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In the 18th Century the production of textiles was the most important industry in Britain. As A. L. Morton, the author of A People's History of England (1938) has pointed out: "Though employing far fewer people than agriculture, the clothing industry became the decisive feature of English economic life, what which marked it off sharply from that of most other European countries and determined the direction and speed of its development."
During this period most of the cloth was produced in the family home and therefore became known as the domestic system. There were three main stages to making cloth. Carding was usually done by children. This involved using a hand-card that removed and untangled the short fibres from the mass. Hand cards were essentially wooden blocks fitted with handles and covered with short metal spikes. The spikes were angled and set in leather. The fibres were worked between the spikes and, be reversing the cards, scrapped off in rolls (cardings) about 12 inches long and just under an inch thick.
The mother turned these cardings into a continuous thread (yarn). The distaff, a stick about 3 ft long, was held under the left arm, and the fibres of wool drawn from it were twisted spirally by the forefinger and thumb of the right hand. As the thread was spun, it was wound on the spindle. The spinning wheel was invented in Nuremberg in the 1530s. It consisted of a revolving wheel operated by treadle and a driving spindle.
Finally, the father used a handloom to weave the yarn into cloth. The handloom was brought to England by the Romans. The process consisted of interlacing one set of threads of yarn (the warp) with another (the weft). The warp threads are stretched lengthwise in the weaving loom. The weft, the cross-threads, are woven into the warp to make the cloth.
In 1733 John Kay devised the Flying Shuttle. By pulling a string, the shuttle was rapidly sent from one side of the loom to the other. This invention not only doubled the speed of cloth production, but also enabled large looms to be operated by one person. When Kay showed his invention to the local weavers it received a mixed reception. Some saw it as a way to increase their output. Other weavers were very angry as they feared that it would put them out of work.
By the 1760s, weavers all over Britain were using the Flying Shuttle. However, the increased speed of weaving meant there was now a shortage of yarn. Kay therefore set himself the task of improving the traditional spinning-wheel. When local spinners heard about Kay's plans, his house was broken into and the machine he was working on was destroyed.
Kay was so upset by what had, happened that he left Britain and went to live in France. Others continued with his work and eventually James Hargreaves, a weaver from Blackburn, invented the Spinning-jenny. By turning a single wheel, the operator could now spin eight threads at once. Later, improvements were made that enabled this number to be increased to eighty. By the end of the 1780s there were an estimated 20,000 of these machines being used in Britain.
The woven cloth was sold to merchants called clothiers who visited the village with their trains of pack-horses. These men became the first capitalists. To increase production they sometimes they sold raw wool to the spinners. They also sold yarn to weavers who were unable to get enough from family members. Some of the cloth was made into clothes for people living in this country. However, a large amount of cloth was exported to Europe.
The nearer we came to Halifax, we found the houses thicker, and the villages greater. The sides of hills, which were very steep, were spread with houses; for the land being divided into small enclosures, that is to say, from two acres to six or seven acres each, seldom more; every three or four pieces of land had a house belonging to it.
Their business is the clothing trade. Each clothier must keep a horse, perhaps two, to fetch and carry for the use of his manufacture, to fetch home his wool and his provisions from the market, to carry his yarn to the spinners, his manufacture to the fulling mill, and, when finished, to the market to be sold.
Among the manufacturers' houses are likewise scattered an infinite number of cottages or small dwellings, in which dwell the workmen which are employed, the women and children of whom, are always busy carding, spinning, etc. so that no hands being unemployed all can gain their bread, even from the youngest to the ancient; anyone above four years old works.
In the year 1770... the father of the family would earn from eight to ten shillings at his loom, and his sons... along side of him, six to eight shillings per week... it required six to eight hands to prepare and spin yarn for each weaver... every person from the age of seven to eighty years (who retained their sight and could move their hands) could earn... one to three shillings per week.
The cotton, after being picked and cleaned, was spread upon a hand card, and was brushed, scraped or combed with the other, until the fibres of the cotton went in one direction; it was then taken off in soft fleecy rolls, about twelve inches long, and three quarters of an inch in diameter. These rolls, called cardings, were converted into a coarse thread, by twisting one end to the spindle of a hand-wheel, turning the wheel which moved the spindle with the right hand, and at the same time drawing out the carding with the left.
In the year 1738, John Kay... suggested a mode of throwing the shuttle, which enabled the weaver to make nearly twice as much cloth as he could make before... In about 1764 James Hargreaves constructed a machine called a Spinning Jenny... instead of gaining for its inventor admiration and gratitude, the spinners raised an outcry... and a mob broke into Hargreaves' house and destroyed his jenny.
The farming was generally done by the husband and other males of the family, whilst the wife and daughters attended the churning, cheese-making, and household work; and when that was finished, they busied themselves with carding and spinning wool or cotton, as well as forming it into warps for the looms. The husbands and sons would next, at times when farm labour did not call them, size the warp, dry it, and beam it in the loom. A farmer would generally have three or four looms in the house, and then - what with the farming, the housework, the carding, spinning and weaving - there was ample employment for the family.
The manufacture of cloth affords employment to the major part of the lower class of people in the north-west districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire. These cloth-makers reside almost entirely in the villages, and bring their cloth on market-days for sale in the great halls erected for that purpose at Leeds and Huddersfield.
Questions for Students
Question 1: Describe how the domestic system worked. Why was the domestic system popular with the British people?
Question 2: What was the object at the bottom right-hand corner of source 5 used for?
Question 3: Why was there a shortage of yarn in Britain in the 1760?
Question 4: Study sources 1, 4, 5 and 7. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of Hargreaves' invention.
Question 5: Do the sources in this unit suggest that people stopped using the spinning-wheel after Hargreaves inventing the Spinning Jenny?
Question 5: Give as many reasons as you can why cotton imports increased in the 18th century.
A commentary on these questions can be found here.
There were no deaths on scheduled commercial aviation flights in 2014, in a system that operates 68,000 flights a day.
