Here are four “A” reading responses from a previous class (the first and second are responses to questions that I posted; the third is a set of discussion questions for class, and the fourth is a “muddiest thing” response; ):
Response 1: To a certain extent I agree with Andre Branch and John Wasson. It would have been extremely difficult and hard to have Junius Wilson live anywhere but where he had lived for so long. Undoubtedly it had the best care and medical support for a person of that age, and he was surrounded by people who cared for him. It would also have been a massive shock to go from such a controlled environment to having such freedom, and also there was the fact that there was a language barrier between Junius and the rest of the world. On the other hand though, I think that he should have been moved out of the hospital the moment it was discovered he wasn’t’ insane, and he should have been given the opportunity to live his life, how and where he wanted to. In the book, pg 207 even the hospital staff mentions “he sometimes did not consider the cottage on the grounds of the hospital to be his home.” I think that Mr. Wilson should have been given the opportunity to at least try living outside the hospital and if that didn’t work then he could have come back.
Response 2 (longer than necessary, but an excellent response): It seems very clear from Plunkitt’s account why political machines such as Tammany Hall received so much voter support, particularly in the early twentieth century. Giving “opportunities to the common man in exchange for loyalty” and going “down among the poor families” to “help them in the different ways they need help,” though it may seem like common sense, was actually an incredibly effective political tool, particularly given the state of immigration at the time (Riordon, Ch.6). With the population of New York City nearly doubling in the twenty year span between 1900-1920, forty-two percent of which were immigrants, it is easy to see why an organization such as Tammany which promised employment, legal aid, and emergency assistance held so much attraction to such a large voter base (Fink, 118-120). Politicians such as Plunkitt marketed themselves as “father” figures who could be counted on in “times of trouble” – the fact that they largely delivered on these promises only made the system that much easier to accept (Riordan, Ch.6). True, politicians such as Plunkitt shamelessly milked the political machine for personal advantage; however, to those that argue that organizations such as Tammany were purely corrupt and not at all Democratic, I would have to say it depends on who you ask. I believe these political machines were indeed necessary in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as they filled the need for social welfare that did not exist in the form of a national program at the time.
Response 3: 1) Did children who were born deaf and mute to wealthy class citizens face the same discrimination as their immigrant counterparts, and does Helen Keller play in any part of this portion of history? 2) Upon entering America, do you believe that immigrants such as the young Turkish worker Mustafa, whose religion, native culture, and even dress were altered to fit the way of life of an “American gentleman,” believed themselves to have reached the ‘land of freedom and opportunity’? Or do you believe they would have seen themselves as restricted?
Response 4: One of the muddiest things within this chapter was how TR was viewed as a “weakling” early on, but somehow managed to transform his weak image to one of a manly man (Fink, 287). His desire for power ultimately overcame the negative stigmas that were placed upon him by others. It seems that people stereotyped him due to his “high voice, tight pants and fancy clothing” and only changed their opinions of him after he “became known as Colonel Roosevelt” (Fink, 287). Did his involvement within the active military ultimately gain him the Presidency?