Chapter 1: The Origins of a New Society
The first chapter of the textbook is a review that covers early American history from the time of the early European explorers up through the development of the English colonies on the eastern coast of North America. The chapter is divided into three sections: The Atlantic World, European Colonization of the Americas, and Growth of the American Colonies
Section 1: The Atlantic World
- Three different cultures came together to create the Atlantic World: Native American culture, European culture, and West African culture.
- European exploration of the Americas brought these cultures together and reshaped them into something new.
Summary and Analysis
In the late fifteenth century, three distinct cultures collided to form what the authors refer to as the Atlantic World. The first culture comprised the Native Americans who inhabited the continent of North America. These native peoples had first arrived as part of a migration from Asia, most likely over the Bering Strait off Alaska’s west coast, and eventually worked their way across the continent and evolved into many different societies with distinct languages. Despite their differences, they also had many common characteristics, including their kinship or tribal structure, their animistic religious beliefs, and their concept of respect for the land, all of which would be at odds with the coming Europeans’ beliefs.
The Europeans who came across the ocean in search of riches had a very different culture. Europe was undergoing an unprecedented period of economic and population growth as farming methods increased food supplies. The Renaissance (a French word that means “rebirth”) had brought about a time of great creativity as Europeans strove for knowledge in every field. European social structure was based on wealth and power rather than on kinship relationships and had developed strong nation states that heavily competed with each other. Europeans carried those competitive values with them to their new lands in the West. They also brought with them Christianity and a strong sense of religious superiority. They believed that the Native Americans they encountered in the New World were inferior.
Also contributing to this new Atlantic World was the culture of West Africa. Based on kinship and tribal ties, the culture of West Africa differed significantly from that of Europe, but the two societies traded together peacefully for many years. Slavery, however, changed everything. Early on, slavery was an internal part of African culture. Africans captured other Africans in raids or wars. These captives became slaves and a part of their owners’ tribes. Eventually, some African slaves were sold to European traders. When the Europeans reached the New World and found that Native Americans were unsuited to the work of farming and mining, they insisted on having—and then took—more and more West Africans for slaves. The slave trade had begun.
First Columbus and then other explorers came to the new world. They were seeking a way to reach India, but they soon realized the value of the continent they had found instead. The Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Dutch all became involved in exploiting and settling this rich new land. European explorers brought not only their culture and values, but also their prejudices, diseases, wars, and weapons. Disease alone decimated the native populations, who had little or no resistance to European diseases. Because the native populations were sick and dying, they were not able to satisfy the Europeans enormous need for labor to mine for gold and to establish plantations. Thus the Spanish, and those after them, turned to West Africa for slaves to provide the labor.
Section 2: European Colonization of the Americas
- Several European countries established colonies, and each colony was very different.
- The French established fur trading posts in Canada.
- The Spanish carved out an empire based on mining and farming that brought them great wealth.
- The English established the largest and most populated colonies on the Eastern seaboard.
Summary and Analysis
Although there were several European countries that were competing for land in the new world, only a few made a large mark on the continent. The Portuguese settled and created a large colony in what is present-day Brazil. The French established fur trading posts and settlements in present-day Canada. And the Dutch settled in New Amsterdam, which would later become New York. The two main colonial powers—and constant enemies—were England and Spain.
The Spanish conquistadors carved out an empire in Mexico, Central America, South America, and on the islands of the Caribbean Sea. The Spanish were not as focused on settling their lands as they were on exploiting them for gold and crops. They tried to use Native Americans as slaves but found that they were not suitable; they began bringing in West Africans as slaves instead and so ignited the slave trade. Forts were built to help settle and defend Spanish territory in the New World, and missionaries for the Roman Catholic Church established missions throughout Spanish America.
While the Spanish focused on the southern and western areas of the New World, the English established successful colonies along the eastern seaboard. The first truly successful colony was Jamestown, which struggled for years but achieved success and stability with the development of tobacco as a cash crop. Also successful were the colonies planted in New England by the Puritans, beginning with Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans were a splinter group of Protestants who left England to practice their ascetic version of Christianity freely. The Puritans’ belief in hard work and working for the common good paid off. By 1700, nearly 100,000 people lived in the Massachusetts, primarily around the growing city of Boston.
The English established other colonies, including New Jersey, Maryland, and the Carolinas. Many Englishmen came to the New World seeking religious tolerance like the Puritans. Maryland was founded by Catholics seeking relief from persecution in Protestant England. Pennsylvania was settled by the Quakers, also seeking freedom of religion. Rhode Island and Connecticut were founded by Puritans who were dissatisfied with conditions in Massachusetts.
Section 3: Growth of the American Colonies
- The English colonies developed diverse economies that resulted in a system of triangular trade.
- England gave colonies a great deal of self-rule.
- Tensions developed between the English colonists and the French traders and Indians.
Summary and Analysis
England gave colonies a great deal of freedom to govern themselves. The Pilgrims set the precedent with their Mayflower Compact, which provided a local government. By 1614, Virginia had a House of Burgesses, a legislative body that was in effect a limited form of self-government. England’s relationship with the colonies was based on the economic theory of mercantilism, which held that all countries were in competition for a limited amount of gold. England thus wanted colonies to provide raw materials, a market for finished goods, and loyal colonists. England found that she got what she wanted from her colonies by leaving them alone.
The differences in the geography of the northern and southern colonies saw the growth of divergent economies. Large plantation-style farming worked well in the South for growing rice, indigo, cotton, and tobacco. These labor-intensive crops also necessitated the introduction of slavery. The North’s small farms and more diverse economy were not as well suited for slave labor. By the late 1700s, there were approximately 400,000 African slaves in the southern states and only around 50,000 in the northern states. A system of triangular trade was developed as New England merchants brought finished products such as books and cloth to the West Indies, then brought sugar to New England where it was made into rum, and then finally brought the rum and firearms to the West Indies for more slaves.
