man is not paying any attention to his wife.
“American Progress,” by John Gast, shows the progression of the west in America. To the far left, being chased out, are the Native Americans, buffalos, and bears. Pushing them out is the farmers and settlers. However, behind the farmers and settlers, pushing them, is the railroad and what looks like to be a big city in the background. The picture shows how over time each group pushed the other out. First the Indians and the wild life were pushed, then the framers and settlers, and finally industrialization took over. Gast is showing the viewer the change over time and the progression of the west.
Like George Berkeley’s poem, some of these pictures show the beauty and greatness of the west. Berkeley’s poem is about how a country is so pure and beautiful at first. He says that Europe has decayed and can no longer have that beauty, however, the newest “offspring,” America has a chance. He says that one needs to let nature flourish and succeed. When the settlers moved west, however, they did not respect nature but they did see the beauty of an untouched world. Leutze’s image especially shows the beauty of this unharmed world. His picture really does show the beauty of the world that Berkeley describes.
These pictures each represented a different aspect and view of the west. If one was to only see one of these pictures they would not have an accurate depiction of the west. However, when they are all together they do well to represent the west. During this time period, the people living in the north and south would usually only see one or maybe two of these pictures, and therefore would not have been able to get a correct portrayal of the west. The one aspect that is missing is an image that shows the cruelty to the Indians. Gast’s depiction shows them being pushed out but it is not the main focal point of the painting.

Web Assignment #3:
Stereopticon is “a magic lantern, especially one with two projectors arranged as to produce dissolving views” ( This was a way to show images to people before there was the TV and other modern day machines. I believe that this poster is expected to get me to notice the propaganda at this time. This is very early propaganda. The poster is getting people to come hear about the war in the Philippians. It does not say anything negative about the war and in fact gets people excited to come and see pictures of the war. I believe that Mr. Mumper supported the war efforts and was excited to tell his story about all the good the army was doing in the Philippians. Mr. Mumper would probably talk about the great American army and how horrible the “savages” were that they were fighting against. The American people have so much pride for their country during this time that this would be great entertainment for them.

Web Assignment #4:
There were several factors in the United States going to war with Spain. These reasons were economics, domestic politics, and political and social ideologies. The U.S. believed that they needed to expand the market for their products. There were many issues at the time with overproduction and they believed that if they could expand the market to other countries, especially China, America would flourish. The domestic policy at the time was also a factor that pushed the U.S. to war with Spain and the reason that many people at the time believed America went to war. The USS Maine had exploded outside of Cuba and America blamed Spain for this incident. However, later evidence showed that Spain was probably not responsible for the explosion but rather a problem with the ship. Nevertheless, America took Cuba’s side in the war between Cuba and Spain. The last factor, the political and social ideologies, is that America wanted to be a powerful country and gain land. Spain had shown aggression towards America, or so the country thought, and a strong country does not stand for that. America wanted to create a strong navy and Cuba seemed like a great place for a naval station. In the article “America as a Pacific Power,” the author says, “If America is to stand before the world as the pioneer of liberty and civilization, the hidebound but respectable conservatism which would obstruct the natural and legitimate growth of the country must be laid aside, and the liberal conservatism which has momentum enough for progress and yet resistance enough for safety, must be used as we go forward to the destiny which awaits the republic” (pg 1). The author is saying that America has a destiny to become great, a super power and to show everyone the ways of liberty and civilization. America believed that they went to places to help the people become civilized but in actuality civilized just meant more like Americans. Even though the government at the time was saying they went to war because Spain attacked the USS Maine it is shown in all of the articles that everyone at the time wanted to Americanize the rest of the world, expand the country, and gain power.

I have thought about the above historical evidence, and I have come to the following conclusions. From 1863 to 1900 the country was going through a “growing era.” The country for the first time had to deal with the issues of diversity. It realized that no matter your race you should not be enslaved. The country still did not agree on this issue but those that disagreed were on their way to learning how to deal with it. The country was developing cities and factories. America became a place were one could purchase many different products. Inventions were being made that took the country in a new direction. For example, the completion of the railroad connected the country and made it possible for trade. It also made it possible for not only exploration but also for many more people to travel and settle the western portion of the country. America also was dealing with the actually growing in size of the country. Not only were there a great number of immigrants coming into the country but the country was also expanding in land mass. Alaska, Hawaii, Cuba and the Philippians became part of America. Towards the end of the era, the United States faced its first hardship, as the entire country was affected by the first Depression. By the 1900’s America had grown to become a land on its way to being a powerful nation.


At 11:23 PM, Blogger H. McLure said...

Congrats on your first post, Abby!

Your entry looks pretty good so far -- I'm assuming Web Assignments 2, 3, and 4 will be completed soon?

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I agree with abby's comments in the second web assignment and in her conclusion. I agree that in order to get a full and accurate perception of the west back in the late 19th century, you would definetly need to see all four of the paintings. I feel that they all touch on a certain aspect of the west that are all equally as important as the next. I your conclusion you write, "From 1863 to 1900 the country was going through a “growing era.”" This statement is exactly how I feel about the United States during this era as well. I called it a "Era of learning," but I like your title more. We were expanding and growing more than we were learning i guess.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Megan said...

Comment #1 & 2
(Response to Assignment #3)

I thought that Abby had some good insights into this seemingly simple flier for a townhall gathering to hear about the war abroad. There are a few things that Abby noticed that I did not recognize. For instance, she wrote that this must be very early propoganda in the war. This rings true for the flier is a simple black and white, imageless announcement. It is up to the reader to read inbetween the lines. This does not jump out at you saying that the war is a positive thing but after close examination the message is clear. I searched online for similiar fliers but came up with nothing as early as this. It seems like a rarity now. I think that she made smart assumptions that the poster was to excite people about the good that was being done and that people should want to hear about it, that it is their business to know.

An example of later propoganda include the image at Abby's claim that the fliers message was likely one of support is solidified with this similiar image that shows America bringing peace to a savage people.


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