Immigration, Indian Wars and Classicism in Post-Civil War Amercia

As we wrap up our unit on Realism it is important to you examine the perspectives of multiple groups in America, and their issues and concerns, after the Civil War. The three main groups we will be analyzing are immigrants to the United States (Chinese and Irish), the Native Americans, freed slaves, women and the poor. There is a lot of intersection between these groups and their causes and concerns, so know that as we examine and discuss these texts you may see many similarities.

Click here to access our primary source documents

Coming to America: Immigration and the Rise of Nativism


As immigrants from China flocked to America to work on the Transcontinental railroad in the west, Irish and Italian immigrants flocked to the large factory cities of the American Northwest. Support for immigration waned at the end of the 19th century, with many Americans becoming distrustful of, and resenting, the influx of immigrants. Review the video below, and read the primary source document “Very Few Become Americanized” and “The Dives of New York are Hot-Beds of Crime”.




Free at Last: Life for Former Slaves after the Civil War

voter-intimidtn-1876Though finally granted their freedom, after the Civil War former slaves had to navigate life in an America that was not always receptive to their inclusion. The lack of education that slaves were burdened with made life after the war even more difficult, and the Jim Crow and Black Codes were enacted to limit African America’s rights to property, legal representation and ability to vote. Review the video below, and read the primary source documents “The people of both races will have equal accommodations” and “We had only our ignorance”.




The Last Indian Wars: An End to America’s Native People

011669mThough systematic removal, expulsion and killing of the Native Americans has been taking place for over 400 years, by the end of the 19th century the last of the battles and skirmishes between the Native people of American and the new ‘Americans’ would come to their bloody conclusion. As the last of the tribes in the west refused to be relocated again and leave their homes, they came into direct conflict with the U.S. Government and the American citizens of the Southwest. Many young Native Americans were sent to camps and schools to ‘civilize’ them and assimilate them forcibly into white American culture. After the Indian Wars ended, the Native people of America were largely confined to reservations, and the 500+ year resistance against the non-Native people ended. Review the video, and read the primary source documents “Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians”, “I will fight no more forever” and “It was one long grave of butchered women and children and babies”.  Note – these documents are very accurate, and as a result graphic, in their recounting of Native American experiences.



Women after the Civil War: “All my sex are doomed to political subjection”

wmarriagecThe Suffrage movement continued on after the end of the Civil War, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony leading the way. The fight for women’s suffrage would continue on for another 40 years before women were given the right to vote. As the 19th century closed and the 20th century began, the Suffrage movement also began to focus more on issue of women’s education, legal rights and representation, domestic abuse, employment and access to medial care and birth control. We will definitely revisit the role of women’s rights again in the Harlem Renaissance and the Modernist period – until then, be sure to review the video below and read the primary source “All my sex are doomed to political subjection”.




After you’ve read these primary source document, complete a SOAPSTone Analysis for each.


Ask yourself these three questions as you analyze and compare these documents (hint: they may end up being your topic for classroom debate or an essay prompt later).


  1. How does the tone and voice of the document impact your perception of the events discussed? In which documents do you think the author was initially controlling the tone to achieve their purpose?
  2. Are they any documents, or sections of the documents, that contradict each other? What does this tell us about the author, context and purpose?
  3.  How do the experiences of the different groups represented in these primary source documents relate to previous documents we’ve read? How do they continue the story of these minority groups in America from our last unit?
11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

Formality v.s. Informality in Primary Source Docments

Over the course of the Realist period we have reviewed and analyzed many primary source documents – primarly very important, formal documents and speeches such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments”, Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech and Fredrick Douglas’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”. These documents are very effective in achieving their purpose through their careful use of language and rhetoric. However, how do less formal primary source documents still teach us about the issues of race, war, and equality in 19th century America?


We will be analyzing three documents that are less formal – diaries and letters. Below you will find a link to the documents for your class. Remember, as you read and analyze these documents ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do these documents different from the more formal primary sources in their discussion of issues such as race, war, and inequality?
  2. Does the speaker or writer’s awareness of their audience change their style, and if so, which is the more honest primary source – one that is created for a specific purpose, or one that is an informal reflection of events and feelings?
  3. Which is more effective – formal or informal primary source documents?


Click here to access 1st block’s sources.

Click here to access 2nd block’s sources.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

Fredrick Douglas, “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”

One of the greatest orators in American history, Fredrick Douglas was born a slave and worked tirelessly his entire life not only to escape his bondage, but to educate himself and be an active member of social and political causes. Born in 1818 in Maryland, Douglas was the son of a slave and an unknown white man. Douglas was taught basic reading and literacy skills by his master’s wife before being send to Edward Covey, a known ‘slave breaker’, where he experienced unbelievable cruelty before escaping in 1838. Douglas would go on to join the Abolitionist movement, become a member of a local black church, be inspired by and work with William Loyd Garrison, support the suffrage of women and even meet with and council Abraham Lincoln in the White House.

