Revisionist History

The end of the fall semester has arrived–and with it, the grading of final exams.  Sometimes my students amaze me with their grasp of history.  Other times, they amuse me with their attempts to explain their understanding of history.  And, every once in a while, I wonder where they get their information, especially when I see something more than once or twice (such as the approximately dozen students who thought that Mexico acquired land from the United States following the Mexican War).  The excerpts below are from take-home exams, and the originally spelling and grammar have been maintained.

Anyway, it’s time to share some of the joy I have experienced this holiday season while grading exams.  I have left out the student’s name (hopefully nobody will recognize their own contributions, although that has happened in the past).  As a warning:  Do not read these with liquid in your mouth.

Here are some pearls of wisdom from my scholars:

Some of the politicians in the 1850s weren’t the brightest crayons in the box.

The Compromise of 1850 stopped the slave trade with Colombia and gave Texas $10 million to cede its claim to Mexico.

The Ku Klux Klan was a group of people in Texas that were terrorizing others into becoming democrats.

The Dred Scott Decision was significant because it showed just how fussy the laws Congress was been passing were and acted as an example as to what could happen to other slaves.

The South’s economy is held together by free slave labor.

A huge cultural difference between the Union and the Confederacy was that slaveholder’s in the Northern states treated their slaves more humanely.

The most important factor was bludgeoning politicians in the 1850s.

The collapse of the Union in 1860 was not the soul case of slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was the pen name of Harriet Tubman.  Harriet Stowe was a escaped slave that helped more slaves escape to freedom than any other person.

The Donna Reed party was so popular because on their travel they had many pioneers die due to taking a supposed short cut that would take off 400 miles when in reality it was worse.

The Ku Klux Klan was founded to promote white supremacy, male superiority, anti immigration, and white sheets.

The Northern Wigs were proud of the changes of the rural setting to a city of factories, railroads, and craftsmen.

The significance of the Anaconda Plan was that it squeezed the south and created a navel blockage in the south and capturing the Mississippi River where their most important transportation during the war for the southerns.

The emancipation proclamation was a rally and stated that all blacks were free but it didn’t support it.  Lincoln had no solid stand on slavery.  He did nothing.  He didn’t do anything to help free the slaves.  He talked a good talk trying to tell peopole he was against slavery but chose not to do anything about it.  The North thought they were fighting in the war to settle the issue of unity among the country and Lincoln claimed he was skeptical about their reaction if they thought that he was actually fighting to get rid of slavery.  He wasn’t against freeing all but not against it either.  He didn’t care if only some were free or not.  The politicians were wishy washy.  They wanted to have cake and eat it too but that wasn’t going to happen during this time of war and fear.  The main point of the emancipation proclamation was to gain control over the South’s ‘power’ and make them part of the union.

And here are a few gems from the second exam:

In the election of 1824, the people showed very little electoral mortality, leaving the decision to be made by the house.  This election was also known as “Corrupt Bargain.”

Corrupt Bargain:  Three separate events that each involved a United States presidential election and a deal that was struck that many viewed to be corrupt.  The elections of 1824, 1876, and 1974 all dealt with cases of corrupt bargain.  One reason for corruption was that the bootleggers made a large sum of money while the police who enforced Prohibition received almost no pay for their work.

Marbury v. Madison:  The first time congress declared something onconstitutional.  Marbury wanted non-confidential papers from the government, which they would not give him.  This helped to show what congress could do in its part of the checks and balances, showing us today a start of their abilities.

And, finally, these were some explanations of the Three-Fifths Compromise:

–Reduced the number of slave states in the South.

–This was an agreement that three-fifths of a slave will be counted.  This will help alleviate the financial burden of owning slaves by reducing the amount of money payed in taxes.

–This was an agreement to count three-fifths of each state’s slaves in electing Representatives, Presidential electors, and direct taxes.  It created a basis for elections, and voting to run on, and we still use it today.

–An agreement between northern and southern states in 1787.  The name came from the action the agreement created.  It was that three fifths of black slaves would have to deal with taxes.

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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5 Responses to Revisionist History

  1. Liane Walta says:

    Well Karen it is amazing what came out and some things are quite humorous.
    The best was the Klu Klux Klan in Texas and democrats.!!
    Joke by side , I sometimes wonder why such answers come. I mean these students go to Uni.!! Such answers could be expected from maybe middle school students. I honestly think that many students don´t do enough research these days. In my day (Iknow there was a Kaiser!! a German saying! LOL) we were expected to have an Encyclopedia in our reach. I still do this today and I shall look up some of your subjects mentioned here.
    However I´m sure you get some funn reading all this.

  2. Jay Rouse says:

    I particularly like the one about the KKK promoting white sheets. Now a days we have the JCPenny white sale!

  3. Kate Sanders says:

    Wow! I can not even pick a favorite from this batch! All so funny! It is unbelievable that people would actually consider these answers correct or even good enough to submit for a grade. However, the KK promoting the white sheets…now that is just clever!

  4. skat35 says:

    OMG This was funny!

  5. Karen says:

    I’m now wondering if I should put a warning on the syllabus for upcoming semesters: “Your historically inaccurate responses to exam questions might appear on my blog.”

Comments are closed.