Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Abolitionists by D. L.

The documentary “Three Abolitionists Who Helped Change America” tells us the significance of three men in particular and their impact on the abolitionist movement. At that time, being an abolitionist was a challenge. David Walker, David Ruggles, and Anthony Burns were all looked up to for various reasons. David Walker used his freedom of speech and press for his abolitionism. David Ruggles believed in the use of practical abolition. He liked more of a direct confrontation towards the topic of slavery. Ruggles owned a bookstore in which he helped hide and protect many slaves and he would often be out by the ports to watch for illegal smuggling. Anthony Burns had the greatest impact when he decided to escape and run from slavery. Only to be caught and jailed. Soon after, he was sold to an abolitionist and gained his freedom. All these men had a great impact on opening the eyes of people who hadn’t realized how important it was to be an abolitionist.
            In the article, “A Departure from Their Place”, we read about how women were involved in various petitions submitted to congress. Also, how the women’s place in society didn’t affect them into doing what they believed to be right. For example, in these petitions, the signature places were divided between Citizens, men, Ladies or even Neighbors, and minors. These petitions showed society where women stood and this didn’t affect the women into not wanting to take action. On the contrary! Once congress decided to disregard the petitions sent in by women, the women responded by sending even more and more their way.
            In class we also took a look at an article titled “Address to the Slaves of the United States” by William Lloyd Garrison. In this article we found what slave owners feared most. One reason being that Slaves knew that their “masters are cowardly and weak, through conscious wrong doing”. A few questions that still remain in my head are why congress would disregard petitions if that was their job. Next, I would have liked to get more into the process of how Anthony Burns eventually made it out of jail and became a free man. Also, how whites reacted to the acts of the three men who were so recognized in the abolition movement.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New York: Order & Disorder and Swill Milk by D. C.

  1. The first source was a documentary called New York: Order and Disorder, we learned about the ways in which New York changed from a rural to an urban community through the years and through it’s inhabitants. Some of these intensely packed living areas of immigrants and poor civilians really changed a lot of the scenes in the city. Irish immigrants were flooding the streets and were forced to compete with black folk for the same jobs and positions in society. The economical and political points of view also took note of who was living because they had to see enough product and realize how to win future elections. Our second class source was all about Swill Milk and it was called, Organizing a Protest in a Changing City by Michael Egan. This swill aka diseased milk came from diseased cows. This became such a huge issue due to the skyrocketing infant mortality rates which stemmed from the diseased milk they were consuming off the market. These cows were producing such awful milk because of their conditions, cramped and dirty all stacked up on one another--sort of like the Irish and Black immigrants. Disease spread faster this way leading to worse and worse conditions for both.
  2. In the purpose of the documentary we watched is to give us a true understanding of the demographics of NYC’s struggles throughout the time period of 1825-1865. It gave us reasoning for why immigrants acted in the way that they had, it also made us see how horrible it was for them. The author’s point of view in the documentary seems to be a white middle class observer depicting the scenes of chaos. The text by Michael Egan was in the point of view of honestly a college department head describing the horrid struggles of poisoned milk and what was and was not done about it and its effects on society. The purpose is to show how powerful some industries can be and also how manipulative the are capable of being.
  3. Well in class we did a lot of talking about the swill milk portion and had many stories and examples of the conditions from first had experiences with diseased milk. The smells and looks are disgusting but it was right under so many people’s noses and they could have saved a lot of lives but the inspectors were fooled. Just talking about how bad the milk was in class made me realize how stupid or how much these inspectors were paid off to keep it as if everything was functioning beautifully. On the documentary when we talked about how the Irish and Blacks were seen as equal even though Irish men were white, that fact alone gave me a great idea as to how they were treated. Having to compete with another race for everything and survive in slums in America was truly awful.
  4. One of the big questions we talked about in class was dealing with the milk and why nothing was done about it. The Dairy Industry put chalk and magnesium into the pale blue diseased milk to make it a thicker white milk which stayed white for longer to fool the inspectors and the public consumers. Nobody did or said anything about it because there was so much economic benefit from it. The Breweries would give their left over grains to the Cow Stables to feed the cows, then the Butcher would get the cows to sell to people if he didn’t say anything. Also the Markets grew and had more product for the public the buy like meat and milk and alcohol so their businesses boomed too! The money everyone saved by cutting corners, lack of caring for people’s health, and this rapid population growth was honestly why nothing was done. It’s quite sad that it is all true and that there was no alternative source for any product, it was just how things were done back then.
  5. I’d want to know more about if any other industry pulled this off and if so how and how long did it go on? Also why could the government not get involved if they new it was costing people their lives? Could immigrant traffic be stopped so the cities didn’t get overwhelmed with unemployed people on the streets? What was the consequence for these Industries once Western Country milk was brought over in refrigerator cars on railroads?

