Planner

Adam Pfau

A42116877

Professor Knupfer

5/01/2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Era One: Revolution, New Nation

Era Two: Expansion, Reform, Early Republic

Era Three: Civil War & Reconstruction

Era Four: Industrial America

Era Five: Great Depression, World War 2

Era Six: Post-World War 2 America

 

 

 

 

Introductory Essay

 

The over-arching philosophy that drives my view of American history is that its story is one of cultural conflict, in which the narrative of America’s national identity stems from the country’s consistent and multi-layered “cultural clashes”. Whether it relates to international conflicts of culture – examples that are as diverse as America’s cultural conflict with Europe in its founding years, its insular isolationism during two World Wars, and its ideological clash with communism – or domestic conflicts of culture that faced minorities of all sorts, America is a country that is shaped by how it interacts with the diverse sets of cultures that exist within it and around it.

This concept has its footing right in America’s foundation, which sees a new country stem from old traditions and beliefs. America’s split from Europe is a fascinating case study in what philosopher George Santayana would call “old wine in a new bottle” – that is, a conflicting cultural clash where people from Europe’s culture were then faced with a new land, and the cultural freedom that comes with it. America’s split from their “homeland” also led to a split in culture, where an “American culture” began to develop alongside Europe’s. This is important to note, because it is where I think the teaching of American history begins, and where students can get insight into how American culture borrowed/adapted elements from European culture while creating their own. Not only that, but it is a precedent in the kind of cultural conflict that drives the narrative of America’s identity.

Soon after that point in time, the Civil War provides a stark example of a domestic cultural clash, the North vs. South. This example is another pivotal moment because it demonstrates how America – as a diverse country – continually shapes itself from within. If the American Revolution provides to a narrative that America’s identity is shaped by the way it is different from other countries around it, then this adds a dimension to that narrative in which America is also shaped by the differences within its own border – an important element to be included in the overall narrative.

From that point on, throughout America’s isolationist and neutrality positions during both World Wars, their clash with communism, combined with America’s domestic treatment of minorities (be it the Native Americans in Jackson’s Era or the African-Americans from slavery onward), there is ample material to contribute to this narrative. This material also supports my personal philosophy on how American history should be taught, which is that teachers need to center their units on a conflict (a one vs. the other mentality) of culture. In doing so, not only does the teacher get at what I believe is the heart of American history (cross-cultural contrasts and the influences that causes), but they also are then forced to cover multiple perspectives. If a teacher, for instance, teaches the American Revolution as a forked road of culture – one in which the old European culture goes down one road and the new American culture goes down the other, both coming from the same place – they are essentially teaching a multi-layered unit that tackles both cultures at the same time to make an overall point. This is what I feel truly effective history teaching looks like, and what I feel makes for a compelling historical narrative. Pedagogical benefits aside, one cannot ignore the obvious benefits that this style of teaching can bring in how it frames history as a constant “conflict”, or as a constant push-and-shove between different cultures. This gives the history a movement, a trajectory, and an energy, that is lost if you teach history in isolated segments alone.

As a way of making sure that this narrative contributes to student’s learning, in each “Era” there will be listed a “log-line” (or simplified) version of the narrative that I would attempt to communicate, as well as an outline detailing a possible method of assessment that I could use for each Era, directly related to the core narrative:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • As a starting point in America’s history, and as the “beginning” of a foundation story, I think that the important narrative thrust of this era is one of the cultural conflict between America and Europe – the way in which America’s culture split from Europe’s and developed alongside it, as well as the way in which the two cultures fragmented to the point where America desired its independence. This narrative tackles both America’s new culture (in a new land), and the culture of a European power that saw itself as “owner” of America.

 

This narrative will accomplish this feat by looking at 1765 as a starting date, and viewing how this marked the start of colonial Americans rejecting the authority of the British parliament – specifically, the British’s authority to tax them and put laws upon them even though no colonial American representative had a say in the political legislation. From this point on, the narrative extends both back and forward – forward looking in how this “spark” ignited a revolution, and backwards because it demands an examination of the cultural conflict between America and Britain that allowed things to get to this point.

 

In this discussion, one can also turn to the outcome of the Revolution, and the ending point in this narrative. By looking at the Constitution – along with the creation of a strong federal government complete with different branches and “checks and balances” – one can compare the way in which the United States’ government differs from that of Britain’s, further enhancing the idea that cultural and ideological conflict played a large part in why the Revolution took place.

 

The “big ideas” that should be attempted to be communicated using this narrative are that: the “new land” of America developed a culture that split from its European homeland, American culture vs. British culture; that this cultural conflict played a role in making colonial Americans decide to fight for their independence, independence vs. colonialism; and that America had a culture at the time that gave itself well to a democratic national Constitution, society vs. authority.

 

One can also look domestically at the United States and include in this narrative, though it is also prominent during the Jackson Era, the relationship that colonial Americans had with Native Americans. If one is arguing that America is a country shaped by cultural conflicts, then one could not ignore the cultural clash between the colonials and the Native Americans who lived there beforehand. This brings up interesting questions/conflicts about the morality of Americans forging a culture and identity for themselves at the expense of the land’s original owners, and whether or not those Native Americans have a role/part to play in the forging of that identity. This would give the narrative a domestic angle, and would add a dimension to the narrative in showing that America is a country forged by cultural conflicts from outside and within.

 

For this era, students could be assessed based on a final project in which students would chart different aspects of both cultures that they see – creating a list of similarities and differences based on “life in America” vs. “life in Britain”. They would then choose to focus on two similarities between the cultures, and two differences, and create a project in which the aspects they chose are described and analyzed. This would amount to a list of “traits” that they see in each culture, and then their opinions or thoughts – using supporting evidence – as to why the differences/similarities exist and why only certain things are different/similar. An example would be that a student could focus on the importance of land-owning in America, or materialism, or the country’s obsession with slavery, or their religious views contrasted to that of Britain’s, etc… There would be a wealth to work with, and students could take their opinions in many interesting directions.

 

Similarly, this assessment could be accomplished by doing the same project, but between “life in American settlements” vs. “life in Native American tribes”. Doing so would accomplish the same goals – an examination of two cultures that eventually came into conflict with each other – but would merely be a different perspective on the issue that takes a minority culture into consideration.

 

Essential Questions:

  • To what extent was the American Revolution a response to taxes?
  • How did ideas of personal liberty lead to the American Revolution and, also, a new American nation?
  • Did the Articles of Confederation provide the United States with an effective model of government?
  • What did the fight for “independence” mean during the Revolution? Who did it include, who did it exclude?
  • Why are federal rights and states’ rights sometimes at odds with each other, and how did this shape early America?
  • Were there any similarities in the varied reasons early Europeans had for traveling to America? Is there any over-arching theme?
  • Would it be possible for the Constitution to have been written without any compromise?
  • What was the cause and effect relationship between the French and Indian War and the onset of the American Revolution?
  • How did situations in colonial America set the stage for the evolution of political parties?
    • Was George Washington right to criticize political parties, and what are some reasons one could do so?
  • Did the Supreme Court give too much power to the federal government, and was it at the expense of state rights?
  • What was the turning point of the French and Indian War?
    • Also, how did competition over land eventually lead to the conflict in the first place?
  • What were the strengths/weaknesses of the Patriots/British in colonial America?
  • Did the First Continental Congress pave the way/prepare colonists for the American Revolution?
  • To what extent did women or African-Americans contribute to the American Revolution?
  • How does the Constitution’s preamble frame/introduce the core concepts of the document?
  • Why were Washington’s decisions/precedents as President so important to the future of our country?
  • How does the system of checks and balances prevent a branch of government from abusing their power?

