History Shorts: MLK's Final Cause

History Shorts: MLK's Final Cause

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In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. expanded his cause beyond Civil Rights, and advocated to lift all Americans out of poverty.

Martin Luther King Jr. PUZZLE STATIONS : Civil Rights, Black History or MLK Day

The Martin Luther King Jr. Puzzle Stations will allow students to move around the classroom! This resource has students decode facts about Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” speech, Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott and more. Perfect activity for Black History Month! The MLK Puzzle Stations have students decode history at each station. The codes include ciphers, Morse code, cryptograms and a final 4 digit code based on the decoders/clues.

Each clue and puzzle is different. The puzzles require students to think differently to decipher or decode them. Some puzzles are easier than others. Some puzzles require critical thinking to determine what a letter/symbol stands for. Each puzzle will reveal facts about MLK. The use of puzzles will keep your students engaged while trying to find the final code. Students can report the final code to you. If you wanted to, you could purchase a 4 digit lock that you program, but it is not necessary at all! No props needed!! There are no fancy shapes to cut out, and no silly envelopes to stuff! This is a NO PREP, PRINT & GO activity!

Students practice hands-on, practical problem solving skills all while learning about MLK. Your students will be inspired to think outside the box! The best age range for this resource is 8+. Please look at the preview to determine if this resource works for your age group. Younger students may need some help with some of the more difficult puzzles.

You can use the pre-labeled puzzles or you can challenge older kids to choose/find the decoder that works for each of the clues. A set of labeled and non-labeled decoders are included for differentiation. A “How to Decode” puzzles is also included.

In addition to learning or reinforcing the subject matter, my puzzles encourage teamwork and critical thinking.

This resource includes fun, colorful signs to take class pictures with at the end. Signs include “Puzzle Master”, “She did all the work”, “Genius”, “We did it” and more! Hang the pictures in your room, send them in a parent newsletter or share them on social media.

An answer key and easy to follow teacher directions are provided.

New Feature: I have included a 6 question formative to complete as proof of understanding. Each “clue” also has one question to answer to ensure comprehension for a total of 10 questions. Many times students rush to solve the puzzles without reading or comprehending what they read. The questions need to be answered correctly before they can finish!

History Shorts: MLK's Final Cause - HISTORY

In 1968, more than 1,300 Black sanitation workers began to strike in Memphis, Tennessee, demanding better working conditions and fair wages. Clara Jean Ester, then a 19-year-old college junior, joined the protests in solidarity.

Photo: A young Clara Jean Ester, who graduated from Memphis State College, now known as the University of Memphis, in 1969. Courtesy of Clara Jean Ester.

When Clara wasn’t in school, every spare moment she had was spent on the picket lines or at the strike headquarters, Clayborn Temple. And later that year, Clara witnessed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his final speech in Memphis. The next day, she was at the Lorraine Motel when Dr. King was assassinated.

Clara, now 72, sat down for StoryCorps in Mobile, Alabama, to talk about bearing witness to Dr. King’s final days.

Top Photo: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left to right, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File).

Originally aired January 15, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.


Produced By

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”The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan” by Chris Zabriskie from the album Undercover Vampire Policeman, 2012

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CJE: The church was packed and finally Dr. King arrives and he said, “When I entered into the city of Memphis, I was told about all of these threats… But none of that matters anymore cause I’ve been to the mountaintop.”

And he proceeds in saying, “If I don’t get there with you, I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

I remember that night was a tornado watch and in the background of that speech you could hear the thunder and the lightning crashing. It was a powerful moment because he did his own eulogy.

The next day, we pull up to the hotel, get out the car, and walking across the parking lot, I’m looking up at Dr. King leaning on the balcony—chatting with everybody down below.

All of a sudden what sounded like a truck backfiring goes off and I can hear people saying, “Get down, get down!”

But I’m looking still at Dr. King being thrown back and I take off and I run up the steps. And when I get up to where he’s laying, I notice this pool of blood around his head.

His eyes were open…and he still had a smile on his face. Kneeling over his body, all I could hear was, “I may not get there with you.” I may not get there with you from the night before.

And when the word came that Dr. King was dead, hate kind of took over. Hate that white America don’t want to see us with freedom. So you take out our leader, our king…

I think every time I want to believe that Dr. King’s life changed everything… I’ve witnessed George Floyds and so many others that have lost their lives. But you think that that’s gonna destroy his dream?

Ya’ll are wrong. I think children years and years to come will continue to have his dream.


