Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Journal #1 - James Baldwin quote


Great American writer James Baldwin wrote this about American history:

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."

Question: What do you think he means by this quote (besides restating the obvious -"American history is longer, more beautiful...etc. ")? Use an example from first semester American history (or one that you're familiar with) that best captures this quote and explain why your incident/person/event applies to the quote. (minimum 200 words)

Things to think about when writing your response: try to go in depth by thinking about what has been taught or hasn't been taught about American minorities in the past. Consider how future Americans (your children and grandchildren) will look at today's history. What have you studied in the past that has really struck a nerve? Why?

Citation: James Baldwin (1924–1987), U.S. author. “A Talk To Teachers,” October 16, 1963, published in The Price of the Ticket (1985).

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Journal #1- James Baldwin Quote

I think that this quote has two meanings one: I think is talking about how many people think and talk about the good things in history, but America took part in things that we are not proud of at all. Like for instances Slaves, and how we treated African Americans horrible. Obvoisely African Americans should be treated fairly, and equally just like everyone else.. which they are treated like today. So I think that the quote is basically about yes,people talk about how horrible American History as been.. and yes the stuff that they talk about maybe true. But there is alot more that really occured in hisotry that makes everything that they talk about sound worse.
Or the quote could mean that people lie about how could american history is. They only talk about the good things in history, and do not regonize the horrible things that ACTUALLY did happen.




Alexandra Stender
U.S. History 5th hr
01-17-2007

Anonymous said...

I feel that he is stating that although American history is one of the most exciting and interesting, it also has a darker and more haunting side. The beautiful side that he is refering to is of course, the goals and aspirations of American people. Even the foundation this country is built on, the idea of Democracy, is a great feat that was achieved through the perserverance of the country as a whole. Now on to the side which Baldwin feels is the darker more "terrible" side of this nation's history. Before I stated that America's history is great due to it's acomplishments, well, the dark side of our history goes hand in hand with that. Take for example Westward Expansion, it was seen as a good thing, and in fact it was. Now the idea that it was founded upon was not. Manifest Destiny was nothing more that white supremacy, we felt it gave us the right to take what wasn't ours and not only that, we made sure that anything in our way was "properly" dealt with. This of course meant that any and all native americans were either tricked into giving the Government their land or if they were not willing, they would be systematically executed tribe by tribe until they were all dead or moved in order to escape death. Another example of this dark history is the time of segregation. At this point in history blacks theoretically had everything whites had, yet the government still put them below the whites through laws and acts. Again, back to the idea of white supremacy , race riots were faily common at this time many times resulting in the death of a completly innocent person. Also, a large part of this time period was the act of lynching blacks for entertainment. So, you see that although Balwin saw America's history as a beautiful one, he had every right to believe what he did about America's darker and more terrible side to it's story.
Thomas H.

Anonymous said...

I think that James Baldwin is trying to say that the history of America in depth is always going to be better than someone saying something about it. At the same time, James Baldwin is contradicting himself by saying American History is beautiful and then it is terrible. American History is almost like a rose which is beautiful but also has thorns which can hurt you. The actual history of America is far more important than the opinion that anyone has to say about it. Many of the ideas we learned about in first semester American history contribute to this quote. Today we learn about the Civil War, World War I and II, Reconstruction and other major American battles and struggles. These topics are the main history we learn about. Our children and grandchildren will learn about 9/11 and the Iraq war when they take American History. I think that American history is very interesting because we learn about important events that happened when America was established. The history that our children will be learning will have more to do with events that take place because of those decisions that were made during the 1900s. Today will be tomorrows history.

Evie C.

Anonymous said...

American history is diverse. It is filled with tremendous elements of accomplishment and joy. And at the same time, it is also punctuated by occasions of pain and suffering. Most importantly, our history is replete with lessons and examples from which we can learn for our future.
Throughout our history, our nation has enjoyed many special occasions. The Declaration of Independence, an occasion from which we continue to benefit and grow. The Bill of Rights is an act that continues to serve as an example of our commitment to equality. The abolition of slavery is another example of our maturity as a nation.
Throughout the years our nation has endured many moments of unhappiness and misery. The Civil War was a particularly painful period, despite the fact that it allowed us to come together as a nation. The attack on Pearl Harbor was also an especially devastating event that pulled our country together. The internment of the Japanese people that followed is a painful memory from which we continue to learn.
As we move forward it is important to examine our past and learn from it. By objectively looking at our actions in the past and studying their results, we are more likely to make correct as we progress. Mistakes or errors in judgment certainly can occur but unless we learn from them, we are likely to repeat them in the future. Segregation or
stereotyping based on race, color, national origin, or religious belief is a fundamental error in judgment against which our constitution speaks loudly.
Our history teaches us many lessons from which we can continue to draw to better our future for ourselves and our children.
Andrew Wehbe
6th hour

Anonymous said...

When i read James Baldwin's quote, "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.", I think about the section we covered on American women trying to find a place in America like jobs, and also when they fought for the right to vote.
When everyone learns about the women's movement, you usually just learn the date and about the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote, but not many people really think about just how long it took to get that amendment passed. It took so much work and it was so long before women received equal representation in government.Today they have a voice in the democratic process. It was also larger because you don't learn a lot about just how much hardship they were forced to endure. They were forced in unsanitary camps if they broke the law and picketed or something and were arrested for something stupid like "disturbing the peace". Thye had to stand out in the cold when Alice Paul and others picketed the white fence, and they were scorned upon because they brought upon riots when people said that all energy should go toward the men fighting in the war at that time. I think that it was beautiful because the women were so determined and so headstrong and powerful that you can't help but admire them. Now a days, I know they are seen as such because one day I'll be able to vote because of what they did, but I wish they could have had more admiration at the time they were fighting for their cause. And of course it was terrible how they were treated, as I already mentioned by men, police, and also other women that thought they were acting out of line. They described the camps they were in that there were rats, the food sometimed had gnats in them, and a famous suffragist Alice Paul was brutally force feed when she went on a hunger strike to prove a point.
So I think that Balswin is saying that you could never fully describe everything about history in every aspect becase there is just so much to it. It would take forever to do.
-colleen moran

Anonymous said...

