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Unit Plan Title: Gilded Age and The Progressive Era

By: Nick Pruett, Kevin Wallace, Jeremy Nielson

Rational: Many students know a good deal about the Civil War and about the First World War;
the purpose of this unit is to bridge those two topics while bringing student’s attention to critical
figures, concepts, and events that took place in late 19th and early 20th century America.
Students will learn about the “Gilded Age”, push/pull factors for migratory trends both to and
within the United States, how the United States became a world power, and the Progressive
era. Students will also learn to interpret primary sources from this era using historical thinking
skills such as sourcing and contextualization.
 Essential Questions:
1. What push/pull factors were involved in the following migration trends during the
late 19th and early 20th century: settlement of the Western frontier, immigration
to US cities from Eastern and Southern Europe, the Great Migration of African
Americans from the South to Northern and Midwestern cities?
2. What effect did Industrialization/Mechanization/Automation have on farmers, the
working class, and American society as a whole?
3. What sort of political issues were being debated in late 19th and early 20th
century America and how did industrialization and urbanization affect political
4. What strategies did oppressed groups (such as women, African Americans, and
other ethnic minorities) use to obtain and protect their rights and civil liberties?
 Key Concepts: Immigration, Industrialization, Urbanization, Imperialism, Capitalism,
Monopolies, Corporations, the Role of Government, Progressivism, Women’s Suffrage,
Health and Living Standards, Ethnic Neighborhoods, Political Machines, Labor Unions,
the Populist Party, Transportation/Communication Systems, “Separate but Equal”

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

1. View and interpret political cartoons and real-life images, think critically about
connections between those interpretations and reading material, and share and discuss
those connections with their peers
2. Use knowledge constructed in class to form research questions and predict answers to
those questions
3. Source and contextualize primary sources to facilitate their reading of historical
documents as well as their written responses to document based prompts
4. Identify similarities and differences between multiple primary source documents and be
able to compose comparative essays that synthesize distinct material
5. Collaborate with their peers in cooperative learning environments where each student has
an essential role
6. Form and articulate arguments based on both primary documents, secondary documents,
and class discussion and be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their and
their peers’ arguments

Standard: USHC 4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the industrial

development and the consequences of that development on society and politics during the second
half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.
Essential Background Content

Overview of the “Gilded Age”

Citation: Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2016). Overview of the Gilded Age. Digital History.
Retrieved June 16th, 2017 from

Mark Twain satirically called the 1880s and 1890s the “Gilded Age” because he saw America
during this time as superficially great while also harbouring corruption beneath the surface. This
was a time of rising racial tension and violence, rising labor violence, and militance among
farmers. Key characteristics of the Gilded Age include an explosion of technological
advancement, mass migration, strong political partisanship concerning currency, tariffs, and
railroad/industry trusts.

Westward Expansion

“By 1893, the Census Bureau was able to make the claim that the entire western frontier was
now occupied” (Mintz and McNeil, 2016). Transportation systems facilitated Western
settlement which resulted in the displacement of over a quarter million Great Plain Native
Americans. Key events include the Gold (and other precious metals/minerals) Rush in California
(1849), Nevada and Colorado (1850), Idaho and Montana (1860s), and South Dakota (1870s).

Modernization of America

Technological innovations during this time include the phonograph, the telephone, the radio,
mass circulation of newspapers, automobiles, electric trains and trolleys, etc. The modern
economy begins to develop, characterized by national communication and transportation
networks, corporations becoming the dominant business structure, a managerial revolution, a
move towards global markets, and an influx of factory production, automation, and business
consolidation. Some key terms: capitalism, corporations, automation, and monopoly. Tensions
between farmers and the industrialists/the bankers/financial speculators catalyzed the formation
of the Populist party.

Urbanization and Mass Migration

Urban growth caused problems such as sanitation, pollution, and exploitation of the working
class. This era saw a huge influx of Irish, Eastern European, and Southern European immigrants
who were mostly Catholic and Jewish. Many of these immigrants came from countries such as
Ireland, Italy, Poland, and various slavic states.

Overview of “America Becomes a Great Power”

Citation: Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2016). Overview of America Becomes a Great Power. Digital
History. Retrieved June 16th, 2017 from
Compared to the world’s great powers during the 1890s, the United States’ military might was
small. This could possibly be contributed to a lack of interest in foreign affairs in the years
leading up to the 1890s. But as the end of the 19th century drew nearer, interest in foreign
affairs was mounting due to American businesses not wanting to get beaten by foreign
competitors, a naval strategy which suggested that American prosperity depends on control of
the sea lanes, and an attitude of responsibility towards “inferior” nations around the world.

