Unit 7 Assignment Sheet


Assignment 1. The Political Dimension of Reconstruction

  • Skim Nash, 457-460, 464-467, 470-71.
  • Read closely: Eric Foner, "The New View of Reconstruction," American Heritage (Oct/Nov., 1983), 10-15. [PDF]
  • Take a look at this Chronology of Reconstruction [LINK]
  • If you have time, try to take a look at these primary sources:
    • Wade Davis Bill (1864) [LINK]
    • Lincoln's Second Inaugural (1865) [LINK]
    • 13th Amendment to the Constitution (1865) [LINK]
    • Mississippi Black Code [LINK]
    • Civil Rights Act of 1866 [LINK]
    • Reconstruction Acts of 1867 [LINK]
    • 14th Amendment to the Constitution (1868) [LINK]
    • 15th Amendment to the Constitution (1870) [LINK]
    • Slaughterhouse Cases [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was Presidential Reconstruction? In what ways were Lincoln’s and then Johnson’s similar? How were they different?
  2. What was the Wade-Davis Bill?
  3. What was the root of the conflict between the Radical Republicans and Johnson?
  4. What were the Black Codes?
  5. What was the Civil Rights Act of 1866? Why were they passed?
  6. What were the Reconstruction Acts?
  7. What was revolutionary about the Reconstruction era amendments? What were their limitations?
  8. What were the Slaughterhouse cases?

Assignment 2. The Social Dimension of Reconstructions

  • Nash, 461-464, 471-487.
  • William T. Sherman, Special Field Orders No. 15 (1865) . [LINK]
  • Jourdon Anderson, "Letter to My Old Master" 1865. [LINK]
  • Q & A on Sharecropping from PBS website on Reconstruction. [LINK]
  • Q & A on Schools and Education during Reconstruction from the PBS website on Reconstruction. [LINK]
  • Agreement between a Landlord and Sharepcropper." [LINK]
  • Henry Adams, "Not Free Yet." [LINK]
  • Edmonia G. Highgate, “Letter to Rev. M. E. Strieby,” Dec. 17th, 1866. [LINK]
  • Q & A: White Southern Responses to Black Emancipation from PBS website. [LINK]
  • "The Ku Klux Klan: Organization and Principles, 1868" [PDF]
  • The Force Acts of 1870 & 1871. [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What did the freed slaves want during Reconstruction?
  2. What was their experience of freedom?
  3. What was sharecropping? What were its benefits? What were its deficiencies?
  4. What kinds of policies could have improved the lot of the freed slaves?
  5. What methods did white Southerners used to defeat Reconstruction?
  6. How did Blacks respond?
  7. Why did the North finally abandon the project of Reconstruction?
  8. What happened during the election of 1876?
  9. What was the Compromise of 1876?

Assignment 3. The West

  • Skim Nash, 494-505.
  • Read closely: Stephen Aron, "What's West, What's Next" OAH Magazine of History (November 2005), pp. 22-25 [PDF]
  • Also read closely the excerpt from: Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" 1893. If you have time, read the full text. [LINK]
  • If you have time, take a look at these primary sources:
    • Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor, 1882. [PDF]
    • “The Pacific Railway Act” 1862. [LINK]
    • "The Homestead Act" 1862. [LINK]
    • "Dawes Severalty Act" 1887. [LINK]
  • Also, for fun if you have the time:
    • Alan Brinkley, "Don't Fence Me In," New York Times, September 20, 1992. [PDF]
    • Alan Feuer, "How the Railroads Took Control of Time," New York Times, September 17, 2009. [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is there a difference between U.S. history and Western U.S. history?
  2. What’s the Turner thesis? How have the new Western historians responded to his thesis?
  3. What is the frontier? How is it a useful category of analysis and what are its limits?
  4. What is the "New Western History" and what are the contributions of the new Western history? What are its limits?
  5. How many "Wests" are there? In other words, what topics, institutions, and themes should constitute the study of the West? Can we even talk about the "West"?
  6. How essential were the Transcontinental Railway and Homestead Acts in the making of the West?
  7. How is the 20th & 21st century West different than the 19th century West?

Assignment 4. The Incorporation of America: Industrialization & the Rise of Big Business

  • Nash, 520-528, 540-41.
  • Glen Porter, “Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business” in The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America ed. Charles W. Calhoun, p. 1-18. [PDF]
  • Thomas Edison's Patent Application for the Light bulb(1880). [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. How was the late-19th century industrial revolution different from the early 19th century one??
  2. What new forms of corporate organization emerged?
  3. What role did the federal government play in industrialization?
  4. What was the role of technological innovation?
  5. How did changes in law and ideology facilitate industrial growth?
  6. How did the rise of big business challenge preconceived notions of the American economy and society?

