History of the United States from 1865 to Present

History of the United States from 1865 to Present

Final Essay Prompts with Links

Paper must be 1,000 to 1,500 words, double-spaced, properly cited in Chicago style.

Readings- Zinn(Howard. The Twentieth Century: A People’s History) intro and Chapter 1, Foner(Eric. Give Me Liberty, Volume Two, Seagull, 4th Edition (main text))15-17; Intro to Stone/Kuznick(Stone, Oliver, and Kuznick, Peter. Untold History of the United States) (to page xxxiii)

 Must have reading materials in the essay!!!!!(and put page numbers on the endnotes plz!)

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Choose ONE of the following to address for the final. Address whichever you choose as completely as possible for full credit. Be sure to use course sources and cite all work in Chicago Style.

  1. How did the Cold War begin out of the ashes of WWII? Explain the Truman Doctrine and the role of Containment in US policy? Show these policies in effect, that is, especially from the Stone and Kuznick text, give some examples of these policies and their impact on the ground. Is there a disconnect between the theory and the reality in terms of what these policies alleged to do vs. what they may have actually done? Some historians have referred to the Cold War as the Third World War, both because of its longevity and reach as well as the fact that most if not all of the conflicts that defined the Cold War took place literally on the ground in what is known as the third world. How do you see the comments of former CIA station chief John Stockwell in terms of how Americans see their own role in the Cold War? In your view, was this a black and white, good vs. evil kind of war, or was it more complex? Explain. Again, the work from Stephen Kinzer, author of Overthrow,could be useful for additional background (see the Kinzer interviews below).

Third World War?

John Stockwell

Kinzer part 1

Kinzer part 2

  1. Discuss the rise of the modern Civil Rights movement (Foner refers to this as the Freedom Movement). Who were some of the major players and what were some of the main events that took place in the 1950’s that led to a major change in U.S. policy concerning minority groups? Often, much focus is placed on African Americans and the Civil Rights movement. We oft hear of a post-racial America in the present. Is the Civil Rights Movement over? Why or why not? What other groups fought for equality in this period and what did they gain (especially women- remember the guest lecture)?  What were the main programs of JFK and LBJ that addressed inequality in America and what was meant by the Great Society? Which do you find successful? Which do you think failed? Why? What were the historical roots of this period, if any, and what do you think makes this period unique, if anything?


Civil Rights Era

Hate Crimes Issues

Gay Rights

More food for thought…


Freedom Rides

Black Power

Black Panther Party 10 Point Program

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  1. FDR’s response to the Great Depression was called the New Deal. What did this mean and how was it a shift away from traditional American politics. Explain the major programs in detail. Did they end the Depression? Why or why not? How did the New Deal affect women and minorities? What is the legacy of the New Deal today, especially in the current debate about the economic recession? What were some of FDR’s biggest problems with what were known as the first and second New Deals? Then discuss the New Deal in historical context (Populism, Progressivism). Was it really New or a Deal? Be specific. What of the critics of the New Deal right and left? Which do you find having more credibility and why? Or, do you think FDR was correct in his approach? Many on the left thought FDR should be more socialist. The right thought he should be more a corporatist and fascist-like Italy and Germany. But, it was the right that tried to do something about it. What do you make of where several prominent businessmen conspired to overthrow FDR and install a fascist government in the U.S.? With all this focus on the domestic sphere, what was the major foreign policy focus of the US in the ’30s anyway?

[There is much more available on this issue and it has been a matter of public record for some time now. This issue was also included in Joel Bakan’s “The Corporation” made into a film. See it here.

See below for more…

The Great Depression


Plot to Overthrow FDR

And a brief film on the FDR overthrow topic

Hidden History and FDR

  1. The 1960s in America was an explosive time for many. A culture of resistance to the dominant values of the “Affluent Society” of the 1950s became a phenomenon known as the Counterculture. Explain this process and the specifics. Who was rebelling against what and why in 1950s and ‘60s America? Write about the historical roots of this counterculture from the 1920s through the 1960s as well as the movements that comprised it, the charismatic and often flawed leaders and their lifestyles. Include the importance of music, the arts, poetry, film, among other elements through the 1960’s. Was the counterculture successful in its aims? Recall that some of the Counterculture wanted to engage and use the system to reform what were perceived as problems by some and others wished to drop out of the culture of conformity. Did the adherents of the countercultural mindset have long-term impact on American society, whether positively or negatively? Discuss and support.
  1. Create your own question. From 1940 to the present, create a question looking at a specific historical topic that spans at least two decades, be specific, and e mail it to the instructor before finals week. See me in class if you are interested in this option by Wednesday December 10th. E mail me if you have any concerns about these questions, the final work, or your grades.

*Stay tuned, as there may be one additional option based only on readings from 1970-2010.


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