By the 1700s, several issues were causing tension in the colonies. First, the colonies’ growing population was coming into conflict with French trappers and Native Americans along the western and northern frontiers. Second, preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield sparked a religious movement called “The Great Awakening,” which revived colonists’ religious convictions. This religious independence led to the formation of two new Christian denominations: Baptism and Methodism. Proponents of each claimed that individuals could act on their own faith and questioned the idea that some people are better than others because of birth or wealth. These new ideas would have grave consequences for the future of the colonies.
Chapter 2: Balancing Liberty and Order (1753–1820)
The second chapter is considered a review and covers key moments in the founding of the United States, the development of its government, and its early political growth up through the War of 1812. It is divided into three sections: The Road to Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Origins of American Politics.
Section 1: The Road to Independence
- Grievances against the British government, as well as Enlightenment philosophies of equality and self-government, led to the American Revolutionary War.
- Ideas put forth in the Declaration of Independence and the colonists’ eventual success in the Revolutionary War irrevocably changed the world.
Summary and Analysis
By 1754, there were already some tensions beginning to show in the American colonists’ relationship with Britain, France, and the Native Americans. This soon erupted into the French and Indian War, which lasted for nine years until 1763. Tempers flared as the British attempted to tax the colonies without representation to help pay for the cost of the war. The British Parliament enacted such legislation as the Stamp act, a tax on printed materials, and the Townsend Acts, a tax on tea and other products. The resulting hostility from the colonies sparked boycotts, the Boston Massacre (in which British soldiers killed five men), and the Boston Tea Party where colonial rebels dumped literally tons of tea into the harbor. Hostilities reached a decisive moment on April 18, 1775, when the British marched to Lexington and Concord and found armed militia waiting for them. The first shot of that battle has been justly called the “Shot Heard Round the World.” The American Revolutionary War had begun.
In 1774, the First Continental Congress tried to take unified action for the colonies, but the time was not yet right. In 1776, the
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Chapter 3: An Emerging New Nation (1783-1861)
This final review chapter covers social, economic, and religious life in the rapidly growing United States from 1783 to 1861. It focuses on how all aspects of American society contributed to increasing tension between the northern and southern regions of the country. The chapter is divided into four sections: Life in the New Nation, the Market Revolution, Religion and Reform, and the Coming of the Civil War.
Section 1: Life in the New Nation
- A rapidly growing and young population spurred tremendous territorial growth.
- Innovations in industry brought social change as the northeast became more urban and industrial.
- Religious reform resulted in distinctly American forms of worship.
Summary and Analysis
Daniel Boone became an early symbol of what constituted the ideal American: courage, practical wisdom, and bottomless determination. These characteristics were needed to settle the frontier, because in the early part of the nineteenth century Americans were rapidly on the move. The population was young, growing, and ambitious to own land. Between 1780 and 1830, the population of the United States grew from approximately 2.7 million people to 12 million people; the country also grew from thirteen to twenty-four states. Settlers poured west toward the Mississippi, south to Florida, southwest to Texas, and northwest to Oregon. Although many of those areas were not actually part of the United States at first, they eventually became U.S. territory by either conquest or purchase.
The Industrial Revolution also brought many changes. New machines such as textile mills, steamboats, combustion engines, and eventually the railroad forever affected American society. As settlers began to grow food in fertile Midwestern fields, the Northeast’s less fertile cities began to depend more and more on manufacturing as their economic base. The development of better transportation in the form of steamboats, canals, roads, and railroads made it easy for goods to be shipped all over the country.
The Second Great Awakening created...
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Chapter 4: The Civil War (1861–1865)
This chapter focuses on the U.S. Civil War, a four-year conflict that almost tore the young nation apart. The chapter is divided into four sections: From Bull Run to Antietam, Life Behind the Lines, The Tide of the War Turns, and Devastation and New Freedom.
Section 1: From Bull Run to Antietam
- Bloody battles early in the war made it clear to both sides that the struggle would be a long and difficult one.
- The North had strong advantages in population, wealth, and transportation.
- The South had distinct advantages in military leadership and morale.
Summary and Analysis
Although both sides initially thought the war would be over in a very short time, events soon proved that it would take longer than expected. The first major battle of the war was the First Battle of Bull Run. Of the 35,000 troops involved on both sides, nearly 5,000 were killed or wounded during the battle. But much larger—and much bloodier—conflicts were to come.
As each side began preparing for a long war, they had to assess their strengths and weaknesses. The North had several advantages—a larger population, a better transportation system with railroads to move soldiers and supplies, and more factories to manufacture supplies. Perhaps most important, the North also had a fully functioning government. The South, however, had several advantages as well. First, they only had to fight a war of attrition, to wear the North down with losses; the North, on the other hand, would have to conquer and hold territory. The Southern army also had better morale; they were fighting to preserve their way of life and thus had much more at stake than the Northern soldiers did. Finally, because the great military academies were located in the South, most U.S. military officers fought on the side of the Confederates. For example, when the Union offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union forces, he chose to serve his home state of Virginia instead.
By the end of 1862, many in the North were truly discouraged. Weak leadership under George...
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Chapter 5: Reconstruction (1865–1877)
The period of Reconstruction stretched from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the year 1877, when control of the South was put back into Southern hands. The chapter is divided into four sections: Presidential Reconstruction, Congressional Reconstruction, Birth of the “New South,” and the End of Reconstruction.
Section 1: Presidential Reconstruction
- The Reconstruction plans of Presidents Lincoln and Johnson made it easy for states to rejoin the Union.
- African Americans began to experience freedom under the protection of Reconstruction laws.
Summary and Analysis
The South was devastated by the Civil War. Much of its industry, farmland, livestock, and infrastructure had been destroyed. Worse yet, the South had lost one-fifth of its adult male population, and a significant portion of the survivors were handicapped by their injuries. Furthermore, the South would have to change its way of life, now that the slaves had been freed.
