United States History And Government



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Extends the protections of the Bill of Rights to include actions of state governments.

  • Allowed the National Government to place more restrictions on the actions of state governments.

15th Amendment- Law that granted African Americans voting rights. Southern States collected poll taxes and required literacy tests in order to keep African Americans from exercising their voting rights.

Jim Crow Laws-1870's 1880's

  • Attempts by state and local governments to restrict the freedoms of African Americans after the end of the Civil War.

  • Led to an increase in violations of the rights of African-Americans.

  • Limited the effectiveness of the 13eh, 14eh, and 15th amendments.

  • Provided the legal basis for racial segregation in the late 19th century (late 1800's) U.S.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)- Supreme Court case that upheld the Jim Crow Laws based on the idea that the laws provided "separate but equal public facilities for African Americans. This was based on a narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment. Jim Crow Laws would not be ended until the passage of the Civil Rights Act 1964.

Black Codes Ku Klux Klan - Attempted to restrict the rights of former slaves and limit the effectiveness of the 14th and 15th amendments.

Sharecropping- system of farming most common in Southern States after the Civil War. Large numbers of former slaves earned a living by becoming sharecroppers on Southern farms, keeping them economically dependent on those farms (they still needed the same farms to survive even though they were no longer slaves).

New South- Term that described changes in the Southern economy. Industrial development and agricultural diversification (growing different types of crops) were encouraged.

  • In the decades following the Civil War, overproduction which led to lowers prices of farm goods, caused economic hardship for farmers.

Carpetbaggers- Northerners who moved down South to participate in Reconstruction governments.

Industrialization/Industrial Revolution

Causes of Industrial revolution-

  • Starts in the northeast in the 19th century (1800's) because this region had the greatest supply of capital and labor.

  • The completion of the Erie Canal and the transcontinental railroads contributed to industrial growth by making the movement of goods easier and cheaper.

  • After the Civil War, the Federal Government provided land and money to build railroads.

  • Availability of water to power machines.

  • Mechanization of agriculture- Led to an increase in production


Effects of Industrial Revolution 

Smaller industries had difficulty maintaining their competitiveness.



  • Many business practices were developed to eliminate competition. Ex: Monopolies, trusts, pools.

  • Growth of big business resulted in the widening of the economic gap between rich and poor.

  • Immigration to the U.S. increased, because more jobs were made available as industry was growing.

  • Urban middle class increased.

Tariff- Tax on foreign goods in order to raise revenue and protect domestic manufacturing (tax that makes foreign goods more expensive so people by American goods instead). Leaders of big business gave support to the passage of tariffs because it increased their profits.

Corporation 

  • Became an important form of business organization in the U.S after the Civil War.

  • Has advantage because corporations could generate large amounts of capital (money and materials needed to run a business) with limited liability (risk/responsibility) for investors.

  • Major goal was to consolidate (unite into one) the manufacture and distribution of products.

  • Used mechanization and the division of labor which made it difficult for smaller industries to be competitive.

  • Increased efficiency in production methods.

Social Darwinism- Theory which believed that the growth of large business at the expense of others was merely survival of the fittest (the stronger businesses will succeed and the weaker one will fail).

  • Used to justify the formation of business monopolies.

  • Used to explain the differences in income between the rich and poor.

  • Believed that economic success comes to those who are the hardest working and most competent.


Laissez-faire Capitalism - Economic policy which argues that government should limit any interference in the economy (the government should leave the economy alone).

  • Free Enterprise System- investments and profits are controlled by individuals.

  • Prices of products are determined by the interaction of supply & demand/ marketplace.

  • Claimed that government regulation of business would be harmful to economic growth.

  • Influenced the growth of the U.S. economy during the late 19th century, which led to economic domination by business trusts. EX: Standard Oil Trust was intended to control prices and practices in oil refining.

Rise of Big Business (1865-1900) Federal Government followed laissez-faire economic policy. Trusts and monopolies were created by entrepreneurs to maintain control of the market.

Robber Baron- Term used during the Gilded Age to characterize leaders of big business who used ruthless tactics when dealing with competitors. Ex: John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Gilded Age- Mark Twain labeled the late 1800's the Gilded Age to describe the extremes of wealth and poverty (big differences between the rich and the poor).

Urbanization- Rural (countryside) residents move to urban (inner city) areas in search of jobs. Size of cities increase.

  • Caused by industrialization.

  • How the Other Half Lives- Book by Jacob Riis that exposed the living conditions of urban slums (working-class, inner-city neighborhoods). Exposed the desperate lives of poor people to the general public in the U.S.

  • Urban middle class increased the most as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Working Conditions -Rapid industrial growth leads to shift from rural to urban lifestyle, widespread use of child labor, and growth of tenements & slums (overcrowded inner city neighborhoods located near factories).

Immigration- Many immigrants traveling to the U.S. settled in urban areas in the North because rapid industrialization created many job opportunities.

  • Large numbers of immigrants were admitted to the U.S. during most of the 1800's because the economy needed many unskilled factory workers. Factory owners strongly supported an open immigration policy in order to get cheap labor.