 

Enduring Understandings:

Students will be able to understand:

  • How ideas can lead to big change, and how colonists could turn a refusal to obey England’s orders into a political upheaval.
    • How change can come from revolution.
  • What motivated Americans to rebel against British rule and its Coercive Acts, while others maintained loyalty to the British.
  • How political conflicts can be caused by multiple issues/causes and how multi-faceted many revolutions are.
  • The colonists and the British had a fundamental divide as to what the relationship between government and people should be, and how the power structure should work.
  • That a new nation came because of the Revolution.
  • That geography played a big role in how the Revolution turned out, and how the rebels could defeat the British.
  • How the Constitution was framed, and put together, and what “checks and balances” exist in it to serve as a safeguard against absolute power.
  • Standards:
    • 1 Describe the ideas, experiences, and interactions that influenced the colonists’ decisions to declare independence.
    • 3 Describe the consequences of the American Revolution by analyzing and evaluating the relative influences of changing views on freedom and equality (C2)
    • 8 – U3.3.1 Explain the reasons for the adoption and subsequent failure of the Articles of Confederation.
    • 8 – U3.3.2 Identify economic, political, and cultural issues facing the nation during the period of the Articles of Confederation and the opening of the Constitutional Convention.
    • 8 – U3.3.3 Describe the major issues debated at the Constitutional Convention including the distribution of political power, conduct of foreign affairs, rights of individuals, rights of states, election of the executive, and slavery as a regional and federal issue.

 

Turning Points:

  • Boston Tea Party/Boston Massacre
    • For serving as symbolic demonstrations of British/Colonist hatred/tension. Though the events were only two events in a long line of conflicts and tension, these events prompted a lot of propaganda on both sides, paving the way for the inflamed tensions that would lead to the Revolution. Though these events need to be put into context, their ability to inflame passion and their host in much propaganda makes them turning points for how they represented more than they actually stood for.
  • Battle of Lexington and Concord, 1775 and The Battle of Bunker Hill
    • The start of military hostilities, and signs to the British that things might be difficult. Patriots won out the first battle, while the British won the second but with crippling losses. Both battles, effectively, could be considered “wins” for the Patriots, which was pivotal in encouraging morale and patriotism for the cause. These battles should be considered a turning point, if only because they are so representative of the nationalist feeling that started to spread through the rebels. Also, it is a good indication that the British powers did not have as strong a hold on the colonies as they thought.
  • Declaration of Independence
  • The Battle of Bunker Hill
    • For demonstrating that the militia could stand up to the British army, and for forcing the British to re-think their strategy and to reform their army – both things that would eventually help the American forces. It also served as a source for much early propaganda, which helped enlist soldiers.
  • Philadelphia Convention, 1787
    • The two above I would include to show how the drafting of a new nation worked, and to demonstrate to students that, indeed, a new nation did come from the Revolution. This is a crucial and fascinating thing for students to grasp, and these events make it very clear that the Revolution was not an internal conflict, but one in which a new nation stemmed from it. I consider these turning points because they so clearly emphasize that point, and show how the intentions of all involved was to create a new nation. It shows what they were fighting for.
  • The Battle of Trenton (1776) & The Battle of Saratoga (1777)
    • The first was an American victory that came after a series of losses and defeats. This battle boosted American morale and convinced many soldiers to stay on the cause. The second was the first American victory over a major British force. Both constitute a turning point for how they impacted American morale, gave Patriots a confidence, and displayed to the French that the Americans were a force they could support. Further, the second battle marks a turning point because, had it gone differently, the British domineering over the Hudson Valley would have been a crippling blow to the Americans cause.
  • Lafayette and Von Steuben supporting the American Cause
    • The expertise that these men, and other foreign aid, brought to the American army helped mold the army from an unprofessional group to a disciplined army. Though you cannot give sole credit to any one person for this, these two names are good symbolic representatives of the type of support that helped bolster the American army. This also helped lead Americans to a victory in the Battle of Monmouth.
  • The Siege of Yorktown (1781)
    • Though this did not lead to the British defeat, it did, in Britain’s case, lead to a near-complete collapse of support for the British cause. No major altercations or military engagements followed this, effectively making it a symbolic “end” to the Revolution.
  • July 4, and the Declaration of Independence
    • The date in which the document was adopted, and when the new nation received its name. This is a turning point because it represents the creation of a new nation out of revolution, and demonstrates to the world the birth of a young nation – something that makes it a remarkable case study in world history.

 

 

Cast of Characters:

  • John Adams
  • Samuel Adams
  • John Hancock
  • Marquis de Lafayette
  • Patrick Henry
  • Benedict Arnold
  • James Madison
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Thomas Paine (and his writing)
  • Paul Revere
  • The Colonist Rebels (Represented by the Boston Tea Party)
  • George Washington
  • The British (Represented By King George 3)
    • Also, the British Parliament
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • Loyalists
  • American Women’s Growing Role (Represented By Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross, Mercy Warren, and Deborah Samson)
  • Native Americans (Represented By the Cherokees and Mohawk Nation)
  • African-Americans (Represented By the Black Soldiers, Mostly on the Loyalist Side)

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Give Me Liberty! (Eric Foner, 2008)
  • American History Now (Eric Foner, Lisa Mcgirr, 2011)
  • Allison, Robert.The American Revolution: A Concise History (2011)
  • Black, Jeremy.War for America: The Fight for Independence 1775–1783 (2001)
  • Cogliano, Francis D.Revolutionary America, 1763–1815; A Political History
  • Taylor, Alan.American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

 

Primary Sources:

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:

 

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • This Era’s narrative would focus on the changing culture in America at this time, specifically looking at the domestic cultural clash between Native Americans and the “new Americans” as manifest destiny began to become an enveloping concept in the country, and the cultural change that occurred in the country due to reform and societal shifts. The point of this narrative, coming after the Revolution, is to show how America is also shaped by the varied cultural clashes, and cultural shifts, within its own borders and how it is shaped by its own diverse population.

 

The start of this narrative involves defining “Jacksonian democracy” as a political philosophy that advocated for the average citizen, argued against banking, favored expanded suffrage and geographical expansion, and debated federal vs. state rights. These are important concepts to introduce early on, because they operate as effective springboards in understanding what makes this Era so unique.

 

Firstly, manifest destiny and the geographical expansion that came as a result of more distant, but connected, communities, is a pivotal position that directly led to the forced removal and discrimination against Native Americans. As Americans began to move westward, and into territories previously occupied by Native Americans, the clash of their cultures that ensued is an example of how domestic cultural conflict in America has shaped its history. The culture that led up to conflict with the Indians – manifest destiny as God’s right, a greedy desire for constant expansion, a disregard for “savages” – not only says a lot about American society at the time, but also illustrates how it was America’s culture, and not anything else, that led to the forced migration of many people. The resulting geographical and demographic changes in the country, and the damage done to Native American culture – also an important thing to look at when concerning the narrative of this Era – makes this specific cultural conflict an incredibly impactful one, and a prime example of how the story of America’s history is one borne from the friction that happens when diverse cultures come together.