American Imperialism in the 1890s

Key events include: the annexation of several Pacific islands such as Hawaii and the
Philippines, the Spanish-American War, the 1899 Open Door Note, the Roosevelt Corollary, and
the US’ involvement in the building of the Panama Canal. Key question: Do annexed peoples
receive the same rights as American citizens?

Overview of the “Progressive Era”

Citation: Citation: Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2016). Overview of the Progressive Era. Digital
History. Retrieved June 16th, 2017 from

“Many far-reaching economic and social changes transformed American society in the 20th
century, including innovations in science and technology, economic productivity, mass
communication and mass entertainment, health and living standards, the role of government,
gender roles, and conceptions of freedom.” (Mintz and McNeil, 2016)


Progressivism is reformative thinking in economy, politics, society, and morals. Progressives

were often urban, college-educated, and middle class. They supported prohibition of alcohol,
labor laws for both adults and children, the Americanization or the restriction of immigrants,
natural resource management, consumer protection, regulation of trusts and large industry, the
elimination of government corruption, the improvement of working conditions, more public and
local control over government, lower tariffs, federal control of the banking system, and women’s

A key term: muckraking journalism which brought the public’s attention to unethical business
methods of tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller.

Four Amendments were added to the constitution during this Era:

1. Income tax (16th)
2. Direct election of Senators (17th)
3. The prohibition of alcohol (18th)
4. Extending the vote to women (19th)

Race Relations and the Great Migration

The late 19th and early 20th centuries “represent the nadir of American race relations” (Mintz
and McNeil, 2016). 90% of African Americans lived in the South and most were tenant
farmers/sharecroppers. This era saw the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy v Ferguson which
established a 50 year reign of “separate but equal” legal ideology. This era was characterized by
violence, intimidation, and lynchings towards African American communities. Key figures/terms
include: Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Dubois, and the NAACP.

“Tight labor market during WWI triggered the “great migration” of African Americans to the
North, which continued into the 1920s. The Great Migration was marred by racial violence in
Chicago, East St. Louis, Houston, Tulsa, and more. The Great Migration was surrounded by a
revamping of African American efforts towards political and economic agency and artistic,
literary, and musical expression. Key term: Harlem Renaissance.

Women’s Suffrage

“By the early 19th century, American women had the highest female literacy rate in the world”
(Mintz and McNeil, 2016). Proponents of women’s suffrage were inspired by the political
philosophy of the American Revolution. They wanted to realize the guarantee of equality stated
by our founders. During this era, women had a fraction of the legal rights of men. They could
not own property (if married), draw contracts, file lawsuits, or attend jury duty. Suffragettes
fought for not only the vote, but also for divorce, access to higher education, professional
careers, birth control and abortion. They were fighting the “oldest form of exploitation and
subordination”; the patriarchy (Mintz and McNeil, 2016).

Women were at the forefront of moral reform:

 Abolition of slavery
 Establishment of public schools
 Curbing the nation’s drinking of alcohol
Key figure and event: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca
Falls, New York, 1848.

Overview of Immigration and Urbanization

Citation: Jacob Betz et al., “Life in Industrial America,” David Hochfelder, ed., in The American
Yawp, Joseph Locke and Ben Wright, eds, last modified August 1, 2016,

Industrialization was a major catalyst of urbanization in the late 19th and early 20th century. Key
 In the 50 years after the civil war, American city population size increased sevenfold
 By 1920, more Americans lived within a city than outside one.
 Between 1870 and 1920, over 25 million people immigrated to the United States

Push/Pull factors for immigration:

 Start a new life by moving to and staying in America
 Earn money in America to bring back to your home country
 Escape economic troubles in Europe
 Escape ethnic persecution in Europe
 *The main pull factor was work, and booming American industries needed workers.

Cities with several factories (e.g. New York, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis) were
considerably attractive for immigrants. Immigrants underwent both assimilation to American
culture as well as a strengthening of ethnic identity which lead to the formation of “ethnic
neighborhoods” in many Northern and Midwestern cities. Key term: Chain migration → when
successful immigrants encourage their family and acquaintances in their homeland to immigrate
to the United States.

