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U.S. History from Reconstruction to the Present
HI 112 PL
Summer II 2022
Assignment 4 (Final) due Monday 22 August (30%)
All rewrites must be submitted by Monday 29 August
Over the course of the semester you will write a series of essays regarding the major themes
of the course. The majority of successful essays have been five to ten pages (5-10 pp) in
length, but this one will almost certainly be longer given the cumulative component. It
will be almost impossible to fully answer the question in less than five to seven pages (typed,
double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font recommended) but please try not to exceed
fifteen pages.
As a reminder, on the essays I provide numerous questions to guide you through each of the
essays, but please do not simply answer the questions point for point. The ultimate goal is to
write cohesive essays not compile a set of fragments. Please therefore provide an
introduction and conclusion to each essay. You are strongly encouraged to write (or at least
re-write) your introduction AT THE END, so that they actually introduce the essay you have
completed. In addition, you will not cover all of the sub-themes equally but you will decide
which are the most important points to cover IN ORDER TO make the most effective
arguments.
You are expected to make arguments, which requires that all ideas are logically coherent and
are supported with evidence. Without evidence you are only making assertions, which
cannot be properly evaluated. Without logic and coherence, you are simply rambling. Any
argument will be considered, as long it is coherent and supported by specific historical
evidence. Deal with one topic per paragraph, use topic sentences and the active voice. See
below for guidance:
http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html
You are expected to review all of the sources and all sections of the textbook in order to
understand the issues, although for analytic clarity you will focus on some sections and but a
few sources. The most successful essays will use sources from BOTH Yawp/Boyer AND
Cobbs. That said, the greatest emphasis should be on the primary sources and interpretive
essays from Major Problems.
No matter what, you are primarily answering the central question of the essay. This
assignment will answer what did the civil rights movement achieve to the 1980s, how we
explain and assess the Right Turn of the 1980s, and what were the foreign policy and
domestic challenges of the 90s and then the 21st century providing specific historical
evidence. Finally, you are asked to write a cumulative essay.
REMEMBER that the cumulative essay, covering material from @1877 to @2022, is
40% of the assignment and so almost 15 percent of the total course grade, so give it the
time it deserves
Affluence and Civil Rights (30%)
IF YAWP
Chapter 26 “The Affluent Society”
Chapter 27 “The Sixties” especially sections on “The Civil Rights Movement Continues,”
“Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society” and “Beyond Civil Rights”
Chapter 28 “The Unraveling” especially sections on “Racial, Social and Cultural
Anxieties,” and “Politics of Love, Sex and Gender”
Chapter 29 “The Triumph of the Right” especially “African American Life in Reagan’s
America”
Chapter 30 “The Recent Past” especially “Great Recession” and “New Horizons”
IF BOYER
Boyer, Chapter 27, “Midcentury,”
Boyer, Chapter 28, “Liberalism” (esp. “The Continuing Struggle for Black Equality”)
Boyer, Chapter 29, “Upheaval” (esp. “Divided Nation, Crises at Home”)
Boyer, Chapter 30, “End of the Cold War” (esp. “Divided Nation, Crises at Home”)
Boyer, Chapter 31, “Changing Nation” (esp. “Divided Nation, Crises at Home”)
Cobbs and Gjerde, “Affluence”
“Intro, Fourth of July, College Women, Perfect Wife, Other America, Friedan”
Coontz, “Way We Never Were (3d ed)”
“Intro, Security Risks, Perfect Wife, Harlem Disc Jockey, Friedan”
May, “Nuclear Cocoon (4th ed)”
Cobbs and Gjerde, “Civil Rights”
“Introduction, Brown v Board, Rosa Parks, Self-Defense, Equality, la Raza, Alcatraz (3d
ed)”
“Introduction, Segregation, Fanon, Brown v Board, Southern Congressmen, Church
Bombing, Freedom of Marriage, Alcatraz, Chicanas (4th ed)”
Cobbs and Gjerde, “New Right”
“Introduction, Brown v Board, Rosa Parks, Self-Defense, Equality, la Raza, Alcatraz (3d
ed)”
“Introduction, Schlafly (3d and 4th ed)”
Carter, “The Politics of Race and the New Right,” (3d ed)
1. What did the civil rights movements of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s achieve?
Why did these profoundly positive (in terms of equality, freedom and
democracy) social changes of the 1950s to 1970s generate SO MUCH anxiety and
resistance? What was life like for African Americans in the 1980s and 1990s? In
the 21st century? What changed? What stayed the same? Have me moved
backwards or stalled on racial equity since the 1980s? (30%)
The U.S. experienced unprecedented prosperity in the generation after WWII, and in this
context oppressed groups fought and struggled to improve their lives and force the nation
to protect their rights. Others resisted these changes and, as in the 1920s, many of the
struggles were over race and sex. What were the realities of life in the 1950s for black
and white families, as well as women, Latinos, Native Americans and “homosexuals?”
Discuss the foundations of the Civil Rights Movements for oppressed racial and ethnic
groups and for women. Why was black power, defined broadly, so popular among
blacks, and so unpopular among whites (including some of those who supported black
rights overall)? Why was feminism so resisted by many, including white women?
Finally, how did rising economic inequality from the 1980s, mass incarceration from the
1990s, the 2000s financial crisis, etc affect the realities of lives of the poor, including
those of color.
The primary sources reflect a wide variety of movements and issues. Integrate them into
the analysis—to do that, feel free to adapt the essay accordingly. Feel free to delve
deeper into issues in which you are particularly interested.