 

The second part of this narrative concerns the cultural change that was occurring at the same time. This time period was one of social activism and political reform, often religious in nature, that argued against the problems caused by industrialization, immigration, corruption, and urbanization. These reform movements, while interesting in their own right as historical events, are also important to the overall narrative because they represent the way that America’s culture changes itself when it comes into conflict with progress. Though it may not seem like it at first, the whole notion of “progress” is a cultural conflict in itself, because it is pitting a new way of living, and the set of beliefs that go along with that, against an old way of living. The newfound industrialization and expansion and urbanization were not just economic and social issues, but also cultural issued that changed the way American society behaved and viewed themselves. If the first part of this Era’s narrative displays how the diverse cultures in America’s land can change its history, then this part illustrates how the cultural clash that America faced when dealing with its own progression had an important part to play in shaping its history. After all, one could very well ask the question – is reform, by definition, progress?

 

A possible assessment I would use for this Era is to have students draft a letter to Andrew Jackson, detailing their thoughts on the treatment of Indians during this time, and their arguments (and counter-arguments) to his actions regarding this topic. This letter would be a final project after learning about Jackson’s presidency and the Native American treatment, and would have to focus on three specific actions that Jackson took during this Era. Students would select those actions, and write responses to them in their letter that would demonstrate both their own personal view of history as well as a factual understanding of what Jackson did, and why. Teaching the unit in this way would allow students to grapple with the cultural tensions that occurred during Native Americans and the government, and let them see how the two impacted each other in policy and in actuality.

 

Essential Questions:

  • How did the United States accomplish Manifest Destiny?
  • As the US expanded their territory westward, how did they treat the Native Americans, and was their treatment of them “racist”?
  • What impact did the cotton gin have on America, socially and geographically?
  • Did America’s expansion, and the long-distance relationships between distant communities, bring America together or tear it apart?
  • What made the Louisiana Purchase considered such a terrific deal?
  • Was the time of Jackson’s presidency a “democratic” period of time?
  • Have reforms, and the reformers who contributed to them, had a large impact on our society?
  • In what ways did the Monroe Doctrine contribute to the concept of expansion? Was that its purpose?
  • What did the tribal rights of Indians matter to the American government, and was it respected?
  • How did railroads impact American society? Was it a catalyst for unity and prosperity?
  • How did American democracy expand during the 1800’s?
  • What was Andrew Jackson’s motivation for combating the Bank of the United States, and was he right to do so?
  • How did the Nullification Crisis come to be a “crisis”, and was Jackson right to respond to it in the way he had?
  • How did the election of 1824 split Americans apart and create division and friction?
  • Why did many people refer to a certain group of Native Americans as the “Five Civilized Tribes”? What defined “civilized” at the time?
  • What was the intention of the Indian Removal Act?
  • Who (a group of people, or a variety of people) was impacted in the most negative way by Andrew Jackson’s rise to the presidency? How?
  • What made many support the forced removal of Native Americans from their homes, and their forced migration?

 

 

Enduring Understandings:

Students will be able to understand:

  • How Jackson’s policies impacted Native Americans, and how those policies could be enacted.
  • The debate over a large national bank, and what alternatives to it were proposed.
  • What a tariff is, and how it was utilized during this period.
  • How Andrew Jackson and the election of 1824 led to the creation of a political party.
  • The “Trail of Tears”, and what atrocities Native Americans were forced to endure.
  • What Jackson’s responses were to the Nullification Crisis, The Bank of the USA, and the Supreme Court, and why he reacted to these various things in the manner he did.
  • How American expansion, and the expanding outward of communities, led to BOTH a united and a fractured society.
  • How Jackson’s policies – and the advances made in America during this time – led to Indian Removal, and how it was justified by people.
  • Standards:
    • 8 – U4.1.4 Establishing a National Judiciary and Its Power – Use Marbury v. Madison to explain the development of the power of the Supreme Court through the doctrine of judicial review.
    • 8 – U4.2.1 Comparing Northeast and the South – Compare and contrast the social and economic systems of the Northeast, South, and Western Frontier (Kentucky, Ohio Valley, etc.) with respect to geography and climate.
    • – U4.2.3 Westward Expansion – Explain the expansion, conquest, and settlement of the West through the Louisiana Purchase, the removal of American Indians (Trail of Tears) from their native lands, the growth of a system of commercial agriculture, and the idea of Manifest Destiny. (E2.1, G6)
    • 8 – U4.2.4 Consequences of Expansion – Develop an argument based on evidence about the positive and negative consequences of territorial and economic expansion on American Indians, the institution of slavery, and the relations between free and slaveholding states. (C2, G13)

 

Cast of Characters:

  • Andrew Jackson
  • John Quincy Adams
  • John C. Calhoun
  • Samuel Worcester
  • Indians (Represented by the “Five Civilized Tribes”)
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Francis Scott Key (Representing the feeling of American Nationalism)
  • James Monroe
  • Protestants
  • William Lloyd Garrison (Representing Anti-Slave Sentiments)

 

Turning Points:

  • The War of 1812, specifically the Battle of New Orleans
    • For popularizing Andrew Jackson, and making him a national hero.
  • Cherokee Constitution (1827)
    • A symbol for the acculturation that some Native Americans engaged in. This was a constitution based on the American constitution, containing the same kind of branches and policies. Further, it also had requirements in it that leading Native Americans needed to be able to speak English so that they could deal with the Americans. This is a turning point because it is symbolic of the Americans growing influence on the Native Americans, and their encroaching of their sovereignty.
  • Jackson Tariff Dispute (1828)/ Nullification Crisis (1832)
    • A sectional political crisis that is a turning point because it illustrated the states’ rights ability to override the federal rights that were not listed in the Constitution. This is especially important concerning the impact it would soon have with regards to slavery (the Fugitive Slave Act, for instance), and the American Civil War. The doctrine of states’ rights that emerged from this crisis would shape the ways in which slavery’s westward expansion was viewed, and how people could defend slavery. It also helped grow “Slave Power” during the time, and could be seen as a conflict which helped support Southern interests, bolstering the divide between it and the North.
  • Georgia Claims Sovereignty (1828)
  • Construction of the Erie Canal
    • For making transportation of people and goods much easier, for supporting the urbanization of business in the country as well as the expansion of people outward, and for opening the Midwest to settlement. Not only that, but it also split the divide between the North and the South larger concerning slavery, helped launch America’s consumer economy, and turned New York City into America’s commercial capital.
  • The Purchase of the Louisiana Territory
    • For doubling the size of our country, which led to a huge gain in natural resources and a desire to expand outward (due to that reason, and to Manifest Destiny). This led to the mass annihilation of Native Americans in those areas, forcing them to migrate and segregating them. This is a turning point because it displays America as a conquering nation, and represents a major blow to the history of Native Americans, who had their trajectory shifted by how they were forced to migrate, or killed.
  • Indian Removal Act of 1830
  • Worcester Vs. Georgia (1832)
    • The dicta laid out the relationship between tribes and the state/federal governments, which gave the federal government the sole authority to “deal” with Native Americans. This is a turning point because it is what effectively gave Jackson the ability to put the Indian Removal and forced migration into play, which led to the segregation and death of many Indians. Also, it can be considered to be the major player in creating the doctrine of tribal sovereignty in America.
  • Jackson Vetoes the Bank of the US (1832)
    • Jackson’s belief that opposition to the bank had won him wide support, and he tried to destroy the Second Bank of America. This is a turning point, not only because it brings up issues about states’ and federal rights regarding finances, but because it helped lead up to the Panic of 1837 and a change in the American Political Party system (the Whigs). Because of discouraging American’s trust in the economy and by developing a two-party system in politics, this is a multi-layered turning point.
  • Trail of Tears (1838)

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Channing, Edward.A History of the United States: The period of transition, 1815-1848 (1921)
  • Give Me Liberty (Eric Foner, 2008)
  • American History Now (Foner, 2011)
  • Howe, Daniel Walker.What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (2007)
  • Adams, Sean Patrick, ed.A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson (2013)
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1948). The American Political Tradition.Chapter on AJ.
  • Holt, Michael F. (1992).Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.

