College Board Concept Outline
Study this outline, paying special attention to the bolded concepts and examples used for each major thesis.
Period 5: 1844 to 1877
Overview: As the nation expanded and its population grew, regional tensions, especially over slavery, led to a civil war — the course and aftermath of which transformed American society.
Key Concept 5.1: The United States became more connected with the world as it pursued an expansionist foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere and emerged as the destination for many migrants from other countries.
- Enthusiasm for U.S. territorial expansion, fueled by economic and national security interests and supported by claims of U.S. racial and cultural superiority, resulted in war, the opening of new markets, acquisition of new territory, and increased ideological conflicts.
- The idea of Manifest Destiny, which asserted U.S. power in the Western Hemisphere and supported U.S. expansion westward, was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority, and helped to shape the era’s political debates.
Examples: Election of 1844, Slidell Mission (1845), US annexation of Texas (1845),
Bear Flag Revolt (1846), Oregon Boundary Treaty (1846), Gadsden Purchase (1853), Pony Express (1860-1861)
- The acquisition of new territory in the West and the U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War were accompanied by a heated controversy over allowing or forbidding slavery in newly acquired territories.
Examples: Wilmot Proviso (1846), Lincoln’s spot resolutions (1846), Free Soil Party (1848,
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (1849), popular sovereignty
- The desire for access to western resources led to the environmental transformation of the region, new economic activities, and increased settlement in areas forcibly taken from American Indians.
Examples: Decline of the buffalo, California gold rush, Comstock Lode – silver mining in Nevada (1859), completion of the Union-Central Pacific Railroad (1869)
- U.S. interest in expanding trade led to economic, diplomatic, and cultural initiatives westward to Asia.
Examples: Clipper ships, Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan, missionaries
- Westward expansion, migration to and within the United States, and the end of slavery reshaped North American boundaries and caused conflicts over American cultural identities, citizenship, and the question of extending and protecting rights for various groups of U.S. inhabitants.
- Substantial numbers of new international migrants — who often lived in ethnic communities and retained their religion, language, and customs — entered the country prior to the Civil War, giving rise to a major, often violent nativistmovement that was strongly anti-Catholic and aimed at limiting immigrants’ cultural influence and political and economic power.
Examples: Old Immigration from North and Western Europe, Irish potato famine (1845-1851),
parochial schools, Know-Nothing movement (1854), American Party (1854)
- Asian, African American, and white peoples sought new economic opportunities or religious refuge in the West, efforts that were boosted during and after the Civil War with the passage of new legislation promoting national economic development.
Examples: Mormon settlements in Utah (1847), California gold rush (1849), Chinese immigration, Pike’s Peak gold rush (1858-1861), Homestead Act (1862)
- As the territorial boundaries of the United States expanded and the migrant population increased, U.S. government interaction and conflict with Hispanics and American Indians increased, altering these groups’ cultures and ways of life and raising questions about their status and legal rights.
Examples: Sand Creek Massacre (1864), Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer’s Last Stand – 1876)
Key Concept 5.2: Intensified by expansion and deepening regional divisions, debates over slavery and other economic, cultural, and political issues led the nation into civil war.
- The institution of slavery and its attendant ideological debates, along with regional economic and demographic changes, territorial expansion in the 1840s and 1850s, and cultural differences between the North and the South, all intensified sectionalism.
- The North’s expanding economy and its increasing reliance on a free labor manufacturing economy contrasted with the South’s dependence on an economic system characterized by slave-based agriculture and slow population growth.
Examples: Bessemer process (1855), Hinton Helper’s Impending Crisis of the South (1857), Oil drilling in Titusville, Pennsylvania (1859), Morrill Land Grant Act (1862)
- Abolitionists, although a minority in the North, mounted a highly visible campaign against slavery, adopting strategies of resistance ranging from fierce arguments against the institution and assistance in helping slaves escape to willingness to use violence to achieve their goals.
Examples: William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator (1831) and American Antislavery Society (1833), Liberty Party (1840), Harriet Tubman (1849), Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry (1859)
- States’ rights, nullification, and racist stereotyping provided the foundation for the Southern defense of slavery as a positive good.
Examples: John C. Calhoun, minstrel shows
- Repeated attempts at political compromise failed to calm tensions over slavery and often made sectional tensions worse, breaking down the trust between sectional leaders and culminating in the bitter election of 1860, followed by the secession of southern states.
- National leaders made a variety of proposals to resolve the issue of slavery in the territories, including the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, and the Dred Scott decision (1857), but these ultimately failed to reduce sectional conflict.
Examples: popular sovereignty, Fugitive Slave Law (1850), personal liberty laws, “Crime against Kansas Speech” by Charles Sumner and attack by Preston Brooks (1856) Bleeding Kansas (1856-1861)
- The second party system ended when the issues of slavery and anti-immigrant nativism weakened loyalties to the two major parties and fostered the emergence of sectional parties, most notably the Republican Party in the North and the Midwest.
