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Gilded - Progressive Era Packet

Ms. Wiley’s APUSH Period 6 Packet, 1870s-1920*
Page #(s)
Document Name:
1) Period 6 Summary: ?s, Concepts, Themes, & Assessment Info
2) Timeline
3) Jim Crow America, 1877-1960s (focus through 1910s for P6)
4) Life Out West, 1860-1900
5) Gilded Age, 1870-1905ish
6) Bridge from Gilded to “Progressive” Era: Video Analysis
7) The Progressive Era (1900-1920ish)
8) U.S. Imperialism (focus: 1890s)
*The College Board takes Period 6 to the end of the Gilded Age, approximately 1900, making for a short unit of study.
Their Period 7 is massive, consisting of the Progressive Era, U.S. Imperialism, WWI, the 1920s, Great Depression, and
WWII. To help balance out the periodization, we’ll bundle two topics from Period 7 into Period 6 for our coursework: the
Progressive Era and U.S. Imperialism of the 1890s.
Period 6 Summary (1870s – 1920, minus WWI)
Period 6 is eclectic. It covers the Gilded Age (sometimes referred to as the Industrial Age), Progressive Era, Age of Segregation, and
Age of Westward Expansion and Imperialism. As such, it stretches as far as 1920, though it does not cover World War I, which is a
topic reserved for Period 7.
Key Questions for Period 6:
How did the 14th and 15th Amendments continue to be eroded in this period?
To what extent did the lives of African Americans improve during this period?
Was the accumulation of wealth by a small number of business moguls during this period good for the nation in the long run?
Did such accumulation of wealth violate capitalist principles and human rights?
Do any of the Gilded Age problems (massive inequality, worker exploitation, political corruption, etc.) remain problems in
America today?
Did American Indians suffer a cultural genocide during this period, as a result of the Indian Boarding School Movement and
Dawes Act (1887)?
Was the ___ justifiable, politically, economically, and/or ideologically? [war with Spain (1898); war with the Philippines (18991902); “acquisition” of Hawaii (1898)]
How effective was the Progressive Era in dealing with Gilded Age problems?
Is the Progressive Era deserving of its title?
To what extent did America move closer to the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence throughout this period?
Key Concept 1: Technological advances, large-scale production methods, and the opening of new markets encouraged the rise of
industrial capitalism in the U.S.
Related Ideas/Examples:
Large-scale industrial production—accompanied by massive technological change, expanding international communication
networks, and pro-growth government policies—generated rapid economic development and business consolidation.
o Following the Civil War, government subsidies for transportation and communication systems helped open new
markets in North America.
o Businesses made use of technological innovations, greater access to natural resources, redesigned financial and
management structures, advances in marketing, and a growing labor force to dramatically increase the production of
o Though many Americans experienced improvements in their standard of living and access to a variety of goods and
service, the gap between rich and poor grew.
o Many business leaders sought increased profits by consolidating corporations into large trusts and holding companies,
which further concentrated wealth.
o Businesses and foreign policymakers increasingly looked outside U.S. borders in an effort to gain greater influence and
control over markets and natural resources in the Pacific Rim, Asia, and Latin America.
A variety of perspectives on the economy and labor developed during a time of financial panics and downturns.
o Some argued that laissez-faire policies and competition promoted economic growth in the long run, and they opposed
government intervention during economic downturns.
o The industrial workforce expanded and became more diverse through internal and international migration; child labor
also increased.
o Labor and management battled over wages and working conditions, with workers organizing local and national unions
and/or directly confronting business leaders.
o Despite the industrialization of some segments of the Southern economy—a change promoted by Southern leaders
who called for a “New South”—agriculture based on sharecropping and tenant farming continued to be the primary
economic activity in the South.
New systems of production and transportation enabled consolidation within agriculture, which, along with periods of instability,
spurred a variety of responses from farmers.
o Improvements in mechanization helped agricultural production increase substantially and contributed to declines in
food prices.
o Many farmers responded to the increasing consolidation in agricultural markets and their dependence on the evolving
railroad system by creating local and regional cooperative organizations.
o Economic instability inspired agrarian activists to create the People’s (Populist) Party, which called for a stronger
governmental role in regulating the American economic system.
Key Concept 2: The Gilded Age produced new cultural and intellectual movements, public reform efforts, and political debates
over economic and social policies.
Related Ideas/Examples:
New cultural and intellectual movements both strengthened and challenged the social order of the Gilded Age.
o Social commentators advocated theories later described as social Darwinism to justify the success of those at the top of
the socioeconomic structure as both appropriate and inevitable.
o Some business leaders argued that the wealthy had a moral obligation to help the less fortunate and improve society,
as articulated in the ideas known as the Gospel of Wealth, and they made philanthropic contributions that enhanced
educational opportunities and urban environments.
o A number of artists and critics, including agrarians, utopians, socialists, and advocates of the Social Gospel, championed
alternative visions for the economy and U.S. society.
Dramatic social changes in the period inspired political debates over citizenship, corruption, and the proper relationship
between business and government.
o The major political parties appealed to lingering divisions from the Civil War and contended over tariffs and currency
issues, even as reformers argued that economic greed and self-interest had corrupted all levels of government.
o Many women sought greater equality with men, often joining voluntary organizations, going to college, promoting
social and political reform, and, like Jane Addams, working in settlement houses to help immigrants adapt to U.S.
language and customs.
o The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that upheld racial segregation helped to mark the end of most
of the political gains African Americans made during Reconstruction. Facing increasing violence, discrimination, and
scientific theories of race, African American reformers continued to fight for political and social equality.
Related Themes for concepts 1-2:
Work, Exchange, and Technology:
o Explain how different labor systems developed in the U.S., and explain their effects on workers’ lives and U.S. society.
o Explain how patterns of exchange, markets, and private enterprise have developed, and analyze ways that
governments have responded to economic issues.
o Analyze how technological innovation has affected economic development and society.
America in the World: Analyze the reasons for, and results of, U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military initiatives in North
America and overseas.
Culture and Society:
o Explain how different group identities, including racial, ethnic, class, and regional identities, have emerged and changed
over time.
o Explain how religious groups and ideas have affected American society and political life.
o Explain how artistic, philosophical, and scientific ideas have developed and shaped society and institutions.
o Explain how ideas about women’s rights and gender roles have affected society and politics.
Politics and Power:
o Explain how popular movements, reform efforts, and activist groups have sought to change American society and
o Explain how different beliefs about the federal government’s rule in U.S. social and economic life have affected political
debates and policies.
o Explain how and why political ideas, beliefs, institutions, party systems, and alignments have developed and changed.
American and National Identity: Explain how interpretations of the Constitution and debates over rights, liberties, and
definitions of citizenship have affected American values, politics, and society.
Key Concept 3: The migrations that accompanied industrialization transformed both urban and rural areas of the U.S. and caused
dramatic social and cultural change.
Related Ideas/Examples:
International and internal migration increased urban populations and fostered the growth of a new urban culture.
o As cities became areas of economic growth featuring new factories and businesses, they attracted immigrants from
Asia and from southern and eastern Europe, as well as African American migrants within and out of the South. Many
migrants moved to escape poverty, religious persecution, and limited opportunities for social mobility in their home
countries or regions.
Urban neighborhoods based on particular ethnicities, races, and classes provided new cultural opportunities for city
o Increasing public debates over assimilation and Americanization accompanied the growth of international migration.
Many immigrants negotiated compromises between the cultures they brought over and the culture they found in the
o In an urban atmosphere where the access to power was unequally distributed, political machines thrived, in part by
providing immigrants and the poor with social services.
o Corporations’ need for managers and for male and female clerical workers as well as increased access to educational
institutions, fostered the growth of a distinctive middle class. A growing amount of leisure time also helped expand
consumer culture.
Large numbers of migrants moved to the West in search of land and economic opportunity, frequently provoking competition
and violent conflict.
o The building of transcontinental railroads, the discovery of mineral resources, and government policies promoted
economic growth and created new communities and centers of commercial activity.
o In hopes of achieving ideals of self-sufficiency and independence, migrants moved to both rural and boomtown areas
of the West for opportunities, such as building the railroads, mining, farming, and ranching.
o As migrant populations increased in number and the American bison population was decimated, competition for land
and resources in the West among white settlers, American Indians, and Mexican Americans led to an increase in violent
o The U.S. government violated treaties with American Indians and responded to resistance with military force,
eventually confining American Indians to reservations and denying tribal sovereignty.
o Many American Indians preserved their cultures and tribal identities despite government policies promoting
assimilation, and they attempted to develop self-sustaining economic practices.
Related Themes:
American and National Identity:
o Analyze relationships among different regional, social, ethnic, and racial groups, and explain how these groups’
experiences have related to U.S. national identity.
o Explain how ideas about democracy, freedom, and individualism found expression in the development of cultural
values, political institutions, and American identity.
Migration and Settlement:
o Explain the causes of migration to the U.S., and analyze immigration’s effects on U.S. society.
o Analyze causes of internal migration and patterns of settlement in the U.S, and explain how migration has affected
American life.
Geography and the Environment: Explain how geographic and environmental factors shaped the development of various
communities, and analyze how competition for and debates over natural resources have affected both interactions among
different groups and the development of government policies.
Politics and Power: Explain how different beliefs about the federal government’s role in U.S. social and economic life have
affected political debates and policies.
America in the World: Explain how cultural interaction, cooperation, competition, and conflict between empires, nations, and
peoples have influenced political, economic, and social developments in North America.
Key Concept 4: The United States exerted an international power, which propelled domestic debates over the nation’s proper role
in the world.
Note: The College Board currently places this section in Period 7, but with Period 7 covering both world wars and the Great
Depression, it makes more sense logistically to put U.S. Imperialism of the 19 th century in Period 6.
Related Ideas/Examples:
New U.S. territorial ambitions and acquisitions in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific accompanied heightened public
debates over America’s role in the world.
o Imperialists cited economic opportunities, racial theories, competition with European empires, and the perception in
the 1890s that the Western frontier was “closed” to argue that Americans were destined to expand their culture and
institutions to peoples around the globe.
o Anti-imperialists cited principles of self-determination and invoked both racial theories and the U.S. foreign policy
tradition of isolationism to argue that the U.S. should not extend its territories overseas.
The American victory in the Spanish-American War (1898) led to U.S. acquisition of island territories in the Caribbean
and the Pacific, an increase in involvement in Asia, and the suppression of a nationalist movement in the Philippines.
Related Themes:
American and National Identity: Analyze how ideas about national identity changed in response to U.S. involvement in
international conflicts and the growth of the U.S.
America in the World: Analyze the reasons for, and results of, U.S. diplomatic, economic and military initiatives in North America
and overseas.
Key Concept 5: Economic and industrial growth expanded opportunity, while economic instability led to new efforts to reform
U.S. society and its economic system. [Note: The College Board currently places this section in Period 7, but progressivism fits better
in a unit with the Gilded Age than the world wars and Great Depression.]
Related Ideas/Examples:
In the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, Progressives responded to political corruption, economic instability, and social
concerns by calling for greater government action and other political and social measures.
o Some Progressive Era journalists attacked what they saw as political corruption, social injustice, and economic inequality,
while reformers, often from the middle and upper classes and including many women, worked to effect social changes in
cities and among immigrant populations.
o On the national level, Progressives sought federal legislation that they believed would effectively regulate the economy,
expand democracy, and generate moral reform. Progressive amendments to the Constitution dealt with issues such as
prohibition and woman suffrage.
o Preservationists and conservationists both supported the establishment of national parks while advocating different
government responses to the overuse of natural resources.
o The Progressives were divided over many issues. Some Progressives supported Southern segregation, while others ignored its
presence. Some Progressives advocated expanding popular participation in government, while others called for greater
reliance on professional and technical experts to make government more efficient. Progressives also disagreed about
immigration restriction.