Indeed, Lion Air, with 45 percent of the domestic Indonesian airline market, has swallowed the Fernandes formula whole.
She fills her characters up—strong women beating back against a sexist system—with so much heart.
Getting men to do their share of care and domestic work is a key overlooked strategy in reducing poverty.
A hundred ultra-wealthy liberal and conservative donors have taken over the political system.
Sweden excluded British goods, conformably to the continental system established by Bonaparte.
As Spain, however, has fallen from the high place she once held, her colonial system has also gone down.
The reformers of the earlier period were not indifferent to the need for centralized organization in the banking system.
Accordingly, the question "How far does the note issue under the new system seem likely to prove an elastic one?"
Thanks to Berthier's admirable system, Bonaparte was kept in touch with every part of his command.
The Domestic System (Classroom Activity) - History
iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful civic learning. We provide teachers well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms.
iCivics reimagines civic education for American democracy
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I have worked to promote civic education for young people through iCivics. I consider engaging the next generations of citizens to be my most important work yet and my legacy.
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My students played “¿Tengo algún derecho?” and they absolutely loved it. After playing the Spanish version a few times, they were more successful when playing “Do I Have A Right?” in English.
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I love getting to play iCivics. It’s amazing how much your view changes when you’re the one to have to take care of the people not the other way around. It opened up my mind about how much work it is to keep everyone happy and made me appreciate my government much more.
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I have found that students are absolutely excited about playing the games. They love "winning" the games, via court trials, etc. Even the most reluctant readers are fighting over who has the highest score in "Do I Have A Right?" all while learning. It is amazing!
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Teaching the Legacy of the Sixties Scoop and Addressing Ongoing Child Welfare Inequality in the Classroom
Over the past six years, while working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, I’ve seen a significant growth of awareness among students and community groups about the history residential schools. Granted, this awareness can still be hit and miss and there are definitely still many misconceptions about residential schools, however an increasing number of visitors come to the Centre with at least some knowledge about residential schools.
The same cannot be said for the sixties scoop. While discussing residential schools and colonial relationships in Canada I often discuss other legislation which has negatively impacted Indigenous communities and this includes talking about the sixties scoop.
The phrase sixties scoop was first used in the 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System written by Patrick Johnston. The term refers to the mass removal of Indigenous children from their families into the child welfare system. This removal was often done without the consent of families or communities and children were frequently placed in white Euro-Canadian homes.
Page 23 of Johnston’s 1983 report and the first published usage of the term “Sixties Scoop”
The legacy of residential schools is directly connected to the sixties scoop. In 1960 the Government of Canada estimated that 50% of the students in the residential school system were there for ‘child welfare’ reasons. As the government began phasing out the residential school system the practice of removing Indigenous children from their homes and placing them in government care was drastically accelerated. Provincial and territorial governments, which often had no understanding of Indigenous systems of care or ways of life, imposed Euro-Canadian standards of care on communities, often resulting in Indigenous homes being deemed ‘unfit’ for children. The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reported that between 1960 and 1990 11,132 status First Nation children were placed in white, middle-class family homes.
The removal of children from their families and placement in white family homes had long term impacts that continue to be felt today. The sixties scoop had a negative impact on personal and community based Indigenous culture, language, and identity. The process of adopting out has lasting impacts on family structures and community relationships and has been associated with a range of mental health and socialization problems. Additionally the negative involvement of social work agencies during the sixties scoop has been described as a continuation of residential school style assimilation and as cultural genocide.
On February 14, 2017 an Ontario judge sided with sixties scoop survivors, finding that the government was liable to thousands of Indigenous people in Ontario who were removed from their families and adopted out as part of the sixties scoop. This ruling, as well as ongoing litigation in other provinces, represents some of the ongoing discussion and advocacy around the sixties scoop.
In 2015 Honouring the Truth, Reconciliation for the Future, the final report summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, noted that “[t]oo many Canadians know little or nothing about the deep historical roots of these conflicts” (p. 8). The summary also highlighted that the over representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system continues today.
Scholars have noted that the sixties scoop has simply evolved into the millennium scoop. Indigenous children are still over represented in the child welfare system and First Nation children living on reserves receive significantly less child welfare services funding. There are presently more Indigenous children in care then there were during the height of the residential school era.
In 2007 the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada took the case of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous children in care before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In 2013 a formal tribunal was established to look into this case and on January 26, 2016 the tribunal ruled that the Canadian government was racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations Children. Despite this ruling government funding models and legislation have been slow to change.
So how as historians and educators can we raise awareness about this chapter of Canada’s history?
- Teach about the sixties scoop alongside residential schools. Understand that residential schools are just one part of a larger colonial system that was designed to assimilate Indigenous people.
- Incorporate discussions of the sixties scoop into child and youth history classes.
- Foster relationships with sixties scoop survivors and invite them into your classroom to talk about their lived experience. Alternatively use video, audio, or written testimony to centre Indigenous voices in your classroom discussion.
- Acknowledge that the legacy of the sixties scoop and colonialism is still being felt in Indigenous communities today.
- Address the millennium scoop and ongoing child welfare and education inequality in the classroom.
Historians and educators are beginning to do a much better job of discussing and addressing residential schools in the classroom. However there is a need to acknowledge that residential schools are just one piece in a much larger history of colonialism in Canada.
Krista McCracken is an Archives Supervisor at Algoma University’s Arthur A. Wishart Library and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. She is an editor at Active History. Krista lives and works in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and Métis people.
The MSFTNEXT project is a small team of authors who love to engage with the latest technology and gadgets. Being passionate Windows bloggers, we are happy to help others fix their system issues. View all posts by The MFTNEXT Team
Thank you! The Activity History app was not only tracking my activity, but was causing my computer to freeze, as well. Good riddance!
