Source Evaluation: Helen Thomas Biography

Veteran White House reporter and columnist Helen Thomas poses for photographers as she leaves the White House in Washington, DC, 16 October 2007. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Listen up Mr. President by Helen Thomas is a self authored book about her beliefs of what a president should be. The book is split up into ten sections. These all include tips on a proper presidency. This source is reliable because it it purely Helen’s opinions, which is what I want for analysis.


I have decided to use this to focus in on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam war. Reading through these sections will reveal Helen Thomas’ opinions on presidency. This will overall guide the analysis of the conduct of both presidencies. Research for the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam war will come from the Miller Center, online and if further research is needed, from books. The miller center is reliable: on the front page of its site it reads: “The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.”

Another piece that was great to read was an article that was sent to me from Mrs. Robertson about Helen Thomas herself and her career.  This article showed how influential Helen Thomas actually was for her time and justified why her opinion on presidencies. Helen Thomas was a hard worker and pioneer for women in her career. She was a woman of firsts. This article lead me to wonder if there was a way I could potentially work in how she was a pioneer in her field with women and the press.

01 Mar 1962, Washington, DC, USA --- This is a photograph of Helen Thomas, UPI reporter in Washington, DC. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

There are some holes left in the research process which is that I need to find her articles on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War to compare to my analysis from Listen up Mr. President. I also need to research her alleged anti-semetic comments which were mentioned in the end of the article listed above.

Coleman, David, ed. “John F. Kennedy: Foreign Affairs.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

Doyle, Sady. “Helen Thomas: First and Foremost.” In These Times. N.p., 26 July
2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2016. <

Germany, Kent, ed. “Lyndon B. Johnson: Foreign Affairs.” N.p., 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

Thomas, Helen. Listen Up Mr. President. New York. NY: Scribner, 2009. Print.

Source Evaluation: Thank you Mr. President

The film “Thank you Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White house” by Rory Kennedy, sits down Helen Thomas, and asks her all sorts of questions involving her personal life and her relationships to the presidents from JFK to the later Bush.

The source is very reliable because it is Helen Thomas simply replying to questions about her life. It is very interesting because she also offers interpretation on presidents campaigns, their personal lives and the events that happened over the course of their presidency.

Over the course of Helen’s career there have been 9 presidents. 2 of which I will be comparing and contrasting through Helen Thomas’ eyes. Helen Thomas’ relationship with Kennedy and Johnson is looked at in the documentary. Thomas was very close to JFK and they got along very well. “He was very friendly”. She spent lots of time with the presidents: “you really felt that you got to know the person”. President Johnson in her eyes was “very self protected” and he would call for conferences where they would walk around the south lawn and he would talk very quietly, she considered them very “satirical”

The documentary does leave out lots of history for JFK and Johnson, which means I will be needing to do more in depth research. Having more background will help with comparison.  I will also need to research how Helen got to her position, what exactly her position was and it what it explicitly entailed. It would also be interesting to research some of her personal life, because she was fired  from her job.

Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House. Dir. Rory Kennedy.
HBO Documentary Films, 2008. Film.

Second Huck Finn Post: Racism or Friendship

Huck Finn has a history of being one of the controversial and challenged book in America. “the main criticism is Twain’s treatment of the theme of race and his use of racial slurs in reference to African Americans, Native Americans, and poor white Americans.”  In 2009, in midst of the presidential race a man by the name of John Foley, who was a high school teacher, wrote a guest column for a local newspaper in Seattle. He stated that books to the likes of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of mice and men” should no longer hold a place in high school curriculum. Mr. Foley also stated that ““Barack Obama is president-elect of the United States, and novels that use the ‘N-word’ repeatedly need to go.”

jim real

When it comes to Jim, Huck has a sort of metaphorical blindfold on. The blindfold, which can we seen as society, blinds Huck from seeing Jim as an equal. But, the blindfold doesn’t cover everything, and Huck can see a little between what is right and what society wants him to believe is right. Because Huck can see through the “blindfold” slightly he is able to gain attachment to Jim: ” ‘Sold him? I says and begun to cry;” (248)  It is the next line that shows how the blindfold does blind Huck to some things ” ‘Why he was my nigger’ ” (248) This line can be interpreted as Huck seeing Jim as property. But if diving deeper into the emotion that is layered within the text, one can see that Huck is crying, which shows an expression of sadness at the fact he has lost his friend. Personally, I believe Huck is morning the loss of Jim. “Why he was my nigger” can translate to “he was my friend.” 

