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

Day 2 - Class discussion to define democracy

After some discussion to review where we were at the end of Day 1, I wrote "yes" and "no" on the board, and we came up the reasons for each opinion. Those who said that the slides showed a democracy agreed that they had said so because there was equal opportunity, which leads to disparities. Those who said "no" agreed that the slides did not reflect a democracy because clearly society c. 1900 did not benefit all the citizens.

  • I asked, "So what is the definition of 'democracy'?"
  • We agreed that "democracy" means "government by the people, with the majority ruling." This, of course, led to:
    "So what are these pictures of?"
  • We agreed that the slides show "a capitalist society." This led to the class asking:
  • "So what is the difference between a democratic and a capitalist society?"
  • This is where I had wanted them to go, to learn that "democracy" and "capitalism" are not synonymous. I simply said, "That is one of the things we are going to be figuring out."
  • I ended the discussion by saying, "At this time, c. 1900, some people were concerned that there were "people" with power in the U.S. but that the majority of the "people" had no power. For tonight, read and hi-light what one person of the time had to say."

Homework: Read and highlight one of these five readings (one-page primary source readings found in the "In-Depth Resources" that accompany The Americans from Addams, Riis, Tarbell, Carnegie, Steffens). (See Resources)

The AP class read one of eight readings: Tarbell, Addams, Gompers, George, Carnegie, Sumner, Lloyd, Steffens. (See Resources)

If there are 30 to 35 students in the class, there will be 4 to 6 students who have the same readings. These readings (See Resources) were handed out randomly by me. Next year, I would make sure that there is at least one student who is not shy in each group.

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