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Susquehannock High School AP History Students Learn From Historian

Susquehannock High School Social Studies teacher Mr. Warren hosted and moderated a session for AP US History students with guest speaker H.W. Brands.  Dr. Brands is a historian and author of more than two dozen books, two of which were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.



Dr. H.W. Brands discussed the issue of slavery in the United States before the Civil War.  His latest book, The Zealot and the Emancipator, focuses on John Brown and Abraham Lincoln.  Dr. Brands asked students to imagine that they lived in Pennsylvania during the 1850's.  He posed the moral and political dilemma to students: "If you believe that slavery is wrong, what are you going to do about it?"  This thought experiment transitioned into Brands sharing his perspective on John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, two men who shared the belief that slavery was evil but differed dramatically on how to confront it.  While the abolitionist Brown was willing to use violence to end slavery, President Lincoln attacked the institution through political methods.  


Students had opportunities to ask Dr. Brands questions about slavery, the Civil War, and other historical topics and figures.  One student asked, "What makes an effective leader?" Brands responded that one of the most important leadership qualities is the ability to persuade others to support your cause or policy.


“Dr. Brands was fascinating because he answered almost every question we asked with such certainty and confidence.  As the chair for history at the University of Texas in Austin, he showed that even someone who is well known around the US for his writing still has the time and willingness to meet with high school students," said sophomore Ian Davis.


Mr. Warren said, "H.W. Brands is a masterful storyteller who engages students young and old.  During this virtual event, he helped my students to draw lessons from a perilous decade in American history and make connections to the present.  Based on positive feedback from students, my goal is to expand this event into a speaker series for AP US History students."


"This opportunity is a great example of the efforts of Susquehannock High School to make meaningful connections between the curriculum and the real world and to prepare our learners for life after high school," said Assistant Principal James Sterner.