Us history, 1865 to Present Instructor: Ryan Poe Course Description

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The Sweet and Sour Fruits of Reform

Here I want to detail the various reform measures passed by Progressive-era reformers, including democratizing measures (ballot initiatives and referendums), labor goals like child labor laws and anti-trust exemptions, civic reform and public health, etc. Then I want to switch it around a bit and talk about some of the darker aspects of Progressive-era reform, like eugenics, racism, heteronormative legislation and means, civilization rhetoric, immigration and exclusion, etc. The goal is to show that when we play with our spacial framework, we get different answers to the question of “how progressive were the Progressives?”

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 24.

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “'Aliens' in America,”

- Jack Kirby, Darkness at the Dawning: Race and Reform in the Progressive South (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972).

- Eileen Lorenzi McDonagh, “Representative Democracy and State Building in the Progressive Era,” The American Political Science Review 86.4 (December, 1992): 938-950.

- Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).


Discussion: Progressive Triumphs as Populist Legacies?

There are two goals for this discussion. The first is to raise the question in the title quite simply: how can we chart the legacy of Populism if we see Progressive reform as part of its long legacy? I'll use a few documents here on a specific issue (cherry-picked from Postel) to demonstrate this. I also, though, want to keep in mind the darker side of both of these movements, by comparing two documents showing an unbroken string of troubling aspects of the racial pasts of each movement—because if Progressivism is a legacy of Populism, we can't ignore the fact that neither have great histories on race, gender, and ethnicity.

* Elizabeth Sanders, Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), introduction and conclusion (supplied).

* “The Omaha Platform: Launching the Populist Party,” History Matters,

* Theodore Roosevelt, “The Liberty of the People,” History Matters,

Week 9
Depression and Deals


World War I to the Early New Deal

This section quickly covers World War I, a bit on migration, the Red Summer of 1919, and the Great Depression in an effort to gloss this period. I want to get to the New Deal, but the background information is important: migration and the Red Summer of 1919 matters, because I want to show the affects of the New Deal on different localities by the end of this week! Thus, I need to have a bit of a focus here on certain city locations (perhaps Chicago, to bring in Cohen) as well as rural areas first.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 25, only these sections “An Uneasy Neutrality,” “America's Entry into the War,” and “Lurching from War to Peace.”

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 26, only the section “The Culture of Modernism.”

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 27 (entire)

- Major Problems Chapters 6 and 7.

- OAH Magaine of History: World War I 17.1 (October, 2002)
- Jennifer D. Keene, “Americans as Warriors: 'Doughboys' in Battle during the First World War,” 15-18.
- Ronald Schaffer, “The Home Front,” 20-24.
- Joe William Trotter, “The Great Migration,” 31-33.

- Alan Brinkley, “Prelude,” The Wilson Quarterly 6.2 (Spring, 1981): 50-61.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal

This section covers the rise of radical unionism (Cohen here) in the 1930s, the discursive affects of New Deal policy on different sections, and the later period of federal legislation that takes us into the 1940s, when historians see it going into more laissez-faire means to correct economic downturn.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 28.

- Major Problems, Chapter 8.

- Bradford A. Lee, “The New Deal Reconsidered,” The Wilson Quarterly 6.2 (Spring, 1982): 62-76.

- Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge England New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

- From the Fall, 2008 issue of International Labor and Working-Class History 74 (Fall, 2008): Scholarly Controversy: Rethinking the Place of the New Deal in American History.
- Jefferson Cowie and Nick Salvatore, “The Long Exception: Rethinking the Place of the New Deal in American History,” 3-32.
- Jennifer Klein, “A New Deal Restoration: Individuals, Communities, and the Long Struggle for the Collective Good,” 42-48.
- Nancy MacLean, “Getting New Deal History Wrong,” 49-55.


New Deal Era Labor and Civil Rights

With this lecture I want to bring in various scholarship on how various groups like organized labor, early civil rights activists, and more brought to bear the openings afforded by the New Deal and federal legislation to start a comprehensive social movement for community and democracy. Use here Kelley, Cohen, Korstad, and perhaps some stuff by Jeannie Whayne on how planters, on the other hand, could use things like allotments to displace their migrant labor force.

* Don West, Jacquelyn Hall, and Ray Faherty, “Oral History Interview with Don West, January 22, 1975,” Documenting the American South:

* Please print off your favorite excerpt from the excerpts section so that you can quote West, and give students a clear idea of what you were/are thinking.

- Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008).

- Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, "The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past," The Journal of American History 91, no. 4 (2005): pp. 1233-1263.

- Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

- Erik Gellman and Jarod Roll, “Owen Whitfield and the Gospel of the Working Class in New Deal America, 1936-1946,” The Journal of Southern History 72.2 (May, 2006): 303-348.

- Patricia Sullivan, Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

Week 10
Changes in the Land: Economic Change, Infrastructural Development, and American Regionalism


Agricultural Modernization

Here I want to bring in Daniels and company to talk about changes to various agricultural sectors from the late nineteenth into the mid-twentieth century, showing the affects of technological innovation, government policy, and migrant/immigrant labor on rural and agricultural regions. If I have time, I want to discuss a bit about how much life changed as a result of this in anticipation of Crews for Friday.

* Nate Shaw and Theodore Rosengarten, ed., All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), selections (supplied).

- Pete Daniel, Breaking the Land: The Transformation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Rice Cultures since 1880 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986).

- Alexander Yard, “'They Don't Regard My Rights at All': Arkansas Farm Workers, Economic Modernization, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union,” The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 47.3 (Autumn, 1988): 201-229.


Urbanization and Beyond

With this lecture I want to bring in literature by the likes of Tom Sugrue and Bruce Schulman to describe the changes in American and Southern economics and living patterns during the twentieth century. I want to ultimately raise the question here of regional distinctiveness in a country rapidly changing from an industrial and agricultural economy to a service-based economy. Perhaps use Cowie and Tami Friedman here, too (Hamilton/Moreton may be instructive, but probably a bit too late).

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 36.

- Tami J. Friedman, "Exploiting the North-South Differential: Corporate Power, Southern Politics, and the Decline of Organized Labor after World War II," Journal of American History 95 (2008): 323-348.

- Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

- Merda Sigmon Cobb and Carrie Sigmon Yelton, June, 1979 Oral History Interview by Jacquelyn Hall, Southern Oral History Program Collection:


Discussion: The Autobiography of Harry Crews

There are so many cool themes to play with in this book that it will be hard to focus, but I think I'll assign the whole (very short) autobiography to the class just to see what kinds of discussions we can generate. The main theme I want to focus on is the affects of allotment and moving to the city on the life of young Crews. Some of the most traumatic events of his life are a direct result of having to move out of Bacon County and into the big city (Jacksonville)--we can also use the fact that he moves into a rapidly industrializing town to discuss changes in Southern cities in the same time period.

* Harry Crews, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995), entire.

Week 11
World War II and

The Cold War


World War II and the Cold War

With this lecture I want to discuss briefly the war and in the international dimensions of its domestic ramifications, then I want to get into the Red Scare and the Cold War affecting things on the ground in the US. However, I want to do so in a way that demonstrates that if you play with boundaries and frameworks, the purge of communists is less of a totality than it's easy to assume (bring in Camacho here, Salt of the Earth, and so on).

* Tindall & Shi, Chapters 29, 31.

- Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil rights in Postwar New York City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003).

- Margot Canaday, “Building a Straight State: Sexuality and Social Citizenship under the 1944 G.I. Bill,” The Journal of American History 90.3 (December, 2003): 935-957.

- David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).

- Jeff Woods, Black Struggle, Red Scare: Segregation and Anti-Communism in the South, 1948-1968 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2004).


The Movements

With this lecture, I want to discuss early Civil Rights, the affect of World War II on black veterans, continued migration out of the South, and prepare students to talk about the modern Civil Rights Movement as one that emerged as part of a long struggle beginning as early (for the purposes of this course) as Reconstruction, rather than being the product of a Supreme Court decision or some sort of “revolutionary” baby boomer generation who came of age in the 1960s. Still, I want to also use this lecture to discuss the legislative victories of the black freedom struggle.

* William P. Jones, “The Unknown Origins of the March on Washington: Civil Rights Politics and the Black Working Class,” Labor 7.3 (2010): 33-52. (Note that this is required reading!)

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 30, only the section “Social Effects of the War.”

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 32 (entire).

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 33, only the section “The Early Years of the Civil Rights Movement.”

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 34, only the sections “Expansion of the Civil Rights Movement” and “From Civil Rights to Black Power”

- Major Problems, Chapters 12 and 13, particularly the essays by Harvard Sitkoff (chapter 12) and Kenneth Cmiel (chapter 13).

- Charles Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).