Every historical event occurred because of a series of events that happened beforehand. Things that directly lead to another event are called ‘Causes’. Some causes occurred immediately before the event began, while others existed for several years before they caused the event.

Additional Notes:

Just because something occurred before the event does not mean it caused it. A cause is something that is directly related to the event. Another way of thinking about it is to say that the later event would not have occurred if the earlier one had not happened.

Not all causes that lead to a particular historical event are as equally influential as each other. Some causes are more significant than others.

Assessing Causes

What earlier events were central to the occurrence of the event under examination?

Martin Luther King Day Reading Comprehension

Martin Luther King Jr. - His Final Day

At 6:00 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. One minute later he was shot. He was rushed to hospital and the doctors tried emergency surgery. The wound was too serious and Martin Luther King, Jr. was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. He was 39 years old.

Two months later, on June 10th, James Earl Ray was arrested and charged with murder. In March 1969, Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee state penitentiary.

Martin Luther King arrived in Memphis the day before he was assassinated. His flight was delayed because of a bomb threat. That evening, King delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech to a small crowd that had braved the bad weather to hear him speak.

In the speech, King spoke about civil rights, nonviolent social action, and his own life and death. He discussed the earlier bomb threat, the time he had been stabbed, and concluded the speech with the words above that many feel "foreshadowed" his death the next day.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr. January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King advanced civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the son of early civil rights activist Martin Luther King Sr.

King participated in and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. [1] King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As president of the SCLC, he led the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The SCLC put into practice the tactics of nonviolent protest with some success by strategically choosing the methods and places in which protests were carried out. There were several dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities, who sometimes turned violent. [2] FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover considered King a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963, forward. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital affairs and reported on them to government officials, and, in 1964, mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide. [3]

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in cities and states throughout the United States beginning in 1971 the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and the most populous county in Washington State was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

Significance Of Montgomery Bus Boycott

The significance of Montgomery Bus Boycott is highlighted as it altered the way the protests were done during the Civil Rights Movement. It was crucial non-violent event that helped furthering the cause of the movement and in addition, it also helped other civil rights groups to evolve.

The boycott was one of the first victories for the Civil Rights Movement, and it showed that not just the African Americans living in Montgomery could travel in public transport as equals, but also the African Americans in other parts of the country. In addition, with ruling of the US Supreme Court that segregation in Montgomery buses was unlawful, it showed that one of the statutes in the Jim Crow law was also unlawful. Hence, people began thinking whether all the laws under the main Jim Crow law were unlawful.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott led to changes in the constitution with the Civil Rights Act of 1957 as well as 1964. Both these acts allowed all African Americans the right to cast their ballot and also prevented discrimination against African Americans and women. These 2 acts paved for a new era of equality within the US. All the states in the US had to follow these acts. The verdict of the US Supreme Court also helped in reinforcing other cases and this proved a great help in furthering the cause of the Civil Rights Movement.

The boycott also brought Rev Martin Luther King, Jr. into national limelight and showed people what peaceful methods of protest could achieve, while undermining the violent approach adopted by Malcolm X.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement in the US. The refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat in the bus and her subsequent arrest led to a cascade of events that finally ended segregation in Montgomery, Alabama. More..


Sweden has a large number of petroglyphs (hällristningar [2] in Swedish), with the highest concentration in the province of Bohuslän and the northern part of the county of Kalmar, also called "Tjust". [3] The earliest images can be found in the province of Jämtland, dating from 5000 BC. [4] They depict wild animals such as elk, reindeer, bears and seals. [ citation needed ] 2300–500 BC was the most intensive carving period [ citation needed ] , with carvings of agriculture, warfare, ships, domesticated animals, etc. [ citation needed ] Petroglyphs with themes have also been found in Bohuslän, dating from 800 to 500 BC. [ citation needed ]

For centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Until 1060, the kings of Uppsala ruled most of modern Sweden except for the southern and western coastal regions, which remained under Danish rule until the 17th century. After a century of civil wars, a new royal family emerged, which strengthened the power of the crown at the expense of the nobility, while giving the nobles privileges such as exemption from taxation in exchange for military service. Sweden never had a fully developed feudal system, and its peasants were never reduced to serfdom. The Vikings from Sweden partly took part in the raids of the Western and Southern regions of Europe, but mainly traveled east to Russia, Constantinople and the Muslim world (Serkland). [5] The large Russian mainland and its many navigable rivers offered good prospects for merchandise and plundering. During the 9th century, extensive Scandinavian settlements began on the east side of the Baltic Sea.

