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Posts Tagged ‘Social Studies’

Teddy Roosevelt, Our National Monuments, and The Antiquities Act of 1906

On the 8th of June, 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt signed into law the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, more familiarly known as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The law gives the President of the United States the authority, by executive proclamation, to create national monuments from federally-owned public lands in order to protect important “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” On September 24, 1906, almost four months after he signed the bill, Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument in the United States. Devils Tower was the first of many that he would designate as national monuments under his presidency.

Since the first day of its signing, the law has been steeped in controversy pitting lawmakers, landowners, and resource extraction industries against environmentalists, conservationists, and federal land managers who have sought greater protections. Just last month President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created since 1996, which the President called “a massive federal land grab.”

With this review now taking place it’s a perfect time for science and social educators alike to explore with their students the history and background of the Antiquities Act and the lands the act is meant to protect. There are some basic question that teachers may want to ask their students:

  • What are national monuments and why do we need them?
  • What was the intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906?
  • What protections does the law afford, and what rights and responsibilities do landowners and lesees have inside national monument lands?
  • What scientific and cultural values do these national monuments have?

The current review by the Trump administration will look at around 24 national monuments designated since 1996, many of which reside in California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. You can learn more in eLibrary about our nation’s national monuments and the national parks that were originally designated as monuments. Not yet a subscriber to ProQuest products? Request a Free Trial here!

Here is a partial list of the national monuments under review by the Trump administration:

Bears Ear National Monument
Vermilion Cliffs
Canyons of the Ancients
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

And here is a sample of national monuments and national parks that were originally designated as national monuments:

Chaco Canyon (New Mexico)
Mesa Verde National Park
(Colorado)
Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Arizona)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Olympic National Park (Washington)
Muir Woods National Monument
Death Valley National Park (California)
Katmai National Park and Preserve (Alaska)
Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

Teaching Activity: Tracing the Effects of Slavery

Frear’s Silk Dept (circa 1882), via Wikimedia Commons

This activity comes from the CultureGrams Teaching Activities PDF, which features more than 70 activities to help teachers make the most of our country, state, and province reports.

Grade level: 9–12

Objective: Students will understand the geographical scope of the slave trade. They will be able to trace some of the lingering socioeconomic and cultural effects of slavery across the world. See the Teaching Activites PDF for Common Core and other national curriculum standards met by this activity.

Time requirement

Preparation: 30 minutes

Monument of the Four Moors, Livorno, Italy, via Wikimedia Commons

In-class: 50 minutes, less if students read selections at home

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

Helpful maps from UNESCO

Understanding Slavery Initiative (timelines, maps, paintings, and images of artifacts)

Instructions

  1. Explain to the students how, besides being a general atrocity and a personal tragedy for the millions of Africans who were sold as slaves, the African slave trade has had a major effect on the history of the world. Slavery has influenced the historical development and current cultural and socioeconomic conditions of many nations: African nations from which individuals were captured and nations in the Americas to which Africans were brought as
  2. Divide the class in half to form two groups. Have each group read from these selections in class or at home:
Group One Group Two
United States (History) Angola (History)
Antigua and Barbuda (History, Arts, Holidays) Botswana (Religion)
Barbados (History, Language, Arts) Malawi (History)
Haiti (History, Population) Mozambique (History)
St. Lucia (History, Population, Holidays) Senegal (History)
St. Kitts and Nevis (History, Flag description) Sierra Leone (History, Population, Religion)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (History, Holidays)
  1. Ask the students in Group Two to discuss the circumstances surrounding the African side of the slave trade, in addition to any long-lasting effects it has had on populations or
  2. Ask the students in Group One to discuss the history and cultural impact of slavery in those countries. What did it take to end slavery? What types of economies were created as a result of the slave trade? How did it influence the arts and languages of the Americas?
  3. Have each group prepare a short presentation to share their findings with the other group.
  4. As a class, analyze the Country and Development Data for all of the countries. Which statistics might slavery have influenced and how?

Carving of slave caravan, alternate, Lake Malawi Museum ,by Tim Cowley via Wikimedia Commons

Extension activity

For background information, read the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) report on modern-day slavery (summary of facts below).

  • Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour – 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys.
  • Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
  • Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
  • Forced labour in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
  • Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
  • Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.

Explain to the class that slavery still exists and briefly discuss the various forms it takes (i.e. child and bonded laborers, sex slaves, domestic servants, agricultural workers, etc.). For homework, instruct students to look up a current event dealing with a form of modern-day slavery, then do a write-up that summarizes the event and analyzes the laws and circumstances that result in continued slavery; they might also compare the effects of modern-day slavery with those of the African slave trade.