In my version of Windows 10 (1803), the Settings app will bring you to your Microsoft account in a browser in order to clear your Activity History.
it does’nt clear all of them, it leaves a blured vision of it & it cannot be removed
Inside the Anglo-Saxon Classroom
Schoolboys forget their books, lose their pens and laugh at dirty jokes. This was true even in the rigorous atmosphere of the Anglo-Saxon classroom.
As with all things relating to Anglo-Saxon England, evidence of what happened in the classroom is scant, but what does survive paints a familiar picture. Education in that period came in many shapes and forms: some students took apprenticeships and learned practical skills, while others went into monasteries and learned to read and write. King Alfred believed that all the youth in England should be taught to read and write in English and those continuing into the monasteries should learn Latin. The teaching of Latin saw a revival in the 10th century, amid worries that the state of learning in England had declined until it seemed as though not a single priest in England was able to compose in Latin or indeed, read it.
No books survive which are definitively known to have been used in the classroom, but we have some idea of the types of texts used. The curriculum used for teaching Latin had its roots in classical teaching models. It used three main methods: glossaries taught vocabulary, grammars taught syntax and morphology (the structure of language) and colloquies – scripted conversations – gave conversational practice, in which students could put their vocabulary and structural learning to use. This combination is still recognisable to anyone who has taken a modern language course.
The works of two of the greatest teachers from the late 10th century give us the best insight into the Anglo-Saxon classroom and curriculum. Ælfric of Eynsham (also known as Grammaticus or the Homilist) wrote a glossary, a grammar and a colloquy for the teaching of Latin with a parallel text in Old English, an innovation that made it more accessible for students yet to learn Latin. The only student we can confidently say to have come from Ælfric’s school is Ælfric Bata (Bata seemingly a nickname from the Hebrew for ‘barrel’, either being a reference to his size, or to his love of drink). Bata wrote a colloquy which followed his teacher’s model but in a different style. Where Ælfric’s work upheld the monastic lifestyle and ideals, Bata’s was raucous and dramatic.
Bata’s colloquies are intended for students to learn Latin through the use of dramatic scenes in which aspects of daily life in the classroom are played out: in a normal day, the master or his helper would give each pupil a passage of about 40 lines to memorise and recite back the following day, with the threat of a beating if this was not performed satisfactorily.
As well as allowing students to play out the roles of teacher and student, or farmer or tradesman, Bata writes of monks throwing alcohol-fuelled parties, negotiating kisses from women, riding into town to get more beer and going to the privy with younger pupils, unaccompanied. His scenes often directly break the Benedictine rules to which Bata and his pupils were expected to adhere. In one colloquy, he sets out a dialogue between master and pupil in which they exchange a vast array of scatological insults, including the memorable ‘May a beshitting follow you ever’. Certainly, his pupils were not going to forget the relevant vocabulary.
In addition to learning to read and speak Latin, students were also expected to learn to write and shape their letters to a high calligraphic standard in order to produce manuscripts. At the earliest stages, they learned to form the shapes of letters by copying examples from their master, writing on wax tablets with a stylus and a knife to scrape it clean, or on scraps of parchment or vellum left over from the production of full manuscripts. Because these early stages were informal and the scraps probably meant to be discarded, none have survived, although tablets have been found in Ireland and styluses at Whitby. Examples of the work of more advanced students can be seen in manuscripts made at the scriptorium of St Mary Magdalene in Frankenthal. Here, the master starts at the top of the page to demonstrate the style, layout and script of the page and the pupil takes over, shakily at first. The two hands then alternate in sections down the page, as the pupil improves. When students were deemed good enough, they would be asked to produce manuscripts for their monastery, or they could work for their own benefit. In one scene from Bata’s colloquies, an older student barters and gains a commission to copy a manuscript for a fee of 12 silver coins.
Education was highly valued among Anglo-Saxons. Yet, despite its serious purpose, schoolboy humour remains evident throughout. In that sense at least, the classroom has changed very little in the last thousand years.
Kate Wiles is a contributing editor at History Today.
The Domestic System (Classroom Activity) - History
The futuristic National Security Operations Center occupies a floor of the National Security Agency's headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. The agency has been busily intercepting and decrypting communications from abroad for the past 50 years from its east-coast headquarters.
Classified documents leaked by private contractor Edward Snowden have raised serious concerns about privacy rights both in the United States and internationally. Beyond the question of personal privacy in the digital age, however, are a set of structural questions as well: How can the judicial process be transparent while still preserving state secrets? How can we draw a line to distinguish between domestic surveillance and foreign spying? How does spying strain the relationship between the President and Congress? As historian David Hadley describes these are questions that have bedeviled American policy-makers, politicians, and citizens for over a century.
Also be sure to catch our podcast History Talk with guests David Hadley, Nicholas Breyfogle, and Steven Conn as they discuss the NSA in the current national and global environment.
The potential of the National Security Agency (NSA) “to violate the privacy of American citizens is unmatched by any other intelligence agency,” especially as telecommunication technology advances.
Perhaps surprisingly, that warning was not issued in the wake of the cache of documents leaked by former civilian security contractor Edward Snowden to the Washington Post and the Guardian this past summer. It was made instead in the 1970s by the Senate’s Church Committee when it held hearings on the activities of the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA.
Domestic surveillance intended to protect American citizens has been a part of the fabric of American life for more than a hundred years. Yet, the massive NSA intelligence-gathering programs revealed by Snowden are unprecedented in their sheer scale, their advanced technologies, and in the legal foundation that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court offered them.
One NSA program, unofficially called 215, collected metadata from U.S. telecommunications companies, revealing the date, time, location, and recipient of phone calls across the United States. The agency also monitored foreign emails through a program called Prism, part of a larger internet collection effort called Upstream while targeted abroad, the NSA has admitted that U.S. emails were gathered up as part of the program. One of the documents leaked to the Guardian claimed that the NSA’s tools allowed them to see “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.”