President Lincoln’s plan of Reconstruction included offering pardon to all Confederate soldiers who would take an oath of allegiance to the Union and accept federal policy on slavery. Once 10% of the population had signed the oath, the state could form a new constitution and reenter the union. After Lincoln’s death, President Andrew Johnson had an even more lenient policy, allowing states to rejoin the Union without the 10% requirement.
Meanwhile, African Americans were beginning to enjoy their newfound freedom. Many began to move across the country and attempt to buy land. African Americans also started schools and churches as well as thousands of other voluntary groups and societies. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help the newly freed slaves and in its short existence (1865–1869) gave out clothing, medical supplies, and millions of meals to Civil War refugees.
Section 2: Congressional Reconstruction
- After they reentered...
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Chapter 6: The Expansion of American Industry (1850–1900)
This chapter focuses on the technological advances and new business practices that transformed American industry in the second half of the nineteenth century. The chapter is divided into four sections: A Technological Revolution, the Growth of Big Business, Industrialization and Workers, and the Great Strikes.
Section 1: A Technological Revolution
- Technological advances in energy, communication, transportation, and in the processing of steel revolutionized American industry.
Summary and Analysis
The second half of the nineteenth century was a period of great technological innovation. Between 1860 and 1890, over 500,000 patents were issued for new inventions. New forms of energy were developed, including oil, which was refined into kerosene and later gasoline. Thomas Edison, the century’s greatest inventor, developed light bulbs. Electricity was harnessed into power stations, which helped the productivity of businesses and transformed the workplace with cheap power. Electricity also transformed daily life as lights and refrigeration became available to American households. The rapidly growing clothing industry provided thousands of jobs for new immigrants.
In the area of transportation, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 connected the country from East to West. The change to steel rather from iron rails made train travel and shipping safer, and the development of time zones made it more efficient. Finally, railroads gave producers of goods a greater market to ship to and enabled the further growth of industry across the country. At the same time, the invention of the telegraph and telephone greatly improved communication.
Another major technological advance was in the steel industry itself. The Bessemer process greatly simplified the making of steel, so the mass production of steel became possible. Soon the building of large bridges and skyscrapers,...
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Chapter 7: Looking to the West (1860–1900)
This chapter focuses on the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the western part of the United States went from being a scarcely populated frontier to a vibrant, growing area that greatly contributed to America’s economy. In order for this transformation to take place, settlers had to move West, and the Native Americans who had first occupied the land were forcibly “resettled.” The chapter is divided into four sections: Moving West, Conflict With Native Americans, Mining, Ranching, and Farming, and Populism.
Section 1: Moving West
- There were many factors that encouraged Americans to move West, including high land prices in the East and government incentives for those willing to move West.
- By the 1890s, the frontier as it had been known throughout the early 1800s was virtually gone.
Summary and Analysis
Despite the hardships they encountered (e.g., blinding blizzards, agonizing droughts, and stifling heat), many Americans continued to take up stakes and travel West throughout the latter nineteenth century. There were many reasons to make the journey. First, land prices in the East were very high as the population became larger. Many immigrants, freed slaves, and poorer whites could not achieve their dreams of owning land. The government enticed settlers by making land ownership available in the West through the Morrill Land Grant Act and the Homestead Act. This act granted 160 acres of land to anyone who “improved” the land by building a home on it and farming it for five years. The Homestead Act ultimately created 372,000 farms. By 1890, the West was dotted with settlements approximately every 10 miles. The western frontier was no more.
Section 2: Conflict With Native Americans
- Westward migration brought conflict with the Native Americans.
- American dealings with the Native Americans were fraught with dishonesty, corruption, and outright cruelty.
Summary and Analysis
Western settlement on a grand scale brought the settlers into conflict with the land’s original inhabitants, the...
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Chapter 8: Politics, Immigration, and Urban Life (1870–1915)
This chapter discusses the period during which the United States emerged from Reconstruction by greatly increasing its industrial and agricultural production. Some Americans prospered, but many more remained trapped in a cycle of low wages and poor living conditions. The chapter is divided into four sections: Politics in the Gilded Age, People on the Move, the Challenge of the Cities, and Ideas for Reform.
Section 1: Politics in the Gilded Age
- National politics was dominated by issues of corruption and reform.
- Economic pressures also greatly affected the politics of the 1890s.
Summary and Analysis
During the late 1800s, government generally took a laissez-faire—or “hands off”—approach to economic matters. But not always. The government’s involvement in railroad building, for example, led to a scandal involving Union Pacific Railroadand Credit Mobilier. The government gave a subsidy to help Union Pacific with the Transcontinental Railroad, and most of the money from the subsidy lined the pockets of Credit Mobilier, who built the actual tracks of the railroad and overcharged for them. As many as thirty public officials, including a future president, took bribes from Credit Mobilier.
Corruption permeated the government because of its reliance on the spoils system, which allowed elected officials to dole out government jobs to unworthy candidates in return for their political support. Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to fight the spoils system by reforming the civil service. He angered his party so much with his reforms that he did not seek reelection. The spoils system played a role in the death of James Garfield. Elected president in 1880, Garfield was shot by a mentally unstable lawyer who had expected a job from Garfield under the spoils system. Garfield’s death put Chester A....
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Chapter 9: Life at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (1870–1915)
This chapter deals with several different social issues at the turn of the twentieth century, including education, entertainment, life for African Americans under Jim Crow laws, and the changing role of women. The chapter is split into four sections: The Expansion of Education, New Forms of Entertainment, The World of Jim Crow, The Changing Roles of Women.
Section 1: The Expansion of Education
- In the nineteenth century, education was out of reach for many Americans, but by the turn of the century more and more Americans were able to take advantage of educational opportunities.
- Educational opportunities were not available to all Americans on an equal basis. Women, African Americans, and Native Americans still faced significant discrimination.