Related Themes:
Politics and Power:
o Explain how popular movements, reform efforts, and activist groups have sought to change American society and institutions.
o Explain how different beliefs about the federal government’s role in U.S. social and economic life have affected political
debates and policies.
Geography and Environment: Explain how geographic and environmental factors shaped the development of various communities and
analyze how competition for and debates over natural resources have affected both interactions among different groups and the
development of government policies.
Culture and Society: Explain how ideas about women’s rights and gender roles have affected society and politics.
Exam Information:
National Exam (May 2018): Period 6 comprises approximately 12% of the national APUSH exam.
Due to the eclectic nature of this period, assessments will be smaller but more numerous: short-answer, multiple-choice, and an
The final exam in the course is undergoing revision; as such, it is unclear how many Period 6 questions will be on the
assessment. More information forthcoming.
New York City, circa 1900
Timeline Assignment
Task: Select most important dates from the Period (approximately 30). You can set-up your timeline in
whatever way you’d like (feel free to be creative!), however, be sure it’s something you can include in your
binder/folder for study purposes. In terms of content, it should be similar to our other timelines, which cover
events as well as their related context (revisit the Period 4 timeline to be sure you’re on the right track).
Submit your work by ________________________________
This assignment will count as a 20-point formative grade. You will be evaluated on historical accuracy,
pinpointing the most critical events, and organization.
Note: All of the presidencies pictured below will be covered via the presidential vignette series, but you will
not be tested on the particulars of most, with the exceptions of McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson. The
others fall into the category of “less notable” presidencies. Poor guys.
Jim Crow America, 1877-1960s (focus through 1910s for Period 6)
This document picks up where Reconstruction left off: following Democratic Redemption and the
end of Reconstruction in 1877, how did African Americans fare across the nation? The following
sources help to answer that question. Actively read the background information and source
details for A-G. Respond to all prompts.
A. Source: ‘Jim Crow’ America
Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively,
in Southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a
series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were
relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of antiblack racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen
people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists,
eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, reinforced the belief
that blacks were biologically, intellectually, and culturally inferior to whites. Pro-segregation
politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the “mongrelization” of
the white race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to blacks as n-----s, coons,
and darkies. Even children's games portrayed blacks as inferior beings.
The following Jim Crow etiquette norms show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were.
These acts were known as Jim Crow laws, named after a popular minstrel show character.
Restaurants| It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of
food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room. Alabama
Pool and Billiard Rooms| It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any
game of pool or billiards. Alabama
Toilet Facilities| Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and
separate toilet facilities. Alabama
Cohabitation| Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who shall habitually live in and occupy in
the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not
exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars. Florida
Education| The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately. Florida, Mississippi
Intermarriage| It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person. Any marriage in violation of this
section shall be void. Georgia
Barbers| No colored barber shall serve as a barber [to] white women or girls. Georgia
Amateur Baseball| It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball
diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball
team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.
Wine and Beer| All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine...shall serve either white people exclusively
or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time. Georgia
How do you suspect Jim Crow laws impacted the African American psyche? … The white American psyche? OR: Which Jim Crow
law was most shocking/interesting to you? Why?
Where did the term “Jim Crow” come from? How would you define Jim Crow?
B. Source: Louisiana Literacy Test (read context below and then aim to complete about 1/2 of the actual literacy test that follows)
From the end of Reconstruction(1877) to the passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965, Southern states maintained elaborate
voter registration procedures deliberately designed to deny the vote to nonwhites. Some of these methods were experimented with
during Reconstruction, but they were fully cemented in Southern life by the 1880s. The test results were rigged by biased registrars
who were the sole judges whether — in their opinion — you were sufficiently "literate" to "pass." They often did not require white
applicants to take the test at all, or always "passed" those who did. Black applicants were almost always required to take the test,
even those with college degrees, and they were almost always deemed to have "failed." There were many other interlocking systems
used to deny African Americans (and in some regions, Latinos and Native Americans) the right to vote so as to ensure that political
power remained exclusively white-only. In addition to tests and registration procedures, these systems of racial discrimination and
oppression included poll taxes, police power and intimidation, economic retaliation, and violent white-terrorism, all of which
contributed to the erosion of the 15th Amendment, which should have protected blacks from discrimination in the democratic process.
Poll taxes: A "poll tax" was a tax you had to pay in order to vote. At one time, state and local poll taxes were common, but by the
mid-20th century they were mainly limited to the South as a means of preventing blacks and poor whites from voting (and
lending support to the “dreaded” Republican). For impoverished families, it was a sum that forced them to choose between
voting and necessities of life. And many of those at the very bottom of the economic ladder — sharecroppers, tenant farmers,
agricultural laborers, coal miners, timber workers, and so on — existed entirely outside the cash economy. They had to buy their
necessities at over-priced plantation or company stores on credit and their pay went directly to the store, not them. Thus, voting
was out of the question.
Police intimidation: The various state, county, and local police forces — all white of course — routinely intimidated and harassed
blacks who tried to register. They arrested would-be voters on false charges and beat others for imagined transgressions; and
often this kind of retribution was directed not only at the man or woman who dared try to register, but against family members
as well, even the children.
Economic retaliation: Throughout the deep South, white businesses, employers, banks, and landlords were organized into White
Citizens Councils who inflicted economic retaliation against nonwhites who tried to vote. Evictions. Firings. Boycotts.
Foreclosures. Small-scale farmers needed a crop loan each year in order to buy seed, fertilizer, fuel, and food until they could sell
their cotton or tobacco after picking. Banks denied those loans to blacks who tried to vote, forcing them off the land.
White terrorism: And if economic pressure proved insufficient, the Ku Klux Klan was ready with violence and mayhem. Crossburnings. Night riders. Beatings. Rapes. Church bombings. Arson of businesses and homes. Murder and mob lynching’s, drive-by
shootings and sniper assassinations. Today these people would be called “terrorists," but back then the white establishment saw
them as defenders of the “southern way of life" and upholders of “our glorious southern heritage."
Grandfather clauses: To protect poor whites from losing voting rights due to illiteracy and/or inability to pay a poll tax, some
Southern states passed “grandfather clauses” which made men eligible to vote if they had been able to vote before AfricanAmericans were given the elective franchise, or if they were the lineal descendants of voters back then. These laws were declared
unconstitutional in 1915, yet literacy tests, among other anti-black mechanisms, were kept in place until the 1960s.
Note: Literacy tests and poll taxes were not abolished until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed, under the Lyndon B.
Johnson administration.
How does the literacy test, and the other mechanisms described above, violate the 14 th and/or 15th Amendments? Be specific.
If you were a black male of voting age in the South, would you still try to vote? Why or why not?
Source: Summary of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
The June 7, 1892 arrest of Homer Plessy (see right) was part of a strategy orchestrated by a small civic
group of black professionals seeking to overturn the 1890 Louisiana Separate Car Act. Plessy, who was
by blood only one-eighth African and who easily "passed" as white, boarded a whites-only
compartment on the East Louisiana Railway and, as planned, was arrested shortly thereafter by a
private detective. Railroad officials viewed the law — which mandated that they provide separate
accommodations for blacks and whites — as an expensive and inconvenient burden and cooperated
with the citizens' group in arranging to have Plessy safely arrested before leaving the city limits of New
The civic group utilized Plessy's light skin color in demonstrating the arbitrariness — and
unconstitutionality — of the segregation law once his case was prosecuted. Plessy's attorney then argued that Louisiana's
segregation law violated the Fourteenth Amendment (guaranteeing all people "equal protection" under the law). Through several
appeals, however, the Louisiana courts upheld both Plessy's conviction and the constitutionality of the segregation law, and in 1896
the case reached the Supreme Court.
Writing for a 7-1 majority, Justice Henry Brown accepted Plessy's contention that the "object of the [Fourteenth] amendment was
undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law." However, Brown drew a distinction between political
equality and social equality: "Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based on physical
differences, and the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the differences of the present situation. If the civil and political
rights of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the
Constitution of the United States cannot put them on the same plane." Finally, Brown rejected Plessy's claim that assignment to the
blacks-only car conferred "a badge of inferiority," stating that this was true only if “the colored race chooses to put that construction
upon it."
Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner and staunchly pro-slavery antebellum (pre-war) politician, surprisingly issued the
Court's sole dissent. In a scathing opinion, Harlan refuted one of Brown's assertions that the Louisiana law discriminated equally
against both blacks and whites. “Everyone knows," he wrote, “that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose, not so much
to exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks, as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned
to white persons."
The majority of the Court maintained that segregation on the railcars did not violate blacks' constitutionally protected right to equal
protection of the law, but Harlan disagreed. However, Harlan, like Brown, did not advocate social equality among the races. Rather,
his point of departure from the majority opinion was his belief that legally imposed segregation denied political equality. In a key
passage of his dissent, Harlan stated: “The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in
achievements, in education, in wealth, and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great
heritage, and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this
country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor
tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law."
Although nowhere in the opinion can the phrase “separate but
equal" be found, the Court's ruling came to be understood in
that way. It is important to note that at no point did Plessy’s
team or the Court address the equality (or lack thereof) of
segregated facilities.
Widely regarded today as one of the Court's worst and most
damaging opinions, Plessy stood as legal precedent until the
1954 landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which began
the process of ending more than 50 years of legally sanctioned
segregation—in schools. A unanimous Court rejected the logic
of the Plessy majority. Writing for the Court in Brown, Chief
Justice Earl Warren stated: “We conclude that in the field of
public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no
place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
D. Source: The Court’s Decision: Justice Brown’s Majority Opinion in Plessy (1896)
. . . The object of the [14th] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two
races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish
distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a
commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either. Laws permitting, and even
requiring, their separation in places where they are liable to be brought into contact do not
necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other, and have been generally, if not
universally, recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their
police power. The most common instance of this is connected with the establishment of separate
schools for white and colored children, which has been held to be a valid exercise of the legislative
power even by courts of States where the political rights of the colored race have been longest and
most earnestly enforced.
. . . Gauged by this standard, we cannot say that a law which authorizes or even requires the separation of the two races in public
conveyances is unreasonable, or more obnoxious to the Fourteenth Amendment than the acts of Congress requiring separate
schools for colored children in the District of Columbia, the constitutionality of which does not seem to have been questioned, or the
corresponding acts of state legislatures.
We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two
races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely
because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it. . . . The argument also assumes that social prejudices may be
overcome by legislation, and that equal rights cannot be secured to the negro except by an enforced commingling of the two races.
We cannot accept this proposition. If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of natural
affinities, a mutual appreciation of each other's merits and a voluntary consent of individuals. When the government, therefore, has
secured to each of its citizens equal rights before the law and equal opportunities for improvement and progress, it has
accomplished the end for which it was organized and performed all of the functions respecting social advantages with which it is
endowed. Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon physical differences, and the
attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the difficulties of the present situation. If the civil and political rights of both races
be equal one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the
United States cannot put them upon the same plane.
It is true that the question of the proportion of colored blood necessary to constitute a colored person, as distinguished from a white
person, is one upon which there is a difference of opinion in the different States, some holding that any visible admixture of black
blood stamps the person as belonging to the colored race, others that it depends upon the preponderance of blood, and still others
that the predominance of white blood must only be in the proportion of three fourths. But these are question to be determined
under the laws of each State and are not properly put in issue in this case. Under the allegations of his petition it may undoubtedly
become a question of importance whether, under the laws of Louisiana, the petitioner belongs to the white or colored race.
Summarize the majority opinion in your own words:
Is the majority opinion correct in its constitutional assertions? Why or why not?
