Log in
You are here: Home History Standards US History Content Standards United States Era 6

United States Era 6

The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)

Standard 1: How the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed the American people

Standard 2: Massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity

Standard 3: The rise of the American labor movement and how political issues reflected social and economic changes

Standard 4: Federal Indian policy and United States foreign policy after the Civil War

From the era of Reconstruction to the end of the 19th century, the United States  underwent an economic transformation that involved the maturing of the industrial economy, the rapid expansion of big business, the development of large-scale agriculture, and the rise of national labor unions and pronounced industrial conflict.

Students can begin to see a resemblance to possibilities and problems that our society faces today. The late 19th century marked a spectacular outburst of technological innovation, which fueled headlong economic growth and delivered material benefits to many Americans. Yet, the advances in productive and extractive enterprises that technology permitted also had ecological effects that Americans were just beginning to understand and confront. In the last third of the 19th century, the rise of the American corporation and the advent of big business brought about a concentration of the nation's productive capacities in many fewer hands. Mechanization brought farming into the realm of big business and turned the United States into the world's premier producer of food--a position it has never surrendered.

This period also witnessed unprecedented immigration and urbanization, both of which were indispensable to industrial expansion. American society, always polyglot, became even more diverse as immigrants thronged from southern and eastern Europe--and also from Asia, Mexico, and Central America. As newcomers created a new American mosaic, the old Protestant European Americans' sway over the diverse people of this nation began to loosen. Related to this continuing theme of immigration was the search for national unity amid growing cultural diversity. How a rising system of public education promoted the assimilation of newcomers is an important topic for students to study.

Students should appreciate the cross-currents and contradictions of this period. For example, what many at the time thought was progress was regarded by others as retrogressive. Paradoxes abound. First, agricultural modernization, while innovative and productive, disrupted family farms and led American farmers to organize protest movements as never before. Second, the dizzying rate of expansion was accomplished at the cost of the wars against the Plains Indians, which produced the "second great removal" of indigenous peoples from their ancient homelands and ushered in a new federal Indian policy that would last until the New Deal. Third, muscular, wealth-producing industrial development that raised the standard of living for millions of Americans also fueled the rise of national labor unionism and unprecedented clashes in industrial and mining sites between capital and labor. Fourth, after the Civil War, women reformers, while reaching for a larger public presence, suffered an era of retrenchment on economic and political issues. Lastly, the wrenching economic dislocations of this period and the social problems that erupted in rural and urban settings captured the attention of reformers and politicians, giving rise to third-party movements and the beginning of the Progressive movement.

Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below.

Standard 1

How the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed the American people.

Standard 1A

The student understands the connections among industrialization, the advent of the modern corporation, and material well-being.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain how organized industrial research produced technological breakthroughs, especially the Bessemer steel process, conversion to electrical power, and telephonic communication, and how these innovations transformed the economy, work processes, and domestic life.  [Utilize quantitative data
9-12 Compare various types of business organizations in production and marketing. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas
5-12 Evaluate the careers of prominent industrial and financial leaders. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]
7-12 Explain how business leaders sought to limit competition and maximize profits in the late 19th century. [Examine the influence of ideas
9-12 Examine how industrialization made consumer goods more available, increased the standard of living for most Americans, and redistributed wealth. [Utilize quantitative data
9-12
Compare the ascent of new industries today with those of a century ago. [Hypothesize the influence of the past]

Standard 1B

The student understands the rapid growth of cities and how urban life changed.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain how geographical factors and rapid industrialization created different kinds of cities in diverse regions of the country. [Draw upon data in historical maps]
5-12 Trace the migration of people from farm to city and their adjustment to urban life. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
7-12 Analyze how urban political machines gained power and how they were viewed by immigrants and middle-class reformers. [Consider multiple perspectives
9-12 Explain how urban dwellers dealt with the problems of financing, governing, and policing the cities. [Evaluate alternative courses of actions]
7-12 Investigate how urban leaders, such as architects and philanthropists, responded to the challenges of rapid urbanization. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]

Standard 1C

The student understands how agriculture, mining, and ranching were transformed.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain how major geographical and technological influences, including hydraulic engineering and barbed wire, affected farming, mining, and ranching. [Draw upon data in historical maps
5-12 Explain the conflicts that arose during the settlement of the "last frontier" among farmers, ranchers, and miners. [Consider multiple perspectives
9-12 Analyze the role of the federal government--particularly in terms of land policy, water, and Indian policy--in the economic transformation of the West. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Explain how commercial farming differed in the Northeast, South, Great Plains, and West in terms of crop production, farm labor, financing, and transportation. [Compare and contrast differing economic patterns
7-12 Explain the gender composition and ethnic diversity of farmers, miners, and ranchers and analyze how this affected the development of the West. [Examine the influence of ideas
7-12
Explain the significance of farm organizations. [Analyze multiple causation]

Standard 1D

The student understands the effects of rapid industrialization on the environment and the emergence of the first conservation movement.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the environmental costs of pollution and the depletion of natural resources during the period 1870-1900. [Utilize visual and mathematical data
7-12 Explain how rapid industrialization, extractive mining techniques, and the "gridiron" pattern of urban growth affected the scenic beauty and health of city and countryside. [Analyze multiple causation
7-12 Explain the origins of environmentalism and the conservation movement in the late 19th century. [Examine the influence of ideas

Standard 2

Massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity.