In this article, students can put a face to modern descendants of the African slave trade and hear their perspectives.

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically

This is the third in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. Previous posts in this series discussed the benefits and aims of teaching controversial political issues.

How Educators Can Choose Controversial Political Issues Ethically


In 2014, school officials in Rialto, California, had to apologize after students were asked to write an argumentative essay on whether the Holocaust occurred. The assignment presented students with a false controversial issue and implied that Holocaust denial was a valid position despite empirical evidence that proves otherwise. Although extreme, this incident demonstrates the ethical perils of choosing topics when teaching controversial political issues.

How can educators choose and present controversial political issues ethically? There are no easy answers. Educators, however, can take some steps to ensure that teaching about a controversial political issue doesn’t become a controversy.

Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, authors of The Political Classroom, argue that educators should be well prepared and use good professional judgment, which considers classroom context, evidence-based research, and educational aims. To prepare, educators should be able to identify four types of issues and consider three criteria to determine whether an issue is indeed controversial.

Identify the Type of Issue

Is the issue empirical or political?

Empirical issues can be answered through methodical inquiry. All empirical issues have a “correct” answer based on facts, although the answer may not yet be known. Political issues involve matters of public policy. Although empirical data is often used to support public-policy positions, political issues also involve considerations that are not necessarily fact-based, such as ethics and morals.

Is the issue open or settled?

Open issues are a current matter of controversy. Settled issues are no longer controversial and have widespread agreement. Both empirical and political issues can be open or settled.

Here’s an overview of the four types of issues:

1. Open Empirical: An issue that can be answered with facts, but a debate is still occurring because the evidence is conflicting or lacking. Example: Are self-driving cars safer than traditional cars?

2. Settled Empirical: An issue that has been answered with facts. Example: Are opioids addictive?

3. Open Political: A public-policy issue that has multiple, opposing viewpoints. Example: Should the United States implement single-payer health care?

4. Settled Political: A public-policy issue that is no longer considered controversial or open for debate. Example: Should women have the right to vote?

Why is identifying the type of issue important? Educators teaching controversial political issues must be sure not to present settled issues as open. Educators must also recognize the difference between issues that can be answered with facts alone (empirical issues) versus those that can be answered with opinions in addition to facts (policy issues).

Consider the Criteria for Controversy

Identifying whether an issue is empirical or political and open or settled may seem easy, but things are not always so simple. Some issues are empirically settled, but large segments of society may not agree. According to scientists, climate change is real and genetically-modified foods are safe, but sizeable numbers of Americans are skeptical of those positions. Some educators believe it is unethical to present issues as controversial when empirical evidence or their own moral code suggests otherwise. Other educators believe they are doing their students a disservice if they ignore issues that are currently being debated in the political sphere.

Here are three possible criteria to consider when choosing a controversial issue:

1. Behavioral: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizeable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue regardless of empirical evidence.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks.

Downside: This standard may ignore empirical evidence. If sizable numbers of people believe in a conspiracy theory, despite the evidence, is it ethical to present this as a controversial issue?

2. Epistemic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if sizable numbers of people in society disagree on the issue, and there are multiple, logically grounded viewpoints on the issue.

Upside: This standard reflects what society thinks while also considering reasonable, evidence-based viewpoints.

Downside: People disagree on what is considered reasonable, which suggests that educators should ignore controversial political issues if viewpoints are considered unreasonable.

3. Politically Authentic: This criterion considers an issue controversial if it is being debated in the political sphere (e.g., legislation, political campaigns, and protest movements).

Upside: This criterion addresses current issues being debated in the political sphere, which prepares students for life in a democracy.

Downside: Viewpoints on politically authentic issues are not always grounded in logic.

Although The Political Classroom’s Hess and McAvoy recognize that each standard has its merits and disadvantages, they most prefer the politically authentic criterion because it directly addresses an important aim of teaching controversial political issues to students: political literacy.

As stated earlier in the post, there are no easy answers on how to choose and present controversial political issues ethically. But thinking deeply about controversial political issues and using good professional judgment will help.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on teaching controversial political issues to students.

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The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

Four Ways to Facilitate Teaching About Immigration

Photo of an unaccompanied child who had crossed the border into the U.S.

South Texas Border – U.S. Customs and Border Protection provide assistance to unaccompanied children after they have crossed the border into the United States. Photo by Eddie Perez [Public Domain], via flickr

Teaching controversial political issues in the classroom is a challenging endeavor. Every day there is a hot button news story that may capture a students’ attention. This is an opportunity to teach the art of dialogue and develop critical thinking skills. One political hot button issue, in particular, has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the news lately – immigration.

