Posted in 8th Grade, History 8

H8 L55 – Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams

Around the 1800s, two men were fighting over the presidency: Andrew Jackson versus John Quincy Adams.  Both had their ups and downs, and they were completely different in many ways.

John Quincy Adams was the first of the two to win the presidency, even though they ran at the same times.  Born in Braintree, MA to John and Abigail Adams in 1767.  He traveled with his father on most of the diplomatic missions his dad was sent on.  In all that traveling he became a master linguist, and later used it to his advantage.   Between trips he was tutored under his older cousin and his dad’s clerk.   After he wrote a series of articles defending Washington’s new bill to keep the US out of foreign wars, Washington appointed him as Diplomat to the Netherlands like his dad at age 26.  While he was there, he translated Virgil, Horace, Plutarch, and Aristotle on his free time.   After serving his term, he was again appointed to a foreign country for his excellent performance in the first one; this time it was Portugal he was sent off to.   After getting back from there he wanted to retire from public service but was nominated for Presidency instead.  When the elections ran, there ended up being a three way tie between him, his opponent Andrew Jackson, and Henry Clay.   Clay knew he wasn’t going to win, so he brought over his supporters to Adams’ side, because they had the same ideas about America.  Thus, Adams beat Jackson, and Jackson played the sore loser;  he said a “corrupt bargain” took place between Adams and Clay.   He said an evidence of it was that Clay was appointed to the Secretary of State position when Adams won the election, and he may have been right.  Nobody knows exactly what happened.  Jackson then spent the next four years making absolutely sure that he would win the next election.  Adams, in the meantime, supported internal developments to America, like the C&O Canal, new roads, and irrigation additions.   To create revenue to do these monstrous things, he imposed high tariffs on exported goods, and this made him a little less popular.  He aided civil rights and fought all the laws he thought were not good, and became known as Old Man Eloquent for his speeches. When he ran for the second term, though, he lost to Jackson.   Even though he lost to Jackson, he kept serving in Congress for the last seventeen years of his life, even after a stroke that nearly cost him his life.   He served quite literally to the end;  he died of a second, more severe stroke while he was in Congress in 1848.  

While Adams served in congress, Andrew Jackson was the president.   Born March 15, 1767, three weeks after his dad died, he grew up out on the edge of North/South Carolina, with very little education and raised under his uncles.   He grew up under the care of his uncles after serving as a courier in the Revolutionary War and losing his entire remaining family to the British.   When he got old enough, he studied law in Salisbury and set up a practice in Jonesborough, Tennessee.  After serving in the War of 1812, he got the nickname “Old Hickory” for his stubbornness in battle.   After the war, he was elected to the House of Representatives  as a representative for the new state of Tennessee.   He was then elected to the Senate, but he turned it down, and went to the Tennessee Supreme Court instead.  After a time serving there, he was nominated for the presidency at the same time as Adams, and he lost because of Clay’s supposed trick.  He spent the next four years making sure he’d win the next one, and win he did.  After he won, he got the nickname “King Mob”  for inviting the whole public to the White House Ball at his election party.  As president, he opposed Government deficit spending, and shut down the government bank for a time, and then managed to be the only president in US history to pay off all the Government deficit spending.  The way he controlled government with the power of the veto is now called Jacksonian Democracy and using the veto he blocked all kinds of spending bills.  He served two terms, fighting deficit spending altogether and fraudulent government banking.  When his presidency was over, he retired to his three adopted kids;  his wife had died two months before his inauguration.  He died of lead poisoning from two bullets remaining in his chest for several years.  He died on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78.

Both of these fabulous presidents made massive improvements to the American country, and though Jackson’s payoff is still not in effect today, he set a great example for other presidents to follow today.  Adams’ road, canal, and irrigation improvements are still in effect today, and make transportation much faster.  So even though they were complete opposites in many respects they both got good things done.   

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Posted in 8th Grade, History 8

H8 L50 – Inventions of the 1800s

   There were many new inventions in the 1800s, including the steam hammer, the steam engine, steam boat, the battery, the arc lamp, electromagnet, and many, many more. 

   Each of these things contributed to the store of knowledge that the country already had, but only a few fit the two main requirements of the industrial Revolution;  one, it had to be steam powered, and two, it had to save labor.

    One of the many inventions from the early eighteen hundreds is the steam hammer.