huck and jim

In my opinion, I believe that this book should still be a great classroom tool to show what was acceptable and what want. But I also think that historical empathy is necessary to posses while reading this “classic”. The truth is that Huck only refers to  Jim like that because it was a part of the time period. Layered within what is seen as racism now, is true friendship.


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The Adventures of Huck Finn: First Blog Post

In the first 20 chapters of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, many themes occur. As expected, racism, as defined by today is very present. Huck, the main charecters friend, is a slave named Jim. Jim is a prime example of the role of slaves in Huck’s time. Jim is uneducated, due to white supremacy and paranoia of the saying ” ‘give a nigger an inch and he’ll take and ell’ ” (170) The whites, especially of the south feared an uprising from the slaves, if they gave them the “inch” of education. The whites treated the slaves as animals who if they were given just enough, they would take it all, when really this reflects upon themselves.


Even if Huck considers Jim a friend, he still thinks of himself as higher. This is also due to Jim’s ignorance and the society that Huck grew up in. When Huck hurts Jim’s feelings by using his knowledge to make Jim look foolish. Huck of course feels bad, but “it was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger” (160). Huck’s remorse shows that he does care about Jim, but the pride and white supremacy holds him back from apologizing immediately. This is interesting because Huck views Jim as a friend, but unconsciously does not view Jim as his equal. Huck does take advantage of Jim’s ignorance for his own entertainment, but eventually feels remorse. The remorse shows that Huck does care about Jim, but he cannot undo something that he doesn’t really know exists.

Another theme that occurs is gender roles. When Huck dresses up as a woman to disguise himself from the woman. The first example of gender roles is when the widow refuses to let Huck leave because she doesnt want her to go without her husbands company: “She said she wouldn’t let me go by myself, but her husband would be in by and by, maybe in an hour and a laf, and she’d send him along with me” (142) In Huck’s time women were seen as something that needed to be protected and were basically helpless.


Society in Huck’s time was patriarchal, which means that it was dominated by men.  “women not working outside but men did, so men were the moneymakers while women were homemakers and mainly responsible for the family and home”  Also, when Huck tries to pick up a needle and thred, he further exposes his lie to the woman. She is immediatly able to see that Huck is a boy due to his looks and the fact that he cannot sew. ” ‘Bless you child when you set out to thread a needle, don’t hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it- thats the way a woman most always does; but a man always does ‘tother way.’ ” (145) This passage can be seen as metaphorical for gender roles. Women and Men have defined ways of doing things that are set by society. Like sewing, women do it a certain way, and men do it the other.

huck and woman

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huck finn: a hero for all time

An Expanding Nation: Period 1: Chris Barry, Emma Perichon, George Riser and Evans Van Liew


All of these topics relate to mainly immigration and what it brought to the table of young america. The irish famine, which was in 1849-50, was a huge potato famine that completely wiped out the potato crop in ireland. Many of the Irish that moved over to America used the Cunard line. This lead to a huge influx in irish immigration to America. Nativism was a product of this. Nativism is the fear that immigrants would take jobs and change the political and social structure of American life. For example in Lowell, Massachusetts, the multitude of mills relied on yankee women and children to work the mills, but the Irish started to take the jobs from the women and children. 


The Erie canal was completed in 1825, it was opened by Samuel Morse, the effect was immediate and dramatic. It was a big change for the history of America with transportation and industry, it’s also resulted a massive population surge in western New York, and opened regions further west to increased settlement.

Dewitt Clinton was the mayor New York City he believed that such a canal was crucial to the advancement of his state and was largely responsible for the construction of the Canal.