New York: Order & Disorder and Swill Milk by M. M.

The documentary New York: Order and Disorder, is about the events that led up to New York changing from a rural to an urban community. Problems that plagued New York during this period included moral depravity, too little space for too many people, and discrimination against the Irish immigrants escaping famine in their country. Discrimination against the Irish is said to come from their bushy eyebrow, tendency to drink, and the competition they offer to Native-born Americans. The producer of this documentary uses these facts as well as a brief look at New York while it was still rural, to support the idea that New York urbanized and grew faster than it could handle.
The various historians present in the documentary gave us a third-person perspective of the events that took place during New York's urbanization period. In addition, several excerpts from diaries of New Yorkers who lived through urbanization, were read by the documentary's narrator which did and didn't give a first-person perspective. I say didn't because as far as I watched, there wasn't an account from the Irish immigrants or the Native-born Americans who discriminated against them. How these two groups saw each other, their fellow New Yorkers, and the process of urbanization are what was missing from the picture of New York transforming.
Discussions about the documentary in class seemed to bring a few new facts about the newly urbanized New York to light. Our class conducted an analysis of a drawing of New York during during their transformation; we noticed that the artist used a lot of red and orange which are usually associated anger, painted a diverse crowd of New Yorkers in narrows roads, and the aforementioned crowd seemed to be in a frenzy. We concluded that with urbanization came hostility and chaos due to very large populations being compressed into a city that cannot accommodate such a huge increase in its population.
Another fact that my class and I learned is that unsanitary conditions and rise of diseases, often accompany rapid urbanization and population growth. When populations inflate in such a small area, the chances of diseases spreading to the rest of the population are very high. Not only that, but the chances of diseases starting are increased when you have a population produce more waste than a small city can hold or handle. We understand how disease can start and be recognized in large part, thanks to one of my fellow classmates whose name I am ashamed to say, I don't know, connected the smell of bad cow milk to popping a zit. An unusual comparison, but one that can help picture the disgusting conditions that New Yorkers became accustomed to living in.

Mining California by M. M.

