Manifest Destiny

Photo #1: A Trifle Embarrassed

“A trifle embarrassed” Source

Context: The print shows Uncle Sam and Columbia (male and female representations of the United States) standing at the entrance to the “U.S. Foundling Asylum” as a basket of crying children labeled “Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii, [and] Philippine” is presented to them by arms labeled “Manifest Destiny”. Within the walls of the asylum are four children labeled “Texas, New Mexico, Cal. [and] Alaska” playing together.

Icebreaker: Caption writer: Analyze the image. Does it contain a caption? Does the caption help understand the image? Create a new caption for the image.

Student response: The caption is: Uncle Sam “Gosh! I wish they wouldn’t come quite so many in a bunch; but, if I’ve got to take them, I guess I can do as well by them as I’ve done by the others!”

The caption helps understand the image because it lets you know that The United States (represented by Uncle Sam) is reluctant to accept these new territories as part of the US but plans to assimilate them into the majority culture and believes that this will lead to happiness for them. This is shown by the babies that represent the new territories crying and the ones already assimilated playing happily.

A new caption could add a response by saying: Columbia: “Well Sam, this is the price of spreading freedom and democracy around the globe.”

Photo #2: A War President

“A War President” Source

Context: This print shows Democratic candidate and general in the war of 1812, Lewis Cass with cannons for limbs and a sword and spear as he lists territories for expansion.

Icebreaker: Symbols: Analyze the image. Are there any Symbols? In what context do they fit in? What context would make them confusing? Do they hold up today?

Student response: In his right hand, Cass holds a sword labeled “Manifest Destiny” which combines the idea of American’s god-given right to expand into new lands with the means by which this is accomplished, violence. This symbol fits the context of the presidential election of 1848 because its goal is to make people believe that Cass’ expansionist leanings would lead the US into war. Because he is a former general in the War of 1812, this makes sense. This symbol would not fit the context if the idea of manifest destiny was not associated with violence and war. The symbol definitely holds up today because there are still examples of the US invading and occupying other nations. Although manifest destiny may not be spoken of as the driver.

Photo #3: American Progress

American Progress Source

Context: The print shows an allegorical female figure of America leading pioneers westward, as they travel on foot, in a stagecoach, conestoga wagon, and by railroads, where they encounter Native Americans and herds of bison.

Icebreaker: Bias: Analyze the image. What bias is present? Is the image arranged to create bias? Is there unintentional bias? Is there something in the image that is controversial today but not at the time it was created?

Student response: Showing the female representation of America as an angelic being creates an idea that westward expansion was a noble cause, which is biased from the perspective of Americans who were participating without considering the point of view of the native Americans. This is certainly an intentional bias but also may have been the honest belief of the artist. Since this print was created to promote that bias, I don’t see any unintentional biases. The whole idea of manifest destiny and that westward expansion was ordained by god was a commonly held belief at that time but is somewhat controversial today. I say that it’s only somewhat controversial because it seems to be widely regarded as a negative thing today and there is not much controversy about the evils committed during this era. Although Americans still enjoy the benefits of this belief even if we denounce the acts.

Voting in the United States

Photo #1

This photo shows men and women in line to vote in Clarendon, VA in 1924 Source
Who might this politician be? Most of the voters appear to be there in support of this “Davis”. John W. Davis won the presidential vote in the state of Virginia in 1924 and the 12 electoral votes that come with it but was not as popular outside of the southeastern states and lost the election to Calvin Coolidge.
Why are only white people shown in this photo? The 15th and 19th amendments had been passed by 1924 so it is noticeable that no black women or men are in this line. While white men and women are here and even bring their children. What does that tell us about the ability to vote in this era?

Photo #2

This photo shows black men in various types of clothing lined up to cast their votes. Source
What votes are we witnessing here? The 15th amendment was ratified in 1870 and this date shows that “The first vote” took place in 1867.
What point is the artist making with the characters’ clothing? We see a labor with his tools, a nicer dressed gentleman, and a soldier. It seems to me the artist wanted to emphasize the inclusiveness that the 15th amendment offered by showing that it applied to black men from various walks of life.

Photo #3

This cartoon shows a man labeled “Graft Politics” paying a man who is lined up to vote while silencing a woman who is at home with her children. Source
For the 2020 election, we’ve heard a lot about mail-in ballot fraud and foreign interference. What were the election corruption and voter fraud concerns in this era? The man labeled “Graft politics” is paying a man labeled “floater” to show that corrupt political operatives were backhandedly buying votes while at the same time (using their other hand) to suppress women’s suffrage.
“Shall women vote? No, they might disturb the order of things” What is the artist saying with this statement? To me it seems to be critical of people who would say that women voting would disturb the order of things. Since he shows that the order of things is full of corruption as it is.

