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 notice as you waltz around the city?
Browse through Big City Life from Creating America, City Life in Industrial America from the LOC, and IF YOU HAVE TIME check out John Green and Crash Course talking about political machines in the video below. 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 20-25 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!
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We have seen the side of the 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 …
To begin, check out Organized Labor from US History to find out the major complaints of workers in the Gilded Age and the early formation of unions.
Now it’s time to negotiate. You will be given a role – LABOR or MANAGEMENT. Read the situation carefully, talk with your fellow laborers of managers, and get mentally preapred to negotiate a successful contract.
Once the negotiating is over, consult Labor vs. Management from US History to review the conflict between the two groups.
Ready to dig into the Wild West? Was it the best or the worst? Take a look at some of the resources below to start grabbing some notes. Spend as much time as you desire – especially if you are jammed up with NHD!
Start with our good friend John Green as he gives you a Crash Course on the West …
We begin our next unit with an agricultural nation coming off a Civil War, limited to the North American continent in status and territory. We end with the United States as an industrial giant, an international influence, and an impressive global superpower on par with any nation in the world. HOW?
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. Developing reforms to hopefully cure the economic, political, and social issues of the country. Expanding influence and territory across the globe. Developing as a world superpower in the first global conflict in human history And poetry, short stories, and literature created about all of this growth.
Modern America emerges in the half century after the Civil War – but was it all positive? Is progress always beneficial? What is the cost of growth? 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:
What made Modern America “modern”?
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?
As we look at the last half of the 1800s, 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.
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.
Four long years, over 620,000 dead, even more casualties, part of the nation in ruins, and an entire segment of the population freed for the first time – the results of the Civil War are almost impossible to comprehend in 2017. Why did war end up with a Union victory and Confederate defeat? Let’s put our heads together (and ask some other experts) and discuss!
Check out the materials provided to you as well as the resources below.
Come up with a “possibility factor” of the Confederacy winning the war, with a “0” meaning they had no chance at all no matter what they did and a “100” meaning they could have totally won the war but made too many mistakes. Place your names near the location of your factor on the following drawing – Section 1 / Section 2 / Section 5 / Section 6 / Section 7
Can you come up with some great plausible “What if’s?” that could have changed the course of the war?
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You spent some time online and in Kenosha learning about the life of a Civil War soldier – so what was it like? And why does it matter? Show off your understanding any way you want with a Civil War Soldier Sensory Figure.
Some past examples:
Soldiers liked music, by the way … especially songs with big fat hooks:
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Watch the videos below as well. We will chat about our 16th president in our next class – so spend some time checking out the materials below , complete the President A. Lincoln assignment, and come up with a few observations about A. Lincoln.