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Nobody Here But Us Capitalists:  Democracy, Big Business, and Progress at the turn of the 20th century


Every six weeks (at the end of each marking period) my students take an exam that involves answering 20 multiple choice questions and writing two essays. At the end of the marking period in which we did this lesson, the students had a choice between the following two questions to answer for their first essay:

1. Discuss the Progressive movement. Who benefited the least? Describe the difference in the approach to big business between Roosevelt's and Wilson's plans, and then discuss and evaluate the actual progressive reforms enacted by each of these presidents in as much detail as possible.

2. "The Progressive movement of 1901 to 1917 was a triumph of conservatism rather than a victory for liberalism." Assess the validity of this statement, taking into account who the Progressives were, what their goals were, and what their successes were.

The first choice is, obviously, more concerned with Roosevelt and Wilson, who had been covered in other lessons. The second question (an old AP free response question) is clearly better suited to this particular lesson. But the students were given a choice. In reflecting upon the answers, especially to the second question, I realized that I needed a new question in order to assess what my students had learned from this particular lesson.

FOLLOW-UP: Next year I would ask the following question for student assessment:

Were the Progressives correct that the discrepancies between rich and poor were a threat to democracy?

Before beginning the lesson
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Internet Resources
Worksheet:" Meet the Press"
MS Word version
pdf version

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit

"Nobody Here But Us Capitalists:
Democracy, Big Business, and Progress at the Turn of the 20th Century"

Subject: U.S. History
Grade Level: 11th

Lesson Plan Author:
Elizabeth Haugen
Organization: OUSD