 

Primary Sources:

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:

 

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • The narrative for this unit would be two-fold, as it would focus on two domestic cultural conflicts: African-Americans vs. white Americans, and the North vs. South. Viewing the narrative in this way allows one to see the multiple perspectives during the Civil War (which would show how the battle was as much about identity as it was anything else), and it would also supply further evidence as to how America is a country shaped by the different cultures that exist within it.

 

The obvious cultural clash that occurred during this time was between the North and the South. Looking at the distinct cultures of both involves looking at each’s economic situations – the South’s agriculture vs. the North’s manufacturing – as well as the social attitude’s present in each region. When looking at the narrative of the Civil War, it is vital to take these two identities into account and not just view the war as a battle “over one thing”. Doing so robs the war of its complexity, and doesn’t fully display how the cultural conflict at the heart of the war played a part in shaping early American history. While there were many key points that can be considered contributors to the start of the war – slavery, protectionism, states’ rights – looking at the sectionalism, or cultural differences, at the time is also an essential piece to the puzzle. To me, the central narrative of the Civil War lies in that sectionalism, and in the different economies, social structures, and values, of the North and the South. When Lincoln won the election, and the South became disillusioned with their lack of political representation, and the ability that would come with that to push pro-slavery agendas that would support the backbone of their economy, Southern states viewed it as their right to secede from the Union. This is how I believe the start of the Civil War should be framed. While slavery was one of the most important factors leading up to it, framing it like this takes away the perception that the North was fighting a purely moral war against slavery. The narrative should be about the different cultures that each region had, and how those cultures, and the societies and economies built around those cultures, are what led to the Civil War. This may just seem like a broadening of the issue, but I think it is important to go broad when dealing with the Civil War so you don’t risk simplifying either side in the conflict.

 

The second part of this Era’s narrative that needs to be included is the cultural conflict between African-Americans and “whites”. This involves looking at slave life – the cultural aspects slaves took with them from Africa after being forced into a new land, and the cultures they built up for themselves here in America – and looking at how those cultures conflicted with white slave owners. Why this is an important part of the narrative is not only to give attention and agency to African-Americans, but also because this cultural conflict has had a major impact on our country by introducing diversity to it and creating the Civil Rights concerns that continue to this day. If there was ever an event in American history that proves a historic cultural conflict can create long-stemming consequences, slavery is it. The narrative for this part requires looking at how the institution of slavery came to exist – what parts of American society allowed it to be justified – and how that culture changed enough to the point where Emancipation was possible. Though later narratives, from Reconstruction onward, will prove that Emancipation was hardly the end to discrimination (let alone the end of slavery), it is important to chart how the cultural conflict between African-Americans and white Americans shifted during the time of the Civil War to a point in which Lincoln saw it as a viable and beneficial option to effectively make the war all about slavery.

 

A possible assessment that could be used for this Era is to have students decide on six main causes of the Civil War. This seems like a simple concept, but there is a lot of complexity involved in it, as it would force students to see how there were multiple motivations for tensions between the North and the South and how the cultures of both played a big role in that tension. This project would also force students to move away from viewing the war as “that war about slavery”, and start viewing it as a war about much more. Though slavery could be one of the causes that they chose to look at, opening it up to six causes is important in fleshing out the war and making students realize that there were many components of the South’s culture and the North’s culture that made friction between the two inevitable.

 

Essential Questions:

  • Was slavery the main motivation behind the Civil War?
  • Was the Civil War an inevitable conflict?
  • Does Abraham Lincoln deserve his reputation as the Great Emancipator, AKA someone who “freed the slaves?”
  • Why did Reconstruction governments face problems after the war?
  • How did the Emancipation Proclamation expand the Union’s goals in the war?
  • What strategies did the North and South adopt to try to win the war, and what factors contributed to their effectiveness?
  • Did the election of 1860 lead to the start of the Civil War?
  • How was the issue of slavery impacted by the Kansas-Nebraska act, and did it make things “worse”?
  • What role did geography play in the Civil War?
  • What impact did military leadership have on the Civil War, and were the reputations of its military leaders justified?
  • Was the Civil War a battle over the definition of “freedom” in America? Did this issue extend to others besides only the slaves?
  • How was the history of women, in America, impacted by the Civil War?
  • Was General Lee or Grant the better leader? Why? Did they respond to hardships and situations in a similar or different manner?
  • How did enslaved Africans fight for their freedom?
  • Was the Civil War the result of a failure to compromise?
  • What were the costs of the Civil War?
  • How did the Civil War differ/contrast from all previous wars?
  • What were the successes/challenges that came with re-uniting the Union post-war?
  • Did the policies enacted in Reconstruction – including the Black Codes and Freedman’s Bureau – represent a step forward for African-Americans?
  • Was the K.K.K. a reaction to Reconstruction, or remnants of the Civil War?
  • Which Amendment had the greater impact on society: 13, 14, 15?

 

Enduring Understandings:

Students will be able to understand:

  • That the Civil War was a war about slavery, but also a war about identity.
  • That slave life was awful beyond words, and that the slaves, in no way or shape, came to Americas as “immigrants”, or were complicit in their situation.
  • The arguments that the seceding states had for leaving, and why certain states left the Union while others did not.
  • What economic factors played big roles in the North and the South at the time, and why this mattered.
  • Standards:
    • 8 – U4.3.2 Describe the formation and development of the abolitionist movement by considering the roles of key abolitionist leaders and the response of southerners and northerners to the abolitionist (C2, G6)
    • 8 – U4.3.3 Analyze the antebellum women’s rights (and suffrage) movement by discussing the goals of its leaders (e.g., Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) and comparing the Seneca Falls Resolution with the Declaration of Independence. (C2)
    • – U5.1.1  Explain the differences in the lives of free blacks (including those who escaped from slavery) with the lives of free whites and enslaved peoples. (C2)
    • 8 – U5.1.5 Describe the resistance of enslaved people (e.g., Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, John Brown, Michigan’s role in the Underground Railroad) and effects of their actions before and during the Civil War. (C2)
    • – U5.2.1  Explain the reasons (political, economic, and social) why Southern states seceded and explain the differences in the timing of secession in the Upper and Lower South. (C3, E1.2, G6)
    • 8 – U5.2.4  Describe the role of African Americans in the war, including black soldiers and regiments, and the increased resistance of enslaved peoples.
    • 8 – U5.2.5  Construct generalizations about how the war affected combatants, civilians (including the role of women), the physical environment, and the future of warfare, including technological (G14)

 

Cast of Characters:

  • American Slaves (represented by Frederick Douglass and Nat Turner)
  • The American Slave Trade (represented by Equiano)
  • Abraham Lincoln (and his republic)
  • Grant/Lee (Representing the two sides of the Army)
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Robert Gould Shaw
  • John Brown
  • George McClellan
  • Franklin Pierce
  • William Sherman
  • Charles Sumner
  • Dred Scott
  • Henry Clay
  • Stephen A. Douglas
  • African-American Soldiers