Source: Justice Harlan’s Dissent in Plessy (1896)
. . . [S]uch legislation, as that here in question, is inconsistent not only with that equality of rights which
pertains to citizenship, National and State, but with the personal liberty enjoyed by everyone within the
United States. . .
It was said in argument that the statute of Louisiana does not discriminate against either race, but
prescribes a rule applicable alike to white and colored citizens. But this argument does not meet the
difficulty. Everyone knows that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose, not so much to
exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks, as to exclude colored people from coaches
occupied by or assigned to white persons. Railroad corporations of Louisiana did not make discrimination among whites in the
matter of accommodation for travelers. The thing to accomplish was, under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and
blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while travelling in railroad passenger coaches. No one would be so wanting in
candor as to assert the contrary. . .
. . . If a State can prescribe, as a rule of civil conduct, that whites and blacks shall not travel as passengers in the same railroad coach,
why may it not so regulate the use of the streets of its cities and towns as to compel white citizens to keep on one side of a street
and black citizens to keep on the other? Why may it not, upon like grounds, punish whites and blacks who ride together in street
cars or in open vehicles on a public road of street? Why may it not require sheriffs to assign whites to one side of a court-room and
blacks to the other? And why may it not also prohibit the commingling of the two races in the galleries of legislative halls or in public
assemblages convened for the considerations of the political questions of the day? Further, if this statute of Louisiana is consistent
with the personal liberty of citizens, why may not the State require the separation in railroad coaches of native and naturalized
citizens of the United States, or of Protestants and Roman Catholics?
. . . The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in
wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the
principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior,
dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes
among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law
regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law
of the land are involved. It is, therefore, to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the
land, has reached the conclusion that it is competent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon
the basis of race.
In my opinion, the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in
the Dred Scott case. . . The present decision, it may well be apprehended, will not only stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal and
irritating, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens, but will encourage the belief that it is possible, by means of state enactments,
to defeat the beneficent purposes which the people of the United States had in view when they adopted the recent amendments of
the Constitution, by one of which the blacks of this country were made citizens of the United States and of the States in which they
respectively reside, and whose privileges and immunities, as citizens, the States are forbidden to abridge. Sixty millions of whites are
in no danger from the presence here of eight millions of blacks. The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked
together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted
under the sanction of law. What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust
between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and
degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning
of such legislation as was enacted in Louisiana. . .
Summarize Justice Harlan’s dissent in your own words:
Is the dissent correct in its constitutional assertions? Why or why not?
Source: Ida B. Wells on Lynching
A daughter of slaves, Ida B. Wells was born in Mississippi in 1862, during the Civil War. A journalist,
Wells led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States throughout the Gilded Age, and went on to
found and become integral in groups striving for African-American justice.
Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of
uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob. It represents the cool, calculating
deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an “unwritten law" that justifies
them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without
opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal.
The alleged menace of universal suffrage having been avoided by the absolute suppression of the
negro vote, the spirit of mob murder should have been satisfied and the butchery of negroes should
have ceased. But men, women, and children were the victims of murder by individuals and murder
by mobs, just as they had been when killed at the demands of the “unwritten law" to prevent “negro domination." Negroes were
killed for disputing over terms of contracts with their employers. If a few barns were burned some colored man was killed to stop it.
If a colored man resented the imposition of a white man and the two came to blows, the colored man had to die, either at the hands
of the white man then and there or later at the hands of a mob that speedily gathered.
In fact, for all kinds of offenses—and, for no offenses—from murders to misdemeanors, men and women are put to death without
judge or jury; so that, although the political excuse was no longer necessary, the wholesale murder of human beings went on just
the same. A new name was given to the killings and a new excuse was invented for so doing. Again the aid of the "unwritten law" is
invoked, and again it comes to the rescue. During the last ten years a new statute has been added to the “unwritten law." This
statute proclaims that for certain crimes or alleged crimes no negro shall be allowed a trial; that no white woman shall be compelled
to charge an assault under oath or to submit any such charge to the investigation of a court of law. The result is that many men have
been put to death whose innocence was afterward established; and to-day, under this reign of the “unwritten law," no colored man,
no matter what his reputation, is safe from lynching if a white woman, no matter what her standing or motive, cares to charge him
with insult or assault.
Summarize Ida B. Wells’ key ideas in this excerpt. What key injustices does she point out?
G. Source: Minstrel Show, Cotton and Chick Watts Blackface (1951)
Though minstrelsy can be traced back to the 1600s in Europe and 1830s America, it did not become
hugely popular until the post-Civil War era. Minstrel shows were a “sensation” among whites. Due
to the fact that blacks often weren’t allowed to take part in performances due to segregation, white
performers would rub burnt cork, or greasepaint, on their faces to give themselves the pigmentation
of a black person. They would dress in costumes while performing songs to audiences that mocked
and negatively represented the culture of African Americans. When possible, blacks were hired to
play the black characters themselves, though their physical appearance was caricaturized. Minstrel
shows were considered mainstream entertainment for many and did not fall out of favor in some
regions of the country until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
10. Describe minstrel shows and when they were popular:
11. [In presentation: A) How is the African American character portrayed throughout the clip? B) Why do you suspect shows like the
one seen here were appealing to mass audiences?]
Life Out West (1860-1900)
A. Source: Summary material from Gilder Lehrman, by Dr. Richard White, Professor of
American History at Stanford University and a past president of the Organization of
American Historians.
The federal government sought to integrate the West into the country as a social and
economic replica of the North. Land redistribution on a massive scale formed the centerpiece
of reform. Through such measures [like] the Homestead [Act] of 1862 and Dawes Act of 1887,
the government redistributed the vast majority of communal lands possessed by American
Indian tribes to railroad corporations and white farmers. To redistribute that land, the
government had to subdue American Indians, which they did all throughout the 1870s, along
the Great Plains and elsewhere in the West. In their wake stood boom towns and a new
Western culture was created.
Native American policy:
Not satisfied with already ceded lands, reformers—the so-called “Friends of the
Indians,” whose champion in Congress was Senator Henry Dawes—sought to divide
reservations into individual farms for Indians and then open up most or all of the
remaining land to whites. The Dawes Act of 1887 became their major tool. Land
allotment joined with the establishment of Indian schools and the suppression of
native religions in a sweeping attempt to individualize Indians and integrate them one
by one into American society. The policy would fail miserably. Indian population
declined precipitously; the tribes lost much of their remaining land, and Indians
became the poorest group in American society. Major changes in Indian policy would
not take place until the FDR years (1930s).
Results of expansion out West:
The results of this distribution of fertile and largely accessible land were astonishing. Everything in the late nineteenth century
seemed to move faster than ever before. Americans brought more land under cultivation between 1870 and 1900 (225 million acres)
than they had since the English first appeared at Jamestown in 1607 (189 million acres). Farmers abandoned small, worn-out farms
in the East and developed new, larger, and more fertile farms in the Midwest and West. . . . They invested in technology, particularly
improved plows, reapers, and threshers. With westward expansion onto the prairies, a single family with a reaper could increase
acreage and thus production without large amounts of hired labor. Arable free lands grew scarcer during the 1880s, forcing more
and more land seekers west . . . . [But] in many years these lands lacked adequate rainfall to produce crops. “In God we trusted, in
Kansas we busted” written on the side of a wagon cover by a family abandoning its homestead summed up the dangers of going too
far out onto the semi-arid and arid plains.
. . . . Farmers produced more than the country could consume with smaller and smaller
percentages of its available labor. They exported the excess, and the children of farmers
migrated to cities and towns. Where at the beginning of the century exports composed
about 10 percent of farm income, they amounted to between 20 and 25 percent by the
end of the century. What farmers sold abroad translated into savings and consumption at
home that fueled the nation’s Second Industrial Revolution [of the post-Civil War era].
American agricultural productivity allowed it to remain the world’s greatest agricultural
economy while it became the world’s largest industrial producer.
Make a list of the key changes in the West during this period:
B. Source: Excerpt from A Century of Dishonor by Helen Hunt Jackson, 1881
After living in the West for 20 years, Helen Hunt Jackson became interested in the government’s treatment
of Native Americans. After completing extensive research, she wrote A Century of Dishonor in 1881, in
which she outlined all of the inequities perpetrated against Native American Indians. She sent a copy to
every member of Congress advocating for reform. Jackson's book was well received, and Congress
appointed a commission to look into Indian affairs. The result was the Dawes Act (1887), which broke up
reservation land into individual plots. Though mostly well intentioned, the act resulted in further
destruction of Indian land and tribal life.
There is not among these three hundred bands of Indians one which has not suffered cruelly at the hands
either of the Government or of white settlers. The poorer, the more insignificant, the more helpless the band, the more certain the
cruelty and outrage to which they have been subjected. This is especially true of the bands on the Pacific slope. These Indians found
themselves of a sudden surrounded by and caught up in the great influx of gold-seeking settlers, as helpless creatures on a shore are
caught up in a tidal wave. There was not time for the Government to make treaties; not even time for communities to make laws.
The tale of the wrongs, the oppressions, the murders of the Pacific-slope Indians in the last thirty years would be a volume by itself,
and is too monstrous to be believed. [Jackson is referring to the Yuki Genocide, among other tragedies.]
It makes little difference, however, where one opens the record of the history of the Indians; every page and every year has its dark
stain. The story of one tribe is the story of all, varied only differences of time and place; but neither time nor place makes any
difference in the main facts. Colorado is as greedy and unjust in 1880 as was Georgia in 1830, and Ohio in 1795; and the United
States Government breaks promises now as deftly as then, and with an added ingenuity from long practice.
One of its strongest supports in so doing is the wide-spread sentiment among the people of dislike to the Indian, of impatience with
his presence as a “barrier to civilization” and distrust of it as a possible danger. The old tales of the frontier life, with its horrors of
Indian warfare, have gradually, by two or three generations’ telling, produced in the average mind something like an hereditary
instinct of questioning and unreasoning aversion which it is almost impossible to dislodge or soften. . . .
President after president has appointed commission after commission to inquire into and report upon Indian affairs, and to make
suggestions as to the best methods of managing them. The reports are filled with eloquent statements of wrongs done to the
Indians, of perfidies [deceits] on the part of the Government; . . . These reports are bound up with the Government’s Annual
Reports, and that is the end of them. . . .
The history of the Government connections with the Indians is a shameful record of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises. The
history of the border white man’s connection with the Indians is a sickening record of murder, outrage, robbery, and wrongs
committed by the former, as the rule, and occasional savage outbreaks and unspeakably barbarous deeds of retaliation by the latter,
as the exception.
Taught by the Government that they had rights entitled to respect, when those rights have been assailed by the rapacity [greed] of
the white man, the arm which should have been raised to protect them has ever been ready to sustain the aggressor.
The testimony of some of the highest military officers of the United States is on record to the effect that, in our Indian wars [of the
1870s], almost without exception, the first aggressions have been made by the white man. . . . Every crime committed by a white
man against an Indian is concealed . . . . Every offense committed by an Indian against a white man is borne on the wings of the post
or the telegraph to the remotest corner of the land, clothed with all the horrors which the reality or imagination can throw around
To assume that it would be easy, or by any one sudden stroke of legislative policy possible, to undo the mischief and hurt of the long
past, set the Indian policy of the country right for the future, and make the Indians at once safe and happy, is the blunder of a hasty
and uninformed judgment. The notion which seems to be growing more prevalent, that simply to make all Indians at once citizens of
the United States would be a sovereign and instantaneous panacea for all their ills and all the Government’s perplexities, is a very
inconsiderate one. To administer complete citizenship of a sudden, all round, to all Indians, barbarous and civilized alike, would be as
grotesque a blunder as to dose them all round with any one medicine, irrespective of the symptoms and needs of their diseases. It
would kill more than it would cure. . . . While they continue individually to gather the crumbs that fall from the table of the United
States, idleness, improvidence, and indebtedness will be the rule, and industry, thrift, and freedom from debt the exception. The
utter absence of individual title to particular lands deprives every one among them of the chief incentive to labor and exertion – the
very mainspring on which the prosperity of a people depends.
