• Explain how the formation of the Populist movement was based on economics.
• Describe Populism, an ideological movement, in terms of a “war between the classes.”
• Give evidence to show the role that economics played in killing the Populist movement.
Women have had the right to vote in this country for less than one hundred (100) years – just since 1920. Much has been written about the power of “the female block” and national candidates can win or lose based on their appeal to this group.
• Provide two or three (2 or 3) reasons that men resisted the idea of women voting for so long, focusing on what they may have feared.
•Make a connection between the enfranchisement of women and the progressive movement, showing how it may have helped with reforms, hindered reforms, or made no difference.
•Take a position on the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment as a civil rights victory, explaining how you think the female vote has influenced or not influenced the direction of civil rights in this country.
“Empire Building: Moral, Economic, or Political?” Please respond to the following:
Dominant civilizations from the Romans through Great Britain to today’s super powers have given moral justification to the conquering and domination of other countries and their people.
• For a country such as the U.S. that makes the equality and protection of rights one of the centerpieces of its own existence, explain how the annexation of foreign territories during this period was justified.
•Give two (2) examples of how the United States benefits by owning territories and having military bases around the world today.
•Describe the political impact to the party in power here at home when the U.S. military is victorious in a foreign war or takeover and when it is defeated.
“Then and Now: Affluence Built on a Bubble” Please respond to the following:
Much of the wealth created in the 1920s was on paper only, in the form of inflated stock values based on speculation.
• Give your opinion on whether or not the safeguards put in place to prevent another Great Depression, starting with the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s, can be effective today.
•Compare the speculation of stock market investors in the Roaring Twenties to “house flippers” of the 2000s in terms of their motivations.
•Compare the numbers and types of people who benefited from the frenzied trading on Wall Street in the 1920s with those who benefited from the race to home ownership in the late ’90s and the 2000s
“Can Government Create an Economic Recovery?” Please respond to the following:
It is widely recognized that government programs did not pull the United States out of the Great Depression, World War II did. Yet, Franklin Roosevelt was one of the most popular U.S. Presidents in history, winning four (4) successive elections.
• Agree or disagree with the following statement, and provide evidence to support your opinion: “Herbert Hoover should have been reelected in 1932 because the Great Depression was not his fault and his gradual approach would have been cheaper and more effective than the radical steps FDR took to restore the economy.”
•In terms of their approach to the public on difficult issues, compare the styles of two (2) presidents dealing with similar economic woes eighty (80) years apart: Franklin Roosevelt with the Great Depression and Barack Obama with the “Great Recession.”
•Compare the New Deal of the 1930s to current government programs designed to stimulate the economy and explain which program you believe (was) (is) more effective in restoring economic recovery.
“Winning Not a Certainty” Please respond to the following:
In hindsight, most Americans look back on World War II as a great victory – sealed in certainty in the history books. In the year 1942, however, Americans were not so sure they could defeat Japan and the Allies were not doing so well fighting the Germans.
• Describe a scenario in which the Americans lost the battle of the Pacific to the Japanese and its consequences for trade and west coast defenses.
•Speculate on what would have happened to the subsequent creation of the Iron Curtain and the ensuing “Cold War” between NATO and the U.S.S.R. if WWII had ended with the successful occupation of Europe by German troops.
•Explain how a final German victory in Europe (including Great Britain) might have affected the United States in terms of our trade and defenses.
“Age of Anxiety” Please respond to the following:
The hydrogen bomb that effectively ended World War II shocked the world with the realization that human beings could blow up most of civilization with the press of a few buttons. Weapon sophistication has continued to advance in small arms, surface-to-air missiles, and bombs of every category.
• Give your opinion on which is more influential in keeping world peace, and why: The United States or the United Nations.
•Estimate the portion of working time the current Secretary of State of the United States spends (or should spend) concerned about the world wide arms race and explain your estimate.
•Agree or disagree with this statement: “Nations must continue to arm themselves to prepare for an eventual invasion from another planet, the next ‘war of the worlds’.”
“Guns and Butter” Please respond to the following:
Flexing America’s military might around the world is expensive, especially when a war seems to never end, as was the case in Vietnam. A conflict which had its roots in the Republican Eisenhower administration brought down a Democratic President Johnson two administrations later. A big difference between the two (2) was that Johnson also put forward the “Great Society” at the same time, starting new entitlement programs that match or exceed our war debt every year.