Mental Health for Remote Teachers (or anyone)

The concept of staying physically healthy has always seemed simple and obviously important to me. The need to be doing things on a regular basis to stay healthy as opposed to dealing with health issues when they arise is something that. But for some reason, with mental health, I haven’t always had the same perspective. Dealing with mental health has always seemed like something you do when you have a problem related to your mental health. The current state of our world has caused a change in that perspective. It’s no secret that COVID has taken a toll on our mental health as a nation and worldwide. The increased time spent indoors and decreased time spent with people, the loss of routine, the sedentary lifestyle that a lockdown dictates; all of these factors can cause damage. Early on in the lockdown, I was aware of the damage that was happening to my physical health (and tried to mitigate it) but did not take notice of what was happening to my mental health. This caused some not-so-fun effects and left me in a place where I needed to pick up the pieces and do some damage control. My strategy going forward has been much more proactive. I think it’s extremely important to invest time, energy, and even money in our mental health before there is a problem. Here are a few of the ways that have been working for me! 

My strategies 

  1. Exercise 

I have found that regular, consistent exercise is very helpful even if it is fairly low-intensity and short duration. For me, that means 15-30 minute jogs about 4-5 times per week. Along with this exercise, a stretching routine has become just as important. We spend so much time at our desks that we need to stretch out those coiled up muscles even more than usual. The important part of this for me is staying consistent. If I jog once a week, all I get is tired once a week. When I’ve been able to stay consistent, I’ve seen longer term results with my mood and overall sense of wellbeing. 

  1. Eat healthy 

Probably the hardest one for me. With the packed schedule that we all have in this program, it’s really convenient to buy food out or have food delivered but those options are usually not the healthiest. And one of my favorite things to do is sit outside at restaurants and enjoy delicious food (and beer of course) with friends in the summer. But during our first term, I definitely did a little too much of those things and that had some negative effects on my physical and mental health. Eating better makes me feel better which makes me much happier! The time it takes to grocery shop and cook have been well worth it. And it also serves one of my hobbies since cooking for myself is usually healthier than eating out. 

  1. Therapy 

This is a new one for me! I started therapy about a month ago and I can’t recommend it enough! Having someone to talk to to process everything that’s going on with the pandemic, school, relationships, etc. has been extremely helpful. I’m a novice on this one so I don’t have many recommendations but I think it’s something to look into for anyone. And a great example of something that can be done as part of a mental health maintenance routine as opposed to being reserved for situations when there is a specific problem to be addressed. I held off on therapy for years because I didn’t think I needed it and I wish I hadn’t! 

  1. Invest in your hobbies 

Find those things you love to do that take you away from your screens, away from your work and school responsibilities and make time for them! For this term, the ones I want to make time for are cooking and hiking. That seems like a small list but I think it’s best to commit to making time to a few things so you’re less likely to skip them or prioritize other things. Stepping away from responsibilities is hard but I’ve found myself to be more productive in my school work overall when I’m spending less time on school and working to find a balance. 

  1. Invest in relationships 

This can be done in a lot of different ways these days. For me, I am so tired of zoom and facetime that I’ve decided to connect with a small number of people but really try to make that happen in person. Even an outdoor, socially-distanced park hang is so much more soul-refreshing for me than all the facetime calls in the world. I have a small group of people that I’m in close relationship with that I make sure to spend intentional time with them often. And I make sure to hug them often! We humans need that too! 

  1. Find your limits and follow them

This has been one of the biggest changes I’ve made in the last couple of months. Realizing that I have limitations and those limitations are only reinforced by a program like the MAT. I’ve realized that I have social limits, service limits (I can’t always help a friend move, even if I want to), screen time limits, media consumption limits, and more. I’m still in the process of finding the right balance of each of these but learning to say no to social events, skipping that extra article on what Trump said this time, getting off my phone are all examples of things that.

  1. Meditation

Meditation, mindfulness, quiet time, whatever your preference is, I have found it very helpful to start my days with intentional time to be quiet and still and block out my regular thoughts as much as I can. This has allowed me to stay grounded, stay in control of my thought patterns, and most importantly to someone like me who deals with ADHD and an anxiety disorder, to quiet my mind. It’s taken some time and practice but this is probably the most important item on this list! 

The hard part is that all of these things take time and effort. Both of which we are short on these days. But I have found that the time and effort they take is a small price to pay for the mental health benefits they bring. Every time I’ve decided to take a break from homework, even though I was short on time, and went for a quick jog or cooked a real meal or had a conversation with a friend, I’ve noticed that my productivity improves and I actually accomplish more than if I had stuck to my schoolwork. Find the balance that works for you! And share your findings with me because it’s always a work in progress!