Back to American Studies – MODERN AMERICAN EMERGES

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Completing the transcontinental railroad, connecting the east to the west coast. Millions of Americans moving to farm the land and settle new areas. Interacting with the natives in the west and expanding the roles of African-Americans and women. Creating new types of business models, turning the United States into an industrial giant. Developing cities bigger than any other in the world, and having them grow up into the sky. Inventing labor saving and life changing technology that will affect the world. Expanding democracy further than ever before. And poetry, short stories, and literature created about all of this growth. What is all that? PROGRESS.

But at what cost?

For the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at America’s progress during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. We will see the United States grow and reshape in a myriad of ways. There’s no doubt that the United States progressed in various areas during the era, but at what cost? Was it all positive? That essential question will be the core of our activities in and out of class as we enter the era of modern America.  It’s also a question that we can apply to our society today, as we make connections between the past and the present.

What’s our historical approach for this unit?  Simple – to continue thinking like a historian.
Our essential questions for our study of this era include:

  • To what extent did the United States progress between the late 19th and early 20th century?
  • What is the price of progress? And did the United States help pay the price in the early 1900s?
  • Does history repeat itself, or does it only rhyme?

 Our focus questions include:

  • Did all Americans benefit from the reshaping of the West in the late 1800s?
  • Were the great industrialists Captains of Industry or Robber Barons?
  • Was industrialization positive for all Americans?
  • Should the United States open its “golden door” to everyone and anyone?
  • Was American democracy really democratic?

As the unit progresses (no pun intended) your major target is the following:

I can use the past to help make sense of the present.

To do so, you will be looking at current events (dated 2016-2017), describing the events, and linking them to the past. More information is forthcoming … but hopefully you will see that history repeats itself – or at least rhymes from time to time.

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