Primary Source Essay

Instructions: Students must choose two (2) of the following essay questions to complete this semester. Each question is based on a group of primary documents. You must read all of the documents assigned for that reading, then write a two to three page essay (440 to 660 words) answering the question. In most cases, you will need to draw upon what we have discussed in class and material from the textbook to fully answer the question. You will have an opportunity to revise these essays to improve your grade, so long as you turn them in on time. Please be sure that your essay is in your own words - do not simply copy out long passages from the readings. If you use any source other than the assigned reading, please use either footnotes or endnotes to indicate this. If you have any questions, please feel free to come to my office during office hours, or make an appointment.

Due Dates: The first essay is due February 22. The second is due April 3 (New Date). 

1. Helen Hunt Jackson, Red Cloud, and Flying Hawk have all left descriptions of the situations faced by the Indians in the late nineteenth century. (While Red Cloud and Flying Hawk discuss, in these readings, a specific battle, they discuss broader themes.) What, according to them, where those problems, and did they think there any way they could have been prevented? Readings 2 and 3.

2. Did farmers and workers share the same attitudes toward industrial society? How were their visions of the government and the economy similar and different?  Readings 4 and 5.

3. From the standpoint of the urban dwellers themselves, what advantages did city life offer? What tradeoffs did urban residents have to make to gain such advantages? Readings 7, 8, and 9.

4. Why did these authors (Roosevelt, Lodge, and Strong)  believe that American imperialism was a good idea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? Readings 11, 12, and 13.

5. How do these four authors feel about social reform? Is it necessary? What are their motivations? Are those motivations at odds? How similar are their methods? Readings 14, 15, and 16.

6. In these two readings, Harding and Purinton discuss what they think is the right way for America to deal with the issues that confronted the nation after World War I. What do they think America should do? What kind of changes do they want, and what do you think they want to avoid? Readings 17 and 18.

7. How do these advertisements compare with ones you see today? Are they convincing? Would they have been convincing in the 1920s? Reading 19.

8. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not the only person with ideas about what to do about the Great Depression. Compare what Huey Long and Father Coughlin had to say with FDR's speech? How radical were these leaders compared to FDR? Readings 20, 21, and 22.

9. Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans wanted to stay out of World War II. In his 1941 State of the Union, Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged Congress to beef up American defenses. In the same year, famous aviator Charles Lindbergh warned against war. Compare their beliefs about America's readiness for war and what should be done about it. Readings 23 and 24.

10. In the years after World War II, Joseph McCarthy and Kenneth McFarland were both very concerned about Communism. Were they worried about it for the same reasons? Did they seek similar or different solutions for dealing with it. Readings 25 and 26.

11. In 1956, Ladies Home Journal interviewed a number of young mothers about their lives. How similar or different are their lives to that of mothers today? What about their attitudes concerning their husbands, their children, and how children should be raised? Compare there attitudes to modern ideas. Reading 27.

12. Compare these three documents. What do Sherrod, President Johnson, and Wheeldin believe is important to change to improve the lives of African-Americans? How optimistic are they about the possibilities for change? Why are their perspectives different? Readings 30, 31, and 32.

13. Read these three documents from the Women's, Gay Rights, and Indian movements. In what ways are their critiques of American society and their demands for change similar? What are their common themes? Readings 33, 34, and 35.

14. Read Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address and T. Bone Pickens defense of Reagan's first term in office. What do Reagan and Pickens believe is the proper role of government, particularly in relationship to the economy? Readings 36 and 37.