Academic Controversy in the History Classroom This workshop is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University. Historical Question: Should the United States enter The Great War?Author: Lauren TataClass/Grade Level: US History /11th GradeCT Standards: 1.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 3.1Overview:(Set Up for Students) Since 1914 a war has been going on in Europe, a war that has been called athreat to civilization. At home many people are urging America to wake up and join the war. Othersare arguing for the United States to isolate itself and avoid going into a European conflict.Students will have a lesson prior to this on the outbreak of War in Europe. To review what has beencovered on WWI in their World History classes. This will include discussing the causes of the war, asin Nationalism, Imperialism, militarism, and alliance system. How an assassination leads to war andwhen the fighting starts.Document Summary: • Document 1 shows a political cartoon from around 1914. On August 4, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declares that the United States would remain neutral and stay out of the war in Europe. At the time, a vast majority of Americans approved of Wilson’s policy of strict U.S. neutrality. However different events created challenges to U.S. neutrality. This could be used in support of joining the war. The cartoon depicts Uncle Sam trapped on a small rock of land. On the piece of land is a sign with the words “Strict Neutrality”. All around the rock is hands with daggers. This is to represent that other nations are not respecting this neutrality. That neutrality is not protecting the United States but limiting it. • Document 2 shows a political cartoon focusing on the Lusitania. The cartoon depicts Woodrow Wilson setting with Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, German ambassador to the United States. The words “well, what are you going to do about this?” can be in reference to Germany taking action to correct this event. After the attack, the Germans defended their action on the grounds that the liner carried ammunition. Despite Germany’s explanation, Americans were outraged. American opinion turned against Germany and the Central Powers. However, president Wilson ruled out a military response. Or the line under the cartoon can be in reference to the president taking a stand against Germany. To have students focus on the paper and painting in the
cartoon. What the artist is trying to portray in this cartoon. Is it to get American citizens thinking that something needs to be done. This would be used to support the United States joining the war. • Document 3 shows a warning placed in newspapers. Prior to the sinking of the Lusitania the German Embassy placed advertisements in U.S. newspapers warning of citizens that the area around the British Isles was a war zone. This was in part because the British often disguised ships as neutral ships when they held munitions This can be used for both viewpoints. It brings into question that citizens were warned that the area around Great Britain was a war zone. That this advertisement was a warning to all being subject to attack, even neutral citizens. • Document 4 shows a piece of a newspaper article question the legitimacy of the Zimmerman telegram. A telegram, the Zimmerman notes, from the German foreign minister to the German ambassador in Mexico was intercepted by British agents. The telegram proposed an alliance between Mexico and Germany. It promised that if war with the United States broke out, Germany would support Mexico in recovering lost territory(in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona). I can see this working for both arguments. This document shows that there were still doubts about the telegram’s authenticity. However, the note itself shows that the United States has reason to enter. • Document 5 shows the lyrics to a song. By 1915, Americans began debating the need for military and economic preparations for war. A hit song from 1915, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier,” by lyricist Alfred Bryan and composer Al Piantadosi, captures America’s uncertainty about joining in the European war. This would help support the argument of not joining the war. The lyrics give some reasons why citizens would not be supportive of the war. • Document 6 is a newspaper article written by William Jennings Bryan. W.J. Bryan was appointed secretary of state under Wilson’s presidency. Bryan was a staunch supporter of neutrality at the outbreak of World War I. Bryan founded the Commoner, a weekly newspaper. This document is a work written by Bryan in the Commoner. This document would be used to support not entering the war. To pick up on the last two sentences that show staying neutral is what the majority of Americans want. That European powers are already losing millions of dollars, loss of life, and that this is not an American issue.Procedure (80 minutes): 1. Introduction of lesson, objectives, overview of SAC procedure (15 minutes) 2. SAC group assignments (30 minutes) a. Assign groups of four and assign arguments to each team of two. b. In each group, teams read and examine the Document Packet c. Each student completes the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2), and works with their partner to prepare their argument using supporting evidence. d. Students should summarize your argument in #3. 3. Position Presentation (10 minutes) a. Team 1 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 2 records Team 1’s argument in #4. b. Team 2 restates Team 1’s position to their satisfaction. c. Team 2 asks clarifying questions and records Team 1’s answers.