The cotton dominated the economy and the Erie Canal and also over canals that were constructed in the same goal as the first canal, being able to transports the goods made the economy of the cotton took a really big place into the economy of America. The most important internal improvement resulting from the American System was the Erie canal because it created a system of interlocking canals that ran from the Hudson River to Erie canal.


The end of the Federalist Party marked the end of America’s elongated attempt to unify the states. You then see the majority of the Federalist party transition into the democratic party that would initiate universal manhood suffrage in the north. The whole nation was attempting to find an identity and also a way to run itself. In 1808, Albert Gallatin, proposed a thorough solution to solve America’s infrastructure problem. Canals and massive roadways would connect the alienated states and assist in building the American system. James Monroe would use utilize these ideas to get elected and promised a better unified state. 1817 marked the beginning of the era of good feelings where it would be driven by President Monroe’s goal to unify the country. The era came to an end in 1823 when slavery tensions began to rise between the states. In 1821 the Tallmadge Amendment was proposed by Missouri to protect slavery and even though they agreed to protect the right of blacks, they would never fulfill that promise. John Adams would follow Monroe as president but only due to the corrupt bargain with Henry Clay. The events that followed the era of good feelings would only foreshadow the problems only to come for the states. -Chris Barry

Artifact Project: The First Margaret

The first of many Margarets
The first of many Margarets

This portrait is the first thing you see when you walk in my house. The portrait is of my great, great great great aunt. Her name was Margaret Wallace. She was the first Margaret out of five, three who are currently living. I am the fifth Margaret. My mother inherited this portrait from my great great grandmother, who when she died left this behind in her house. I had never seen it before, and when my mother put it in my house, at first I didn’t like looking at good ole Maggie’s face. But over the years, she has kinda grown on me, with her patient stare and pin straight nose.

After looking at Margaret for a little bit, I realized some symbolism lies in her portrait. She is swathed in a white, seamlessly weightless dress. The white seems to highlight her purity. The lighting is also upon her face, everything around her is dark. Her hair is also styled to be pulled up and shows off her neck. The rose also pinned on her left shoulder. The rose not only brings color but natural imagery. She is portrayed as a delicate woman. This made me think of the opposite of a delicate woman from around Margarets time, Susan B. Anthony. Susan was a quaker who was brought up in the early 1800’s with a very unique set of morals and ideals. She became aquatinted with Elizabeth Cady Stantoun. Elizabeth led her to join the women’s suffrage.  Susan went against her government for women’s right, in what Thoreau would call a “patriot, martyrs, reformers in the great sense” (Thoreau, 1859).  Susan was a reformer for the women all over the US of A She went against what her government thought was right, she used her conscience. Thoreau believes that most of the american people give up their conscience to the government and just live clueless lives. Susan broke out of that and realized that women should have just as many rights as men, especially when it comes to voting.

Thoreau, Henry David. Resistance to Civil Government. Norton Anthology b. New
York, NY: Norton & Company, 2007.

Interview Project: “It just wasn’t something you thought about”

For the interview, start from 2:12

“The death of Martin Luther King. I remember that well too. That was 1968, I think. Those were interesting times, you know, about all the civil rights movement.” 2:14-2:47

I interviewed my grandfather about many things, but the most interesting topic was when he began to talk about civil rights. When prompted about a historical event that he could remember, the first moon landing in 1969. Then he moved onto the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. This brought on a discussion about civil rights. My grandfather outlined the world of how things were separated. Blacks with blacks, whites with whites. Two separate worlds. For my grandfather, thats the way it simply was.

For background on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, it was on April 4th 1968. Dr. King was shot outside his hotel room in Memphis Tennessee. He was shot by an man called James Earl Ray. James Earl Ray was the oldest of nine children. James’ early life was marred by tragic events. His sister was killed by accidentally lighting herself on fire while playing with matches. His family was also relocated after the police began to look for Rays father on a forgery charge. In his later life, he robbed two grocery stores, while on parole, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He somehow escaped in 1967.

But on April 4th, 1968, James stood in a bathtub in his rented room in a hotel in memphis, balancing a shotgun. He shot Dr. King and then fled, which led to one of the most monumental searches from the FBI and spanned 5 countries.