I think when James Baldwin says "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” He means that over the course of time, america has expirienced so many various changes that no one could ever think of naming all of them without forgetting one or two. Not only has america been around for many years, but it has gone from a country where you could be killed for being black, or beaten because you were a woman, to the richest woman being a black lady ( oprah ). The economy has changed, money back then, ir fractions of what it is today. Theres many difering sides to this countrys growth. Theres the people who think american was just and correct, and other who think that the way america treated certin people appauling. The same thing applys to when he said it was beautiful, yet terrible. Half the population thought that this time was beautiful and perfect, and the other half were worried everyday that they would be killed. Those people were the ones who thought it was horrible. Americans are all different, as in any other country. Although, im america, you don’t have to be from america, to be american. This is what exemplifies how great america is now. Also, how much it has changed since immigrants who went through ellis island has to take turns sleeping in a bed.

Anonymous said...

The history of America is so much more in depth than what we learn about in school at times. It's like there is all these little hooks and loops that we just kind of pass over sometimes, when it's the little "insignificant" things that MAKE our history. The individual stories of people like Rosa Parks or Ruby Bridges. True, they may have made "history" but when you think of America do you think of all those millions of individual stories and people that were directly affected BY our history? Not only are people like this apart of our history, or effected by our history, but also they are our history. Most people would say that they know the general story behind these people, but do we know they're lives? Have we studied them like we study George Washington and Elvis Presley? I'd say in some cases, yes. I've heard the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King enough times that it feels like I know him personally, but i couldn't for a second name an African American inventor like I can name Albert Einstein. Perhaps it's my own ignorance to the history of our Country, or maybe it's the way that EVERYBODY takes in our country, as a whole, and not as an individual.

Crystal Schein, 6th Hour

Anonymous said...

I think that James Baldwin purposely made two layers of meaning to this quote. One of the meanings is that the history of the United States cannot be described by words. Words don't inspire the emotions that took place in history. You would have to actually BE THERE to understand the importance of that event. For examlpe, most students today don't see the significance of the Declaration of Independance as well as its creators did. If you were actually there, throughout all the struggles that the pilgrims faced, you would appreciate it a lot more.

The second layer of this quote is saying that America will just keep growing. People may have said that America was beautiful in the past, but in the future, it will be even more beautiful than they have said it would be. Words cannot harness time and development in America. I think that James Baldwin was saying that the future is always brighter for America, because we will keep living, and improving our way of life. I remember one time last semester how we were talking about the Civil war reconstruction. We discussed how different their opinions and thoughts were about racism back then, and what our opinions and thoughts are now. Throughout the years, we just keep growing and improving our way of life.

Not only does this quote point out that we keep growing, but it points out the wrongs of our society throughout history. All the growth that America has done is to improve itself. This implies that before, America was frail and weak. But as we grow and progress, we slowly shed each layer of sin that we learn from over time.

Andy R.
6th Hour

Anonymous said...

The topic that sticks out most in my mind when reading the quote by James Baldwin is the ethnic islands of America when immigrants first began coming to the country. Because we are made up of many different ethnicities, we are much more prone to clash and having differences, which justifies the "more various" part of the quote. We also have a tendency to turn fear into something worse like, hatred, or anger--like the fear of people who are different from us (nativism). Sometimes it comes to the point where we are willing to actually put another race below us-such as slavery. Because of cultural differences and struggles, our history has more depth to it and we constantly deal with issues of ethnic differences, even today. An example of one of these problems today is the question of whether or not intelligent design should be taught in schools, because it deals with religion. Due to the fact we are not a country with one language, one religion, one culture-or even several, shows that we have to work harder to accept one another and be understanding of each others' differences and then the benefits of having such a country will be even greater.

Anonymous said...

Journal #1

In US history we have been learn about the accomplishments and the successes such as inventions or gaining independence from England. We have not only been taught the great things but we have also been taught the lower moments in our country’s history such as Hurricane Katrina or enslavement of African Americans. When studying these events we often look over the things that also take part of these events. We know Thomas Edison invented the light bulb but think of all the other things people have invented that involve the light bulb. These people are also creating history. Or gaining independence from England, we have great stories of George Washington and Paul Revere. But what about the women that made the uniforms and clothes those men wore? These women were creating history and had impact on it just like Washington and Revere did. Or the building companies and the unemployment rates after Katrina. Building companies are making lots of money and they need workers, so people are now getting jobs with the companies. These things are all overlooked and all important part of history. James Baldwin is saying that to really know about history one has to be there to know these little things. One does not know everything about history just by hearing information about it. One needs to be there to experience it first hand. James Baldwin is also saying that American History will always be much more beautiful and greater in history than what people say about it. Also that everything is history and it is happening at every moment in time and that it is all equally important. I think our children and grandchildren will learn about how our country is progressing and becoming a better nation. I think they will see our country’s growth and it how has changed.

Allison L.
5th

Anonymous said...

