Over the course of the class, you will be retrieving and evaluating current event articles (in the last 5 years); making connections between the units we are currently studying and today. You will be responsible for finding an online article from a reputable news source. For example: Time.com, USA Today, The New York Times, etc.
(See the attachment for specific details and grading criteria)
In Unit 1, we will focus on the rebuilding of the South after the Civil War, a period of time known as Reconstruction. The end of the Civil War left the South in ruins, politically, socially, and economically. Northern politicians found themselves differing in opinions surrounding the decision of what to do with the South and how to reunite the nation.
While the Northern politicians debated the political stance of the ex-Confederacy, the South faced economic and social unrest, as it struggled to rebuild its agricultural empire, as well as internally redefine itself as a region and as Americans. The Postbellum Southern economy will slowly see positive changes, including growth in industry and a changing agricultural market, but not everyone prospered during this time. The new freedman, or ex-slaves, will become subjective to the role of sharecropper, many working on the plantation in which they were previously slaves and experiencing treatment not far improved. As Southern whites slowly started taking back political control, they established a system of segregation, restricting the rights and opportunities afforded to the ex-slaves through the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.
The South is not the only region experiencing change in the post-Civil War Era. As the United States continues to expand its natural geographical boundaries, a new western culture emerges. This New West will bring with it new resources and markets, and confrontation with Native Americans.
In Unit 2, we will continue to analyze the redefining of America with a focus on industrialization, urbanization, and immigration. The effect of railroads on the American economy started in the mid-1800s and played a big role in the events and outcomes of the Civil War. After the Civil War, the railroads will help with the expansion of the west and the rapid growth of industry. Industrialization will bring many changes to the United States, transforming from an agricultural economy to one that relied heavily on manufacturing.
With industrialization came an increase in movement to cities, known as urbanization. Immigrants, looking for a new and improved life in the land of opportunity, settled in cities where the majority of manufacturing jobs were located. The movement of people to cities also included freedman from the south and many poor farmers also sought refuge and a better life in the big city. While some may have experienced a better standard of living compared to their previous life, the majority of factory workers faced dangerous working conditions, low wages, and horrible living arrangements.
During this period, a new form of business will shape the U.S. economy forever – corporations and trusts. The capitalistic-driven entrepreneurs who led the big business movement made decisions based on money and innovation, arguably at the expense of the worker. It is because of the working and living conditions of the industrial workers that we see the evolution of labor unions, city reform, and an increase in government regulation.
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