The conversion from Norse paganism to Christianity was a complex, gradual, and at times violent (see Temple at Uppsala) process. The main early source of religious influence was England, due to interactions between Scandinavians and Saxons in the Danelaw, and with Irish missionary monks. German influence was less obvious in the beginning, despite an early missionary attempt by Ansgar, but gradually emerged as the dominant religious force in the area, especially after the Norman conquest of England. Despite the close relations between Swedish and Russian aristocracy (see also Rus'), there is no direct evidence of Orthodox influence. Risbyle Runestones is one Runestone with an Orthodox cross proving some Orthodox influence in Sweden and showing some connection with the elite. It is today the symbol of Täby Municipality.

Around the year 1000, Olof Skötkonung became the first known king to rule both Svealand and Götaland. Historical details about early medieval kings are obscure, and even the dates of their reigning periods remain unclear. In the 12th century, Sweden was still undergoing dynastic struggles between the Erik and Sverker clans. Svealand and the Swedes were usually more supportive of the Erik dynasty and Götaland and Geats more supportive of the Sverker dynasty, which wanted friendlier relations with Denmark. This further divided the country between parties because the ruler was not clear. The country elected their king from each district by selecting 12 people [6] from the local nobles, who then elected the king at the Stones of Mora. The divide ended when a third clan married into the Erik clan and founded the Bjelbo dynasty. This dynasty gradually consolidated a pre-Kalmar-Union Sweden to a strong state. Sweden was likely not unified until the middle of the 13th century. [7]

In 1332 the king of Denmark, Christopher II, died as a "king without a country" after he and his older brother and predecessor had divided Denmark into smaller polities. King Magnus took advantage of his neighbours' weakness, purchasing lands for the eastern Danish provinces for 6500 kg of silver, which included Scania. On 21 July 1336, Magnus was crowned king of Norway and Sweden in Stockholm. Scania was later reconquered by the Danish king Valdemar in 1360.

During the early Middle Ages, the Swedish kingdom also expanded to control Norrland and Finland. This expansion sparked tension with the Russian states, a tension that was to continue throughout Swedish history.

After the Black Death and internal power struggles in Sweden, Queen Margaret I of Denmark united the Nordic countries in the Union of Kalmar in 1397, with the approval of the Swedish nobility.

In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa (1490–1560) fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Union of Kalmar and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the papacy and established the Lutheran Church in Sweden.

The Union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden on the other. The Catholic bishops had supported the Danish King Christian II, but he was overthrown by Gustavus Vasa, and Sweden became independent again. Gustavus used the Protestant Reformation to curb the power of the church and was crowned as King Gustavus I in 1523. In 1527, he persuaded the Riksdag of Västerås (comprising the nobles, clergy, burghers, and freehold peasants) to confiscate church lands, which comprised 21% of the farmland. Gustavus took the Lutheran reformers under his protection and appointed his men as bishops. Gustavus suppressed aristocratic opposition to his ecclesiastical policies and efforts at centralization.

Tax reforms took place in 1538 and 1558, whereby multiple complex taxes on independent farmers were simplified and standardized throughout the district tax assessments per farm were adjusted to reflect an ability to pay. Crown tax revenues increased, but more importantly, the new system was perceived as fairer and more acceptable. A war with Luebeck in 1535 resulted in the expulsion of the Hanseatic traders, who previously had had a monopoly of foreign trade. With its own businessmen in charge, Sweden's economic strength grew rapidly, and by 1544 Gustavus controlled 60% of the farmlands in all of Sweden. Sweden now built the first modern army in Europe, supported by a sophisticated tax system and government bureaucracy. Gustavus proclaimed the Swedish crown hereditary and the house of Vasa ruled Sweden (1523–1654) and Poland (1587–1668). [8]

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the kings demanded ever increasing taxes and military conscription, emphasizing the need for defense. However the money and manpower were used for offensive warfare. Indeed, when there seemed to be a real threat of invasion during in 1655–1660, King Charles X Gustav asked the people to give more and to manage their own defences. Finally a balance was reached that provided a well supplied aggressive foreign policy. During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden (with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants) emerged as a great power by taking direct control of the Baltic region, which was Europe's main source of grain, iron, copper, timber, tar, hemp, and furs. [9]

Sweden had first gained a foothold on territory outside its traditional provinces in 1561, when Estonia opted for vassalage to Sweden during the Livonian War. While, in 1590, Sweden had to cede Ingria and Kexholm to Russia, and Sigismund tried to incorporate Swedish Estonia into the Duchy of Livonia, Sweden gradually expanded at the eastern Baltic during the following years. In a series of Polish–Swedish War (1600–1629) and the Russo-Swedish Ingrian War, Gustavus Adolphus retook Ingria and Kexholm (formally ceded in the Treaty of Stolbovo, 1617) as well as the bulk of Livonia (formally ceded in the Treaty of Altmark, 1629).