President Barack Obama condemned Snowden for leaking, claiming there were other, official channels through which Snowden could have made known his concerns with the program. Obama presented the activities as part of a necessary activity to protect the United States from terrorism, while asserting that laws prevented the “willy-nilly” taking of private information. He promised that reforms would be made to foster greater trust in the system.
While the Snowden revelations have created tremendous controversy in the United States and around the world (as Germany’s Angela Merkel will attest), some of the questions the documents raise have been with us for at least a century.
Can an intelligence agency successfully operate within the bounds of the law and under the supervision of a democratic government? Can the United States spy on foreign targets without creating an organization able to spy domestically? Can a line be successfully drawn between domestic and foreign intelligence? Can we ensure that innocent citizens do not get caught up in the hunt for internal enemies? Who should be considered an internal enemy?
Regardless of what happens in the wake of the Snowden controversy, these tensions are not likely to evaporate as long as the United States continues to engage in any form of spying and to search domestically for enemies, both real and perceived.
Keeping Tabs on Anarchists and Bolsheviks
Before the United States worried about the threat of jihadi terrorists, the nation was gripped by a fear of anarchists.
Political terrorists had killed scores of European officials in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Even Tsar Alexander II of Russia, liberator of the serfs, had been blown up on the streets of St. Petersburg.
And the U.S. was not immune to this violence. In September 1901, U.S. President William McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York.
Robert Pinkerton, of the famous private Pinkerton detective agency that had supplied the Union with intelligence during the Civil War and spent subsequent decades helping break labor movements, advised that radicals “should be marked and kept under constant surveillance.”
Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded McKinley, did not immediately follow Pinkerton’s advice. In 1908, though, he directed the Attorney General, Charles Bonaparte (the great-nephew of Napoleon) to set up an investigative service within the Department of Justice. Congress, however, turned him down.
The Congressmen did not want to create a secret, internal police similar to those employed by European governments, like the Russian Okhrana. Not discouraged, Bonaparte waited until Congress adjourned and, with the approval of Roosevelt, established the Bureau of Investigation in December 1908.
Shortly thereafter, as the United States was drawn into World War I, the modest bureau expanded to meet the challenge of ensuring internal security, especially the perceived threat of Germans living in the United States. As President Woodrow Wilson began to crack down on domestic dissent with the Espionage Act, the bureau began its long career of hunting down spies and radicals.
The bureau was joined in these efforts by the Office of Naval Intelligence. The ONI had its own programs against potential domestic threats, which soon expanded beyond looking for potential foreign spies to investigating “subversive elements.”
After the war, Bolsheviks replaced Germans as the chief focus of the nascent intelligence community. A hunt for communists ensued, driven on by fear of the new Soviet regime, which emerged in November 1917.
In 1919, a series of bomb attacks on government targets convinced many Americans that threats from anarchists and Bolsheviks were clear and present. In the wake of the bombings, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launched a series of raids on radicals in cities around the country, though many had no connection to any violent organization.
The First Red Scare, as it came to be known, resulted in deportations including well-known figures like Emma Goldman, and it broke the back of the Industrial Workers of the World, a prominent union.
To lead the charge against subversives, Palmer created the Radical Division of the Bureau of Investigation, and selected 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover to lead it. Hoover assumed his new position August 1, 1919, and would spend the rest of his life, more than 50 years, directing law enforcement against communists.
When the FBI was organized from the Bureau of Investigation in 1935, Hoover became its first director. He remained a committed anticommunist. To Hoover, however, “communist” became synonymous with almost anyone on the political left. Under Hoover, various leftist organizations would be infiltrated by federal informants.
In addition to the use of informants to gather human intelligence, early electronic surveillance was used in the tapping of phones. Such tapping was deemed legal by the Supreme Court in the 1927 case Olmstead v. United States, which found that the wiretapping of phones did not violate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. That decision would not be reversed until 1967.
Domestic surveillance continued in the 1930s, much of it legal although sometimes exceeding legal limits. At the request of Franklin Roosevelt, Hoover begrudgingly began investigations of the American fascist movement. He also monitored civil rights groups, suspecting them of communist influence.
Captain Hayne Ellis, the director of the ONI in 1931, expanded beyond communist groups to investigate pacifist organizations like the National Council for the Prevention of War and the Women’s League for Peace.
As war loomed in Europe, FDR in 1939 directed the FBI, ONI, and the Military Intelligence Division to take charge of tracking subversives in the United States.
The Cold War: The Modern Architecture of Surveillance Takes Shape
World War II witnessed, amongst other things, the birth of the first centralized U.S. intelligence organization, the Office of Strategic Services. Included in its mandate was counter-intelligence, a duty it shared with the FBI. Like the FBI, the OSS would occasionally ignore legal requirements in its pursuit of subjects, most notably when pursuing State Department leaks to the magazine Amerasia.
By the end of World War II, domestic intelligence responsibilities in the United States had grown—in fits and starts—and were now included in the purview of several government agencies under the big umbrella of “national security.” How that term was defined, and who, therefore, constituted a threat to it, was left to particular organizations and their leaders. Thus groups such as the Women’s League for Peace and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People found themselves at various times considered national security threats and placed under surveillance.
As the nation moved from World War II to Cold War, domestic security became even more a priority. The tension between the United States and Soviet Union led to a variety of activities against communist organizations in America, and organizations perceived to be affiliated with communism. This environment produced many of the secretive and shrouded security organizations we know today in the United States.
In 1947, the National Security Act established the Central Intelligence Agency. Similar to concerns over the original Bureau of Investigation, opponents warned the CIA could become a secret police force, an American Gestapo. To forestall any abuse of the intelligence system, Congress forbade the CIA from operating domestically, leaving domestic security the responsibility of the FBI.
Five years later and with considerably less publicity, the National Security Agency was founded to take responsibility for U.S. signals intelligence, guarding U.S. electronic communications and breaking the encryptions of the enemy.
Like the CIA, the NSA was directed not to spy domestically. Unlike the CIA, the NSA remained under the radar, to such an extent that its staff jokingly claimed its initials stood for “No Such Agency.”
