How and why have historians' interpretations of the infamous Tammany Hall changed in recent times? Despite decades of portraying this New York City government as corrupt and immoral, historical interpretations of Tammany have been more positive lately. Students will consider multiple sources on the topic, create their own positive political cartoon of Tammany Hall, and think about how contextual influences impact historians and their interpretation of history.
Throughout the lesson students will be prompted to:
1) Respond to a "Bell Ringer" that asks students to think about what qualities they would like a local politician to possess.
2) Watch a portion of a video clip about the infamous Kwame Kilpatrick, the former mayor of Detroit, and consider how history will remember him in the near future and distant future.
3) Acquire background knowledge of Tammany Hall and how historians/scholars portrayed Tammany negatively through a reading.
4) Analyze a cartoon created by Thomas Nast regarding the "Tammany Ring" and discuss the intentions of the cartoonist and other features of the cartoon.
5) Investigate recent scholarly interpretations of Tammany and distinguish between the positive and negative outlooks/evidence on the political machine.
6) Create a "positive" political cartoon on Tammany Hall, demonstrating the positive trajectory of recent historians' interpretations of the political machine.
7) Think about why recent scholars are interpreting Tammany in this manner, considering current contextual influences like feelings towards immigration today.
8) Finish with an exit ticket that asks students to write about how and why have these interpretations of Tammany changed over time.
If you are interested in this lesson, check out this one also about questioning the character of famous muckraker Jacob Riis!