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

Before beginning the lesson:

Before this lesson, the students had begun studying the Progressives; I did not introduce the Progressives with this lesson.

Rather I used this lesson to expand their knowledge. The students had read about industrial growth, Social Darwinism, and the development of a labor movement (all in Chapter 6 of The Americans), urbanization and immigration (Chapter 7 ), and the Populists (chapter 5 ).

The students had read and written an essay on The Jungle by Upton Sincliar http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/SINCLAIRtoc.html as part of their English class work. They had also seen Andrew Carnegie, The American Experience http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/ (which addresses his poor background, his charity work, and how he ended the Homestead Strike).

Students had also seen the American Social Studies Project video on the strike of 1877 (in which a descendent of John Adams describes the situation in 1877 as "government by corporation"), (see The Railroad Strike of 1877) and a video that accompanies the textbook The Americans entitled "A Child on Strike: the Testimony of Camella Teoli, Mill Girl, in 1912." (see Camella Teoli Testifies about the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike)

To begin the study of the Progressives (chapter 9 ) in The Americans, we brainstormed, based on their reading of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/SINCLAIR/toc.html , what "problems" existed in the U.S. c. 1900.

We came up with: city problems, labor conditions, monopolies, food production, corruption in politics, and inequality of wealth distribution. I had to draw out of them that there was also discrimination against women and African Americans. This led to an interesting discussion of why it took the class so long to remember this last problem, that of racial and gender discrimination. . Of course, it took them so long because Sinclair was primarily interested in the plight of a (white) male and they were basing their brainstorming on his book. Though not part of this lesson, we were to focus on the fight for women's suffrage and the debate between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker Washington later in the month.

They had begun reading Chapter 9 of The Americans for homework when we began the lesson, which was only part of what we did in class each day.

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