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Historical Happenings in December 2022


“Sleigh” the last few weeks of school with these free resources, lesson plan ideas, and historical tidbits about events from this month in history. Have a happy Holiday Break, and we’ll see you in the New Year!


History at a Glance:
  • December 5, 1955 - December 20, 1956: Montgomery Bus Boycott

  • December 15, 1791: Bill of Rights Ratified

  • December 16, 1773: The Boston Tea Party

  • December 23, 1913: The Federal Reserve System Established

December 5, 1955 - December 20, 1956: Montgomery Bus Boycott

An act of protest sparked a year-long bus boycott when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. Her refusal was considered illegal in Montgomery, Alabama, where a law stated that African Americans were mandated to sit in the back of a bus and give their seats to white passengers if the front half of the bus was full.[1] Parks was arrested, fined, and jailed. Her arrest was the catalyst for a boycott of Montgomery buses as an act of protest against segregation on public transportation.


The Montgomery Bus Boycott began on December 5, 1955, with 40,000 African Americans participating.[2] That same day, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was founded with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the president. MIA organized carpools and meetings to sustain the boycott over the next year.


After 381 days, the Montgomery Bus Boycott came to a successful end on December 20, 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation on public transportation unconstitutional. Montgomery integrated its buses the following day, signaling a massive victory in the Civil Rights Movement!


Teaching Resources:

  • “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words” by Library of Congress: This online exhibit by the Library of Congress features photos and documents from milestone moments in Parks’s life, including her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and her global activism.

  • “Examining Where Rosa Parks Sat” by DocsTeach: Students will observe this diagram of the bus that Rosa Parks rode on December 1, 1955. Her name is blacked out on the diagram, so it’s up to students to use context clues and their knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement to evaluate the document and its significance.

December 15, 1791: Bill of Rights Ratified

Our freedoms of religion, free speech, press, assembly, and petition are all thanks to the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and they were established to guarantee that the abovementioned rights would be upheld and not infringed on by the government. The passage of the Bill of Rights was also in response to criticism that the U.S. Constitution did not outline the federal government’s limitations on power.


Anti-Federalists believed the Constitution needed a bill of rights to protect citizens’ rights.[3] On the other hand, Federalists argued that a bill of rights was unnecessary because people’s rights were not being handed over to the federal government.[4] Many states sided with the Anti-Federalists, ratifying the Constitution with the requirement that amendments be made.[5]


James Madison began drafting these amendments and later brought them before the First Congress in 1789. Ten of his proposed amendments were ratified by the states, and the last state to pass the amendments was Virginia, which confirmed the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791.


Teaching Resources:

  • “Bill of Rights Overview” by National Constitution Center: Through videos, worksheets, and discussion questions, students can dig deeper into the Bill of Rights’ significance and impact on American citizens’ freedoms.

  • “The Bill of Rights and Free Speech” by the Bill of Rights Institute: Free speech is one of the fundamental rights of American citizens, but not all speech is protected. Through these lesson plans and activities, students will learn the difference between protected and unprotected speech and how free speech pertains to them within their schools.

December 16, 1773 – The Boston Tea Party

On the night of December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty climbed aboard three docked merchant ships carrying the British East India Company’s tea and dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor.[6] This act of protest was in response to the heavy taxation of tea and other imported goods under the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767[7] and the British East India Company's monopoly on tea under the Tea Act of 1773.[8]


Under the Townshend Revenue Act, the tax on the tea imported into Boston was due twenty days after arrival, making the deadline December 17. If the taxes weren’t paid on time, the ships and the tea onboard would be taken by the government. Rather than pay the tax, the Sons of Liberty conspired to destroy the tea the night before the tax was due.[9] Talk about a "quali-tea" protest!


Teaching Resources:

  • “Boston Tea Party Primary Sources” by Digital Public Library of America: Examine political cartoons, letters, newspaper articles, and maps about the Boston Tea Party. These primary sources also include discussion questions and activities to help your students understand the Boston Tea Party's role in setting the stage for the American Revolution.

  • Have a Tea Party: Both black and green teas were thrown into the Boston Harbor, and these varieties are still available today.[10] Students can sample the teas that made history while learning about their origins.

    • Bohea (boo-hee), a black tea, was one of the most popular teas in Colonial America, so much so that it became synonymous with the word “tea.” Two-hundred-forty chests of it were thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party.

    • Congou, another black tea, comprised 70 percent of the British East India Company’s tea imports. Fifteen cases of it were onboard the ships.

    • Souchong, also a black tea, originates in the Wuyi Mountains of the Fujian Province of China. Ten cases of Souchong were sunk into the bottom of the Boston Harbor.

    • Hyson, a green tea, was George Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s favorite tea. There were 15 cases tossed into the depths of the Boston Harbor.

    • Singlo, another variety of green tea, was making its debut in the colonies before 60 cases met their watery end.


December 23, 1913: The Federal Reserve System Established

Money may make the world “go ‘round,” but the Federal Reserve System ensures there's a stable financial system to keep the money going ‘round! “The Fed” serves as the United States' central banking system, and it was established with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913. The Federal Reserve’s responsibilities include:

  1. Managing the county’s financial policy

  2. Maintaining the strength of the nation’s economic system

  3. Overseeing financial institutions for their “safety and soundness”[11]

  4. Facilitating “payment and settlement system safety and efficiency”[12]

  5. Furthering the protection of consumers’ rights and the economic development of communities

The Federal Reserve System is structured into three “entities”: the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve Banks (Reserve Banks), and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Congress supervises the Federal Reserve System and these three entities. The Board of Governors reports to Congress and oversees the Reserve Banks. There are 12 Reserve Banks, one for each district of the U.S. The FOMC establishes the national monetary policy and open market operations.[13]


Teaching Resources:

  • “Federal Reserve Basics – Human Bingo” by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: In this activity, students will ask one another a list of questions about the Federal Reserve System and initial next to the question if they know the answer. The first five students who fill their game board with 12 different initials and the correct answers win!

  • “Building Block Barter Lesson for Third to Fifth Graders” by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: This hands-on lesson teaches students the value of money, economic concepts and vocabulary, and how bartering works through a building block activity. Students will barter for building blocks in the first round to create a tower. Afterward, ask students if they had trouble obtaining the needed blocks and if money would make it easier. Then explain that they will use fake money in the second round to “buy” the materials they need.

For more historical tidbits, lesson plan ideas, and free activities, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, check out our other blogs for even more resources!

 

Sources: [1] Today in History - December 1: Rosa Parks Arrested.” Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/december-01/. Accessed 1 December 2022. [2] “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” HISTORY, 3 Februaruy 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott. Accessed 1 December 2022. [3] “Bill of Rights (1791).” Bill of Rights Institute, https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/bill-of-rights. Accessed 5 December 2022. [4] “The Constitution.” The White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/our-government/the-constitution/#:~:text=Delaware%20was%20the%20first%20State,begin%20operating%20under%20the%20Constitution. Accessed 5 December 2022. [5] “Bill of Rights Overview.” Constitutional Center, https://constitutioncenter.org/education/classroom-resources-by-topic/bill-of-rights-overview#:~:text=The%20Bill%20of%20Rights%20is,the%20people%20and%20the%20states. Accessed 5 December 2022. [6] “The Boston Tea Party.” Digital Public Library of America, https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/the-boston-tea-party#tabs. Accessed 5 December 2022. [7] “Townsend Acts.” HISTORY, 15 January 2020, https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/townshend-acts. Accessed 5 December 2022. [8] “Tea Act.” HISTORY, 25 September 2019, https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/tea-act#:~:text=In%20an%20effort%20to%20save,sell%20tea%20in%20the%20colonies. Accessed 5 December 2022. [9] “Boston Tea Party.” Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/boston-tea-party-history. Accessed 5 December 2022. [10] “Types of Teas Destroyed at The Boston Tea Party.” https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/tea-blog/types-of-teas-destroyed#:~:text=Benjamin%20Woods%20Labaree's%20The%20Boston,Hyson%20(both%20green%20teas). Accessed 5 December 2022. [11] “What is the purpose of the Federal Reserve System?” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 3 November 2016, https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/about_12594.htm#:~:text=The%20Federal%20Reserve%20was%20created,fall%20into%20four%20general%20areas. Accessed 6 December 2022. [12] “Structure of the Federal Reserve System: About the Federal Reserve System.” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 24 August 2022, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/structure-federal-reserve-system.htm. Accessed 6 December 2022. [13] “Structure of the Federal Reserve System: Federal Open Market Committee.” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 28 October 2016, https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/structure-federal-open-market-committee.htm. Accessed 6 December 2022.

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