Category Archives: Linda’s Classroom

Linda Moss Mines is a historian dedicated to reminding the public of the blessings of Liberty and our commitment to work toward the promises of the American Dream. She is not a political commentator, although reflecting on the history of the Republic requires recounting the stories of political figures and the institutions of our political system. Linda relishes telling the stories of our country’s founding and its journey from the earliest settlers as a “noble experiment in self-government.” She believes that recounting history reminds citizens that decisions and actions have consequences and that we as a people are impacted every day by decisions made during the course of that journey.

“It is important that a nation know and understand the pivotal moments of its history,” she says. “Too often, our images of the past are a composite of classroom memories, popular culture images crafted by media productions and a smattering of editorial musings often grounded only in personal opinion and experience. As a historian, I, of course, offer some interpretation of those moments, but I am far more interested in the role of the public figures and the ‘common people’ and what motivated them than in the role of politics for political gain. Revisiting the past offers us a chance to understand today and shape tomorrow.”

As an educator, Mines notes: “I have been privileged to touch hearts and hopefully inspire my former students to become lifelong lovers of learning. Knowledge coupled with a dedication to service can truly change the world and I’m blessed to be a small part of that change.”

Remember the Alamo – A Cry to ‘Remember’

“Remember the Alamo” became a rallying point that would ring throughout our nation’s history.

Revenge is a strong motivation, and during military conflict, it can be a powerful potion for action.

As the Texans flexed their muscles and demanded autonomy, the skirmishes began. Following the “Grass Fight” in November 1835, the Texans moved toward the Alamo mission in San Antonio and, in a systematic siege on the settlement, forced the Mexican forces to withdraw back toward the Rio Grande. Continue reading

Texas Is Calling My Name

The Mexican government found itself dealing with two independence movements simultaneously.

Stephen Austin, Father of Texas

One cannot possibly think about the 1830s and Andrew Jackson’s presidency and not turn south for a moment to talk about Texas and the epic story of its independence.

Now, I admit that as a Tennessean, the stories of the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto colored my childhood. I grew up with the tales of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and the courage displayed in the fight against General Santa Anna and the Mexican army. I listened as my grandfather spun remembrances of his great-grandmother Madewell and his Burden grandparents, along with a multitude of Gaddis cousins and more, who had trekked to Texas not long after independence to help forge a new state. In his stories, Texas always seemed to be the symbol of fearless freedom and a life carved from the edges of the frontier. I longed for more stories, so I read about Sam Houston and the Republic of Texas. The connection seemed real. Continue reading

‘Strengthen the Southwestern Frontier’

How did Georgia force the removal of natives if the Supreme Court ruled that it could not impose its laws on the Cherokee?

        Chief John Ross 1863 F. Gutekunst (Photographer)

Andrew Jackson, even after multiple appeals from Cherokee National Principal Chief John Ross that the president engage Georgia’s governor and mediate on behalf of his former allies in the War of 1812, refused. He asserted that the federal government had no constitutional authority to interfere in an issue that was a state’s right. Georgia was authorized to establish laws that protected the rights of its citizens, and if that action required the removal of a “ward” group of people, then that action was appropriate in Jackson’s view.

However, many did not agree with Jackson’s interpretation of the United States Constitution and the role of the executive branch. Among those who supported the enforcement of previous treaties guaranteeing the Cherokee the right to reside on lands that had been “granted” by previous administrations was a group of white missionaries and teachers living among the Cherokee. Continue reading

‘Jackson and the Trail of Tears’

The legacy of America’s seventh president is inextricably tied to the fate of American Indians.

Trail of Tears by Robert-Lindneux, 1942

It’s almost impossible to talk or write about Andrew Jackson’s presidency without someone asking questions about the Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears, especially here in Southeast Tennessee, where the Trail of Tears began. The shadow of “Indian Removal” and its subsequent impact on the Cherokee and other native nations hangs over Jackson’s legacy like a death shroud. Continue reading

The Frontier Comes to the White House

I have a confession before I launch into today’s history story. I’m a Tennessean who had three great-great-grandfathers who fought alongside General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans; a Tennessean who grew up with stories of the general as the hero of the War of 1812. I am still a Tennessean, but one who has lived for the last 46 years in Chattanooga — the origin of the Trail of Tears — and who now understands more clearly the multi-faceted Jackson, who defies a simple analysis as a man and as a president.

