March 23

Blog #49 – Was the New Deal too radical?

On p. 799, the textbook gives us an analysis of the New Deal and how historians have evaluated FDR’s program.

1. Some historians feel that a reform movement like the New Deal would have happened whether there was a depression or not.  This is because of the cycles of reform that America has endured throughout its history.  A new reform movement would have tried to address the huge gap between rich and poor, the strong grip that business had on the American government, and the abuses of the stock market.   Stronger measures were needed than what was done during the Progressive Era (1900-1915).

2. Contemporary historians who wrote during the 1940s – 1960s believed that the New Deal was a “revolutionary response to a revolutionary situation” and that only World War II was able to pull the country out of the Depression.  FDR broke from the laissez-faire government tradition and pushed reforms through a Democratic Congress to reform America.  Except for a few historians who called the New Deal “socialistic”, most historians praised the program and its accomplishments.

3. Leftist historians felt that FDR didn’t go far enough to redistribute the wealth of the nation, improve race relations, and control giant corporations and their power.  For the most part, FDR left big businesses relatively alone in order to transform a “corrupt capitalist order.”  It appears that leftist historians would have been happier if FDR has presided over a more socialist government and economy with some central planning.  Businessmen had vilified FDR because of the effects that the New Deal had on American business – seeing him as a traitor to “his class,” essentially, that he’s rich and he’s not taking care of the wealthy interests in the country.

4. Historians in the last 40 years, including the authors of our textbook, felt that FDR acted within the American political and economic system to fix the country.  When FDR overreached with the Supreme Court and tried to add 6 new Supreme Court justices after they had overturned the AAA and the NRA in 1935, public opinion and Republican Congressmen pushed back to foil his plans.  Afterwards, laws were written by Congress that had to conform to existing political traditions – like the Wagner Act, the Social Security Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Americans saw that something was very wrong, and that they wanted “to reform capitalism, not overthrow it.”  A sign that these laws have worked has been their longevity.  New Deal / FDR historian William Luechtenburg has called this time period a “half-way revolution,” neither radical or conservative, but somewhere in between that reflected what the American people wanted.

Your job: which assessment do you agree with and why?   Try to keep in mind that we should judge the New Deal from the time period and not from our time period.  Was the New Deal radical, too radical or not radical enough?

Use examples from the textbook, notes, and films we’ve watched.  

250 words minimum response.  Due Tuesday 3/26 by class. 

February 15

Blog #12 – 1st Rotation – APUSH students take over the blog!


This is a fake picture, but I still thought it was pretty cool.

Please choose one of the following questions to answer for your blog.  These questions come from your colleagues, so enjoy. 

1. Do you feel that Theodore Roosevelt’s plan of consumer protection is American or anti-American? Teddy passed various laws such as the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. The government took on a new role, becoming more involved in people’s lives. But does more government ‘interference’, as some would call it (others have called it socialism!), represent American values? Would you have done anything differently?  – Fred A.


2. Muckrakers played in big role in politics when they began to write in the early 1900s.  Today, journalists also find sources of corruption and abuse to publicize – 60 Minutes, Dateline, regular newspapers and magazines + bloggers.  Identify sources of muckraking today and compare reactions and effects of the writing with the previous generation of muckrakers.

– Also, TR did not like the muckrakers because he felt that they just talked trash and didn’t make any suggestions or try to help fix things and were just critical and negative. Do you believe that today’s muckrakers are just a negative source like TR did or do they do a good job of exposing corruption and abuses?  – Eleanor C.


3. Nike is like Standard Oil in how they monopolize the shoe and clothing  industry. But Nike is also like any other type of monopolistic business in the Progressive Era. Nike pays young kids in Asia to do very hard labor for very low wagesjust do it. It is much like how things used to be here.  Do you belive it is ethical what Nike is doing to young kids in Asia? Why or why not?  – Declan G.


4. Do you think that the reasons America began imperializing overseas in the 1890s (new markets, manifest destiny, naval power, and Anglo-Saxon superiority) are legitimate reasons to expand?  Why or why not?   If not, why do you think more people weren’t protesting America’s imperialist policies?  – Claire F.


