AP American History

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The Invention of Air

By: Steven Johnson


As you read the book, answer the following questions:

CHAPTER 1: The Electricians

  1. Who were a.) The Electricians?  b.) The Honest Whigs?  What was their connection to each other?
  2. As you read on pages 50-51 about the “Cultural Systems Flow Chart” explain how each of these has an impact on history.  (You’ll find them spread throughout the book)

CHAPTER 2: Rose and Nightshade

  1. What is the ‘information networks’ that Priestley believes in?
  2. On page 79, author Steven Johnson makes the statement, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”  What do you think he meant by that.  How would that be true in Priestley’s case?  Give an example.
  3. Explain the controversy that surrounds the discovery of oxygen.  What is the phlogiston theory?  How could you argue that Benjamin Franklin’s leaving England had something to do with Priestley’s mistake?

CHAPTER 3: Intermezzo – An Island of Coal

  1. Why does the Industrial Revolution begin in England?  In what way did the discovery of a new energy flow transform the history of England?
  2. On page 128, explain the statement: “the price of leisure time is ultimately paid in the currency of energy.”

CHAPTER 4: The Wild Gas

  1. What is Priestley’s role in the American Revolution? (pg. 141)
  2. What are the four institutional models of Idea production?  What two did Priestley’s career flourish in?
  3. Why did Thomas Jefferson say that Priestley helped him to reconcile his Christian faith?

CHAPTER 5: A Comet in the System

  1. Why was the communication issue such a problem for Priestley in America? 
  2. What caused John Adams to question and distance himself from his friendship with Priestley?
  3. In sparing Priestley from arrest and possible deportation, Adams wrote the following on page 215

“I do not think it wise to execute the alien law against poor Priestley at present.  He is weak as water, as unstable as Rueben, or the wind.  His influence is not an atom in the world.”

What answers to two key questions is held within this quote?

  1. Years later, after Priestley’s death, Adams and Jefferson, begin a writing correspondence with each other.  What importance does Priestley still have to the two men?

This Republic of Suffering

By: Drew Gilpin Faust


As you read the book, answer the following questions:

(The questions are in order, some are marked by page number to help you find your place, and the rest are not to allow you to read with purpose)

Preface: The Work of Death

  1. How do people face death?
  2. How did civilians face death during the Civil War? 
  3. Explain the following:
    1. Ordinary Death
    2. Harvest of Death
    3. The Work of Death
    4. Who is Frederick Law Olmsted?
    5. How do ‘we’ define the Civil War today? 

Chapter 1: Dying - “To Lay Down My Life”

  1. Explain the concept of the ‘Good Death’.  (pg.6)
  2. What crisis of conscience did Clara Barton have?    
  3. Why did soldiers fear the ‘sudden death’?  Why did soldiers have to learn the difference between patriotism and piety (religious devotion to God)? 

Chapter 2: Killing - “The Harder Courage”

  1. What is the sixth commandment?  How did soldiers thinking on murder/death have to change?
  2. On page 37, author Drew Faust uses the expression “playing at being Indian.”  How did this help soldiers to cope with murder? 
  3. What does ‘missus, we is even now’ mean? 

Chapter 3: Burying - “New Lessons Caring for the Dead”

  1. Why did General Lee leave his dead behind at the battle of Antietam? 
  2. What burial techniques helped to make the task of disposal of bodies manageable? 
  3. What new technology both helped to preserve the dead for funerals and was a money maker for the practitioner? 

Chapter 4: Naming - “The Significant Word UNKNOWN”

  1. What does poet Walt Whitman mean by the phrase “the significant word UNKNOWN?”
  2. What is the difference between
    1. The Christian Commission
    2. The United States Sanitation Commission

Chapter 5: Realizing - Civilians and the Work of Mourning

  1. Why did men riot over the draft in New York City?  (pg. 141)
  2. How does Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Killed at the Ford” express a shared understanding of war’s losses?

Chapter 6: Believing & Doubting - “What Means this Carnage?”

  1. How did death on such a grand scale as the Civil War change one’s faith?
  2. Do you agree with the author’s statement that in our time we are in denial of death?  Explain.
  3. How did Emanuel Swedenborg change the concept of heaven?  Did this concept hold true after the Civil War?  Why not?  How is the Gettysburg Address the best known example of an explanation and justification for war’s carnage?  (pg. 189)

Chapter 7: Accounting - “Our Obligation to the Dead”

  1. The end of the war offered what opportunity to attend to the dead?  What is the Roll of Honor?
  2. Besides the practical and ever growing concerns about southern mistreatment of gravesites and bodies, what also lead to one of the most elaborate federal programs in regards to the Union dead?  (pg. 218-219)
  3. How important was the circular entitled “Important Information Wanted” to the finding of the Union dead?
  4. What crucial role did African-Americans play in honoring the Union dead?  Why did Black Southerners care so for the Union dead?  (pg. 227) 
  5. Why do you suppose Whitman felt the government stood in “loco parentis” toward the Union dead?  How does Clara Barton feel about the obligation of the state to its citizens? 
  6. On page 237, author Drew Faust uses the expression “a constituency of the slain”, what do you believe she means by this? 
  7. What was the general feeling toward the fallen dead of the Confederacy?  What was Mrs. William McFarland’s plea to the people of the south?  What organization did she help create? 

Chapter 8: Numbering - “How Many?  How Many?”

  1. The expression an “infatuation with numbers” implies what?  How did statistics offer more than the possibility of comprehension?  How differently did Generals George McClellan and William Tecumseh Sherman view numbers? 
  2. Why did Americans count their dead?  William Fox shows that the counting gives us “sad pictures”, how so?  Author Drew Faust statement “A world lay behind every name” means what? (260-261)