Class

An interesting day of teaching. The students who haven't been doing well are starting to panic. I will allow them every chance to turn things around, but some of them are going to struggle. You can't change things 180 degrees all of a sudden.

We discussed slavery. Some interesting points:

--Fewer than 25% of southern whites held slaves when the Civil War started.

--3,700 Freed blacks held slaves of their own.

--One former slave owned her husband as a way of getting around the new law that newly freed slaves had to leave the state. Well, the couple got into a fight and she sold her husband to a neighbor. After they made up, the neighbor refused to sell her husband back.

--To have his legendary dentures made, George Washington ordered teeth pulled from his slaves. That sort of casts a different view on Washington as a benevolent slave-holder.

--Robert E. Lee has generally been viewed as a benevolent slave-holder, but a student uncovered an account where Lee had several slaves whipped and then ordered brine poured over their wounds.

The topic of slavery interests the students. I think we will have a better time going over this time period than we did with the Monroe presidency, a boring time in American history if there ever was one.

A student from Liberia came to one of the classes today. He had prepared a lecture on his country's history. It was fascinating.

Liberia is a country in Africa which was founded by the American Colonization Society, a benevolent organization which in the 1820s decided the best thing to do with freed slaves was to send them back to Africa, even though most of them had spent their entire lives in the United States.

To this day, Liberia is divided. Five percent of the population is descended from the repatriates. The rest of the population is divided between sixteen tribes and 123 languages! The country has been torn by civil war in recent decades. They still exist under a Constitution which is similar to that of the United States, but in fact, Liberia tends toward dictatorship, with frequent coups.

According to David, there were great empires in Africa over two thousand years ago. Their rise and fall caused mass migrations of various language groups which still affect African history today. Of course, little or nothing is said about these empires in our history classes, although the World Civilizations text I taught from two years ago did touch on them briefly.

HAD A NICE VISIT with a janitor at UMC. His father fought in World War II. He is now 95 years old. As he ages, the flashbacks from the war become more frequent and vivid, now occurring nightly. His worst memory seems to be of the time they had to shoot up a church because it was bristling with German snipers.