WHAT ROLE DID THE GOVERNMENT PLAY IN DEFINING, PROTECTING, AND/OR LIMITING THE LIBERTY OF AMERICAN WORKERS DURING THE GILDED AGE?
Part 2 Essay Questions:
1 – What did freedom mean for the ex-slaves? Be sure to address economic opportunities, gender roles, religious independence, and family security.
2 – Reconstruction witnessed profound changes in the lives of southerners, black and white, rich and poor. Explain the various ways that the lives of these groups changed. Were the changes for the better or worse?
3 – Stating that he “lived among men, not among angels,” Thaddeus Stevens recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment was not perfect. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of the Fourteenth Amendment. What liberties and freedoms did it extend in the nineteenth century—and to whom? How did it alter the relationship between the federal government and the states?
4 – Who were the Redeemers, what did they want, and what were their methods? How did the Redeemers feel that their freedom was being threatened by Radical Reconstruction? Conclude your essay with a comment on how you think the federal government should have responded to the Redeemers.
5 – Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Or was it something in between? In your response, consider land policy, key legislation during Presidential and Radical Reconstruction, southern politics, racial and political violence, and northern “fatigue” with Reconstruction. Be sure to make clear what you mean by success and failure.
6 – The debate surrounding the creation and ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment divided one-time political allies over the matter of women’s suffrage. What were the arguments for and against including a woman’s right to vote in the Fifteenth Amendment? What did this debate say about the boundaries of freedom defined by Reconstruction?
7 – What role did the government play in defining, protecting, and/or limiting the liberty of American workers during the Gilded Age?
8 – Henry Demarest Lloyd wrote in Wealth against Commonwealth (1864), “Liberty and monopoly cannot live together.” Based on your knowledge of the Gilded Age and the industrial revolution, assess the validity of this statement.
9 – How did the labor movement launch a sustained assault on the understanding of freedom grounded in Social Darwinism and in the liberty of contract?
10 – Compare the motives and methods of the various social reformers active in the Gilded Age. How did the efforts of thinkers such as Henry George, Laurence Gronlund, and Edward Bellamy differ from those of the Protestant and Social Gospel reformers of the period? Were any of these approaches more successful than others? Why, or why not?