Why Should Teachers Discuss Hot-Button Immigration Issues?

While discussing immigration in the classroom might be cause for discomfort among educators, it is an issue which should not be ignored. Immigration is a perennial issue which affects everyone. These days, it is especially relevant that teachers address the issue because of the changing demographics of the classroom. Some students’ personal lives may be directly affected by immigration policies — perhaps one or both of their parents are undocumented immigrants or maybe they are DREAMers. According to the Pew Research Center, there are approximately 3.9 million K-12 students (about 7.3% of the total) with at least one parent who is an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.

Additionally, teaching students about multiple sides of this issue helps them to learn to how to develop analytical and critical thinking skills to prepare them for participation in the broader society. But as with other controversial issues, teaching about immigration can be tricky.

To get you started, here are 4 key ways to introduce the topic of immigration to your classroom:

1. Develop a knowledge base and understanding of the issue.

In order to be prepared to discuss the topic in a balanced and nonjudgmental way, do your research ahead of time. You may want to consult with other teachers, outside experts or your media specialist for materials and information. In addition to developing a general knowledge base, drill down a bit deeper and familiarize yourself with state laws and policies that impact your students and local community. This can help in addressing the topic in a more sensitive manner that is tailored to your class.

While you are researching the topic, you may also want to jot down sensitive questions that might arise in the classroom so you are prepared to address them.

Delve into your library resources. If your school media center or local library has our ProQuest product, SIRS Issues Researcher, take a look at the Immigration Leading Issue for overviews, essential questions, timelines, and editorially-selected articles, which are perfectly geared for middle school and high school students.  Also, check out our latest Spotlight of the Month –which features a quote, content, and quiz on illegal immigration — and the list of teacher resources at the end of this post.

2. Don’t spotlight immigrant students during discussions.

If there are immigrants in your class, do not make them speak as representatives of their group during discussions on immigration. Spotlighting a student in such a way can embarrass them and also reinforce stereotypes about their background. The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching recommends in its Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or Controversial Topics that teachers “[a]void assumptions about any member of the class or generalizations about social groups. Do not ask individuals to speak for their (perceived) social group.”

3. Help students to view an immigration issue from new perspectives.

Helping students view an immigration issue from a new perspective can not only help them hone their critical and analytical skills but can also teach them empathy. Professor Miguel Vasquez of Northern Arizona University, in his article Teaching Students to Consider Immigration with Empathy, suggests that teachers try incorporating “narratives, including stories, anecdotes, jokes, and myths, [to] help contextualize abstract and theoretical concepts, framing them within students’ life experiences.”

4. Use and teach appropriate terminology when discussing aspects of immigration.

Avoid using terminology that might be considered offensive or pejorative to some. For example, the Library of Congress recently replaced illegal alien with the terms noncitizens and unauthorized immigration. The New York Times’s style guide offers the following advice: “consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.”

Teacher Resources:

This list includes educational resources and lesson plans on both immigration and how to be welcoming and inclusive to immigrant students:

The Best Practical Resources for Helping Teachers, Students & Families Respond to Immigration Challenges

Educating About Immigration: Lessons for Teachers

An Educator’s Guide to the Immigration Debate

How Teachers Can Help Immigrant Kids Feel Safe

Lesson Plan: Incredible Bridges: “Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera

The New Americans: Lesson Plan: Immigration Debate

Welcoming Immigrant Students Into the Classroom

What Are Sanctuary Cities and How Are They Bracing for Trump’s Immigration Crackdown? (with Lesson Plan)

Share with Us

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with teaching about controversial issues in immigration for your students? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

Terrorism Resources in eLibrary

Osama bin Laden Research Topic

Osama bin Laden Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Next Tuesday, May 2, marks six years since Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The infamous terrorist leader of al-Qaeda had been wanted by the United States for a decade since he masterminded the attacks of September 11, 2001. While some may have thought that the success of Operation Neptune Spear would bring about some great sense of closure, the truth is that terrorism still never seems to be far from our minds. With the turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq, the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS and the churn of politics and the 24-hour news industry, it is difficult to get away from.

So, do you discuss it in class in the hope of helping students make sense of it or do you stay away for fear of stirring up anxiety? This post from a middle school teacher in which she talks about her experience and these guidelines from Operation250 and Facing History and Ourselves might give you some ideas on how to go about it.