With that understanding, let’s attempt to catalog President Andrew Jackson’s legacy. ~ Linda

Jackson came into office with an agenda that was based on two distinct factors: revenge for the “stolen” election of 1824 and his beloved Rachel’s death due to the horrors of the campaign of 1828, and his desire to serve the common people that he felt were excluded from governmental policies and programs.

Why was Jackson determined to champion the voiceless, common people of the western frontier? Continue reading

Nastiest Campaign in United States History?

The election of 1828 erupted into an ugly, contentious election, surpassing the Adams-Jefferson campaign of 1800.

                                         John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams’s first presidential term was coming to an end, so it was time to spring into reelection mode, right?

No. The campaign for the election of 1828 began the day after Adams’s triumph in 1824 and Andrew Jackson’s resounding accusations that a “corrupt bargain” had stolen the victory from his hands. The four years of the Adams presidency was a battle over JQ attempting to overcome the fact that he was a president who had won neither the popular vote nor the electoral vote — until it was thrown into the House of Representatives, where Henry Clay had “worked” magic. Continue reading

Adams Struggles as President

With his diplomatic experiences guiding his priorities, John Quincy Adams focused on relationships with other nations.

Let’s begin with a trivia question: How many father-son connections are there in our White House history?

                    John Adams, John Quincy Adams, George Bush and George H.W. Bush

* John Adams, second president, and his son, John Quincy Adams, sixth president; and

* George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president, and his son, George Walker Bush, 43rd president.

They are not the only “family” connections in the presidential lineage, but I’ll leave you to ponder the other relationships. Continue reading

Adams – Can You Peak Too Soon?

It seems puzzling that John Quincy Adams would make such a mess of his rise to the presidency.

                         President John Quincy Adams

Consider one major accomplishment of the second Adams administration. Casting about for an answer. Still struggling…

John Quincy Adams’s time in the White House charted some domestic and foreign policy successes, but in truth, those triumphs may actually pale in comparison to his previous service. To understand JQA’s frustrations during the mid-1820s, it helps to understand that he had a pattern of soaring as a diplomat and political servant, only to feel grounded by the trappings of the presidency and the infighting that accompanied his years in office. Continue reading

Elections Can Be Ugly! Really!

The election of 1824 was unpleasant at best and deemed horrible by many observers.

James Monroe had enjoyed his eight years in the White House and, while well liked without perhaps the reverence citizens had exhibited for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, his administration had expanded the nation’s footprint with Florida and its international role with the Monroe Doctrine. His strong sense of nationalism was appropriate for a time when the republic was evolving and growing, and his devotion to the precedents of the past fueled his decision to only serve two terms. After all, he had run unopposed in 1820, and there were those who encouraged him to “stay the course,” but Washington’s words made that decision for him. Continue reading

Guardian of the West

How the revolutions in the Spanish-controlled nations in our hemisphere changed American foreign policy.

                              Father Hidalgo

Let’s transport ourselves back to the early 1820s and what was happening in the regions south of the United States. Any memories from history class popping up? Do you remember the name Father Hidalgo or Simon Bolivar?

Did your studies cover the revolutions in Central and South America? As is always true, world events impact our nation and our nation’s governmental policies. So how did the revolutions in the Spanish-controlled nations in our hemisphere change American foreign policy? You’ll recognize this story… Continue reading

The United States Flexes Its Muscles

After dealing with Spain regarding Florida, the U.S. was developing a position that would eventually change international policy.

If you mention James Monroe’s presidency and foreign diplomacy, most students of history immediately think “Monroe Doctrine,” a uniquely crafted document that would be applied time and again — across the decades — as a cornerstone of international policy. How did the Monroe Doctrine come into existence? Continue reading

James Monroe The Financial Panic, and More!

Infrastructure was critical, but how was Monroe to proceed since the Constitution made no specific mention of a national transportation system?

The War of 1812 had highlighted the need for easy movement between regions and unity’s impact on military security. James Monroe inherited that concern. As the nation expanded and additional territorial lands met the requirements for statehood and applied for admission to the Union, the need for internal improvements was obvious. Relatively primitive roads on the frontier, aided only by water transport, made the movement of goods and military assets difficult. Continue reading

That The Era of ‘Era of Good Feelings’

James Monroe, always depicted as an unsmiling, stoic individual, was actually extremely popular among voters and the general public.

As we enter a presidential campaign season, many of us are probably hoping for an era of good feelings, or at least civil discourse, which seemed to have been abundant during James Monroe’s administration. It may be difficult today to imagine that Monroe, always depicted as an unsmiling, stoic individual, was actually extremely popular among voters and the general public. The fact that he was truly interested in the people of his relatively young nation and the regions in which they lived connected him with his constituents. Continue reading

The Era of Good Feelings

This season of “good will” seems perfect to focus on James Monroe’s accomplishments and the growth of our nation.

