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  • Essay #1:


    Traditional text, the ones in my classroom and the ones I grew up with, teach about the first Europeans to reach America.  Bender's view encompasses a more complex view on why Europeans explored and developed colonies in the Americas.  While I shall agree that most of Bender's work and views are nothing "new", there are some things I did not know and some connections that I found interesting.

    Traditional Text books for Elementary schools suggest that the English came across the Atlantic for religious freedom, as they were being persecuted at home.  What always struck me about that explanation was how could they afford a boat big enough to transport them to America just for religious freedom?  England may not be that big, but they could have moved around and found a place to settle rather than spending all their money on a boat and taking the chance of dieing at sea.  Bender's explanation makes more sense to me.  The Islamic traders in the Middle East had a strangle-hold on trading from Europe to Asia, and Africa by land.  European nations were not stronger than the Middle East at this time, and they needed more economic stimulation, more natural resources to trade without passing through this Islamic land.  Also, Europe was devastated by the black plague, and it traveled down the silk road, infecting all those who traveled and lived by this famous travel route.  I never thought of how this disease would affect Europe's desire to find a new trading route, but it makes sense.  I always thought of Europe at this time of being a collection of strong nations that had the ability to explore because they, as a country, were so well off.  Quite the opposite, they were in such desperation that they needed something different to happen if they were to prosper.


    I also didn't know that the Chinese valued silver so much at this time.  The Spanish became so powerful through conquering Mexico and Peru and mining the silver and trading it to China without passing through the Islamic Middle East.  These type of Interactions, a new resource of wealth plus the ability to avoid the Middle East trade routes, led to the rise of Europe and the downfall of the Middle East for many centuries.

  • I agree with Mike Baum's comment that Bender's work is nothing "new."  It is interesting and pertinent, but other historians have made global connections to events that have shaped America.        

    I focused on Bender's chapter 2 and the American Revolution since that is a primary focus in the fifth grade curriculum.  Most elementary school social studies texts take the point of view that King George III was a stubborn man who refused to compromise with the colonists on taxation issues and this eventually led to the American Revolution.  France and Spain are briefly mentioned as aiding the Patriot cause, but elementary texts to not bring up the fact revolutions were happening in other empires.  Students receive a watered down version of causes of the revolution and little, if any, connection is made to transnational events like the Haitian Revolution.


    I found it very interesting to read about the "Age of Atlantic Revolution" P. 93.  The Age of Enlightenment caused a philosophical shift in European thinking. "It seemed to announce a new era of liberty, and it gave new authority to critics of traditional hierarchies of authority." p. 95.  While Bender quotes John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, he is does not include KIng George III or Lord Frederick North's point-of-view as representing the English Empire's stance.  I felt for the chapter to be balanced their reasoning should have been included.  Bender draws heavily on the Haitian revolution which was supported by Toussaint L'Ouverture.  L'Ouverture had a similar mind-set to Patriot leaders so again, there was a lack of balance as to point-of-view shared. 


    Bender's text gives excellent background connecting the Great War between England and France and America's Seven Year War, which he calls the Twelve-Year War, to the social and economic conflicts leading to the American Revolution.  Elementary school social studies text do not share this information.  There simply isn't enough time to go into depth so the transcontinental causes of the Revolution are skimmed over.  Does this make history less important and insignificant in elementary school?  I don't think so.  Ideas and concepts are introduced and rich discussions can be had with students. 


    Bender's book is not "new," but it is a good reminder that America is not isolated.  This county was and is shaped by world events. 




  • Since I am one of those who can’t seem to find the question
    of the day and therefore must either: 1) choose to responsd to Essay #1; 2) donothing; or 3) create my own question and answer it.  I elect to do #3. 

    I am commenting on the Bender book.  I found it rather dense and tedious.  I get his point about the fact that a “nation” is not freestanding and that is can be viewed as part of a larger world context.
    I also get his point that national identity is “founded largely on a sense of shared memories” (p. 7). I just don’t happen to believe that today we have a shared memory. We are as fragmented as the different nations in Europe or Asia or South America.  I think it is too simplistic to attempt to argue that we with our different cultures, religions, customs and
    ways of looking at the past share a memory is not realistic. I don’t even share the same memory of US history as my sister who is a decade younger than I.


    I can accept that “things happen” in the world as a result
    of some intersection of time and space.  That movements –revolutions in the 1960s, demands for land reform; demands for a greater voice in government; changes in art, music and literature; etc.—happen
    because human beings are in dialog with each other. 