Summary and Analysis
By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of Americans attended at least a few years of public schooling in order to learn to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. Public schools not only provided education for immigrant children, but they also played a major role in assimilating immigrants, helping them become part of American culture. As more students completed high school, more opportunities developed for them to attend institutions of higher learning. Between the years 1880 and 1900, around 150 new colleges and universities opened their doors. By 1915, even some middle-class families were able to send their children to college. Women, too, began to have opportunities to receive a higher education as many colleges formed associated women’s schools. This wide availability of higher education would come to distinguish the United States from other industrialized nations.
Unfortunately this education was not equally available to everybody. African-American children generally attended separate schools that were very inferior to those of their white counterparts. Native American children could only attend schools if they left the reservation and their families to attend special boarding schools that forced them to give up their language, dress, customs, and culture.
As far as higher education went, there were few colleges and universities who would admit African Americans, yet there were many African Americans who wanted higher educational opportunities. Only a few institutions—Oberlin, Bates,...
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Chapter 10: Becoming a World Power (1890–1915)
This chapter focuses on the period between 1890 and 1915, when the United States became increasingly involved in international affairs, especially in Central America, the Caribbean, and in the Pacific Islands. The chapter is divided into four sections: The Pressure to Expand, the Spanish-American War, a New Foreign Policy, and Debating America’s New Role.
Section 1: The Pressure to Expand
- In the late 1800s, the United States found itself under pressure to extend American influence abroad.
Summary and Analysis
Beginning in the late 1800s, the United States found itself under increasing pressure to expand its influence into the world arena. There were several reasons for this pressure. First, the late nineteenth century was one of unprecedented expansion of European countries as they vied for colonial territories worldwide. European nations such as Great Britain, France, and Germany were seeking to increase their natural resources and to satisfy nationalistic goals by bringing their culture, religion, and values to those they saw as inferior to themselves. This European colonial expansion both threatened and challenged the United States. Secondly, many saw expansion as a way to develop new markets for American products. A third pressure to expand came from the navy, which claimed it needed a stronger force to protect American interests abroad. But by 1900, the United States had developed one of the most powerful navies in the world, which suggested to others that the U.S. had the willingness and ability to compete on the open sea. Finally, some American leaders felt that America needed a new “frontier” to keep the “American Spirit” of nationalism strong; others felt that American expansion was a noble pursuit that would bring Christianity and modern civilization to the “heathen” peoples around the world. Gradually, Americans began to accept expansion as necessary and right. The United States would soon find itself involved in many difficult foreign conflicts.
Section 2: The Spanish-American War
- The United States found itself drawn, against the will of many of its citizens, into the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the annexation of new...
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Chapter 11: The Progressive Reform Era (1890–1920)
This chapter explores the numerous reform movements of the Progressive Era. The chapter is divided into four sections: The Origins of Progressivism, Progressive Legislation, Progressivism Under Taft and Wilson, and Suffrage at Last.
Section 1: The Origins of Progressivism
- At the turn of the century, many of the problems caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization spurred the creation of reform movements that became known as progressivism.
- Many of the goals of Progressivism came from earlier reform movements.
Summary and Analysis
The Progressives were never a single, unified group. They came from many different backgrounds, including the rural populists, temperance workers, settlement workers, union organizers, and other groups committed to reform. In general, they had four basic beliefs about government: it should be accountable to its citizens, it should curb the power and influence of the wealthy, it should be active in improving the lives of its citizens, and it should be more efficient and less corrupt. In some way or other, all progressives worked toward these goals.
Some of those responsible for igniting the Progressives included writers such as Upton Sinclair with his book The Jungle, which exposed the evils of the meat industry; Edward Bellamy with Looking Backward, a utopian look at a future America without political corruption or poverty; and Henry George with Progress and Poverty. Other writers, often called muckrakersbecause they dug into the dirt of companies and their practices, also alerted the public to the scandalous behavior of city officials and companies like Standard Oil.
Those works exposing the wrongs of politicians and large companies spurred the reform movement. Membership in both labor unions and in the socialist party increased as a result. Though most Progressives were not socialists, they worked to reform corrupt government organizations and to guard the welfare of the working class and the poor. Many women were...
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Chapter 12: The World War I Era (1914–1920)
This chapter discusses America’s involvement in World War I. The United States emerged from World War I as an unparalleled world power. The chapter is divided into five sections: The Road to War, the United States Declares War, Americans on the European Front, Americans on the Home Front, and Global Peacemaker.
Section 1: The Road to War
- World War I had several long- and short-term causes: imperialism, militarism, nationalism, and a tangled system of alliances that caused the war to expand quickly.
- The United States tried hard to remain neutral in the early years of the war.
Summary and Analysis
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria made a state visit to Sarajevo in Bosnia. He was assassinated, and his assassination ignited World War I, which was to be called by its participants The War to End All Wars. At the time of Ferdinand’s death, Europe was a powder keg waiting to explode. One of the reasons for this volatile situation was the imperialism of the late 1800s that had sent European nations vying against each other to gain colonies. Other causes included an increase in nationalism, the belief in the superiority of one’s nation or ethnic group; militarism, an increase in the interest and money spent on developing armies and weapons; and finally, alliances,a web of secret agreements between countries to come to each others aid in time of war.
Thus when the Archduke was assassinated and Serbia was threatened with war by Austria-Hungary, Russia came to her aid, mobilizing for war. In a domino effect, Germany declared war on Russia, and France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. Soon Italy, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire were drawn into the war. Those uniting with Russia, France, and Great Britain were called the Allies. The Germans and Austrians were the main force of the Central Powers.
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This chapter explores the social changes that caused conflicts in American post-war society. The chapter is divided into three sections: Society in the 1920s, Mass Media and the Jazz Age, and Cultural Conflicts
Section 1: Society in the 1920s
- The 1920s were a time of rapid social change.