• Explain what differentiates a “just and legitimate” in your opinion war from one that is “unjust and illegitimate.”
•Provide two (2) reasons either for or against a “war tax” that would pay for the cost of a current war as it is being conducted, rather than borrowing to pay for it.
•Agree or disagree with the following statement and justify your opinion: “It is not possible to maintain massive war and policing efforts around the globe while maintaining generous social programs at home without the threat of national insolvency.”
“Lessons Learned” Please respond to the following:
Nixon got “caught in the act” of openly deceiving the American public and resigned in disgrace in 1974. Historians lament the resulting loss of political idealism and prestige of public office.
• Agree or disagree with the following statement: “There has always been, and will always be corruption in public office in any democratic system of governance. Sometimes we learn about it, sometimes we don’t. You can only guess at who is telling the truth.” Give reasons for your opinion.
•Describe how President Clinton’s transgressions in the office during the 1990s differed from those of President Nixon’s in the 1970s, and how they were the same.
•The private life of Presidents and most other government officials is under increased scrutiny by the voting public. And yet only a few decades ago very few would have dared delve into anyone’s privacy under the same circumstances. Discuss the role of the media, polls, and “instant news” in the effort of swaying public opinion.
“Bankruptcy Precedes Dissolution” Please respond to the following:
Some credit the fall of the Soviet Union to the steely-eyed resolve of U.S. President Reagan and the next Republican administration. However, financial insolvency killed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics more effectively than rhetoric or resolve ever could. The Soviet Union had a far-reaching military, a long history of imperialism, and big problems at home. One might say it imploded in upon itself.
• In the early 1990s, the U.S.S.R. was embarking on a series of structural social and economic reforms that were designed to completely alter its failed political and ideological history. At the same time, the U.S.A. was a far more surefooted country with a solid history of stability. Describe two (2) countries today that share at least some of those same circumstances, and which one (1) seems in the better position.
•Even after “winning the Cold War,” thus proving the alleged superiority of the libertarian and capitalistic system, the United States of America finds itself facing a complex and somewhat unexpected economic situation that some speculate could lead to insolvency. Give your opinion on what would happen to the U.S. economy if major foreign creditors called our loans.
•Describe what national budget items you think the country should eliminate first if the “United States Empire” were to implode upon itself for financial reasons.
“Missing the Message” Please respond to the following:
The events of September 11, 2001 shocked the United States population more than any event since the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Yet many historians argue that the signs of animosity towards the United States had been growing for decades, and were largely ignored during the Clinton administration. Many citizens proclaimed, “Why do they hate us so?” in great shock and surprise.
• Explain the shift in focus of the U.S. population away from world events after the fall of the Soviet Union and the effect it may have had on our national security.
•Agree or disagree with the following statement and cite your reasons: “The United States is the most generous country in the world and should be loved by its trading partners and people around the world. Foreigners who dislike us are receiving too much anti-U.S. propaganda.”
•Agree or disagree with the following statement and cite your reasons: “In their hearts, most of the people around the world want what we have here in the United States – they want to be like us.”
“The First Black President” Please respond to the following:
One hundred and forty-five (145) years after the end of the Civil War, the United States elected its first black President. In the primary, Barack Obama was running against a white woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the election, his opponent was an aging white war veteran, John McCain.
• Agree or disagree with the following statement and justify your answer: “The election of President Obama was not a victory for the civil rights movement but a sign of the increased diversity of the American population, which is generally more willing to accept people of color.”
•Defend or argue against former President Jimmy Carter’s statement: “Many politicians disagree with President Obama just because he is black.”
•Rank the following ethnic/demographic groups from one to five (1-5) in terms of their likelihood to be elected President of the United States in the next twenty (20) years and give your reasons: a) a woman b) an Asian-American, c) an Arab-American, d) an Indian-American, e) a Native American Indian.
“Ah-ha! I Never Knew That!” Please respond to the following:
•Share one (1) historical fact, event, trend, or personality you learned about in this class either in more depth than you knew before or for the first time.
•Discuss its significance to you.
•Explain how this new learning helps you see the fabric of history covering us even today and give an example.
“If I were the course writer…” Please respond to the following:
• Describe the topic or topics you especially enjoyed listening to, discussing, or writing about and explain why.
•Describe the topic or topics you would rather not have listened to, discussed, or written about and explain why.
•Putting yourself in the place of a course writer using the current textbook, describe the aspect or aspects of contemporary American history that you would have emphasized that we missed.
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