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United States Era 7

The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Standard 1: How Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption

Standard 2: The changing role of the United States in world affairs through World War I

Standard 3: How the United States changed from the end of World War I to the eve of the Great Depression

The study of how the modern United States emerged begins with the Progressive era. It deserves careful study because, among other things, it included the nation's most vibrant set of reform ideas and campaigns since the 1830s-40s. Progressives were a diverse lot with various agendas that sometimes jostled uneasily, but all reformers focused on a set of corrosive problems arising from rapid industrialization, urbanization, waves of immigration, and business and political corruption. Students can be inspired by how fervently the Progressives applied themselves to the renewal of American democracy. They can also profit from understanding the distinctively female reform culture that contributed powerfully to the movement.

Two of the problems confronted by Progressives are still central today. First, the Progressives faced the dilemma of how to maintain the material benefits flowing from the industrial revolution while bringing the powerful forces creating those benefits under democratic control and while enlarging economic opportunity. Second, Progressives faced the knotted issue of how to maintain democracy and national identity amid an increasingly diverse influx of immigrants and amid widespread political corruption and the concentration of political power. Of all the waves of reformism in American history, Progressivism is notable for its nearly all-encompassing agenda. As its name implies, it stood for progress, and that put it squarely in the American belief in the perfectible society.

Students cannot fully understand the Progressive movement without considering its limitations, particularly its antagonism to radical labor movements and indifference to the plight of African Americans and other minorities. As in so many aspects of American history, it behooves students to understand different perspectives. Progressivism brought fusion in some areas of reform, but it also created fissures. Among those was the ongoing, heated controversy about female equality, particularly in the area of economic protectionism.

All issues of American foreign policy in the 20th century have their origins in the emergence of the United States as a major world power in the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century and in the involvement of the United States in World War I. The American intervention in World War I cast the die for the United States as a world power for the remainder of the century. Students can learn much about the complexities of foreign policy today by studying the difficulties of maintaining neutrality in World War I while acquiring the role of an economic giant with global interests and while fervently wishing to export democracy around the world.

In the postwar period the prosperity of the 1920s and the domination of big business and Republican politics are also important to study. The 1920s displayed dramatically the American urge to build, innovate, and explore--poignantly captured in Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, which excited more enthusiasm than any single event to that time. The cultural and social realms also contain lessons from history that have resonance today. First, students should study the women's struggle for equality, which had political, economic, and cultural dimensions. Second, students should understand how radical labor movements and radical ideologies provoked widespread fear and even hysteria. Third, they need to study the recurring racial tension that led to black nationalism, the Harlem Renaissance, and the first great northward migration of African Americans on the one hand and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan on the other hand. Fourth, they need to understand the powerful movement to Americanize a generation of immigrants and the momentous closing of the nation's gates through severe retrenchment of open-door immigration policies. Lastly, they should examine the continuing tension among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, most dramatically exemplified in the resurgence of Protestant fundamentalism.

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

Standard 1

How Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption.

Standard 1A

The student understands the origin of the Progressives and the coalitions they formed to deal with issues at the local and state levels.

5-12 Explain how the Progressives drew upon the American past to develop a notion of democracy responsive to the distinctive needs of an industrial society. [Explain historical continuity and change]
9-12 Examine the social origins of the Progressives. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Explain how intellectuals and religious leaders laid the groundwork and publicists spread the word for Progressive plans to reform American society. [Assess the importance of the individual
5-12 Evaluate Progressive reforms to expand democracy at the local and state levels.[Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Assess Progressive efforts to regulate big business, curb labor militancy, and protect the rights of workers and consumers. [Evaluate alternative courses of action]
Evaluate Progressive attempts at social and moral reform. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
Analyze Progressive programs for assimilating the influx of immigrants before World War I. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue]

Standard 1B

The student understands Progressivism at the national level.

5-12 Evaluate the presidential leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson in terms of their effectiveness in obtaining passage of reform measures. [Assess the importance of the individual]
7-12 Explain why the election of 1912 was a pivotal campaign for the Progressive movement. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Compare the New Nationalism, New Freedom, and Socialist agendas for change. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
5-12 Describe how the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th amendments reflected the ideals and goals of Progressivism and the continuing attempt to adapt the founding ideals to a modernized society. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision
9-12 Explain how the decisions of the Supreme Court affected Progressivism. [Interrogate historical data]

Standard 1C

The student understands the limitations of Progressivism and the alternatives offered by various groups.