City politics adapted to the influx of immigrant populations by the formation of “urban political
machines” which operated within the structures of mutual assistance organizations targeted
towards immigrant populations. Key figure: William “Boss” Tweed.

Some people during this era saw urbanization as a leading cause of the “eroding social position
of rural citizens and farmers” (Betz et al., 2016). As urbanization progressed, living conditions
worsened in rural communities and became more varied in the cities. This is one reason that lead
to the development of suburbia and suburban life; people wanted the economic opportunity of
the city along with the freedoms and lower costs of living associated with the country.

Da Key Instructio reading assessm

y concepts, nal ent
topics, strategies

1 Monopolie Non- Pretest

s Linguistic
Represent “How to crush monopoly! The remedy for trusts.” Think
ation Hon. M. L. Lockwood of Zelienopole, Pa., President Pair
of the American anti-trust league 1899 Share

2 Industrial Identify Sinclair’s “The Jungle” selected chapters/sections Compar

Changes the ative
and the Similaritie Roosevelt’s “Big Stick Policy” essay
rise of s and
Governme Differenc
ntal Power es

3 Expansion Setting The Texas Populist Party Platform Kahoot!

in objectives -
Governme providing
ntal Power feedback ?smtID=3&psid=3687

4 Cultural Cooperati “The Laws of the Cherokee Nation” Jigsaw

effects on ve activity
Native Learning, “General Laws of the Legislature of the Chickasaw
American Flipped Nation 1867, 1868, 1869 & 1870”
Tribes Classroo
m “The Constitution and Laws of the Muskogee

5 Great Cues, Mary Bowden Carroll’s “Ten Years in Paradise” Socratic

Migration, questions, selected chapters/sections Seminar
Ethnic activating
Neighborh prior
oods, knowledg
Immigratio e

6 Women’s Summariz “19th Amendment” Fishbow

Suffrage ing and l activity


7 Test day

Instructional Activities and Resources:

On the day of the Jigsaw, the students will be split up into different groups and looking at
how the government policies and the construction of the transcontinental railroad played a role in
the culture of the Native American people. The students will come back together and tell the
other students what they learned. The students will have broad question for some background
knowledge and some deep thinking question for them to dig deep. The Socratic Seminar day will
focus on the minority groups and the great migration of African American people. The students
will read one thing we assign and another primary source of their choosing to go along with the
day. The students will ask questions, use cues from one another and have to use prior knowledge
to really think about the questions being asked of them. Some of the other activities we will
asking the students to use a lot of their prior knowledge to start out the day, then go into a critical
thinking mood to get through the bulk of the day to help them see the connections and end the
day by the student’s showing what they learned.
These strategies tie into the standards and learning objectives by having the student
demonstrate that they understand the importance of the industrialization and urbanization of the
United States after the end of the Reconstruction Era. They will also learn and understand the
consequences that these things had on the society at this time.

Big Stick Policy Modification:

Theodore Roosevelt’s modification in 1904 of the Monroe Doctrine from 1823 shows how his
views on foreign policy were different from U.S. President James Monroe and why he wanted to
amend the original document. As part of the Monroe Doctrine amendment, his beliefs were
based on a broader idea known as “The Big Stick Policy” which focused on the foreign policies
around the many islands and South American Countries in the Caribbean and also in the
Philippine Islands in the Pacific.

I will have the students read this brief snapshot of Roosevelt’s Corollary of the Monroe Doctrine
before providing them a photograph of the actual document.

“To the Senate and House of Representatives: …

It is not true that the United States feels any land hunger or entertains any projects as regards the
other nations of the Western Hemisphere save such as are for their welfare. All that this country
desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly, and prosperous. Any country whose
people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it
knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it
keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic
wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society,
may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in
the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force
the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the
exercise of an international police power. If every country washed by the Caribbean Sea would
show the progress in stable and just civilization which with the aid of the Platt amendment Cuba
has shown since our troops left the island, and which so many of the republics in both Americas
are constantly and brilliantly showing, all question of interference by this Nation with their
affairs would be at an end. Our interests and those of our southern neighbors are in reality
identical. They have great natural riches, and if within their borders the reign of law and justice
obtains, prosperity is sure to come to them. While they thus obey the primary laws of civilized
society they may rest assured that they will be treated by us in a spirit of cordial and helpful
sympathy. We would interfere with them only in the last resort, and then only if it became
evident that their inability or unwillingness to do justice at home and abroad had violated the
rights of the United States or had invited foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of
American nations. It is a mere truism to say that every nation, whether in America or anywhere
else, which desires to maintain its freedom, its independence, must ultimately realize that the
right of such independence can not be separated from the responsibility of making good use of it.
…” (Roosevelt, 1904) Teaching American History