5.  If you were going to cast a movie about the late 1800s business tycoons like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan, who would you cast and why?  – Patrice B.andrew_carnegie

6.  Compare our federal government today to the federal government during the progressive era.  Do you feel the (federal) government should be more or less involved in social issues such as the Headstart Plan* and environmental regulations**?  If more, what else do you suggest the government do? If less, what do you suggest the government not do?  – Lucy B.

*A simple summary of the Headstart Plan can be found by clicking the link.

**There have been environmental regulations proposed such as the US federal government forcing every citizen to have only fluorescent lightbulbs in their homes in two years (fluorescent lightbulbs, the ones with mercury in them, conserve energy, but are a health and environmental risk)

7. Teddy Roosevelt had a strong sense of conserving the environment for future generations before he became president and enacted laws during his tenure.  Today, when we talk about saving the environment, people mention global warming and debate whether or not it’s a hoax.  It seems to me that this debate just distracts from the overall point that we could be doing more, like TR, to help conserve natural resources since as Americans, we consume more energy and stuff, per capita, than other people in the world.  What can we do to help make the planet a better place to live in?  – Elizabeth B.


8. James Cameron’s Avatar was a tremendous hit last year, but it also had amazing plot similarities to the 1990 Western, Dances With Wolves.  Both are sagas about Americans imperializing another land and shoving people off of it, regardless of the consequences to the native (Navi) people.   If you’ve seen either movie, can you view either one as a critique of American imperialism?  Why or why not?  – David B.avatar-dances

9. If you could go back in time and decide whether America would go to war against the Spanish in 1898, would you?  Why or why not? Please explain.  – Raven G.

10.  Imperialism is a form of government that Americans shunned. We have stood and fought against it in World Wars 1 and 2, yet we are imperialists ourselves and are dependent on other countries for our personal comfort and economy. Would you be true to America’s democratic roots and fight imperialism?  Or would you be an imperialist that  conquers and controls other countries? Why do you believe so?  – Braxton A.


 11. After the Spanish American War, America liberated the Philippines from Spain, but didn’t grant them independence.  If you had to decide back then, would you rather see America as a laid-back nation that watched over the world, or would it be better to become an active world power, helping other nations (which sometimes came under the banner of imperialism)?  Why? – Larry G.


12. What do you think the implications of the US foreign policy are now that Egypt’s old president, Hosni Mubarek, is out of office?  Remember that Egypt has control of 5% of the flow of oil through the Suez Canal and because we are allies w/ Egypt.  – Kaylee B. Banner seen in Egypt recently.

13.  What business/society problems are around today that muckrakers would or should attack?   How would they attack them- would it be through articles still? What results might these exposes bring?  Explain.  – Lizzie D.

 14.  In the last half century, the US has entered many countries under the mission of “spreading democracy”.  Do you think this is a form of imperialism and is it fair for us to force our values on other countries?  Why or why not?  – Cameron

15.   In 1960 during the height of the Cold War, the United States placed a partial embargo on newly-communist Cuba.  Then, after the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, President Kennedy enacted a travel ban to Cuba for US citizens. The ban, currently the world’s longest-standing embargo, still allows us to export goods to Cuba, but we can’t get bring anything back.  Since the Cold War is over and Castro is almost dead, should the US lift the embargo with Cuba?  Why or why not?  – Evan D.What is "the irresponsible vote"?  Is that kinda like the voters who call in on American Idol?


16. The Women’s Suffrage movement took a long time to impact national laws to get women the right to vote.  Do you think if this would have taken place in current times that the suffrage amendment would have been easier or harder to pass?   Would current events overpower the suffrage movement or would the Women’s Suffrage movement be at the top of the list?  Why?  – Stephanie D.

From Britain's The Daily Mirror in 1904

From Britain's The Daily Mirror in 1904

17.  How do you think American life would be different if President McKinley hadn’t been shot in 1901? Would Teddy Roosevelt ever have become president? Would we still have national parks?  Explain.  – Katie D.

18.  What are some of the problems of our progressive income tax (where the rich pay a higher tax rate than the middle class or poor)?   Do they outweigh the benefits?  Why or why not?  – Ben C.


19. There were three main candidates during the election of 1912: Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William H. Taft. Each president had many views and approaches to the United States problems. Some were different from one another, and some were shared by two or all three. If you lived back in 1912 and were eligible to vote, which candidate would you have chosen and why?  – Erick D.