 

Turning Points:

  • The election of Lincoln’s republic
    • Due to his initial belief that the South had a right to protect its slavery institution, despite maintaining that it not be spread to the point of asking congress to halt its expansion.
  • 1860, States Secede
  • 1862, Second Confiscation
    • Gave many slaves freedom and punished many Confederates by freeing their slaves from them.
  • 1865, Lincoln Assassinated
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875
  • Election of 1876/Compromise of 1877
    • Effectively ended Reconstruction by removing federal troops from the South following Hayes winning the election.
  • Battle of Fort Sumter
    • For proving that the North’s beliefs about how many Southerners supported secession was false. Though the North initially thought only a minority of Southerners supported it, the reactions to this conflict, and the conflict itself, made the reality of the situation much more grim.
  • The Battle of Gettysburg
    • For dropping Confederate morale, dropping value in the Confederate currency, and shifting attitudes of the war.
  • The Battle of Antietam
    • For being enough of a victory to give Lincoln the confidence to make his Emancipation Proclamation. That document officially made the war “about slavery”, and was a gesture Lincoln could not later back away from. The success of McClellan was convincing enough that he was able to use the battle as a justification for making the delivery, which makes it a turning point of the war.
  • Emancipation Proclamation
    • Though it did not effectively end slavery, I consider this a turning point for its symbolic status, and for its importance in the mind of modern-day learners. It stands as a symbol for the governmental shift regarding slavery, even if those feelings were alive well before this event took place. This would be a key example of a time where the process of something happening can be a powerful symbol of all previous efforts leading up to it.
  • 13, 14, 15th, Amendments
    • For re-addressing citizenship rights and freedom rights, and also for voting rights. This is not only a turning point in African-American history, but also in Women’s history for putting the voting right on the table as something they were furious about. It made them energized in fighting for the issue, and represented the strides in which they had left to go.

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Morris, Thomas D. Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619–1860University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Give Me Liberty (Eric Foner, 2008)
  • American History Now (Foner, 2011)
  • Nevins, Allan.Ordeal of the Union, an 8-volume set (1947–1971)
  • Catton, Bruce (1960).The Civil War. New York: American Heritage Distributed by Houghton Mifflin
  • Guelzo, Allen C. (2012).Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

 

Primary Sources:

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • The narrative for this Era would focus around the cultural shift in America from the old to the new. Cultures don’t just change when they come into contact with cultures completely different, but they can also change when inside factors force them to change, and I believe that the focus of this Era is how America’s culture changed itself through change. In specific, that change came in the form of industrialization, economic progress, and technological advancement.

 

If you look at this Era as a change in culture – in which America’s culture moved towards consumerism, a rise in entrepreneurial spirit, and the cultural changes that accompanied the new standard of living that economic growth brought to the country – then it adds a human value to all of the technological accomplishments of the time. Though it is fascinating to learn about the textile, steam, assembly, and production, technological accomplishments on their own merit, creating the narrative based around the societal impacts that these achievements had lets the narrative shape around the people and lifestyles that it impacted. An example of this would be that, during this time, people began to accumulate more wealth early in their lives, marry later, and live closer to cities (urbanization). This economic activity led to economic growth, and is a clear example of a change in technology and economy directly leading to a chance in America’s culture, creating a culture that favored industry, work, and wealth. Another angle of this narrative that needs to be addressed is how America’s post-Civil War culture was different for different types of people – immigrants, women, African-Americans. The Jim Crow period and separate-but-equal policies offer an argument that while American culture changed largely for many Americans, it remained relatively stagnant for minorities.

 

On an international level, World War 1 provides this narrative a chance to illustrate how America’s culture conflicted with others on a global scale, especially post-war. From Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points – which emphasized the importance of creating political and territorial independence – to the United States’ refusal to join the League of Nations, and the support in the country for non-interventionist policies, the cultural conflict during WW1 involves America’s isolated identity in conflict with the outside world. Though America did get involved with the war, and offered divisive military action that helped end the war, I feel that the overall narrative for World War One should focus on America’s reluctance to join a war they eventually were thrust into, the large-scale support for neutrality during the time, and the post-war desire for most Americans to take a less involved role in world affairs. Viewing the narrative in this way allows you to see all of the technical sides of the war – what happened, why America got pulled in, who was involved – and also see what role American culture played in the conflict, and how that culture impacted non-interventionist policies that would come out before, during, and after, the war.

 

Pitching the narrative in these two parts – the international conflict between a world war and America’s desire for neutrality, and the domestic cultural conflict brought on by progress and change – gives a multi-layered and two-fold look at the Era that lets one see how American society is a society that is always changing itself, and being changed by the world around it (as displayed by how it was pulled into an international conflict despite its non-interventionist culture).

 

A possible assessment for this time period is to have students create a list of what they believe to be the most important technological achievements of the time. From there, they would narrow their list down to three and write an analysis of those three detailing: what the technological achievement is and how it occurred, what immediate impact it had on society, and what future impacts it had for America. This might be a seemingly simple project that is asking students to focus in on very specific elements of American history, but it actually would encourage students to examine why those different achievements are so important and had the kinds of impacts that they did. One can argue that Henry Ford’s assembly line is the most important because the quickened production is an indicator of America’s consumerist society, or that it reflects the benefits that fast production during wartime can bring. There are numerous inferences and influences that each technological achievement had, and this project would give the students freedom to select the advances that they wanted to look into, and would let them come to their own conclusions about what in American culture made those achievements especially important.

 

Essential Questions:

  • How did the Jim Crow laws create a racially divided society in the South? How “equal” was “separate but equal”?
  • What made the United States such a hotbed for immigration/migration?
  • What motivation did the United States have for foreign engagement in different locations (Latin America, Pacific, etc…), and how was it justified?
  • What were the main draw-backs and benefits associated with the growing urbanization and industrialization of this time?
  • Did the Transcontinental Railroad create more problems than it did good, or vice versa?
  • How did World War One reflect American values, and the ideas of democracy?
  • Did any after-effects of the Civil War leave any lasting impact on industrialization?
  • What contributed most to the United States becoming a “superpower”?
  • What role did the urban setting play in an Industrial America, and what conditions were bound to occur in it (if any)?
  • Did the era of industrialization see an associated expansion of “freedom”?
  • How did industry impact America’s policy concerning commerce?

 

Enduring Understandings:

  • Explain relationships among the American economy and slavery, immigration, industrialization, labor and urbanization.
  • Describe ways in which the United States developed as a world political power.
  • Understand how different economic systems operate in the production and consumption of goods/services.
  • Describe unintended social consequences of political events in United States history (ex. The Civil War and Industrialization)
  • Student will be able to discuss how an industrial economy allowed wealth inequality to arise as a social problem during this period.
  • Students will be able to state how WW1 impacted American society, focusing on racism against immigrants, patriotism, and “red-baiting”.
  • Students will understand why so many immigrants wanted to come to America, while also understanding what prevented them from achieving what they wanted to here.
  • Standards:
    • 1.3 Urbanization – Explain the causes and consequences of urbanization
    • 1.4 Growth and Change– Explain the social, political, economic, and cultural shifts taking place in the United States at the end of the 19th century
    • 2.1             Growth of U.S. Global Power – Describe how America redefined its foreign policy between 1890 and 1914 and analyze the causes and consequences of the United States’ emergence as an imperial power in this time period using relevant examples of territorial expansion and involvement in foreign conflicts.
    • 2.3             Domestic Impact of WWI – Analyze the domestic impact of WWI on the growth of the government (e.g., War Industries Board), the expansion of the economy, the restrictions on civil liberties (e.g., Sedition Act, Red Scare, Palmer Raids), the expansion of women’s suffrage, and internal migration (e.g., the Great Migration).
    • 1.2 Labor’s Response to Industrial Growth – Evaluate the different responses of labor to industrial change including the development of organized labor (e.g., Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor, and the United Mine Workers; Michigan responses could include railroads, lumber, Marquette Iron Range, and the Grand Rapids Furniture industries), the growth of populism and the populist movement.