On April 10, 2017 the HIST 111 T/TH class examined a chapter from Andrew C. Isenberg’s book Mining California which explored California’s overall beauty, it’s vast lands, it’s complex weather patterns, and it’s abundant natural resources which were exploited by the ever growing population. Isenberg’s main argument was to showcase the destruction of California’s natural resources as the population kept on growing. The evidence he used to back up his argument varied from statistical data to primary sources from well known historical figures. During the same class we also examined Dr. Donald Worster interview. Dr Worster's main argument was to shed some light on the very overlook topic of environmental history and how important it is to understand how the presence of men in this continent has changed it’s layout forever. Some of the points which he discussed include the barbaric ways of killing buffaloes by the Native Americans, the search of commodities and natural resources to exploit by European Settlers, the creation of federally preserved lands and also a brief description of what mining economy is. Some of the evidence he used  to back up his arguments consisted on his own research, historical facts, and essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Rachel Carson.
The purposes of both Dr. Isenberg and Dr. Worster are: to showcase the natural beauty of not just California but also of the United States prior to the arrival of men, to explain how natural resources were exploited in order to stimulate the country’s economy, what types of technologies were used to do it, and how the government’s response to the uncontrolled capitalists environmental exploitation of the time. The point of view both historians took in the interview and the book chapter was of well informed and very knowledgeable environmental historians. They both showed an eagerness to share as much information as possible in a very easy to understand manner to a general audience. While listening to Dr. Worster’s interview and reading  Dr. Isenberg’s piece one can easily hear and see multiple voices from the Pre-columbian Native Americans to European Settlers. One can even feel as if he is listening to mother nature speak of the injustices done to her by men and their capitalists driven environmental exploitation. It is with certainty that he who watches Dr. Worster’s interview and reads Dr. Isenberg’s book will not feel as if anyone’s voices were left out; they both did a superb job of remaining unbiased to any ideology and simply presented less known historical facts regarding environmental history.
Within the class both, Dr. Worster’s interview and Dr. Isenberg’s piece were thoroughly examined. Some of the topics which were talked about the most were from Dr. Worster’s interview: President’s Roosevelt’s life and his peculiar adventurous, bold, and daring style, the hydrological and environmental biodiversity destruction, nature lovers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Carson and Muir, and how the United States mining economy ideology had abused of our natural resources for far too long. As far as Dr. Isenberg’s piece the class was very interested in finding what were the main natural resources that men had exploited in California which were gold, lumber, and oil. We also discussed how the technological advances of the era had helped deteriorate the environment, for example hydraulic mining helped destroyed mountains, and river beds. We were also fascinated to discover how the demographics changed with time to the point that by 1890 30% of California’s population was foreign born.

The amount of questions regarding Dr. Worter’s interview and Dr. Isenberg’s piece was very limited since most of the facts were self explanatory. However, some students asked questions about the studied era which helped bring a better understanding to the overall concept of environmental history. One of the most interesting questions asked was: What did the government do to mitigate uncontrolled environmental exploitation? The answer was that eventually the government would create the National Parks Systems, the Environmental Protection Agency, passed the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Legislation, the Coastal Commission and the Natural Preservation Act. Furthermore, someone asked: How is it that Chinese people ended up in California? It was then that we found out that Chinese people were hired in China by American Corporations to come work in the United States for very low pay, in fact the pay was so low that in 1882 the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which put a 10 year moratorium on Chinese immigration. Another topic which was clarified to us was how mining economy works. We came to understand that mining economy is based on finding new fuel systems to live; so far it has worked but will not for too long. This is the reason why the United States began to import oil in the 1950's, basically understanding that drilling within our own land could be detrimental while not really caring if it is or it is not to the other exporting nation.
Finally, as complex and intriguing as this topic is there are only two questions that still remain unanswered. Why is it that so many historians choose to study politics, power, social history, family relationships, race, and gender but not environment? What have we learned in regards to the exploitation of our natural resources that we can use to preserve what we have left so that the future generations can also enjoy it as well?

Mining California by C. D-L.

