IMPERIALISM – Learning Experience for February 25/26

I can describe and evaluate the causes, events, and impact of American imperialism.

While the US was pushing for reform at home, the country was also expanding abroad in the era of IMPERIALISM.  Was American imperialism right or wrong?  That’s our essential question!  How will we answer it?


To preview our discussion, you should spend 30 minutes (yup, it’s timed) watching America in the 20th Century: America Becomes a World Power (usmstudent, wildcats).  As you watch, use the viewing guide to consider the reasons why the United States became an expansionist country in the late 1800s, and then consider each example of American imperialism – ESPECIALLY THE SPANISH AMERICAN WAR.  Should the US have been an imperial nation? That’s your goal!

Want more? Check out our pal John Green!

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PREPARATION FOR FEB 19/20 – Here Come the Progressives!

As you have seen from our investigation of the Gilded Age, there was great of progress in the American  economy, industry, urbanization, and immigration during the late 1800s early 1900s. However, progress comes with a price.   Politics were controlled by the wealthy, and political machines were challenging they ideals of democracy in many of the cities. The income gap between the wealthy and the rest of the nation was enormous.  The environment was ignored for industrial growth, and pollution and destruction of resources became problematic. Cities were overcrowded, and tenement living was unhealthy at best, deadly at worst. People didn’t know what was going into their medicine or food. Monopolies were formed with large corporations controlling many of the major industries of the time, and workers’ worries were ignored or opposed by business and government.  Women were second class citizens, lacing political, economic, and social equality.  African Americans continued to face challenges in all parts of the country.

Who will respond to these problems?


The Progressive Movement emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s to push for reforms in response to the excesses of the Gilded Age.  We will examine what they did in their attempts to make America a better place on Monday – but you will definitely want to get some background.  So, spend about 27 minutes and 48 seconds this weekend meeting the Progressives (before you watch the Super Bowl). How?  Here you go …

WATCH America in the 20th Century – The Progressive Era.  Use usmstudent, wildcats as your username and password. What should you be looking for?  A general idea of what the Progressive Movement was, an understanding of some of the reforms Progressives pushed for, and some info on the Progressive Presidents (including the big guy – I mean the REALLY big guy). You can (and should) use the Progressive Era Intro as a guide – but no writing is necessary.

You can also watch my buddy John and his Crash Course on the Progressives … but make sure you watch the above video first!

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The Rising Tide of Immigration – Learning experience for Feb 17/18

The growth of industry and the rise of cities involved a third key component – the great wave of immigration that arrived in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You will investigate this HUGE change in American culture in class, but spend some time with the resources below to start thinking about immigration in the Gilded Age.

Check out some info on immigration and urbanization (they go hand in hand) from the good people at Crash Course!

Then, you can explore Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century:

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Or play a simulation on immigrating to the US at the turn of the century:

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Or explore immigration and the tenements of NYC:

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The Rise of Organized Labor – Learning Experience for Feb 13/17

We have seen the side of the rich guys making the big bucks … but what about the men (and women and children) that were toiling in the factories during the age of industrial growth? Let’s find out …

It’s the late 1800s, and you are an industrial worker in one of the major factories in the Upper Midwest.  You have decided to become part of a union – an organized group of workers who unite to push for improved working conditions. A new worker has asked you a series of questions about organized labor in order to determine if he should also join the union.  How would you respond?

What are your complaints about your status as a worker during the late 1800s?(Check out Organized Labor from US History)

What tactics has your union employed in order to change your situation?(Use The Great Upheaval  and  Labor vs. Management from US History and the first page of Labor and Labor Unions from Los Alamitos)

What are some of the ways management has responded to your ideas and actions? (Consult Labor vs. Management from US History, How Did Management Respond  from Social Studies Help, and the first page of Labor and Labor Unions from Los Alamitos)

What has the government done (or not done) in response to your calls for change? (Try Labor Battles in the Gilded Age from Khan Academy – scroll down to “The federal government and the labor movement”)

Besides management and the government, what other challenges do Gilded Age unions face? (Check near the bottom of Organized Labor from US History)


Still want more (and have some time)? Play the Labor in the Gilded Age simulation from Text Adventures. It has some solid content but some so-so graphics and text.

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Strolling through the Cities of the Gilded Age

Let’s go back in time, shall we?  Imagine taking a stroll in one of the new big cities of the Northeast and upper Midwest in the late 1800s.  You and a friend (maybe it’s an early Valentine … how romantic) spend an entire day in one of these new urban locations that is booming with technology, big business, leisure activities, social experiments, entertainment, and mass culture.  There is a dark side to the city as well, one of political corruption, slums and tenements, child labor, and flight to the suburbs.  What would you see as you waltz around the city?