By 1963, the NSA operated from a massive facility at Fort Meade, Maryland, and was busily at work intercepting and decrypting communications. By 1980, the NSA was classifying fifty to one hundred million reports each year, which, in an era of paper and magnetic tape records, led to a serious problem with materials storage.
The growth of the U.S. national security apparatus was matched by a growing fear within the United States of communist infiltration and subversion. However, it would be one of the older organizations, the FBI, which proved most aggressive against a perceived communist threat.
Through several turns of good fortune, the FBI was able to uncover several networks of Soviet spies in the United States. Hoover, in addition to directing the FBI’s more legitimate counter-intelligence activities, cooperated with hardcore anticommunist politicians such as Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy.
The Fine Line between Domestic and Foreign
In 1956, under the orders of Hoover and the direct supervision of the chief of research and analysis in the FBI’s Intelligence Division, William Sullivan, the first FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) was launched. COINTELPRO was the next stage of evolution in the FBI’s anticommunist agenda.
While including domestic surveillance, COINTELPRO went far beyond mere monitoring. COINTELRPO sought actively to disrupt targets by spreading false information within the ranks of targeted groups—a practice that at times led some groups to retaliate violently against, and even murder, those set up to appear to be informers. A variety of COINTELPROs, each directed at a specific target, would be established by the 1970s.
The CIA did not begin domestic spying programs in the 1950s. It did, however, begin some long-lasting domestic programs at that time. Under the direction of intelligence veteran Thomas Braden, the CIA began to wage a “cultural Cold War,” funding domestic and international leftist anticommunist organizations in the hope of forming a reliable non-communist left. At home, this consisted of a variety of activities, such as supporting the work of Jackson Pollack and funding the National Student Association.
These domestic activities violated the CIA’s mandate not to operate in the United States, but they had the general approval of the president. Many of those the CIA supported did not know where their money came from.
For example, most members of the National Student Association had no idea the CIA provided them with funds. In 1964 the president of the group explained that the mysterious funds it had received came from a wealthy Greek rug merchant whom he had met on a train. The rug merchant had apparently been so moved by the organization’s activities that he generously provided money to help them meet operating costs.
The precedent for their domestic activities established, the CIA expanded those activities to include surveillance during the tumultuous 1960s. As opposition to the Vietnam War increased at home, President Johnson grew convinced that part of the problem had to be that foreign agents were aiding the antiwar effort, and also, he feared, stoking the fires of the race riots that destabilized U.S. cities during the long hot summers of the 1960s. In 1967, he directed then-CIA director Richard Helms to investigate these possibilities.
Under the codename CHAOS, the CIA infiltrated the antiwar movement. The program expanded under Nixon, who like Johnson insisted foreign elements were behind the movement, leaving Helms straining to prove a negative by widening the surveillance net on the antiwar movement.
Eventually, the CIA recruited 4,067 informers in the antiwar movement. When the program was revealed by Seymour Hersh of the New York Times in 1974, he reported that CHAOS kept 10,000 CIA files on American citizens. That, it turned out, was a low estimate. Subsequent disclosures revealed that CHAOS held an index of 300,000 names, with especially extensive files on 7,200 U.S. citizens.
The NSA also came to monitor domestic targets. Its watch list included Jane Fonda, Joan Baez, Benjamin Spock, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. In 1969, the NSA formalized its activities into Operation Minaret, the full details of which have only recently been revealed. The NSA spied on figures such as New York Times reporter Tom Wicker, Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, and two antiwar U.S. senators, Frank Church and Howard Baker.
The most aggressive domestic operations remained the FBI’s COINTELPROs, which, like the CIA, expanded in the 1960s. They investigated the New Left, the civil rights movement, Black Power advocates, and the American Indian Movement.
Hoover had long been suspicious of African Americans, having investigated W.E.B. DuBois in his early days as well as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Convinced that King must be a communist, Hoover began monitoring him heavily, eventually running eight wiretaps and 16 bugs on King.
Hoover discovered that King engaged in occasional extramarital affairs. Sullivan, still running the broad range of COINTELRPO operations, had tapes of the affairs sent to King along with a letter urging him to commit suicide.
Black Women's Activism and the Long History Behind #MeToo
In a powerful speech at the 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey framed the #MeToo movement as the latest episode in a long history of women’s resistance to sexual harassment and violence. Her speech was also notable for emphasizing the activism of racially and economically marginalized women, including Recy Taylor, who died in 2017 at the age of 98. Taylor’s determination to seek justice for her rape in Jim Crow-era Alabama set the stage for the civil rights movement and in many ways, today’s modern #MeToo movement. The Me Too campaign was created in 2007 by Tarana Burke, a black woman following in the footsteps of Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks.
Use the following Teaching Idea as an entry point into Taylor’s story and the long history of black women’s activism against sexual violence and harassment.
Note: The readings and activities below contain references to rape and other forms of sexual violence and harassment that simultaneously may be difficult to understand for some students and all too real for others. It is possible that some students will have additional questions or comments on the topic of rape outside of the context of these activities. It is important to preview how you might respond to such questions and comments in case they arise. If they do, make sure to develop or return to a class contract with students to guide any discussion that follows.
Explore #MeToo through the Lens of Black Women’s History
Ask students to read the Washington Post article, Recy Taylor, Oprah Winfrey and the long history of black women saying #MeToo. Since the article is fairly long and may be challenging for some students, consider previewing some vocabulary in advance, or using the Read Aloud or the Annotating and Paraphrasing Sources teaching strategies to promote students’ understanding of the ideas and arguments presented.
Use the following questions to guide a class reflection and discussion after reading:
- Who was Recy Taylor? Why is her story significant according to the author?
- How does her story fit into the long history of sexual violence and white supremacy in the United States?
- What evidence does McGuire provide to show that the Montgomery Bus Boycott was rooted in “black women’s demands for bodily integrity”?
