TeachingAmericanHistory.org - We the Teachers Blog
TeachingAmericanHistory.org is history and civics resource website designed for use by K-12 teachers, college faculty, students, and the public at large. It features a searchable library containing thousands of original documents spanning American history from the Colonial Era through the present, primary source document-based lesson plans designed for use in education.
An essential statement of America’s changing role in the world at the time, both aimed toward the future and rooted in the past, Theodore Roosevelt’s expansion of the Monroe Doctrine helped to define American international status and power.
By definition, the Cold War is an abstraction. Without the sights and sounds of combat we usually associate with international tension and conflict, it can be difficult to fully grasp the enormous impact these 45 years of political hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union had on the world. By studying letters, speech transcripts, and other texts from this era, students can interact with the key voices from the Cold War and begin to understand the circumstances that led to popular culture’s images of Olympic boycotts, Hollywood blacklists, and backyard bomb shelters.
Core Documents Collection
The collection of documents on the Cold War explores the deepening tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. after WWII. The documents go on to examine the associated conditions and power struggles in Asia and the Pacific, which would usher in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Finally, they share the voice of Ronald Reagan, who would begin to see some of the walls come down.
The Cold War Core Document volume contains over two dozen texts, including the following:
Excerpts from the Ambassador in China (Hurley) to the Secretary of State
July 10, 1945
Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. Edwin A. Locke, Jr., Personal Representative of President Truman
August 20, 1945
Speech at Berkeley, California
Dean Acheson March 16, 1950
NSC-68: United States Objectives and Programs from National Security
April 14, 1950
New Policy of Boldness
John Dulles May 1952
Statement on Liberation Policy
John Dulles January 15, 1953
Observations on Massive Retaliation
Hans J. Moregenthau March 1954
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
House Joint Resolution 1145
Public Law 88-408
August 10, 1964
Vietnam: The Third Face of the War
Lyndon B. Johnson May 13, 1965
Address to the Nation on Iran Arms and Contra Aid
Ronald Reagan March 4, 1987
Remarks at Moscow State University
Ronald Reagan May 31, 1988
You can use some or all of the Core Documents, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document rather than a textbook, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the issues surrounding the Cold War to life.
Accessing the Cold War Core Documents is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the Cold War Era into your classroom today!
SYNOPSIS: The Cold War volume of Core Documents Collections is designed to help teachers bring to life for students the enormous impact of this 45-year period of hostility between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Check out this unique resource, provided by Teaching American History.
14 teachers from across the country gathered in Simi Valley, California, from 15-17 February 2019 to study the papers, ideas, and legacy of President Ronald Reagan. Coming from as far as Connecticut, these teachers engaged in six 90-minute discussion sessions in an effort to study Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy and public life, through a collection of his most notable speeches and some biographical material. Discussion Leader for the weekend was Dr. Stephen Knott of the United States Naval War College, a noted Reagan scholar. The weekend was punctuated by a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, where attendees experienced Reagan’s 707 Air Force One, interacted with artifacts, videos, and images from his presidency, and learned about the ‘Great Communicator’ and the tumultuous times during which he was active in politics.
Today’s typical high school student has likely encountered a handful of books or movies
that explore aspects of World War II, from the Holocaust to D-Day to Japanese
American internment camps. While these media can enhance a student’s intellectual
and emotional understanding of the events, they don’t always provide a full picture of
World War II–its complex causes, effects, and legacy that continues to shape the United
States today. How can a U.S. History teacher invite students into the drama of World
War II and help them make these critical connections?
Core Documents Collection
The collection of documents on World War II explores the American shift from neutrality
to declaration of war after the Pearl Harbor attacks. The documents go on to examine
military and political strategies along with the war’s impact on women, African
Americans, and Japanese Americans at home. Finally, they delve into the aftermath of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ushered in the nuclear age.