Below is a selection from one of Douglas’ most famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”. Douglas was asked to deliver this speech by an abolitionist group in order to celebrate the anniversary of America’s independence on July 4th. While the organizers of the celebration no doubt expected a rousing speech y Douglas (who at this point was known as an amazing orator), they also expected a speech that would celebrate the ideals that America was founded upon and celebrating that 4th of July – the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and freedom and equality for all. Douglas did deliver a rousing speech that day, but one that very openly questioned the hypocrisy of asking an escaped slave to speak about freedom. Below you will find the PDF of the annotated version of this speech from my video – please make sure that as you walk through the analysis of the speech you pay close attention to Douglas’ use of parallelism and irony to achieve his purpose, as well as his use of rhetorical questions and imagery.

Click here to access the PDF of the speech.

Please  see videos below for an analysis of Douglas’ speech, “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

Women’s Rights – Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton


One of the major issues that we are examining during the Realist period is the fight for women’s rights. In class we will be examining the work of two women – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.

Each of these women worked to further the cause of suffrage and the abolitionist movement.

One of the main figureheads of the suffrage movement in America, Stanton wrote the ‘Declaration of Sentiments’, which were presented in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton not only fought for women’s right to vote, but also for women’s property rights, employment rights, custody  rights, and right to birth control.


Click here to read her ‘Declaration of Sentiments’

sojourner_truth_lc1In addition to Stanton, Sojourner Truth also worked to support the cause of suffrage and abolition. Born into slavery, Truth would have 13 children (11 of them sold into slavery themselves, never to be seen again) before escaping to freedom. She then took on the role of public speaker, and used her own experience to encourage others not only to support the abolition of slavery but also the equality of women. Though she was illiterate herself, her speaking was clear and powerful. Many different versions of her famous ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ speech exist today, but all of them share the similarity of tone and passion.

Click here to read her speech ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’

BONUS: Did you know that the original document ‘The Declaration of Sentiments’ has been lost? Click here to listen to an AMAZING podcast episode from the ladies over at ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ to learn more!

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

Realism – A Reaction to American Romanticism

This week we are beginning our unit on Realism, the literary response to Romanticism. The style of Realism includes representing REAL life lived by REAL people (not the idealized life that Emerson and Thoreau presented), and a simple, direct language that everyone could understand.

Issues that we’ll examine throughout this unit include the struggles and trials of the Civil War, the last stand of the Native Americans in the Indian Wars, the suffrage of women and the emancipation of slaves, the influx of a new immigrant population, and the growing divide between the rich and the poor.


As we move through the unit please keep track of how these issues and themes play out across the texts and how they interact with each other in the individual texts.


If you would like to review the video notes from class today, please view it below:



11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

11th Grade Literature – 9 Weeks Exam

As you prepare for your nine weeks exam in this class, remember that you will be responsible for all of the material we have covered so far this semester – this includes Pre-Colonial literature, Puritan, Revolutionary, Expansionism, and Romanticism. All of the materials we have covered this semester are available on this website – just look under the 11th Grade Literature tab… or search the website for the texts you need to review.

If you were not able to come to the after school study session, please see the powerpoint below:

Click here to open the after school study session powerpoint.

Also, make sure you are finishing your foldable/study guide, as it will be turned in after the exam for the first project grade of the 2nd nine weeks.


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016

Emerson – The Father of Transcendenalism

ralph_waldo_emersonIn class today we began our study of the Transcendentalist – a group of close knit free-thinkers and non-conformist, largely from Massachusetts, that changed the future of American Literature. Please see the video below for the background notes on Transcendentalism, as well as background information on Emerson.

In class we are reading a series of texts by Emerson – you will either be responsible for reading excerpts of ‘Nature’, and determining how we see the ideals of Romanticism present in that text; ‘Self-Reliance’, and brainstorm an ‘Emerson’s Guide to Self-Reliant Living’ pamphlet; or his tenth essay, ‘Circles’, and complete an indepth analysis of the extended metaphor of the circle and how Emerson connects the ideas of Nature, The Individual, Society, and God/Spirituality.

Please click below to access copies of the essay from class.

Click here to access ‘Nature’

and here to access ‘Self-Reliance’.

Click here to access ‘Circles’.

See below for images from our notes and discussion in class:




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11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016