  We watched an interview video about a man named Donald Worster and his studies as a historian and read an article about mining California and what the West had to offer. Unlike most historians Donald Worster’s studies deal with the past but its main focus is on nature. Donald is known as an Environmental Historian. Throughout Donald’s interview he describes how the west was untouched and unseen for so many years but is then brutalized by travelers and immigrants that are a part of a mining economy. A mining economy is one that thinks we will always find new resources to fill in the place of resources that they have already depleted; unlimited amount of resources.  In this interview Donald also discusses men like Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir. Worster describes John Muir as an American Public Prophet and Naturalist because of his writings about how passionate he was about nature and wild life. Muir’s work was published in magazines and news articles to spread the word of our nature and its beauty. During this time many believed that the arts shaped the way we as humans viewed nature. Roosevelt saved more land for preservation than any other president.
 In the article “Mining California” by Andrew Isenberg, Isenberg mentions Native American and their ideas, California’s climate, geography, population, and technological advancements. Isenberg also includes information about the economic demands of mining, different Acts that were supposed to help California, and the causes and effects on Hydraulic mining. “Geologically, California is one of the youngest and most rapid changing regions in the world” , with environments ranging in altitude from 282 feet below sea level to 14,500 feet above sea level. California suffered two major droughts one lasting from 890-1100 and the other from 1210-1350. The Indians of California would set fires in both fall and spring to kill the rest of crops that were either alive or dead to have fresh soil to plant new crops. This fresh soil would allow easy access for a cleaner plow of the soil for the new crops. The economic demands of mining took a toll on all natural environments like land, agriculture, and animals which caused some to be completely depleted. After seeing this was happening California started to pass laws and acts that funneled natural resources from western public into the control of industrial entrepreneurs.
            The purpose of watching the Donald Worster video was to inform students that there is a lot of history about our land that we don’t know about. In fact, we learn in high school and college about wars, significant dates, treaties, and slavery in our history classes but we are never really informed about the West and significant history of California land we live on. Worster was trying to make us aware that we must take care of our ecosystem; otherwise the ecosystem will eventually die off due to human caused activity. He was informing us that even though mining economy was beneficial in some regions and times of the US; it was also a very poor way of treating our planet. The workers of this economy would excavate our land until t was depleted then move onto more land until that area was depleted as well. A voice I would like to hear from Worster’s ideas would be the voices of John Muir and his ideas, Theodore Roosevelt and his ideas, and also some of the workers of the different economies.
            The purpose of the article “Mining California” was specifically to inform student’s about the demand for natural resources, the causes and effect of mining and agriculture, some technological advances, the percentages of laborers, and the overall effect of hydraulic mining. “California was a rare place that promised its inhabitants prosperity and the pristine.” Although we’ve learned California was mined for gold another contributing factor of California was all of its trees. California cut large numbers of trees to build cities to support the growing population. The demand for lumber by city builders contributed to the deforestation of one-third of California’s availed supply of timber by 1872. With the large growing population also came sewage systems and factories to industrialize California. A major problem with the factories was that they emitted large amounts of toxins into the air, water, and soil. By 1910, one in five American laborers was an immigrant. The discovery of gold not only attracted Americans to California but also migrants from Europe, Latin America, and East Asia. “Hydraulic mining, urban development, and industrial logging and ranching proved successful enough endeavors that they inspired the further exploitation both within and outside the state.”
            In class we enhanced our knowledge more about Environmental history and the mining of California. We discussed that Environmental historians were more based on the West. There was a thought process from the 18660s-1900s that California and the US were never going to run out of natural resources. Unlike Anglo-Saxon Europeans whose tradition was to migrate and develop to become more modernized right then was different from a naturalist thought process because they think how is what we are doing now going to affect our future. After the Civil War almost half the cowboys in the west were black and as the cities grew more and more men started to get more office jobs and become less outdoorsy. After being mentally and physically broken from the Civil War, California was the place to go because the nature was a sense of relief and calming.  Mining California main purpose was for the gold rush and what it had to offer. In class we learned about the consequences of development and demographic changes. One of the main ways laborers would mine was by hydraulic mining which they thought was a great success. The problem with hydraulic mining was that it destroyed mountains that could never be rebuilt, it could change the shape and depth of river beds, and if the actual hydraulic line became clogged, it would cause a great amount of flooding. In 1860 thirty-nine percent of the state’s residents were foreign born and by 1910 one in every five American Laborers was an immigrant. By 1900 over $9.7 billion was invested in American industry but only $330 million was invested in the West. Automobiles were invented to help with transportation and to help lower the rate of horse carcasses lying around.
            How did the Indians maintain the fires they started? When was the first Hydraulic mine created? How did we preserve all of John Muir’s work? What was the percentage of American born laborers? How did the US get all of the money to invest into the West?