All posts by Taryn.Gilligan

Optional Family Post


Both my mother’s side of the family, and my father’s side of the family have very deep roots here in the United States. We are most notoriously known for William Kelsey who was closely associated with Reverend Thomas Hooker. Kelsey and Hooker came to  America with a group of first settlers and created “New Towne” (Cambridge) in 1632, and then later was part of original group to settle Hartford, Connecticut (where my family is from). We are also known for Governor Jonathan Law, Governor of Connecticut (in office 1741-50). Needless to say, my mother’s side of the family were stanch Northern Republicans until (as my Grandmother proudly says), President Kennedy.

As for my father’s side of the family, most of them came from Donegal Ireland and immigrated over the past several hundred years. However, on my Dad’s Mom’s side of the family were the Hays’. Most famously known for my Great Great Great Grandfather Alexander Hays born in Pennsylvania. As my grandmother likes to brag, he was a close friend to Ulysses S. Grant and became a second lieutenant in the 8th U.S Infantry and did a lot of brave things during the Civil War and lots of other wars- (thanks Wikipedia). After the Civil War, most of my Dad’s side of the family became architects and engineers and helped create the infrastructure that is Pittsburg, today.

According to my Mom’s side of the family, they believe that it would be more than likely that they would have voted Republican for all major Presidential elections before and after the turn of the century. As for my Dad’s side of the family, it is not certain but they believe that chances are that they would have voted Democrat because of their occupations, and the fact that a lot of them were immigrants from Ireland.

FDR’s 1936 Speech


After listening to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, what I found to be most compelling was his directness towards those who opposed him and his policies. In today’s politics, there is also direct opposition, but in most cases the Presidential candidate will remain mum about such negative remarks, or perhaps defend them in a less direct way- such as in a political ad. I did find FDR’s speech very convincing. He spoke with such passion and enthusiasm. When I picture Franklin D. Roosevelt, I think of his Fire Side Chats. Though his “chats” were very effective and enabled thousands of American’s to become more engaged in what was happening in America politically, they were greatly different than the FDR who was giving the 1936 speech.



In his speech, he tackles monopolies and big banks, and forces American citizens to stop to see how they could be considered the “enemy”. He claimed that a lot of the governmental and economic problems stemmed from big business bullying the government and having too much involvement in affairs. FDR’s bold claims can be considered extremely controversial, and some would argue that he was in a great position to be saying these things. He was still in office and running again, but at the same time his New Deal was not as successful in helping the economy as it was anticipated to.

All in all, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech was lively, passionate and made a large impact on the American people. It showed a side of FDR that most people do not think of and proves that he can stand up for himself and not just be a quiet, policy making President. But instead, he was a President who knew how to fight, and asked the American people to believe in him and to give him another chance to finish what he had started.

The Redistribution of Wealth And The Notion Of Chance


In “What Social Classes Owe Each Other”, Sumner introduces the familiar dialogue surrounding redistribution of wealth and class inequality during the early days of the nineteen hundreds.  William Graham Sumner was not a man of the Monopoly, but instead a man of the academic. He taught Sociology at Yale and believed in Social Darwinism and how it was prevalent in American society. Sumner goes on to explain that the American people try to claim that there was no such thing as social “classes”, when indeed he argues there is no way around the distinction of class in society.

Unlike many people like Andrew Carnegie, who commented on the ideas of social and economic inequality and the importance of the “trickle down affect” from the wealthy to the lower class; Sumner believed that this ideal served as an injustice to America’s economy as a whole. Sumner was not keen on the idea of the super rich handing out money to the poor, because of the potential implications it could serve. Engaging with the ideas of Social Darwinism, to Sumner it was more important to see every citizen do their best, and to strive to work as hard as they could with what they had . To Sumner, the redistribution of wealth would not benefit the economy, but rather enhances class distinctions and perpetuates this idea of the haves and have nots within the class system.

Both Carnegie and Sumner believe strongly in the idea that every man should have the right to pursue their happiness however, Sumner’s thoughts are unique in the way that he was so harshly opposed to the American’s wealthy elites frivolously handing money to the poor, and rather finding ways to motivate the lower classes to want to strive to achieve the successes of the upper classes.