Browse through Big City Life from Creating America and City Life in Industrial America from the LOC. As you do, jot down some of your observations as you read and watch – and  get ready for a major tour of the big cities of the late 1800s in our next class meeting! This browse should only take you about 15-20 minutes – you have to get back to work in the factory! If you don’t get it all done, do not fret – management will come down on you if you spend too long!

In addition, check out John Green and Crash Course talking about political machines in the video below. You should have a decent understanding of political machines, and start thinking about why they matter!

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IN CLASS February 7/10 – The Industrialists

Though a century has passed since the heyday of the great industrialists and financiers of the Gilded Age, the debate continues: were these men captains of industry, without whom this country could not have taken its place as a great industrial power, or were they robber barons, limiting healthy competition and robbing from the poor to benefit the rich? Where do we draw the line between unfair business practices and competition that leads to innovation, investment, and improvement in the standard of living for everyone? Would the industrial economy have succeeded without entrepreneurs willing to take competition to its extremes?

It’s your chance to take a stand on this issue and state your case.  Using the five sets of resources (SOURCES – PRIMARY / SECONDARY / BIOGRAPHY / TOONS / STATS ) your task is to describe how the great industrialists could be considered Captains of Industry AND Robber Barons. For each perspective, you should use AND CITE the resources as you compose explanatory text and images for each side. You should use all of the categories of sources for each – multiple would be great.

THEN … Post a single claim for each perspective, and make a vote – COI or RB?

Of course, you can make connections to the present here for you unit assessment … right?


The links below come from “The Men Who Built America”, a recent History Channel documentary.  Check out more about your individual!

Want more?  Take a lookyloo at  The Wealthiest Americans Ever – New York Times and The 20 Richest People Of All Time

Even more?

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THE WEST – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!

Did you BREAKOUT OF THE WEST, young historian? If not, continue to work on the locks and post your pic on the Wild West Hall of Fame! Also, make sure you are adding to your GBU notes, as we will be debating this concept in our next class!

The West became popular in movies, so why not watch a little bit about the West? Grab some popcorn, a soda, and a comfy chair and check out these short clips from America A Story of Us. Spend as as much time as you desire over the weekend – especially if you are jammed up with NHD!

America, The Story of US – The Transcontinental Railroad

America, The Story of US – Homestead Act

America, The Story of Us – The Cowboy and Cattle Drives

The History Channel – The Buffalo

America, The Story of US – Destroying the Buffalo Herds

America, The Story of Us – Plains Indians Wars

History Channel has some good (and short) videos, including The American Buffalo and The Last of the Sioux

Of course, you could also watch the actual classic – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I think it’s on Hulu!

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RECONSTRUCTION TERMS – Learning experience January 24/27

There are countless books written about the Reconstruction era, and hopefully you will be able to read one  (or more) sometime in your historical future (does that make sense?  Historical future?) We will dig in to the major highlights and events of the Reconstruction in our next meeting.  To prepare, your task is to briefly examine (or re-examine)  14 Reconstruction terms and summarize each in NO MORE THAN 20 WORDS.


SOURCES – Begin with the History Channel’s overview of Reconstruction – the reading can give you a good idea about the era and covers most of the terms. You should also check out the Freedman’s Bureau, Sharecropping and Black Leaders during Reconstruction for more great info. The videos on each help as well!

You can also use these three sections of the Reconstruction chapters from Creating America”

Some specialty topic links – 40 Acres and a Mule,  Voting Restrictions, Supreme Court Decisions 1 and 2, Rise of Democrats in the South, Violence in the South

Need more? Want more? Gotta have more? I love the Reconstruction section from the Digital History project at the University of Houston. Also, check out Reconstruction from and Reuniting the Union: A Chronology from the University of Houston;

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BACK TO HISTORY! A Preview of RECONSTRUCTION for January 24/27

How does a nation rebuild after it is torn in two? Can it be rebuilt? That’s the challenge of the newly “reunited” United States after the Civil War … and the era of Reconstruction is not only a major chapter in America’s story, but still resonates today.

In order to begin examining the success and/or failure of Reconstruction, we need to get some idea of what happened in the time between 1865 and 1877. To do so, your task for next class is to watch the videos below and read “Comparing Reconstruction Plans” to get a general overview of the era.  Start to consider the idea of Reconstruction being a success or a failure in bringing the nation back together and helping African Americans adjust to citizenship. Your task is to come to class on Friday/Monday with ONE WORD to describe Reconstruction, ONE COMMENT you have about what you watched, and ONE QUESTION you have about the Reconstruction Era. Post your WORD, COMMENT, and QUESTION on this form!


Reconstruction from the History Channel

Taft’s overview of the Recon Amendments, Common Craft style.

John Green and his Crash Course on Recon – he talks so fast, but he is way more entertaining than Taft

Why President Johnson was impeached – good to know … especially when you consider current events!

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