This means American history has a variety of events that happened. Some events were more glorious than others, and some were just terrible. There are so many examples of good and bad throughout history. A good example could be the 18th amendment, otherwise known as Prohibition. This was intended to be a good thing for the U.S. Prohibition was supposed to cut down on child abuse amongst families, and reduce other problems that come with alcohol. This worked on a lot of people, but not everyone. What happened? A terrible thing happened. The 18th amendment started the underground trading business.
What James Baldwin is also trying to say, is that there is more to the story about each event in history. For example, people might state that in the Battle of Wounded Knee, at least 150 Indian were killed. This is a terrible fact, but it is more terrible in a sense that if we actually found out how, in detail, each Native American was killed, makes it more terrible than what a simple fact meets the eye on a piece of paper. That’s another message Baldwin is trying to get across. There is more than what meets the eye.
There is always something more. In history, it is nearly impossible to copy down and record each fact, important situation, and the feeling everyone had about something. That is why there is always something’s that we will not be 100 percent sure on. That is why there will always be something more, something missing, and something missing could’ve been longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.


Jordan Najor
5th Hour

Anonymous said...

I think the meaning of James Baldwin's quote is that it is impossible to describe American history. This is because it is too big of a subject to learn about everything that happened. Many people will never understand how wonderful or terrible certain events were because they were not there. For example, westward expansion had a very horrible effect on Native Americans. Other Americans who live here today might not realize exactly how bad this event was for the Indians. Their race was almost completely wiped out. In my opinion, that was one of thse worst things that Americans have done. The Native Americans never did anything wrong. They were cruelly and unjustly pushed out of their homeland. When the first settlers arrived from Europe, they nearly died from lack of food and supplies. The Native Americans helped them get through that first winter and taught them many valuable things for surrvival. They never expected to end up being killed by the whites. But as soon as people wanted to move westward, they no longer cared about the Indians. James Baldwin recognized this along with all the other terrible things Americans have done, to minorities in particular. What happened to the Native Americans is far worse than anyone today can imagine.

Kaitlyn M.

Anonymous said...

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it." No one can be at every place at every moment every time. History is happening now, and now and even. now. What one person says about an event that has taken place can be the direct opposite of how another views about what happened. For example, the industrialization of the north and south. The big business owners look at it as an opportunity to make money and control all competition. However, the actual workers that make industrialization possible may describe the growth of business as corrupt. As progression grew, the greed of money did too and the conditions of the work environment were unbearable. Immigrants would quote it in their history books as a great opportunity for jobs in a free nation. While, the southern farmers may feel that an alien has came and taken over their once aristocratic society. Baldwin was saying that what we know and love about the history of this country is incomplete- there is more to the story but we will never know all of it. Realistically, the only literate and wealthy men who had a high seat in society, at the time, were the ones who were placed in history books or the ones regulating over what would be placed in the text. So their views of what happened or how it happened would differ from one in the lower class- working a 10 hour day for a buck. Not everything has been told. This rich white potbellies probably excluded events they found insignificant. The history of a hood or the legacy of a struggling family most likely did not mean as much to them as their own accomplishments.
Ashley Lewis

Anonymous said...

I think he is saying that the history of discrimination for African Americans has been very long. Almost since the onset of this nation, there has been slavery followed by overt discrimination. Slavery existed in the South of the United States for almost 150 years. Even 150 years later, the country is still talking about race as an issue. It is particularly apparent in our cities where there is so much poverty among the African American population and the schools are poor.
America's role in treating the African American community in a prejudice manner is frankly very diverse. Some of them have been outright "terrible” such as lynching’s, not being given the right to vote or not being allowed to serve in the armed forces along with their fellow white soldiers. Laws which did not allow African Americans and whites to sit together in the same church, restaurant or movie theater have just ended within the last 50 years. Some aspects of African American prejudice have been more subtle such as not having the same education and career opportunities or not being shown homes to buy in predominantly white neighborhoods.
There have been however some "beautiful" pieces of history such as people willing to die to stop slavery, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, being given the right to vote, The Civil Rights Act, and Affirmative Action offering African Americans more opportunities to compensate for ongoing prejudice. African Americans are now in the political arena in higher offices such as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. There is even a possibility that Barak Obama will run for President. However, who knows if the country is really ready to elect an African American President. Time will tell.

Jonathan Klar
U.s. History
6th Hr.

Anonymous said...

James Baldwin, a great, American writer, once said "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it." This means that American history cannot be put into words that can acurratly decribe it. People can say that the wars have been harsh, tiring, or horrific. But those adjectives can not begin to accuratly describe what the real emotion was there in the place in time. Also, note how Baldwin placed “..more terrible..” at the end of his quote. This seems to give the reader of an emphasis on this specific, describing adjective. American history is beautiful, with the fun twenties decade. However, at the end it lead to a terrible thing, the crash of the stock market in 1929. Baldwin is also saying that even though we have an overal good history in America, there are some negative aspects to it. An example of a negative piece of history is the Civil War; fighting against our own people. People can not acuratly put into words the feeling of that piece of history without witnessing it. Like people today cannot accurately describe the feeling during the civil war. Text books can not give an accurate description of how wonderful or tragic that piece of history was.

Leah Jackson
USH 5th hour

Anonymous said...

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."

Jornal #1 James Baldwin Quote

I think this quote means that, American History is Beautiful and Ugly. You have things such as slavery and that whole horrible ordeal.However you also have slaves being freed,(Freed Men). The good and the bad.Slavery should've never took place,however after enough long suffering it ended.Unfortunately discrimination started.Even after the Civil War African Americans, and other ethnic groups are still being discriminated aginst. It seem that, sometimes in life you have to go through a bad situation to get to a good one.
Yes i agree with the quote. American History, or just history it's self isn't just beautiful, its also ugly.However people these days wouldn't know that history has a good and bad side to it.Because all you hear about is the good side to it.