It fits the general requirements of the Industrial Revolution, being steam powered and work-saving.  It later inspired the steam engine, so it eventually made the travel trails from Independence, Missouri useless.   This quirky-looking machine helped to make steel beams, so it helped with construction.    

    The steamboat was another of multiple inventions fitting the requirements, it saved work by allowing something to move faster on water than before, while also saving work for rowers, since they were obsolete now.         The first owner of a steamboat was Robert Fulton, and he started a business carrying passengers up and down the New York River. 

As basically a no-competition monopoly, he raked in a lot of cash – enough to pay the sues for unsafe rides at an insanely high price.   He was eventually arrested, though, and his monopoly was ended as everyone else got the blueprint in general for the steamboat.   

              Another invention of the day was inspired by the steam hammer – the hammer could be powered by steam, so why not a set of wheels on a rail?  They came up with an invention to do just that, and they called it the most unimaginative thing ever – the steam engine.  It revolutionized land transportation and rendered the Pony Express completely pointless, as well as making many goods much cheaper because shipping was now so cheap.

   Not all the inventions of the hundred years of mechanical enlightenment was all steam.  One of the things that was not powered by steam was the electromagnet.  The electromagnet was invented by Michael Faraday, and is still in use today.    Faraday is also known for creating the Faraday Cage, which blocks EMP blasts.   It is basically a box of chicken wire all around a certain thing.    The electromagnet is a cool thing, using a magnet to create electricity.  This was an amazing achievement at the time, since nobody had any idea how to make power.  We still use it today, in a DC motor.  

            Another non-steam invention was the telegraph, invented by Samuel Morse in 1836.       This invention revolutionized communication in the US, and allowed for news to spread faster than ever before.      As this developed, the man who created it came up with a new way of communication that worked with the telegraph, called Morse code.       Morse code is a series of dots and dashes that form letters.      It allowed for news to spread even faster and faster.

In conclusion, as the inventions of the Industrial Revolution advanced, the world became smarter, more efficient, and eventually, these inventions influenced today.

Posted in School References

E8 L32 – Origin of Value

          Do we, as humans, only value that which we struggle for? The answer is most certainly yes.  This is mostly because of the human perspective of value.  The more we work for something the more we keep it in our grips.  This is why a hard-earned medal for an athlete, or a big house or Ferrari or Lamborghini, or even a really good salary, is a very wanted thing.  Because these are hard to get, they are more precious to us.  So say somebody bought a new diamond ring, for example, they might be fingering it all the time, like Gollum and the Ring. 

Why, you ask? Why do people do this?  This is because of the rule of value.  If you were out in the desert, lost, with no water.  You come up to a random store sitting out there, and the shopkeeper gives you a choice.  Take a backpack full of pure, white diamonds, or ten gallons of water.  Which would you choose?  The water, of course.  If you choose the diamonds, you’re just going to die out in the middle of nowhere with a bag of diamonds, which will be completely useless.  The water on the other hand, will get you out of the desert, hopefully to somewhere with water, which then you can restock and head back for the diamonds.  In other words, the thing most useful at the present time is the thing with more value.  Also, if there is more struggle to get something, it is harder to get, and thus has more value.

A couple of examples of this are that I once worked for a straight week for one toy, so I never let it out of my sight for nearly two weeks.  Another is historical.  The Revolutionaries worked years for their independence, so they valued it more.  We nowadays don’t have to work, for it, since it’s hereditary.

So all in all, the more work we do for something, the more value that thing has.  If a hobo works for months to get an old, used sleeping bag with holes in it, he will value it like a hundred dollars even if it only cost 15 bucks, not only because he worked for months for it, but because he probably needed it pretty bad.  On the other hand, the regular businessman would scoff at the hobo because the businessman could buy it with no dent in his funds at all.

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L50 – Out on the Pampas Book Report

       All G. A. Henty books are great, and Out on the Pampas is no exception.  Henty combines a set of historical facts with fictional characters, and packs in a fictional plot with realistic details to make it more real.    Henty is a great writer, and I’ve read a few of his books.  There are ones that start boring but speed up a good bit in the story, and Pampas is an example. 