- Why do you think Winfrey connected Recy Taylor’s story to the #MeToo movement today?
- Why, according to the author of the article, does this history matter today? Why does it matter in your opinion?
Read Rosa Parks’s Account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
In the media and even some history textbooks, Rosa Parks’s motivation for her refusal to relinquish her seat has often been trivialized as “Rosa Parks was tired.” Present this information to students and ask them to compare this narrative to Parks’s own description of her motives for initiating the bus boycott (from Facing History’s study guide Eyes on the Prize, page 20). Students should also use the information they learned from the Washington Post article to support their reasoning.
Then, ask students to discuss the following questions:
- What is missing from portrayals of Rosa Parks as simply “tired”?
- How does the new information you gained from reading this account extend your thinking about Parks?
- Why do you think the depiction of her motives for the bus boycott has become a dominant narrative?
Read a Primary Source Describing One Black Woman’s Experience Working as a Domestic Servant in White Households
To give students a better sense of the experiences of domestic workers in the Jim Crow South, who were the majority of participants in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, use Essie Favrot's personal account, from Facing History’s study guide Teaching Mockingbird.
When students finish reading, ask them to construct an identity chart for Essie Favrot. Then, discuss the following questions:
The BGN's Domestic Names Committee provides information relating to domestic names new name and name change proposals the principles and policies by which it reviews name proposals past and pending cases and meeting schedule are available.
User Notice – May 17, 2021
The GNIS application will be getting a much-needed update and will go live within the next three months. Users will still be able to search and retrieve records and view the location on a map. Users will be able to select the best search type for their needs and download the results. The summary page for each record will include the location displayed on a map along with each point. Users will have the ability to select several options for map backgrounds to assist with location.
We will provide a final date for the implementation as soon as we know it.
The location of GNIS download files will be moved to ScienceBase and users can choose to download the text files we continue to create as well as a new geodatabase file that can be used with ArcMap. Until we move to ScienceBase, users will be able to download the text files from the BGN website.
Since GNIS staff has been unable to maintain Domestic administrative names for quite some time (since October 1, 2014), these records will be archived from GNIS database and will no longer be available through the GNIS application. The data will be archived into separate files that can be downloaded from ScienceBase. We will no longer update the file once records are archived. All the information pertaining to the records will be available for download in the same format we use for the other text files. We will create a main names file, in the same format as the National file and an AllNames file (includes official and variant names). The following feature classes will be archived: Airport, Bridge, Building, Cemetery, Church, Dam, Forest, Harbor, Hospital, Mine, Oilfield, Park, Post Office, Reserve, School, Tower, Trail, Tunnel, and Well. The removal and archival of administrative names will also take place within the next three months.
Natural features, populated places, canals, and reservoirs remain under the purview of the Board on Geographic Names and the Civil, Census, and Military features will also be maintained via an agreement between the Census Bureau and USGS. These remaining feature types will continue to be maintained and distributed through the GNIS application and the bi-monthly distribution files.
Some administrative names are managed by other data themes of The National Map and are available for download from The National Map at (https://apps.nationalmap.gov/viewer Click Data Download).
The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is the Federal and national standard for geographic nomenclature. The U.S. Geological Survey's National Geospatial Program developed the GNIS in support of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names as the official repository of domestic geographic names data, the official vehicle for geographic names use by all departments of the Federal Government, and the source for applying geographic names to Federal electronic and printed products.
The GNIS contains information about physical and cultural geographic features of all types in the United States, associated areas, and Antarctica, current and historical, but not including roads and highways. The database holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the feature location by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates. Other attributes include names or spellings other than the official name, feature designations, feature classification, historical and descriptive information, and for some categories the geometric boundaries.
The database assigns a unique, permanent feature identifier, the Feature ID, as the only standard Federal key for accessing, integrating, or reconciling feature data from multiple data sets. The GNIS collects data from a broad program of partnerships with Federal, State, and local government agencies and other authorized contributors, and provides data to all levels of government, to the public, and to numerous applications through a web query site, web map and feature services, and file download services.
The GNIS Feature ID, Official Feature Name, and Official Feature Location are American National Standards Institute standards as specified in ANSI INCITS 446-2008 (Identifying Attributes for Named Physical and Cultural Geographic Features (Except Roads and Highways) of the United States, Its Territories, Outlying Areas, and Freely Associated Areas, and the Waters of the Same to the Limit of the Twelve-Mile Statutory Zone). The standard is available at the ANSI Web Store.
The People vs. Columbus, et al.
Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 9 pages. Rethinking Schools.
A trial role play asks students to determine who is responsible for the death of millions of Taínos on the island of Hispaniola in the late 15th century.
By Bill Bigelow
This role play begins from the premise that a monstrous crime was committed in the years after 1492, when perhaps as many as 3 million or more Taínos on the island of Hispaniola lost their lives. (Most scholars estimate the number of people on Hispaniola in 1492 at between 1 and 3 million some estimates are lower and some much higher.)
Who — and/or what — was responsible for this slaughter? This is the question students confront in the activity.
The intent of the lesson is to prompt students to wrestle with the roots of colonial violence. When I taught this, it came at the conclusion of a longer unit about the meaning of the European arrival in the Americas, one which included reading Taíno scholar José Barreiro’s “The Taínos: ‘Men of the Good,’” in Rethinking Columbus, which explicitly critiques the notion of the Taíno as “primitive.” As Barreiro writes, “the Taínos strove to feed all the people, and maintained a spirituality that respected most of their main animal and food sources, as well as the natural forces like climate, season, and weather. The Taíno lived respectfully in a bountiful place so their nature was bountiful.” Barreiro notes that “There was little or no quarreling observed among the Taínos by the Spaniards.”