If you decide to tackle the issue, eLibrary has many Research Topics that can provide your students information on terrorist groups, historical and contemporary incidents and the context with which to examine them. A good place to start is the ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Terrorism. This is a special page that compiles most of the terrorism Research Topics. You can use this page to easily see what we have and what you might want to use in the classroom, and you can even provide it to your students to allow them to browse. Of course, you and your students can also search around in eLibrary for more RTs and for up-to-the-day articles.

6 Aims of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students

This is the second in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students. The first post in this series discussed the benefits of teaching controversial political issues.


Educational aims are the hopeful bedrock on which every curriculum is built. They transcend class objectives, which are typically measured with tests and term papers. They are ideals that give teaching a higher purpose. They are long-term.

So what are the educational aims of a political education?

Critics often cite indoctrination, but a political education is not about forcing—or even forming—political viewpoints. It is about deliberation, the process of carefully considering and discussing political issues. It is about instilling and honoring democratic values—liberty, equality, justice—and participating in the democratic process. Although Thomas Jefferson never said that “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people,” he surely believed it. Democracy itself depends on concerned citizens who understand democratic values and the political process.

In The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy identify the aims of teaching controversial political issues to students. Six are defined here:

1.  Political Equity

Citizens are political equals, both as a birthright and as individuals with unique needs and perspectives.

2.  Political Tolerance

Citizens have unalienable rights, regardless of political viewpoints. Those in the majority rule cannot use public policy to discriminate against or persecute those who are in the minority.

3.  Political Autonomy

Citizens are free from oppression or coercion and free to form political opinions and participate in the political process.

4.  Political Fairness

Citizens think individually and collectively about finding the best solutions to promote the common good.

5.  Political Engagement

Citizens participate politically by staying informed, debating, voting, protesting, and campaigning.

6.  Political Literacy

Citizens think critically about controversial political issues and also understand the larger political context, such as historical context, the role of government, etc.

Although these aims are not always attained, they are ideals that democratic societies hope to achieve. And research suggests that some of these aims are indeed achieved, at least to some degree, when students are exposed to controversial political issues in school.

Young adults are often criticized for not voting as soon as they turn 18, yet many of them were never exposed to controversial political issues in school. This is illogical. A high school student quoted in Hess and McAvoy’s The Political Classroom explains why the aims of a political education are vital: “We are seniors. We are going out into the real world in a few months, a few weeks, actually, from now. And, you know, we have to be exposed to that stuff some time or another. Otherwise, you are going to be completely clueless.” (105) Well said.

The next post in this controversial political issues series will address how to pick topics when teaching controversial political issues to students.

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The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

6 Benefits of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students

This is the first in a series of posts on teaching controversial political issues to students.

6 Benefits of Teaching Controversial Political Issues to Students


Political polarization is growing, and schools are not immune. Political divisiveness, which has been simmering in schools for a while now, boiled over during the 2016 presidential election and exposed a major problem: students struggle to talk civilly about controversial political issues. Headlines chronicling this problem are everywhere. Last October, administrators cancelled a mock election at an elementary school because they feared divisive talk. This month, Middlebury College students resorted to violence to block a controversial speaker because his viewpoints differed from their own.

Teachers, facing pressure from parents and school administrators, are now questioning whether they should be teaching controversial political issues, which have long been a part of the curriculum. According to a 2016 Southern Poverty Law Center survey, more than half of K-12 teachers reported an increase in uncivil political talk among their students, and over 40 percent said they were reluctant to teach about the 2016 presidential election.

So, we are left with one question: Should teachers cover controversial political issues in the classroom?

Let’s take the long view and turn to facts grounded in research. Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy, co-winners of the 2017 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award, published The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education in 2014. The book presents findings from their landmark four-year study on the teaching of controversial political issues in the classroom, including observations and interviews of high school teachers and their students. Hess and McAvoy found that students want to indeed learn about controversial political issues. They also found that teaching controversial political issues has real benefits for students, even—or especially—in these politically polarized times.

Here are six benefits of teaching controversial political issues to students:

  1. Engagement. Students participate more, especially when they are encouraged to be a part of class discussions.
  2. Political Literacy. Students stay more informed about controversial political issues.
  3. Tolerance. Students respect and understand other viewpoints.
  4. Confidence. Students grow more confident in holding their own viewpoints and discussing politics in general.
  5. Civil Discourse. Students learn to engage in civil discourse.
  6. Political Participation. Students vote more often later in life.

Of course, teaching controversial political issues does not come without risks. Educators face challenging ethical decisions, along with a partisan political climate. Some students may be sensitive about certain issues because they are affected in their own lives. Students need a safe environment and guidance, and teachers need to be clear about their expectations, including what is acceptable and respectful behavior. These concerns cannot be ignored.