       The story starts in what Henty names as “B—“, but I’ll refer to it as Berkshire, England.    Mr. Hardy, the dad, decided that “the professions are crowded” and he and his family, a wife, two boys, and two girls, should emigrate to the New World.    He and his wife decided to move to Argentina, because of its massive rivers, fertile land, splendid climate, cheap labor, and probable prospects.   The kids agree, and the first boring part of the story is over; the part took three chapters in preparations and getting ready in general.   They all prepare for the trip – everyone learns Spanish, the boys and girls learn to ride, and the boys learn to shoot.    Nine months later, the whole family is ready to go, they are all packed up, and they have booked a passage to Argentina.   

        Now comes the second boring part of the book, the steamer trip from England to Buenos Ayres, which the book says took about half a month.    In the meantime, a “stiff nor’ wester” hits the boat and makes everybody seasick.    None of them liked it, but I thought Henty’s description of Charlie and Hubert getting out of bed was pretty funny.    After the steamship, they stayed at a friend’s house until they started working on their own the next day.

       The Hardys built their house out of simply mud, straw, and wood.    After they built the house, they put up a fence and called it “Mount Pleasant”.     After a good story from one of the hired men, they build some more on the property, and start planting trees and crops. 

       As more people settled down around them, the value of the property went up, and so did the values of the nearby lots.     The Indians thought that the Hardys were easy meat though.  They were horribly wrong.

       When the Indians attacked, they Hardys had set up a tower to keep a lookout.    This turned out to be an “Oh thank God for that idea” moment.     The lookout managed to spot the Indians at a considerable distance, and the Hardys were able to get ready.  They took care of the Indians twice at their own house, just like this.     The second time they took prisoners, then let them heal and let them free; one of them, being a chief named Raven, really paid off later on in the book.   After the Indian attacks, the plantation was in a state of calm for a while.  The Hardys grew, and got stronger, and the fortifications were improved.    Then, as the plantation grew, they needed more room in their house, so the women were moved to a nearby plantation.

           Sadly, this was happening as the Indians were planning to attack the very plantation the women were moved to.      When the attack happened, Maud and the mom got away, but Ethel was taken captive.    The next few chapters are about the recovery of Ethel, and this is the part where their kindness to the chief paid off. 

     The book shows a scene in the Indian camp, about what might happen to Ethel.    One of the two chiefs wanted to tear her to pieces with a hot iron, while the other one, who happened to be the Raven, wanted to save her and return her, claiming he was treated well by “the white man”.       When it was eventually decided that they should tear her to pieces, the Raven turned traitor and decided to go his own way and help the white man.     He got her out of camp, and in the midst of the battle that ensued when Mr. Hardy and his group arrived, gave him back his daughter. 

            After that incident, the book finishes up with an account of what happens next, about Charlie, and Hubert, Maud, and Ethel.  Each of them gets a quarter of the chapter about what happened to them after the story.  The final chapter was about the sale and value of the now-developed lot and the surrounding community.  The book says that the property sold for five hundred thousand dollars, quite a more than Mr. Hardy himself expected.  And as that was in the late 1800s, that was a massive fortune!  So, at the end of the book, everyone lived happily ever after.

Posted in Random

H8 L45 – War of 1812

200 years ago, what some say is the second half of the Revolutionary War started, known as the War of 1812.  This war, which would decide America’s part in foreign influence.  Started by the searching of American ships in foreign ports for no reason at all, this war basically outlined the trade, shipping, and foreign influence of America.

Supposedly, the foundation of this war was the Embargo Act, proposed by Thomas Jefferson, to keep the British from impressing upon American Sailors and forcing them to serve in the British Navy by not allowing them to go to any foreign ports at all!  He thought that without the influx of American goods, both France and Britain would stop wasting resources.  He was wrong, Britain and France got on fine, and the Embargo Act backfired.  The American Ships were now sitting in the harbors with the onboard goods rotting and spoiling.  Just before Madison was elected, Jefferson did sign a paper that repealed the Embargo Act, so trade started again.  As soon as the Embargo Act was over, the ships got to sea, and to the ports, wth everything going smoothly, and then BAM, the ships were being searched again.

This made American anger mount, and a noncommittal party formed called the War Hawks.  The name is mostly self-explanatory, but the ones they wanted to go to war with were the British.  France wasn’t a problem in their eyes, just Britain.  The leaders of this movement were Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, both cabinet members in Madison’s cabinet.  They eventually convinced Madison to declare war, and Congress agreed two days later.  War was on!