All judicious plans and measures for their safety and salvation must embody provisions for their becoming citizens as fast as they are
fit, and must protect them till then in every right and particular in which our laws protect other “persons” who are not citizens. . . .
However great perplexity and difficulty there may be in the details of any and every plan possible for doing at this late day anything
like justice to the Indian, however, hard it may be for good statesmen and good men to agree upon the things that ought to be done,
there certainly is, or ought to be, no perplexity whatever, on difficulty whatever, in agreeing upon certain things that ought to be
done, and which must cease to be done before the first steps can be taken toward righting the wrongs, curing the ills, and wiping
out the disgrace to us of the present conditions of our Indians.
Cheating, robbing, breaking promises – these three are clearly things which must cease to be done. One more thing, also, and that is
the refusal of the protection of the law to the Indian’s rights of property, “of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
When these four things have ceased to be done, time, statesmanship, philanthropy, and Christianity can slowly and surely do the
rest. Till these four things have ceased to be done, statesmanship and philanthropy alike must work in vain, and even Christianity
can reap but small harvest.
What were Jackson’s key arguments?
What evidence from earlier periods could be cited to help advance her arguments?
Excerpts from the University of Washington – University Libraries – Digital Collections, on Indian Boarding Schools (1880s1920s)
The goal of Indian education from the 1880s through the 1920s was to assimilate Indian people into the so-called melting pot white
Americans hoped for, by placing them in institutions where traditional ways could be replaced by those sanctioned by the
government. Federal Indian policy called for the removal of children from their families and in many cases enrollment in a
government run boarding school. In this way, the policy makers believed, young people would be immersed in the values and
practical knowledge of the dominant American society while also being kept away from any influences imparted by their
traditionally-minded relatives.
The Indian boarding school movement began in the post-Civil War era when idealistic reformers turned their attention to the plight
of Indian people. Whereas before many Americans regarded the native people with either fear or loathing, the reformers believed
that with the proper education and treatment Indians could become just like other citizens. They convinced the leaders of Congress
that education could change at least some of the Indian population into patriotic and productive members of society. One of the
first efforts to accomplish this goal was the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, founded by Captain Richard Henry Pratt in 1879.
Pratt was a leading proponent of the assimilation through education policy. Believing that Indian ways were inferior to those of
whites, he subscribed to the principle, "kill the Indian and save the man." At Carlisle, young Indian boys and girls were subjected to a
complete transformation. Photographs taken at the school illustrate how they looked "before" and "after". The dramatic contrast
between traditional clothing and hairstyles and Victorian styles of dress helped convince the public that through boarding school
education Indians could become completely "civilized". Following the model of Carlisle, additional off reservation boarding schools
were established in other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, on many reservations missionaries operated schools that combined religious with academic training. . . At these
missionary run schools, traditional religious and cultural practices were strongly discouraged while instruction in the Christian
doctrines took place utilizing pictures, statues, hymns, prayers and storytelling.
All federal boarding schools, whether on or off reservation, shared certain characteristics. The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued
directives that were followed by superintendents throughout the nation. Even the architecture and landscaping appeared similar
from one institution to the next. Common features included a military style regimen, a strict adherence to English language only, an
emphasis on farming, and a schedule that equally split academic and vocational training.
A typical daily schedule at a boarding school began with an early wake-up call followed by a series of tasks punctuated by the ringing
of bells. Students were required to march from one activity to the next. Regular inspections and drills took place outdoors with
platoons organized according to age and rank. Competitions were held to see which group could achieve the finest marching
formation. Conformity to rules and regulations was strongly encouraged:
Everything happened by bells, 'triangles´ they were called. A triangle would ring in the morning and we would all run, line up,
march in, get our little quota of tooth powder, wash our teeth, brush our hair, wash our hands and faces, and then we all lined
up and marched outside. Whether it was raining, snowing or blowing, we all went outside and did what was called 'setting up
exercises´ for twenty minutes. (Joyce Simmons Cheeka, Tulalip Indian School, memoirs collected by Finley)
We went from the tallest to the littlest, all the way down in companies. We had A, B, C, D companies. E Company was the Lazy
Company, those that just couldn't get up and make it. They had all kinds of demerits for those people. They thought they'd
shame them a little bit if they made an extra company and called it the Lazy Company. (Helma Ward, Makah, Tulalip Indian
School, from interview with Carolyn Marr)
The foremost requirement for assimilation into American society, authorities felt, was mastery of the English language.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs T.J. Morgan described English as "the language of the greatest, most powerful and enterprising
nationalities beneath the sun." Such chauvinism did not allow for bilingualism in the boarding schools. Students were prohibited
from speaking their native languages and those caught "speaking Indian" were severely punished. Later, many former students
regretted that they lost the ability to speak their native language fluently because of the years they spent in boarding school.
Another important component of the government policy for "civilizing" the Indians was to teach farming techniques. Although few
reservations in the Pacific Northwest had either fertile land or a climate conducive to agriculture, nonetheless it was felt that
farming was the proper occupation for American citizens. So boys learned how to milk cows, grow vegetables, repair tools, etc. and
even had lessons on the various types of plows.
The boarding schools had what came to be called
the "half and half" system where students spent
half of the day in the classroom and half at a
work assignment or "detail" on the school
grounds. The academic curriculum included
courses in U.S. history, geography, language,
arithmetic, reading, writing and spelling. Music
and drama were offered at most schools. Young
women spent either the morning or the
afternoon doing laundry, sewing, cooking,
cleaning and other household tasks. Older girls
might study nursing or office work. The young
men acquired skills in carpentry, blacksmithing,
baking and shop. They chopped firewood to
keep the steam boilers operating. The work
performed by students was essential to the
operation of the institution. The meat,
vegetables and milk served in the dining room
came from livestock and gardens kept by the
students. The girls made and repaired uniforms,
sheets, and curtains and helped to prepare the meals.
A standardized curriculum for Indian schools emphasized vocational training. Estelle Reel, who served as Superintendent of Indian
Education from 1898 to 1910, was a strong advocate of this curriculum which gave primary importance to learning manual skills. No
amount of book learning, she felt, could result in economic independence for Indian people. Others would claim that by limiting
education to manual training the educators were condemning Indian people to permanent inequality. A former student at the Fort
Spokane boarding school described typical work done by the boys:
Some of the boys were detailed to the garden...others were detailed to milk and care for the cows, feed the pigs
and chickens and look after the horses, besides doing other chores. There was a large barn on the place, and the
boys learned a lot about farming on a small scale. But for boys who had ambitions for becoming something else,
Fort Spokane was far from being adequate. (Frances LeBret, as quoted in exhibit They Sacrificed for Our Survival:
The Indian Boarding School Experience, at Eastern Washington Historical Museum)
Mandatory education for Indian children became law in 1893 and thereafter agents on the reservations received instructions on
how to enforce the federal regulation. If parents refused to send their children to school, the authorities could withhold annuities or
rations or send them to jail. Some parents were uncomfortable having their children sent far away from home. The educators had
quotas to fill, however, and considerable pressure was exerted on Indian families to send their youngsters to boarding schools
beginning when the child was six years old. Fear and loneliness caused by this early separation from family is a common experience
shared by all former students. Once their children were enrolled in a distant school, parents lost control over decisions that affected
them. For example, requests for holiday leave could be denied by the superintendent for almost any reason.
For some students, the desire for freedom and the pull of their family combined with strong discontent caused them to run away. At
Chemawa, for example, there were 46 "desertions" recorded in 1921, followed by 70 in 1922. Punishment of runaways was usually
harsh, as the offenders became examples held up before their fellow students:
Two of our girls ran away...but they got caught. They tied their legs up, tied their hands behind their backs, put them in the
middle of the hallway so that if they fell, fell asleep or something, the matron would hear them and she'd get out there and
whip them and make them stand up again. (Helma Ward, Makah, interview with Carolyn Marr)
Illness was another serious problem at the boarding schools. Crowded conditions and only the basic medical care no doubt
contributed to the spread of diseases such as measles, influenza and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was especially feared and at the
Tulalip Indian School the dormitories were kept cold by leaving the windows open at night. Several students were sent to
sanitariums in Idaho or Nevada. In a letter issued to superintendents in 1913, the Indian Office advised disinfecting all textbooks at
the end of each school year to reduce the chance of spreading disease. Hospital reports for Tulalip indicate that boys spent a total of
110 days in the hospital during one month and girls 125 days. Death was not an unknown occurrence either. At Chemawa, a
cemetery contains headstones of 189 students who died at the school, and these represent only the ones whose bodies were not
returned home for burial.
Not all experiences at the boarding schools were negative for students. In hindsight, former students acknowledge benefits they
gained from their education, and there were happy moments for some. Sports, games and friendships are examples of experiences
remembered in a positive light:
The boys played baseball, broadjumping and ran foot races, played mumbley peg and marbles, spin the top and a lot of
other things for entertainment. (Frances LeBret, Fort Spokane Indian School)
We played baseball, football and a game we call shinney. They get two sticks and tie them together. You got a stick that
was curved and you'd hit this and throw it. To score you had to hit a little pole. (Alfred Sam, Snohomish, interview with
Carolyn Marr)
Reflecting on her years spent in boarding schools, one elder stated:
On the reservations there was no electricity or running water. When kids came to the boarding school they had
these things--showers and clean clothes--and they ate decent food. My mom died when I was 13 months old. I
stayed with my grandmother who wasn't well...My main criticism of the boarding school is that it didn't allow you
to do your own thinking. You marched everywhere, you were governed by the bell and bugle, you were told when
to go to bed and when to get up, your whole life was governed. As a result, you didn't learn how to become an
independent thinker. (Arnold McKay, Lummi, interviewed by Carolyn Marr)
By the 1920s the Bureau of Indian Affairs had changed its opinion about boarding schools, responding to complaints that
the schools were too expensive. A report on Indian education issued in 1928 revealed glaring deficiencies in the boarding
schools, including poor diet, overcrowding, below-standard medical service, excessive labor by the students and
substandard teaching. During FDR’s presidency, the 1930s witnessed many changes in federal Indian policy, among which
was a shift in educational philosophy. Classroom lessons could now reflect the diversity of Indian cultures. States assumed
more control over Indian education as more children enrolled in public schools.
What positive and negative elements can you identify from the Indian Boarding School movement?
Some historians, anthropologists, and political scientists have recently argued that Indian policy in the post-Civil War era was an
example of cultural genocide. Is this term appropriate to use given what occurred and its larger context? [ Cultural genocide is
the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements which make a one group of people
distinct from other groups.]
D. Excerpts from F.J. Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” 1893
The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that American
democracy was formed by the American Frontier. He stressed the process of the moving frontier line and the impact it had on
pioneers going through the process. He also stressed that American democracy was the primary result of “a lack of interest in high
culture. . . . American democracy was born of no theorist's dream; it was not carried . . . in the Mayflower to Plymouth. It came out of
the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a new frontier.” Turner maintained that the American frontier
established liberty by releasing Americans from European mindsets and eroding old, “dysfunctional customs.” The frontier had no
need for standing armies, established churches, aristocrats or nobles, nor for landed gentry who controlled most of the land and
charged heavy rents. Frontier land was free for the taking. Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled "The Significance of
the Frontier in American History", delivered to the American Historical Association in 1893 in Chicago. He won very wide acclaim
among historians and intellectuals and is said to have helped influence the nation as it became an imperial power: if the frontier was
closing, Americans would need to expand even more to continue the positive process Turner discussed below. He also is said to have
influenced the conservationists and preservationists of the Progressive Era (1890s-1920ish) that we’ll discuss in upcoming days.
Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an
area of free land, continuous recession, and the advance of American settlements westward, explain American development.
Behind institutions, behind constitutional forms and modifications lie the vital forces that call these organs into life and shape them
to meet changing conditions. The peculiarity of American institutions is, the fact that they have been compelled to adapt themselves
to the changes of an expanding people – to the changes involved in crossing a continent, this winning a wilderness, and in
developing at each area of this progress out of the primitive economic and political conditions of the frontier into the complexity of
city life. . . .
Thus American development has exhibited not merely advance along a single line, but a return to primitive conditions on a
continually advancing frontier line, and a development for that area. American social development has been continually beginning
over again on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities,
its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of
view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the West. . . .
The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in
dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off
the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and
Iroquois . . . . Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the
scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the
conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Little by little he
transforms the wilderness but the outcome is not the old Europe . . . . The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At
first, the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became
more and more American[;] . . . each frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the region still partakes
of the frontier characteristics. Thus the advance of the frontier has meant a steady movement away from the influence of Europe, at
steady growth of independence on American lines. And to study this advance, the men who grew up under these conditions, and the
political, economic, and social results of its, is to study the really American part of our history. . . .
Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New World, America has been another name for
opportunity, and the people of the United States have taken their tone form the incessant expansion which has not only been open
but has been forced upon them. Movement has been its dominant fact, and unless this training has no effect upon a people, the
American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise. But never again will such gifts of free land offer themselves.
For a moment, at the frontier, the bonds of custom are broken and unrestraint is triumphant. There is not tabula rasa [a clean slate].
The stubborn American environment is there with its imperious summons to accept its conditions; the inherited ways of doing things
are also there; and yet, in spite of environment, and in spite of custom, each frontier did indeed furnish a new field of opportunity, a
gate of escape from the bondage of the past; and freshness and confidence, and scorn of older society, impatience of its restrains
and its ideas, and indifference to its lessons, have accompanied the frontier[;] . . . breaking the bond of custom, offering new
experiences, calling out new institutions and activities, that, and more, the ever retreating frontier has been to the United States
directly . . . . And now, four centuries from the discovery of America, at the end of a hundred years of life under the Constitution, the
frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period in American history.
According to Turner, how has the frontier shaped American identity and democracy? What does Turner say about American
distinctiveness? [See context and excerpt.]
Do you agree with Turner? Why or why not? What other factors may have helped to shape American identity and democracy?
Source: “People’s Party Platform,” Omaha Morning World-Herald, July 5, 1892
The People's party, more commonly known as the Populist party, was a short-lived political party organized in St. Louis in 1892 to
represent the common folk—especially farmers—against the entrenched interests of railroads, bankers, processers, corporations,
and the politicians in league with such interests. It garnered most support among common farmers in the West and South. At its first
national convention in Omaha in July 1892, the party ratified the so-called Omaha Platform. The party was somewhat influential
from 1892-1896 but faded away rapidly after the election of ’96, when the Populists decided to endorse the Democratic presidential
nominee, William Jennings Bryan, who would lose the election. In many ways the Populist party can be seen as a precursor to the
later Progressive party formed during the Progressive Era (1890s-1920). Some of the objectives of the Populists were to create a
government FOR the people (one that was more democratic) and secure government ownership of railroads and banks to avoid the
greed and corruption of the “robber barons” who had control of them and exploited the masses.
The conditions which surround us best justify our cooperation; we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral,
political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even . . . the bench.
The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal
intimidation and bribery . . . business [is] prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land
concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported
pauperized labor beats down their wages, a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down,
and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toil of millions are badly stolen to build up colossal
fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and
endanger liberty.
We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggles of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while
grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people. We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these
parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them. Neither do
they now promise us any substantial reform. They have agreed together to ignore, in the coming campaign, ever issue but one. They
propose to drown the outcries of a plundered people with the uproar of a sham battle over the tariff…
Assembled on the anniversary of the birthday of the nation, and filled with the spirit of the grand general and chief who established
our independence, we seek to restore the government of the Republic to the hands of the ''plain people,'' with which class it
originated. We assert our purposes to be identical with the purposes of the National Constitution; to form a more perfect union and
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. . . . We pledge ourselves that if given power we will labor to correct these evils by
wise and reasonable legislation, in accordance with the terms of our platform. We believe that the power of government—in other
words, of the people—should be expanded as rapidly and as far as the good sense of an intelligent people and the teaching of
experience shall justify, to the end that oppression, injustice, and poverty shall eventually cease in the land.
We declare, therefore—
RESOLVED, Transportation being a means of exchange and a public necessity, the government should own and operate the
railroads in the interest of the people. The telegraph and telephone, like the post-office system, being a necessity for the
transmission of news, should be owned and operated by the government in the interest of the people.
RESOLVED, That we condemn the fallacy of protecting American labor under the present system, which opens our ports to
the pauper and criminal classes of the world and crowds out our wage-earners; and we denounce the present ineffective
laws against contract labor, and demand the further restriction of undesirable emigration.
RESOLVED, That we cordially sympathize with the efforts of organized workingmen to shorten the hours of labor, and
demand a rigid enforcement of the existing eight-hour law on Government work, and ask that a penalty clause be added to
the said law.
RESOLVED, That we oppose any subsidy or national aid to any private corporation for any purpose.
RESOLVED, That this convention sympathizes with the Knights of Labor [an urban union of the era, in the North]…
What events/issues prompted the formation of the People’s (Populist) Party? What were their goals? (see context and source)
Would you deem this party “radical,” given the U.S. history we have learned so far and the party platforms we’ve discussed?
Why or why not?
Gilded Age (1870-1905ish)
The Gilded Age refers to the period in American history after the Civil War, when the most
successful Americans accumulated great wealth in the Northern industrial landscape, often at
the expense of those below them on the social ladder. Mark Twain—who coined the term
“Gilded Age”—liked to point out that, unlike other historical “Golden Ages,” a thin coating of
gold veiled American society at the time, replete with social, economic, and political ills. In his
satirical work The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), he wrote about the serious problems of
the era, which he believed were masked by a thin gold plating (known as a “gilding”).
Throughout the Gilded Age, corporations grew significantly in number, size, and influence in
the United States. Use the documents below to consider the impact of big business on
economics, politics, and activism. Based on the documents below, to what extent was Twain’s name for the era an appropriate one?
Note: A number of progressive reformers during the Progressive Era (roughly 1900-1920) aimed to address some of the problems
outlined below.
A. Source: American Experience, The Gilded Age—overview video
1) Take notes on the video below:
B. Source: George E. McNeill, labor leader, The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today, 1887.
The railroad president is a railroad king, whose whim is law. He collects tithes (taxes) by reducing wages as remorselessly as the Shah
of Persia or the Sultan of Turkey, and, like them, is not amenable (cooperative, responsive) to any human power. He can discharge
(banish) any employee without cause. . . . He can withhold their lawful wages. He can delay trial on a suit at law, and postpone
judgment indefinitely. He can control legislative bodies, dictate legislation, subsidize the press, and corrupt the moral sense of the
community. He can fix the price of freights, and thus command the food and fuel-supplies of the nation. In his right hand he holds
the government; in his left hand, the people.
2) According to the author, how is the railroad president like a king, Shah, or Sultan?
Source: David A. Wells, engineer and economist, Recent Economic Changes and Their Effect on the Production and
Distribution of Wealth and the Well-Being of Society, 1889.
[T]he modern manufacturing system has been brought into a condition analogous to that of a military organization, in which the
individual no longer works as independently as formerly, but as a private in the ranks, obeying orders, keeping step, as it were, to
the tap of the drum, and having nothing to say as to the plan of his work, of its final completion, or of its ultimate use and
distribution. In short, the people who work in the modern factory are, as a rule, taught to do one thing – to perform one and
generally a simple operation; and when there is no more of that kind of work to do, they are in a measure helpless. The result has
been that the individualism or independence of the producer in manufacturing has been in a great degree destroyed, and with it has
also in a great degree been destroyed the pride which the workman formerly took in his work – that fertility of resource which
formerly was a special characteristic of American workmen, and that element of skill that comes from long and varied practice and
reflection and responsibility.
3) According to the author, how is the modern manufacturing system like a military organization? According to the author, what
had workers “lost” in this period?
D. Source: Joseph Keppler, “The Bosses of the Senate,” Puck, January 23, 1889.
Sign reads, “This is a Senate of the
monopolists and for the monopolists!”
The big trusts sit in the balcony while the
Senate convenes…
4) What is the political cartoon suggesting about the U.S. Senate during the Gilded Age?
Source: Selected quotes from Andrew Carnegie, circa 1890, and excerpts from his Gospel of Wealth (1889).
Background: Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was a massively successful business man who gave away his fortune to socially beneficial
projects, most famously, the funding of libraries. In one of his most significant works, Gospel of Wealth, he explains the role of the
wealthy in an unequal, democratic society. Carnegie argued that America should honor and respect the great capitalists who work
for the “common good,” despite the reality that the growth of big business in his time was curbing small business opportunities,
promoting the exploitation of the working people, and driving out competition.
…No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! . . . I should be careful to choose that life which will be the most elevating in
its character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make
more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. . . Man does not live by bread alone. I
have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen,
and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the
body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be . . . useful
drudge. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the
things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers . . . sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of
Gospel of Wealth—The problem of our age is the administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together
the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within
the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the
chief and those of his retainers. . . . The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us today
measures the change which has come with civilization.
This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race,
that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of
civilization, rather than that none should be so. Much better this great irregularity than universal squalor. Without wealth there can
be no Maecenas [a rich Roman patron of the arts]. The "good old times" were not good old times. Neither master nor servant was as
well situated then as to day. A relapse to old conditions would be disastrous to both-not the least so to him who serves-and would
sweep away civilization with it. . . .
We start, then, with a condition of affairs under which the best interests of the race are
promoted, but which inevitably gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as
they exist, the situation can be surveyed and pronounced good. The question then arisesand, if the foregoing be correct, it is the only question with which we have to deal-What is
the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization is founded
have thrown it into the hands of the few? And it is of this great question that I believe I
offer the true solution. It will be understood that fortunes are here spoken of, not moderate
sums saved by many years of effort, the returns from which are required for the
comfortable maintenance and education of families. This is not wealth, but only
competence, which it should be the aim of all to acquire.
There are but three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of. It can be left to the
families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be
administered during their lives by its possessors. Under the first and second modes most of
the wealth of the world that has reached the few has hitherto been applied. Let us in turn
consider each of these modes. The first is the most injudicious. In monarchial countries, the
Andrew Carnegie, distributing
estates and the greatest portion of the wealth are left to the first son, that the vanity of the
parent may be gratified by the thought that his name and title are to descend to succeeding
"millions for public good," as part
generations unimpaired. The condition of this class in Europe today teaches the futility of
of his Gospel of Wealth, 1901
such hopes or ambitions. The successors have become impoverished through their follies or
from the fall in the value of land. . . . Why should men leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it not
misguided affection? Observation teaches that, generally speaking, it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened.
Neither is it well for the state. Beyond providing for the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and very moderate
allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men may well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable that great sums bequeathed oftener
work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients. Wise men will soon conclude that, for the best interests of the
members of their families and of the state, such bequests are an improper use of their means.
As to the second mode, that of leaving wealth at death for public uses, it may be said that this is only a means for the disposal of
wealth, provided a man is content to wait until he is dead before it becomes of much good in the world. . . . The cases are not few in
which the real object sought by the testator is not attained, nor are they few in which his real wishes are thwarted. . . .
