[Back to the Main Page]
The Gilded Age:
From Frontier to Factory
Unit Seven
Day One
Turner's Frontier Thesis: The Significance of the Frontier in American History

Divine 530-531 (on Turnerís frontier thesis)
Supplement: Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"
According to Turner, how has the existence of a frontier shaped the American character?  How has it helped to distinguish American society from European society?

Frederick Jackson Turner, Turnerís "frontier thesis", frontier, Social Darwinism

  Homework Questions:
  1. How does Frederick Jackson Turner define frontier? 
  2. What does Turner mean when he says that American development has "exhibited   advance along a single line, but a return to primitive conditions on a continually   advancing frontier line"?  How has this frontier line allowed Americans to "modify   and develop" their European influences?

  3.  In what sense does the United States lie "like a huge page in the history of society"?  According to Turnerís description of the history of society, what state does he consider to be the height of civilization?

  4. How has the frontier helped to create an "American nationality"?

  5. What role has the federal government played in promoting westward expansion?

  6. How has the frontier promoted democracy and individualism in the United States?

  7.  What is Frederick Jackson Turnerís thesis in "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"?

Day Two
The Frontier Myth: Cowboys and Indians
Begin Divine reading for day three
How do popular images of the American West reflect Turnerís Frontier Thesis? How do these images serve to create an American mythology about the frontier?

  Homework Questions:

Day Three
Civilizing the Frontier: Federal Land Policy and "The Indian Problem"
Divine, pages 506-513 and 518-520
Supplement: Arthur,"Third Annual Message" and  The Dawes Act
Write out answers to questions 3 and 4
What role did the federal government play in promoting westward expansion?    How did American policies towards the Indians reflect American attitudes towards them?

reservation, Chivington Massacre, Sioux Wars, Fetterman Massacre, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, George Custer, Battle of Little Bighorn (Custerís Last Stand), Battle of   Wounded Knee, assimilationist, Carlisle Indian School, Dawes Severalty Act, Buffalo Bill Cody, Buffalo Billís Wild West Show, Homestead Act, Timber Culture Act, Timber and Stone Act

  Homework Questions:
  1. What was the federal governmentís policy towards Native Americans during the   mid 19th century?  How did this polciy reflect American attitudes towards the Indians?  How might this policy have led to events like the Chivington and Fetterman Massacres?

  2. What factors led to the battle between Sioux and federal troops led by George Custer at Little Bighorn? How did Americans respond to the event?  Why?

  3. Why has Wounded Knee become a symbol for contemporary Americans of American Indian policy during the 19th century?

  4. What did the Carlisle Indian School seek to accomplish?  What did the slogan of its founder, Richard Pratt, "Kill the Indian and save the man," indicate about the goals of the assimilationists?

  5. What were the main provisions of the Dawes Act?  In what way did the Dawes Act   seek to end tribal life?  Why did it seek to do so?  Why does Divine call it "the   most important legal development in Indian-white relations in over three centuries."

  6. Why did Americans systematically kill the buffalo of the Great Plains? 

  7. How can we account for the popularity of dime novels and of Buffalo Billís Wild   West Show during the late 19th century?  Why might such forms of entertainment   become more popular during late 19th and early 20th century? 

  8. What was the Homestead Act?  How might it have promoted westward expansion? Why might its supporters have seen it as integral to the success of American democracy?

  9.  How did the Timber Culture Act and Timber and Stone Act supplement the Homestead Act in promoting the growth of the West?

Day Four
From Frontier to Factory: Westward Expansion and Industrial Growth

Divine, pages 536-543 and 549-551

What factors led to the unprecedented economic growth of the United States between 1865-1900?  In what sense was the relationship between industrialization and westward expansion a symbiotic one?
entenial Exposition, captain of industry/robber barron, GNP, Industrial Revolution, mass production, mass consumption, railroad, railroad subsidy/land grant, transcontinental railroad, 
  Homework Questions:
  1. What was the Centennial Exposition of 1876? What did its main attractions suggest about the way in which Americans perceived themselves in 1876?

  2. Explain what impact each of the following had on American industrial development: natural resources, immigration, technological innovation, government   polcies.
  3. In what sense did the development of railroads stimulate industrialization? What were its other far-reaching social and economic conseqences?

  4. What specific measures did the federal government take to promote the building of railroads? 

  5. How did the system of American railroads change from a series of locally-owned and run lines to a industry dominated by a few large companies? What were the advantages   of such consolidation? What did this indicate about the goals of American    industrialists at the time?

  6. What role did each of the following play in the creation of the transcontinental   railroad: the federal government, Chinese and Irish immigrants, industrialists. Why   did the completion of the transcontinental railroad set off such wild celebrations   throughout the nation?

  7. Pick two of the following:  George Eastman, Gustavus Swift, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, and explain how their inventions promoted national unity and industrialization. 