Examples: Lincoln’s support of free soil doctrine, Lincoln’s “House Divided Speech” (1858), Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858), Freeport Doctrine (1858)
- Lincoln’s election on a free soil platform in the election of 1860 led various Southern leaders to conclude that their states must secede from the Union, precipitating civil war.
Examples: Secession of seven southern states (1860-1861), Crittenden Compromise rejected (1860-1861)
Fort Sumter and secession of four additional southern states (1861), Lincoln’s call for troops
Key Concept 5.3: The Union victory in the Civil War and the contested Reconstruction of the South settled the issues of slavery and secession, but left unresolved many questions about the power of the federal government and citizenship rights.
- The North’s greater manpower and industrial resources, its leadership, and the decision for emancipation eventually led to the Union military victory over the Confederacy in the devastating Civil War.
- Both the Union and the Confederacy mobilized their economies and societies to wage the war even while facing considerable home front opposition.
Examples: Suspension of habeas corpus (1861), Southern Conscription Act (1862), Northern Conscription Act of 1863, NYC draft riots (1863), copperheads, Order of the Sons of Liberty (1864)
- Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation changed the purpose of the war, enabling many African Americans to fight in the Union Army, and helping prevent the Confederacy from gaining full diplomatic support from European powers.
Examples: Trent Affair (1861), Alabama commerce raider (1862), enlistment of African Americans, Massachusetts 54th Regiment (1863), Gettysburg Address
- Although Confederate leadership showed initiative and daring early in the war, the Union ultimately succeeded due to improved military leadership, more effective strategies, key victories, greater resources, and the wartime destruction of the South’s environment and infrastructure.
Examples: Anaconda Plan (1861), Antietam (1862), Gettysburg (1863), Gettysburg Address (1863),
Sherman’s March to the Sea (1864), Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse (1865)
- The Civil War and Reconstruction altered power relationships between the states and the federal government and among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, ending slavery and the notion of a divisible union, but leaving unresolved questions of relative power and largely unchanged social and economic patterns.
- The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, bringing about the war’s most dramatic social and economic change, but the exploitative and soil-intensive sharecropping system endured for several generations.
Examples: Crop-lien system, peonage (work to pay off debt), Freedmen’s Bureau (1865)
- Efforts by radical and moderate Republicans to reconstruct the defeated South changed the balance of power between Congress and the presidency and yielded some short-term successes, reuniting the union, opening up political opportunities and other leadership roles to former slaves, and temporarily rearranging the relationships between white and black people in the South.
Examples: Black codes, Presidential vs. Radical Reconstruction (1865-1867), Military Reconstruction
(1867-1877), Hiram Revels, Blache K Bruce, Robert Smalls, impeachment of President Johnson
- Radical Republicans’ efforts to change southern racial attitudes and culture and establish a base for their party in the South ultimately failed, due both to determined southern resistance and to the North’s waning resolve.
Examples: Ku Klux Klan (1866), Redeemer governments (Solid South), Force Acts (1870-1871)
III. The constitutional changes of the Reconstruction period embodied a Northern idea of American identity and national purpose and led to conflicts over new definitions of citizenship, particularly regarding the rights of African Americans, women, and other minorities.
- Although citizenship, equal protection of the laws, and voting rights were granted to African Americans in the 14th and 15th Amendments, these rights were progressively stripped away through segregation, violence, Supreme Court decisions, and local political tactics.
Examples: Compromise of 1877, poll taxes, literacy tests to vote, Jim Crow laws, grandfather clauses
- The women’s rights movement was both emboldened and divided over the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
Examples: Opposition of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, National Women’s Suffrage Association (1869), American Women’s Suffrage Association (1869)
- The Civil War Amendments established judicial principles that were stalled for many decades but eventually became the basis for court decisions upholding civil rights.
Examples: Civil Rights Cases (1883), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Period 6: 1865 to 1898
Overview: The transformation of the United States from an agricultural to an increasingly industrialized and urbanized society brought about significant economic, political, diplomatic, social, environmental, and cultural changes.
Key Concept 6.1: The rise of big business in the United States encouraged massive migrations and urbanization, sparked government and popular efforts to reshape the U.S. economy and environment, and renewed debates over U.S. national identity.
- Large-scale production — accompanied by massive technological change, expanding international communication networks, and pro-growth government policies — fueled the development of a “Gilded Age” marked by an emphasis on consumption, marketing, and business consolidation.
- Following the Civil War, government subsidies for transportation and communication systems opened new markets in North America, while technological innovations and redesigned financial and management structures such as monopolies sought to maximize the exploitation of natural resources and a growing labor force.
Examples: Loans and land grants to transcontinental railroads, Credit Mobilier Scandal,
Standard Oil Trust (1882)
- 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, Asia, and Latin America.
Examples: Purchase of Alaska (1867), Influence of Sea Power upon History by Alfred T. Mahan (1890)
Turner Thesis (1893)
- Business leaders consolidated corporations into trusts and holding companies and defended their resulting status and privilege through theories such as Social Darwinism.
Examples: John D. Rockefeller (oil), J.P. Morgan (banking)
- As cities grew substantially in both size and in number, some segments of American society enjoyed lives of extravagant “conspicuous consumption,” while many others lived in relative poverty.