The growing disposition to tax more and more heavily large estates left at death is a cheering indication of the growth of a salutary
change in public opinion. . . . Of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest. Men who continue hoarding great sums all their lives,
the proper use of which for public ends would work good to the community, should be made to feel that the community, in the form
of the state, cannot thus be deprived of its proper share. By taxing estates heavily at death, the state marks its condemnation of the
selfish millionaire's unworthy life.
. . . This policy would work powerfully to induce the rich man to attend to the administration of wealth during his life, which is the
end that society should always have in view, as being that by far most fruitful for the people. . . .
There remains, then, only one mode of using great fortunes: but in this way we have the true antidote for the temporary unequal
distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor-a reign of harmony-another ideal, differing, indeed from that of the
Communist in requiring only the further evolution of existing conditions, not the total overthrow of our civilization. It is founded
upon the present most intense individualism, and the race is prepared to put it in practice by degrees whenever it pleases. Under its
sway we shall have an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the many,
because administered for the common good, and this wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made a much more
potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people themselves. Even the poorest
can be made to see this, and to agree that great sums gathered by some of their fellow citizens and spent for public purposes, from
which the masses reap the principal benefit, are more valuable to them than if scattered among them through the course of many
years in trifling amounts.
This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or
extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all
surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of
duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial result for the communitythe man of wealth thus becoming the sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom,
experience, and ability to administer-doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.
Note: Like many of his peers in business, Carnegie ruthlessly slashed wages to further increase profit, leading to a personal fortune
the nation had never witnessed. In later years he gave 90% of his wealth away to various philanthropic causes which supported
education, medical research, libraries, war prevention research, and the funding of universities and academies.
5) What do you think Carnegie meant by his title, the “Gospel of Wealth”? Do you agree with Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth”?
6) How does Carnegie view inequality? Why does he argue that the “temporary unequal distribution of wealth” is beneficial?
7) Why does Carnegie oppose leaving surplus wealth to families?
8) To what extent is social Darwinism evident in Carnegie’s writing? Where can you find it?
9) Taken the document as a whole, how do you think Carnegie feels about communism (in theory) and socialism?
Source: George Rice, “How I Was Ruined by Rockefeller,” New York World, October 16, 1898.
I am but one of many victims of Rockefeller’s colossal combination, and my story is not essentially
different from the rest…I established what was known as the Ohio Oil Works…I found to my surprise
at first, though I afterward understood it perfectly, that the Standard Oil Company was offering the
same quality of oil at much lower prices than I could do – from one to three cents a gallon less than I
could possibly sell it for. I sought for the reason and found that the railroads were in league with the
Standard Oil concern at every point, giving it discriminating rates and privileges of all kinds as against
myself and all outside competitors.
10) How did Standard Oil eliminate its competition? If capitalism rests on fair competition, was
Rockefeller really a capitalist?
G. Source: PBS, American Experience—The Gilded Age, 2009.
"What is the chief end of man?--to get rich. In what way?--dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must" (Mark Twain, 1871). During
the "Gilded Age," every man was a potential Andrew Carnegie, and Americans who achieved wealth celebrated it as never before. In
New York, the opera, the theatre, and lavish parties consumed the ruling class' leisure hours. Sherry's Restaurant hosted formal
horseback dinners for the New York Riding Club. Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish once threw a dinner party to honor her dog who arrived
sporting a $15,000 diamond collar.
While the rich wore diamonds, many wore rags. In 1890, 11 million of the nation's 12 million families earned less than $1200 per
year; of this group, the average annual income was $380, well below the poverty line. Rural Americans and new immigrants crowded
into urban areas. Tenements spread across city landscapes, teeming with crime and filth. Americans had sewing machines,
phonographs, skyscrapers, and even electric lights, yet most people labored in the shadow of poverty. To those who worked in
Carnegie's mills and in the nation's factories and sweatshops, the lives of the millionaires seemed immodest indeed. An economist in
1879 noted "a widespread feeling of unrest and brooding revolution." Violent strikes and riots wracked the nation through the turn
of the century. The middle class whispered fearfully of "carnivals of revenge."
For immediate relief, the urban poor often turned to political machines. During the first years of the Gilded Age, Boss Tweed's
Tammany Hall provided more services to the poor than any city government before it, although far more money went into Tweed's
own pocket. Corruption extended to the highest levels of government, particularly during Ulysses S. Grant's presidency, which cost
Republicans key support.
Europeans were aghast. America may have had money and factories, they felt, but it lacked sophistication. When French Prime
Minister Georges Clemenceau visited, he said the nation had gone from a stage of barbarism to one of decadence—without
achieving any civilization between the two.
H. What is meant by the “Gilded Age”? What characteristics are associated with it?
Text at bottom reads, “The Trust
Giant’s Point of View:
What a funny little government.”
Bridge from Gilded to “Progressive” Era: Video Analysis
This video will serve as a bridge from the Gilded Age (roughly 1870s-1900) to the Progressive Era (roughly 1900-1920).
Why were Americans optimistic about their futures in 1900?
What were some of the problems associated with industrialization? (note: the video will speak more on this after you answer
#3, so fill in more details when they revisit this issue)
What were some foreign policy developments during this time? (note: we’ll cover this in detail after finishing the Progressive
Who were the muckrakers? What did they do?
Who were the Progressives?
Why was Theodore Roosevelt the strongest ally of the progressives?
How did Roosevelt protect the environment?
Describe the progressive actions of President Taft:
Why did Roosevelt run against Taft in 1912 as the Progressive candidate? What were the results of the election?
10. Why was the income tax instituted in 1913?
11. What were some of the reforms instituted by Wilson?
12. What was the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire? What was its impact?
13. How were women involved in the Progressive Era?
14. What changes in immigration patterns developed during this time? How did progressives view these new immigrants?
15. How were African Americans treated during the Progressive Era?
16. Take notes on Booker T. Washington:
17. Take notes on W.E.B Dubois:
18. What technological changes did society experience during the Progressive Era?
19. Why did the Progressive Era come to an end?
20. [Post-Viewing] What are some of the connections between the Gilded and Progressive Era? How do they relate/correspond with
one another?
The Progressive Era (1900-1920ish)
The “Progressive Era” was an era of social activism and political, economic, and social reform at all levels of government, aimed at
curing many of the ills of American society that had developed during the Industrial, Gilded Age (roughly 1870s-1900). This document
will provide an overview of some of the important sources, people, and legislation, of the Era. [Reminder: This is P7 according to the
College Board.]
A. Source: The Jungle, Upton Sinclair (1906)
Background: Upton Sinclair’s family had once belonged to the southern
aristocracy but, at Sinclair’s birth, the family hovered near poverty. When he was
fifteen, he began writing to support himself and help pay his college expenses.
During his college years, Sinclair encountered socialist philosophy, the influence
of which is evident in his writing throughout his life, and became an avid
supporter of the Socialist party.
In 1904, the editors of the popular socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason sent
Sinclair to Chicago to examine the lives of stockyard workers. He spent seven
weeks in the city’s meatpacking plants, learning every detail about the work
itself, the home lives of workers, and the structure of the business. The Jungle
(1906)—instantly successful—was born from this research. Sinclair then took his
place in the ranks of the “muckrakers,” a term that Theodore Roosevelt coined to
refer to a group of journalists who devoted themselves to exposing the ills of
industrialization. The Jungle raised public outcry against the unhealthy standards
in the meatpacking industry and provoked the passage of The Meat Inspection
Act and The Pure Food and Drug Act, both passed in 1906 under the Roosevelt
administration. But the novel’s success did not satisfy his political motivations for
writing it. Sinclair intended the book to raise public consciousness about the
plight of the working poor and elicit support for the Socialist movement, but by
exposing the physically revolting filth and gore of the stockyards, the novel
caused outrage about the unsanitary quality of the meat that was sold in stores,
rather than the oppression of the poor. The public pressed less for the socialist
reforms that Sinclair backed than the public reform to food laws. The image of all
kinds of waste being dumped in with the consumer’s product is surely revolting; that it is dumped in without any regard for the
consumer by “greedy capitalists” was more infuriating. Sinclair himself stated: “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it
in the stomach.”
Excerpt: The meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he
saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for
the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be
ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the
waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the
packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the
waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after
cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast.
Explain what Sinclair meant when he said: “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”
What legislation was passed as a result of The Jungle? Do you think business
owners who endorsed social Darwinist arguments would have supported this
legislation? Why or why not?
B. Source: Jacob Riis photography (c. 1900)
Background: How the Other Half Lives (1890) was a pioneering work of photojournalism by
Jacob Riis, documenting the squalid living conditions in New York City slums in the 1880s. Riis, a
Danish immigrant, had been working as a police reporter for The New York Tribune, a job that
gave him intimate familiarity with the most notorious slums in the city. Riis’s book served as a
basis for future muckraking journalism by exposing the slums to New York City's upper and
middle class who, according to Riis, were out of touch. Riis documented the filth, disease,
exploitation, and overcrowding that characterized the experience of more than one million
immigrants and other poor peoples in an attempt to “sear the Gilded Age conscience.” He
helped push tenement reform to the front of New York's political agenda. Riis was among the
first in the United States to conceive of photographic images as instruments for social change.
His sympathetic portrayal of his subjects emphasized their humanity and bravery amid
deplorable conditions, and encouraged a more sensitive attitude towards the poor in the U.S.
Riis’s and other muckraker’s work, along with the Social Gospel movement, helps to explain the
surge in settlement houses during the Progressive Era, which brought medical care and
education to many urban poor.
President Roosevelt said of Riis, “The countless evils which lurk in the dark corners of our civic institutions, which stalk abroad in the
slums, and have their permanent abode in the crowded tenement houses, have met Mr. Riis, their most formidable opponent.”
What influence did Jacob Riis have on the Progressive Era?
Why do you suspect his photos, like the ones pictured here, had such an effect on the upper and middle classes?
Source: The Antiquities Act (1906)
Background: Conservation increasingly became one of Roosevelt's main concerns. After
becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt helped pass the Antiquities Act (1906), which he used to
protect wildlife and public lands by creating the United States Forest Service (USFS) and
establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national
parks, and 18 national monuments. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected
approximately 230 million acres of public land. Today, the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt is found
across the country. There are six national park sites dedicated, in part or whole, to the
conservationist president. Here are some noteworthy quotes from Roosevelt on the
environment: 1) "We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the
time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal,
iron, oil, and gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into
the streams, polluting the rivers and obstructing navigation." 2) "It is vandalism to destroy or
permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, forest, or species of
mammal or bird. Here in the U.S. we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy
forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals -- not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements.
But at last it looks as if our people were awakening." 3) After camping in Yosemite: "It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far
vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man."
What constitutional basis is there for the Antiquities Act? Revisit Period 3 materials on the Constitution.
Should presidents today continue in Roosevelt’s footsteps with regards to the environment/conservation movement?
D. Source: Progressive Party Platform, 1912
Background: The presidential election of 1912 was a four-way race that brought out third party candidates and a former president.
Theodore Roosevelt, former president, actually won most of the Republican primaries, even in President William Howard Taft's
home state of Ohio. Despite Roosevelt's popular support from the people, he was not able to overcome the power of Taft's
supporters within the Republican Party establishment, who were far more conservative. Those Republicans upset with Taft’s
nomination left the Republican party and formed the Progressive party, naming Theodore Roosevelt as their candidate. [This
Progressive party would die in 1916, but has emerged temporarily a few other times in U.S. history.]
During a campaign speech in Wisconsin, TR was shot at close range, but the gunman failed to kill the former president because the
force of the bullet was reduced by an eyeglasses case and a speech manuscript in the breast pocket of Roosevelt's overcoat. With
the bullet still in his body, he told the crowd, 'You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a bull moose.' Only after his speech was
over did he go to the hospital. This is how the Progressive party has become known as the 'Bull Moose Party.'