- Many young people, particularly women, adopted new lifestyles and attitudes.
- The United States became an increasingly urban nation, and traditional values were challenged.
Summary and Analysis
Woman stood at the center of much of the social change of the early 1920s. Many women had been in the workforce for some time, achieving higher positions and better pay during the war. In 1920, women also gained the right to vote. For many women, these changes made them less ready to fit into the retiring social mode previously allowed to them. Young women, called flappers, led a revolution in dress, hairstyles, and manners. Women began to cut or “bob” their hair, hemlines shortened, and makeup was worn. Flappers were fun loving, boyish, and bold. They were not afraid to drink or smoke in public. These changes shocked many in American society. Working women often adopted flapper dress styles (if not their lifestyle), because short hair and modern clothes were more convenient. Women also made gains in the public arena as they gained the vote. Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first women to be elected to Congress, and by 1924 two states had female governors. By 1928, there were 145 women serving in 38 state legislatures. Women were slowly gaining political power.
The 1920s also saw Americans on the move. The rural-urban split became greater as farmers became economically stressed while the rest of the country enjoyed prosperity. Nearly six million farmers left the land and went to the city in search of jobs. African Americans also flocked North to find jobs and escape Jim Crow laws. In addition, although immigration from Europe and Asia dropped off, Canadians and Mexicans came to find jobs. So many Mexicans lived in Los Angeles that they developed a distinct neighborhood called the...
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Chapter 14: Politics and Prosperity (1920–1929)
This chapter explores the effect of World War I on American politics and analyzes the beginnings of the Great Depression. The chapter is divided into three sections: a Republican Decade, a Business Boom, and the Economy in the Late 1920s.
Section 1: A Republican Decade
- Americans, heartily sick of war, wanted a “return to normalcy “ in the 1920s.
- One result of the First World War was to make Americans suspicious and mistrustful of all foreigners, sparking a Red Scare and restrictive immigration legislation.
- The Republican administrations of the 1920s pursued pro-business and isolationist policies.
By 1920, Americans were tired of war; they were tired of the arguments in Congress concerning the Treaty of Versailles. When Republican Warren G. Harding ran for president on the slogan “a return to normalcy,” voters gave him a landslide victory over the Democrats. Americans were spooked by their memories of the war and afraid of anything foreign. The Communist Revolution in Russia that created the Soviet Union, which had initially been supported by some Americans, soon sparked a "Red Scare"—fear of Communists in America. In fact, many Americans feared all foreigners, particularly Europeans. In the Supreme Court decisions Schenk v. U.S. and Gitlow v. New York, the Court infringed upon a person’s right to free speech and expanded the powers of the federal and state governments. The country was rocked by the arrests of thousands of suspected radicals in the Palmer Raids and the controversial trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, Italian immigrants accused of murder. Despite the weakness of the evidence against them, Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted and executed. Many felt they were accused...
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Chapter 15: Crash and Depression (1929–1933)
This chapter focuses on the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. The crash led to a worldwide economic depression that caused much suffering, especially in the United States as millions lost their jobs and homes. The chapter is divided into four sections: the Stock Market Crash, Social Effects of the Depression, Surviving the Great Depression, the Election of 1932.
Section 1: The Stock Market Crash
- Overspeculation in the stock market and the overproduction of goods resulted in panic selling that caused the U.S. stock market to crash, leading to severe economic depression in the United States.
- Because so many other countries depended on the United States for investments, loans, and as a marketplace for goods, the entire world economy was affected by the Great Depression.
Summary and Analysis
By 1929, the rising U.S. stock market dominated the news in America. By September 3, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an average of the stock prices of major industries, had reached an all-time high. Prices were inflated well above the actual values of many stocks based on companies’ earnings and assets. After the peak in September, prices began slowly falling, and some brokers called in the loans of those who had bought on the margin. This began a panic as worried stockholders began to sell. On Tuesday, October 29, the panic climaxed when a record 16.4 million shares were sold. Black Tuesday, as it is called, saw a complete collapse of the stock market—now known as the Great Crash. By the end of the day, investors had lost over $30 billion.
Although the effects of the Great Crash were initially felt by the actual investors (some of whom lost everything), the effects soon rippled throughout the whole economy. First, banks began to fail. Banks depend on their investments—specifically, the interest they make on loans—to survive. When investors cannot repay the bank, the bank cannot survive. As banks began to close, there came...
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Chapter 16: The New Deal (1933–1941)
This chapter discusses Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which had both successes and failures and drew both supporters and critics. The chapter is divided into three sections: Forging a New Deal, the New Deal’s Critics, and the Last Days of the New Deal.
Section 1: Forging a New Deal
- Roosevelt sought to end the depression through a series of government programs designed to bring relief to suffering Americans, to stimulate the economy, and to provide protection against future crashes.
- Many key players in New Deal programs were former members of the Progressive party. Roosevelt also appointed many African Americans to key positions.
Summary and Analysis
FDR came out of the gates running. His Inaugural Address was designed to encourage optimism and give the country hope: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In his first Hundred Days in office, he pushed many programs through Congress to provide relief and create jobs. One of his first successes was the Emergency Banking Act, which stabilized the banking industry. The Glass-Steagall Banking Act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Cooperation (FDIC) to insure bank deposits so that people could never again lose their savings. Other early acts gave the federal government the power to regulate the stock market and created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which still regulates the market today.
In order to stimulate the economy and create jobs, Roosevelt created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), which put federal money into local relief agencies and also into public work programs. The Civil Works Administration...
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Chapter 17: World War II (1931–1941)
This chapter explores the origins of World War II and the United State’s entrance into the conflict. The chapter is divided into four sections: The Rise of Dictators, Europe Goes to War, Japan Builds an Empire, and From Isolationism to War.