Sweden's role in the Thirty Years' War determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. From bridgeheads in Stralsund (1628) and Pomerania (1630), the Swedish army advanced to the south of the Holy Roman Empire, and in a side theater of the war deprived Denmark–Norway of Danish Estonia, Jämtland, Gotland, Halland, Härjedalen, Idre and Särna, became exempt from the Sound Dues, and established claims to Bremen-Verden, all of which was formalized in the Treaty of Brömsebro (1645). In 1648, Sweden became a guarantor power for the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War and left her with the additional dominions of Bremen-Verden, Wismar and Swedish Pomerania. From 1638 Sweden also held the colony of New Sweden, along the Delaware River in North America.

Sweden as a Great Power 1648–1721 Edit

In 1655, in the Second Northern War, Charles X Gustav of Sweden invaded and occupied western Poland–Lithuania, the eastern half of which was already occupied by Russia. The rapid Swedish advance became known in Poland as the Swedish Deluge. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania became a Swedish fief, the Polish–Lithuanian regular armies surrendered and the Polish King John II Casimir Vasa fled to the Habsburgs. The Deluge lasted for five years and took a great toll on Poland and Lithuania, with some historians crediting this invasion as the start of the downfall of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The country was devastated, treasures stolen, and insurmountable loss of lives occurred.

Sweden was able to establish control of the Eastern bank of the Sound, formalised in the Treaty of Roskilde (1658), and gain recognition of her southeastern dominions by the European great powers in the Treaty of Oliva (1660) but Sweden was barred from further expansion at the Southern coast of the Baltic. Sweden came out of the Scanian War with only minor losses largely due to France forcing Sweden's adversaries into the treaties of Fontainebleau (1679) (confirmed at Lund) and Saint-Germain (1679).

The following period of peace allowed Charles XI of Sweden to reform and stabilise the realm. He consolidated the finances of the Crown by the great reduction of 1680 further changes were made in finance, commerce, national maritime and land armaments, judicial procedure, church government and education. [10]

The Great Northern War: 1700 Edit

Russia, Saxony–Poland, and Denmark–Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish empire. Although the young Swedish King Charles XII (1682–1718 reigned 1697–1718) won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, most notably in the stunning success against the Russians at the Battle of Narva (1700), his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious.

The Russians won decisively at the Battle of Poltava in June 1709, capturing much of the exhausted Swedish army. Charles XII and the remnants of his army were cut off from Sweden and fled south into Ottoman territory, where he remained three years. He overstayed his welcome, refusing to leave until the Ottoman Empire joined him in a new war against Tsar Peter I of Russia. He established a powerful political network in Constantinople, which included even the mother of the sultan. Charles's persistence worked, as Peter's army was checked by Ottoman troops. However, Turkish failure to pursue the victory enraged Charles and from that moment his relations with the Ottoman administration soured. During the same period, the behavior of his troops worsened and turned disastrous. Lack of discipline and contempt for the locals soon created an unbearable situation in Moldavia. The Swedish soldiers behaved badly, destroying, stealing, raping, and killing. Meanwhile, back in the north, Sweden was invaded by its enemies Charles returned home in 1714, too late to restore his lost empire and impoverished homeland he died in 1718. [11] In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Russia and Great Britain-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power. Russia now dominated the north. The war-weary Riksdag asserted new powers and reduced the crown to a constitutional monarchy, with power held by a civilian government controlled by the Riksdag. A new "Age of Freedom" opened, and the economy was rebuilt, supported by large exports of iron and lumber to Britain. [12] The Riksdag developed into an active parliament. This tradition continued into the nineteenth century, laying the basis for the transition towards a modern democracy. [13]

The reign of Charles XII (1697–1718) has stirred up great controversy. Historians have puzzled over why this military genius overreached and greatly weakened Sweden. Although most early-19th-century historians tended to follow Voltaire's lead in bestowing extravagant praise on the warrior-king, others have criticised him as a fanatic, a bully, and a bloodthirsty warmonger. A more balanced view suggests a highly capable military ruler whose oft-reviled peculiarities seemed to have served him well, but who neglected his base in Sweden in pursuit of foreign adventure. [14] Slow to learn the limits of Sweden's diminished strength, a party of nobles, who called themselves the "Hats", dreamed of revenge on Russia and ruled the country from 1739 to 1765 they engaged in wars in 1741, 1757, 1788, and 1809, with more or less disastrous results as Russian influence grew after every Swedish defeat.