Taft (Republican)
Wilson (Democrat)
solid antitrust record
(90 lawsuits)
wanted to make
business and
government, smaller;
implement antitrust
supported high import
tariffs, limitations on
child and female labor,
and workmen's
compensation laws
was against initiative,
referendum and
recall—all methods to
increase democracy
less reluctant than TR
to act on conservation
viewed big business as
unfair and inefficient;
reduced opportunity for
many ordinary
critical of organized
labor, socialism, and
radical farmers
Debs (Socialist)
TR (Progressive)
labor organizer who
advocated for public
ownership of the railroads
and utilities, no tariffs, a
shortened work day, a
minimum wage, an income
tax, and a system of social
insurance against
unemployment and
industrial accidents and
“New Nationalism” principles, which included
a broad range of social and political reforms,
including a federal child labor law, federal
workmen's compensation, regulation of labor
relations, and a minimum wage for women
advocated for the election
of the president and vice
president by direct vote of
the people
advocated for more democracy: initiative,
referendum, recall, and direct election of
differentiated between good and bad trusts;
claimed that big business should be strictly
regulated in the public interest
protection of workers, consumers and in
environment were top priorities
only party to advocate women's suffrage at
the national level (!!!)
Which party platform do you think was the “best,” given the context of 1912 America?
Wilson and the Democrats won with 435 electoral votes, Roosevelt and the Progressive 'Bull Moose' Party came in second with 88
electoral votes, while Taft and the Republican Party came in third with 8 electoral votes. Debs did not score any electoral votes, but
he did manage to earn 6% of the popular vote, the highest proportion ever for the Socialist party. It was clear that the split in the
Republican Party had contributed to the Democrats' victory. And yet the popularity of TR drove the Democrats more to the left, so it
was not necessarily a “loss” for the Progressives.
The 1912 election was significant for several reasons. It was the high point of the Progressive movement in terms of progressive
ideals and rhetoric at the national level. In this election, a third party candidate, Roosevelt of the Progressive Party, beat one of the
two major party candidates, Taft, of the Republican Party. Wilson's victory brought the Democrats back in power of the national
government for the first time since before the Civil War. The Democrats gained both houses of Congress, as well as the presidency,
bringing southern leadership and influence to the national government.
Despite its loss, the strong showing of the Progressive Party signaled the emergence of a significant force in U.S. political history. It
also reflected a rising progressive spirit in the United States. Although TR lost the election, much of his, and the progressive
platform, was enacted during Wilson's presidency.
Excerpt from the Progressive party platform: The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into
being a new party, born of the nation’s sense of justice. We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the
duty laid upon us by our fathers to maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations
they laid. We hold with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that the people are the masters of their Constitution, to fulfill its
purposes and to safeguard it from those who, by perversion of its intent, would convert it into an instrument of injustice. In
accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal
opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which this Government was founded and without which no republic can endure. This
country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or
altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest. It is time to set the public welfare in the first place.
From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they
have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible
government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.
To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first
task of the statesmanship of the day.
Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the new party offers itself as the
instrument of the people to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth.
The Progressive party, believing that no people can justly claim to be a true democracy which denies political rights on account
of sex, pledges itself to the task of securing equal suffrage to men and women alike.
The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial
justice. We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for:
Effective legislation looking to the prevention of industrial accidents, occupational
diseases, overwork, involuntary unemployment, and other injurous effects incident
to modern industry; The fixing of minimum safety and health standards for the
various occupations…; The prohibition of child labor; One day’s rest in seven for all
wage workers; Publicity as to wages, hours and conditions of labor; Full reports
upon industrial accidents and diseases, and the opening to public inspection of all
tallies, weights, measures and check systems on labor products; Standards of
compensation for death by industrial accident and injury and trade disease which
will transfer the burden of lost earnings from the families of working people to the
industry, and thus to the community; The protection of home life against the
hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a
system of social insurance adapted to American use; We favor the organization of the workers, men and women, as a means of
protecting their interests and of promoting their progress.
The corporation is an essential part of modern business. The concentration of modern business, in some degree, is both
inevitable and necessary for national and international business efficiency. But the existing concentration of vast wealth under a
corporate system, unguarded and uncontrolled by the Nation, has placed in the hands of a few men enormous, secret,
irresponsible power over the daily life of the citizen — a power insufferable in a free Government and certain of abuse.
This power has been abused, in monopoly of National resources, in unfair competition and unfair privileges, and finally in
sinister influences on the public agencies of State and Nation. We do not fear commercial power, but we insist that it shall be
exercised openly, under publicity, supervision and regulation of the most efficient sort, which will preserve its good while
eradicating and preventing its ill.
The natural resources of the Nation must be promptly developed and generously used to supply the people’s needs, but we
cannot safely allow them to be wasted, exploited, monopolized or controlled against the general good. We heartily favor the
policy of conservation, and we pledge our party to protect the National forests without hindering their legitimate use for the
benefit of all the people.
The Progressive party deplores the survival in our civilization of the barbaric system of warfare among nations with its enormous
waste of resources even in time of peace, and the consequent impoverishment of the life of the toiling masses. We pledge the
party to use its best endeavors to substitute judicial and other peaceful means of settling international differences.
We favor an international agreement for the limitation of naval forces.
We denounce the fatal policy of indifference and neglect which has left our enormous immigrant population to become the
prey of chance and cupidity [greed].
We favor Governmental action to encourage the distribution of immigrants away from the congested cities, to rigidly supervise
all private agencies dealing with them and to promote their assimilation, education and advancement.
Revisit the background information on the 1912 election (listed before the Progressive party Platform). What were some of the
significant elements of this election and its aftermath?
What are your thoughts/questions on specific points from the Progressive party platform?
Source: The Politics of Child Labor, by Our Documents (associated with The National Archives)
The 1900 census revealed that approximately 2 million children were working in mills, mines, fields, factories, stores, and on city
streets across the United States. The census report helped spark a national movement to end child labor in the United States. In
1908, the National Child Labor Committee hired Lewis Hine as its staff photographer and sent him across the country to photograph
and report on child labor (see picture, page 5). Social reformers began to condemn child labor because of its detrimental effect on
the health and welfare of children.
The first child labor bill, the Keating-Owen bill of 1916, used the government's ability to regulate interstate commerce to regulate
child labor. The act banned the sale of products from any factory or shop that employed children under the age of 14, from any mine
that employed children under the age of 16, and from any facility that had children under the age of 16 work at night or for more
than 8 hours during the day. Although the Keating-Owen Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow
Wilson, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) because it “overstepped” the purpose
of the government's powers to regulate interstate commerce. In its opinion the Court delineated between the Congress's power to
regulate commerce and production (while the commerce could
be regulated, the Court argued the production could not).
Despite the nation's apparent desire for federal laws against
child labor, the Supreme Court's rulings left little room for
federal legislation. A constitutional amendment was soon proposed to give Congress the power to regulate child labor. The
campaign for ratification of the Child Labor Amendment was stalled in the 1920s by an effective campaign to discredit it. Opponents'
charges ranged from traditional states' rights arguments against increases in the power of the Federal Government to accusations
that the amendment was a communist-inspired plot to subvert the Constitution. Federal protection of children would not be
obtained until passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which was also challenged before the Supreme Court. This time, the
movement to end child labor was victorious. In February of 1941, the Supreme Court reversed its opinion in Hammer v. Dagenhart
and, in U. S. v. Darby (1941), upheld the constitutionality of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is still in force today.
10. Why was the Keating-Owen Act declared unconstitutional? Do you think the Court made the right decision in overturning the
Source: Prohibition Materials
Background: The 18th Amendment (1920) prohibited the manufacture, sale, and
transport of alcohol, but the idea of temperance in drinking began more than a
century earlier. The early 19th century temperance movement, which was one of
many evangelist social reform movements of the first half of the 19th, eventually
gained fuel by the rising influence of the Progressive movement, which emphasized
the importance of an activist federal government and the notion that man’s nature
can and should be bettered by “enlightened” government. Though the temperance
movement began as an effort to persuade individuals to abstain from alcohol, it
shifted (during the Progressive Era) to an effort to use the force of law to ban its sale
and transport.
Advocates of Prohibition realized that for temperance to become mainstream, moral arguments against liquor (such as its tendency
to result in crime, violence, domestic abuse, economic folly, etc.) would not be enough. They began to employ a scientific, fact-based
approach, emphasizing studies that found alcohol limited motor reaction, caused heart problems, interfered with digestion, and
worsened diseases. Using these studies, Progressives, Protestant churches, and the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) lobbied for anti-alcohol
legislation. Through letters, telegrams, and petitions to state and federal representatives, they convinced the majority of states to
pass prohibition measures at the state-level and, eventually, succeeded in persuading the U.S. Congress to pass the Prohibition
Amendment in 1919 (it was then sent to the states for ratification, which was achieved in 1920, while Woodrow Wilson was
president). Though perhaps noble in aim, the legal enforcement of the ban limited personal freedom, gave rise to widespread
lawlessness, and encouraged the growth of organized crime. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Congress approved the 21st
Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment.
Article: Unintended Consequences, PBS—Michael Lerner
Prohibition's supporters were initially surprised by what did not come to pass during the dry era. When the law went into effect, real
estate developers and landlords expected rents to rise as saloons closed and neighborhoods
improved. Chewing gum, grape juice, and soft drink companies all expected growth. Theater
producers expected new crowds as Americans looked for new ways to entertain themselves without
alcohol. None of it came to pass. Instead, the unintended consequences proved to be a decline in
amusement and entertainment industries across the board. Restaurants failed, as they could no
longer make a profit without legal liquor sales. Theater revenues declined rather than increase, and
few of the other economic benefits that had been predicted came to pass. The closing of breweries,
distilleries and saloons led to the elimination of thousands of jobs, and in turn thousands more jobs
were eliminated for barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and other related trades.
One of the most profound effects of Prohibition was on government tax revenues. Before
Prohibition, many states relied heavily on excise taxes in liquor sales to fund their budgets. In New
York, almost 75% of the state's revenue was derived from liquor taxes. With Prohibition in effect,
that revenue was immediately lost. At the national level, Prohibition cost $300 million to enforce.
While the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture,
sale and transportation of intoxicating beverages, it did not
outlaw the possession or consumption of alcohol in the United
States. The Volstead Act, the federal law that provided for the
enforcement of Prohibition, also left enough loopholes and
quirks that it opened the door to myriad schemes to evade the
dry mandate, which are outlined in the paragraph below:
One of the legal exceptions to the Prohibition law was that
pharmacists were allowed to dispense whiskey by prescription
for any number of ailments, ranging from anxiety to influenza.
Bootleggers quickly discovered that running a pharmacy was a
perfect front for their trade. As a result, the number of
registered pharmacists in New York State tripled during the
Prohibition Era. Because Americans were also allowed to obtain
wine for religious purposes, enrollments rose at churches and
synagogues, and cities saw a large increase in the number of selfprofessed rabbis who could obtain wine for their congregations.
The law was unclear when it came to Americans making wine at home. With a wink and a nod, the American grape industry began
selling kits of juice concentrate with warnings not to leave them sitting too long or else they could ferment and turn into wine. Home
stills were technically illegal, but Americans found they could purchase them at many hardware stores, while instructions for
distilling could be found in public libraries in pamphlets issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The law that was meant to
stop Americans from drinking was instead turning many of them into experts on how to make it.
The trade in unregulated alcohol had serious consequences for public health. As the trade in illegal alcohol became more lucrative,
the quality of alcohol on the black market declined. On average, 1,000 Americans died every year during the Prohibition from the
effects of drinking tainted liquor.