Students and I also read excerpts from Columbus’s journal, included in Rethinking Columbus, which hint at the violence and exploitation to come: “They do not bear arms or know them, for I showed them swords and they took them by the blade and cut themselves through ignorance” — a quote that students find chilling. On his third day with these “gentle” people, October 14, 1492, Columbus concludes that “with 50 men they would be all kept in subjection and forced to do whatever may be wished…”
The more students know about Spain, Columbus’s voyages, Taíno culture, details of Columbus’s strategies to extract wealth from the people and land of the Caribbean, and Taíno resistance, the more effective this trial activity will be. But a caveat: The trial is not an introductory activity. A critical look at colonialism begins with the people being encountered prior to colonization, not with the domination those people experienced.
I wrote the lesson in 1991. Lots changed over my 30-year teaching career, but one thing stayed sadly consistent: Year after year, my high school U.S. history students had never heard of the Taíno people. Early in my classes, I asked students if they could name the guy some people say “discovered America.” There was never any shortage of students calling out “Columbus!” Then I asked, “OK. Who did he supposedly discover? Who was here first?” Sometimes a few students would say, “Indians.” But I’d say, “No. I mean which specific nationality? What were the names of the people he found?” In all my years of teaching, I never had a single student say: “The Taínos” — much less be able to name any individual Taíno. I told my students their name, and that there were at least hundreds of thousands of Taínos, possibly millions. “What does it say,” I asked, “that we all know the name of the fellow from Europe, a white man, but none of us can name who was here first?”
“The People vs. Columbus et al.” was — and is — part of a broader effort to bring the Taíno people into the curriculum, to insist that their lives matter. Columbus’s policies toward the Taíno meet the United Nations’ definition of genocide. But there has also been an almost complete curricular erasure of the Taíno people, and it is up to educators to address this silence in our classes.
The lesson begins as follows:
1. In preparation for class, list the names of all the “defendants” on the board: Columbus, Columbus’ men, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and the System of Empire.
2. Tell students that each of these defendants is charged with murder — the murder of the Taíno Indians in the years following 1492. Tell them that, in groups, students will portray the defendants and that you, the teacher, will be the prosecutor. Explain that students’ responsibility will be twofold: a) to defend themselves against the charges, and b) to explain who they think is guilty and why.
A pedagogical note: Recently, there has been much discussion — and controversy — about role plays. It’s a term that embraces strategies the Zinn Education Project supports, and others we oppose. Some school activities — “role plays” — demand that students “recreate traumatic experiences,” in the words of Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ohio State University professor. No Zinn Education Project activity engages in this kind of teaching. In this and other ZEP role plays, we do not ask students to perform. Although Columbus enslaved Taíno people, and ordered his men to spread “terror,” as documented by the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas, students do not act any of this out in this role play. Instead, the role play asks students to attempt to represent different individuals’ and social groups’ points of view, to wrestle with who or what was responsible for the crimes against the Taínos. The “drama” in this activity is sparked by the intellectual and ethical questions students discuss, not by reenacting historical events. [Read How to — and How Not to — Teach Role Plays.]
The trial role play is excerpted from Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, which includes more context for the events dealt with in the lesson, including “The Taínos: ‘Men of the Good,'” by José Barriero a critical reading activity of Columbus’s diary on his first contact with Indigenous people a timeline of Spain, Columbus, and Taínos with teaching ideas and an adaptation from the writings of Bartolomé de las Casas on the first Spanish priest to denounce the Spanish brutality in Hispaniola.
We also recommend Indigenous Cuba: Hidden in Plain Sight by José Barreiro in the National Museum of the American Indian and Whose History Matters? Students Can Name Columbus, But Most Have Never Heard of the Taíno People by Bill Bigelow in the Zinn Education Project “If We Knew Our History” series.
Scenes from the Classroom
Students engaged in the People vs. Columbus trial. (Teacher: Julian Hipkins, 11th grade at CCPCS in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Rick Reinhard, 2012)
Stories from the Classroom
“Guilty or Innocent? Hardy Middle School Students Put Columbus on Trial”
By Cierra Kaler-Jones
If you had to put Christopher Columbus on trial for murder, would he be considered guilty? Students in Caneisha Mills’ 8th-grade U.S. History class at Hardy Middle School in Washington, D.C. grappled with this question when they were assigned the task of deciding who would be considered guilty for the deaths of millions of Taínos on the island of Hispaniola in the 1490s . . .
Continue reading this play-by-play account of The People vs. Columbus, et al. at DC Area Educators for Social Justice.
The People vs. Columbus trial has been my most successful and popular lesson in the two years I taught it. Not only do students get to learn the extent of the atrocities committed by Spanish colonizers, but they get to engage in higher order thinking (one of my grad school buzzwords I think about a lot!) on the factors that cause historical atrocities to occur.
I LOVE how “the system of empire” is one of the options for students to blame or defend. This has generated some of the most challenging discussions I’ve seen in my class so far, as students say, “The king and queen would not have sent Columbus if they hadn’t been acting within the system!” and retort, “But the system is made up of individuals, and each have their own choices!” This thinking about structure vs. agency is a level of thinking in social studies that was not made explicit to me until college, and I am thrilled that this assignment has given my students an opportunity to delve into core disciplinary questions.
They get excited about it, too ― I’ve had students leap up in the trial, hollering their positions to each other in attempts to convince a jury of their peers. At the end of the trial this year, as the jury came back with the verdict, one of my students reflected, “I think that Columbus is like Trump, and the Tainos are like the Mexican people…” This prompted a discussion about how colonial-type oppression works in our current society, leading one student to observe, “You know, I think WE live within a system.” I asked them if they thought that they had any agency within the system, and they had a really thoughtful conversation about it.
Your resources truly fill a well left dry – not by forgetfulness, but by the same racist systems that perpetuate the injustices my students face on a daily basis in schools.
The Zinn Education Project made untold history come to life for students working on the People vs. Columbus tribunal. Students were immersed in building background knowledge by reading the indictments, working together, and using teacher-created graphic organizers to build a defense and a strong prosecution.
