420: Unit 1

History 420: United States, 1861-1941, Winter, 2023-24

Part I, Civil War & Post-War America

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

1. Introduction to the course. On day one. 

"The comprehension of text reaches beyond words and phrases to embrace intention, motive, purpose and plan" (Sam Wineburg). As you read Lincoln's debate reply consider context and subtext and try to understand Lincoln's intentions, motives, purpose and plan.

In the next two classes we will be working on looking closely at Lincoln's motives and intentions in fighting the war and emancipating the slaves. You will find this Emancipation Timeline very useful as you seek to make sense of the events leading to Emancipation.  

2. Saving the Union 

READ: 420 Docs (the orange book I gave you), pp. 2-9 & 15-33.  Read this in preparation for the second class meeting of the term. 

Consider: The cause(s) of the war; Lincoln’s war aims; the strategic importance of the Border States; moral, political, military aims of the Union.

Here is a link to a video overview of the Civil War. 

3. Emancipation goes forward.

READ: 420 Docs, 9-15, 33-47. (101 wpm)

Pay attention to what Lincoln sees as pros and cons of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in his meeting with clergy.  What, if anything, did the conduct of black soldiers have to do with emancipation? Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed fighting for the Union cause?  How does Lincoln define that cause.  Has there been a change in his defining war aims since the first Inaugural? Is Lincoln leading or following Northern opinion?

4. The war ends, Reconstruction begins

READ: 420 Docs, 47-61 and the Reconstruction timeline on p. 73: just 1861-1865.  archi

Here is the prompt for the first paper.  Look carefully at the Second Inaugural and consider Striner's claim that Lincoln was a moral visionary.  When the Civil War ends, the North has a lot of decisions to make about what to do with the South. 

5. The war itself

READ: Docs appendix: Excerpts from Chapters 3, 10, 14 of James M. McPherson, "This Mighty Scourge" ( 131 wpm)

How did the Union win the Civil War?

6. Reconstruction ends

READ: 420 Docs, 61--79. And the zest of the Reconstruction timeline

Consider: Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Why did it end?

7. Paper due.  RELEASE TIME.  THE CLASS DOES NOT MEET.  Please drop a hard copy in the box at my classroom before the end of class period number 7. You don't need a title page, but please put a heading in the top left corner of page 1.  Include Name, format, and word count. Here is the prompt. ALSO, PLEASE READ THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT'S NEW ACADEMIC HONESTY STATEMENT.


READ: The American Yawp (your textbook, Vol. 2): 2-9; 56-61

420 Docs, 79-94.

Pretend you are a member of the working class in the late 19th century: write a five-sentence thank-you note to the owner of the factory where you are employed. Be sure to explain what you are sincerely thankful for and why he really does deserves your thanks (hint: he's not a philanthropist). Base the letter on what you know from the readings, not assumptions you might have.

9. DooHicky Inc.

READ: In the Docs appendix: Richard White, The Republic for which It Stands, excerpts, pp. 237-243 (Section IV) and review the reading in Yawp from class #8 to make sure you understand terms relevant to corporations and industry and economic growth. 

We will work on the recipe for industrial success.  Important ingredients: Taylorism; efficiency; productivity; advertising; mechanization; division of labor; economies of scale; mergers; trusts; managers; limited liability; stock; stock exchange; dividends; capital; profits; capitalists; robber barons; tariff; invention factories; free labor; wage labor; contract freedom; eight-hour day; strikes; competition; real wages; deflation; permanent working class; greenbacks.

10. Industrial "progress" in the Gilded Age

READ: Richard White, The Republic for which It Stands excerpt, pp. 243 to the bottom of 248 and 250 from "In the South" to 252; and 477-481 and one paragraph on p. 217 on sectors of the economy.  I'm compiling Key terms for these units here

More ingredients to pour into the industrial economy: financiers; capital accumulation; bond issues; brokers; speculators; call loans; bank runs; panics; government subsidies.  (This unit is  before break for C format, after for the D and G.)  In class we are watching this excellent film from the PBS series, American Experience.  Unfortunately, we can only watch a part of the film.  C format watched the first 40-or so minutes before the break and I encouraged the to watch the rest over break.  D and G format will watch the last 40-or so minutes when we return on Jan. 4. If you would like to watch the first hour or so of the film over the break it is available free online here

11. Industrial labor

READ Yawp: 1-2, 9-13, 56-58.  Also, REVIEW the readings you did in White for units 9 and 10.

420 Docs, 99-107

Pretend you are a member of the working class in the late 19th century and write a 5-sentence note to your moronic cousin explaining why his thank-you note to his boss was sorely misguided.  

12. The West (it is important AS ALWAYS that you read the entire assignment below)

RESEARCH: Follow the links, read up on the topic, and then find an image that best illustrates the water situation there. Email me the picture or a link to it at least an hour before the class begins. 

1.100th Meridian

2. Great American Desert

3. John Wesley Powell

4. Transcontinental RR

5. Rain Follows the plow;

6. Irrigation--just American West under Modern History.

7. Ogallala aquifer

8. Colorado River

9. Salton Sea.  See if you can find a map that shows it, and also the canal and the dam.

10. Subsidence of the Central Valley of California & Subsidence in general

11. Colorado River and Mexico

12. Desert Land Act of 1877; National Reclamation Act of 1902; Carey Act of 1894

13. Latest on Colorado River;  

14. Latest on groundwater

READ: Docs, 95-99 & Yawp, 51-52.

SKIM: The rest of Yawp, chapter 17, with attention to the key terms from that chapter listed here.

As you do the readings consider:  Is higher education an appropriate substitute for the Great American Frontier?

13. The Populist Party & the Politics of the Gilded Age

READ Yawp, 13-24 & 65-71

420 Docs, 107-123 & in the appendix, "Roundnumberstan"

Fill out the Roundnumbersan worksheet.  How is this relevant to the currency issue that the political parties were so concerned about?  What are the most important differences among the Democrats, Republicans, and Populists? What was the connection between populism and race?

For assignment 14, go to page 2 of the syllabus. 

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4