  • Immigration increased from Ireland to the U.S. during the 1840's due to crop failures (Irish Potato Famine) in Ireland that led to mass starvation. During the 1850's, Irish immigrants were discriminated against because they practiced the Roman Catholic Religion.

  • New Immigrants- Came primarily from southern and eastern Europe (Ex: Italy & Russia) between 1890-1915. Were culturally different from the earlier immigrants. Many believed they would fail to assimilate into American society.

  • During the late 1800's and early 1900's many members of Congress supported legislation requiring literacy tests for immigrants in an attempt to restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

  • Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) - Limited the amount of Chinese immigrants entering the U.S. An example of Nativism.

Nativism- Group of Americans who were angry about Immigrants taking jobs from Americans and working for cheaper wages. Wanted the adoption of a quota system to limit immigration. Supported the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Gentlemen's Agreement, and the National Origins Act.
Economic/ Progressive Reform:

Monopoly- A company that controls or dominates an industry in order to eliminate competition and control prices. Pools/ Trusts- Created by industrialists during the late 1800's to increase profits by minimizing competition.

Interstate Commerce Act (1887)- Created the Interstate Commerce Commission. Marked the first time that a Federal regulatory agency (a branch of the government that watches the economy) was established. Was passed in response to demands of farmers and small business owners.

Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) - Law passed by congress in an attempt to limit the power of monopolies.

Clayton Antitrust Act - Declared that unions were not conspiracies in restraint of trade (made Unions legal). In response to business combinations limiting competition.

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) - Supreme Court case that allowed the Federal Government to regulate interstate commerce (business and trading between different states). .

Wabash v. Illinois- limited the power of big business.

Federal Reserve System- Established by the Federal Reserve Act (1913) which was intended to provide a stable supply of money and credit. Supported by President Woodrow Wilson. The Federal Reserve can reduce a recession by lowering interest rates.

Graduated/Progressive Income Tax- Authorized by the 16 1h amendment (1913). Based on the idea that people with higher incomes should pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes (taxes are based on the ability to pay).

Progressive Era (Late 1800's -1917)


  • Progressive Movement- A movement to correct the economic and social abuses of industrial society. Supported

consumer protection, women's suffrage, secret ballot, income tax, direct election of Senators, Prohibition.

  • Progressives- Believed the government needs to regulate big business to protect consumers and workers.

Opposed the Laissez-faire attitude of the late 19th century. The progressive movement was a response to the industrialization and urbanization of the U.S. because these factors led to poor, unsafe living conditions and abusive big businesses.

  • Jane Adams- Established settlement houses that provided assistance to the poor.

  • Robert M. La Follette- Progressive reformer who wanted to start a civil rights movement for African Americans (was unsuccessful).

  • W.E.B. Du Bois- Formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in order to end segregation and win equal rights.

  • Booker T. Washington- Believed that African Americans should pursue education as the key to improving social status. Founded a vocational training institution in the late 1800s to improve economic opportunities for African Americans. Differed from W.E.B. Du Bois on the best way that African Americans could effectively achieve equality.

  • During this era, states established public schools and passed compulsory education laws. Reformers argued that an educated, literate population was necessary for a successful democracy.

Progressive Era Political Reform

  • Through laws such as initiative, referendum, recall, direct primary, and secret ballot progressives attempted to increase participation in government by citizens and involve voters more directly.

  • Direct Election of Senators- Established by the 17th amendment. Citizens directly voted on who would represent them in the Senate in order to make the Senate more responsive to the people.

  • Civil Service Exams- Laws were passed requiring individuals to pass tests before obtaining government jobs in order to eliminate patronage and corruption in government hiring (prevent the people in the government from hiring their friends or accepting bribes). This was a reaction to the Spoils System (officials rewarding their supporters with government jobs).

Progressive Labor Movement/Unions

Labor Union- An organization of employees formed to bargain with the employer in order to get certain things such as better working conditions, benefits, and pay. Business leaders opposed the efforts of Labor unions to organize and improve conditions. Clayton Antitrust Act made unions legal.

Collective Bargaining- Discussions between labor union leaders and management (owners/ bosses) to agree on a contract for workers.

Wagner Act (1935) - Legalized collective bargaining.

Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire- Tragedy in which many women workers were killed in a factory fire. Drew national attention to the need to protect the safety of workers.

Samuel Gompers- Organized workers into unions in order to strive for better conditions and better pay.

American Federation of Labor- The first long-lasting, successful labor union in the U.S., because it fought for the rights of skilled workers, focused on gains in wages and working conditions, and was organized on a nationwide basis,

Pure Food & Drug Act (1906) - Law that provided federal inspection of meat products and forbade the manufacture, sale, or transportation of unsafe food products and poisonous medicines. Resulted from demands for direct consumer protection. Federal government was able to pass it because of the elastic clause.

Meat Inspection Act- Created sanitary standards established for slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. Passed as a result of writings of muckrakers. The publication of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair led congress to pass the law.

Muckraker- Writers during the progressive era that exposed social ills of inner cities, factory conditions, and political corruption. Focused on issues including the monopoly of Standard Oil, cattle processing, meat packing, child labor, and wages. Ex) Upton Sinclair, Ida M Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, Jacob Riis.