Standard 2A

The student understands the sources and experiences of the new immigrants.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Distinguish between the "old" and "new" immigration in terms of its volume and the immigrants' ethnicity, religion, language, place of origin, and motives for emigrating from their homelands. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Trace patterns of immigrant settlement in different regions of the country and how new immigrants helped produce a composite American culture that transcended group boundaries. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration
5-12 Assess the challenges, opportunities, and contributions of different immigrant groups. [Examine historical perspectives]
7-12 Evaluate how Catholic and Jewish immigrants responded to religious discrimination. [Obtain historical data]
9-12 Evaluate the role of public and parochial schools in integrating immigrants into the American mainstream. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 2B

The student understands "scientific racism", race relations, and the struggle for equal rights.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the scientific theories of race and their application to society and politics. [Examine the influence of ideas
5-12 Explain the rising racial conflict in different regions, including the anti-Chinese movement in the West and the rise of lynching in the South. [Explain historical continuity and change]
9-12 Analyze the role of new laws and the federal judiciary in instituting racial inequality and in disfranchising various racial groups. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
9-12 Analyze the arguments and methods by which various minority groups sought to acquire equal rights and opportunities guaranteed in the nation's charter documents. [Identify issues and problems in the past]

Standard 2C

The student understands how new cultural movements at different social levels affected American life.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Describe how regional artists and writers portrayed American life in this period. [Read historical narratives imaginatively]
5-12 Investigate new forms of popular culture and leisure activities at different levels of American society. [Draw upon visual sources]
9-12 Explain Victorianism and its impact on architecture, literature, manners, and morals. [Employ literature, architecture, diaries, and artifacts]
9-12 Analyze how the rise of public education and voluntary organizations promoted national unity and American values in an era of unprecedented immigration and socioeconomic change. [Examine the influence of ideas]

Standard 3

The rise of the American labor movement and how political issues reflected social and economic changes.

Standard 3A

The student understands how the "second industrial revolution" changed the nature and conditions of work.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain the change from workshop to factory and how it altered the worker's world. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Account for employment in different regions of the country as affected by gender, race, ethnicity, and skill. [Formulate historical questions]
7-12 Analyze how working conditions changed and how the workers responded to new industrial conditions. [Explain historical continuity and change
5-12 Analyze the causes and consequences of the industrial employment of children. [Examine historical perspectives]

Standard 3B

The student understands the rise of national labor unions and the role of state and federal governments in labor conflicts.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Analyze how "reform unions" and "trade unions" differed in terms of their agendas for reform and for organizing workers by race, skill, gender, and ethnicity. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
7-12 Explain the ways in which management in different regions and industries responded to labor organizing workers. [Formulate historical questions]
5-12 Analyze the causes and effects of escalating labor conflict. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Explain the response of management and government at different levels to labor strife in different regions of the country. [Compare competing historical narratives]

Standard 3C

The student understands how Americans grappled with social, economic, and political issues.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain how Democrats and Republicans responded to civil service reform, monetary policy, tariffs, and business regulation. [Consider multiple perspectives]
9-12 Explain the causes and effects of the depressions of 1873-79 and 1893-97 and the ways in which government, business, labor, and farmers responded. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Explain the political, social, and economic roots of Populism and distinguish Populism from earlier democratic reform movements. [Examine the influence of ideas
9-12 Analyze the Populists' Omaha Platform of 1892 as a statement of grievances and an agenda for reform. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Analyze the issues and results of the 1896 election and determine to what extent it was a turning point in American politics. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12
Evaluate the successes and failures of Populism. [Examine the influence of ideas]

Standard 4

Federal Indian policy and United States foreign policy after the Civil War.

Standard 4A

The student understands various perspectives on federal Indian policy, westward expansion, and the resulting struggles.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Identify and compare the attitudes and policies toward Native Americans by government officials, the U.S. Army, missionaries, and settlers. [Interrogate historical data
5-12 Compare survival strategies of different Native American societies during the "second great removal." [Appreciate historical perspectives]
7-12 Explain the provisions of the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 and evaluate its effects on tribal identity, land ownership, and assimilation. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
7-12 Evaluate the legacy of 19th-century federal Indian policy. [Hypothesize the influence of the past]

Standard 4B

The student understands the roots and development of American expansionism and the causes and outcomes of the Spanish-American War.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Trace the acquisition of new territories. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration
9-12 Describe how geopolitics, economic interests, racial ideology, missionary zeal, nationalism, and domestic tensions combined to create an expansionist foreign policy.[Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Evaluate the causes, objectives, character, and outcome of the Spanish-American War. [Interrogate historical data
7-12 Explain the causes and consequences of the Filipino insurrection. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]