Examples: Gilded Age by Mark Twain (1873), Boss Tweed (1869-1876), tenement housing, Century of
Dishonor by Helen Hunt Jackson (1881), How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (1890)
- As leaders of big business and their allies in government aimed to create a unified industrialized nation, they were challenged in different ways by demographic issues, regional differences, and labor movements.
- The industrial workforce expanded through migration across national borders and internal migration, leading to a more diverse workforce, lower wages, and an increase in child labor.
Examples: Farm mechanization led to migration to cities, “New Immigration” from Southern and Eastern Europe, Chinese immigration
- Labor and management battled for control over wages and working conditions, with workers organizing local and national unions and/or directly confronting corporate power.
Examples: Knights of Labor (1869), Terrence Powderly, Haymarket Square riot (1886), American Federation of Labor (1886), Samuel Gompers, Mother Jones’ “March of the Children” (1903)
- Despite the industrialization of some segments of the southern economy, a change promoted by southern leaders who called for a “New South,” agrarian sharecropping, and tenant farming systems continued to dominate the region.
Examples: Henry Grady, textile mills in the South, James Duke
III. Westward migration, new systems of farming and transportation, and economic instability led to political and popular conflicts.
- Government agencies and conservationist organizations contended with corporate interests about the extension of public control over natural resources, including land and water.
Examples: John Muir and the Sierra Club (1892), US Fish Commission (1871)
- Farmers adapted to the new realities of mechanized agriculture and dependence on the evolving railroad system by creating local and regional organizations that sought to resist corporate control of agricultural markets.
Examples: Grange (1867), Granger laws, Wabash v. Illinois (1886), Southern Farmers’ Alliance (1875), National Farmers’ Alliance (1877), Colored Farmers’ Alliance (1886)
- The growth of corporate power in agriculture and economic instability in the farming sector inspired activists to create the People’s (Populist) Party, which called for political reform and a stronger governmental role in the American economic system.
Examples: Ocala Platform of 1890, “free silver” movement, William Jennings Bryan
- Business interests battled conservationists as the latter sought to protect sections of unspoiled wilderness through the establishment of national parks and other conservationist and preservationist measures.
Examples: Yellowstone National Park (1872), Forest Reserve Act (1891)
Key Concept 6.2: The emergence of an industrial culture in the United States led to both greater opportunities for, and restrictions on, immigrants, minorities, and women.
- International and internal migrations increased both urban and rural populations, but gender, racial, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic inequalities abounded, inspiring some reformers to attempt to address these inequities.
- Increased migrations from Asia and from southern and eastern Europe, as well as African American migrations within and out of the South, accompanied the mass movement of people into the nation’s cities and the rural and boomtown areas of the West.
Examples: Exodusters (1879), New Immigration
- Cities dramatically reflected divided social conditions among classes, races, ethnicities, and cultures, but presented economic opportunities as factories and new businesses proliferated.
Examples: Chinatowns, Carnegie Steel (1889), Pullman Palace Car Company (1862)
- Immigrants sought both to “Americanize” and to maintain their unique identities; along with others, such as some African Americans and women, they were able to take advantage of new career opportunities even in the face of widespread social prejudices.
Examples: Assimilation, Ellis Island, Angel Island
- In a urban atmosphere where the access to power was unequally distributed, political machines provided social services in exchange for political support, settlement houses helped immigrants adapt to the new language and customs, and women’s clubs and self-help groups targeted intellectual development and social and political reform.
Examples: National American Woman Suffrage Association (1890), Women’s Christian Temperance Union (1874), Tammany Hall political machine, Jane Addams and Hull House (1889)
- As transcontinental railroads were completed, bringing more settlers west, U.S. military actions, the destruction of the buffalo, the confinement of American Indians to reservations, and assimilationist policies reduced the number of American Indians and threatened native culture and identity.
- Post–Civil War migration to the American West, encouraged by economic opportunities and government policies, caused the federal government to violate treaties with American Indian nations in order to expand the amount of land available to settlers.
Examples: Pacific Railway Acts (1862 to 1866), federal subsidies to transcontinental railroads, Morrill Land
Grant Act (1862), Homestead Act (1862), Comstock Lode (1859)
- The competition for land in the West among white settlers, Indians, and Mexican Americans led to an increase in violent conflict.
Examples: Surrender of Apaches led by Geronimo (1887), Wounded Knee (1890)
- The U.S. government generally responded to American Indian resistance with military force, eventually dispersing tribes onto small reservations and hoping to end American Indian tribal identities through assimilation.
Examples: Dawes Act (1887), Surrender of Chief Joseph (1887), Ghost Dance movement (1890)
Key Concept 6.3: The “Gilded Age” witnessed new cultural and intellectual movements in tandem with political debates over economic and social policies.
- Gilded Age politics were intimately tied to big business and focused nationally on economic issues — tariffs, currency, corporate expansion, and laissez-faire economic policy — that engendered numerous calls for reform.
- Corruption in government — especially as it related to big business — energized the public to demand
increased popular control and reform of local, state, and national governments, ranging from minor changes to major overhauls of the capitalist system.