Imani Roberson
U.S History #5 Hr.
1-18-07

Anonymous said...

I think James Baldwin's quote is about how American history contains all differents aspects some good, and some bad. People may not of liked things that have happened in the past and may have said negative things, but what actual happened is way more important then someones negative opinion. An example from 1st semester that resembled James Baldwin's quote is Womans rights and suffrage. Even though womans suffrage lasted a long time, it ended with a postive result of woman have equal rights and the right to vote. Today in U.S. History we learn about things that happened a long time ago like the civil war, and WWI & WWII. When our kids and grandkids are in school and learn about 9/11 and the war in Iraq, they'll probably feel these things happened a long time ago too. I think learning about Americans history is way more intresting then learning about other nations history. I like U.S. history because if it wasn't for the things that happened in the past America wouldn't be what it is today.

Shayna S.

Anonymous said...

To me this quote means that "it is a powerful thing to know where America came from." For example when we understand the reason why certain things has happened in history, then it gives us a better understanding about the world we live in today. Also when James mention that American History is longer, it make me feel like American history is a story that still has to be finish and there are still new things to learn. On the other hand I can also see why he says that American history is terrible because history repeats it self. For example the same stuff that happened before is still going on today. There are still oppressed people, minorities are still fighting to be treated equally and there is even a war going on. But, no matter how much bad there may be, American history is beautiful because in the end it shows how our country has fought to get where it is today.

~Shayla McElroy~
5th hour 1/17/07

Anonymous said...

I think that the quote means that American History is beautiful and ugly. Their has been times in History were people have accomplished great things that have affected Americans in a positive way. For example Henry Ford invented the car if he wouldn't have came up with that we could still be riding bikes. Their is also an ugly side to History;For example the Holacost Hitler killed all of those incent jews. That was one of the worst moments in History. I think the quote is basically saying that their is a lot more to history than anyone has said about it.

King Carr
U.S Hisory 6th hr

Anonymous said...

Journal #1 - James Baldwin quote

I think this quote by Baldwin means that the U.S is a place of happiness and good times. But it can also be a place of disappointment and sad times. I Think Baldwin is saying American history is more terrible than anything because if you look back on what we have done, this list is huge. From the KKK to not treating women with respect America has been a place of murder and discrimination. Also there has been many wars and a lot of gang killings. But Baldwin does have his point when he said American history is more beautiful than anything because we have grown as a country and have bonded together as one. Some things that have not been taught in my history classes are things about how women were treated and stories from their point of view. Also how come we never hear about the holocaust? Its not like it never happened. Some things that have really struck a nerve that I have learned in the past is the way that black’s were treated so terribly because of the color of their skin.


Devin Van Loo

Anonymous said...

I think that James Baldwin means that’s there is more to American history then everyone says. I think he is saying that there is so much that people leave out of the history book and it is longer and deeper then people think. People think they can sum up all of the American history within one small history book but in reality there is so much information being left out. When he says that it is more various, I think he means there are more then one or two sides each story. There are so many experiences being left out that aren’t being contributed to the historical events. American history is more beautiful then what we know, but it is also even more terrible then we could have thought. There are plenty of good and beautiful experiences that we will never know about, but there are many terrible stories we haven’t heard of either. For example we will never hear about any of the good times immagrants had coming to America. All we hear about is how hard it was for them here, and I’m not saying it wasn’t hard for them, but there has to be some families who enjoyed it here and lived a good life. On the other hand we only hear about how great the 1920’s are and how much fun it was for the women to go out, drink, and party all night, but I’m sure it wasn’t all fun and games for them. In the future our children and grandchildren will hear about 9/11 and they will probably just hear about how a plane crashed into the Twin Towers but they won’t go into depth about how it impacted the counrty’s individuals. They will proably never hear about Hurrican Katrina and how badly it affected everyone. We bearley scratch the surface of American history and there is so much more that is being forgotten.

-Claire M
5th hour

Anonymous said...

I think that Baldwin was trying to say that people will never know the real america( from then till now) unless they have experienced it. U can't just go by what you read in a text book because life is to complicated to be written down. You can't know the real pain that was experinced and you can't know how beatiful america is unless you were there. The history of America is to big to write in depth, era by era.-adriel O.

Anonymous said...

American history is not what is in the books. The reflections of actual lives and events that are recorded or even verbalized, are not full stories of what actually happen. They are just a mere overview of the event. The reality of what really happened is rich, full and detailed. For example in first semester we studied immigration. We got to look at the main idea of how immigrants went through Ellis Island/Angle Island to get admitted to the US. We saw the condition they lived in and also the factories and sweatshops they worked in. This created for us a mental image of what immigrants went through. But we only go to see perspective of how the immigrants lived. We did not see the stories of immigrants that came over here and actually did well and didn’t live in city slums. Or stories of immigrants that might have gotten deported back to their home country. These types of stories make American history deeper and more interesting to the reader.

Emily Betts
6th hour

Anonymous said...

When the writer talks about the history of this world I think he is basically saying that every thing is beautiful in one way or another. We think things that happened in the past were horrible which they were but look, it has made this country so must stronger and much better in so many ways. There are very many different types of people in this world and that’s what makes it so cool. Some people may want to have a world that just has people that look like them but what would be the fun in that, just because someone looks like you doesn’t mean you have anything in common with that person. The fact that all people are so different is the most beautiful thing and I think that’s what this writer is trying to say. In my eyes I see the world not that racist any more and I think it has improves so much from what it was. I also feel like my kids will see the world as a very good place that isn’t really racist. But there will always be racism in one way or another and racism will never go away but it can improve and from what I’ve seen 50 years ago, this country has gotten so much better. This writer is telling us what hard things have happened in the past and what has come from the bad things that have happened.
Erin d.

