1948 Lesson Plan Teacher Name: Valerie Schrag Grade Level: 11 Course

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1948 Lesson Plan
Teacher Name: Valerie Schrag Grade Level: 11 Course: Survey U.S. History II, AP U.S. History II
Describe the classroom or homework activity to be performed (individual assignment, cooperative learning, cross-curricular, technology-based, using artifacts and/or primary sources, etc):

In this lesson, students will work with the party platforms for the four major parties participating in the Election of 1948 (Democratic, Republican, States’ Rights Democratic, and Progressive parties). The students will use questions to determine the position each party took on a variety of issues, and then compare and contrast the platforms to come to an understanding of the issues facing the United States in this pivotal election.

Rationale (why are you doing this?):

In each presidential election year, political parties determine their platforms and disseminate them to the public to present the party’s vision of what the United States should become. By analyzing the platforms from the Election of 1948, the students will be able to draw conclusions about how the party platforms shaped the events of the early Cold War period. This, in turn, should make the students more comfortable in critically analyzing today’s party platforms in order to become informed citizens and voters.

Required time frame: One 60-minute class period
From where in the conference did you get the idea for this activity or assignment?

I began to conceptualize this lesson during Susan Hartmann’s presentation on Truman and the 80th Congress. I continued to develop my ideas while listening to Carol Anderson speak about the desegregation of the military and the Election of 1948 and during Kari Frederickson’s presentation on the Dixiecrat revolt.

Lesson Objectives – The student will:

  • critically analyze one of the four party platforms used during the Election of 1948.

  • compare and contrast the four party platforms in a group discussion.

  • draw conclusions about the purpose and goals behind each party platform to discern each party’s ultimate goal in the Election of 1948.

District, State or National performance and knowledge standards:

  • Kansas State Social Studies Standards – U.S. History, Benchmark 3, Indicator 3 (High School)

  • Kansas State Social Studies Standards – U.S. History, Benchmark 3, Indicator 5 (High School)

  • Kansas State Social Studies Standards – U.S. History, Benchmark 5, Indicator 3 (High School)

  • Kansas State Social Studies Standards – Civics & Government, Benchmark 4, Indicator 1 (High School)

Secondary Materials needed – cite title and other detailed information:

  • Survey U.S. History IIThe Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century (McDougal Littell), Chapter 18, Section 1 “Origins of the Cold War” (pp. 602-608) and Chapter 19, Section 1 “Postwar America” (pp. 634-639)

  • AP U.S. History IIThe American Nation: A History of the United States, 11th edition (Longman), Chapter 29 “The American Century” (pp. 761-772)

Primary Sources needed – cite detailed information:

  • Party platforms for each of the four parties fielding a major candidate in the Election of 1948 – The platforms for the Democratic, Republican and States’ Rights Democratic parties can be obtained online at the website of The American Presidency Project (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/). Click on the “Documents” link at the top right of the home page, and then click on “Party Platforms” under the Document Archive section on the left side of the webpage. The platform of the Progressive party has been attached to this lesson plan. It was excerpted from the New York Times publication of the Progressive Party platform on July 25, 1948.

Technology required: Whiteboard and markers
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both you and the students do?

  1. This lesson fits in the middle of the unit on the early Cold War. The students will have already discussed the post-World War II economic situation in the United States and will have also studied the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine.

  2. For homework the night before, the students will review the information in Chapter 18, Section 1 and Chapter 19, Section 1 (for Survey U.S. History) or for Chapter 29, pp. 761-772 (AP U.S. History).

  3. Randomly distribute the platforms of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Progressive Party. Have the students form groups based upon which platform they hold. Give each group time to read their assigned platform. Then, as a group, have the students answer the following questions:

  1. How does this party address the issue of civil rights? Give 2 examples.

  2. What foreign policy issues are important to this party? Give 4 examples.

  3. What domestic policy issues are important to this party? Give 4 examples.

  4. How does this party respond to communism? Give 2 examples.

  1. Each group should select 2 members to place their answers to the questions on the whiteboard. Once the details of each platform have been placed on the board, lead the students in a discussion comparing and contrasting the three platforms. Encourage the students to look for similarities and differences, especially with regard to civil rights and communism.

  2. Once the class has adequately compared the 3 platforms, distribute one copy of the States’ Rights Democratic Party platform to each student. Read the platform together, as it is significantly shorter than the other platforms. Together, discuss the four questions mentioned above, and compare this platform with the other three.