Day Five
Captains of Industry and Robber Barons

Divine, pages 543-549 and 661-662
Write out answers to questions 4 and 7
What factors promoted and allowed for the emergence of large industrial corporations during the late 19th century? How were "captains of industry" viewed by the American public?

rebates, pooling, consolidation/combination, Andrew Carnegie, vertical integration, J.P. Morgan, U.S. Steel, petroleum (oil), John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil Company, horizontal integration, trust, monopoly, antitrust, holding company, oligopoly, Horatio Alger story

  Homework Questions: 
  1. Why did railroad owners increasingly favor practices such as rebates and pooling? 
  2. Why did railroad owners favor consolidating the railroad industry? What were the advantages and disadvantages of such consolidation? 

  3. What is vertical integration? What were its advantages to industrialists like Andrew Carnegie? 

  4. In what sense did Andrew Carnegie come to symbolize the "American Dream" during   the late 19th century? What does this indicate about how the "American Dream" has   changed since the era of Andrew Jackson? In ways has the American Dream remained   the same?

  5. What process did John D. Rockefeller use to build Standard Oil into the predominant   oil business in the country? 

  6. Why did the oil and steel industries become the cornerstones of the American   economy during the industrial era?

  7. What is a trust? What were its advantages to industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller? 

  8. Why might "antitrust" have become a "watchword for a generation of reformers"?   Why might some critics have felt that trusts (monopolies/oligopolies) were dangerous to the public interest?

Day Six
From Artisan to Wage-Earner: Industrialization and the Laboring Class
Divine, pages  660-661 (top), 662-663, 666, and 553-557
Write out answer to question 3
What impact did industrialization have on the laborer? In what ways is industrial labor different from artisanal labor? 

artisan, industrial laborer, Henry Ford, assembly line, mass production, scientific management, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, child labor, feminization of labor, Gilded Age

  Homework Questions:
  1. What benefits did the assembly line have for industrial capitalists and for the   American public? What did Henry Ford mean when he said, "I am going to democratize the automobile"? What impact did the assembly line have on the industrial laborer?

  2. How did mass production change the nature of the workplace and on the daily  lives of industrial laborers? 

  3. What is the significance of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? What does it indicate about working conditions during the Gilded Age? How did the American public react to it?

  4. How did the rise of industrialization stimulate the incorporation of women and children into the workplace? 

  5. Why was the myth of social mobility so prevalent among urban factory laborers? To what extent was this myth a reality? Why was sustaining this myth essential to the success of industrial development? 

Day Seven
"Let the Devil Take the Hindmost": the Appeal of Social Darwinism
Divine, pages 589-90 on Social Darwinism
Supplement: Conwell, "Acres of Diamonds"
Supplement: Carnegie, "Gospel of Wealth" 

What is Social Darwinism?  What does the popularity of Social Darwinism indicate about the way Americans of the late 19th century viewed wealth and poverty?

Social Darwinism, Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner, Carnegieís "Gospel of Wealth" 

  Homework Questions: 
  1. What is Social Darwinsm? In what sense does it build on the ideas of Charles   Darwin?

  2. What accounts for the popularity of Social Darwinism during the late 19th century?

  3. According to Andrew Carnegie, what are the duties of the man of wealth? 

  4. How does Carnegie view charity? In what instances does Carnegie believe that   charity is most beneficial? Why, according to Carnegie, are some people "worthy" of   charity and others "unworthy"?

  5. What does Russell Conwell mean when he says, "To make money honestly is to   preach the gospel"? What is his attitude towards the poor? How does Conwellís piece   reflect the attitudes of the time period?

Day Eight
"Whose Side Are You On?" Unions, Strikes, and Conflict in the Workplace
Divine, pages 557-561 and 564, and 611-14
Write out answers to homework question 5 and 7
What factors led to the rise of industrial unions in the United States?  What internal and external obstacles did these unions face? How did industrial capitalists and the federal government respond to unions and union activity?

National Labor Union, Knights of Labor, Terence Powderly, American Federation of   Labor (AFL), Samuel Gompers, skilled vs. unskilled workers, "iron law of wages," scab, injunction, In re Debs, lockout, strike, Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Haymarket Square strike (riot), Homestead Steel strike, Coxeyís Army, Pullman strike, American Railway Union, Eugene V. Debs

  Homework Questions: 
  1. In what sense did the Knights of Labor harken "back to the Jacksonians"? What was their philosphy? What types of people did they hope to attract?

  2. What specific reforms did the Knights of Labor seek? 

  3. What was the philosophy of the American Federation of Labor? What types of people did it hope to attract? 

  4. What specific reforms did the American Federation of Labor seek?

  5. How did the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor, respectively, view union inclusion of blacks, women, and unskilled workers?

  6. How did industrial capitalists view unions? How did they seek to limit unions and prevent strikes?

  7. Select ONE of the following strikes, and discuss the immediate causes, the federal government response, and the public reaction: Haymarket Square strike, Homestead Steel strike, Pullman strike
  8. What factors limited the power and popularity of unions at the turn of the century?