Orson Welles- “The War of The Worlds, 1938″

After reading extensively about this radio broadcast in other American Literature course, as well as in other history courses I felt compelled to finally listen to it myself to see what the fuss was all about. What radio broadcast I’m talking about is, Orson Welles 1938 production of H G Wells 1898 novel “The War of the Worlds”. The broadcast was aired as a Halloween special for the Mercury Theater on the Air.  Orson Welles, as well as Frank Readick, Kenny Delmar, and Ray Collins all starred on the Halloween broadcast- which was particularly interesting because I was always given the impression that it was just Welles narrating the novel. However, the entire 58-62 minutes consisted of these “journalists” interrupting one another giving their interpretations as to what was happening “where they were” at the time of the attack. I can now understand why there was such confusion and even fear for listeners who may have tuned in mid broadcast. I also read that the Mercury Theater on the Air was known for playing music, so it would be common for listens to just tune in at any times in hopes of hearing some music. Instead they would have been alarmed to hear this schizophrenic “news broadcasting” of aliens attacking Earth.

war-of-the-worlds-by-orson-wellesListening to it myself, I was obviously not used to the crackling of the radio, which made me have to listen closer to hear what the men were saying during the broadcast. I was also impressed as to how convincing they seemed, given that as listeners you could only hear what was happening, but all the interruptions and acting gave a sense of realism. What added to this realism was the fact that unlike other broadcasts, there were no commercials. After being announced in the very beginning, the show ran right through the hour long program. This made it seem like the breaking news of today, where they will cut commercials or give less commercials when something important is happening.  Though I know this was just a reading from H G Wells’ book, I found it entirely understandable for the confusion that people may have felt while tuning in. Other than the beginning and the end of the broadcast, it would have been difficult to tell, unless you were familiar with the book “The War of the Worlds” to know what was going on.


Bourne’s Trans-National America & Cosmopolitan Ideals

In reading Randolph Bourne’s “Trans-National America” I couldn’t help but think about the controversial Post-Colonial Literary Theory, Cosmopolitanism. Bourne explains that America does not have a real distinct culture because of all of the immigration. He goes on to argue that assimilating to “American culture” should not be necessary. Instead, new American’s should be allowed to participate in their original home country’s culture and Americanism and have dual citizenship. Bourne uses the term “intellectual internationalism” in order to describe this meshing of national and international consciousness.

Cosmopolitan Theorist Said describes in his work “Secular Criticism” a similar idea  , “On the one hand, the individual mind registers and is very much aware of the collective whole, context, or situation in which it finds itself. On the other hand, precisely because of this awareness-a wordly self-situating, a sensitive response to the dominant culture- that the individual consciousness is not naturally and easily a mere child of the culture, but a historical and social actor in it. And because of that perspective, which introduces circumstance and distinction where there had only been conformity and belonging, there is distance, or what we might also call criticism”. In using Said’s definition we can begin to understand this type of ideal America that Bourne is describing.

I agree with Joe and Patrick who explain that what makes America what it is, is the blending of the Anglo-Saxon elitism and the immigrant minority cultures. Patrick quotes Bourne in his post, “the Anglo-Saxon element is guilty of just what every dominant race is guilty of in every European country: the imposition of its own culture upon the minority peoples”. This is very true for most post Imperialist countries, but I think the United States is unique in this way- and is more “Cosmopolitan” than most (especially today). Yes of course, minorities were pressured to conform to typical “white protestant” culture, but other than the Manifest Destiny and Christian ideals, much of what made America what it was and what it is now, is the combination of cultures from around the world.


Roosevelt’s New Nationalism: The Self & The Nation

In Roosevelt’s New Nationalism, it’s easy to hone in on his political stances and focus on his ideas for progression in the United States. Looking deeper at his rhetoric however, one can see that there is this connection that he is trying to convey between man and the nation. The individual and their country. Roosevelt says many times throughout the essay that he believes that we must be strong individuals in order to have a strong society. “…O my fellow citizens, each one of you carries on your shoulders not only the burden of doing well for the sake of your own country, but the burden of doing well and of seeing that this nation does well for the sake of man kind” (1). This particular quote Roosevelt highlights not only national responsibility, but a global consciousness which one could associate the relevance this would have a few years later for World War One .

To further elaborate on this notion of nationalistic responsibility through individual betterment, Roosevelt remarks about the veterans who fought in the Civil War, “…not only did you render life worth living for our generation, but you justified the wisdom of Washington and Washington’s colleagues” (1). But Roosevelt continues on with this imagery of individual sacrifice for the whole of the nation in times of war. Like mentioned previously he elaborates explicitly about the Civil War and those veterans who fought, but Roosevelt also extends this idea into government and government power, “No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life. I care for the great deeds of the past chiefly as spurs to drive us onward in the present” (1-2).

All of Roosevelt’s rhetoric is deeply imbedded in military jargon, with words like “heroic struggle”, triumph” etc as well as touching upon important American political figures like Washington and Lincoln in order to perpetuate this sense of urgency, and passion within his claims.  His militant diction continues throughout the speech as he touches upon different social issues such as trusts, capital gains, progressive ideals, etc. Roosevelt’s inclusion of the nation and man are unique and relevant for the progressive movement with their ideals of social betterment and individual participation ,and sacrifice for the nation.