  3. Ask the class to think about the following questions: “What role did each party expect to play in the Election of 1948? Did the party expect to win or was their primary role that of a spoiler? How do you know this?” Allow for discussion on these questions.

  4. For AP U.S. History: Follow all of the above steps, except for the beginning of step 3. I will distribute all four platforms to my AP students 2-3 days ahead of time, and expect each student to have read each platform before class. They should be prepared to discuss all 4 platforms in detail. When the students arrive in class, they will be divided into 4 groups and immediately address the 4 questions mentioned in step 3 above.

Assessment: fully explain your assessment method in detail or create and attach your scoring guide:

At the end of class, the students will write a 1-2 paragraph composition addressing the following question:

“If you had a vote in the 1948 Election, which political party and candidate would you have supported? Why? Give four justifications for your choice.”
The students will hand in this composition at the end of the hour, or the next day if time does not allow for the completion of the composition before the end of class.

Excerpt from the Progressive Party Platform – Election of 1948
Source: “Text of the Platform as Approved for Adoption Today by the Progressive Party,” New York Times, July 25, 1948

Peace, Freedom and Abundance Preamble

Three years after the end of the second World War the drums are beating for a third. Civil liberties are being destroyed. Millions cry out for relief from unbearably high prices. The American way of life is in danger.

The root cause of this crisis is big business control of our economy and government.
With toil and enterprise the American people have created from their rich resources the world’s greatest productive machine. This machine no longer belongs to the people.
Never before have so few owned so much at the expense of so many.
Ten years ago Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned: The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state. That, in its essence, is fascism.
Today that private power has constituted itself an invisible government which pulls the strings of its puppet Republican and Democratic parties. Two sets of candidates compete for votes under the outworn emblems of the old parties. But both represent a single program – a program of monopoly profits through war preparations, lower living standards and suppression of dissent.

Leaders of the Past Invoked

For generations the common man of America has resisted this concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few. The greatest of America’s political leaders have led the people into battle against the money power, the railroads, the trusts, the economic royalists.

We of the Progressive party are the present-day descendants of these people’s movements and fighting leaders. We are the political heirs of Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln – of Frederick Douglass, Altgeld and Debs – of “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, George Norris, and Franklin Roosevelt.
With the firm conviction that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution of the United States set forth all fundamental freedoms for all people and secure the safety and well-being of our country, the Progressive party pledges itself to safeguard these principles to the American people.
Throughout our history new parties have arisen where the old parties have betrayed the people. As Jefferson headed a new party to defeat the reactionaries of his day, and as Lincoln led a new party to victory over the slaveowners, so today the people, inspired and led by Henry Wallace, are creating a new party.
The Progressive party is born of necessity – the necessity of securing peace, freedom, and abundance for the American people.

Betrayal by the Old Parties

The American people want peace.

But the old parties, obedient to the dictates of monopoly and the military, prepare for war in the name of peace.
They refuse to negotiate a settlement of differences with the Soviet Union.
They reject the United Nations as an instrument for promoting world peace and reconstruction.
They use the Marshall Plan to rebuild Nazi Germany as a war base and to subjugate the economies of other European countries to American big business.
They finance and arm corrupt, fascist governments in China, Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere through the Truman doctrine, wasting billions in American resources and squandering America’s heritage as the enemy of despotism.
They encircle the globe with military bases which other peoples cannot but view as threats to their freedom and security.
They protect the war-making industrial and financial barons of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and restore them to power.
They stockpile atomic bombs.
They pass legislation to admit displaced persons, discriminating against Catholics, Jews, and other victims of Hitler.
They impose a peacetime draft and move toward universal military training . . . .

Principles of the Progressive Party

The Progressive party is born in the deep conviction that the national wealth and national resources of our country belong to the people, who inhabit it and must be employed in their behalf: that freedom and opportunity must be secured equally to all: that the brotherhood of man can be achieved and the scourge of war ended.

The Progressive party holds that basic to the organization of world peace is a return to the purpose of Franklin Roosevelt to seek areas of international agreement rather than disagreement. It was his conviction that within the framework of the United Nations different social and economic systems can and must live together. If peace is to be achieved capitalist United States and communist Russia must establish good relations and work together.
The Progressive party holds that it is the first duty of a just government to secure for all the people, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national background, political belief or station in life, the inalienable rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Government must actively protect these rights against the encroachments of public and private agencies. . . . .


