This page is a work in progress. We’re starting with Lesson 20 to assist current homeschools following the recommended scope and sequence. Each week we’ll add a new lesson! We also plan to go back and complete the earlier lessons. Thanks for your patience.
Lecture 20.1 Assignment: Read “A House Divided” by Abraham Lincoln. How is his speech just? How is his speech nationalistic? How would this speech have been received by the distinctive regions of the early United States?
Possible Answer: Lincoln's speech is just because he attempts to review the legal processes and precedents involved in both the Nebraska bill and the Dred Scott decision, what he calls the "almost complete legal machinery" (second long paragraph). His speech is nationalistic because he describes the conflict between free and slave states as a zero-sum game in his opening paragraph: "In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other." The speech would be received by free states as a discouragement to states wanting to determine the legality of slavery in their borders. Slaveholding states would view the speech as an ultimatum: either the nation would be all-slave or all-free, with the executive opposed to the former.
Lecture 20.2 Assignment: Read “The Slavery Question” by John C. Calhoun. How does Calhoun’s speech appeal to the constitution and the sovereignty of states as the source of unity? How does Calhoun’s speech address (or not address) the slavery question?
Possible Answer: Calhoun appeals to the Constitution as an agreement entered into by all states for their mutual benefit. For example, in the middle of the selection he states, "the legislation of this government…was appointed as the common agent of all and charged with the protection of the interests and security of all." He makes the argument that the Southern states are being targeted with unfair export taxation and are prevented from adding new Mexican land and therefore more population for purposes of representation. Calhoun address is slavery as a problem that the north wants to solve at the expense of destroying southern peace. It could be argued that this is a weak defense of the institution.
Lecture 20.3 Assignment: Read several of the slave narratives recorded by former slaves and housed by the Library of Congress. Describe the varied experiences of slaves in the United States. Explain why slavery was wrong.
Possible Answer: Student answers will vary depending upon narratives chosen, but a wide reading of the narratives exposes the impossibility of describing "one" experience of slavery in America. It is not defensible to say that there was nothing but atrocities all the time. Nor is it defensible to say that slavery was a peaceful or beneficial institution for all. There were quite a number of cruel masters and benevolent masters, both kinds acknowledged widely in the slave narratives. Student explanations for the wrongness of slavery will vary, but are encouraged to start with a discussion of sin in scripture, i.e. the sin of man-stealing as a form of theft.
Lecture 20.4 Assignment: Read “On the Death of John Brown” by William Lloyd Garrison. How is Garrison right in his sentiments? How is Garrison radical in his ideas?
Possible Answer: Garrison is right when he acknowledges that true worship of God requires freedom from racial hatred and vainglory: "one God to be worshipped, one Savior to be revered, one policy to be carried out--freedom everywhere to all the
people, without regard to complexion or race--and the blessing of God resting upon us all! I want to see that glorious day!" Garrison is radical when he makes such statements as "I tell you our work is the dissolution of this slavery-cursed Union, if we would have a fragment of our liberties left to us!"
Lecture 20.1 Assignment: Read "Sex and Property" by G.K. Chesterton. What does he say about how modern culture views sex and property? How should we view these things? How are they, that is marriage, family, and fruitful production, at the heart of Distributism?
Possible Answer: Chesterton argues that sin related to sex in antiquity idolized fruitfulness, while modern sin in those areas "exalts lust and forbids fertility." Modern culture makes the same error with regard to property: "The reason why our contemporary countrymen do not understand what we mean by Property is that they only think of it in the sense of Money." A good summary quotation appears midway in the essay: "Now the notion of narrowing property merely to enjoying money is exactly like the notion of narrowing love merely to enjoying sex. In both cases an incidental, isolated, servile and even secretive pleasure is substituted for participation in a great creative process; even in the everlasting Creation of the world." The heart of Distributism is gratitude to God for his gifts, and living out God's call to impose man's will to make those gifts bear fruit.
Lecture 20.2 Assignment: Read the following accounts of life during the Great Depression. How did things change for ordinary people? How did these people adapt?
Possible Answer: Circumstances changed drastically, especially when viewed through the lens of children. They noticed the uncertainty of parents in the home (from where will the next paycheck come? when will the money run out?) and were disconcerted themselves. Some adapted to limiting consumption of food and goods, while some sought work in surprising locations.
Lecture 20.3 Assignment: Read the memorandum of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., FDR’s treasury secretary. What was Morgenthau’s conclusion regarding the New Deal’s spending program and high deficits? What did he propose to stabilize the government?
Possible Answer: Morgenthau believes that taxation should make up for the New Deal spending and deficits, and he proposes a higher tax on the wealthy. He believes that taxa revenue will allow the government to allocate those resources towards new jobs, which will end unemployment.
Lecture 20.4 Assignment: Read the opening paragraphs of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. How does Solzhenitsyn describe the injustice of arrest in Stalin’s police state of concentration camps?
Possible Answer: Solzhenitsyn describes the arrest as a supreme shock, but one that he and his compatriots should have seen coming if they paid attention to the warning signs. He conveys a sense of terror through disembodied voices, boots, and hands, as well as by the sense of isolation from one's neighbors.
Lecture 20.1 Assignment: Read the following biographical sketch. How does Plutarch describe the character and ambitions of Alexander?
Possible Answer: Plutarch describes Alexander as "extremely eager and vehement…in his love of glory, and the pursuit of it." He pursued glory while abstaining from many vices of pleasure. Biographers described him as a demi-god, but he had a restless ambition that required his mark on the world.
Lecture 20.2 Assignment: Read the contemporary military account. How did Philip conquer the Greeks?
Possible Answer: Philip captured Elateia in a surprise assault, overpowered Athens and her ally Boeotia by means of the battlefield prowess of his son Alexander, and persuaded the rest of the Greeks to lay down arms because he would avenge them upon the Persian invaders.
Lecture 20.3 Assignment: Read the following biographical sketch. How does Plutarch display the supposed destiny of Alexander?
Possible Answer: Plutarch projects the destiny of Alexander from the start of his campaigns. He visits the gravesite of Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, with a series of elaborate honors. He then attacks a superior Persian force and with personal heroics causes contributes to 22,000 Persian casualties to 34 of his own. Finally, he interprets a natural overflow of a spring near Xanthus as an indication of divine favor on his behalf.
Lecture 20.4 Assignment: Read the following speech. What does Alexander spur his men to do? How does he do this?
Possible Answer: Alexander delivers a convincing speech. He recounts the many lands and victories he and his men have shared. Then he compares himself to both Heracles and Dionysus who advanced in the face of adversity. Next, he reminds his men of his liberality in gifts, honors, and treasure when on campaign. He ends with the excellent line, "I will make those who stay the envy of those who return."
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