 

Cast of Characters:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Labor Unions (and their leaders)
  • Henry Ford
  • JP Morgan
  • B. Dubois
  • William Taft
  • Archduke Ferdinand
  • People’s Populist Party
  • Industrial Workers of the World
  • Railroad/factory workers
  • James Hargreaves
  • James Watt

 

Turning Points:

  • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
    • The first-time America put a freeze on immigration, this is a turning point because it represents America’s changing views on immigration during a time of domestic industrial success and at a time in which American workers were benefitting from the new jobs created at the time. It brings up interesting conflicts concerning immigration as an employment issue and not just a cultural one.
  • The Sherman Anti-Trust Act
    • By outlawing monopolies, this act was designed to help protect consumers from unfair business practices that could give corporations most of the power in deciding supply and price. This is important because it represents a reigning in of corporations during a time of growing industry, and shows some caution being put into place to protect Americans from an expansion of America’s consumer market.
  • Plessy Vs. Ferguson
    • Not only did this uphold the “separate by equal” ideology, but it justified the Jim Crow-era laws and restrictions put into place that existed until the Civil Rights movement. This is a turning point in how it represents a shift from obvious and direct discrimination to the kind of systematic and “hidden” discrimination that would lead to devastating results later in history (including now). The segregation in school and housing, in specific, still have damaging impacts on our society and is the reason why much de facto segregation still exists in our country.
  • The Wright Brothers
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  • The Zimmerman Telegram
  • The Treaty of Versailles
    • This is a turning point not only because it effectively ended World War 1, but also because – by hurting Germany so much with reparations and by destroying the German mark – it put Germany in such a depression and a bad spot that it made Hitler’s rise possible and indirectly led to the onset of World War 2. It illustrated how dictators can succeed during time of economic hardship and depression.
  • The 19th Amendment
  • The Dawes Act
  • Henry Ford’s Assembly Line
    • For changing the nature of American production away from hand-made items and towards a style of mass-production that would change consumerism and industry. This is a huge turning point because it represents the kind of directions that America’s industry and markets would go towards and benefit from (especially during times of War, when defense production was needed).

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Give Me Liberty (Eric Foner, 2011)
  • American History Now (Foner)
  • Patrick O’Brien,Railways and the Economic Development of Western Europe, 1830–1914 (1983)
  • Edward C. Kirkland,Industry Comes of Age, Business, Labor, and Public Policy 1860–1897 (1961)

 

Primary Sources:

–          Anti-corporate cartoons, ca. 1900

–          Building Carnegie Hall, 1889

–          Campaigning for the African American vote in Georgia, 1894

  • Chinese Exclusion Act
  • President Wilson’s Declaration of American Neutrality
  • “Senate Debate on Feeding vs. Fighting the Indians” (1875)
  • “Kill the Indian, and Save the Man”
  • Passage from Andrew Carnegie’s “Wealth” (1889)
  • Photographs of immigrants coming through Ellis Island
  • “The Jungle” (Upton Sinclair)
  • Dawes Act
  • “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (Frederick Turner)
  • Literacy tests
  • Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points
  • “How the Other Half Lives” (Jacob Riis)
  • Aspiration, Acculturation, and Impact: Immigration to the U.S., 1789-1930
  • John Mitchell Photograph Collection, 1898-1924

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:                                                                      

 

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • The narrative for this Era will examine World War 2 both as a war about control, land, and power, but also as a war about conflicting international cultures and identities. It will examine how the war was a pivotal moment that changed the political alignment and social structure of the world, and pushed America into the international stage, completely reversing the cultural position of non-intervention that America developed in the 1920’s after World War 1. As the old powers in Europe declined and decolonization spread, this narrative becomes one about America going from an insular country to one of the great post-war super-powers (alongside the Soviet Union). The narrative, thus, is yet another one about cultural conflict – the conflict between America and the countries they were fighting against, but also a conflict between the “old” America and the “new” American superpower that took a much larger role in the global stage.

 

What constitutes that “new” America is a culture that supports international military strength more than they ever had – the US’s military went through tremendous progress during the war (and, in the case of the atomic bombs, some would say terrible progress), and the US led the post-war military division of NATO – supports intervention as a way to maintain a superpower status in the world, and a country that supports policing the world. Part of explaining this narrative involves illustrating how these cultural changes in America came about. The military strength stemmed from fear of another global war, as well as a desire to have a period of international peace. The support for intervening and policing the world stemmed from the atrocities committed during the war – the war crimes (of which the Holocaust was the largest) was instrumental in creating the United Nations – and the way in which the atomic bomb changed the perceptions other nations had of the United States. On top of that, the military-scale production during the war pushed America into an economic prosperity, which helped contribute to their superpower status.

 

If it seems limiting to craft a narrative about World War 2 all around the cultural shift in America, I would argue that this perspective can serve as a good springboard for the subject in an American History perspective. Looking at how America’s old culture gave way to a “new America” during and post-war, you can examine how different components of the war had a lasting impact on the world. Whether it is the atrocities of the atomic bombing or the Holocaust, the technological achievements of the time, or America’s build-up of their military, all of these factors in the war played a major part in changing America’s culture from an insular and peaceful culture to one of constant foreign intervention and strife (the Cold War soon after this period proves that the US was no stranger to international conflict from this point on, a complete reversal from the American identity following the first world war). Teaching the war from an American perspective also allows you to see how American culture differed from that of other countries – specifically, how they viewed the German or Soviet culture and what differences existed between them.

 

So, while it is completely necessary to view the “world history” involved in this conflict (the histories of all nations involved, the major players, and their own international actions), I am merely arguing that crafting a narrative about the war from an American perspective offers a unique opportunity to place the war into a larger context of the great “American narrative”. If, as I argued at the start, the overall American narrative is one of a culture that is consistently being changed by inward and outward conflicts and beliefs, then I would argue that this is an appropriate narrative for the Era in how it represents America’s great change from isolated country to superpower of the world.

 

A possible assessment that could be included for this Era is to have students examine different propaganda posters from various countries involves in the Second World War – seeing as propaganda for the war efforts flourished during this time, there should be a wealth to select from. Students can then use these primary sources as a way to create analysis’ about the cultures of the different countries. Perhaps they would examine a German propaganda poster and reflect that Germany’s culture was one of depression and hardships, and that this is illustrated in the way in which Hitler promised prosperity to the Germans. Similarly, they could perhaps view some American propaganda and, depending on what side it argues for, determine that American culture is either one of strength and patriotism or insular safety. The possibilities are endless, especially concerning the different countries that students could chose to look at. This project would be very appropriate for the Era, as it would not only let students look at various cultures and contrast them to each other, but it would give them an idea as to how various cultures came into conflict with each other during a war that brought almost the whole world into it. Especially if one proposes the idea that World War Two was a benchmark in American history for how it thrust an insular country into the world stage, then this is a perfect project for seeing how Americans initially reacted to that position.