d. Team 2 presents their position using supporting evidence recorded and summarized on the Preparation part of the Capture Sheet (#2 & #3) on the Preparation matrix. Team 1 records Team 2’s argument in #4. e. Team 1 restates Team 2’s position to their satisfaction. f. Team 1 asks clarifying questions and records Team 2’s answers. 4. Consensus Building (10 minutes) a. Team 1 and 2 put their roles aside. b. Teams discuss ideas that have been presented, and figure out where they can agree or where they have differences about the historical questionClosure:Discuss how different groups organized their arguments and which sources were used for each side.Also to have the students think if the sources could be used to support both arguments. To discusswere the class will be heading in the unit. Begin to think about the meaning behind the United Statesenter the war. With remaining time students will start to write an editorial defending their position, foror against, on the US entering WWI using the sources provided. The assignment will be due the nextclass.Assessment:Students will write and editorial on whether the United States should and has reason to join the war.The goal of the assignment is to have students write a thoughtful opinion editorial or depending ontime draw a political cartoon defending their position, for or against, on the US entering WWI usingthe sources provided.Differentiation:This lesson can easily be differentiated by adjusting the level of the material presented. If the lessonneeds to be simplified for students, a bulleted list of for and against lists could be made instead ofusing the small primary document excerpts. This lesson could also be adapted by providing theresources to the student ahead of time for them to review and understand. I can give that group thearguments in bulleted form instead of in paragraph form. I could also extend the time for reading andforming arguments. If necessary, students could also be given a graphic organizer which would assistthem with organizing their thoughts for their presentations to the other members of their group. If thelesson needs to be made more challenging the primary sources can be increased in length. Use ofopinion news pieces might also be added to help to increase the difficulty of this exercise.
DOCUMENT PACKET Document 1 On August 4, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declares that the United States would remain neutral and stay out of the war in Europe. At the time, a vast majority of Americans approved of Wilson’s policy of strict U.S. neutrality. However different events created challenges to U.S. neutrality. Source: Title: “Watch your step”, Creator(s): Rogers, W. A. (William Allen), 1854-1931, artist• Date Created/Published: [1914?], http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010718780/.
Document 2On May 7, 1975 a U-boat sank the British liner, the Lusitania, off the southern coast of Ireland. Of the1,198 lost, 128 were American citizens. The Germans defended their action on the grounds that theliner carried ammunition. Despite Germany’s explanation, Americans became outraged with Germanybecause of the loss of life. American public opinion began to turn against Germany. Vocabulary: • Disavow: To disclaim knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for; disown.Source: Title: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”, Creator(s): Rogers, W. A. (William Allen),1854-1931, Date Created/Published:1915, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010717742/.
Document 3Prior to the sinking of the Lusitania the German Embassy placed advertisements in U.S. newspaperswarning of citizens that the area around the British Isles was a war zone. This was in part becausethe British often disguised ships as neutral ships when they held munitions. Vocabulary: • Vessel: A ship or boat. • Liable: Legally responsible for. Ex: You are liable for the damage caused by your action.Source: New-York Tribune, May 01, 1915, Page 3, Image 3.http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1915-05-01/ed-1/seq-3/.
