Early U.S. labor activism:
Growth of industry:
"Gospel of Wealth"
Research and evaluate an industrialist
Clip from Ken Burns
Debrief on Reconstruction and simulation.
Birth of a Nation
Read the first four paragraphs from Steven Mintz, “Birth of a Nation” prepared for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (external link):
In 1915, 50 years after the end of the Civil War, D.W. Griffith, released his epic film Birth of a Nation. The greatest blockbuster of the silent era, Birth of a Nation was seen by an estimated 200 million Americans by 1946.
Based on a novel by a Baptist preacher named Thomas Dixon, the film painted Reconstruction, the period following the Civil War, as a time when vengeful former slaves, opportunistic white scalawags, and corrupt Yankee carpetbaggers plundered and oppressed the former Confederacy until respectable white Southerner rose up and restored order. A "scalawag" was a southern white who supported the Republican party; a "carpetbagger" was a northern-born Republican who had migrated to the South.
The film depicted a vindictive northern Congressman, modeled on a Pennsylvania Republican member of Congress, Thaddeus Stevens, and a power-hungry mulatto eager to marry the Congressman's daughter. The film's hero is an aristocratic Confederate veteran who joins the Ku Klux Klan and at the film's climax rescues the woman from armed freedmen. President Woodrow Wilson reportedly described the film as "history written with lightning."
During the twentieth century, far more Americans probably learned about Reconstruction from Hollywood rather than from history books or lectures. Films like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind depicted Reconstruction as a misguided attempt to overturn the South's "natural" order by giving political power to former slaves.
Next view, the following clip and consider the following questions, first with a partner, and then together as a class:
This Convention is to consider four questions that you have carefully researched using primary sources from Harper’s Weekly and our secondary source selection from Eric Foner.
We will break up our time into three 12-14 minute sessions that will examine questions #1, #2&3, and #4. Students will have an option of choosing from one of the pre-prepared positions or propose their own resolution if none of the items seem acceptable. During discussion, you should present arguments consistent with your bio and supported by the evidence you have collected.
Question #1: Under what conditions should the South be allowed back into the Union? Who in the former Confederate States of America should be pardoned?
Questions #2&3: What political rights should Free Blacks and Freedmen acquire? What social and economic rights should Free Blacks and Freedmen acquire?
Question #4: Should Reconstruction be implemented on a national or state level? Why does this distinction matter?
In class today we will continue working with the documents to answer the questions we posed initially about Foner. If you would like, you may use the following chart (Google Doc) to help you organize your evidence.
Beginning by the end of class today and continuing tonight for homework, you should prepare an outline for tomorrow’s in-class writing assignment. That assignment will ask you to provide a position statement for each of the following questions utilizing evidence from Foner and Harper’s Weekly:
As you prepare your outline remember that an outstanding position statement will:
Note on citations:
The challenge in 1865
Introduce Reconstruction simulation
Share Civil War memorial projects
Meet in groups of 3-4 to share the proposal you created for homework. Nominate one participant from your group to share their project in front of the class.
Read the Thirteenth Amendment
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress 31 January 1865 and ratified by the states 6 December 1865. The full text of the amendment is below. It is short, so we will read it together aloud:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Listen to historian Eric Foner discuss Reconstruction and the Thirteenth Amendment
While you are listening, practice note-taking strategies by:
Watch Eric Foner discuss Reconstruction and the Thirteenth Amendment at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Penn. We will watch as much as class time allows and you are welcome to continue watching at home.