 

Essential Questions:

  • What made World War 2 come to be considered the second “world war”? What does it have it common/different to World War 1?
  • What role did new technologies play in World War 2?
  • Was the road to World War 2 inevitable?
  • Why do dictators flourish during times of depression, and was this a contributing factor to Hitler’s rise?
  • How were propaganda and rhetoric used during the time of World War 2?
  • To what extent was the United States early reaction of neutrality a reasonable one?
  • Was the US justified in its use of a weapon of mass destruction?
  • What was more damaging, the US’s isolationism or Europe’s appeasement?
  • How was the Nazi’s genocide even possible, what factors made it so?
  • Did World War 2 make a World War 3 impossible, inevitable, or something else?
  • How influential was the USA in deciding of fate of World War 2?
  • Would America had mobilized for the war with the same amount of effort had it not been attacked?
  • What is the legacy of the New Deal?
  • How did the quality of life for families change during the Great Depression?
  • Where there any successful attempts, by the government, to provide relief for families during the depression?

 

Enduring Understandings:

Student will be able to understand:

  • Why an insular and isolated America would be pulled into a global conflict, and what the results of that were on America’s culture.
  • How economic issues can have real and devastating social impacts on the people and families of a country.
  • What “genocide” is, and how it was displayed during World War 2. Also, the responses to it that made genocide possible to become a repeating event in world history.
  • How World War 2 illustrated a conflict of different national identities, types of government, and ideologies.
  • Standards:
    • 2.1 Causes of WWII – Analyze the factors contributing to World War II in Europe and in the Pacific region, and America’s entry into war
    • 2.2 U.S. and the Course of WWII – Evaluate the role of the U.S. in fighting the war militarily, diplomatically and technologically across the world (e.g., Germany First strategy, Big Three Alliance and the development of atomic weapons).
    • 2.3 Impact of WWII on American Life – Analyze the changes in American life brought about by U.S. participation in World War II
    • 2.4 Responses to Genocide – Investigate the systematic and bureaucratic nature of the Holocaust and the lack of international and American response.
    • 1.2 Causes and Consequences of the Great Depression – Explain and evaluate the multiple causes and consequences of the Great Depression

 

Cast of Characters:

  • Presidents of the era (Coolidge, Hoover, F.D.R., Truman)
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Winston Churchill
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Harry Truman
  • Benito Mussolini
  • Japanese-Americans (i.e. George Takai)
  • American Women taking on industrial jobs
  • Henry Ford
  • Holocaust victims and survivors (ex. Anne Frank)
  • Unemployed Men
  • Japanese Imperial Soldiers
  • Huey Long

 

Turning Points:

  • October 29, 1929
    • The day the stock market crashed, illustrated the unequal distribution of income, and showed how the prolonged depression in farm regions, and the bloated stock market were issues that needed to be addressed. Black Friday signified an end to unrestrained prosperity during the Roaring 20’s.
  • The Election of 1932
  • The Rise to Power of Adolph Hitler
  • The Battle of Midway
    • This battle shifted the course of combat and put the Japanese on the defensive, changing the nature of the war in the Pacific theater.
  • The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb
    • Not only did this effectively end the War in the Pacific theater, but it also brought up a concerning debate about the use of weapons of mass destruction, and what costs were acceptable to ending a war. This is a turning point, not only because of its immediate impact on the war effort and the strength of Japan, but also because it still stands a litmus test for people when it comes to judging how far we should be able to go in conflict.
  • Social Security Act of 1935
    • Said that a government had a responsibility to ensure the material well-being of ordinary Americans.  Also, it gave a living wage to the American people and gave them a program to fall back on in hard times. This is a turning point because it represents a shift in the way the government and the people interacted/engaged with each other.
  • Attack of Pearl Harbor
    • This is a turning point because it represents the time in which America received enough public support from within to engage with the war abroad and internationally, instead of maintaining its isolationist/neutrality policy. For many, this was a stark reminder that America was part of “the world”, and could not isolate itself from global issues and conflicts that enveloped everyone. Not only that, but it was the first start of a conflict that would end with America dropping the bomb on Japan.
  • “New Deal”
    • By focusing on relief for the unemployed and poor, economic recovery, and financial reform to prevent a depression from occurring again, Roosevelt’s plan is a turning point in how it lessened the impact of the Depression and how it represented the American government start to play a greater role in the lives of its citizens, and how it ingrained itself in more aspects of society.

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Give Me Liberty (Eric Foner, 2011)
  • American History Now (Foner)
  • Ambrosius, G., and W. Hibbard, A Social and Economic History of Twentieth-Century Europe(1989)
  • Davis, Joseph S. The World Between the Wars, 1919–39: An Economist’s View(1974)
  • Mitchell, Broadus.Depression Decade: From New Era through New Deal, 1929–1941 (1947)
  • Barber, John; Harrison, Mark (2006). “Patriotic War, 1941–1945”. In Ronald Grigor Suny, ed.,’The Cambridge History of Russia, Volume III: The Twentieth Century (pp. 217–242).

 

Primary Sources:

  • Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” (1935)
  • Walt Disney’s “Der Fuhrer’s Face” Animated Short (1943)

–          A soldier on the battle for the Philippines, 1945

–          A soldier’s reasons for enlisting, 1942

–          A World War II poster: “Starve the Squander Bug,” 1943

–          Photograph of an abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, 1938

–          Photograph of a “Hooverville,” 1936

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:

 

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

Narrative/Assessment:

  • The narrative for this Era would primarily concern America’s post-war integration in the international world, and the clashes that stemmed from this. It would start by asserting that World War 2 brought America into the global scene in a cultural way, and show how the aftermath of that clashed America’s culture with the communism that was spreading through the world – namely, the Cold War and Vietnam. It would demonstrate how America’s post-war society has been shaped by the cultural conflicts that it had with communist nations, as the world re-built from the war. Not only that, but the narrative will also tie this in to domestic conflicts, emphasizing the civil rights movement and the “red-scare” within the country. These domestic and international conflicts will illustrate how America’s modern history continues to be shaped by mini-cultural conflicts stemming from America’s unique position as an isolated, but incredibly diverse, country.

 

The narrative’s starting point will focus on the post-war decline of the “old” European powers, and the rise to dominance of the United States and the Soviet Union. This phenomenon is a crucial set-up to the narrative of this Era, as the ideological and cultural differences between those two represent the major “big ideas” of this Era – communism vs. capitalism, “us vs. them”, patriotism vs. betrayal, etc… During this time, America’s dominance of military affairs in Europe – highlighted by the USA/NATO vs. USSR/Warsaw Pacts divide – and their international policy of containment concerning communism, supply evidence that the post-war world thrust America further into the international stage.

 

Related to that is America’s opposition to “Third World” operations that were sponsored by the Soviets, which played a part in the Cold War. Furthering the notion that this Era is one of cultural conflict, the Cold War will be viewed as a “new” type of war that relies on cultural and ideological influence over physical violence. The conflict in Vietnam supports this narrative, as it represents an effort by America to restrict the flow of communism in support of its own beliefs and interests. Both Vietnam and the Cold War will be major key events in this Era because of the way they both demonstrate troubles that America faced as it left the insular comfort it held pre-WW2 and had to interact with different models of countries outside of themselves.