End the Drive to War

The Progressive party calls for the repeal of the peacetime draft and the rejection of universal military training.

We call for the immediate cessation of the piling up of armament expenditures beyond reasonable peacetime requirements for national defense.
We demand the repudiation of the Truman Doctrine and an end to military and economic intervention in support of reactionary and fascist regimes in China, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and Latin America.
We call for the abandonment of military bases designed to encircle and intimidate other nations.
We demand the repeal of the provisions of the National Security Act which are mobilizing the nation for war, preparing a labor draft, and organizing a monopoly militarist dictatorship.
These measures will express the American people’s determination to avoid provocation and aggression. They will be our contribution to the reduction of mistrust and the creation of a general atmosphere in which peace can be established.

United Nations

The Progressive party will work for realize Franklin Roosevelt’s ideal of the United Nations as a world family of nations, by defending its Charter and seeking to prevent its transformation into the diplomatic or military instrument of any one power or groups of powers.

We call for the establishment of a United Nations reconstruction and development fund to promote international recovery by providing assistance to the needy nations of Europe and Asia, without political conditions and with priorities to those peoples that suffered most from Axis aggression.
We call for the repudiation of the Marshall Plan . . . .


The Progressive party will work through the United Nations for a world disarmament agreement to outlaw the atomic bomb, bacteriological warfare, and all other instruments of mass destruction; to destroy existing stock-piles of atomic bombs and to establish United Nations controls, including inspection over the productions of atomic energy; and to reduce convention armaments drastically in accordance with resolutions already passed by the United Nations General Assembly. . . .

State of Israel

The Progressive party demands the immediate de jure recognition of the State of Israel.

We call for admission of Israel to the United Nations. . . .

Colonial and Dependent Peoples

We believe that people everywhere in the world have the right to self-determination. The people of Puerto Rico have the right to independence. The people of the United States have an obligation toward the people of Puerto Rico to see that they are started on the road toward economic success. . . .


End Discrimination
The Progressive party condemns segregation and discrimination in all of its forms and in all places.
We demand full equality for the Negro people, the Jewish people, Spanish-speaking Americans, Italian Americans, Japanese Americans, and all other nationality groups.
We call for a Presidential proclamation ending segregation and all forms of discrimination in the armed services and Federal employment.
We demand Federal anti-lynch, anti-discrimination, and fair-employment practices legislation, and legislation abolishing segregation in interstate travel.
We call for immediate passage of anti-poll tax legislation, enactment of a universal suffrage law which would permit all citizens to vote in Federal elections, and the full use of Federal enforcement powers to assure free exercise of the right of franchise. . . .
We demand that Indians, the earliest Americans, be given full citizenship rights and the right to administer their own affairs . . . .

The Right of Political Association and Expression

The Progressive party will fight for the constitutional rights of Communists and all other political groups to express their views as the first line in the defense of the liberties of a democratic people.

We oppose the use of violence or intimidation, under cover of law or otherwise, by any individual or group, including the violence and intimidation now being committed by those who are attempting to suppress political dissent . . . .
We demand the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee and similar state committees, and we mean to right the wrongs which these committees have perpetrated upon thousands of loyal Americans working for the realization of democratic ideals.
We pledge to eliminate the current “loyalty” purge program and to re-establish standards for Government service that respect the rights of Federal employes to freedom of association and opinion and to engage in political activity. . . .

Democracy in the Armed Forces

The Progressive party demands abolition of Jim Crow in the armed forces.

We demand abolition of social inequalities between officers and enlisted personnel.
We call for basic revision in military justice procedures, including the candidates’ qualifications, determined by open competitive examinations, and that an increasing percentage of young men admitted be drawn from the ranks. . . .


High Cost of Living

The living standards of the American people are under bipartisan attack through uncontrolled inflation. The only effective method of combating inflation is to take the profits out of inflation.

The Progressive party calls for legislation which will impose controls that will reduce and keep down the prices of food, shelter, clothing, other essentials of life, and basic materials. Such controls should squeeze out excessive profits, provide for the payment of subsidies to farmers wherever necessary to maintain fair agricultural prices, and allocate materials and goods in short supply.
Monopoly’s grip on the economy must be broken if democracy is to survive and economic planning become possible. Experience has shown that anti-trust laws and government regulation are not by themselves sufficient to halt the growth of monopoly. The only solution is public ownership of key areas of the economy . . . .