My Grandfather also talked about a civil rights activist by the name of John Daniels. My grandfather graduated from VMI and went to School with Mr. Daniels. After graduating from VMI, as valedictorian, John Daniels was called to the ministry. Jonathan made his way down south, where he was arrested during a demonstration. After being released, John and a priest along with two black teenager girls, went to get sodas in Hayneville. The part time sheriff, stood on the steps with his shotgun, preventing them from entering. The sheriff pointed the gun at one of the teenagers, and Jonathan pushed her out of the way and was shot. He was killed instantly.

“They had their own world and we had our own world. It was different. I never really thought about it. It was just sort of accepted that thats the way it was. There didn’t seem to be any problem, not for me or [laughs] not for me. It didn’t seem to be a problem for them, because you just never really thought about it, it just wasn’t something you thought.” 5:16-5:47

My grandfather talked about how he wasn’t really affected by Jonathan’s death because most people thought he was just going down south to stir up trouble. It seems that back in those days, people turned a blind eye. My grandfather referred to segregation as “something you just didn’t really think about.” It is completely bewildering that white society had been so ignorant and self involved. I am glad that times have changed, even though there is a long way to go until Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream speech” is complete, America is closer than we were on that day in 1968.

Get Culture

For this project, I had a marvelously titled Redneck evening. I spent my Saturday night doing what, when told, multiple friends called Redneck fun. The history of the term Redneck, comes from how some people of the south who have a particular culture, got the back of their necks burned from working in the sun all day. This was used as a derogatory term, which absolutely doesn’t make sense. Why make fun of  what people do after they worked hard to earn their living? In truth, I had a blast and a half of fun, eating red meat and shooting cans of soda.

Me with a pellet gun, suprisngly heavy
Me with a pellet gun, which for my city girl arms, was heavy. Tip: Gun Safety is vital. Always hold a gun by the butt, or the bottom of the gun, and with one hand towards the top. Never point a gun at someone, loaded or not.

The evening started off by somehow loading all of my family, Bailey included. (Bailey is our dog who my mother has adopted as her third and most beloved daughter, photos to come) I was wearing my most american outfit, tie dye american flag T-shirt, which was traded at summer camp two years ago, and my mothers ancient jean shorts. The Van Liew crew jammed out to some classic 80’s rock as we made our way out to the lovely secluded Crozet, Virginia. When we arrived to my godmothers house, many activities were presented. A fresh apple pie was on the stove and ready to be eaten for desert, and there was homemade ice cream in the fridge, it was going to be a good night.

For the first activity, I was handed a pellet gun. 3 soda cans were set up at different distances from the porch. I learned that holding a gun is pretty much instinct, even though I had shot a rifle multiple times before. Also, during my pellet gun nirvana, I learned that I am ambidextrous and can shoot a gun using both hands, but I have horrible aim. Oh well.

By then dinner was ready, and my stars (and stripes) this was an american meal by far. Hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs, potato chips. Who could forget, the processed american cheese for the burgers. IMG_8648IMG_8653IMG_8659After dinner we moved on to one of the most popular expression of patriotism, fireworks. Fireworks are synonymous with americas day of independence, the fourth of July. The idea of fireworks is a credit to former president John Adams. He wrote in a letter to his wife on July 3rd 1776, Abigail about how the beginning of America should be celebrated immensely. Enough so that “Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” On July 4th 1777 fireworks were set off in Philadelphia, and the newspaper raved about the use of fireworks. Most americans absolutely love fireworks and their extraordinary colors and loud bangs. I actually did discover that some people, Bailey included do not like fireworks. Personally, I enjoyed it immensely. We also had sparklers, which were about a foot long and called El Grande. Listening to classic rock, watching colors burst across the sky, in a tie dye t-shirt and blue jeans, I felt proud to be living in america and experiencing its culture in one of its many forms.

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What every american should know response


Many ideologies or viewpoints would find this image interesting. If people who were followers of Martin Luther King Jr would see this as a serious accomplishment because it embodies some of his ideas from the “I have a dream speech” where he talked about little white boys and girls holding hands and being friends . On the opposing side, they would experience possibly confusion and blind hatred because that is what they oppose.

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