Examples: Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883); Interstate Commerce Act (1883); social gospel movement (1890); Sherman Antitrust Act (1890); state recall elections, initiatives, and referendums; Socialism
- Increasingly prominent racist and nativist theories, along with Supreme Court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson, were used to justify violence, as well as local and national policies of discrimination and segregation.
Examples: American Protective Association (1887), Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
- New cultural and intellectual movements both buttressed and challenged the social order of the Gilded Age.
- Cultural and intellectual arguments justified the success of those at the top of the socioeconomic structure as both appropriate and inevitable, even as some leaders argued that the wealthy had some obligation to help the less fortunate.
Examples: Henry George’s Progress and Poverty (1879), Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888) Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth (1889)
- A number of critics challenged the dominant corporate ethic in the United States and sometimes capitalism itself, offering alternate visions of the good society through utopianism and the Social Gospel.
Examples: Henry George “single land tax” in Progress and Poverty (1879), Edward Bellamy utopian socialism in Looking Backward (1887)
- Challenging their prescribed “place,” women and African American activists articulated alternative visions of political, social, and economic equality.
Examples: Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise (1895), Ida Wells-Barnett’s anti-lynching crusade, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the National Women’s Suffrage Association (1869)
Period 7: 1890 to 1945
Overview: An increasingly pluralistic United States faced profound domestic and global challenges, debated the proper degree of government activism, and sought to define its international role.
Key Concept 7.1: Governmental, political, and social organizations struggled to address the effects of large-scale industrialization, economic uncertainty, and related social changes such as urbanization and mass migration.
- The continued growth and consolidation of large corporations transformed American society and the nation’s economy, promoting urbanization and economic growth, even as business cycle fluctuations became increasingly severe.
- Large corporations came to dominate the U.S. economy as it increasingly focused on the production of consumer goods, driven by new technologies and manufacturing techniques.
Examples: US Steel Company (1901), Henry Ford’s Model T car (1908), General Motors (1908),
Frederick Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management (1911)
- The United States continued its transition from a rural, agricultural society to an urban, industrial one, offering new economic opportunities for women, internal migrants, and international migrants who continued to flock to the United States.
Examples: Second waves of new immigration, Puerto Ricans granted US citizenship (1917)
- Even as economic growth continued, episodes of credit and market instability, most critically the Great Depression, led to calls for the creation of a stronger financial regulatory system.
Examples: Stock market crash (1929), Bank holiday (1933), Securities Exchange Commission (1934)
- Progressive reformers responded to economic instability, social inequality, and political corruption by calling for government intervention in the economy, expanded democracy, greater social justice, and conservation of natural resources.
- In the late 1890s and the early years of the 20th century, journalists and Progressive reformers — largely urban and middle class, and often female — worked to reform existing social and political institutions at the local, state, and federal levels by creating new organizations aimed at addressing social problems associated with an industrial society.
Examples: Muckrakers, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), Meat Inspection Act (1906), Pure Food and Drug Act (1906), Elkins Act (1903), Hepburn Act (1903), Northern Securities v. US (1903)
- Progressives promoted federal legislation to regulate abuses of the economy and the environment, and many sought to expand democracy.
Examples: Clayton Antitrust Act (1914), Florence Kelley and the National Consumers League (1 Federal Reserve System (1913), 16th Amendment (1913), 17th Amendment (1913), Federal Trade Commission (1914)
III. National, state, and local reformers responded to economic upheavals, laissez-faire capitalism, and the Great Depression by transforming the U.S. into a limited welfare state.
- The liberalism of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal drew on earlier progressive ideas and represented a multifaceted approach to both the causes and effects of the Great Depression, using government power to provide relief to the poor, stimulate recovery, and reform the American economy.
Examples: National Recovery Administration (1933), Tennessee Valley Authority (1933), Civilian
Conservation Corps (133), Works Progress Administration (1935), Federal Writers’ Project of the WPA, Wagner Act and the National Labor Relations Board (1935)
- Radical, union, and populist movements pushed Roosevelt toward more extensive reforms, even as conservatives in Congress and the Supreme Court sought to limit the New Deal’s scope.
Examples: Huey Long’s “Share Our Wealth” program (1934), FDR Supreme Court-packing plan (1937)
- Although the New Deal did not completely overcome the Depression, it left a legacy of reforms and agencies that endeavored to make society and individuals more secure, and it helped foster a long-term political realignment in which many ethnic groups, African Americans, and working class communities identified with the Democratic Party.
Examples: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) of 1933, Social Security Act (1935
Key Concept 7.2: A revolution in communications and transportation technology helped to create a new mass culture and spread “modern” values and ideas, even as cultural conflicts between groups increased under the pressure of migration, world wars, and economic distress.
- New technologies led to social transformations that improved the standard of living for many, while contributing to increased political and cultural conflicts.
- New technologies contributed to improved standards of living, greater personal mobility, and better communications systems.