Anonymous said...

American history is so vast and there has been so many things that have happened that people today can’t even imagine. Not every little thing that happened in the past has been taught or even talked about in the present. When he says longer I think that he is talking about how today we skip years that not huge things occurred but things still happened in that time period. When he says larger I think that today we don’t know how hard something hit such as a WW2 or something like that. We don’t know because we weren’t there. We didn’t experience it first hand we can only be taught it but we might not fully grasp what horrible things might have happened or changes had to be made to survive. When James Baldwin says more various we don’t know how many different types of groups there really was in the United States only what people tell us, but you cannot believe everything you hear or read. When he says more beautiful I think that he means the good things at that time went un-noticed or were pushed aside for the worse things, who knows. When he says more terrible I think he means all of the racial acts that didn’t make the front page of the paper but the little things that just ruined people’s lives. I think that James Baldwin thinks that things just weren’t said or done the way they should have been.

-jeff Kohl
5th Hour

Anonymous said...

When James Baldwin wrote this qoute, I think he meant it as in American history has many good times and at the same time it holds bad memories. People today, speak bad about history as if it was extremely horrible. Back in the day, I'm sure it was tough, but they had to have fun some how. In History today, they make it seem like everything was all sad all the time, until the Harlem Rennissance. Baldwin could be sayin that while they were going through slavery and other horrible mistreatments, they still made fun for themselves. Nobody can really live the past expect those who lived it. So no one is really able to speak bad about it, especially if they haven't experienced it. Today, people mainly talk about bad things that happened, well what about the good things? Tells us more things that happened that we won't be disgusted by, or something that we won't be scared to look at (ex. people being hung).In old movies they even show alittle fun that African Americans had while they were in troubled time. I think he's saying that theres more to history then we know.

Anonymous said...

By the quote, Baldwin means that no history book, no movie, no teacher will ever be able to capture the true emotions and feeling of any part of American History. It would be impossible to know everything this country has been through from it's first founders, the native Americans to the "founding fathers" all the way up to this very moment. A direct connection I made was to think of where I am sitting this very moment at my computer, and then to contemplate what was here 100 years ago, 200, or 300 years ago. Did a war occur here, was it farmland? So much has happened in this country, and so much is still happening today. A beautiful momentous moment in US history, well there are just so many. Our entire transformation from England's little brother to the most powerful country in the world might fall under that category. Also the many inventions and progress America has been responsible for, including amazing artists, musicians, poets and visionaries of all kinds. However you can't have good without the bad, times like the Great Depression, Slavery, and the various wars this country has been involved in. A great example of terrible events in our history could be World War I. Trench warfare was a real crucial part of the "terrible". Soldiers suffered some pretty nasty things in those trenches, living in dirt with rats and finding out your getting you foot cut off because it got so infected. What about how it feels to not see your family in over a year, or to loose your best friend to the Germans. Those things can't really be expressed in a history book. Baldwin’s quote isn’t just referring to just his past, it applies to America always, even and especially today. The events of September 11th will never be forgotten, and our kids will read about it in social studies class. But there’s one thing they wont even have, the experience. I remember where I was on 9/11/01 and exactly what happened that day. I also remember the unity New York and America as a whole had. Again back the whole idea of beauty, and terror.



lori B

Anonymous said...

When names are mentioned of the great Americans that have lived in the past and made a difference, not many African American names seem to appear on the list. It is a shame, but it could be because they are a minority and they make up a smaller percentage of the population, or it could be that for a part of the history of America, some blacks were not considered as people that had abilities just like the rest of the population.
By the quote, I think James Baldwin means that there are so many things that people in our past disregard. Reasons for why they are disregarded vary, but among the top answers are mostly likely because they are of a minor ethnic group, or have been singled out for horrible motives. An example from the past that sticks out to me is the lynching of the later 1800s and the fact that it was a normal aspect of the daily life in the south. It disgusts me that people would have the nerve to do such a terrible thing and then to take pictures with the dead body as if it were entertainment.
When I think about America the words freedom and equality pop into my head. To me, the mistreatment of the minorities is not an example of the things that America stands for, and I think that we as a country should be ashamed for those parts of our history.
An example from the present would be that up to this date in time our country hasn’t had a President from a racial minority group. This could change in the coming months, but would be a huge step forward for our country.
We pride ourselves with the fact that we live in a diverse country, but if you think about it many people have been ashamed of it longer than people have had pride.

-Mariah V.

Anonymous said...

Everyday, something new happens in our country and it becomes a part of our history. The events that happen in our country become part of our history. Today, as the Iraq War is happening we witness thousands of people dying and innocent lives are being destroyed both here in the United States and in Iraq. Some things we just read about in history books like the terror of World War I (1915-1918) and the Civil War (1860-1865). We have come so far from segregation of blacks and whites and the rebuilding of our country after the separation from England (1776). Each event helps us grow and change as a country. From all these events people still find fault within our history. People have different opinions and sometimes it makes our country look bad. We are looking past the “beautiful” aspects of our history to look only at the negative events. We also blame the people who are involved in that event in history. In the Iraq War, people are blaming President Bush and other Congressmen for entering this conflict. Some people’s attitude is that they are better than other groups of people. They disagree with everyone who does not follow their opinions or beliefs. Each American has the right to a verbal opinion but it should not lead to intolerance or hatred.
Megan T. 6th hour

Anonymous said...