. . . We demand the immediate repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and the reinstatement of the principles of the Wagner and Norris-La Guardia Acts. These last measures are essential to restore labor’s equality in collective bargaining and to prevent business from using Government to establish a dictatorship over labor by injunction.

We will demand the right for employes in publicly owned industries to organize, to bargain collectively and to strike. We call for the establishment of collective bargaining machinery for Federal employes.
We support the legitimate demands of all wage and salary earners, including Federal employes, for wage and salary increases and improved working conditions. We demand the enactment of a minimum wage of $1 an hour, extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover all workers, enforcement of equal pay for equal work regardless of age or sex, and the elimination of any regional wage differential.
We oppose Government strike-breaking through seizure of struck industries under the pre-text of Federal operation, while profits continue to go to private employers. . . .


The Progressive party recognized that the welfare of farmers is closely tied to the living standards of consumers. We therefore reject the “eat-less” policy of the old parties and proclaim our intention to develop, within the framework of an economy of planned abundance, a long-range program of full agricultural production, combined with necessary safeguards for the security of farmers and for the conservation of our national resources. . . .

We propose as a major goal of Federal farm programs that all farm families be enabled to earn an income of not less than $3,000 a year. We repudiate the program of big business which would eliminate as many as two thirds of the nation’s farmers . . . .


The new party charges that private enterprise, under monopoly control, has failed to house the American people. It is the responsibility of democratic government to guarantee the right of every family to a decent home at a price it can afford to pay.

We demand a Federal emergency housing program to build within the next two years four million low-rent and low-cost dwellings for homeless and doubled-up families, with priority to veterans.
We also pledge an attack on the chronic housing shortage and the slums through a long-range program to build 25,000,000 new homes during the next ten years. This program will include public subsidized housing for low-income families.
We recognize that to accomplish these objectives it will be necessary to curb non-essential construction, to allocate scarce materials, and to reduce the cost of land, money, and building materials.

Security and Health

The Progressive party demands the extension of Social Security protection to every man, woman and child in the United States.

We commend the Townsend plan for bringing to national attention the tragic plight of the senior citizens of America, and we condemn the bipartisan conspiracy in Congress over the past ten years to keep the Townsend plan or any other national old-age pension program from even coming to the floor for debate.
We pledge our active support for a national old-age pension of $100 a month to all persons at 60 years of age, based on right and not on a pauperizing need basis.
We call for a Federal program of disability and sickness benefits, and increased unemployment benefits. . . .


The Progressive party proposes to secure the rights of women and children and to guarantee the security of the American family as a happy and democratic unit and as the mainstay of our nation.

We propose to raise women to first-class citizens by removing all restrictions – social, economic, and political – without jeopardizing the existing protective legislation vital to women as mothers or future mothers.
We propose to extend fair labor standards for women, to guarantee them healthful working conditions, equal job security with men, and jobs back after the birth of children. . . .

Young People

The Progressive Party believes young people are the nation’s most valuable asset. Their full potentialities can be realized only by implementing our complete program for peace, freedom and abundance. We challenge the failure of the old parties to meet the special problems of youth.

We call for the right to vote at 18.
We call for the enforcement and extension of child labor laws. . . .


The Progressive party proposes to guarantee, free from segregation and discrimination, the inalienable right to a good education to every man, woman, and child in America. Essential to good education are the recognized principles of academic freedom – in particular, the principle of free inquiry into and discussion of controversial issues by teachers and students. . . .

We oppose segregation in education and support legal action on behalf of Negro students and other minorities aimed at securing their admission to state-supported graduate and professional schools which now exclude them by law. . . .

A Real Choice in 1948

The Progressive party has taken root as the party of the common man. It has arisen in response to, and draws growing strength from, the demand of millions of men and women for the simple democratic right to vote for candidates and a program which satisfy their needs. It gives voters a real choice.

Purposeful and deeply meant, the program of the Progressive party carries forward the policies of Franklin Roosevelt and the aspirations of Wendell Willkie and holds forth the promise of a reborn democracy ready to play its part in one world. The American people want such a program. They will support it.
Under the leadership of Henry A. Wallace and Glen H. Taylor, a great new people’s movement is on the march. Under the guidance of Divine Providence, the Progressive party, with strong and active faith, moves forward to peace, freedom and abundance.

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