Examples: radio, motion pictures, automobile, Jazz Singer (1927), Steamboat Willie (1928)
- Technological change, modernization, and changing demographics led to increased political and cultural conflict on several fronts: tradition versus innovation, urban versus rural, fundamentalist Christianity versus scientific modernism, management versus labor, native-born versus new immigrants,
white versus black, and idealism versus disillusionment.
Examples: Revival of the KKK (1915), Red Summer (1919), Scopes “Monkey” Trial (1925)
- The rise of an urban, industrial society encouraged the development of a variety of cultural expressions for migrant, regional, and African American artists (expressed most notably in the Harlem Renaissance movement); it also contributed to national culture by making shared experiences more possible through art, cinema, and the mass media.
Examples: jazz, Edward Hopper, Langston Hughes
- The global ramifications of World War I and wartime patriotism and xenophobia, combined with social tensions created by increased international migration, resulted in legislation restricting immigration from Asia and from southern and eastern Europe.
- World War I created a repressive atmosphere for civil liberties, resulting in official restrictions on freedom of speech.
Examples: Literacy Test (1917), Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917-1918), 18th Amendment (1919),
- As labor strikes and racial strife disrupted society, the immediate postwar period witnessed the first “Red Scare,” which legitimized attacks on radicals and immigrants.
Examples: May Day bombings (1919), Schenck v. US (1919), Palmer raids (1920), Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti (1927)
- Several acts of Congress established highly restrictive immigration quotas, while national policies continued to permit unrestricted immigration from nations in the Western Hemisphere, especially Mexico, in order to guarantee an inexpensive supply of labor.
Examples: Emergency Quota Act of 1921, National Origins Immigration Act of 1924
III. Economic dislocations, social pressures, and the economic growth spurred by World Wars I and II led to a greater degree of migration within the United States, as well as migration to the United States from elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.
- Although most African Americans remained in the South despite legalized segregation and racial violence, some began a “Great Migration” out of the South to pursue new economic opportunities offered by World War I.
Examples: Red Summer; race riots in Detroit, Tulsa, and Chicago
- Many Americans migrated during the Great Depression, often driven by economic difficulties, and during World Wars I and II, as a result of the need for wartime production labor.
Examples: Dust bowl (1930-1936), John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (1939), migrant farm workers
- Many Mexicans, drawn to the U.S. by economic opportunities, faced ambivalent government policies in the 1930s and 1940s.
Examples: Great Depression-era deportation, Braceros program
Key Concept 7.3: Global conflicts over resources, territories, and ideologies renewed debates over the nation’s values and its role in the world, while simultaneously propelling the United States into a dominant international military, political, cultural, and economic position.
- Many Americans began to advocate overseas expansionism in the late 19th century, leading to new territorial ambitions and acquisitions in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific.
- The perception in the 1890s that the western frontier was “closed,” economic motives, competition with other European imperialist ventures of the time, and racial theories all furthered arguments that Americans were destined to expand their culture and norms to others, especially the nonwhite nations of the globe.
Examples: Census of 1890, Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden (1895), Venezuelan boundary dispute
(1895), overthrow of Hawaiian government (1893), annexation of Hawaii (1898)
- The American victory in the Spanish-American War led to the U.S. acquisition of island territories, an expanded economic and military presence in the Caribbean and Latin America, engagement in a protracted insurrection in the Philippines, and increased involvement in Asia.
Examples: Treaty of Paris (1898); acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and Philippines
- Questions about America’s role in the world generated considerable debate, prompting the development of a wide variety of views and arguments between imperialists and anti-imperialists and, later, interventionists and isolationists.
Examples: Open Door Policy (1899), Taft’s dollar diplomacy (1911), US intervention in Mexican revolutions of 1910s, Pancho Villa
- World War I and its aftermath intensified debates about the nation’s role in the world and how best to achieve national security and pursue American interests.
- After initial neutrality in World War I the nation entered the conflict, departing from the U.S. foreign policy tradition of noninvolvement in European affairs in response to Woodrow Wilson’s call for the defense of humanitarian and democratic principles.
Examples: National Defense Act (1916), Sinking of the Lusitania (1915), Selective Service Act (1917), Wilson’s Fourteen Points (1918)
- Although the American Expeditionary Force played a relatively limited role in the war, Wilson was heavily involved in postwar negotiations, resulting in the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, both of which generated substantial debate within the United States.
Examples: Paris Peace Conference (1919), US Senate rejection of Treaty of Versailles (1919)
- In the years following World War I, the United States pursued a unilateral foreign policy that used international investment, peace treaties, and select military intervention to promote a vision of international order, even while maintaining U.S. isolationism, which continued to the late 1930s.
Examples: Washington Naval Conference (1921-1922), Dawes Plan (1924), Kellogg Briand Pact (1928), Hawley Smoot Tariff (1930)
III. The involvement of the United States in World War II, while opposed by most Americans prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, vaulted the United States into global political and military prominence, and transformed both American society and the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world.
- The mass mobilization of American society to supply troops for the war effort and a workforce on the home front ended the Great Depression and provided opportunities for women and minorities to improve their socioeconomic positions.