Section 1: The Rise of Dictators
- Depression-era Europe was a fertile ground for the rise of dictatorships. Four dictators came to power between WWI and WWII: Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler.
- WWII-era dictatorships were brutal and repressive governments that were only concerned with a desire for power.
Summary and Analysis
During the 1920s and ’30s, the discouraging economic condition of Europe as well as lingering resentments from the Versailles Treaty helped to create a situation in which four major powers fell prey to repressive totalitarian regimes led by dictators. The first of these was a direct legacy of World War I. In 1917, the Russian monarchy had fallen to a Communist regime lead by Lenin. However, Lenin passed away in 1924, and the reins of control were seized by Joseph Stalin. Stalin’s repressive government killed millions. He starved the peasants in order to take state control of the farms and even used purges to kill members of his own Communist party to stamp out any remnant of dissent to his rule.
The other three dictatorships were fascist. Fascism is a political philosophy that is based on the supposed superiority of a nation or ethnic group and the supreme authority of the leader. In Italy, fascism was led by Benito Mussolini, who had been an injured soldier in World War I. He was disillusioned that Italy did not receive additional land from the Versailles Treaty. Called “Il Duce,” he led Italy in the conquest of Ethiopia. Francisco Franco brought civil war to Spain, finally taking control in 1939 and remaining in power until 1975. In Germany, Adolph Hitler came to power and plunged Europe into another devastating war.
Hitler was also a veteran of World War I, and he felt that the Germans had suffered injustice from the harsh terms of the...
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Chapter 18: Americans at War (1941–1945)
This chapter focuses on America’s involvement in World War II. The chapter is divided into five sections: Mobilization, Retaking Europe, the Holocaust, the War in the Pacific, and the Social Impact of the War.
Section 1: Mobilization
- The American government needed to quickly mobilize industry as well as the armed forces to fight the Axis Powers.
- The mobilization effort put Americans back to work and brought about economic recovery from the Great Depression.
Summary and Analysis
As early as December 1940, a full year before the U.S. officially entered WWI, President Roosevelt began to marshal the resources of the United States to prepare for a war he saw as inevitable. Congress authorized the first peace time draft with the Selective Service and Training Act, which began to bring over 16 million Americans into military training. America also increased its defense spending from $2 billion to $10 billion over the course of the year.
Just as in World War I, the U.S. government also regulated the economy to provide support and materials for the war. The War Production Board decided how natural resources would be used to best supply U.S. troops, and the Office of War Mobilizationoversaw the production of goods. War-related materials took precedence over consumer goods. Despite the efforts of the Office of Price Controls, prices rose significantly and there were shortages of many consumer products throughout the war. Many goods such as food products and gasoline were rationed. People all over the country contributed to the war effort with “Victory Gardens,” recycling drives, and blackout drills to test American readiness for possible bombing raids.
The government financed the war with increased tax revenues and by borrowing money. Government war-bond sales to American citizens raised over $186 billion. The national debt rose from $43 billion in 1940 to $259 billion in 1945.
Section 2: Retaking Europe
- The Allies waged war in the Atlantic, North Africa, the Soviet Union, and western Europe to defeat the Germans.
Summary and Analysis
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Chapter 19: The Cold War (1945–1960)
This chapter discusses the aftermath of World War II and the development of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The chapter is divided into four sections: Origins of the Cold War, the Cold War Heats Up, the Korean War, and the Continuing Cold War.
Section 1: Origins of the Cold War
- The United States and the U.S.S.R. had differing goals at the end of the war. These differences led to increased hostility between the two countries.
- Joseph Stalin established satellite nations subject to Soviet rule, thus creating an “iron curtain” between Eastern and Western Europe.
Summary and Analysis
As World War II was coming to an end, it became clear that the United States and the Soviet Union had very different ideas of what the nature of postwar Europe should be. The Americans felt they had fought the war to preserve democracy and economic opportunity in European countries. On the other hand, the Soviets under Stalin wanted to protect themselves from another war and to spread Communism throughout the world. These differences brought conflict as early as the Allied conference at Yalta in early 1945 when FDR and Stalin disagreed about the future of Poland.
What all the countries could agree to at Yalta was the groundwork for the
United Nations (U.N.). Unfortunately, FDR did not live to see the founding of the U.N. He died suddenly on April 12, 1944, and was succeeded by his new vice president, Harry Truman. Truman’s first meeting with Stalin did not go any better than earlier meetings. Stalin demanded war reparations from Germany and still wanted control of Poland. By 1950, Stalin had created a network of satellite countries owing allegiance to the Soviet Union to provide a buffer zone against outside attacks. These satellite countries were taken over with or without the agreement of their citizens and included Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The only countries to maintain their independence were Finland...
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Chapter 20: The Postwar Years at Home (1945–1960)
This chapter explores the period of economic and social prosperity in the United States after World War II. The chapter is divided into three sections: the Postwar Economy, the Mood of the 1950s, and Domestic Politics and Policy.
Section 1: The Postwar Economy
- The country enjoyed an era of prosperity, and the “American Dream” became a reality for a large portion of the population.
Summary and Analysis
As businesses returned to making consumer goods, Americans flocked to buy them. Americans had a higher per capita income than ever before, and the Gross National Product more than doubled between 1945 and 1960. A few large firms came to dominate industry in the 1950s; corporations diversified their investments into different industries to lessen the risk of loss if one industry failed. Such conglomerates, companies made up of three or more businesses, are better able to handle the ups and downs of the economy. Another type of business that flourished in the 1950s was the franchise, a business that contracts with a larger company to provide products and services. From a single hamburger stand in California owned by the McDonald brothers, McDonalds became a national franchise and a household name.
