History 10B: The United States of America from the Gilded Age through the Cold War

FDR meets coal miner

Franklin Roosevelt talks with a coal miner during the presidential election of 1932

Welcome to History 10B: The United States from the Gilded Age through the Cold War. Through the quarter, we’ll be exploring the United States’ bumpy road to modernity. The course begins with the end of Reconstruction, and continues with the Gilded Age, the dawn of US imperialism, the Progressive Era, the First World War, the 1920s, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the Second World War, McCarthyism, the 1960s, and concludes with end of the Cold War.

The class meets at Humanities Lecture Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1:45 pm.

Contact your teaching assistants: Amanda Wilson Bergado, Muiris MacGiollabhui, Edward Smyth

Readings and syllabus


Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! Volume 2 (3rd or 4th edition is fine)
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows
Burdick and Lederer, The Ugly American
Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl


Sections do not start until week two; please don’t go to sections until week two, unless you like hanging around in empty rooms by yourself.

Week 1: March 31 and April 2
The “Weird and Ghastly” Late Nineteenth Century
Give Me Liberty!, chapters 15 and 16
Looking Backward, entire book

Book question 1: Based on your reading of Looking Backward, what was Edward Bellamy’s critique of the world of Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller? Why do you think that Bellamy’s vision of the future was so popular in the late 19th-century? Would you want to live in Bellamy’s utopia? This essay will be due on week 3.

A guide to how to write the papers can be found here.

Online readings:

The People’s Party Omaha Platform of 1892; Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth; the Exodusters; the Pullman Strike

Week 1 PowerPoint sides

Week 2: April 7 and 9
The Progressive Empire
Give Me Liberty! chapters 17 and 18
The Souls of Black Folk, entire book

Book question 2: What was W.E.B. Du Bois’ strategy for uplifting black America? How did he disagree with Booker T. Washington’s strategy? Do you see any weaknesses in Du Bois’ “talented tenth” philosophy? To what extent does Du Bois’ concept of “two-ness” apply to everyone in American life? This essay will be due on week 4.

Online readings: The “Black Man’s Burden”; Eugene Debs on the “Monstrous System”; Ida Tarbell: “History of the Standard Oil Company”; John Harlan, dissent to Plessy versus Ferguson, 1896

Week 2 PowerPoint slides

Week 3: April 14 and 16
The Great War and its Consequences
Give Me Liberty!, chapter 19

Week 3 PowerPoint sides

Section discussion question: Why do you think that during the War to Save Democracy we almost lost democracy at home?

Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points speech; the Montana Sedition Project

Essay for Bellamy due in section.

Week 4: April 21 and 23
Anything but Normal: The 1920s
Give Me Liberty!, chapter 20
Barton, The Man Nobody Knows, entire book

Week 4 PowerPoint sides

Clarence Darrow cross examines William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Trial, Monday July 10, 1925

Book question 3: Historians, citing Prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan, see the 1920s as a revolt against modern urban life. Others, citing the Harlem Renaissance and emergence of radio and other technologies, see it as the dawn of modernism. How does Bruce Barton’s Man Nobody Knows fit into the picture? This essay is due on Week 5.

Essay for Du Bois due in section.

Thursday—Short answer quiz in lecture hall (10 minutes at start of class). Quiz will focus on Foner chapters 16 through 18.

Week 5: April 28 and 30
The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War

Give Me Liberty!, chapters 21 and 22

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Fireside Chat on Banking (March 12, 1933)

Week 5 PowerPoint slides and more Week 5 PowerPoint slides

Section discussion question: In what ways did Franklin Roosevelt’s approach to World War II differ from Woodrow Wilson’s approach to World War I? How were they similar?

Essay for Barton due in section.

Week 6: May 5 and 7
Cold War America

Give Me Liberty!, chapter 23
The Ugly American, entire book

The Nixon/Khrushchev “Kitchen Debate” (1959)

Week 6 PowerPoint slides

Book question 4: What makes the “Ugly American” ugly in the minds of the Burdick and Lederer? Do you think that the authors have a point? Do you find their supposedly un-ugly Americans more attractive? This essay is due on week 7.

Mid-term Examination, Thursday May 7

Week 7: May 12 and 14
The Semi-Affluent Society
Give Me Liberty!, chapter 24

Week 7 PowerPoint slides

Section discussion question: Who missed out on the “Affluent Society”? And why?

Book question essay 4 (Burdick and Lederer) due.

Week 8: May 19 and 21
The Sixties Era / Fade In
Give Me Liberty!, chapter 25
Brown, Sex and the Single Girl 

Week 8 PowerPoint slides

Book question:
 Can Helen Gurley Brown’s book be understood as a feminist text? By your definition of feminism, how not and how so? Essay due on week 9.

Students defying Jim Crow segregation in Greensboro, North Carolina, 1960

Week 9: May 26 and 28
The Sixties Era / Fade Out

Give Me Liberty!, chapter 25 (continued)

Week 9 PowerPoint slides

Section discussion question: How did the movement of the early 1960s evolve through the later 1960s? What problems challenged the unity and idealism of the years before 1965? How did the Vietnam war influence these changes?

Essay for Brown, Sex and the Single Girl due.

Quiz on Thursday; Foner chapters 21 through 25

Week 10: June 2 and 4

Right Turn
Give Me Liberty!, chapter 26

Section discussion question: How did Ronald Reagan and his supporters borrow from the rhetoric and values of The Sixties to win public support for their “revolution”?

Week 10 PowerPoint slides

Final examination:  Monday, June 8, 7:30–10:30 p.m; Study guide here; please note: This date is firm. Barring personal emergencies involving your health or the health of your family, I cannot reschedule your final.


This course has four requirements: a mid-term, a final examination, five book response papers, and the completion of quizzes.

Book response papers

Over the course of the quarter you will be required to write five two page papers for your section. These papers will respond to questions posed about the five advocacy books that you will read for the class. Each of these books was a best-seller in its time, very controversial, and remains an important document to the present. Your teaching assistant will grade these response papers.

The papers will be graded on the clarity with which they respond to the questions, and their quality of presentation. Papers with lots of grammatical errors and misspelled words will lose substantial credit. Papers that focus on the questions in a clear way will do well.

Please do not plagiarize on these papers. UC Santa Cruz’s definition of plagiarism can be found here. If I catch you plagiarizing I will  flunk you and turn you over to the Provost of your College.

A guide to how to write the papers can be found here.

The rest of the time in section you will discuss all of your readings, including the online readings posted on the syllabus, and Eric Foner’s book Give Me Liberty!


The mid-term and final examinations will be the same. You will be given essay questions in advance for both the midterm and the final. When you show up for each test, some of those questions will be on the exam. You’ll pick one to answer as a detailed essay. In addition, there will be identifications: seven on the mid-term and on the final. You will describe five of them in a paragraph of three or four sentences. The essay will be worth 50 percent of your grade; the identifications 10 points each.

The exams will be based on your textbook, online readings, non-fiction book readings, and my lectures and presentation slides, which I will post on the syllabus for you to download.


In-lecture hall quizzes will be held during the quarter. You will have 10 minutes to complete each quiz. They will each consist of 10 multiple choice questions, based upon your textbook, Give Me Liberty!

Evaluation Criteria (for Spring 2015)

The mid-term will be worth 30 percent of your grade, the final 25 percent, your quiz five points each, the section papers worth 25 percent, and section participation another fifteen percent.

Attendance at lecture is mandatory. Please do not use cell phones during lecture. Only DRC students may use laptops or record class lectures. Students who miss more than one section place themselves at risk of receiving a substantially lower grade or failing the class, unless they have a documented medical or personal emergency.