Examples: Rosie the Riveter (1941) Fair Employment Practices Commission (1941), War Production Board (1942), Office of War Information (1942), GI Bill of Rights (1944), War Refugee Board (1944), victory gardens, Navajo code-talkers
- Wartime experiences, such as the internment of Japanese Americans, challenges to civil liberties, debates over race and segregation, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values.
Examples: Congress of Racial Equality (1942), Zoot suit riots (1943), Asa Philip Randolph and the March on Washington movement l, Fair Employment Practices Commission (1943), Detroit race riot (1943), Korematsu v. US (1944)
- The United States and its allies achieved victory over the Axis powers through a combination of factors, including allied political and military cooperation, industrial production, technological and scientific advances, and popular commitment to advancing democratic ideals.
Examples: Atlantic Charter (1941), development of sonar, Manhattan Project (1942)
- The dominant American role in the Allied victory and postwar peace settlements, combined with the war-ravaged condition of Asia and Europe, allowed the United States to emerge from the war as the most powerful nation on earth.
Examples: United Nations (1945), Nuremburg trials (1945), Potsdam Conference (1945), Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)
Period 8: 1945 to 1980
Overview: After World War II, the United States grappled with prosperity and unfamiliar international responsibilities, while struggling to live up to its ideals.
Key Concept 8.1: The United States responded to an uncertain and unstable postwar world by asserting and attempting to defend a position of global leadership, with far-reaching domestic and international consequences.
- After World War II, the United States sought to stem the growth of Communist military power and ideological influence, create a stable global economy, and build an international security system.
- The United States developed a foreign policy based on collective security and a multilateral economic framework that bolstered non-Communist nations.
Examples: Truman Doctrine (1947), Marshall Plan (1947), Rio Pact (1947), NATO (1949), SEATO (1954)
- The United States sought to “contain” Soviet-dominated communism through a variety of measures, including military engagements in Korea and Vietnam.
Examples: hydrogen bomb (1952), John F. Dulles and massive retaliation (1954), Sputnik and the space Race (1957)
- The Cold War fluctuated between periods of direct and indirect military confrontation and periods of mutual coexistence (or détente).
Examples: U-2 incident (1960), Berlin Wall (1961), Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
- As the United States focused on containing communism, it faced increasingly complex foreign policy issues, including decolonization, shifting international alignments and regional conflicts, and global economic and environmental changes.
- Postwar decolonization and the emergence of powerful nationalist movements in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East led both sides in the Cold War to seek allies among new nations, many of which remained nonaligned.
Examples: Iranian Hostage Crisis (1979)
- Cold War competition extended to Latin America, where the U.S. supported non-Communist regimes with varying levels of commitment to democracy.
Examples: Alliance for Progress (1961), Peace Corps (1961)
- Ideological, military and economic concerns shaped U.S. involvement in the Middle East, with several oil crises in the region eventually sparking attempts at creating a national energy policy.
Examples: Suez crisis (1956), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (1960)
III. Cold War policies led to continued public debates over the power of the federal government, acceptable means for pursuing international and domestic goals, and the proper balance between liberty and order.
- Americans debated policies and methods designed to root out Communists within the United States even as both parties tended to support the broader Cold War strategy of containing communism.
Examples: Army-McCarthy hearings (1954), Operation Rolling Thunder (1965), Tet Offensive (1968)
- Although the Korean conflict produced some minor domestic opposition, the Vietnam War saw the rise of sizable, passionate, and sometimes violent antiwar protests that became more numerous as the war escalated.
Examples: Woodstock (1969), Kent State (1970)
- Americans debated the merits of a large nuclear arsenal, the “military industrial complex,” and the appropriate power of the executive branch in conducting foreign and military policy.
Examples: Nixon’s détente with China and USSR, SALT I (1969), War Powers Act (1973)
Key Concept 8.2: Liberalism, based on anticommunism abroad and a firm belief in the efficacy of governmental and especially federal power to achieve social goals at home, reached its apex in the mid-1960s and generated a variety of political and cultural responses.
- Seeking to fulfill Reconstruction-era promises, civil rights activists and political leaders achieved some legal and political successes in ending segregation, although progress toward equality was slow and halting.
- Following World War II, civil rights activists utilized a variety of strategies — legal challenges, direct action, and nonviolent protest tactics — to combat racial discrimination.
Examples: Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), SNCC (1960), sit-ins (1960), Freedom Rides
(1961), March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), Freedom Summer (1964), Fannie
Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Thurgood Marshall
- Decision-makers in each of the three branches of the federal government used measures including desegregation of the armed services, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to promote greater racial justice.
Examples: 24th Amendment (1964), Voting Rights Act (1965)
- Continuing white resistance slowed efforts at desegregation, sparking a series of social and political crises across the nation, while tensions among civil rights activists over tactical and philosophical issues increased after 1965.
Examples: Watts Riot (1965), Selma March (1965), Black Power (1966), Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael,
- Stirred by a growing awareness of inequalities in American society and by the African American civil rights movement, activists also addressed issues of identity and social justice, such as gender/sexuality and ethnicity.
- Activists began to question society’s assumptions about gender and to call for social and economic equality for women and for gays and lesbians.