Populist Party- A political coalition of farming interests directed against banking and railroads.

  • A third party that eventually disappeared but proposed ideas that later became law.

  • Expressed the discontent of many farmers with their ongoing economic problems.

  • Proposed the national income tax, free and unlimited coinage of silver, direct election of senators, government ownership of railroads. Supported anti-trust laws.

  • Similar to the Progressive Party because both opposed the strict laissez-faire attitudes of the federal government, and both wanted the use of Federal power to correct social and economic problems.

Granger Movement- Wanted to force railroads to lower freight fates. Wanted to pass laws increasing Federal regulation of monopolies. Supported by farmers in the west.

Theodore Roosevelt 

  • New Nationalism- Policy designed to help the U.S. solve problems caused by industrialization.

  • Square Deal- Increased the role of the Federal Government in dealing with social and economic problems.

  • Trust Busting- Had policies that encouraged competition in business by attacking monopolies, trusts, pools, etc. Became known as the Trustbuster. Believed the government should regulate big business.

  • Big Stick Policy- "Walk softly but carry a big stick." Policy that was used by the U.S. to police the Western Hemisphere and intervene in Latin American affairs. Wanted to prevent the extension of European control over Latin America.

  • Expanded the Monroe Doctrine- Claimed the Monroe Doctrine permits the U.S. to intervene actively in the affairs of Latin American nations.

  • U.S. influence in the Caribbean Sea region is significantly increased as a result of Roosevelt's policies.

  • Helped negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese war (war between Russia and Japan).

  • A primary objective of his was to awaken public interest in conservation efforts (saving the environment). Set aside land for national forests and water projects.

U.S. Global Involvement/ Imperialism

  • Between the 1890's and the start of World War 1 (1914), the U.S. expanded its access to overseas markets and raw materials through the policy of imperialism (a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries).

  • Reasons for Imperialism- Due to the expansion of American industry (big businesses and factories) during the 1800's, the U.S. needed to obtain raw materials and new markets (the U.S. needed more raw materials to make products and a place to sell those products).

  • Dollar Diplomacy-attempted to increase the U.S. power in Latin America. Indicated a U.S. desire to interact with foreign countries in ways that were profitable to U.S. corporations. Corporations needed a place to sell surplus (extra) goods.

  • U.S. practices economic nationalism by implementing protective tariffs to help American industry.

  • Protective Tariff- A tax on foreign products making them more expensive so people will buy American products instead.

  • Open Door Policy (1899-1900) - Issued in order to secure equal trade opportunities in China and guarantee access to its markets.

  • U.S. annexes (take over a territory) Hawaii and the Philippines.

Spanish American War- (1898)

  • Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hears used yellow journalism to generate public support for the war. They wrote articles about the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana Harbor.

  • As a result of the war, the U.S. built the Panama Canal so they could move more quickly between oceans in order to increase trade and military security.

  • A major result was that U.S. obtained overseas colonies and was recognized as a world power.


Woodrow Wilson

  • Supported the creation of the Federal Reserve System (1913) in order to regulate the amount of money in circulation.

  • Worked to limit the power of big business.

  • Adopted a policy of neutrality (not taking sides in the war) at the beginning of World War I.

  • Claimed that the Progressive movement would be best served by continued peace (avoiding WWI).

  • During his reelection campaign in 1916 he used the slogan "He kept us out of war," but after he was reelected in 1917 Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany because Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare.

  • In the years before the U.S. entered WWI, Wilson violated his position of strict neutrality by supporting economic policies that favored the Allied nations (Britain & France).

U.S. in World War I

Causes of WWI

  • At the outbreak of WWI in Europe (1914), most Americans believed that their country should stay out of war.

  • During the first 3 years of WWI, the U.S. tried to maintain freedom of the seas and trade with European nations (Britain & France) but Germany attacked any ships that traded with their enemies.

  • German's violate the freedom of the seas by resuming unrestricted submarine warfare (which became a major reason for why the U.S. entered WWI in 1917.

  • Wilson declares "The world must be made safe for democracy" in order to justify his decision to ask Congress to declare war against Germany.

During War

  • Espionage Act/ Sedition Act (1917)- Used by Wilson's administration during WWI to silence critics of the war effort. This illustrated that national interest is sometimes given priority over individual rights.

  • Scheck v. U.S. (1919) - Supreme Court ruled that freedom of speech for war protesters could be limited during wartime. The "clear-and present danger" doctrine permits the government to limit speech that threatens the security of the nation. Freedom of speech is not absolute.

  • During WWI, relations between the U.S. and Mexico were characterized by hostility and suspicion.

  • Wilson ordered controls on the U.S. industry to fight WWI.

  • These actions show that Executive (aka Presidential) power can increase during times of international crises. Similar to Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt because they all expanded presidential powers.

Economic Effects of WWI

  • WWI was a significant benefit to the U.S. economy because it provided a market for the U.S. industry (the armies of the U.S. and its allies needed a lot of supplies which gave U.S. factories a lot of business).
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