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The President Who Made Apollo: John F. Kennedy and The U.S. Soviet Moon Race, From His Speeches, Letters, and Memos

Mo Liu, VI Form

 

The President Who Made Apollo: John F. Kennedy and The U.S. Soviet Moon Race, From His Speeches, Letters, and Memos

Editors’ Note:  Mo Liu conducted her History Fellowship research on J.F. Kennedy and his decision to go to the Moon. Below is the introduction and you can click here for the full paper:

Introduction

Soviets, Space, and Sputnik

As the gunpowder smoke of the Second World War slowly faded away, the United States and the Soviet Union were the only two superpowers remaining, and the formal allies soon turned into bitter rivals.[1]The United States believed it stood supreme in ideals, leadership, and influence, while the Soviet Union was determined to contest that claim and “by any means necessary” secure its position at the top.[2]Given the intense differences between their ideologies, cultures, and government structures, conflicts were inevitable. The Cold War, the longest war in modern history, began quietly without a shot of cannon.

Towards the end of WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union were competing for German rocketry technology as well as scientists working on the rocket development project. Rockets received attention primarily due to their potential as a military weapon; the sole function of rockets was thought to be as carriers of atomic warheads. The United States and the Soviet Union’s desperation to gain the secrets to German rocketry was, therefore, a result of their desire to strengthen each nation’s military arsenal. The rocketry competition rose to new heights on October 4, 1957, when the Soviets launched the first satellite into orbit.[3]The Soviet Union accomplished this great feat without making any previous announcement, so, when amateur space enthusiasts in the United States picked up Sputnik’s radio signals as it flew across the American sky, the entire nation reacted with amazement and disbelief. In an open letter to The New York Herald Tribune, economist Bernard Baruch described America’s reaction to Sputnik: “Suddenly, rudely, we are awakened to the fact that the Russians have outdistanced us in a race which we thought we were winning. It is Russia, not the United States, who has had the imagination to hitch its wagon to the stars and the skill to reach for the Moon and all but grasp it.”[4]The space race, as people would later call it, had officially begun. (more…)

Evolution and Revolutions in Physics (with Tiki-Toki)

By Tony Banson, Colton Bullard, John Cho, Thayer Cornell, Alan Gao, Jovin Ho, Izzy Kim, Ivy Li, Helynna Lin, Sada Nichols-Worley, Cooper Schmitz, Jonathan Shakespeare, Leon Shi, Alex Song, Alan Yang, Justin Zhang

Evolution and Revolutions in Physics (with Tiki-Toki)

Editors’ Note: In “Advanced Physics: Modern Topics in Physics,” the class is collaborating on a “Timeline” of physics, utilizing the online tool Tiki-Toki. The timeline is an ongoing work in progress throughout the course, hence moments, details, and explanations are added as completed.

Click on the image or here to go the Tiki-Toki site for the timeline.

The best way to view it is as a 3D “highway (look for the round 3d button on the lower left of your screen), but it is also visible as a conventional 2D side-scrolling timeline. (more…)

The Reach for Perfection in the Jacksonian Era

By Matthew Gates, V Form

The Reach for Perfection in the Jacksonian Era

02a613d4bc20093f6602806c8cacd880--us-presidents-american-presidentsAlthough Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of The United States, only held office from 1829 to 1837, he made a profound impact on American history. During “The Jacksonian Era,” (1816-1841) the economy boomed, technology advanced, American borders expanded, but most importantly, the common man gained a sense of importance, and American optimism and patriotism were “unbounded” and “infectious” (Remini 108). It was a time of “passionate commitment to democracy” (Remini 122).

In response to the boom in the economy and the growth of industry and materialism in America during the Jacksonian Era, the theme of Culture and Society is evident throughout the Transcendental Movement. This movement, which originated in Massachusetts, emphasized the divinity of man and his connections to God and stressed the beauty in nature in a society preoccupied with materialism. Transcendentalists such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged Americans to live more modestly and enjoy the simplicity of nature.  Emerson referred to the growing obsession of the American people to gain wealth as “‘the demon of reform,’” thereby proving that the emergence of the Transcendental Movement was necessary to respond to the expansion of American industrialism and materialism (Remini 73). Even today, there are still Transcendentalists who believe in the importance of living humbly and recognizing the beauty in nature in daily life. (more…)

Counterculture & The Graduate and its Soundtrack by “Simon & Garfunkel”

By Helynna Lin, VI Form

 

Counterculture & The Graduate and Its Soundtrack by “Simon & Garfunkel”

I. Introduction

The term Counterculture refers to a set of movements, ideal, and practices that emerged in the American culture between the 1960s and the 1970s. The counterculture was largely a response to the Cold War’s effects on the American society, and there were four core beliefs. First, advocates for counterculture rejected capitalism, for they believed that western corporates used Cold War politics to expand their markets worldwide and gain a larger profit. Second, in response to the rise of uniformity, counterculture rejected conformism and encouraged individuals to break the shackles of society’s expectations. Third, the rise of individualism caused an emergence of sexual liberation and experimentation as a movement against the traditional family model. Finally, the counterculture was mainly supported by the teenage generation, who came up with the slogan “don’t trust people over 30”.[1] [2]

Mike Nichol’s The Graduate (1967) is a bildungsroman that illustrates the transition from teenage years to adulthood of the protagonist, Benjamin Braddock. The movie’s soundtrack features many songs by “Simon & Garfunkel”, a folk-rock duo formed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. (more…)

What to Do with Confederate Monuments

By Matt Walsh, V Form

What to Do with Confederate Monuments

Despite the meteoric rise of clickbait fake news, the majority of “alternative facts” don’t come from shady fake news websites. Rather, they come from our distorted perception of American history. I only had to read one chapter of Dr. James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me, a book that sheds light on the dishonesty of American history textbooks, to realize the problems with American history education. Lauded by the likes of Howard Zinn and Jon Wiener, Lies My Teacher Told Me provides a thorough examination of the lies promulgated by American history textbooks.

Dr. James Loewen, who holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University and taught at the University of Vermont and Mississippi’s Tougaloo College, came to visit St. Mark’s in October of 2017. Dr. Loewen’s talk to the St. Mark’s faculty and student body regarded the danger of misconceptions of the past and centered on the problems with Civil War monuments honoring Confederate generals. Loewen asserted that the construction of these statues—often in veneration of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis—represent what he calls a “nadir” in racial equality in the United States. (more…)

Words, Legacy, and Memory: What We Can Learn From the Inscriptions on Civil War Monuments

By Mo Liu and Katherine Wass, VI Form

Words, Legacy, and Memory: What We Can Learn From the Inscriptions on Civil War Monuments

In the first month of History Research Fellowship, we looked at symbols and memories, specifically

Click image for full Piktochart

those tied to the Civil War. We were particularly drawn to the difference in sentiments in the North and the South in the decades following the end of the Civil War and how they are reflected in the monuments. With access to the monument database in Maine and North Carolina, we picked these two states to be the representative of the Union and the Confederacy, respectively.

Katherine and Mo’s fullInfographic can be found here (more…)