Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Failure is Your Friend

I am a big fan of the Freakonomics Podcast. This week, they highlighted the power of failure. In the new educational environment of high stakes testing, the ability to fail has been taken out of the game. This is fundamentally problematic as the greatest way to learn in life is through failure! In fact, many of the most influential people in history attribute their success to learning from failure. This esteemed list includes the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This week’s podcast tells us that not only should failure not be stigmatized, it should be celebrated!

I always tell my students — fail quickly. The quicker you fail the more chances you have to fail at something else before you eventually maybe find the thing that you don’t fail at. – Levitt

You can listen to the full podcast on their website here or download it from iTunes and Subscribe!

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3D Printing the Smithsonian

If you’ve been debating about whether or not to get a 3D printer for your school, the Smithsonian Institution has given you another argument in favor of making that purchase. If you’re familiar with the Smithsonian’s X 3D program hosts a repository of 3D scanned items from the Smithsonian’s collection! These high definition scans are not your traditional 3D virtual objects – I promise they feel like you’re view ing it in real life! You can rotate and view objects in 3 Dimensions for free!

Now, the Smithsonian has begun to place objects from the x 3D program into a digital catalogue that will allow you to make a 3D model using a relatively inexpensive 3D printer. The most recent addition the Lincoln Life Mask.

3D Printer, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

3D Printer, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In a recent article, Secretary of the Smithsonian G. Wayne Clough highlights the boon this provides for both scholars and educators. Check out his article, “How Will 3D Printing Change the Smithsonian?

A Virtual Tour of Gettysburg

As we prepare for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, there is a broad array of information on the topic. If you would like to hear a modern rendition of the speech, listen here.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History highlights the battle in an interactive tour.

If you would like another interactive resource, check out the Civil War Battlefield App, Gettysburg (free).

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863Today is the 204th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is one of America’s most celebrated Presidents, having served during the Union’s darkest time – the Civil War. His problematic tenure in office saw the United States nearly torn apart, the abolition of slavery, and the beginnings of our reunification. His assassination at Ford’s Theatre in April 1865 ensured he would not live to see the survival of his beloved country.

To learn more about Abraham Lincoln, visit the website for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the National Park Service’s Lincoln Memorial.

Eight Little Known Facts About the Civil War

Smithsonian Magazine Highlights the top 8 little known, obscure, and sometimes just odd facts regarding the American Civil War. The odd facts include:

  1. The brothers Chang and Eng Bunker (the famed “Siamese Twins”) were drafted in the war.
  2. “Rectal Acorns” were used to smuggle messages by spies and couriers.
  3. General Lee had a pet chicken that accompanied him and lived at his home.
  4. Southern cultural standards had odd and strenuous requirements on women in terms of ‘mourning requirements’ – men were expected to be slightly sad briefly and then move on.
  5. After the Battle of Shiloh, several soldiers reported glowing and iridescent wounds.
  6. Confederate President Jefferson Davis shared his name with a Union General which led to some amusing (and deadly) guffaws on both sides!
  7. The famous Southern General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a severe hypochondriac.
  8. President Abraham Lincoln carried with him a $5 confederate bill in his wallet.

To learn more about these obscure events, see the article in the Smithsonian.

Juneteenth – Our Other Independence Day (via Smithsonian Magazine)

When I first moved to Texas five years ago, I was introduced to a new Holiday I had never heard of – “Juneteenth.” Everyone spoke about it in the way that you do of references you assume everyone understands, “What are y’all doing for Juneteenth?” or “Have you seen the school’s planned display for Juneteenth?” I finally got up the nerve to ask a colleague what the deal was in “Juneteenth”? I figured it was some celebration of Texas Independence (a topic of which I know shamefully little due to the fact that I’m a ‘foreigner’ here in the Great State). However, what I learned was a shocking and fascinating story of slavery, the American Civil War, and a small beach town of Galveston, Texas.

The Official Juneteenth Committee in East Woods Park Austin, TX courtesy of the Austin History Center

The story of Juneteenth begins with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia in April of 1865. The event marked the end of the war and, along with it, an end of slavery in the Southern States. Even though the slaves had been officially freed in the Emancipation Proclamation (check out this great link by the way, it’s a featured document in the government archives) on January 1, 1863 with President Lincoln’s statement:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

It wasn’t until the official surrender of the Confederate states that the Union was actually able to enforce the proclamation. Not surprisingly, the news of Lee’s surrender and the freedom of the slaves took a while to make its way across the South where roads and communication lines were disrupted. It was not until June 19, 1865 that the slaves of Galveston, Texas (one of the western-most cities in the Confederacy) learned of their freedom from General Gordon Granger, when he arrived in the small Texas town along with 2,000 Union troops and read order number 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The slaves of Texas, more than 250,000 of them, learned that they were free more than two months after the end of the war. A series of grass-roots celebrations followed and continues to the modern day. This month’s Smithsonian Magazine highlights the history of Juneteenth in this article. I highly recommend it for those interested in Civil Rights and the American Civil War.

Harvard’s Lincoln – iTunes U

Another great Podcast Series brought to you from iTunes U and the Harvard College Library: “Harvard’s Lincoln.”

Subscribe to the free podcast here!