The lesson captivated the attention of my students in the online environment, fostered collaboration and highlighted rigorous writing, reading, and speaking & listening standards as we work our way through a delicate piece of history that not many know and everyone should appreciate.
Students remarked at the end of the first day in trial how fun and engaging the work was and how much they were learning by working together, interacting with the teacher and rereading the indictments to write argument pieces to present to class. Seeing the students produce quality work aligned to standards and related to our curriculum content is a magical feeling for a teacher and I for one am humbled it happened in my classroom.
I am grateful I had robust materials to use, a guide for instruction, and the opportunity to create. I am eager to continue to use more Zinn Education Project resources with my students in the future.
The science teacher told me that students were arguing during lunch about The People vs. Columbus et al. trial and who was to blame. This was the first time all school year he has heard students really talking about what they were learning outside of class time. To hear ninth graders thinking critically about how much of a person’s action reflects individual choice vs. what society compels them to do and then applying that to major events in world history is amazing. Thank you, Zinn Education Project.
When I first came across this website, one of the first activities I read was People vs. Columbus, et al. and I immediately began preparations to use it in my world history classes. After providing background information from A People’s History and various primary sources, we set the trial up.
My students’ reactions after the trial concludes can easily be described as unsettled. Never before had they heard of the crimes committed against the indigenous peoples of the “new world.” Never before did they realize the impact Europeans had on the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere.
I have a writing assignment attached to this activity. In two paragraphs, I ask that they tell me who they think is to blame for the crimes. I also ask if they think we should still celebrate Columbus Day.
Afterward, we take a look at our textbook. We look at the one paragraph devoted to Columbus in which it describes his ability to persuade Queen Isabella in 1492. That’s it. That’s all it says. Thanks to the Zinn Education Project, my students have a better understanding of the impact left by him and other Europeans. Now, they know more than just the year he sailed and the color of the ocean.
I always begin my U.S. history course with the People vs. Columbus, et al Trial. It is amazing how engaged students become to not only learn the truth but also be able to defend themselves using the evidence provided. Students love creativity and this case allows students to come to their own conclusions.
More Classroom Stories
As a teacher, the Zinn Education Project website is invaluable because it provides activities that directly relate to A People’s History. Last week we did The People vs. Columbus, et al. which places all the parties involved in the arrival of Columbus on trial for the murder of the Tainos. The activity was so interactive that teachers from other classrooms had to ask us to quiet down. Students were able to better understand the motives and consequences behind the arrival.
Even though A People’s History can be a bit difficult for some students, the activities on the Zinn Education Project website makes the content accessible regardless of their reading level.
My students were completely engaged in The People vs. Columbus trial we held about the massacre of the Taíno people. They loved it! They were so outraged that Columbus Day is a federal holiday that I suggested we send letters to the editors of local newspapers and our city council. They were so excited. Most of the students chose to send letters. When a student’s letter was published the next day advocating for our city to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, the students who had not yet sent letters immediately began to write their own.
It was a powerful lesson in civics, especially since my students are disenfranchised and feel like they don’t have power to effect change politically.
When I do the Christopher Columbus lesson, the students are blown away. They are usually so surprised at the truth behind Columbus. They also love the role-playing. This year, when I was doing the lesson, my assistant principal walked in just as one of the students who usually sits quietly during social studies was standing up and asking a fiery round of questions to the defendants on the stand. I was so impressed with it. The lesson also gets students who I usually don’t get a lot of participation out of to debate with the students who I do. I love it!
The People vs. Columbus trial was so effective. I taught it in a Native American Studies course and the students spent a lot of time exploring primary source documents from Columbus and Las Casas.
It was powerful to watch them transform into excellent and passionate litigators, but basing their arguments upon historical evidence. Also, the power of role plays to induce empathy and compassion for various points of view was evident.
My students are all Native American and they are all too familiar with the concepts of genocide and exploitation. However, many of them did not know about the Taíno and were curious to learn more. At the conclusion we watched the film Even the Rain to enhance their understanding of the texts, and also to learn more about the Cochabamba water war to piece together an interdisciplinary unit about water that they were engaged in.
The Christopher Columbus trial is a phenomenal lesson to use with students. First, it forces them to think about the construct of our globalized world in a new and critical manner. Americans are bred upon the unchallenged idea of superiority and equality, and it is troubling for them to have to see that the true pillars of trade, colonization, exploration, and expansion are instead rooted in forced inferiority and exploitation. This lesson further challenges students to give up the stereotypes and nostalgia surrounding Native Americans (in this case on Hispaniola) and see them as people who had functioning societies and belief systems. The most powerful aspect of the lesson, however, is the way it forces students to research, utilize primary resources, think in a debate-like manner, and justify their positions with evidence.
One of my students returned to visit me last month to inform me that because of partaking in this lesson last year, he joined an online group advocating the end of Columbus Day. I was impressed to have a 10th grade student not only take a firm stand on something, but actually take action to incite change. Another of my students said that this “was the best lesson I ever learned because it helped me believe that there is ‘real’ history I can learn from.”
In a blog post about this lesson in action, Adrian Hoppel at the Talking Stick Learning Center describes how his students found all parties except the Taíno guilty — and apologized to the Taíno for being charged and being brought to a trial for their own genocide.
Each of the defendant groups did an amazing job defending themselves, pulling all of the obvious rationalizations you’d expect, but also surprising me with some very creative defenses. For example, when attempting to defend The System of Empire, the defendant stated that “while my system, unfortunately, allows for abuse and atrocities, it does not require them you still have to choose, on your own, to commit them.” I thought that was surprisingly astute.
By working hard to defend each of these groups, the hope was that each group would be examined for its complicity in this crime, and I feel this was most definitely accomplished.
Beyond the Classroom
Student Film Critiques Textbook Accounts and Hero Worshipping
High school student filmmakers Jared, Ana Marie, Jonah, and Mayra (not pictured) made “Columbus – The Hidden Story” for the 2011 National History Day competition.