The effects of Prohibition on law enforcement were also negative. The sums of money being exchanged during the dry era proved a
corrupting influence in both the federal Bureau of Prohibition and at the state and local level. Police officers and Prohibition agents
alike were frequently tempted by bribes or the lucrative opportunity to go into bootlegging themselves. Many stayed honest, but
enough succumbed to the temptation that the stereotype of the corrupt Prohibition agent or local cop undermined public trust in
law enforcement for the duration of the era. Additionally, the growth of the illegal liquor trade under Prohibition made criminals of
millions of Americans. As the decade progressed, court rooms and jails overflowed, and the legal system failed to keep up. Many
defendants in prohibition cases waited over a year to be brought to trial. As the backlog of cases increased, the judicial system
turned to the "plea bargain" to clear hundreds of cases at a time, making it common practice in American jurisprudence for the first
The greatest unintended consequence of Prohibition however, was the plainest to see. The statistics of the period are notoriously
unreliable, but it is very clear that in many parts of the United States more people were drinking, and people were drinking more.
There is little doubt that Prohibition failed to achieve what it set out to do, and that its unintended consequences were far more far
reaching than its few benefits. The ultimate lesson is two-fold. Watch out for solutions that end up worse than the problems they set
out to solve, and remember that the Constitution is no place for experiments, noble or otherwise.
Once the Great Depression hit (c.1930), the tide drastically turned against Prohibition. Some lawmakers believed that a tax on
alcohol could help increase federal revenue to aid the struggling country. Citizens were concerned about the upsurge in crime and
violence. Franklin D. Roosevelt reversed his position on the matter and came out against Prohibition during the 1932 presidential
campaign. Congress approved the 21st Amendment in 1933, which repealed the 18th Amendment (this was the first and only time in
American history that a constitutional amendment had been repealed) and affirmed the right of the states to make laws concerning
the sale and transport of alcohol. Most states began tightly controlling liquor usage through licensing requirements, drinking age
limits, and specific hours of operation for liquor sellers. Many of these regulations are still in force today.
11. Generate a list of unintended consequences of Prohibition:
Legislation Chart: Read through each piece of legislation and determine if you think it’s sound/justifiable/beneficial legislation, or
unwarranted government overreach/unwise (etc.). Put a few thoughts or questions in the reaction section.
Legislative Achievements at
the National Level
Antiquities Act,
1906 [TR]
Gave the president the authority to restrict the use of public lands for
conservation purposes
Pure Food and
Drug Act, 1906
Required companies to accurately label the ingredients contained in
processed foods
Direct response to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Meat Inspection
Act, 1906 [TR]
Required meat-processing plants to be inspected to ensure the use of
good meat and sound sanitation procedures
Direct response to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Hepburn Act,
1906 [TR]
Strengthened a railroad regulatory commission, the Interstate Commerce
Commission, allowing it to set maximum railroad rates and inspect
financial records (the ICC had formed in 1887 to regulate monopolistic
railroad companies but wasn’t enforced until TR’s time)
Mann Act, 1910
Made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral”
purposes (Progressives were trying to tackle the problem of young girls
engaging in prostitution out of destitution) (this law was justified through
the commerce clause)
Federal Reserve
Act, 1913
The Federal Reserve System (“the Fed”) was created to regulate the
money supply and interest rates, and provide a lender of last resorts to
avoid panics and runs on the banks, which occurred frequently during the
Gilded Age and beyond
Clayton Antitrust
Act, 1914
Strengthened the Sherman Antitrust Act (of 1890, which was ambiguous
in its language and was often used to put down strikes/unions instead of
trusts) by outlawing the creation of a monopoly through any means, and
stated that unions were not subject to antitrust legislation (unions had
been targeted in antitrust cases in years past since they were interpreted
as conspiracies to restrict commerce)
Federal Trade
Act, 1914
Established the Federal Trade Commission, charged with investigating
unfair business practices including monopolistic activity and inaccurate
product labeling
Adamson Act,
1916 [Wilson]
Established 8-hr work day for railroad employees
Child Labor Act,
1916 (to 1918)
Limited work hours of children engaged in interstate trade and forbade
interstate sale of goods produced by children under 14; declared
unconstitutional in 1918: Court said that child labor dealt with interstate
production, as opposed to interstate commerce; thus, Congress had no
right to intervene
Act, 1916
Financial assistance to federal employees injured on job
Constitutional Amendments Chart: Read through the information for each Progressive Era Amendment. Respond to questions when
Constitutional Amendments (all occurred during Wilson’s tenure in office, 1913-1921)
Income Tax
Tariffs decreased with a Democratic president; but so, too, did programs (see above), so
the government was starved for funds
Populists, Socialists, and some Progressives had argued for some time that the wealthy
should be taxed
Reminder: A temporary income tax was implemented under the Lincoln administration
Constitution dictated that state legislatures vote for U.S. Senators
Populists of the 1880s had been first to call for this reform, due to the corruption of so
many state legislatures bought by patronage or big business throughout the Gilded Age
Progressive impulse sometimes led to greater democracy, as we see here
Would you have supported or rejected this amendment? Explain below:
Fil in details from earlier section on Prohibition (F):
College-educated progressive-minded women led demonstrations for suffrage and
picketed at the White House, pointing out President Wilson’s hypocrisy in waging a war
(World War I) allegedly “for democracy” while denying half its population the right to vote
In 1848 at the _______________________________, women of a previous generation had
advocated, unsuccessfully, for women’s suffrage
Direct election
of U.S.
in 1933)
General Reform Chart: Read through each type of Progressive Era reform and respond to the prompts that follow.
General Reform Areas by Topic
Economic: Labor & Capital
Social Reform
An increase in direct democracy in many Western states (see image below)
Limited power of railroads (state + national)
Direct election of U.S. Senators, 1913 (17th Amendment)
Women’s suffrage, 1920 (19th Amendment)
Antitrust legislation (1914) → promotion of competition
The Federal Reserve was created (1913) to “maintain the stability of the financial system”
Worker protections (state + national)
Settlement house movement (local)
Efforts to eradicate prostitution in 1910 (national)
Prohibition, 18th Amendment, in 1919
Education: every state had some form—albeit limited—of compulsory education by 1918
Regulation of medicine and food (national) and environmental waste (local/state)
Cities/states provided more health services
Birth control clinics in every large city by 1920
Pay for injured workers hurt on job (labor issue, too)
Conservation efforts at the national level
12. Which area do you suspect had the most beneficial/significant effect on American society?
13. Considering what we’ve learned about The West, Jim Crow America, and The Gilded Age, all of which occurred before the
Progressive Era (and some continuing during the Progressive Era) were there certain “ills” of American society that the
Progressive Era failed to rectify? Discuss a few points below:
U.S. Imperialism (focus: 1890s)
Justifying(?) Imperialism through The White Man’s Burden (Rudyard Kipling): Below you
will find an excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden,” as well as political
cartoons commenting on the work itself. Written in 1898, the poem was a reaction to the
U.S. imperialist conquest of the Philippines and other former Spanish colonies. In essence, it
justifies imperialism as a noble and necessary enterprise.
Take up the White Man’s burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile,
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Take up the White Man's burden—In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit
And work another's gain.
Take up the White Man's burden
The savage wars of peace
Fill full the mouth of Famine,
And bid the sickness cease…
Why was the poem written?
How are non-Westerners portrayed?
To what extent do you see social Darwinism/paternalism in this excerpt?
Cartoon Analysis on The White Man’s Burden
How do the cartoons (A-B on the following page) satirize Kipling’s poem? How do you suspect the artists felt about U.S.
Cartoon A: “The White(?) Man’s Burden”
Cartoon B: “The White Man’s Burden (Apologies to Kipling)”
The rocks towards the bottom of the cartoon have the following words written on them: vice, superstition, oppression, ignorance,
brutality. The rocks towards the top of the cartoon, which are golden due to the figure at the very top of the image (“civilization”),
have the following words written on them: cruelty, slavery, vice, ignorance.
U.S. Imperialism in Hawaii—Video Questions
Describe the capital city of Honolulu circa 1890:
Describe the “Hawaiian Kingdom” at this time.
What was the role of American sugar planters in Hawaii? What did they expect from the
Why did panic spread across U.S.-owned plantations in Hawaii? What was the result?
How did D.C. respond to U.S. interests in Hawaii?
How did the Queen feel about annexation? What did her new constitution seek to do?
How did the business community/annexationists respond?
What led to the Queen’s overthrow?
Describe the takeover (1893):
What is meant by the statement “she [the Queen] had great faith in America”?
Evaluate U.S. actions in Hawaii:
Evaluate the Queen’s actions:
McKinley’s Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation (1898)
In performing this duty [the extension of American sovereignty throughout the Philippines by
means of force] the military commander of the United States is enjoined to make known to the
inhabitants of the Philippine Islands that in succeeding to the sovereignty of Spain, in severing
the former political relations, and in establishing a new political power, the authority of the
United States is to be exerted for the securing of the persons and property of the people of the
Islands and for the confirmation of all private rights and relations. It will be the duty of the
commander of the forces of occupation to announce and proclaim in the most public manner
that we come not as invaders or conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their
homes, in their employment, and in their personal and religious rights. All persons who, either
by active aid or by honest submission, cooperate with the Government of the United States to
give effect to these beneficent purposes will receive the reward of its support and protection. All
others will be brought within the lawful rule we have assumed, with firmness if need be, but
without severity, so far as may be possible….
Title: The Filipino’s First Bath
Finally, it should be the earnest and paramount aim of the military administration to win the
confidence, respect, and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines by assuring them in every possible way that full measure of
individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is
one of the benevolent assimilation, substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule. In the fulfillment of this high
mission, supporting the temperate administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there must be sedulously
maintained the strong arm of authority, to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles to the bestowal of the blessings of
good and stable government upon the people of the Philippine Islands under the flag of the United States.
How does McKinley’s proclamation, as well as the cartoons on this page, compare/contrast with what occurred in the
Philippines and elsewhere during this time? (see presentation notes)
Platform of the Anti-Imperialist League, 1899
The American Anti-Imperialist League was founded in 1899, after the
United States occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands.
Cuba became nominally independent, although the United States
retained until 1934 the legal right to intervene in Cuban domestic and
foreign affairs. Both Puerto Rico and the Philippines became American
colonies. The Filipinos revolted against American rule in February, 1899,
and were suppressed in 1902 after a bloody, ruthless guerrilla war. Most
Americans supported overseas expansion, but some of the nation's most
illustrious citizens - including Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain - were
appalled by American imperialism. In 1899 they founded the American
Anti-Imperialist League in order to campaign, unsuccessfully as it turned
out, against the annexation of the Philippines.
We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and
tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of
Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any
people is "criminal aggression" and open disloyalty to the distinctive principles of our government.
We earnestly condemn the policy of the present national administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in
those islands. We deplore the sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors, whose bravery deserves admiration even in an unjust war. We
denounce the slaughter of the Filipinos as a needless horror. We protest against the extension of American sovereignty by Spanish
A self-governing state cannot accept sovereignty over an unwilling people. The United States cannot act upon the ancient heresy
that might makes right.
We shall oppose for re-election all who in the white house or in congress betray American liberty in pursuit of un-American ends.
We hold with Abraham Lincoln, that "no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. When the white
man governs himself, that is self-government, but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than selfgovernment--that is despotism. . . . Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit
which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and
under a just God cannot long retain it."
Summarize the Anti-Imperialists key arguments:
Why do you suspect they focused most of their attention on the Philippine-American War and not some other imperialist
venture (Hawaii, S-A-C War, etc.)?
Compare the arguments of the Anti-Imperialists with those in support of expansion/imperialism (discussed in some of the first
slides of the imperialism presentation). Who made the better arguments?