9-12 Compare the counter-Progressive programs of various labor organizations with the social democratic programs promulgated in industrial Europe. [Compare and contrast differing ideas]
5-12 Examine the perspectives of various African Americans on Progressivism and their alternative programs. [Consider multiple perspectives]
9-12 Specify the issues raised by various women and how mainstream Progressives responded to them. [Consider multiple perspectives]
9-12 Evaluate the changing attitude toward Native American assimilation under Progressivism and the consequences of the change. [Explain historical continuity and change]

Standard 2

The changing role of the United States in world affairs through World War I.

Standard 2A

The student understands how the American role in the world changed in the early 20th century.

5-12 Analyze the reasons for the Open Door policy. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
7-12 Evaluate the Roosevelt administration's foreign policies. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
7-12 Explain relations with Japan and the significance of the “Gentleman's Agreement.” [Consider multiple perspectives]
7-12 Compare Taft's dollar diplomacy with Roosevelt's big stick diplomacy and evaluate the results. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
9-12 Evaluate Wilson's moral diplomacy, especially in relation to the Mexican Revolution. [Examine the influence of ideas]

Standard 2B

The student understands the causes of World War I and why the United States intervened.

5-12 Explain the causes of World War I in 1914 and the reasons for the declaration of United States neutrality. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
7-12 Assess how industrial research in aviation and chemical warfare influenced military strategy and the outcome of World War I. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze the impact of American public opinion on the Wilson administration's evolving foreign policy from 1914 to 1917. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Evaluate Wilson's leadership during the period of neutrality and his reasons for intervention. [Assess the importance of the individual]

Standard 2C

The student understands the impact at home and abroad of the United States involvement in World War I.

7-12 Explain U.S. military and economic mobilization for war and evaluate the role of labor, including women and African Americans. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
9-12 Analyze the impact of public opinion and government policies on constitutional interpretation and civil liberties. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
5-12 Explain how the American Expeditionary Force contributed to the allied victory. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Evaluate the significance of the Russian Revolution, how it affected the war, and how the United States and Allied powers responded to it. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
5-12 Evaluate Wilson's Fourteen Points, his negotiations at the Versailles Treaty talks, and the national debate over treaty ratification and the League of Nations. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]

Standard 3

How the United States changed from the end of World War I to the eve of the Great Depression.

Standard 3A

The student understands social tensions and their consequences in the postwar era.

7-12 Assess state and federal government reactions to the growth of radical political movements. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision
5-12 Analyze the factors that lead to immigration restriction and the closing of the “Golden Door.” [Interrogate historical data
7-12 Examine rising racial tensions, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, and the emergence of Garveyism. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Examine the rise of religious fundamentalism and the clash between traditional moral values and changing ideas as exemplified in the controversy over Prohibition and the Scopes trial. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Analyze how the emergence of the “New Woman” challenged Victorian values. [Examine the influence of ideas]

Standard 3B

The student understands how a modern capitalist economy emerged in the 1920s.

5-12 Explain how principles of scientific management and technological innovations, including assembly lines, rapid transit, household appliances, and radio, continued to transform production, work, and daily life. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Examine the changes in the modern corporation, including labor policies and the advent of mass advertising and sales techniques. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze the new business downtowns, the development of suburbs, and the role of transportation in changing urban life. [Explain historical continuity and change
7-12 Explain the role of new technology and scientific research in the rise of agribusiness and agricultural productivity. [Utilize quantitative data]

Standard 3C

The student understands how new cultural movements reflected and changed American society.

9-12 Specify and evaluate the extension of secondary education to new segments of American society. [Utilize quantitative data]
5-12 Analyze how radio, movies, newspapers, and popular magazines created mass culture. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Explain the growth of distinctively American art and literature from the social realists to the “lost generation.” [Draw upon art and literature]
5-12 Examine the contributions of artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance and assess their popularity. [Draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources]
5-12 Assess how increased leisure time promoted the growth of professional sports, amusement parks, and national parks. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 3D

The student understands politics and international affairs in the 1920s.

7-12 Evaluate the waning of Progressivism and the “return to normalcy.” [Explain historical continuity and change]
5-12 Assess the effects of woman suffrage on politics. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
7-12 Describe the goals and evaluate the effects of Republican foreign policy. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]