I think this qoute means to me is that people talk about how history was and the good things about it but people don'tk about how slaves had to endure all that pain,what they had to go through through, the struggle they had to endure in their lives to make it in the world,how they had to be the "colored" people,they had be segregted from the whites, how unequal they were, how they couldn't get the good education that whites received, how they had to fight for their freedom, how they had to go to the back of bus and sit becuase the people wanted to have the whites sit up front. They failed to understand about how we as African americans have to hear them say life was good and dandy or how they struggled. They dont really recongize how african americans feel when they say these things becuase they dont really understand what blacks had to really go through to get to were they are at now. So yes, I feel like people do cover up history or don't tell it all. As if it doesnt really matter that much or it was to long ago to talk about. People dont want to recongize the outcome of history.
Brittany F

Ian Kohler said...

The quotation of James Baldwin carries a lot of meaning and is clearly applicable to America both today and in the past. He is essentially saying that there are so many things about American history that one quotation could not do history justice.
For example, America itself was created by British immigrants who established the colonies and created their own identities. As America developed, immigrants from other countries came to America which had become a “melting pot” of different cultures which helped mold and shape America. Many of those immigrants were poor and through hard work and creativity, built themselves a new life. Baldwin recognized how diverse and “various” America had become.
When America reached “adolescent” status in its development, the slave trade reared its ugly head. Many wealthy British colonists wanted to continue their aristocratic ways and imported poor black people from Africa to serve those needs. The slaves were not given any respect as human beings and when eventually freed by Lincoln, their treatment as individuals still remained poor, particularly in the South. This led to racial division and poverty. It took many years for the civil rights laws to be written. The poor minorities are still not treated as equals. That is one of the things that make America “more terrible.” This same pattern continues even today with “aristocratic” American leaders continuing to impose their societal beliefs upon other countries. The Iraq war is a prime example.
Historically, the imposition of one’s beliefs upon another has led to war and division. World War II Germany is a prime example. It tried to impose its societal beliefs upon the world, that the Jews had to be exterminated. As an American Jew, I can appreciate how these types of views can lead to violence. Yet, America is “more beautiful” because it does not tolerate such actions. However, it must learn that it cannot be the “police” of the world. I would like to see future generations respect the past history of this country and LEARN from it. The variations in American history should only come about by learning from the mistakes of the past. I am hopeful that my children and grandchildren will come to appreciate the good things that America has tried to do and know that its intentions were always good.

Anonymous said...

I think that American history has it's good and bad sides. American history can be a beautiful and a terrible thing at the same time. Many things have happened in history and it seems as though not many exciting things happen in the present. It seems as though the past has a lot more to offer than the present and the future do. The Civil War was a terrible event that happened in the past. After the Civil War came Reconstruction. That helped many of the American minorities, especially the Blacks.
Lots of things have been taught about American minorities, but there still could be more to be talked about. It seems that when a minority is talked about, it's only for a short period of time. I don't think it's fair to the present minorities trying to learn about their own American history. Future Americans will probably look at today's American history the same way we look at history today. I don't think it will be much different.
Many things that we have studied has really struck a nerve with me. There probably are too many to mention, so I won't at the moment. But, one specific time was when we learned about evolution being true over creation. This is the most recent event that I can think of. So again, American history has good and bad sides to it.

~Eboni Bell
5th Hour

Anna Badalamenti said...

What we learn about history is like an iceberg. Our history books can only touch the surface of what happened in the past of our country but there is so much more that can't be taught. History effects one's past, present and future in a way like nothing else can. History will always be apart of everyone's lives whether they want it to be or not.
What we learn about history is only the facts and events that are sad to be "important." But what about the feelings of the people who are effected by theses facts and events? Although history effects our lives inderectly the people in the past are directly effected by the facts we learn about. We don't understand how much their lives had to adjust to the vastly changing world.
History is too big and too important for any one person to fully grasp. Yes, there are experts on the certain parts of history but know one is the expert of history in it's whole. I don't believe that even if every person in America was an expert on a certain era in history only the surface of history would be touched. History is something that must be interpreted by the reader and analyzed for a deeper meaning. It is like literature. We must use prior knowledge and our own experiences to infer as to what the feelings and emotions of the people in the past effected by their present, which is our past. For example, the Boll Weevil and the droughts and the floods that ruined our cotton crops must have greatly effected our farmers and plantation owners. They must have been devestated and shocked to lose one of their highest money making crops. What did they do to recover? How did they move on and rebuild? What were they feeeling? All of these questions have answers that leave room for interpertation.
Everyone always says the the past will effect your future and though this is true I also beleive that events that happen in the present give us clues to what happened in the past.

Anna Badalamenti
6th hour US History

Anonymous said...

Journal #1- James Baldwin Quote

This quote means that history had some good times and had some bad times.
For example, the bad times would be the Great Depression: many people lost their jobs, no money, and had no place to live. Also slaves were treated horrible. They should have equal rights and be treated fairly. Also Black Tuesday was a very bad time because it was the time when the stock market fell and many families lost their homes, and their jobs.
The good times would be the 1920's, people were making money. Many were feeling care free. Flappers were dancing the Charleston, there were no major roars.

Ellen Rutila
U.S. History 6th hr.

Anonymous said...

When I was reading this quote by James Baldwin, my understanding of what he was trying to say was, the views of America vary from different countries and are proseved as bad or terrible, we decieve or minipulate to get are way, but the americans who live here belive that ameica is beautiful and powerful we stand higher that the rest of the world. Anerican history is filled with back stabling people, also if you look at it in a diffrent point of view we would not be the country we are today if it wasn’t for the chooses we made. When I was reading this quote I related it to the struggle for Americans and the hardships they had to go through. James Baldwin and other had to go through some of the worst time in history were there was riots and protest, were people were not treated equal, and discrimination and immigration were a huge part in the sociality. The past and the present have changed so much you never know what the future is going to bring and. That is what I think James Baldwin was trying to say and make people realize what America is all about.

