United States History II: Research Questions Habits of Mind



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United States History II: Research Questions

Habits of Mind

Pick a “Habit of Mind” as an approach to the analysis of a specific topic in history. For example, “recognize the importance of individuals who have made a difference in history…”



To what extent was [x] born great, achieved greatness, or have greatness thrust upon them?

The Gilded Age

To what extent does the Populist movement achieve success in the late nineteenth century?


Why did the presidents from 1877 to 1897 not make a larger mark on history?
To what extent were political machines a positive force in the late nineteenth Century?
How did the structure of segregation develop in the South in the late nineteenth Century?
How did class structure, ethnicity, and gender affect urban political affairs in the Gilded Age?
What factors caused American cities to grow so dramatically during the nineteenth Century?
How did industrialization affect urbanization?
How did the introduction of mass transit and electricity affect urban life?
What factors led to the economic success of industrial capitalism in America after 1877?
How were business practices organized and new technologies harnessed in order to maximize profits in American industry?

The Progressive Era

How did the Progressive belief in the ability of individuals to affect positive change translate into political reform?


How and why did President Roosevelt expand the federal government’s power within the economy?
How did President Wilson’s foreign policy reflect his Progressive domestic agenda?
What role did religion play in the Progressive Era?
How did progressivism lead to an increase in the intervention of state power in economic, political and social affairs?

American Expansionism / Imperialism: An Emerging World Power: 1877-1914

How did economic interests affect American involvement in overseas expansion?


In what ways did American expansionism reflect traditional American ideals?
What specific effect does American expansionism have on the American economy?
What were the elements of the ideology of American expansionism?


WWI: 1914-1920

Why did the United States enter WWI?


How did WWI affect economic affairs and social relationships in America?
In what way does WWI come to redefine the role of the federal government in the US?
In what way was the economic prosperity of the 1920s a false prosperity?

The 1920s

How does the unique government-business relationship of the 1920s come to affect changes in the American economy?


To what extent does the emergence of a mass national culture occur in the 1920s?
How and why did cultural conflict break out in response to the new secular values of the decade?
How did the automobile epitomize the new values of mass consumption and the changing patterns of leisure in America?
Why did the American people embrace the Republicans’ “politics of normalcy” in the 1920s?

The Great Depression & The New Deal: 1929-1939

To what extent was the Great Depression a product the consumerism in the 1920s?


How and why did the national election of 1932 mark a turning point in American politics?
In what way does the New Deal come to transform the role of the federal government?
To what extent was President Hoover’s response to the Great Depression consistent with the responses of Presidents to past economic distress?
To what extent does an “invisible scar” come to affect Americans suffering from the Great Depression?
How did the New Deal affect American society both curing the 1930s and thereafter?
In what ways did the “hundred days” legislation deal with critical areas of the depressed economy?

WWII: 1939-1945

Why does the United States maintain a policy of isolation during the 1930s?


What effect did mobilization affect change in American society?
How did American war aims affect plans for postwar settlement?
How did WWII affect change in the lives of American minorities?
To what extent was President Truman justified in dropping atomic bombs on Japan?

The Cold War: 1945-1960

What factors gave rise to the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union?


How did the Cold War affect domestic economic and political affairs in the 1950s?
What was the domestic impact of the anti-Communist crusade of the late 1940s and 1950s?
What role did nuclear weapons technology play in the developing Cold War?
How did George Kennan’s ideas about containment affect US foreign policy?
To what extent did US foreign policy achieve its goals in Europe, South East Asia or the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1970?
To what extent did the Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon administrations achieve the goals of containing communism?
To what extent was the first and / or second Red Scare a social, political and media hysteria?

The Affluent Society and the Liberal Consensus: 1945-1965

What factors contributed to the demographic changes that took place in the US after WWII?


How did automobile ownership affect American culture after WWII?
How did President Johnson’s Great Society program attempt to fulfill modern liberals’ agenda for reform?
What was the relationship between the advent of television and the rise of consumer cultures?
What impact did the baby boom have on American society?

The Vietnam Era: 1961-1975

What was the relationship between American domestic affairs and the conduct of the Vietnam War?


What similarities are shared by the women’s rights movement and the women’s liberation movement?
What accounts for the emergence of student activism in the 1960s?
What was the impact of the 1968 Tet offensive on the American war effort?
What factors contributed to the election of Richard Nixon in 1968?
To what extent did the social, political or economic roles of women change between 1950 and 1970?
In what ways does the Vietnam War leave a profound cultural legacy in the US?

Civil Rights / Liberties

Why did nonviolence prove to be a successful strategy for confronting segregation?


What role did the federal government play in support of the Civil Rights movement?
What were the three most significant events of the Civil Rights Movement, and how did these developments affect the movement as a whole?
Considering three separate cases: In what way did the Supreme Court redefine civil liberties in the 20th Century?

The Lean Years: 1969-1980

How and why did America experience a severe economic crisis in the 1970s?


How did expanding social activism lead to a conservative reaction at the end of the decade?
What was the impact of the energy crisis in the 1970s?

A New Domestic and World Order: 1981-1992

How did the domestic policies of Presidents Reagan and Bush reflect the rise of conservatism?


How and why did the Cold War conclude with an American victory in 1991?
How did the end of the Cold War precipitate the reemergence of regional, ethnic, and religious conflicts in Eastern Europe?


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