From this policy issued by Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, the students will compare the
information that they have learned to selected sections of the Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle
from 1906. In The Jungle, Sinclair shows describes how food safety and workplace safety
regulations are being overlooked by the general public in order for the company’s Owners and
Managers can profit from the customers. From Sinclair’s book, new governmental regulations
arose to regulate these business which would eventually lead to worker safety regulations,
worker’s unions, and the USDA. For the student assessment, the students will write a
comparative essay on why these two primary sources played a major role in the rise of the
United States Governmental control in the early 20th century.

The Nineteenth Amendment: Adaptation

66th Congress of the United States; May 19th, 1919

Proposing a new amendment to the Constitution that will give the right to vote to women.
Two-thirds of both the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed on this article and, after
it passes ratification by three-fourths of the States, this article will be considered to be a valid
part of the United States Constitution.
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied by either the Federal or
State governments on account of sex.
Congress will have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
[Signatures of key Congressmen]


Joint Resolution: An agreement reached by both the Senate and the House of Representatives
Ratification: The legislative process where three-fourths of the States decide whether or not to
amend (add) a new law to the Constitution
Article: Law

The Nineteenth Amendment: Transcript of Original Language

Retrieved from:

Sixty-sixth Congress of the United States of America; At the First Session,

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday, the nineteenth day of May, one thousand
nine hundred and nineteen.
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is
proposed as an amendment to the Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as
part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislature of three-fourths of the several States.
"ARTICLE ————.
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."


The first thing at the beginning of the unit will be a pretest of the information that will be
taught in the unit. This will not be a graded assessment, but one to let us know where each
student stands. This gives us a good base knowledge for each student on the time period for this
unit plan
The way of looking at the day to day progress of the students will be through the
assessments that will be either at the end of the day or the all day activity. Each day we have an
assessment that goes well with that day. The assessments are thought out by what the students
are learning/reading/doing in the classroom that day. The day to day understanding will not be
hard for the students to do because it aligns with the the readings and lesson. There will be
questions that are in the lesson or around the activity that the students are doing to see how well
the students are understanding the information of that day.
The way that the students will demonstrate their knowledge and skill will be through
critical thinking, how does each of the previous day's connect to the present one. Every day in
the unit plans connects to at least one of the previous days. The assessments will have the
students thinking about what they learned in the other days and how it connects to the assessment
that is present in that class. Students show be able to show how the culture of the Native
American’s was effected by the Monopolies that took over many industries. Another way that
the students will be assessed will be through the unit test. This shows what the student learned
from the pretest at the beginning of the unit until the end of the unit. This test will include more
deep thinking questions to show if the students are working from memory or from actual
The skills, content, and thinking we are going to assess are the students critical thinking
skills when it comes to seeing how one topic compares to other when they may seem opposite,
compare and contrast, this is going to happen at multiple points in the unit but the major one will
be when comparing “The Jungle” and the “Big Stick Diplomacy” to the world they live in.

Primary Sources Bibliography:

Carroll, M. B. (1903). Ten Years in Paradise, Press of Popp & Hogan, San Jose, CA. Library
of Congress,, 2017, Web. 6/18/2017.

Lockwood, H. L. (1899) How to Crush Monopoly! The Remedy For Trusts,

Printed Ephemera Collection, Portfolio 160, Folder 44, Pennsylvania. Library of
Congress,, (2017), Web. 6/18/2017.

Roosevelt, T. (1904). The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, The White House,
Washington D.C., (2017), Web. 6/19/2017.

The Populist Party. (1891). The Texas Populist Party Platform, Cincinnati, Ohio and The
Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX., (2016), Web. 6/18/2017.

Sinclair, U. (1906) The Jungle, Doubleday, Jabber & Company.

Sixty-Sixth Congress of the United States of America. (1920). The Nineteenth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote, U.S. Captial, Washington D.C., (2017), Web. 6/19/2017.
TAH-LE-QUAH, Cherokee Nation. (1839). The Constitution and Laws of the Cherokee Nation,
Printed by Gales and Seaton, Washington, D.C. 1840. Library of Congress,,
2017, Web. 6/18/2017.