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An Analysis of the US Electoral System

By Steven Yang, IV Form

An Analysis of the US Electoral System

The US’ system for electing its leaders has not changed since its inception. Briefly summarized, candidates usually adhere to one of the main two parties, Republicans or Democrats. Each party holds its elections (primaries) to have a single nominee. Then, candidates get a number of votes for winning the popular vote in each state. The candidate who reaches 270 electoral votes wins.

In recent elections, this electoral college has been controversial, as it has not produced the same result as the popular vote in two of the last six elections (Beckwith, 2019; Levy, 2019). Many argue, especially on the liberal side, that the electoral college should not be utilized in future elections.

However, a quieter yet equally important issue is that voters are misled by a combination of misinformation, party polarization, partisan-motivated reasoning, and an illusion of understanding, contributing to an inaccurate portrayal of opinions.

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Shen Prize Winner “Women in World War II: Women’s Army Corps to Second Wave Feminist Movement”

By Cadence Summers, VI Form

Women in World War II: Women’s Army Corps to Second Wave Feminist Movement

Editor’s Note: The Shen Prize is a speech competition for V Formers responding to the prompt: What is a moment of significant expansion or contraction of United States’ democracy? The 2020 recipient of the Shen Prize was Catie Summers.

“For all the girls in the [Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadrons], I think the most concrete moment of happiness came at our first review. Suddenly and for the first time, we felt a part of something larger. Because of our uniforms, which we had earned, we were marching with the men, marching with all the freedom-loving people in the world.” This is an excerpt from the poem At Twilight’s Last Gleaming, written by Cornelia Fort, one of the first woman pilots in the United States.

During World War II, the United States government drafted as many male soldiers as possible. Although thousands were automatically selected, just as many were needed to stay on the homefront to support the war effort through non-combat roles, which prompted the government to replace men in the workforce with women.  During wartime, women’s employment rate increased 25%, and over 350,000 women served in the U.S. military. This increase in women’s employment and the diversification of jobs available to them is an expansion of American democracy. American democracy is fluid, ever-changing, and situational. As the country adapts and advances, so too does its democracy. These fluctuations occur in time with shifts in political climates thus the inclusivity and definition of American democracy at a given time correlates to the status of the country at that time. The introduction of the Women’s Army Corps, also known as WAC, during World War II represents an expansion of American Democracy due to the situational requirements of a nation at war. This expansion not only gave women the option to support the war effort by taking on traditionally male roles in the workforce and military, but also for the duration of the war, granted these women access to a society in which their work and contributions outside of the home were as valued as those within it.

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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…)