 

If that international cultural conflict is part of this narrative, then the other part of it is represented by the domestic Civil Rights and countercultural movements within the country. This is not only designed to show how domestic cultural conflict has had just as much impact on the country as external conflict, but also to show further evidence that America’s diversity is a shaping force on the country. Highlighted by Martin Luther King, anti-war efforts concerning Vietnam, numerous court decisions and legislation, and a powerful nonviolent movement, this Era also displays how cultural tensions between different types of Americans shaped government policy and social beliefs. Black nationalism vs. whites, the rising conservatism vs. liberals, communist sympathizers vs. “patriots” – there are a variety of cultural conflicts that can be used to illustrate this kind of domestic conflict, and can illustrate how it, through legislation or symbolic status, has helped make history.

 

A possible assessment that one could do for this Era, one that touches on some of the big ideas of the period, is to take one of the countercultural movements of the time – be it the Civil Rights movement, the conservatism movement, the anti-war effort, etc… – and to research the movement’s impact on life today. This can be done by tracking the goals of such organizations over time, determining how fractured/cohesive the movements remained since their origins, seeing how different organizations changed their identity to meet the needs of certain time periods, or using many other research methods. Doing a project in this way would not only give students an understanding about certain countercultural movements at the time, but also let them see the influence of those movements and how some had long-reaching consequences on our culture and society.

 

Essential Questions:

  • What is the difference between communism and capitalism, and what made Americans turn so fiercely against communism?
    • Why was there a “Red Scare”, but not other types of scares?
  • Was the United States “opposite” of the Soviet Union? Were their philosophies or identities opposing enough to make them enemies?
  • Why did President Kennedy desire to challenge the country to put a man on the moon? What is the importance of technological advancement?
  • Was it possible for Americans to ever have completely “won” the Vietnam War?
  • What does Americans’ attitude about the Vietnam War, and that attitude’s change over time, reflect about American’s feelings about war in a post-WW2 society? Are they even related?
  • In what ways was Vietnam a defining moment for an entire generation? Why did young people tend to be so opposed to it?
  • Was the Civil Rights Movement created by the loopholes in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments?
  • Was media the biggest proponent in the rise of consumerism or was it bound to happen anyway?
  • Was the Cold War a real war?
  • How different would the United States be without the Civil Rights Movement and the people who had roles in its development?
  • Was the communist scare in America fueled more by domestic tensions or international ones?
  • Was the world’s response to WW2 appropriate, and show any signs of learning from past mistakes?
  • What made modern conservatism rise when it did, and what impact did it have on American politics and the party system?
  • Was the Civil Rights movement a coherent movement? What were its goals, and what were its accomplishments?

 

Enduring Understandings:

Students will be able to understand:

  • How the United States could get pulled into a deeply unpopular war, and what domestic effects it had in the country.
  • How the US could engage in a non-violent (directly) war with the Soviet Union, and how other types of “wars” exist.
  • The Civil Rights movement as a fractured, varied, and diverse, movement that fought for various rights in a post-war America.
  • The rise of conservatism as a response to domestic social/political attitudes, and as something that shaped current-day politics and beliefs.
  • Tensions with the Soviet Union, and internal tensions over communism, as tensions created by differing ideologies, and why communism is seemingly so diametrically opposed to America’s core beliefs.
  • Standards:
    • 1.1 Origins and Beginnings of Cold War – Describe the factors that contributed to the Cold War
    • 1.2             Foreign Policy during the Cold War – Compare the causes and consequences of the setbacks and successes of the American policy of ‘containing’ the Soviet Union
    • 2.2 Policy Concerning Domestic Issues – Analyze major domestic issues in the Post-World War II era and the policies designed
    • 2.4 Domestic Conflicts and Tensions – Using core democratic values, analyze and evaluate the competing perspectives and controversies among Americans generated by U.S. Supreme Court decisions (e.g., Roe v Wade, Gideon, Miranda, Tinker, Hazelwood), the Vietnam War (anti-war and counter-cultural movements), environmental movement, women’s rights movement, and the constitutional crisis generated by the Watergate scandal.
    • 3.1 Civil Rights Movement – Analyze the key events, ideals, documents, and organizations in the struggle for civil rights by African Americans

 

Cast of Characters:

 

Turning Points:

  • Truman Doctrine (1947)
    • For removing the USA’s foreign policy away from its previous isolationism and to one of potential foreign intervention. This symbolically marked a moment in which the US’s concept of foreign conflict shifted from withdrawal to intervention, and also demonstrates how the fear of communism (the Greeks and Soviets, in this case) propelled America as a more hands-on player in the international world during this time and forced it to conflict/interact with a wider array of global cultures.
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964)
    • Giving broad constitutional authorization for the expansion of the Vietnam War, this is a turning point for how it gave Johnson broad war powers without an actual declaration of war. Not only can this be mirrored to more present day history – the War on Terror – but it also represents the changing nature of war, something that would become a big topic of debate later, and illustrates how war can be applied to ideological beliefs and prevention instead of responses to previous attacks.
  • The Assassination of JFK
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott
    • Not only was this a key part in making transportation segregation illegal, but it is also important as a symbolic moment for giving us Rosa Parks, and giving African-Americans a symbolic victory by which they could use it and its players as symbols for their aims and accomplishments. I don’t think it is a coincidence that many important Civil Rights leaders – including Martin Luther King – took part in the boycotts, as it is because of the perceived symbolic status of it as a key achievement in the Civil Rights fractured movement.
  • Sending Troops into Vietnam/Korea
  • Watergate
  • Joseph McCarthy’s Hearings
    • A turning point because it raises interesting and relevant questions about how far a government can go in pursuing domestic safety, and brings up issues concerning privacy and “black listing”. This isn’t only a turning point because of the connections to modern-day debates (such as the NSA), however, but also because it represents how the nature of conflict has changed in the world away from obvious international enemies and to a more abstract concept of ideological enemies that could even be domestic.
  • Rise of Ronald Reagan
    • For solidifying the conservative strength that has been building in the country during the decades leading up to this point, and for cementing the conservative platform that would become a major part of their ideology – strengthening the military, rolling back consumerism, de-regulation, tax cuts, and an appeal to family values. This is a turning point, if for no other reason, than how it laid the groundwork for the modern conservative movement.
  • Invasion of Cambodia
  • Civil Rights Act of 1960/24th Amendment
    • Both for how they sought to redress the injustices of voting done during previous decades and in the Jim Crow times. Though these did not completely “level the playing field” when it comes to voting – gerrymandering and ID laws are still issues – it was a symbolic “rolling back” of systemic discrimination that existed in the past to prevent certain types of people from being able to vote. It is further evidence of the accomplishments of the fractured Civil Rights movement, and represents a further shift in public response to diversity.
  • Malcolm X/Martin Luther King’s Assassinations

 

Background Readings/Reference:

  • Give Me Liberty (Eric Foner, 2011)
  • American History Now (Foner)
  • Grenville, John Ashley Soames (2005).A History of the World from the 20th to the 21st Century. Routledge.
  • Karrnow, Stanley (1997).Vietnam: A History (2nd edition). Penguin.

 

Primary Sources:

 

Secondary Sources:

 

Specialized Works of Depth:

 

Book Selected For Reviews:

 

 

 

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