Grading papers with Mister B. :

Grading papers with Mister B. : “only the brave are really allowed to surf on the Internet”

Cette semaine, j’ai fini de corriger les expressions écrites sur l’usage des nouvelles technologies de mes chers secondes.

Grosso modo, ils ont bien joué le jeu et ont parlé de l’importance de la vie privée, des dangers de trop dévoiler sa vie sur les réseaux sociaux à titre personnel (harcèlement, moqueries) et professionnel (recruteurs qui scrutent vos profils), de l’importance des écrans dans nos vies…

Mon tas de copie descend gentiment lorsque tout à coup, une petite perle. Comme les copies ne sont pas anonymes, il est très facile de savoir à quoi s’attendre avec certain(e)s élèves et, lorsque je me saisis de la feuille, je me délecte déjà de ce que je vais bien pouvoir y lire.

Et ce serait un euphémisme de vous dire que je n’ai pas été déçu. Je vous livre la fin de sa lettre sur l’importance des écrans dans nos vies:

Grading papers with Mister B. :

Mon élève est donc plutôt gamer et semble avoir une bonne connaissance de ce qu’est Internet (ce qui, soit dit en passant, n’est pas vraiment le cas de tous les élèves, du moins en seconde).

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Hell on Wheels saison 5 photo

Hell on Wheels saison 5

Voici la cinquième et dernière saison de Hell on Wheels sur AMC.

Le chemin de fer n’est toujours pas achevé et Cullen Bohannon se trouve toujours avec la Central Pacific Railroad.

Il est toujours déterminé à finir sa tâche, rallier la Californie à l’Utah, et espère toujours retrouver sa famille. Enfin, s’il arrive à ne pas se faire tuer ou à ne pas croiser les mauvaises personnes sur son chemin !

Cette dernière saison de quatorze épisodes sera diffusée en deux parties : sept épisodes durant l’été 2015, puis sept autres épisodes en 2016.

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Hell on Wheels saison 4

Voici la quatrième saison de la série Hell on Wheels sur AMC.

Cette saison se centre encore et toujours sur l’expansion vers l’Ouest de l’Union Pacific Railroad.

Des conflits entre le gouvernement et des entreprises, des ranchers, des colons et la ligne de chemin de fer éclatent.

Tous ces intérêts différents entrent en compétition les uns avec les autres pour le contrôle de la ville de Cheyenne, dans le Wyoming, l’un des noeuds les plus importants de la ligne de chemin de fer en 1867.

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Hell on Wheels saison 3

Hell on Wheels est de retour pour une troisième saison sur AMC.

Cullen Bohannon revient au centre du show et abandonne son désir de vengeance pour sa famille pour continuer l’expansion vers l’ouest de l’Union Pacific Railroad, tout en combattant Thomas “Doc” Durant pour le contrôle.

La tagline de cette saison est : “Outlaw In Charge”.

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Hell on Wheels saison 2

Voici la seconde saison d’Hell on Wheels, diffusée sur AMC.

Cullen Bohannon continue sa quête à la recherche de ceux qui sont responsables de la mort de sa femme et de son fils, tout comme continue l’expansion vers l’ouest de l’Union Pacific Railroad, dirigée par Thomas “Doc” Durant.

Pendant ce temps, Durant envoie Elam s’occuper d’une bande qui vole la paie des employés.

La tagline de cette saison est : “still fighting … still searching … still raising hell”. Dix épisodes sont prévus pour cette saison.

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Hell on Wheels saison 1

Nous avions vu le trailer il y a quelques mois, voici le début d’Hell on Wheels sur AMC.

Dans cette série-western, Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount), ancien propriétaire d’esclaves et soldat confédéré, est déterminé à venger le viol et meurtre de sa femme en traquant et tuant les soldats de l’Union responsables de cette infamie.

Il voyage vers l’ouest et demande à travailler à la construction du premier chemin de fer transcontinental américain.

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Social context of America in the early 19th century photo

Social context of America in the early 19th century


In the late 18th century, the American constitution accepted the existence of slavery. It was considered as an institution: there have always been slaves since the 18th century.

They chose black slaves instead of Indians because of the trial of Valladolid, where people wondered if the Native was a man or simply an animal. It turned to be a theological problem: if the Native did not have a soul then he was an animal.

In the end, they declared that Natives had a soul and this “discovery” caused an economic shock: the Natives could not be employed anymore in plantations and ships started bringing in African slaves.


Towards the end of the 18th century, people thought slavery would naturally die out. They were very naive.

Unfortunately, Whitney invented the Cotton Gin and put an end to those naive considerations.

Rather than declining, the number of slaves increased in the South: in 1820, there were 1 500 000 slaves in America. They were 4 000 000 in 1860.

