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Educational Support Materials for the exhibit...

Freedom: A History of US


MARCH 13, 2003 THROUGH APRIL 18, 2003



photo of immigrants

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Tours are interactive; students who are currently studying American history are asked to contribute what they know about the periods or events depicted. Students are asked to comment on what they see, think and feel about the reproductions of visuals and documents.

The tour begins with the colonial period and ends with the twentieth century, but most of the panels are on the 19th century and the Civil War.

Trained guides will start with a basic review of the founding principles of freedom. They will choose from 8-12 of the following highlights, according to the suggestions of the teachers and the interest of the students.

 Painting by Paul Revere – The Bloody Massacre, 1770

A snowball fight began this killing of colonists.
Student Question: What do you know about Paul Revere?

 The Declaration of Independence – a “revolutionary” document

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Student Question: What do you think of the above underlined phrases?

All “men” are created equal (who does this exclude?)
The “rights” to “liberty”
and “consent of the governed.”

 Power Derived from the Consent of the Governed

The Declaration of Independence determines that the government is set up by the people, to represent the people, and to serve the people. People have the power to dissolve the government:

“…whenever any Form of government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles.”

After a “train of abuses” or a “Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government.”

The colonists threw off the rule of Britain under the King George III. The tension between the people and government has existed throughout history and all over the world.


 Right of Impeachment

“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the U.S. shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In the Constitution “impeachment” appears six times. The Founders had lived under King George III and had accused him of usurping the power of the people, being above the law and criminal abuse of authority.

After the Civil War, during Reconstruction, The House of Representatives impeached President Johnson for things like encouraging racial bigotry and slowing the process of achieving “justice for all.” But because he did not commit “high crimes”, therefor he was acquitted in the Senate trial.

A similar thing happened to President Bill Clinton. He was impeached by the House in 1998 for lying under oath about sexual misconduct, but acquitted by the Senate for the same reason: it was not proven he had committed high crimes. President Richard Nixon resigned in the 1970’s because he faced almost certain impeachment by the House and a probable conviction in the Senate. 56 men in his administration were convicted of crimes and some went to jail. Twenty large corporations were found guilty of making illegal contributions. The House began to prepare the articles of impeachment following the guidelines of our Constitution: obstruction of justice regarding the Watergate break-in, violating the constitutional rights of citizens by authorizing illegal wiretaps. Today former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has drafted articles of impeachment against President Bush, V.P. Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. Some of the charges are: “deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping power of Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the U.S.”

Student Question:: When do you think it’s justified to exercise our constitutional right to remove our leaders from office?

 First draft of U.S. Constitution

The compromise on freedom: In order to get Southern states to ratify the constitution, a clause was added by Pierce Butler, one of the wealthiest slaveholders from S. C. It required the return of slave fugitives to their owners.

Student Question: Is compromise necessary sometimes?

 The Bill of Rights

Amendments to the Constitution adopted in 1791.

Student Question:: What freedoms to we have from our Bill of Rights? (freedom of religion, speech, press, to assemble, petition the government)

Listen to this description and try to figure out what period it is describing:

War is imminent. Foreigners are feared. Laws are passed to restrict the civil liberties of non-citizens and citizens as well.
Though this may sound like present-day U.S. since September 11, 2001, it is actually a description of the U.S. just seven years after the Constitutional amendments called the Bill of Rights were adopted (paraphrased from Joy Hakim’s book). The Sedition Act of 1798 signed into law by President Adams made it a crime to criticize the government. Today most historians believe these were bad laws.

 Habeas Corpus

Our U.S. Constitution addresses the abuse of being held in prison without being charged. That is called “habeas corpus.”

Section 9 of Article I states:

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Today Attorney General Ashcroft tells us our security requires that we suspend habeas corpus, and our government is holding suspected terrorists and hundreds of prisoners at our base in Guantanamo Bay without formally charging them with a crime. In Congress, some conservatives and liberals are joining to question these laws.

Student Question: Is the Patriot Act passed in October 2001, and the newly Patriot II Act currently being drafted by Attorney General Ashcroft a necessity to secure our liberties, or a threat to our liberties?

 Visual: “Slave Market of America.”

Abolitionist broadside of the 1830’s that exposed the brutality of slavery, calling it a violation of the Bible, the Declaration, and the Constitution.

Students: Describe what do you see

 Visual: Map of U.S. after the Missouri Compromise with territories added as of 1820. By John Melish

Student Question: What do you know about the expansion of the U.S. territories? What were the issues?

 Advertisement for John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives, New Haven, CT 1840.

Student Question: Who knows the story of the Amistad?

 Louis Adolph Gautier engraving of Stump speaking”, a painting by George C. Bingham. NY 1856.

Student Question: How important is it to be politically aware and to vote?

 Abraham Lincoln, manuscript fragment of “House Divided” speech, ca. 1857. Draft for his acceptance speech as U.S. Senator.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave, and half free.”

Student Question: Why are these words so famous?

 Abolitionist Flag of U.S. 1858. 10 X 5 feet. Discovered in 1996 and displayed here for the first time.

Student Question: Count the number of stripes and stars? Why so few?

 Union Camp Life: Sketchbook of watercolors by Henry Berckhoff, 1861-63.

Student Question: What do you see? What does this tell us about the life of an ordinary soldier (who was also a skilled artist)?

 Henry C. Parrott, letter to his sister, Oct. 1862

“We were pretty well cut to pieces...”

 The Dead at Gettysburg: Photographs

Student Question: Do you think the realities of fighting in a war are different from the promises of recruiters, and the glamour of uniforms and medals?

 “Men of Color, to Arms!” 1863

Frederick Douglass lobbied Lincoln to organize black regiments.

 Photograph of anonymous private, 1863

Student Question:Do you think white Americans respected the African American more, as Frederick Douglas predicted they would, once he “had an eagle on his button, a musket on his shoulder, and the star spangled banner over his head?”

 Emancipation Proclamation,” engraving 1864

Student Question: What did this mean for our nation?

 Fifteenth Amendment Celebrated 1870

Student Question: What hopes did African Americans have?

 Susan B. Anthony

She voted illegally, was convicted and jailed.

Student Question: Did Susan B. Anthony have a lot of courage? Are there any things that you would have the courage to speak up about?

 The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Student Question: What do you know about him and how he advanced the cause of freedom?


Use it or Lose it

We all know what happens to our muscles when we don’t exercise. We lose our strength. Use it or lose it. The same thing happens to our mind. Use it or lose it. We, as citizens of a democracy, need to exercise the freedoms of speech, press and assembly granted us in our remarkable document, The Constitution of the United States. The same principle applies: Use it or lose it.

We encourage you to use the exhibit information and questions for follow-up research projects, discussions and debates on the important issues brought up by the book, videos and exhibit, Freedom: A History of US.

Some sources are listed here...

Educational Materials Prepared by Janet Luongo, Educational Consultant