Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fooling the people earlier

You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Abraham Lincoln said that, right? Well, maybe, maybe not, but the first time we know the saying was ever attributed to Lincoln was August 26, 1887, in a political speech given by a man named Fred Wheeler in New York. I wrote about this here a couple years ago, and at greater length in an article for the Abraham Lincoln Association Newsletter.

This coming weekend, I'm giving a talk at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Historians about my efforts to track down old words and sayings. So this afternoon, taking a break after class, I was just fooling around on a new database--Gale's 19th Century Newspapers--and guess what I found.

The image might be hard to read. It's the Milwaukee Daily Journal, October 29, 1886. And on the front page, just under the date, is an article about another political speech, this one ending with

In the language of Abe Lincoln: "You can fool all the people a part of the time, or a part of the people all the time; but you can never fool all the people all the time."

How about that. I get to go to the conference with a brand new earliest date.

Like the 1887 date, this is probably not the first. My guess is that someone published an article or a book about Lincoln (and there was a LOT written about Lincoln in the 1880s) that put the words in Lincoln's mouth, like how Mason "Parson" Weems invented stories about George Washington.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coloring 101; crosslisted as American History 101

I just had the chance to see an advance copy of new American history textbook. (I'm not going to post author, title, or publisher.) This book is different. Publishers have to do this, of course--show why their books are different (and better) than all the others. Here's the gimmick for this book: the publisher asked students what they wanted in a textbook and gave it to them. "Textbooks get boring," said a student review quoted on the publisher's web site; "it is the same thing page after page." So this book looks like a nicely-produced glossy magazine. Chapters have lots of subheadings, many followed by one paragraph of four or five sentences (I kid you not) and then a new subheading. The book even has a half dozen or so full-page advertisements (for the book itself, or rather its special features).

I saw the Instructor's Edition, which means it comes with detachable cards, one for each chapter, that list the learning outcomes, useful web links, possible assignments, group activities, and the like. The following is a group activity from the card for the Progressive Era chapter:

As the instructor, you may be ready for a tension-breaker, since the chapter will be reached somewhere near mid-semester, when students are usually frazzled. Spring for several boxes of the original eight Crayola crayons, perhaps even one box per student. Print a blown-up picture of Teddy Roosevelt and the teddy bear. Make a copy for each student and give them free time to color the drawing.... Relate to the class the story of Roosevelt's Mississippi trip that gave the world the "teddy bear."


Yes, this is a college-level textbook.

Make sure you have plenty of gold star stickers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm so sorry...

Found, on the first day of the semester: a note left behind by a student in an earlier class that I kept and now re-found under a stack of papers on my desk:

I'm so sorry.... I only went by what people said on rate my professors. This can't be the same guy.

18 very funny seconds

One of the worst (i.e., best) puns I've heard in a long time.

found at Language Log

UPDATE: I showed this to a couple of folks here, and apparently I greatly overestimated its funniness.

Monday, February 16, 2009

the Lost Cause

I'll be teaching the Lost Cause in both my History of American Religion and Georgia History classes soon, so I paid particular attention to a video created by Caitlin GD Hopkins at Vast Public Indifference. This masterpiece gets at certain aspects of the Lost Cause as well as anything I've seen:

I don't know that I could do better than start class with that. Should provoke a bit of discussion, don't you think? Thanks, Caitlin! Good job. (I'm a little jealous that she can do all that.)

I've already told students in one class about Caitlin's "18th Century Connecticutian or Muppet?" quiz (see, she's really into old graveyards....).

She made the above video after reading a posting on Kevin Levin's Civil War Memory, so we have to thank Kevin as well.

Saying Good-bye on the Trail of Tears

Several months ago, I became interested in old Georgia history textbooks. As I've said here before, history ain't what it used to be, and you'll come across some stuff in these old books that looks awfully strange today.

Take, for example, the picture below. It's from the first page of the chapter that discusses the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia in the 1830s.

(click for bigger image)

Last week, as we discussed Cherokee removal in my Georgia history class, I put this image up on the screen in front of the classroom. The students loved it. One asked when the book was published. 1950s, I said. Didn't they use the phrase "Trail of Tears" back then? Yes, they did. Another student suggested that perhaps the illustrator thought the phrase meant "tears of joy."

from Ruth Elgin Suddeth, Isa Lloyd Osterhout, and George Lewis Hutcheson, Empire Builders of Georgia (Austin, TX: The Steck Company, 1957), 141. Thanks to my colleague Stephen Bartlett for the image.