Technology was also changing the way Americans lived. The television brought the world into the living rooms of more than 75% of American families by 1960. Television helped to further reduce regional differences between states and regions of the country. Automobiles and highways enabled more people to move to the suburbs. The application of assembly-line strategies to home building made it so more houses could be put up in less time and for less cost. Advances in the emerging computer industry, medicine, and the peacetime nuclear-power industry also began to change the way Americans lived. Automobiles brought about new businesses as restaurants, shopping centers, and gas stations were needed to accommodate more drivers. More Americans than ever before worked in white-collar jobs that were better paying and less tiring. Blue-collar workers also...
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Chapter 21: The Civil Rights Movement
This chapter explores the origins and development of the civil rights movement in the United States. The chapter is divided into five sections: Demands for Civil Rights, Leaders and Strategies, the Struggle Intensifies, the Political Response, and the Movement Takes a New Turn.
Section 1: Demands for Civil Rights/
- After World War II, many African Americans felt it was time to fight discrimination.
- Early leaders in the civil rights movement focused on desegregating schools and the transportation system.
Summary and Analysis
In the years following World War II, many African Americans felt the time was ripe to demand their civil rights. During the first half of the twentieth century, the African-American population of northern cities grew tremendously as blacks moved to escape the Jim Crow South. Out of these communities came educated, prominent African Americans who were able to form alliances and gain political influence. During the New Deal, African Americans were courted as voters and were given positions working in the government. During World War II, even more African Americans moved to northern cities, giving them power as a voting constituency. Furthermore, the horrors of the Holocaust in Germany demonstrated to many Americans, both black and white, the ugliness of racism. They felt that racism had no place in a country that called itself “the land of the free.”
The first sign that the racial status quo was about to change was the integration of major league baseball. Jackie Robinson's brave and dignified behavior fostered pride in Africans Americans and helped pave the way for the early civil rights movement.
One of the first issues pursued by civil rights leaders was the desegregation of public schools. African Americans scored a significant victory with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which stated that segregation of schools was unconstitutional. The...
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Chapter 22: The Kennedy and Johnson Years (1961–1965)
This chapter explores the main issues facing the United States during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson: civil rights, the Cold War, nuclear warfare, and the beginning of the Vietnam War. The chapter is divided into three sections: the New Frontier, the Great Society, and Foreign Policy in the Early 1960s.
Section 1: The New Frontier
- John F. Kennedy won the presidency by only a narrow margin, and many of the new ideas he proposed thus stalled in Congress.
- Despite his difficulty in getting legislation passed, Kennedy’s energy and idealism created optimism throughout the country.
Summary and Analysis
John F. Kennedy was probably the first candidate to win an election as a result of television. Kennedy’s appearance in four televised debates with his opponent, Richard M. Nixon, transmitted his youthful enthusiasm and vigor into living rooms around the nation and contributed to his narrow victory. He was the youngest man to ever be elected president. He was also the only Roman Catholic to serve in the White House, but he exuded youthful energy as he promised America that he would “get America moving again,” after the slowing economy of the Eisenhower years.
This goal would be harder to achieve than he imagined. Because he had such a narrow victory, he did not have a strong mandate, or public endorsement, and many of his legislative initiatives got stuck in Congress. To strengthen the economy, he proposed tax cuts and other measures that the majority of Congress opposed. He also proposed legislation to help eradicate poverty and managed to pass the Housing Act of 1961, which provided funding for urban renewal and to increase the minimum wage. He also pushed the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to ban poll taxes through Congress, although he did not live to see its ratification. Many other initiatives were carried out by executive orders, including providing food to needy families, changing social security benefits, and the signing of the
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Chapter 23: An Era of Activism (1960–1975)
This chapter discusses the turbulent years of the 1960s and mid-1970s, a time of change and individualism that spurred a vibrant and creative counterculture in America. The chapter is divided into four sections: the Women’s Movement, Ethnic Minorities Seek Equality, the Counterculture, and the Environmental and Consumer Movements.
Section 1: The Women’s Movement
- Many women were unhappy with the 1950s stereotype of wife and mother and were ready to change this image.
- The civil rights movement gave women the inspiration and methods to bring about change.
Summary and Analysis
Many women did not fit into the 1950s stereotypical mold of woman as only housewife and mother. In fact, more women were working outside the home than ever before. By the early 1960s, 38% of all women worked in the public arena and over 25% had a college degree. Yet women still did not have many professional opportunities. They were often passed over for promotions and were paid less for the same work than men. The civil rights movement helped to inspire women and gave them the tools they needed to begin effecting change. The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion, country of origin, and sex. It gave women a legal basis to challenge discrimination. In 1963, Betty Friedan published her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, which described the frustration and dissatisfaction that many women faced despite having the so-called “American Dream.” In 1966, she and other professional women founded the National Organization of Women (NOW) to pressure the government to take discrimination on the basis of sex seriously.
Slowly women began to bring about change in American attitudes. Ms. magazine encouraged women in the workplace, and the publication of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves encouraged women to take control of their bodies and health. The Higher Education Act of 1972 prohibited discrimination in education, and more women than ever before began studying to enter fields such a medicine and law, which had previously been dominated by men. The National Women’s Political Caucus encouraged women to vote and to run for office. Shirley...
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Chapter 24: The Vietnam War (1954–1975)
This chapter discusses and analyzes the Vietnam War, one of the costliest, longest, and most divisive wars in U.S. history. The chapter is divided into four sections: the War Unfolds, Fighting the War, Political Divisions, and the End of the War.
Section 1: The War Unfolds
- Pursuing a policy of containment, the United States offered support to anti-Communist South Vietnam.
- By the time Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency in 1963, it was clear that further U.S. involvement was needed if South Vietnam was to remain independent.
Summary and Analysis
After World War II, the U.S. government pursued a policy of containment in respect to Communism, which directly led to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Eisenhower compared the situation in Vietnam to a game of dominos: if Vietnam fell to communism, then the surrounding nations—Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma—would also fall. This “domino theory” would play a pivotal role in U.S. policy in Vietnam.