Document 4A telegram, the Zimmerman notes, from the German foreign minister to the German ambassador inMexico was intercepted by British agents. The telegram proposed an alliance between Mexico andGermany. It promised that if war with the United States broke out, Germany would support Mexico inrecovering lost territory(in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona). Vocabulary: • Substantiate: To establish by proof or prove it is true. • Incompatible: Not compatible; unable to exist together in h armonySource: Evening public ledger. (Philadelphia [Pa.]) 1914-1942, March 01, 1917, Final, Image 1 http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045211/1917-03-01/ed-1/seq-1/
Document 5By 1915, Americans began debating the need for military and economic preparations for war. A hitsong from 1915, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier,” by lyricist Alfred Bryan and composer AlPiantadosi, captures America’s uncertainty about joining in the European war. I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier Ten million soldiers to the war have gone, Who may never return again. Ten million mothers hearts must break, For the ones who died in vain. Head bowed down in sorrowin her lonely years, I heard a mother murmur thro her tears: Chorus: I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier, I brought him up to be my pride and joy, Who dares to put a musket on his shoulder, To shoot some other mother’s darling boy? Let nations arbitrate their future troubles, It’s time to lay the sword and gun away, There’d be no war today, If mothers all would say, I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier. (Chorus) What victory can cheer a mother’s heart, When she looks at her blighted home? What victory can bring her back, All she cared to call her own? Let each mother answer in the year to be, Remember that my boy belongs to me! (Chorus) Vocabulary: • Murmur: A mumbled or private expression of dissatisfaction. • Arbitrate: to decide or determine. • Blighted: The state or result of being deteriorated/ dilapidated/ or decaying. Source: Al Pianadosi and Alfred Bryan, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier.” Recording: Edison Collection, Library of Congress. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.100008457/default.html
Document 6W.J. Bryan was appointed secretary of state under Wilson’s presidency. Bryan was a staunchsupporter of neutrality at the outbreak of World War I. Bryan founded the Commoner, a weeklynewspaper. This document is a work written by Bryan in the Commoner. A Few War Facts TWENTY-ONE MILLION of soldiers are en- Gaged in the unparalleled war now raging in Europe: what will be our quota if we are foolish enough to enter into it? More than TWO MILLION men have been killed Thus far. What will be our toll if we take part? Over FIVE MILLIONS Wounded. What will be our share if we become a participant? The nations at war are now spending FOUR HUNDRED MILLION dollars per week—more than TWENTY BILLIONS per year—what will our expenditures be? Before we decide to “go in” “at any cost” let some of the advocates of war give us an estimate. We are a great nation and cannot be stingy with blood or money if we cast in our lot with the belligerents. Vocabulary: And what it to be gained by war…Those who • Expenditures: The act of spending. talk war misrepresent the wishes of the Unnecessary people. You can no more measure the expenditures include those for luxury items. sentiment of the masses by the froth of the • Sentiment: jingo press than you can measure the An attitude toward something; regard; opinion. ocean’s silent depths by the foam upon its • Froth: waves. An aggregation of bubbles, as on an agitated W.J. Bryan liquid. Something unsubstantial or trivial. • Jingo: A person who professes his or her patriot- ism loudly and excessively, favoring vigilant preparedness for war and an aggressive foreign policy.Source: W.J. Bryan, “A Few War Facts.” Thecommoner., August 01, 1915, Image 1About: The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/46032385/1915-08-01/ed-1/seq-1/ Some of the language and phrasing in these documents have been modified from the originals.
Don’t forget the rules of a successful CAPTURE SHEET academic controversy! 1. Practice active listening. 2. Challenge ideas, not each other Should the United States enter The Great 3. Try your best to understand the other War? positions 4. Share the floor: each person in a pair MUST have an opportunity to speak Preparation: 5. No disagreeing until consensus-‐ 1. Highlight your assigned position. building as a group of four Yes: The United States should and has reason to enter the war. No: The United States should remain neutral and not enter the war. 2. Read through each document searching for support for your side’s argument. Use the documents to fill in the chart (Hint: Not all documents support your side, find those that do):Document What is the main idea of this document? What details support your position? # 3. Work with your partner to summarize your arguments for your position using the supporting documents you found above:Position Presentation:
4. You and your partner will present your position to your opposing group members. When you are done, you will then listen to your opponents’ position. While you are listening to your opponents’ presentation, write down the main details that they present here: Clarifying questions I have for the opposing partners: How they answered the questions:Consensus Building: 5. Put your assigned roles aside. Where does your group stand on the question? Where does your group agree? Where does your group disagree? Your consensus answer does not have to be strictly yes, or no. We agree: We disagree: Our final consensus: