Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Back of Your Hand" Thematic Essay Topics

If you know these ten topics, you'll be able to write good essays about almost any thematic essay that's given to you!  Know them like the back of your hand!

Back of your hand topics:
Louisiana Purchase
Homestead Act/Transcontinental RR
Slavery/abolitionism/Civil War
Progressivism/The Jungle
New immigrants
New Deal
Atomic/nuclear energy
MLK/Brown v. Board
Korematsu v. U.S.

Louisiana Purchase
Historical background: early 1800s
-Jefferson was president
-U.S.’s western border was Mississippi River, but farmers wanted to be able to expand
-Louisiana Territory was controlled by France, as was the port of New Orleans
-Napoleon ruled France and wanted to sell Louisiana to pay off his debts

-Jefferson decided to buy entire Louisiana Territory for $15 million
-He made the deal, even though the Constitution didn’t give him explicit power to do so—example of loose interpretation of the Constitution

-doubled the size of the U.S.A.
-gave U.S. full control of Mississippi River and port of New Orleans
-Lewis and Clark were sent to explore the new territory
-Pioneering farmers moved west
-Fueled a belief in manifest destiny that later led to Texas Annexation, Mexican War, etc.

Homestead Act/Transcontinental RR
Historical background:
Manifest destiny: U.S. got land from Atlantic to Pacific
Acquired land through La. Purchase, Mexican War, Texas Annexation, treaty for Oregon

Western land has:
Raw materials, land for farming, Native Americans, buffalo

Govt. action: Homestead Act
-Govt. gives land to people who will pay an application fee and farm land for 5 years
Pacific Railway Act
-Govt. gives money to help build transcontinental RR

-Native Americans forced to leave homes, forced onto reservations, loss of buffalo, Dawes Act forces them to assimilate
-farmers get new land and grow food
-people move west
-western cities develop
-more territories become states
-railroads formed monopolies
-farmers lost money and started Granger Movement

Slavery, abolitionism, Civil War
Slavery: Africans were enslaved in America since colonial times, transported from Africa via Middle Passage route in inhumane conditions, auctioned when they arrived, labored on plantations, grew rice and cotton, whipped and beaten, denied the ability to read and write

Causes of Civil War:
Sectionalism: North industrialized and depended less on slave labor, while the South became more dependent on slaves and plantations when the cotton gin made cotton production easier.
Abolitionism: Frederick Douglass (book), Harriet Tubman (Underground RR), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) fought to end slavery in USA
Slavery in territories: N & S competed over expansion of slavery into territories, compromises (Missouri, 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act) were meant to keep peace between N & S, but Dred Scott decision forced North to accept slavery in all territories
States’ rights: South said federal govt. was intruding on their power
Election of Lincoln: Republican

Lincoln’s actions during war:
-fought war to preserve and protect Union
-made Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in states in rebellion, thereby making abolition a goal of the Civil War

13th Amendment—abolished slavery
Presidential Reconstruction—lenient treatment of South led to black codes
14th and 15th Amendments—gave blacks citizenship, equal protection of laws, suffrage
End of Reconstruction-->Jim Crow laws

Progressivism/The Jungle
Historical circumstances:
U.S. industrialized after Civil War
-corporations grew and became monopolies and trusts led by “robber barons” (Carnegie, Rockefeller) who charged high prices and paid low wages
-Immigrants moved to USA to work in factories and live in tenements
-Cities grew and became overcrowded, unsanitary, and politically corrupt
-Manufactured products included unhealthy ingredients (e.g. pharmaceuticals that were mainly alcohol or cocaine)

Action of reformer:
Muckraker Upton Sinclair went undercover to a meatpacking factory in Chicago.
His book, The Jungle, exposed the unsanitary conditions and poor treatment of workers.

Many people read book, including Pres. T. Roosevelt.  He supported the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act (required accurate labeling of products and regulation of industry by FDA)
This was part of a larger Progressive Movement, in which the govt. took responsibility for regulating industry, public health, corrupt politics, etc.  Other reformers included: Jacob Riis, Ida Tarbell, Jane Addams, Mother Jones, Alice Paul, etc.

New Immigrants
Historical circumstances that led to immigration:
Push factors: civil wars in home countries, poverty, crowded/poor land, persecution
Pull factors: factory jobs (industrialization), economic opportunity, prosperity
Time period: late 1800s, early 1900s
From: S+E Europe: Greece, Italy, Armenia, Russia

Immigrants move to tenements
--dirty, crowded, unsanitary, poor sewage treatment, 10 people per room
How the Other Half Lives—book of photos and facts about immigrant life in the Lower East Side of NYC
Economic: long hours, low wages, child labor, unsanitary conditions, meatpacking factories from The Jungle, Triangle Shirtwaist fire
Political: nativism, opposed for cultural differences “failure to assimilate,” argument for quotas—limits on immigration
-Chinese Exclusion Act
-Quota Acts of 1921 and 1924—after WW1, Red Scare—communism
Sacco and Vanzetti trial

Historical circumstances:
Problems with drinking: domestic violence, inability to provide for family, religious opposition
Temperance movement: people first tried to get friends and family to stop drinking so much
Examples: Washingtonian Society, Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)

Govt. Action:
18th Amendment prohibited alcohol in the U.S.—1919

-Bootleggers, moonshine, bathtub gin, speakeasies
-Organized crime: Mafia and other groups step in to provide alcohol—increased crime, violent crime, gangs, etc.
-21st Amendment repealed Prohibition in 1930s
-Unpopular laws that try to legislate morality are difficult to enforce

New Deal
Historical circumstances:
Great Depression
--caused by stocks being bought on margin, overproduction, stock market crash, risky behavior by banks and in stock market
--Hoovervilles, extreme poverty, bank runs and bank failures, Hoover blankets, unemployment at 25%, hunger, foreclosure of home, lower birth rate, marital stress, suicide
--Dust Bowl: drought and overfarming in Great Plains lead to Dust Bowl, famine, poverty for farmers, migration to California

Govt. actions:
--led by FDR
--Relief: CCC, money for needy families
--Recovery: AAA
--Reform: FDIC, Social Security, SEC, National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act)

-Fed govt. took greater responsibility for well-being of Americans
-Power of fed. govt. and president grew
-Deficit spending was accepted (govt. borrows money to spend and support economy during recession)
-Great Depression didn’t end until WW2

Korematsu v. U.S.
Historical circumstances:
World War II:
Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  US declared war
-US suspected Japanese Americans of espionage (spying), despite NO EVIDENCE that J-A were spying
-FDR issued an executive order that J-A on the West Coast would be put in internment camps for national security
-Motivated by security but also by nativism/racism

Court decision:
Korematsu disguised himself and was arrested
-He sued, saying his 14th Amendment right to equal protection was violated
-Court said internment WAS CONSTITUTIONAL
-Justification: In times of war, civil liberties can be limited for national security

-J-A were released after war
-1980s: U.S. Congress officially apologized and J-As and their families were given $20,000 each

Atomic/Nuclear Energy
Historical circumstances/causes:
·        Manhattan Project: government research to create atomic bomb
·        During WW2 Einstein warned FDR that Hitler might build a bomb
·        Bomb uses uranium and plutonium-radioactive
·        1945 the US created an atomic bomb and told Truman

Decision: Truman ordered bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Positive effects:
·        ended WW2—Japan surrendered
·        saved American lives that would have been lost in Japanese invasion
·        prevented future wars
·        used for nuclear power plants

Negative effects:
·        Deaths of thousands of Japanese
·        Radiation poisoning
·        Arms race cost millions of dollars
US is only country to drop atomic bomb on humans

MLK/Brown v. Board
Historical background:
-segregation—Jim Crow laws
-“separate but equal” was acceptable according to Plessy v. Ferguson
-economic: poor sharecropping—blacks work plots of land, and they pay a share of their crop as rent
-political: literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clause kept blacks from voting
-terrorized by Ku Klux Klan
-Jim Crow South: 1877-1960s

-Brown v. Board: 14th Amendment requires equal protection of laws, so school segregation must be unconstitutional (NAACP argued the case)
-nonviolent resistance/civil disobedience: led by MLK
Montgomery Bus Boycott, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, demonstrations, March on Washington—“I Have a Dream”

-integration of schools, buses, public facilities, etc.
-Civil Rights Act of 1964: bans Jim Crow
-Voting Rights Act of 1965: bans literacy tests
-24th Amendment: bans poll taxes
-affirmative action: minorities receive advantage in job apps and colleges

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