Enlightenment Edit

Sweden joined in the Enlightenment culture of the day in the arts, architecture, science, and learning. A new law in 1766 established for the first time the principle of freedom of the press, a notable step towards liberty of political opinion. The Academy of Science was founded in 1739 and the Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities in 1753. The outstanding cultural leader was Carl Linnaeus (1707–78), whose work in biology and ethnography had a major impact on European science.

Following half a century of parliamentary domination came the reaction from the monarchy. King Gustav III (1746–1792) came to the throne in 1771, and in 1772 led a coup d'état, with French support, that established him as an "enlightened despot", who ruled at will. The Age of Freedom and party politics was over. Precocious and well educated, he became a patron of the arts and music. His edicts reformed the bureaucracy, repaired the currency, expanded trade, and improved defense. The population had reached two million and the country was prosperous, although rampant alcoholism was a growing social problem. Gustav III weakened the nobility and promoted numerous major social reforms. He felt the Swedish monarchy could survive and flourish by achieving a coalition with the newly emerged middle classes against the nobility. He personally disliked the French Revolution, but decided to promote additional anti-feudal reforms to strengthen his hand among the middle classes. [15]

After Gustav made war on Russia and did poorly, he was assassinated by a conspiracy of nobles who were angry that he tried to restrict their privileges for the benefit of the peasants. Under the successor, King Gustav IV, Sweden joined various coalitions against Napoleon but was badly defeated and lost much of its territory, especially Finland and Pomerania. The king was overthrown by the army, which in 1810 decided to bring in one of Napoleon's marshals, Jean Bernadotte, as the heir apparent.

Colonies and slavery Edit

Sweden experimented briefly with overseas colonies, including "New Sweden" in Colonial America and the "Swedish Gold Coast" in present-day Ghana, which began in the 1630s. Sweden purchased the small Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy from France in 1784, then sold it back in 1878 the population had included slaves until they were freed by the Swedish government in 1847. [16]

Early urbanisation Edit

Between 1570 and 1800, Sweden experienced two periods of urban expansion, c. 1580–1690 and in the mid-18th century, separated by relative stagnation from the 1690s to about 1720. The initial phase was the more active, including an increase in the percentage of urban dwellers in Stockholm – a pattern comparable to increasing urban populations in other European capital and port cities – as well as the foundation of a number of small new towns. The second period of urban growth began around 1750 in response to shifts in Swedish trade patterns from the Baltic to the North Atlantic. [17] It was characterised by increasing populations in the small towns of the north and west.

Loss of Finland: 1809 Edit

Finland was lost to Russia in a war that lasted from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the peace agreement, Finland became a Grand Duchy and thus was officially ruled by the Tsar of Russia though it was not strictly part of Russia. Humanitarian aid from England did not succeed in preventing Sweden from adopting more Napoleon-friendly policies after the Swedish coup d'état in 1809. [18]

Union with Norway: 1814 Edit

In 1810, French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's top generals, was elected as Charles XIV John of Sweden (1818–44) by the Riksdag. He had a Jacobin background and was well-grounded in revolutionary principles, but put Sweden in the coalition that opposed Napoleon. [19] In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon and defeated the Danes at Bornhöved. In the Treaty of Kiel, Denmark ceded mainland Norway to the Swedish king. Norway, however, declared its independence, adopted a constitution and chose a new king. Sweden invaded Norway to enforce the terms of the Kiel treaty in the last war Sweden has fought. After brief fighting, the peace established a personal union between the two states. Even though they shared the same king, Norway was largely independent of Sweden, except Sweden controlled foreign affairs. The king's rule was not well received and when Sweden refused to allow Norway to have its own diplomats, Norway rejected the King of Sweden in 1905 and selected its own king.

During Charles XIV's reign, the first stage of the Industrial Revolution reached Sweden. This first take-off was founded on rural forges, textile proto-industries and sawmills.

The 19th century was marked by the emergence of a liberal opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies in trade and manufacturing in favor of free enterprise, the introduction of taxation and voting reforms, the installation of a national military service, and the rise in the electorate of three major party groups: the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, and the Conservative Party.

Modernization of Sweden: 1860–1910 Edit

Sweden, much like Japan at the same time, transformed from a stagnant rural society to a vibrant industrial society between the 1860s and 1910. The agricultural economy shifted gradually from a communal village to a more efficient private farm-based agriculture. There was less need for manual labor on the farm so many went to the cities and a million Swedes emigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890. Many returned and brought word of the higher productivity of American industry, this stimulating faster modernization.

The late 19th century saw the emergence of an opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies on craftsmen and the reform of taxation. Two years of military service was made compulsory for young men although there was no warfare.

Health Edit

The steady decline of death rates in Sweden began about 1810. For men and women of working age, the death rate trend diverged, however, leading to increased excess male mortality during the first half of the century. There were very high rates of infant and child mortality before 1800. Among infants and children between the ages of one and four, smallpox peaked as a cause of death in the 1770–1780s and declined afterward. Mortality also peaked during this period due to other air-, food-, and waterborne diseases, but these declined as well during the early 19th century. The decline of several diseases during this time created a more favorable environment that increased children's resistance to disease and dramatically lowered child mortality. [20]

The introduction of compulsory gymnastics in Swedish schools in 1880 rested partly on a long tradition, from Renaissance humanism to the Enlightenment, of the importance of physical as well as intellectual training. More immediately, the promotion of gymnastics as a scientifically sound form of physical discipline coincided with the introduction of conscription, which gave the state a strong interest in educating children physically as well as mentally for the role of citizen soldiers. [21] Skiing is a major recreation in Sweden and its ideological, functional, ecological, and social impact has been great on Swedish nationalism and consciousness. Swedes perceived skiing as virtuous, masculine, heroic, in harmony with nature, and part of the country's culture. A growing awareness of strong national sentiments and an appreciation of natural resources led to the creation of the Swedish Ski Association in 1892 in order to combine nature, leisure, and nationalism. The organization focused its efforts on patriotic, militaristic, heroic, and environmental Swedish traditions as they relate to ski sports and outdoor life. [22]

With a broader voting franchise, the nation saw the emergence of three major party groups – Social Democrat, Liberal, and Conservative. The parties debated further expansion of the voting franchise. The Liberal Party, based on the middle class, put forth in 1907 a program for local voting rights later accepted in the Riksdag. The majority of Liberals wanted to require some property ownership before a man could vote, while the Social Democrats called for total male suffrage without property limitations. The strong farmer representation in the Second Chamber of the Riksdag maintained a conservative view, but their decline after 1900 gradually ended opposition to full suffrage.

Religion maintained a major role but public school religious education changed from the drill in the Lutheran catechism to biblical-ethical studies.

Sweden in World War I Edit

Sweden was neutral in World War I, although the Swedish government was sympathetic to both sides at different times during the conflict, even briefly occupying the Åland islands jointly with the Germans. At first, the Swedish government flirted with the possibility of changing their neutral stance to side with the Central Powers, and made concessions to them including mining the Öresund straits to close them to Allied warships wishing to enter the Baltic. Later the Swedish signed agreements allowing trade with the Allied powers and limiting trade with Central Powers, though this brought about the fall of the government of Hjalmar Hammarskjöld.

Industrialization: 1910–1939 Edit

During the First World War and the 1920s, its industries expanded to meet the European demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Post-war prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden.

Welfare state Edit

Sweden created a successful model of social democracy because of the unique way in which Sweden's labor leaders, politicians, and classes cooperated during the early development of Swedish democracy. Sweden's socialist leaders chose a moderate, reformist political course with broad-based public support. This helped Sweden avoid the severe extremist challenges and political and class divisions that plagued many European countries that attempted to develop social democratic systems after 1911. By dealing early, cooperatively, and effectively with the challenges of industrialization and its impact on Swedish social, political, and economic structures, Swedish social democrats were able to create one of the most successful social democratic systems in the world, including both a welfare state and extensive protections of civil liberties. [23]

When the Social Democratic Party came into power in 1932, its leaders introduced a new political decision-making process, which later became known as "the Swedish model" or the Folkhemmet (The People's Home). [24] The party took a central role, but tried as far as possible to base its policy on mutual understanding and compromise. [ citation needed ] Different interest groups were always involved in official committees that preceded government decisions.

Foreign policy 1920–1939 Edit

Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which pursuing abortive efforts at Nordic defense co-operation.

Sweden during World War II Edit

Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II, although thousands of Swedish volunteers fought in the Winter War with Finland against the Soviets. Sweden did permit German troops to pass through its territory to and from occupation duties in Norway, [25] and supplied the Nazi regime with steel and ball-bearings.

The dominant historiography for decades after the war ignored the Holocaust and used what it called the "small state realist" argument. It held that that neutrality and co-operation with Germany were necessary for survival since Germany was vastly more powerful, concessions were limited and were only made when the threat was too great. Neutrality was bent but not broken national unity was paramount and in any case, Sweden had the neutral right to trade with Germany. Germany needed Swedish iron, and Sweden had nothing to gain and much to lose from an invasion. [26] The nation was run by a national unity government, which included all major parties in the Riksdag except the communist party. Its key leaders included Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson, King Gustav V, and Foreign Minister Christian Günther.

Humanitarian aid to Jews facing the Holocaust was the mission of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. As the secretary of the 1944 Swedish delegation to Hungary, to co-ordinate humanitarian relief for the Jews of Europe during the Jewish Holocaust. He helped to rescue tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary in late 1944. He disappeared in January 1945, and probably died in a Soviet prison in 1947. [27]

Post-war Sweden Edit

Sweden was one of the first non-participants of World War II to join the United Nations (in 1946). [28] Apart from this, the country tried to stay out of alliances and remained officially neutral during the entire Cold War, never joining NATO.

The social democratic party held government for 44 years (1932–1976). They spent much of the 1950s and 1960s building Folkhemmet (The People's Home), the Swedish welfare state. [29] Sweden's industry had not been damaged by the war and it was in a position to help re-build Northern Europe in the decades following 1945. This led to an economic upswing in the post-war era that made the welfare system feasible. [30] However, by the 1970s, the economies of the rest of Western Europe were prosperous and growing rapidly, while the Swedish economy stagnated. Many economists blamed its large tax funded public sector. [31]

In 1976, the social democrats lost their majority. The 1976 parliamentary elections brought a liberal/right-wing coalition to power. Over the next six years, four governments ruled and fell, composed by all or some of the parties that had won in 1976. The fourth liberal government in these years came under fire by Social Democrats and trade unions and the Moderate Party, culminating in the Social Democrats regaining power in 1982.

During the Cold War Sweden maintained a dual approach, publicly the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were kept with the U.S., Norway, Denmark, West Germany, and other NATO countries. Swedes hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. A strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, complete with Swedish-built warplanes, but there was no long-range bombing capability. [32]

In the early 1960s, U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range Polaris A-1 nuclear missiles were deployed not far from the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The U.S. secretly provided Sweden with a military security guarantee, promising to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. As part of the military cooperation, the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return, Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles. [33]

On February 28, 1986, the Social Democratic leader Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated. The murderer was never found. Shocked Swedes worried whether the nation had lost its innocence. [34]

In 1995, a few years after the end of the Cold War, Sweden became a member of the European Union and the old term "policy of neutrality" fell out of use. [35] [36] In a referendum held in 2003, the majority voted not to adopt the Euro as the country's official currency.

During the 1980s, Sweden attempted to preserve its model of capitalism plus a generous welfare state through what it called a "bridging policy." Unintended consequences resulted in the 1990s. There was an economic crisis with high unemployment and several banks and companies going bankrupt. There was high inflation as well as overheated real estate and financial markets and a negative real rate of interest. After 1991, these factors caused a recession with high unemployment. There were political reverberations and business called for neoliberal government policies. By 2000, however, the positive trends dominated. Compared to the rest of Europe, unemployment in Sweden was low, while economic growth has been high, inflation low, the budget in balance, and the balance of payments positive. [37] [38]

According to Lönnroth (1998) [39] in the 19th century and early 20th century, Swedish historians saw their writing in terms of literature and storytelling, rather than analysis and interpretation. Harald Hjärne (1848–1922) pioneered modern historical scholarship. In 1876, he attacked the traditional myths of the social and legal conditions of ancient Greece and Rome inherited from the classical authors. He was inspired by German scholar Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776–1831), a founder of modern German historiography. As a professor of history at Uppsala University, Hjärne became a spokesman for the Conservative Party and the Swedish monarchy by 1900. Hjärne had an enormous influence on his students and, indeed, on an entire generation of historians, who mostly became political conservatives and nationalists. Another movement emerged at Lund University around 1910, where critical scholars began using the source critics' methods to the early history of Scandinavia. The brothers Lauritz Weibull and Curt Weibull were the leaders, and they had followers at Lund and Göteborg universities. The result was a half-century of often embittered controversy between traditionalists and revisionists that lasted until 1960. There was a blurring of the ideological fronts resulting from experiences during and after World War II. In the meantime, in the general expansion of university education in the postwar period, history was generally neglected. Only through the activities of the National Research Council of the Humanities and the dedicated efforts of certain ambitious university professors created some expansion of historical scholarship. After 1990, there were signs of revival in historiography, with a strong new emphasis on 20th-century topics, as well as the application of social history and computerized statistical techniques to the demographic history of ordinary villagers before 1900. [40]