Examples: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), Equal Pay Act of 1963, National Organization for Women (1966), Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine (1971)
- Latinos, American Indians, and Asian Americans began to demand social and economic equality and a redress of past injustices.
Examples: American Indian Movement (1968), Occupation of Alcatraz (1969), Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (1962)
- Despite the perception of overall affluence in postwar America, advocates raised awareness of the prevalence and persistence of poverty as a national problem, sparking efforts to address this issue.
Examples: John Kenneth Galbraith’s Affluent Society (1958), Kerner Commission (1968)
III. As many liberal principles came to dominate postwar politics and court decisions, liberalism came under attack from the left as well as from resurgent conservative movements.
- Liberalism reached its zenith with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society efforts to use federal power to end racial discrimination, eliminate poverty, and address other social issues while attacking communism abroad.
Examples: Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Medicaid (1965), Medicare (1965)
- Liberal ideals were realized in Supreme Court decisions that expanded democracy and individual freedoms, Great Society social programs and policies, and the power of the federal government, yet these unintentionally helped energize a new conservative movement that mobilized to defend traditional visions of morality and the proper role of state authority.
Examples: Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
- Groups on the left also assailed liberals, claiming they did too little to transform the racial and economic status quo at home and pursued immoral policies abroad.
Examples: Students for a Democratic Society (1962), Black Panthers (1966)
Key Concept 8.3: Postwar economic, demographic, and technological changes had a far-reaching impact on American society, politics, and the environment.
- Rapid economic and social changes in American society fostered a sense of optimism in the postwar years, as well as underlying concerns about how these changes were affecting American values.
- A burgeoning private sector, continued federal spending, the baby boom, and technological developments helped spur economic growth, middle-class suburbanization, social mobility, a rapid expansion of higher education, and the rise of the “Sun Belt” as a political and economic force.
- These economic and social changes, in addition to the anxiety engendered by the Cold War, led to an increasingly homogeneous mass culture, as well as challenges to conformity by artists, intellectuals, and rebellious youth.
Examples: Jack Kerouac and the beat movement (1957), rock and roll music, Vietnam War teach-ins (1965), 26th Amendment (1971)
- Conservatives, fearing juvenile delinquency, urban unrest, and challenges to the traditional family, increasingly promoted their own values and ideology.
Examples: Focus on the Family (1977), Moral Majority (1979)
- As federal programs expanded and economic growth reshaped American society, many sought greater access to prosperity even as critics began to question the burgeoning use of natural resources.
- Internal migrants as well as migrants from around the world sought access to the economic boom and other
benefits of the United States, especially after the passage of new immigration laws in 1965.
Examples: Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,
- Responding to the abuse of natural resources and the alarming environmental problems, activists and legislators began to call for conservation measures and a fight against pollution.
Examples: Wilderness Protection Act of 1964, Water Quality Act of 1965, Clean Air Act of 1970,
Environmental Protection Act of 1970
III. New demographic and social issues led to significant political and moral debates that sharply divided the nation. A. Although the image of the traditional nuclear family dominated popular perceptions in the postwar era, the family structure of Americans was undergoing profound changes as the number of working women increased and many social attitudes changed.
Examples: National Organization for Women (1966), Roe v. Wade (1973)
- Young people who participated in the counterculture of the 1960s rejected many of the social, economic, and political values of their parents’ generation, initiated a sexual revolution, and introduced greater informality into U.S. culture.
Examples: Columbia University demonstrations (1968), Woodstock (1969)
- Conservatives and liberals clashed over many new social issues, the power of the presidency and the federal government, and movements for greater individual rights.
Examples: Watergate scandal (1972-1974), Bakke v. University of California (1978, Phyllis Schlafly’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (1982)
Period 9: 1980 to the Present
Overview: As the United States transitioned to a new century filled with challenges and possibilities, it experienced renewed ideological and cultural debates, sought to redefine its foreign policy, and adapted to economic globalization and revolutionary changes in science and technology.
Key Concept 9.1: A new conservatism grew to prominence in U.S. culture and politics, defending traditional social values and rejecting liberal views about the role of government.
- Reduced public faith in the government’s ability to solve social and economic problems, the growth of religious fundamentalism, and the dissemination of neoconservative thought all combined to invigorate conservatism.
- Public confidence and trust in government declined in the 1970s in the wake of economic challenges, political scandals, foreign policy “failures,” and a sense of social and moral decay.
Examples: OPEC oil embargo (1973), 1970s stagflation, Iranian hostage crisis (1979-1981)
- The rapid and substantial growth of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches and organizations, as well as increased political participation by some of those groups, encouraged significant opposition to liberal social and political trends.
Examples: Focus on the Family (1977), Moral Majority (1979)
- Conservatives achieved some of their political and policy goals, but their success was limited by the enduring popularity and institutional strength of some government programs and public support for cultural trends of recent decades.
- Conservatives enjoyed significant victories related to taxation and deregulation of many industries, but many conservative efforts to advance moral ideals through politics met inertia and opposition.
