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Discussion United States History II


Week One Open Forum (I will send you copies of the textbook chapters 1,2 &3)

Prepare: Take a few minutes to think about the material that we’ve covered in this course so far.
Reflect: Reflect on what you found interesting, surprising, or confusing in this past week. Did anything that you learned cause you to understand an issue and event differently? Have you discovered any habits or tips that help you to complete your course work more effectively or efficiently?
Write: This discussion forum is an opportunity for you to explore topics that interest you, share critical insights and questions that you are working with, share your struggles and triumphs, and discuss difficulties that may have arisen this week, hopefully finding solutions. Your initial post should describe your experiences in the course this past week, prompting further discussion. You should address at least two of the following questions:

  • What struck you in particular as you explored the course materials this week?
  • What insights have you had?
  • What have you been struggling with?
  • What questions have come up for you at this point?
  • Do you have any helpful tips that you’ve picked up in this course or in a past course?
  • Do you have questions about the assignment that your classmates might be able to help with? (If you have a question for the instructor, be sure to contact your instructor through email or in the Ask Your Instructor Forum).

You are required to post at least 100 total words in this forum this week. You can post one time or ten times, the only requirements are that you post at least 100 words total and that you engage in conversation related to course content. Ask questions, answer questions, provide extra resources you found that are interesting, or engage in a debate about something you learned this week. The only requirement is that your comments have to relate to the course content.

Provide a full explanation of the issues that you discuss in your posts. For example, if you write that you had difficulty finding sources for your Final Project, explain where in the process of finding sources you had difficulty. Was it choosing a database to search? Thinking of search terms? Did your search return too many sources that were not relevant to your topic? Did your search return too few results?

Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  1. Analyze American social conflict related to race, ethnicity, and gender during the last half of the 19th century.
  2. Identify ways that Americans attempted to secure their place in the social hierarchy of the last half of the 1800s.
  3. Explain how different groups of Americans responded to the rise of big business and industrial capitalism.
  4. Summarize the socioeconomic changes which the United States experienced in the last quarter of the 19th century.


By 1877, the United States had weathered the Civil War and Reconstruction. Although there was a concerted effort on the part of Northern Republicans and African Americans to establish social, political, and legal equality for African Americans, that effort largely failed, leaving African Americans as a distinct underclass, facing segregation and discrimination in all facets of life. However, African Americans were not the only group struggling under the weight of inequality. American women were also fighting to be recognized as full citizens, pushing for the right to vote (suffrage) as well as legal and social independence.

The last half of the 1800s also saw the rapid expansion of industrial capitalism. New forms of business arose that allowed a few prominent men to grow exceptionally wealthy on the backs, so many Americans believed, of exploited workers and farmers. More than perhaps any other industry, the railroad business aroused the fears and resentments of many Americans, who deplored its financial prospects and it’s seemingly corrupt influence over American politics. Native Americans on the Great Plains suffered greatly from the expansion of railroads, but farmers in the region, too, saw it as an enemy and organized against it as the Populist Party in the 1890s.

The economic expansion attracted huge numbers of immigrants. Fleeing poor economic prospects and violence and hoping to find their fortunes in the United States, the immigrants instead often found dirty and over-crowded tenements, dangerous working conditions, and wages that were too low to survive on. The immigrants of this period differed from those in the past in their countries of origin as well as in religious beliefs and cultural practices. Viewed with hostility by many Americans, the new immigrants of the late 19th century also found themselves struggling against discrimination to establish themselves in their new homeland. 

This week, we’ll look at the challenges faced by African Americans, Native Americans, women, and immigrants as they worked for equality and the chance to enjoy the promised opportunities of American society. We will also examine the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s, considering the social, cultural, and economic outcomes of such a radical upheaval.

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