Help your students explore works of art as primary documents.
Power in the United States—and, some might say, most countries—is a matter of politics. Sometimes these politics are rooted in grassroots efforts, and sometimes they are propelled by the power of mass media. Throughout the history of the United States, politics and power have been intertwined and inseparable.
Kaphar’s painting uses defacement as a way of critiquing Andrew Jackson and his role in the Trail of Tears. It makes us consider the role of presidential power, both past and present.
APUSH: KC-4.3.I.B, KC-9.2.II.C
Pippin fought bravely in World War I, but he and other African American soldiers did not receive a hero's welcome when they returned to the United States. Incorporating this history into his 1943 painting, Pippin places racism and segregation among the forces aligned against Allied victory in World War II.
APUSH: KC-7.2.II.C, KC-7.3.III.C.i
John Brown was a radical abolitionist who believed in using violence to destroy the violent institution of slavery. Thomas Hovenden's painting of a popular story about Brown's last moments, created 25 years after Brown's execution, promoted the righteousness of his cause at a time when state governments were stripping away the political gains made by African Americans during Reconstruction.
APUSH: KC-5.2.I.B, KC-5.3.II.C