The World War II Core Document volume contains the following:
● Key documents on the period, from the Neutrality Act of 1935 to Roosevelt’s
Fireside Chats and speeches, Truman’s press release alerting the nation about
the atomic bomb, letters and diaries from soldiers, and reports from the
● An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
● A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various
● Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other
documents in the collection
● Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to
improve understanding of the document’s historical context
You can use some or all of the Core Documents, tailoring them to your curriculum,
schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document
rather than a textbook, you will start to see your students making connections that bring
the issues surrounding World War II to life.
Accessing the World War II Core Documents is easy. Just click on the link below and
find everything you need to bring the World War II Era into your classroom today!
SYNOPSIS: The World War II volume of Core Documents Collections is designed to
help teachers bring to life for students the causes, effects, and legacy of the war. Check
out this unique resource, provided by Teaching American History.
Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 speech on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise signaled his return to public life and politics, after a few years of private law practice. In the speech he outlined not only his views on Congress’ action, but also the growing sectional divide, slavery, and the future of America.
The first Great American Debates webinar of 2019 took place on Saturday, 12 January, with a deep dive into the causes and ideas behind the opposing – and both diverse and complex in and of themselves – sides in the debate over states’ right, supposedly, to secede. Drs. Scott Yenor, Jonathan White, and Chris Burkett discussed the constitutional, legal, and political dimensions of an issue that had roots far earlier than the flare-up in late 1860.
Thomas Jefferson wrote this letter only weeks before his death in 1826, and in it seeks to explain, in effect, what he meant by some of the key ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Coupled with his 1825 letter to Henry Lee, this piece provides an interesting perspective on those ideas, from their key author. Jefferson not only reflects on American independence, but looks far into the future, when “all,” he believed, would seek political liberty, perhaps even in the American tradition.
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” The opening of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech reminds us that these words grew out of a major event, not a textbook. It is August of 1963, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are crowded before the Lincoln Memorial as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Near the end of the day, Dr. King addresses the hot, tired, but invigorated crowd with some of the most resonant words in our nation’s history. Shouldn’t the words themselves receive the greatest attention?
While virtually all U.S. history curricula cover Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments, they often give no more than a glance to the speeches themselves. Most students learn that “I Have a Dream” is one of the most famous speeches in history. But what do they learn about the speech itself? What can they recite aside from the title’s refrain, the ending reference to the Negro spiritual, or perhaps “they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?
As important as these lines are, they represent just a fraction of the orator’s richness of thought. By digging into his words, rather than a textbook summary of his ideas, students can appreciate King’s rhetorical strategies:
Different modes of persuasion (ethos, pathos, and logos)
Historical and religious allusions
Sentence structure and punctuation
Practicing What King Preached
Because Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher who believed in the power of the written and spoken word, communicating was not just a means to an end. The words themselves were art and truth, meant to inspire just as much as his actions. As students will learn by studying his speech, King refers to numerous other speeches, songs, religious texts, and political documents, understanding the weight and influence of these original sources.
Without studying the entirety of King’s speech, students miss on his truly indelible mark on America’s Civil Rights movement and intellectual history. Bring Martin Luther King Jr. to life in your classroom this year by living among his very words.
TAH.org’s last Saturday Webinar for 2018 took place on 1 December, and featured another Great American Debate: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, in their famous ‘Lincoln-Douglas Debates’ of 1858. Our panel of scholars, with the assistance of great questions submitted by our live audience of teachers addressed the ideas and issues, rhetoric and reasoning, and immediate and long-term impact and meaning of these singular debates in American history.
Our Documents in Detail episode for 14 NOV 18 focused on the Bill of Rights: the politics behind its proposal and adoption; interpretations over time; and place in our history, government, and society. Among the many questions asked during the lively 58-minute program included those about James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and why they initially did not support an enumeration of rights, but in Madison’s case, eventually went on to promote the legislation that led to the Bill of Rights. Also considered was the notion that to understand the Bill of Rights today, one must understand the original arguments against it.