Ashley B

Anonymous said...

James Baldwin, is really explaining what our history is like. though great terror's have happend in our hisotry it makes it that much more interesting. No one could really put our history into words and explain how our country is. American history ranges from so many things it would be hard to categorize.The probelms our country faced have shaped what we are today, making it beautiful in everyway.Without the bad things in the past we wouldnt have what we have today. if women werent ever allowed to work we would still be stuck in the days where you couldnt be yourself. Or if we still have slaves our country would not have equality. Everbody is thankful for this because we wouldnt have the diversity without it. I defentaley agree with James Baldwin on his qoute American history is just to much to put into words and has its good and bad parts that make it up to be that way.


Jessica Pawluszka
U.S. History 6th hour
01-19-07

Anonymous said...

When James Baldwin says "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” He talking about over the course of time, america has seen so many various changes that no one ever thought and couldn't without naming all of them without forgetting one or two. America has been here for a long time, but it has gone from a slavery and persuction or beaten because you were a woman(sexism) to the richest woman being a black lady ( oprah ). The economy has changed, money back then was worth more then it was today. Everything cost lower prices and now everything in the thousand rage. Theres many difering sides to this countrys growth. Theres the people who think american was just and correct, and other who think that the way america treated certin people appauling. The same thing applys to when he said it was beautiful, yet terrible. Half the population thought that this time was beautiful and perfectbt others felt like they were going to die soon. Those people were the ones who thought it was a terrible placee. Americans are all different, as in any other country. WE are made of so much ethnic but we are all considered to be american. This shows how much we grew up. Also, how much it has changed since immigrants who went through ellis island or angel island that didn't have the same opportunities as we have right now.

Gil Clark

Anonymous said...

This quote has a lot of deep meanings. The part of the quote where it says that American History is longer and larger is very true. I think it means that even though how much is documented, it seemed even more significant when the events were going on. You could read about something but still not realize what a big deal it was since you weren’t there to experience it. The other part where it says America is more various and beautiful is also true. America has various positive aspects to its citizens. The land and the diversity is something that makes America beautiful and people from a variety of place want to come here. At the same time America has had its terrible times. It hasn’t had the best history of being perfect. Through racism and civil wars were definitely not some of America’s high points. Throughout history America has had its good and bad times. The quote is defiantly covers all of America.

Brandi B.
6th Hour

Geoff Wickersham said...

Excellent responses so far, guys and gals. They are thoughtful, show some perspective on history, and also show that you've retained some of the stuff we've taught u last semester. Great job and keep up the good work.

Mr. W.

Anonymous said...

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."

Baldwin definitively doesn't mean the real length of American history as the time period. much more i think he wants to say that most people just learn about the facts but don't understand what is the meaning behind them. history is not only facts, it's about the people that lived it and you have to think about every single person individually. it's easy to say that there were thousands of death afro-americans during the time of the civil rights movement but it's way harder to try to understand why and for what they died. history is not neutral. i share Baldwin's opinion that american history is diverse. there are many sides americans can be proud of but there are also events that show the absolute evil in men. it's hard for me to find an example from first semester since i didn't have u.s history but an example that applies pretty well i guess can be seen in the extermination of the native americans in early days of american history. American's can be proud of how they colonized this country and how you made something out of nothing but on the other hand it is also a fact that a whole culture was nearly erased. i would not say that it was a goal of the white americans to exterminate all afro americans living in the U.S. but they definitely saw them as inferior and unfortunately this attitude seemed not to have changed in many heads. of course their are changes achieved by the civil rights movement but there's still this little spark in many minds that again could lit up a fire of discrimination and hatred against afro americans in the U.S.
.::Martin S::.
U.S. History 5th hr
01--2007

Anonymous said...

I think that this quote could mean many different things. America has took part in good things that made it successful but it also has a bad side to it. I think that James Baldwin is trying to say that no one will ever truly know everything about American history. Also the good things that did happen, like the Industrial Revolution, wasn't truly all great. Yes many more people had jobs and made good money but they had to work for a very long time at something that wasn't all that easy. There was also the bad things that America took part in like segregation. We learned a whole lot about it but do we really know every detail? We are tought the general things that happened but what I think James Baldwin it trying to say is that everything we know is more complex. I also think that when people write about the good things in American history, they either make it seem ten times better than it actually was or they make it seem ten times worse. Part of the reason they do that is because people don't want to read boring news, they want to read something more exciting that could sometimes be false. Or he could be saying that people only want to recognize the good things and don't want to admit the bad things. No one will ever truly know how complex our American history really is.

Kristin Mafrice
U.S History B 6th hr
1-20-07

Anonymous said...

I think this quote means our american history is very vast. First semester we learned about world war 1. This was a struggle in american history. Americans made lots of sacrifices for the war. They grew liberty gardens and bought war bonds. It was a hard time but it was also beautiful how america came together in a time of need. In american history we had many dark times. An example of this would be slavery and racism. I think through strong leaders like Martin Luther King Junior and W.E.B. Dubois we were able to fight for what we believe in and make a huge mark in history. American history is filled with triumphs, defeats, dark times, and great times. I think it is important to know all the different types of our American History and embrace it and learn from it.

Hannah Burch
5th Hour
1-22-07

Anonymous said...

I think this quote means that american history can not be summed up in one word. You can't describe it becuase there are so many different things that happened, so many things that have a different mood, that it's impossible to describe. Some history is good, some bad, surprising, and other things but overall it's too lengthy to describe all emotions.

Anonymous said...