20. Why would U.S. companies outsource jobs back in the early 1900s and now if so many people here need jobs here?  – Alex

21. If Teddy Roosevelt was magically transported to the present day, what do you think his opinions would be of today’s politics, policies, and the wars in Iraq and Afganistan?  Why?  – Rachel G.

Blog #12 is due Monday, February 28 before class.

250 words minimum.

January 31

FYI – Note cards and big questions

Ch. 28 – The Progressive Era (pgs. 656-678)


Elkins Act of 1903/ Hepburn Act of 1906                                       Gifford Pinchot

Initiative / referendum / recall                         17th Amendment                                  Robert LaFollette                 William H. Taft

Florence Kelley                                                    Muller v. Oregon (1908)                    Square Deal                          Northern Securities case


Big Questions

–          How did women impact the progressive movement?  

–          How did TR exemplify the Square Deal while dealing with the coal strike of 1902 (665-6)?

–          How did TR differentiate between good and bad trusts?

–          Why did TR’s opponents call the Panic of 1907 the “Roosevelt Panic”?  How did it actually benefit the nation in the long run?

–          What were some of TR’s more important contributions (674-675)?

–          How did some of Taft’s initiatives tend to backfire on him (Payne-Aldrich Bill, trust busting, conservation)? 


Ch. 29 – Wilson’s Progressive Era (pgs. 679-685)

Woodrow Wilson                                                 New Freedom                                       New Nationalism

Underwood Tariff Act                                         Federal Reserve Act of 1913             Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914

Clayton Anti-Trust Act of 1914                         


Big Questions

–          How do New Freedom and New Nationalism differ and how are they similar? 

–          What was Wilson’s personality like and how did he differ from TR?

–          How else did Wilson attack the “triple wall of privilege” and defend the working class (p. 685)?

Due on the day we take the Free Response Essay Test – Friday?  / Monday?

January 27

Blog #11 – Bringing Change to Today’s America

As we enter the 20th Century in our classroom and studies, we approach an exciting time period in which America’s reforming impulse took shape in several different forms.  One group of reformers took on alcohol and the Prohibition Experiment took off in 1920 when the 18th Amendment went into effect.  More reformers focused on the plight of the urban poor and downtrodden and had hoped that this situation could be remedied with laws.  Yet still a 3rd reform impulse attemtped to take on city hall and the federal government by changing the way people were elected and how people voted.  By 1920, women had earned the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.   Lastly, the power of big business seemed unstoppable and incompatible in the home of the modern world’s first democracy (where profits trumped one man= one vote easily).  Corporate giants like Standard Oil and Northern Securities were broken up by the Supreme Court as harmful to the American economy because they limited competition. 

When I asked you to look at what you might reform in America, I’m sure you could find things to reform.  President Obama outlined many programs or areas that he would like to see America work on for the next year. 

He wanted to help make not just new manufacturing jobs but also more white collar professional jobs too, and part of this is b/c the economy has changed so much in the past generation or two:

“The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection.”

The president reminded us of our history as a democratic pioneer:

“…we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -– the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like ‘What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world?'”

Finally, the president stated a major initiative (and how to pay for it):

“…in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal [of reaching a level of research and development that we haven’t seen since the Cold War]. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology…And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don’t know if — I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

President Obama also wants to hire 100,000 new teachers as well.  And he mentioned keeping undocumented immigrants (maybe the new buzz word for illegal aliens?) in the U.S. after they’ve been educated here. 

Then the president mentioned rebuilding our infrastructure from high speed railroads to broadband internet access. 

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down…Within the next five years, we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.”

And, newsflash, the recession is practically over!  He wants to put a freeze on domestic spending (not military). 

“But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.   So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. (Applause.)”

A repsonse to Obama’s SOTU Address:

“Not exactly a Sputnik moment” –

Michelle Bachman’s reply for the GOP –

Your job list three to five things that you would want to reform on a local, state or national level (with a very brief explanation as to what you think is wrong), and then write more on one of them and why you think that particular reform needs to go to the top of the country’s agenda. 

Due Friday, January 28 before 11:59 p.m.

250 words minimum.


1. SOTU Transcript: