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Tutor profile: Barry V.

Inactive
Barry V.
Former professor of history and religious studies
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Writing does not lend itself to the writing of an exam question, but I will be happy to provide you with samples of my writing.

Inactive
Barry V.
Answer:

Writing does not lend itself to the writing of an exam question, but I will be happy to provide you with samples of my writing.

Subject: US History

TutorMe
Question:

How did the "peculiar institution" of slavery help bring about the Civil War?

Inactive
Barry V.
Answer:

From 1619 onward, planters and others brought enslaved Africans to the American south. Slavery was both a blessing and a curse. Most obviously, it resulted in the enslavement and early deaths of millions of enslaved Africans. Although slavery was helpful in farming labor intensive crops such as cotton, tobacco, indigo, and rice, it also prevented the South from modernizing as the North did. Money invested in slaves was money that could not be invested in new roads, rail lines, and in industrial equipment. The over-reliance of the South on agriculture also meant that there was little interest in expanding roads and rail lines. The South was a network of farms, some small and others very large. Visitors to the South commented on the poor state of the roads. Thus, when the Civil War took place, the South was handicapped by its relative inability to produce arms and ammunition and the absence of extensive rail lines that would have allowed it to move its troops more quickly and efficiently. Although Abraham Lincoln firmly committed himself to allowing slavery to continue in the states where it existed, his platform also included a commitment to prevent the spread of slavery to new states in the Union. On the face of it, this appears to be benign, however Southern slaveowners understood that it meant the eventual end of slavery. The labor intensive crops that made slavery essential were also crops that removed nutrients from the soil. Therefore, it was essential for the South to acquire more land, and that meant that the South had to insist that slavery must spread westward. One would think that southern slaveowners would train their slaves to operate industrial machinery, but there was tremendous reluctance to educate slaves. Educated slaves, such as Nat Turner, had been responsible for slave uprisings that had killed slaveowners and their families. Following the Nat Turner revolt, Virginia passed legislation that made it illegal to teach slaves to read or hold religious services in the absence of white clergy. The tremendous amount of money invested in slaves gave the South a tremendously important reason to prevent the restriction of slavery to the southern states. Thus, when the South seceded from the Union, Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens gave a speech in Atlanta in which he clearly stated the purpose of secession was to preserve slavery. One example will suffice to demonstrate the centrality of slavery to the causes of the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, Mississiippi was the wealthiest state in the Union measured by the amount of money invested in slaves. That investment would be worthless if slavery died out or was outlawed. Following the Civil War, Mississippi was the poorest state in the Union for a century or longer.

Subject: European History

TutorMe
Question:

What were the causes of the Protestant Reformation?

Inactive
Barry V.
Answer:

The Protestant Reformation was caused by a variety of factors. First, the structure of the medieval church was becoming unstable. In 1305, French cardinal Bertrand de Got was elected pope (taking the name Clement V) while he was still in France, and in France he remained, moving the papal court to Avignon. For the next 70 years Avignon was the center of the Christian world. The Avignon papacy (sometimes called the "Babylonian captivity of the papacy") lasted about seventy years, ending when Gregory XI returned the papacy to Rome. Gregory died shortly after returning to Rome, and his successor, an Italian archbishop who took the name Urban VI, proved tactless and divisive, and French cardinals elected an anti-pope (Clement VII) who established a rival court in Avignon. Finally, in 1414 the Council of Constance managed to end the papal schism in 1417. The Avignon papacy and subsequent papal schism weakened support for the papacy and brought disrepute on the office of the pope. A second reason for the Reformation was the financial abuse committed in the name of the church. The papal court at Avignon, in particular, was notorious for the bribes necessary to attract the attention of the pope and the officials around him. The most infamous source of financial abuse was the sale of indulgences or the temporal remission of the penalty of sin (that is, it entitled the purchaser to reduce time spent in purgatory for him/herself or someone else). Thirdly, the immorality and ignorance of the clergy also weakened support for the church. Although the mass was said in Latin, there were clergy who had memorized the liturgy without understanding a word of Latin. Many clergy had common law wives, and the Dutch humanist Erasmus accused monasteries of being little better than brothels. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), the rise of the nation-state helped spark the Reformation. France and England, in particular, resented the amount of money they had to send to Rome (or Avignon) and often supported reformers such as Luther and Calvin. It is likely that Luther would have failed had it not been for the support of German princes such as Frederick of Saxony.

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