Depending on who is teaching or learning American history, people like to romanticize things. For instance, let's say someone today says that what the KKK did was right and that they were trying to make the country a better place. That person may actually believe that or is finding an excuse for the bad things that happened. Other people see the KKK as cruel and find it hard to believe and is outraged that someone would do something like that. in truth, there are good and bad parts of American history. We should remember the bad parts as well as the good parts so that we will try not to let those occurences repeat themselves.

Elise Lieberman
1/23/07
5th hour

Anonymous said...

I think this quote is about how the world has had many ups and downs. When he said the world is more beatiful but then saying its terrible means bad things happend while good things did too. There has been some great things that have come now for Americans. African Americans are coming up in the world but are still not on a white person level. When he said that quote he probley knew black people would eventually be seen as equals to whites. With all of the admenents that helped get black people free and give them a chance. If it wasnt for freedem of speech among all americans James Baldwin wouldnt have been able to express himself. I think he is also sayin that giving other minorties a chance in the world is beatiful, But it is terrible that they dont get any respect for being a minorty. American history is also very long dating back to the slave boats and coming over to America where the indians were. There have been many defining moments in American History. I feel that the world is still growing and continue to grow. This is still a world dominated by mostly white americans and may always be. There will continue to be other minorties coming to America to help it grow and make it better. I just hope that People accept the minorties and dont just reject them and cause more terrible things to put in history. We make history everyday by differnt things that we do. I think people are gonna look back at are time period and say why did they go to war there was no point. Thats why he probly said American History is beautiful, long , various and terrible.





Aston Williams
U.S History 1st Hr

Anonymous said...

I think that what this quote is saying is that we will never fully understand history, or that we will never really know what the "real" events were in Americas history. What I mean by this is that when people parents or grandparents are telling their kids about events that took place, they might be able to tell them everything, but they might not be able to, so they forget a couple of details. Then, when their kids tell their own kids, they forget some as well, and it continues. This is kind of like the game of "telephone". Most of the time when someone tells someone something, they dont remember everything, and by the end it is a totally different thing then it was in the beginning. So, when the history of America is being taught, it might not be the exact thing that actually happenned. Like the quote says that history is longer and larger, and more beautiful, and more terrible than anyone can say about it. This is saying that we dont know everything that happened during Americas history.

One example of this is the conditions of factory workers a long time ago. We learn about what those conditions were like, but we will never really know if the factories were really like that. Also, we will never understand the conditions because we never had to work with them. So we dont know what it feels like to not get paid much, and have almost no break, we will never really understand History.

Anonymous said...

In this quote James Baldwin is talking about all the various parts of american history. He is saying that Americans have been through the up's and the downs and we've seen the good and the bad. Some of the bad things that we have seen has been the Africans being slaved. It was incredibly wrong to treat another human being like that and it should never have happened which is what makes it such a bad thing. We have seen the beutiful and see america grow as a united country and grow up to have all the white people and all the black people live together in peace. We have been through the terrible things such as 9/11.

Zack S.
5th hour

Anonymous said...

James Baldwin's insight helped to create the past image of America. "American history is beautiful..." Through our good works and charity like when we helped the Allies conquer in World War II. We continue to do good works to this day, we are constantly sending supplies to Darfur and supporting them during this genocide. In the past, America has also commited felonous crimes. When we first arrived in America, Europeans poisoned and pushed Native American into small reservations. We contained asians after the attack at Pearl Harbor. We provoked many conflicts and wars throughout history. We tend to be selfish in our actions, only a few years ago we raided Iraq for no defnite reason, and we are still fighting today. In the past, America has struggled with slavery. A whole civil war was started based on the god-given rights of human beings. The KKK was started to rid humanity of diversity. It was a group based on predjudice, and nothing to be proud of. America has made many mistakes that led to many advances. We have created several precedents yet several problems, that's what makes us the greatest known country around the world.

~Chelsea R
6th hour

Anonymous said...

I think that this quote is saying that there is lots of people that are happpy about american History I mean proud of it but there is also people that have a shame for all the vad things that the South didi to slaves and how they werer treated , that was horrible but even tough this is the past so we need to think about the good things right know. But I think that the quote talks about that people realise all the bad things that american people didi in the past, they understand more better than before I mean in the past in american history.

Anonymous said...

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it." James Baldwin tells us that the history of America is deeper and more twisted then we will ever know. We as of now were never there and never knew the truly good times. America was not always this great country that learned to live and change the problems. Take the discrimination of the black americans. It took us years to change the problems and to change slavery. History books say the hardships but do we know the depth of the problems. Will we ever know about the true death and torture of the black americans as slaves? We will never know what went on we can only make observations and speculations of what went on. As time went on the problems did get better and slavery ended soon segregation got better. But before that wars happened the great depression happened. The country took a downward turn and people were out of jobs and homes. Families starved and people died. History tells you horrible stories. More horrible stories then the good that happened in the country. This quote means to not look at what is in front of us only but to recognize the terrible and yet great things that happened in this country.



Christina Leong
U.S History 6th hr
01-27-2007

Anonymous said...

I think that this quote means that American History is something that is never ending. There are some things that we do not know about American History that we will find out later on. American history is far worse then what we know of it. We know that in History there was alot of stuff that happened that we are ashamed of but there is still alot more that we do not know has happened yet. So that is what I thought James Baldwin thought when he said his quote.


Eric Pina
5th hr

Anonymous said...

James Baldwin's quote means that there are so many things that happened in America's history that one can't even begin to understand all of it. There have been horrible things that happened, like wars, but there have also been really great things, like the fact that all of us are here today. One couldn't even begin to describe the terrors of World War II, and I think that's what James Baldwin is talking about. Even though we learn about all of these things, we won't understand all the emotions people experience from the bad and good things that happened in America's history.

Lauren Lounsbery