Tag Archives: America

Black voters protesting literacy tests

Could you pass the 1965 Alabama voter literacy test?

PBS in the United States have published a section of the 1965 Alabama Literacy Test, which was used at the discretition of the voting officials. In Section A of the test a person wishing to vote needed to read aloud a section of the Alabama Constitution. Sections B and C they could be asked any of these questions (or none at all). The literacy test was therefore a way to control who would be able to vote and was primarily used to prevent African-Americans from voting by giving them the hardest sections of the Constitution to read, and requiring them to answer the hardest questions on the test.

Click here to view the test and the answers

For more examples, see http://www.crmvet.org/info/littest.htm

Confederate troops in 1861

Confederate troops in 1861. Compare to WW1 for cont & change in warfare

This 1861 photograph of Confederate artillery in the American Civil War is a great starter for discussions about continuity and change in warfare. Compare it to images of WW1 field artillery for some interesting student observations. Click to download a full-size version.

Operation Desert Storm

The start of Operation Desert Storm and the First Gulf War

On the 17th January 1991, the combat phase of the Gulf War began as Operation Desert Storm was launched to destroy Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure through an enormous aerial bombing campaign. Over 2,250 coalition aircraft flew in excess of 1,000 sorties a day for five weeks, after which the ground campaign to force Iraqi troops from Kuwait began.

The trigger for the Gulf War was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on the 2nd August, 1990. Driven by a desire to seize Kuwait’s vast oil reserves and relieve Iraq of crippling debts accrued during the Iran-Iraq War, the invasion was completed within just three days. International condemnation of Iraq was immediate and far-reaching.  The UN began by imposing complete economic sanctions, but on the 29th November 1990 gave Iraq an ultimatum: withdraw from Kuwait by the 15th January 1991 or face military force. In preparation, US Secretary of State James Baker secured support from 34 separate countries for a multi-national coalition force.

Meanwhile over 500,000 troops were sent to defend Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, in case Iraq chose to attack. However, even as the UN’s deadline approached Saddam refused to withdraw from Kuwait. Consequently Operation Desert Storm began shortly after midnight on the 17th January. Just a few hours later, Saddam Hussein appeared on state radio saying that “The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun. The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins.” He couldn’t have been more wrong. Following five weeks of aerial bombardment, the Coalition’s ground assault forced the Iraqi troops from Kuwait in just four days.

Gulf War

The First Gulf War: Course and Consequences

This revision podcast is aimed at GCSE and IGCSE History students, although AS and IB students may find it a helpful introduction to events in the Gulf in the later 20th Century.  This episode focuses on the events and the aftermath of the First Gulf War.

The podcast begins with an overview of Operation Desert Shield and Iraq’s retaliation, before moving on to the effect of the ground invasion by Coalition forces. The podcast concludes with a description of the UN weapons inspection and the economic sanctions imposed by the ceasefire.

Download MP3     Download Transcript

Wall Street Black Thursday

A brief explanation of the origins of the Wall Street Crash

Thursday the 24th October 1929, known as Black Thursday, is generally accepted as the first day of the Wall Street Crash. The day saw panic selling of shares on the New York Stock Exchange on an unprecedented scale, with over 12.8 million being sold and the market’s value plummeting by 11%. The market didn’t return to its pre-crash level until 1954.

Signs of an impending crisis had been identified many months before the crash, with the Federal Reserve warning on the 25th March of the dangers of speculation on the stock market. The warning coincided with a slowing down of the American economy, but investors continued to purchase stocks that gradually pushed the market to a peak of 381.17 points on the 3rd September.

However, in late September many of the larger investors began to sell their shares, and by the middle of October the market was in freefall as more and more people began panicking about the plummeting prices. Although Black Thursday was the first day of large-scale panic selling, the losses were dwarfed by those the following week when around 16 million shares were sold. Within just a few days of trading, $30 billion dollars had been wiped off the stock market. This was the Wall Street Crash. Although the scale of panic selling did slow down, the market continued its downward trajectory for over 2 years, finally reaching an all-time low on the 8th July 1932. By that time the effect of the Great Depression had crept around the world, acting as a catalyst for the world war that was to follow.

US break relations with Cuba

Why the USA cut diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961

On the 3rd January 1961, the United States of America severed its diplomatic relationship with Cuba and closed the American embassy in Havana. The move came in the wake of the nationalisation of industries in Cuba that were owned by US citizens, which increased as the American government gradually introduced a trade embargo.

The overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement heralded a dramatic change in US-Cuban relations. American President Dwight D. Eisenhower initially recognised the new socialist government, but the situation quickly deteriorated as Cuba introduced agrarian reforms and the nationalisation of US-owned interests.

In response the USA stopped buying Cuban sugar and banned the sale of oil, so Castro’s government turned to the USSR for assistance. This led to a further deterioration of relations with America. However, a complete trade embargo only came about after Cuba nationalised the three American-owned oil refineries in the country in October 1960.

Further nationalisations over the next three months – including that of private property owned by Americans – led the Eisenhower administration to cut all diplomatic ties with Cuba on the 3rd January. Meanwhile, a group of Cuban exiles in the USA, known as Brigade 2506, were being trained by the CIA to overthrow Castro’s government. This plan, which resulted in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, was followed through by John F. Kennedy after he became the 35th President of the USA less than three weeks after the closure the embassy.

Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States were finally restored on the 20th July 2015, although a trade embargo still exists.

Teacher Objectivity in WW1

Objectivity in the classroom, 1914. Is this #WW1 clipping still relevant?

This American news clipping was published in November 1914. Quoting from a Department of Education circular, it says:

One of the most vital problems confronting school administrators at this time is the educational problem of how to teach about the current European war and the teacher’s attitude in the discussions in respect to this conflict.

Teachers should not express any personal opinions in regard to the war that will give a reason for resentment from the parents or offend the sensibilities of the children.

Below the fifth grade no time at all should be devoted to this war subject. Beginning with the fifth grade Current Events should be used in the class discussions and as a guide in the map study of the war zone.

Maintaining objectivity in the classroom, 1914 style. Circular from #WW1 arguably still relevant