Assignment 5. Economic Policy

  • Nash, 514-516, 543-546 (National Issues)(pay particular attention to chart on page 544).
  • Interstate Commerce Act (1887) [LINK]
  • Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. Describe the tariff policy during the Gilded Age.
  2. Describe monetary policy during the Gilded Age.
  3. What was the government’s response to economic change during the periodWhat was the Interstate Commerce Act?
  4. What was the Interstate Commerce Act?
  5. Why was the Sherman Act a response to?

Assignment 6. Work & Labor

  • Nash, 535-539, 550-52.
  • Eric Arnesen, “American Workers and the Labor Movement” in The Gilded Age, p. 39-61. [PDF]
  • "Constitution of the Knights of Labor" 1878. [LINK]
  • Skim the following links:
    • Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives [LINK]
    • Lincoln Steffens: The Shame of the Cities [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. How did the experience for workers change from the early 19th to the late 19th century?
  2. What was the Knights of Labor?
  3. What was the AFL?
  4. What happened at Haymarket?
  5. Why was the Pullman Strike important?
  6. How successful were unionization efforts during this period?
  7. Which kinds of workers were most successful in organizing?
  8. How did the arrival of new immigration affect the character of the working-class?
  9. Did labor win or lose during the Gilded Age?

Assignment 7. Politics

  • Nash, 542-543, 560-563.
  • Charles W. Calhoun, “The Political Culture: Public Life and the Conduct of Politics” in The Gilded Age, p. 239-264. [PDF]
  • The Pendleton Civil Service Act, 1883. [LINK]
  • Cartoon: "The Civil Service as it Is" [Image]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What role did political parties play during the Gilded Age? What kinds of choices did parties afford voters?
  2. What are the circumstances that have led to the historical obscurity of the five presidents between 1877 and 1897?
  3. If the late-19th century presidents were a bland lot, explain why so many people were enthralled with politics?
  4. What are the positive and negative sides to machine politics?
  5. Why was corruption so rampant?

Assignment 8. Race & the South

  • Nash, 505-513.
  • Leslie H. Fishel Jr., "The African-American Experience," in The Gilded Age, 143-165. [PDF]
  • Excerpts from Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Exposition Speech (1895). [PDF]
  • Excerpts from W.E.B. Du Bois, On Booker T. Washington and Others (1903). [PDF]
  • Excerpts from Ida B. Wells, A Red Record (1895). [PDF]
  • Excerpts from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was the political structure of the South after 1877; how were blacks gradually disenfranchised?
  2. How and why did racial segregation emerge in the late 19th century?
  3. What was the response of blacks to racial developments in the South?
  4. Who was Booker T. Washington and why is he considered to be such a central figure in race relations in America?
  5. Whow was W.E.B. Dubois? What was his critique of Washington?
  6. What was the Plessy case about? Why is Harlan’s dissent in Plessy vs. Fergusson so important

Assignment 9. The Crisis of the 1890s

  • Nash, 516-518, 546-549.
  • Worth Robert Miller, “Farmers and Third-Party Politics” in The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America (2nd ed.) ed. Charles W. Calhoun, pp. 235-259. [PDF]
  • People's Party Platform (1892). [PDF]
  • William Jennings Bryan, Cross of Gold Speech, 1896. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why did agrarian radicalism emerge?
  2. What were the origins and goals of the populist movement?
  3. Was populism more of a “movement” than a political party?
  4. Why did silver and gold become economic and political issues in the late 19th century?
  5. Why did interest in silver and gold questions subside after 1896?
  6. What differentiated the Populists from the Democrats and Republicans?
  7. Why did agrarian radicalism decline after the election of 1896?

Assignment 10. Interpreting Populism

  • Henry M. Littlefield, “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism,” American Quarterly 16.1 (Spring, 1964), 47-58. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. According to Littlefield, why is The Wizard of Oz a parable on populism? Do you buy his argument?
  2. How might L. Frank Baum's personal biography explain the content of The Wizard of Oz?
  3. Who does Dorothy allegedly stand for?
  4. The scarecrow? The tin woodman? The Lion? The Wizard? Emerald City? the slippers, the yellow brick road? Other?
  5. Do you buy Littlefield’s argument?
Unit 7 essay topic [PDF]