    I have just not had enough time to digest all of what Bender
    is attempting but I do find it an interesting way to look at history.  In a global world I guess we have to admit that we are rubbing shoulders with each other all the time and that the flow of information across national lines causes actions and reactions.  The study of human history—whatever that means—is like plate tectonics.  It is always
    shifting.  It is always unstable and it is always impacted by underlying forces that are larger than we might think because we have a limited view.  The larger our view, the larger our model, the better our understanding will be.







  • Essay #1  Methodological Analysis of Thomas Bender's book " A Nation Among Nations America's Place in World History"

    Bender's main focus throughout his writing is that American History needs to be studied and taught as though we are a multicultural nation in a globalized world.  He discusses that many situations throughout American history are the result of oceanic commerce and capitalism of  many countries throughout time.  American History is usually taught from history books that show the American point of view.  Bender's approach is looking at our history from many sourses of movements and opinions throughout the world.  "The era of oceanic exploration was a time of curiosity, of apraising peoples."  There was some uncertainity of a new emerging global economy with many opportunities with space for settlement and religious freedom.  What stuck in my mind was the discovery of "another world" not just a "new world."  The climate in the world scene was for exploration and economic development.   Bender presents many situations that make you stop and think about American History in a differnt way. 

  • To offer my thoughts for the "methodological analysis" option in the syllabus:


    Bender does nothing fundamentally new, unless by "new" we mean good history. Good historians have always sought to identify the causes of events, whether internal or external to the nation.


    The arguable fact that some historians have had nationalist blinders on, leading them to ignore global causes of events from U.S. history, simply means these historians failed to consider relevant factors and, to that extent, wrote bad history. Better historians have always been able to judge this when they see it.


    Is such history "normal" history? Taking a typical high school history text as a sample, I would say "depends." Such books are typically shallow and poorly written in a number of ways. If they neglect transnational contexts, it may be due to this lack of depth more than to a specifically nationalist bias. Even so, in my experience the books also include a grabbag of transnational factors, when it suits them. The books are thus a hodge-podge.


    In my final analysis, I might say Bender is most new in one respect: his awareness of trends in American historiography over the past few hundred years, leading to his perhaps hyper-sensitivity to transnational historical causality. Armed with that explicit, attuned awareness, we can hope not to fall into the same pitfalls. For that, I thank Thomas Bender, as I do any historian who makes connections new to me. But, as I said, the best historians--and history teachers--have always cast their nets wide to begin with.

  • What would Abram Lincoln say about War and democracy and a global history?

    July 4, 1861: Address to Congress

    Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled - the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains - its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can no be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election neither can they take by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.


    World stage--

    A revolution is a war?

    To the leader of the Hungarian Revolution Kossuth from "Abraham Lincoln as a member of a local committee in Springfield, Illinois, drafted a resolution in support of Kossuth and the Hungarians.  The statement affirmed the right of the Hungarians to throw off "their existing form of government" to achieve their "national independence."  (Bender, Thomas., A Nation Among Nations., Pg 124-125.)


    The Hungarian Revolution or war was crushed by the Russians.


  • I am sure there are other good examples for this, but it is a start.
  • In transnational dialogs, if the time, place, and the presenter of the ideas are removed, or terms that evoke strong reactions, and let the ideas stand alone, is this enough to reduce predispositions and bias to hear what the authors are suggesting, to hear the dialog? Such as...

    "...we are enemies of today’s ........ economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions."


    or to....

    ""If our generation happens to be too weak to establish _______ over the earth, we will hand the spotless banner down to our children. The struggle which is in the offing transcends by far the importance of individuals, factions and parties. It is the struggle for the future of all mankind. It will be severe, it will be lengthy. Whoever seeks physical comfort and spiritual calm let him step aside. In time of reaction it is more convenient to lean on the bureaucracy than on the truth. But all those for whom the word '_________' is not a hollow sound but the content of their moral life - forward! Neither threats nor persecutions nor violations can stop us! Be it even over our bleaching bones the future will triumph! We will blaze the trail for it. It will conquer! Under all the severe blows of fate, I shall be happy as in the best days of my youth; because, my friends, the highest human happiness is not the exploitation of the present but the preparation of the future."

  • OK- It's 11:30.  I'll check the discussion forum in the morning to see if anything was posted from Dr. Rushford.
  • Transnational Ideas Revolution-


    "But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored.  Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

       Source:  John Adams.  Letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775


    "The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.  Many circumstances hath and will arise which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling, of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR."

       Source:  Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776


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