The first battle wasn’t really much of a battle, just a call to surrender by General William Hull.  Hull marched up to Fort Detroit in Canada, and demanded that British General, Isaac Brock, surrender the fort.  Hull waited for the surrender for so long that, despite actually outmanning the solders inside by 5-1, thought that they numbered more than his forces did, and, not wanting to waste men, retreated for no reason at all.  Not a single shot was fired.

British luck only went downhill from there, though.  Later, during the Battle of York, Toronto was burned by the Colonists.  A few months later, American ships under Oliver Hazard Perry attacked British ships in Put-In-Bay in Ohio Territory.  The battle of the Thames River, in Moraviantown, Ontario, Canada, the Americans under William Henry Harrison eliminated a combined force of British and Native Americans.  After this, the British gained some of upper New York and some of the lost Canadian territory, and that ended 1813.

When the fighting started up again in 1814, nobody had the advantage.  When August hit, though, the British gained the upper hand for a time with the sacking and burning of Washington DC.  They burned the White House, Capitol, War Office, and Treasury building.  This was a major blow to the colonies with their capital destroyed, but for some reason the British retreated from DC quickly.  The Americans took home two victories that September, with Lake Champlain and Baltimore.  The Siege of Baltimore was the site of Francis Scott Key’s The Star-Spangled Banner.

After this incident, the British opted for peace with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, which was signed on Christmas Eve that year.  The communication was slow though, so the war kept going with one more battle – the Battle of New Orleans.  This battle devastated the British Army in America, wiping out 2000 British troops, not men.  The Americans only lost 13 troops.  Even if the British had not opted out earlier, that battle surely would have killed the last of their confidence.  The Americans signed the treaty of January 15, 1815, ending the war.

Even though the peace treaty was signed and it didn’t solve any of the problems the Americans were fighting for, the War of 1812 most certainly had a piece in proportioning America’s foreign influence and trading power.

Posted in 8th Grade, History 8

H8 L40 – Napoleon

          Remembered as one of the greatest generals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte is the man who singlehandedly stopped the French revolution, united most of mainland Europe under his banner, and sold Thomas Jefferson the Louisiana Purchase to fund his infamous exploits. 

          Not much is known about the early childhood of Napoleon, but what we do know is that he was sent off to military school at age 14, only to graduate two years later as a second lieutenant.  Through his excellent military performance when put in command against an Austrian force, he quickly gained popularity with the French Republic and people. 

Napoleon was eventually voted to the top of the army, where he served well… for a while at least.  Eventually, though, he decided that France would be better off without those pesky French officials.  He knew his soldiers were loyal to him, so he organized a coup.  He managed to dislodge the officials, and by the vote of the people, was appointed dictator of the soon-to-be French Empire. 

          As his power expanded, so did his empire; at the peak f his empire, Napoleon controlled a massive hunk of Europe about the size of Rome’s peak, not counting another territory in America about the size of half the Roman Empire.  However, as all empires eventually do, it all collapsed.  All the conquered countries banded together and seceded, and it sent Napoleon all the way back to square one.  Trying to conquer them again drove Napoleon bankrupt, and this prompted the sale of the Louisiana Territory. 

Napoleon had had plans to  conquer mainland Europe and thus gain all the land in North and South America related to all th European countries, then take out the Non-European little states and own the whole of the Americas, and thus pretty much rule the world.  His plans were thwarted, though, by the declining of his precious empire.  Eventually, he lost a series of battles with Britain, which maaged to drive his mpire all the way back to France.  The French then voted him out of office out of disappointment, and he was exiled as well for his failure.  The British caught him leaving and ent him to an isolated island in the Mediterranean. 

As the war raged on, the Brits needed reinforcements, so they called back Napoleon’s guard, leaving him stranded on the island.  He escaped and fled back to France, where he was greeted warmly despite the exile.  When Napoleon regained his former office with a good bit of work, he reactivated the war with a major string of massive victories . . . except for the very last one.  Many have heard of it, and there’s a phrase stemmed off it: The Battle of Waterloo. 

After the battle, in which Napoleon himself was killed, France was never the same.  All the dictators after him were weak, and eventually it all came back around the circle to being a king, though the king was now more of a figurehead for the country than an actual ruler with real power.  So, the man who stopped the Revolution, conquered most of Europe, and sold the Louisiana Territory, Napoleon Bonaparte was a massive game-changer of history.