According to Lars Magnusson, social history is a specialty inside economic history. Three major themes are the standard of living by strata during industrialization the history of work and social issues in preindustrial society and the transition to industrialism. [41]

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877

This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction.

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008.


This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction.

Bruce Levine, Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of the Civil War. Hill and Wang.

David Blight, Why the Civil War Came. New York: Oxford University.

Charles R. Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. University of Virginia Press.

Drew G. Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. University of North Carolina Press.

E. L. Doctorow, The March. Random House.

Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877. Harper & Row.

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, ed. by David W. Blight. Bedford Books.

Gary Gallagher, The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat.Harvard University Press.

James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom. Oxford University Press.

Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches, ed. by Alice Fahs. Bedford Books.

Michael P. Johnson, ed., Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War. Bedford Books.

Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War. Farrar Strauss Giroux.

William Gienapp, ed., Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection. Norton.

We are using two anthologies of documents (Gienapp and Johnson). Teaching Assistants will have discretion in assigning particular documents for each week’s sections, and many such documents will be especially important for use in paper assignments. James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era is provided largely as background reading. For further background reading on the post-war period you may want to consult David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War In American Memory.


Films will be scheduled during the course: especially several episodes of the PBS series, “The Civil War.” The film, “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Civil War,” will also be assigned. Selections of Civil War era poetry may also be provided at times during the course.

There will be two required papers of 5-6 pages each. Choices of topics and readings will be provided in each of two broad categories or sections of the course: 1) antebellum society and Civil War causation and, 2) the military, political, and social meanings of the Civil War itself. The challenges, accomplishments, and failures of the Reconstruction era will be a significant part of a scheduled, final examination during finals week.

Paper 1: 30%
Paper 2: 30%
Final exam: 30%
Discussion section attendance and participation: 10%

History Shorts: MLK's Final Cause - HISTORY

  • Occupation: Civil Rights Leader
  • Born: January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA
  • Died: April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN
  • Best known for: Advancing the Civil Rights Movement and his "I Have a Dream" speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s. He led non-violent protests to fight for the rights of all people including African Americans. He hoped that America and the world could form a society where race would not impact a person's civil rights. He is considered one of the great orators of modern times, and his speeches still inspire many to this day.

Where did Martin grow up?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA on January 15, 1929. He went to Booker T. Washington High School. He was so smart that he skipped two grades in high school. He started his college education at Morehouse College at the young age of fifteen. After getting his degree in sociology from Morehouse, Martin got a divinity degree from Crozer Seminary and then got his doctor's degree in theology from Boston University.

Martin's dad was a preacher which inspired Martin to pursue the ministry. He had a younger brother and an older sister. In 1953 he married Coretta Scott. Later, they would have four children including Yolanda, Martin, Dexter, and Bernice.

How did he get involved in civil rights?

In his first major civil rights action, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. She was arrested and spent the night in jail. As a result, Martin helped to organize a boycott of the public transportation system in Montgomery. The boycott lasted for over a year. It was very tense at times. Martin was arrested and his house was bombed. In the end, however, Martin prevailed and segregation on the Montgomery buses came to an end.

When did King give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech?

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to organize the famous "March on Washington". Over 250,000 people attended this march in an effort to show the importance of civil rights legislation. Some of the issues the march hoped to accomplish included an end to segregation in public schools, protection from police abuse, and to get laws passed that would prevent discrimination in employment.

It was at this march where Martin gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. This speech has become one of the most famous speeches in history. The March on Washington was a great success. The Civil Rights Act was passed a year later in 1964.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. While standing on the balcony of his hotel, he was shot by James Earl Ray.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Memorial in Washington D.C.

Photo by Ducksters

Watch the video: City of Grand Prairie: Grand Prairie MLK Blvd Dedication