Examples: Reaganomics tax cuts (1981), George W. Bush tax cuts (2001), Contract with America (1994),
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
- Although Republicans continued to denounce “big government,” the size and scope of the federal government continued to grow after 1980, as many programs remained popular with voters and difficult to reform or eliminate.
Examples: expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, growth of the budget deficits
Key Concept 9.2: The end of the Cold War and new challenges to U.S. leadership in the world forced the nation to redefine its foreign policy and global role.
- The Reagan administration pursued a reinvigorated anti-Communist and interventionist foreign policy that set the tone for later administrations.
- President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to significant arms reductions by both countries.
Examples: “Star Wars” missile defense system (1983), START I (1991)
- The end of the Cold War led to new diplomatic relationships but also new U.S. military and peacekeeping interventions, as well as debates over the nature and extent of American power in the world.
Examples: Iran-Contra scandal (1987), US-Soviet summit meetings (1985-1988), Persian Gulf War (1991)
- Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. foreign policy and military involvement focused on a war on terrorism, which also generated debates about domestic security and civil rights.
- In the wake of attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. decision-makers launched foreign policy and military efforts against terrorism and lengthy, controversial conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Examples: Operation Nobel Eagle (2001), War on Terror (2001), Department of Homeland Security (2002)
- The war on terrorism sought to improve security within the United States but also raised questions about the protection of civil liberties and human rights.
Examples: Patriot Act (2001), Guantanamo detainees
Key Concept 9.3: Moving into the 21st century, the nation continued to experience challenges stemming from social, economic, and demographic changes.
- The increasing integration of the U.S. into the world economy was accompanied by economic instability and major policy, social, and environmental challenges.
- Economic inequality increased after 1980 as U.S. manufacturing jobs were eliminated, union membership declined, and real wages stagnated for the middle class.
Examples: Reaganomics, Air Traffic Control Strike (1981)
- Policy debates intensified over free trade agreements, the size and scope of the government social safety net, and calls to reform the U.S. financial system.
Examples: North American Free Trade Agreement (1994), Affordable Health Care Act of 2010,
Social Security reform
- Conflict in the Middle East and concerns about climate change led to debates over U.S. dependence on
fossil fuels and the impact of economic consumption on the environment.
Examples: Global warming, Al Gore, Keystone pipeline
- The spread of computer technology and the Internet into daily life increased access to information and led to new social behaviors and networks.
Examples: Facebook (2004), Wikileaks (2010), Y2K (2000), Microsoft violation of Sherman Antitrust Act (2000)
- The U.S. population continued to undergo significant demographic shifts that had profound cultural and political consequences.
- After 1980, the political, economic, and cultural influences of the American South and West continued to increase as population shifted to those areas, fueled in part by a surge in migration from regions that had not been heavily represented in earlier migrations, especially Latin America and Asia.
Examples: The new migrants affected U.S. culture in many ways and supplied the economy with an important labor force, but they also became the focus of intense political, economic, and cultural debates.
Examples: Welfare Reform Act of 1996, No Child Left Behind (2002)
Demographic changes intensified debates about gender roles, family structures, and racial and national identity.
Examples: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (2011)
Woodrow Wilson, “What is Progress?”
Now, it came to me, as this interesting man talked, that the Constitution of the United States had been made under the dominion of the Newtonian Theory. You have only to read the papers of The Federalist to see that fact written on every page. They speak of the “checks and balances” of the Constitution, and use to express their idea the simile of the organization of the universe, and particularly of the solar system,—how by the attraction of gravitation the various parts are held in their orbits; and then they proceed to represent Congress, the Judiciary, and the President as a sort of imitation of the solar system.
They were only following the English Whigs, who gave Great Britain its modern constitution. Not that those Englishmen analyzed the matter, or had any theory about it; Englishmen care little for theories. It was a Frenchman, Montesquieu, who pointed out to them how faithfully they had copied Newton’s description of the mechanism of the heavens.
The makers of our Federal Constitution read Montesquieu with true scientific enthusiasm. They were scientists in their way,—the best way of their age,—those fathers of the nation. Jefferson wrote of “the laws of Nature,”—and then by way of afterthought,—”and of Nature’s God.” And they constructed a government as they would have constructed an orrery,—to display the laws of nature. Politics in their thought was a variety of mechanics. The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of “checks and balances.”
The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day, of specialization, with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive coordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.
All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.
Just as their male counterparts, women sought opportunities in the Great West, and faced the same hardships as men did. This brief article by Marcia Hensley gives some interesting statistics about western women homesteaders, including that as many as 12% of the homesteaders in Utah, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana were single women, and that many of these women were much older than the legal minimum–21 years–when they headed west to work their claim.
How do you think women’s roles changed in the West? How do you think these women influenced the developing societies of the western territories?
The painting below is titled American Progress. It was painted by John Gast in 1872. It is widely seen as an allegory for American expansion. In analyzing the painting, pay close attention to the small details and their possible meaning, in addition to broad scene depicted in the image. Who is the central figure? What is she carrying with her and what does the painter mean this to represent? What do you think Gast’s opinion of the movement of the figure?