Day Nine
The Clash Between Capital and Labor: The Case of The Great Railroad Strike

Divine, pages 562-563

What were the structural and immediate causes of the Great Railroad strike of 1877? How did the public and governmental response to the strike reflect the attitudes of the era? 

Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Rutherford Hayes, Compromise of 1877

  Homework Questions: 
  1. What were the structural and immediate causes of the Great Railroad strike of 1877? 

  2. How did the federal government respond to the strike?

  3. What was the publicís perception of the strike and of the conditions that caused it?

Day Ten
Why No Socialism?: Karl Marx and American Exceptionalism
Divine, pages 676 (middle)-677 (on IWW)
Supplement: Marx, The Communist Manifesto
What is Marxís view of industrial capitalism?  Why was socialismís (communismís) appeal limited in the United States?

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW/ "Wobblies"), Big Bill Haywood, class struggle, bourgeoisie, proletariat, industrial capitalism, alienation of labor, class consciousness, communism (socialism), private property

  Homework Questions:
  1. What was the IWW? How did it differ from the AFL and the KOL? Why did it inspire fear in the minds of the American public?
  2. Why might the popularity of the IWW have been limited?

  3. What does Marx mean when he says, "The history of all hitherto existing society is   the history of class struggles"? What does he see as the central struggle of the era of industrial capitalism?

  4. What impact has industrial society had on the proletariat?

  5. Why, according to Marx, has the laborer become a "commodity" as a result of   industrial capitalism?

  6. Why does Marx believe that class consciousness will inevitably emerge among the proletariat? What does he think is the inevitable result of this class consciousness?

  7. According to Marx, what will be he founding principles of socialist society?

Day Eleven
The Huddled Masses: The New Immigrants

Divine, pages 571-576, 570-571, and 672-674
Supplement: Sinclair, The Jungle (excerpts)
Write out answers to homework questions 4 and 6
What factors led to the increase in immigration during the late 19th and early 20th century?  How were new immigrants viewed by old immigrants and "native" (Anglo) Americans?  Why? What social and economic struggles did these newer immigrants face?

new immigrants, old immigrants, nativism, immigrant associations, political machine,   political "boss," Tammany Hall, William ("Boss") Tweed, tenement, Jacob Riis,   dumbell tenement, Ford Motor Company School, Americanization, Chinese Exclusion Act, eugenics

  Homework Questions:
  1. Why were immigrants attracted to the United States in increasing numbers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

  2. How did the "new immigrants" of 1880-1914  differ in ethnic composition from the "old" immigrants? Why did these new immigrants trouble "mainstream society"?

  3. What were some of the obstacles faced by immigrants in the New World? What measures did they take to adjust to the strains of immigrant life? In what sense can it be   said that immigrants "shaped the city as much as it shaped them"?

  4. What is a political machine? Why were many immigrants attracted to political machines and the policies of political "bosses"?

  5.  What is a tenement? What do tenements indicate about the living conditions of immigrants and the urban poor at the turn of the century? Other than population   density, what other factors contributed to the squalor of urban life for poor Americans   at the turn of the century?

  6. What were the goals of Ford Moter Companyís school for immigrant employees? What does the schoolís purpose suggest about the ways in which immigrants were viewed by mainstream soceiety? 

Day Twelve
City Life: The Height of Civilization and the Depth of Dispair

Divine, pages 568-570
Begin review for test
What did images of urban America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries indicate about the way that Americans viewed their swiftly urbanizing society?

urbanization, Louis Sullivan, skyscraper, tenement, walking city, suburb

  Homework Questions:
  1. What factors caused the growth of cities in the late 19th century?

  2. How did cities come to symbolize the height of civilization during  the late 19th   century?

  3. In what ways did Louis Sullivan and his conception of skyscrapers reflect the ideals   and trends of the time?

  4. What factors, both technological and ideological, stimulated the growth of suburbs during this era?

Day Thirteen
The Social Gospel and the Stirrings of Reform

Divine, pages 590-594, and 595 (middle) -596 
Supplement: Rauschenbusch, "Social Christianity"
Why did some individuals begin to promote social reform during the late 19th    century?  What factors may have contributed to the increasing interest in such reforms? 

Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Walter Rauschenbusch, Social Gospel, settlement   house, Jane Addams, Hull House, Lillian Wald, Henry Street Settlement, melting pot, Jacob Riis

  Homework Questions;
  1. What were Henry Georgeís and Edward Bellamyís critique the conditions that   resulted from industrial capitalism?

  2. What was the Social Gospel? How does Rauschenbuschís notion of Christianity reflect the Social Gospel?

  3.  What were the goals of settlement houses that were founded by Jane Addams and Lillian Wald in the late 19th century? What limitations obstructed the success of these settlement houses?

  4. To what extent was there class conflict developing in the United States in the last two decades of the 19th century?  To what extent was America becoming a "House   of Have and a House of Want"? Offer evidence that  a crisis in class relations was developing at the end of the 19th century. 

Day Fourteen Test on the Gilded Age 

[Back to the Main Page]