2. What did Conservatives (and others) believe went wrong during the 1960s and
1970s? How do we define and assess the New Right into the 1980s and 90s and
beyond? (20%)?
Cobbs, Chapter 15, “The Rise of the New Right (3d ed)”
Cobbs, Chapter 14, “The Emergence of the New Right (4th ed)”
IF YAWP
Chapter 28 “The Unraveling”
Chapter 29 “The Triumph of the Right”
IF BOYER
Boyer, Chapter 30, “Conservative Revival”
Disenchantment with the real and apparent failures of the 70s led to the “Right Turn”
which at heart rejected much of what defined the era of the 1960s and 1970s. What
happened?
Despite the very real successes noted above, the 1960s and 1970s also saw failures and
even the positive changes generated anxieties, as in prior times of social change (like the
1920s or the 1950s). What were these real and perceived issues or problems?
Be sure to distinguish between the real and perceived failures of the era. For example,
some of the anxieties and fears might have been over changes that were on sum positive
but disturbed some people (such as women in the workplace or upward mobility for black
people). And some of the failures were obviously real, such as inflation and government
deficits. Or of course the defeat in Vietnam.
Assess the primary merits and successes of the movement, but also note some of the
issues. For instance, discuss the Southern Strategy (Boyer) which is analyzed by
Carter (Cobbs 3d ed), or Boyer’s emphasis on Evangelical Conservatism (Cobbs, 4th
ed).
You can follow up with why the Reagan administration was a not able to fulfill some of
the promises. For instance, government spending and deficits (Boyer) increased
throughout the decade, despite the rhetorical emphasis on “small government,” and
economic inequality increased dramatically.
Whatever the reasons, the New Right transformed US society and culture. Explain some
of the outcomes, both positive and negative, as you see them being sure to discuss
religion (Falwell, Reagan and Boyer 4th ed, Falwell 3d ed), anti-Government sentiment
(Californians Revolt, Reagan and Schulman, 3d ed, Californians, Sierra Club, and
Brands, 4th ed), the economy (growth but deficits and downsizing) and foreign policy
(end of the Cold War—Graebner et al and Lundestad, 4th ed)
3. How do we define and assess the decade after the end of the Cold War? The
generation in the 21st century? Were domestic or foreign policies and events
more important (20%)?
Cobbs, Chapter 15, “End of Cold War and Terrorism (4th ed)”
Cobbs, Chapter 15, “Globalization and the Economic Challenge (4th ed)”
Cobbs, Chapter 16, “End of the Cold War, Terror, and Globalization (3d edition)”
IF YAWP
Chapter 30 “The Recent Past”
IF BOYER
Boyer, Chapter 31, “Global Dangers”
What were the most important events and processes, in the decade after the end of the
Cold War? Is the period best defined by economics and globalization for either good or
ill such as with improved standard of living or economic inequality (Unionist, No
Globalization, Friedman and LaFeber)? Is it best defined by the latest victories or defeats
in the Civil Rights movement—victories for LGBTQ people for example? The
persistence of racial inequality?
For example, and Mandlebaum (Cobbs, ed 4) and Friedman (Cobbs 3d ed) look at the
issue that the US faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The closer we get to the present, the more debatable are the explanations and analysis.
However, like always, it is essential to anchor the arguments in solid and specific
evidence and to emphasize reality over rhetoric.
It is clear that 9/11 was a transformative moment in US history, but consider that in
addition to that the Great Recession and the successive generations of increased
inequality have also had a lasting impact on the American people. And many would look
at other kinds of inequalities, for example the persistence of racial segregation as
extremely important. You are invited to discuss how both foreign and domestic affairs
have affected Americans to the present.
NOTE: You can discuss the gains made in terms of civil rights, but MUST ALSO
address the persistence of racial and class inequality. You can use material from question
#1 in this essay, and also in the cumulative essay.
NOTE: In many people’s minds, Gulf War II and the War in Afghanistan are grouped
together, BUT they were distinct conflicts fought for different reasons (Afghanistan in
response to the attacks of 9/11, and Iraq was a pre-emptive war fought to destroy
Saddam Hussein’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)). YOU MUST
explain the differences and evaluate them—being sure to address the differences, even if
you argue that future action conflated the wars.
I will attach, in Blackboard, chapters from Foner, as an additional optional resource. The
most successful essays will take the analysis into the 21st century.
Comprehensive Question (40%)
How do we define US history from the turn of the Twentieth Century (1900) to the first
decades of the Twenty-First (2020)? Focus on domestic OR foreign policy (explaining
why the choice), using specific examples to defend the position. If you choose foreign
policy you can focus on the Cold War and/or globalization.
If you choose domestic, you can focus on Civil Rights. Just be sure that you use
specific evidence from after the 1980s and 1990s AND the 21st century (2000s and
2010s). In other words, write about the ENTIRE 20th century and beyond—do not
stop in the 1960s.
If you choose globalization, you should at minimum address up 2000, but even better,
include the global crisis of 2007 and beyond.
If you select foreign policy, you need to address the wars that followed. If you choose
this option, be sure to distinguish between the origins the two wars of the early 21st
century (Afghanistan and then Iraq). Like Korea and Vietnam, they are not the same war!
And note that in the cumulative essay—“double-dipping” is OK.
But like the first choice, be sure to address material FROM BEFORE WWII, and
not only TO the end of the twentieth century, BUT ALSO into the 21st century.
Even if you go back as far as the Spanish-American War, you must still end in the
21st century.
NOTE that up to 110 points can be earned on this assignment.

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