Slavery was basically an economic problem for 75% of the cotton crops were exported, representing 60% of America”s foreign earnings. Slavery was hence very profitable to the South and – by way of consequence – to the whole continent.

Everybody sees the discrepancy between that democratic system and the harsh realities of slavery, which was a potentially explosive issue. Several stages in the explosion:

  • 1800: the slave Gabriel Prosser led an insurrection with 1 000 slaves in Virginia. He was executed, as well as 35 other people.
  • 1822: the authorities discovered plans for slave insurrection in South Carolina with slave Vesey trying to launch a slave insurrection.
  • 1819-1822: the “black years” following the Missouri Compromise, a 2-year struggle between North and South. After this, there will be free states and slavery states.

After 1820, the USA is divided between free states and pro-slavery states. The balance is impossible. In Louisiana, slavery is allowed in the South but prohibited in the North: the controversy gets tougher and tougher and violence slowly but surely rises.

That situation turned about sectionalism (from Latin sectus: cut) and there were more and more slaves’ insurrections.

David Walker, a free black, published Appeal to the Coloured Citizens, urging slaves to rebel/revolt in 1830. His motto was “Kill or be killed !”.

1831 knew an insurrection led by Nat Turner in Virginia. Sixty whites were killed.

David Walker

He was the son of a free slave and moved to Boston in 1829 to sell old clothes. He published a pamphlet and, over the night, his book was a success.

It infuriated Southern landowners and Georgia offered a reward of $10 000 for anyone who would deliver Walker alive and $1 000 to kill him. By the summer of 1830, Walker was dead.

His point was mainly historical: there was no slavery in history. All the examples he took belonged to his biblical culture, his background being essentially religious (religion was then a shelter for slaves).

Years of Growth photo

Years of Growth

Moving west

In 1783, more and more settlers had set in the new territories between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.

Settlers journeyed across the mountains to create new settlements out of the wilderness.

The problem was that Indians already lived there: settlers were perceived as thieves and this led to a struggle for land in the late 18th century.

The new Government tried to keep peace with the Natives by treaties but they were never respected, for obvious reasons.

President James Monroe wrote that the Natives’ hunting way of life “required a greater extent of territory that is compatible with the progress of a civilized life and must yield to it. If the Indian tribes do not abandon that state and become civilized, they will decline and become extinct”.

Therefore, the only way to survive for Natives is to be moved further West in “Indian territories”. In 1830, the American Government passed a law to put this policy in practice, the Indian Removal Act.

One of the most tragic examples is that of the Cherokees, who were the first to suffer from this policy. The Cherokees had evolved into a civilized community and had followed the White rules: they had their own newspapers and their own constitution, modeled on the American one. But none of this saved them.

In the 1830’s, Congress decided their land belonged to Georgia and that it had to be sold to White settlers. The Cherokees were forced to march hundreds of miles to reach Oklahoma. With the terrible winter of 1830, their journey turned out to a nightmare that lasted 5 months. A quarter of the Cherokee nation perished: it was called the “Trail of Tears“.

The Federal Government started to organize the land for settlement: land should be surveyed and divided into square units called “townships” (about 6 x 6 miles). It marked the beginning of the gigantic expansion.

The War of 1812

In June 1812, Congress declared war to Britain. American ships won a number of battles at sea but the British Navy gained complete control and blockaded American harbors.

The Americans also tried to invade Canada (territory ruled by the British) but they failed. British forces captured and burnt the city of Washington, capital of the USA: symbolic defeat.

In December 1814, the peace was signed in Europe but two weeks later, British forces attacked New Orleans because they did not know peace was signed.

That was a lesson for the Americans, especially for the industry: Americans began to make their goods on their own. America was to become a manufacturing industry.

Even Jefferson, who was against manufactory, turned about when he realized how much important it was. War became an economic development and there was a need to “place the manufacturer at the side of the agriculturer”.

“Old Hickory” : Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was a hero of the Frontier and was nicknamed “Old Hickory”. He differed from the former Presidents, who were all rich and coming from the Atlantic settlements.

Indeed, he was from a poor family from the West Coast who fought for the Frontier and who became a rich land-owner.

Jackson was elected in 1828 and he is one of the founders of the Democratic Party: the Government should be organized to benefit the “Great Body” of the USA.

He was mainly elected (and re-elected in 1832) by planters, farmers, mechanics, and laborers because the keyword of his policy was “cheap”:

  • money: low rates of interests
  • land: forcing Indians West
  • manufacturing goods: reducing import duties

Jackson was responsible for the slow annihilation of the Natives. His attitude is controversial today: some historians think he was concerned with his own interest (a populist).

Those who stand for him, on the contrary, highlight the fact that Jacksonian Democracy was an important landmark in American history.