Page 1:Immigration historians sometime call the years from 1814 to 1924 the Century of Immigration (though that timeframe was actually 110 years). Our concern here is roughly the first half of that time, ca. 1814 to the 1860s, when immigrants comprised roughly one-eighth of the population, similar to that of today. Irish and Germans were foremost in that time, but there were immigrants from many places. In this discussion, either discuss the overall causes of immigration in that time or pick one group and discuss the general reasons for its immigration and the problems that it faced in coming here. Base your study and comments on Chapter 8, Unit VI or use google, such as “Irish Immigration” and discuss the experience of one group, the British, Irish, Germans, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans, Chinese, or any other group. What was their individual experience? Keep in mind that many Americans today believe that “my forebears came from such and such a country, they abandoned the old ways completely, learned English as fast as they could, didn’t live by themselves, assimilated quickly, stayed out of trouble, never left, never sent an money out of the country, and became 100% Americans, as opposed to immigrants today.” To what degree is that belief true?
Page 2: Aside from politics per se, the Age of Jackson is also known for reform in many quarters of American society – many of them discussed in Chapter 10 of The American Yawp. In this module’s discussion, focus on one of the following. 1) Discuss the assumptions that lay behind the reform movements of the antebellum years. What methods and procedures did the reformers use, and what were their “ultimate objectives?” OR 2) pick one focus of Jacksonian reform or one person involved in a particular reform, research this reform or individual on google, and present an analysis or discussion for us. In your analysis, discuss to what degree the reformers were successful.
Page 3: Let’s take a look at American art in this era, notably the so-called Hudson River School, an art movement that arose in this time and flourished through the latter part of the century. Google “the Hudson River School” to find a fine website with many links (mostly to male artists) on Wikipedia and also google Hudson River School Women Artists to find women artists in that tradition. Also google Helen Henderson Chain. What were the origins of this artistic movement and what did its artists, male and female, seek to achieve? To what degree were they successful? Pick one artist of interest to you and tell us about him or her.
Page 4: What caused the American Civil War is the single most debated subject in American history, and it has produced some of the finest works in American historiography. What indeed caused the war? Slavery, western expansion, economic issues, constitutional issues (i.e. states rights vs. federal supremacy over the states), the extension of slavery into new territory, secession itself, mass panic, other issues, or some of these but not others? Discuss your views and position on the cause(s) of the war – a war that claimed about 625,000 lives (more than in all other American wars put together) and which caused damage so great in one region (the South) that it would not recover until the massive spending for World War II nearly a century later.
Page 5: So that we may compare and contrast interviews, please post a one or two paragraph synopsis of your interview in the Threaded Discussion area. Feel free to comment on any others there and to compare and contrast what you found with that of other students. As we complete this research assignment, we want to develop a group of experiences from a cross-section of American society and compare this to the immigrant experience in early-to-mid-19th century America, a time when the percentage of immigrants was roughly the same as it is today and when controversy over it was growing powerfully.
Page 6: Go to the website www.paulreverehouse.org and research the life and times of Paul Revere. What do you find so surprising about his background, career, and the famous ride in 1775? What do we learn about 18th and early 19th centuries? How does his larger career mark a growing shift from merchant capitalism to industrial capitalism in the early republic?
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