Confession time. I like to imagine living during an era of “good feelings,” especially when considering political and economic factors. Granted, I have a blessed life, and I enjoy living in this republic based on the important qualities of liberty, equality, and justice, even if those ideals are still a work in progress. However, I admit that I approach the print and programmed media news each day with a bit of trepidation. It seems as though we find new ways to separate ourselves into groups of individuals who stand in our corners and hurl insults toward each other, focusing on our differences and seldom acknowledging our similarities.

Yes, I’m a Pollyanna in a world populated, it seems, by Medusas. Continue reading

Another Virginia Boy

James Monroe was another young Virginia patriot who had come of age during the American Revolution.

James Monroe (c. 1819) by Samuel Morse (1791-1872)

Last week we observed, admittedly from a distance, the burning of Washington, DC; the triumph at New Orleans; and a mixture of successes and failures that comprised the War of 1812 historical record. It was foreign affairs that consumed much of the two-term presidency of James Madison.

Few domestic issues rivaled the peril of a second war with the British Empire and, truthfully, the only compelling issue — the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States — was wrapped up in the British conflict. Madison needed funds for the war effort, and yet there was severe opposition from “old” Republicans who viewed the bank as an extension of the now decade-dead Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists. Continue reading

The Second American Revolution

Could the new republic defeat the British Empire a second time?

Observers were holding their breath.

We know it as the War of 1812, but I prefer to call the events of 1812-1815 the Second American Revolution.

We’ve met Mr. James Madison and witnessed that his inauguration was plagued with a bundle of problems awaiting his response. Although he had served as Thomas Jefferson’s secretary of state and was well aware of the issues related to trade, relationships with foreign nations, conflicts related to an expanding nation, and more, Madison quickly found that serving as president was very different from being the most trusted advisor to the president. Continue reading

All Hail Jimmy Madison

He entered office with problems already stacking up on his desk

Who doesn’t enjoy spending some time with the hardworking, shy, cerebral heartthrob adored by Dolley Payne Madison, the darling of Washington, DC, society? Certainly, I do.

I confessed last week to harboring a wee bit of a historical crush on this Virginia scholar who found great joy wallowing in the most philosophical ideas regarding liberty, self-government, and balance of power and man in a state of nature and community. Continue reading

A Transfer of Powers

Jefferson understood that Madison, only eight years his junior, possessed the skills that made him the ideal successor.

After eight years in the White House confronted with domestic and foreign policy challenges, Thomas Jefferson supported the candidacy of his protégé James Madison to step into the leadership role. Jefferson understood that Madison, only eight years his junior, possessed the skills — both intellectual and leadership acumen — that made him the ideal successor. Admittedly, Madison had paid his dues and had gained a reputation as a tireless scholar and devoted supporter of the republic. Continue reading

Land Deals, Pirates, and Foreign Policy Issues

Thomas Jefferson entered office envisioning a more peaceful world and improved relationships with European nations.

                               John Marshall

Thomas Jefferson struggled to bring the government under control and increase the effectiveness of a federal idealism — a balance of power between the central government and the governments of the states. His counterbalancing weight, Chief Justice John Marshall, believed that a stronger centralized government was necessary for creating the stability that the young nation required. And so the pendulum would sway regarding domestic issues during both Jefferson administrations. Aided by his two closest advisors, Secretary of State James Madison and Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, Jefferson strove to find the appropriate balance during those critical years.

With his extensive foreign policy experience and collaborative approach to leadership, Jefferson entered office envisioning a more peaceful world and improved relationships with European nations. He understood his role as president, relying heavily upon the governmental structure created by the U.S. Constitution and subsequent congressional legislation. Continue reading

Virginian vs. Virginian

While both Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall were Virginians, their philosophies of government had little in common.

Thomas Jefferson had been inaugurated as president of the United States, and his victory limited John Adams and the Federalists to one term only. The two former friends and colleagues were now not speaking, and the conflict between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans escalated.

One of Adams’s last gifts to the new president was a series of “midnight appointments” of Federalist judges. As you may recall, Adams forgot to have the appointments delivered before Jefferson’s inauguration, and James Madison, the new secretary of state, refused to deliver the letters. However, Adams had previously been quite effective in packing the courts with Federalist-leaning judges, and Jefferson had a fight on his hands. (Does any of this sound familiar?) Continue reading