Vietnam had been a French colony until 1954 when the Vietnamese League for Independence, the Vietminh, defeated the French forces. At this point, Vietnam was split into two nations: Communist North Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh, and the Republican South led by President Ngo Dinh Diem. The United States provided military advisors and funding to help Diem stand against any advances of Northern Communists. By the time John F. Kennedy came to office, the U.S. had over 600 military advisors in Vietnam. Kennedy was also determined to prevent the spread of Communism, so he sent even more advisors to Vietnam. The Vietnamese people, however, did not support Diem’s government. An unpopular president, Diem was assassinated in 1963 just weeks before Kennedy himself was killed. President Johnson did not want to go to war in Vietnam, but he was determined not to let South Vietnam fall to Communism. The Gulf of Tonkin incident allowed Johnson to provide military support without declaring war. In August of 1964, it was announced that North Vietnamese ships had attacked U.S. destroyers in international waters. Johnson used the event, which may not have even happened, to get the...
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Chapter 25: Nixon, Ford, Carter (1969–1981)
This chapter discusses the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. The chapter is divided into five sections: Nixon’s Domestic Policy, Nixon’s Foreign Policy, the Watergate Scandal, the Ford Administration, and the Carter Administration.
Section 1: Nixon’s Domestic Policy
- Nixon relied on White House staff rather than cabinet members for advice, thus insulating himself from any who disagreed with him.
- During his term of office, Nixon dealt with several domestic issues: inflation, an oil shortage, and the ballooning costs of Johnson’s social programs.
Summary and Analysis
Richard Nixon did not have the outgoing personality that many former presidents had. He was cold and lacked charisma, but he was an effective communicator. Also unlike most presidents, he did not use his appointed cabinet as his advisors; he preferred the advice of his White House Staff who were unswervingly loyal to him. His dependence on and support of them would eventually bring about his downfall.
The domestic issues Nixon faced were a severe recession and increasing unemployment. Although he did not generally support deficit spending, Nixon found he had to spend money to stimulate the economy and lower the unemployment rate. He also tried to impose freezes on wages and prices, but nothing seemed to be able to control spiraling inflation. In addition, the country was facing an oil crisis because U.S. support of Israel caused the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to ban the shipping of oil to the U.S. As Americans waited in gas lines around the country, inflation continued to rise. Nixon also had to make cuts in the social programs President Johnson had created. These programs were costing a fortune and not providing what they had promised. He turned many of the programs over to the state governments in a policy known as New Federalism. Nixon also had the unusual chance to pick four Supreme Court justices during his...
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Chapter 26: The Conservative Revolution (1980–1992)
This chapter explores the rise of the conservative movement that had been trying since the FDR administration to cut government growth and preserve traditional values. The chapter is divided into four sections: Roots of the New Conservatism, the Regan Revolution, Regan’s Second Term, and the George H. W. Bush Presidency.
Section 1: The Roots of the New Conservatism
- The conservative movement begun under FDR gained new strength in the 1970s and brought Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980.
Summary and Analysis
The election of Ronald Reagan marked a significant shift in American domestic policy, but the call for change did not develop overnight. Ever since the enactment of the New Deal by FDR, there had been those who opposed the expansion of government and the accompanying erosion of private-property rights. It was these conservatives who successfully opposed FDR’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court with new justices. However, conservative successes were few and far between. The Democrats held the presidency for twenty years, and Republican Dwight Eisenhower did nothing to control the growth of federal bureaucracy. When Barry Goldwater ran on a conservative platform in 1964, he lost in a landslide, but the 1960s and 1970s gave new life to the conservative movement. First it became clear that Johnson’s social programs were costing billions and not providing what they had promised. Further, social issues began to concern conservatives as many were troubled by the increased drug use in American society and the violence of student protests. The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion was a flash point for galvanizing conservatives to work together. Conservatives were also concerned with the growing divorce rate, which they blamed on the women’s movement and the decline of the traditional family. In addition, a backlash against affirmative action programs, which some Americans felt promoted reverse discrimination against white males, caused many blue-collar Democrats to support Reagan. These Reagan Democrats helped to bring about Reagan’s landslide victory in the 1980 presidential election. Reagan was also helped by the support of Christian televangelists who reached millions and by Carter’s inability to resolve the Iran Hostage Crisis. Reagan won the election by 489...
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Chapter 27: Entering a New Era (1992 to the Present)
This chapter explores the dramatic changes in America as the country approached the twenty-first century: the emergence of a global economy, the computer revolution, and the fear of terrorism. The chapter is divided into three sections: Politics in Recent Years, the United States in a New World, and Americans in the New Millennium.
Section 1: Politics in Recent Years
- Bill Clinton was a popular president with many successes, but scandal left a stain on his record.
- Recent presidential elections have been very close and contentious, reflecting a substantial split in the values of the nation.
Summary and Analysis
At the end of the Persian Gulf War, President Bush enjoyed a large approval rating from the voters, but the declining economy cost him a second term in office as Democrat Bill Clinton won the election. Ross Perot, a third-party candidate and a billionaire businessman running as an “outsider,” surprisingly won 19% of the popular vote, hurting Bush’s reelection effort. Although Clinton began his presidency with Democratic majorities in both the House of Republicans and the Senate, he did not get much of his legislation passed as easily as expected. To help the economy, he tried to reduce the deficit by raising taxes and to end the recession by increasing spending. His first budget passed by only two votes. He lost his battle to establish a national health care system. In the midterm elections of 1994, the Democrats lost control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, despite the more hostile Congress, Clinton managed to come up with a program of welfare reform that was agreeable to all. This reform eliminated guarantees of federal assistance and gave states authority to run welfare as they saw fit with federal money. It also limited the amount of aid a family could receive. Clinton easily won a second term in office, but scandal soon overwhelmed his presidency. First, Clinton was charged with having been involved in some fraudulent land deals in Arkansas in the
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