But political divisiveness in schools doesn’t mean educators should stop teaching controversial political issues. It means educators should be teaching them more. Debating controversial political issues civilly isn’t innate. It is learned. If students are not taught to engage civilly in political debates, they cannot be expected to do so as adults. Students in Hess and McAvoy’s study demonstrated a remarkable level of maturity and intellectual growth because it was expected of them. If today’s students learn how to deliberate and discuss, they will become adults capable of civil discourse. Imagine that.

Future posts in this controversial political issues series will address other considerations, including the aims of teaching political issues, ethical issues of teaching political issues, and rules to promote civil discourse.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.


The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education is available on ProQuest Ebook Central or wherever books are sold.


SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Women’s History Month

The lives of women are very different now than they were centuries, even decades, ago. There was a time when women were not allowed to serve in the military. It was unlawful for a woman to vote or own property. Wives were once considered their husband’s property. Because of the work and dedication of strong women, those ideas have changed. Women have more rights than they had just fifty years ago, and women today strive for equality in every part of life. During Women’s History Month we salute the countless women who have furthered women’s rights by making important changes in the ways women live and work.

Sally Ride

U.S. Astronaut Sally Ride
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

SIRS Discoverer’s March Spotlight of the Month focuses on Women’s History Month. We have valuable content on women who have contributed to science, government, and human rights. Your students can research about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States, meet African-American women who have changed history, read about early female politicians, follow women’s increasing role in the military, and celebrate women’s scientific achievements.

Elizabeth Blackwell–Born in England, she became the first female doctor in America.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton–An early champion of women’s rights, she became a central figure in the women’s suffrage movement.

Frances Perkins–President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her as Secretary of Labor in 1932 making her the first woman to hold a U.S. Cabinet office.

Grace Hopper–As an admiral in the U.S. Navy and computer scientist, she pioneered “user-friendly” computer software and she also coined the computer term “bug.”

Juliette Gordon Low–She founded the Girl Guides which eventually became the Girl Scouts.

Marie Curie–She performed groundbreaking work in physics and was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Sally Ride–Chosen by NASA to be the first American woman in space.

Sandra Day O’Connor–She is a retired judge and the first female U.S. Supreme court justice.

Shirley Chisholm–She was the first African-American woman elected to U.S. Congress.

Student Activity: To learn more about each of these women, have your students answer these questions:

  • When was she born?
  • What was her education?
  • Where did she live most of her life?
  • What is she most famous for accomplishing?
  • Why is she an important part of history?
  • What changes did she make in her field?

How are you celebrating Women’s History Month in your library, media center, or classroom?

Let us know in the comments or tweet us with #ProQuest.

CultureGrams: New Interviews for Afghanistan and Comoros!

Blue Mosque – Shrine of Hazrat Ali, by Lukaszcom, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve recently added interviews from two Afghan women to the Afghanistan country report. Hear first-hand what life is like in Afghanistan for Farah and Zohal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also added interviews to the Comoros report! Take a look at them to get a feel for life in different areas in the Comoros Islands among different age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds.Fatima, female, age 29

Patrice, male, age 43

Nourou, female, age 9

 

Breaking News: King James I Assassination Plotters Executed!

On January 31, 1606, four men were dragged by horses (drawn) through the streets of London to the place of their execution. One by one, they were hanged by the neck until nearly dead and, while still alive, cut into four pieces (quartered). After having watched the three men before him suffer so horribly, Guy Fawkes was spared the agony by either falling or jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck.

Fawkes, Robert Catsby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour and John Wright, along with a number of others, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the opening day of Parliament in November of 1605. They had hoped that the Gunpowder Plot, as it became known, would spur a revolt that would bring a Catholic monarch back to the throne and end a long period of persecution against Catholics.

Gunpowder Plot RT

Gunpowder Plot Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The conspirators had managed to place 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, but Fawkes was discovered guarding the powder and the assassination was foiled. Authorities had acted on an anonymous letter that tipped them off to the plan. Fawkes was tortured into giving up his associates, and all were tried and found guilty of treason. Somewhat ironically, the incident only spurred increased pressure on Catholics.

The foiling of the plot was celebrated with an official national holiday until 1859, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on November 5 persists to this day. Traditionally, the revelry included the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old newspaper-stuffed clothes and a grotesque mask. Children would go through town asking for “a penny for the Guy” to pay for the effigy and for fireworks. The word “guy” eventually entered everyday language, coming to refer to any male person.

Follow the links above to find more information, and be sure to do your own searches in eLibrary to find lots of articles, images, websites and our Research Topics on thousands of subjects.