Discussion: Feminism, Civil Rights, and Labor

With this discussion I want to discuss early Betty Friedan as emerging from a vibrant labor movement, and tie that to early civil rights campaigns. I also want to pair it with a few documents by/about Maida Springer. This brings in Horowitz and gets us to talk about several things: how separate we can envision civil rights in its various forms (feminism, black freedom, and labor); the constraints placed on social movements and activists by anticommunism; and the international dimensions of these interconnected struggles.

* Bayard Rustin, Down the Line: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971), Introduction; “Feminism and Equality,” pp 325-326 (supplied).

* John d'Emilio, Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), Introduction, Chapter 9, (supplied).

- Yevette Richards, “African and African-American Labor Leaders in the Struggle over International Affiliation,” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 31.2 (1998): 301-334.

- Ann Z. Ziker, "Segregationists Confront American Empire: The Conservative White South and the Question of Hawaiian Statehood, 1947–1959," Pacific Historical Review Vol. 76, No. 3 (August 2007), pp. 439-466.

Week 12
President on Trial: Lyndon Baines Johnson


The Great Society: A New New Deal

I want to focus here on LBJ's positives, and the 1960s through these programs, including civil rights, healthcare and welfare, public spending on things like the North Carolina fund, and so on. I may add Bob and Jim's book to the list because of this.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 34, only the sections “The New Frontier, “The Expansion of the Civil Rights Movement,” and “Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society”

- American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver (2007), written, produced, and directed by Bruce Orenstein.

- Robert Korstad and Jim Leloudis, To Right These Wrongs: The North Carolina Fund and the Battle to End Poverty and Inequality in 1960s America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).


The Vietnam War

With this, I'm going to talk about the latter part of the 1960s, but chiefly through LBJ's war in Vietnam, the increasing congressional and public hostility to the conflict, and so on.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 34, only the sections, “Foreign Frontiers,” “From Civil Rights to Black Power,” “The Tragedy of Vietnam,” and “Sixties Crescendo”

* Robert MacNamara, James Blight, and Robert Brigham, “Cold War Blinders and the Tragedy of Vietnam,” in Major Problems, Chapter 14.

- Scott Laderman, “Hollywood's Vietname, 1929-1964: Scripting Intervention, Spotlighting Injustice,” Pacific Historical Review 78.4 (November, 2009): 578-607.

- If you're really interested in the Vietnam War, check out the 2006 published internet discussion of a group of historians on the legacies of the conflict and historiographical trends as of 2006: “Interchange, Legacies of the Vietnam War,” The Journal of American History 93.2 (September, 2006): 452-490.


Discussion: Lyndon Johnson, A Legacy on Trial

The discussion for this week is what it's all about. I want to use this week as a fun exercise to hold a mock trial for LBJ's legacy. I first want to ask students their initial thoughts on him that Monday, and take a few notes that I later read back before arguments are given for and against by folks on different sides of the room. With the documents I give, I essentially want the students to think about why it's important to incorporate a wide variety of voices when making analytical conclusions like the efficacy of programs like the War on Poverty—it depends on entirely on where you look and who you ask. At the end, we'll tally up the score and relative merits of each argument and make a decision!

* Rescan the week's required readings.

* Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, eds., Major Problems in American History since 1945 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007), Chapter 6, Documents 1, 3, and 4; Chapter 8, Documents 1, 2, 5, and 6 (supplied).

* Major Problems, Chapter 14, Documents 3 and 6.

- “War on Poverty: From the Great Society to the Great Recession,” American RadioWorks, poverty/index.html

- Sandra Scanlon, “'That Bitch of a War': Lyndon B. Johnson and Vietnam,” History Ireland 16.3 (May-June, 2008): 42-46.

Week 13
The Right


Nixon's Times

Here I want to talk about Nixon and the political crises around his administration, as well as the black power era of the black freedom struggle. This week will serve, it bears reminding, as kind of a foil for next week. I setup the dominant narrative here and trouble it with the final week's theme. I also want to talk about new trends in capital development—that is, how capital begins migrating South to Memphis, then to Mexico and into the world, restricting labor rights at home and abroad.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 37.

- Major Problems, Chapter 14, especially Documents 9 and 10.

- “The Great Textbook War – Books and Beliefs: The Kanawha County Textbook Wars,” American RadioWorks, features/textbooks/books_and_beliefs.html

- Jefferson Cowie, "Nixon's Class Struggle: Romancing the New Right Worker, 1969-1973," Labor History 43:3 (2002): 257–83.

- Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, “Sunbelt Boosterism: Industrial Recruitment, Economic Development, and Growth Politics in the Developing Sunbelt,” in Sunbelt Rising: The Politics of Place, Space, and Region (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), pp. 1-57.
- See also Matthew Lassiter's contribution in the same volume, “Big Government and Family Values: Political Culture in the Metropolitan Sunbelt,” pp. 82-109.


Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and the Right

With this lecture I want to give the classical story of the rise of neo-liberal, economic-minded conservatives with Reagan's second electoral victory as the crescendo. Again, I'm thinking here about next week and, to an extent, Friday. I also want to bring in here a bit on Hamilton and Moreton, and the rise of new forms of mercantile business practices. (Korstad and Lichtenstein here.)

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 36.

- Major Problems, Chapter 15, especially the essays.

- Jefferson Cowie, Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001).

- Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2009).


Discussion: The Not-So-Rightward Turn

With this section I want to begin challenging the rightward turn literature's overly-played hand by introducing students to MacLean's introduction and a few documents troubling the narrative of the black power movement as purely violent, and so on—this section leads in nicely with the next week, which will go back a bit and talk about the long history of progressive reform that continues into the present.

* “TRIALS: Joan Little's Story,” Time Magazine, August 25, 1975 (supplied).

* Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Speech Delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., February 14, 1978, American RadioWorks,

- “Attica Prison Riot: Memories Strong after 40 Years,” Democrat and Chronicle: section/attica

- Dennis Deslippe, “'We Must Bring Together a New Coalition': The Challenge of Working-Class White Ethnics to Color-Blind Conservatism in the 1970s,” International Labor and Working-Class History 74 (Fall, 2008): 148-170.

- Nancy MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Work Place (New York Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2006).

- Annelise Orleck, Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought their Own War on Poverty (Boston: Beacon Press, 2005).

Week 14
The Uninterrupted Radical Past


Discusison: Feminism, Gay Liberation, Labor, and Civil Rights

This discussion incorporates a ton of the previous authors ranging from the 1940s to the present to discuss the combined histories of gay rights, civil rights, labor unionism, and women's rights. The goal of this lecture again is to play with geography and inclusion in a way that troubles the narrative of the Rise of the Right.

* Kitty Krupat, “Out of Labor's Dark Age: Sexual Politics Comes to the Workplace,” Social Text 61 (Winter, 1999): 9-29.

* Elsa Barkley Brown, “'What Has Happened Here': The Politics of Difference in Women's History and Feminist Politics,” Feminist Studies 18 (Summer, 1992): 293-312.


Reaganomics, the Nineties, and NAFTA

We're nearing the end here, so I want to incorporate this lecture as a gloss on the 1980s and Reagan's political and international victories that facilitated his sweeping reelection and Bush's election. Then I want to bring us up to the late 1990s, discussing globalization and global social movements. I also want to touch a bit here on Rodney King and modern race relations, but we'll be saving that mostly for the last day, when we discuss the carceral state.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 37.

* John Biewen, “After Welfare,” American RadioWorks,


Discussion: Globalization and Modern Economics

With this section I want to analyze several key documents around three things: 1) the creation of increasingly difficult national borders to cross for individuals and laborers, using selections from Ngai and perhaps some testimony from Camacho's book; 2) the legislative relaxation of obligations and regulations of corporations to the United States, its employees, and its communities; 3) the increasing ease by which capital crosses borders. I may try to find a good documentary here instead of trying to find three or four documents to cover these all...

* Chris Farrel and John Biewen, “Global 3.0,” American RadioWorks, features/global30/

* Assignment: read and send to me a (substantial) article in any publication about globalization, American economics, global capitalism, etc., and be prepared to share the details within with the class. I may call on you if discussion slows down.

Week 15


Discussion: The Carceral State and the New Jim Crow

With this discussion I just want to read Heather Thompson's article on the subject and perhaps assign a news article or two from several sources I've kept handy describing the penal process for the impoverished, the wayward, and ethnic and racial minorities. I may also cap it off with something on voter ID and felony disfranchisement in the new century, to get us back to the original Jim Crow. The point I want to emphasize is that old inequalities find new ways to proliferate in globalized worlds that seem to lack regional specificity to certain problems. I want students to understand that poverty and injustice aren't just southern problems and never have been. They were always American problems.

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “Serving Time: A History of American Punishment,”

* Heather Ann Thompson, “Blinded by a 'Barbaric' South: Prison Horrors, Inmate Abuse, and the Ironic History of American Penal Reform,” in Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino, ed., The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), Chapter 3 (supplied).

- Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010).


Course Wrap Up: The Unfinished Business of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Democracy

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