American History Homework Seven Answers - Model

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Lecture - Questions - Student Answers

1. What was the "Gilded Age"?

The Gilded Age was the name given to the period after Reconstruction by Mark Twain He described the period 1878 to 1889 as looking very nice on the outside but as actually dreadful on the inside. Although this was the view expressed by Mark Twain, the Gilded Age was also a time of economic growth and of many inventions. (Joseph M.)
‘The Gilded Age’, named that by Samuel Clemens, was the period during the late 1800’s where everything appeared to be golden and shiny, but underneath its surface it was full of corruption and greed. (Danielle R.)
Gilding is a method of brushing on very thin films of different metals, like gold, to give the appearance of the metal as solid. The Gilded Age was the era towards the end of the 1880s. It was very similar to gilding being that on the outside, Wall Street looked like it was doing well, but on the inside there were very wealthy people called ‘robber barons.’ ... (Jonathan R.)

2. What do you like about Thomas Edison, and do you think homeschooling him created enormous wealth?

I like the fact that even though he was almost deaf but he still built things for other people to enjoy listening to. ... (Benjamin H.)
What I like about Thomas Edison was his perseverance. During his last years at Menlo Park, he was attempting to construct an electric-powered car, but could not find a way to build a battery which would hold enough charge to power a car without having to recharge ridiculously often. After spending $1,000,000 and more than a year, he succeeded in building one, but by then the gasoline-powered car was in general use—his car was a waste of time. (Duncan B.)
... [W]hat I find most amazing about him is his work ethic. Very few people can even bear to do as much work as he did, let alone recognize the necessity of work and maybe even enjoy it. "Do you think homeschooling him created enormous wealth?" Well, I’m sure being homeschooled helped to form his character, focus on his interests, and live up to his full potential. He probably wouldn’t have invented so much or had so great a work ethic if he hadn’t had to basically educate himself. ... (Addison DM)
I admire Thomas Edison's work ethic and his perseverance. I think that if he was not home schooled, he would not have become the great inventor that he was. I think that being home schooled gave him the opportunity to develop and put into practice the values that enabled him to be such a great inventor. In school, he would not have been encouraged to be inquisitive, and his curiosity would likely have been squashed. (Michelle F.)
I liked that Thomas Edison invented many devices that pertained to sound for public appeal while he couldn’t even enjoy them himself. I do believe that homeschooling Edison created enormous wealth because it allowed him to pursue the subjects that he loved and it permitted him to think for himself. (Olivia F.)
The trait I like most about Thomas Edison is his creative mind. I do believe that being homeschooled made him become very successful. I believe that being homeschooled made his creativity shine. If he would have stayed in public school he would have been left back many times. (In today’s age, he probably would have been put on medication.) He would have been made to believe that he could never amount to anything. Being homeschooled, and having his mother as his teacher unlocked his imagination, making him create all those wonderful inventions and obtain enormous wealth. (Mark DeJ.)

3. How do you think the frontier might have affected the views of Americans?

The frontier planted democracy and individualism in the minds of Americans. The free-spirited frontier was what America really was, a place to start a new life. The frontier was a reminder to everyone that their ancestors were the ones who settled a wild country and that they were still just beginning to grow. (Veronika F.)
The Americans saw the frontier as a mystery, alluring and attractive, all that land just out there for the taking! The frontier encouraged them to go out and start up a farm, building communities and towns and expanding America. It was the opportunity for them to seize and make use of the freedom granted to them by their citizenship. In a nutshell, it was the American Dream. ... (Katie B.)
I agree with Frederick Jackson Turner, who in 1893 wrote The Significance of the Frontier in American History. He believed that the frontier experience had promoted individualistic democracy. The people who settled the frontier were forced to think for themselves and to be resourceful. This influenced the views of a good portion of Americans. Many enjoyed this independence and did not want a government that controlled everything. (Mark DeJ.)
I think the Americans felt bad for the Indians getting their land taken away by the government because they were there first and we just came and took everything from them. (Matt N.)
I think it affected the views of Americans because our land, our country is very important to us. We will protect this land, and our freedoms, to death, just as the frontier settlers did. (Mallory C.)
I think that the frontier caused many Americans to be more independent and open-minded ... [and] much more interested in having a smaller government which allowed them to go about their daily tasks without interference. This effect of the frontier can be seen by the fact that the United States' political system is much more conservative than that of many other Westernized nations." (Kevin F.)

4. What do you think is special about the United States that has made it the world leader in inventions?

... the American government itself has encouraged inventiveness by providing the patent system to ensure that inventors receive the money that they deserve for their efforts. (Rachel N.)
The United States was the first country in the world where the inventor of something had a period where only he could produce the item—called a patent. Without this, no one has an incentive to make something new—other people simply take it. This is why few inventions come out of communist countries. (Duncan B.)
... The U.S. Constitution has a clause that allows people who invent something to obtain a patent, which means that person has special rights of ownership for a specific number of years. Patents exclude other people from making, using, selling or importing the invention so the patent holder can make it, sell it, and reap the profit. (Mark DeJ.)
I think the huge amount of freedom (freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of pretty much any BELIEF or idea!) that American's have encouraged and still encourages people everywhere to invent new things! ... (Deborah B.)
... the free market provides a big incentive for people to create useful inventions. (Natalie D.)
America has always been a place where hopes and dreams can come true. The American Dream, where anyone can achieve anything, inspires us to reach for the stars and accomplish whatever we want. I think this is why so many Americans have invented such revolutionary inventions, because we are a land of making the impossible possible through hard work and dedication. (Sarah W.)
Christianity. All the least developed countries in the world at the time were hardly if at all Christian. The same is true today. The more developed countries are mostly Christian. (Karen N.)

5. How influential do you think political cartoons really are? Give an example or two.

Political cartoons can mold a mind to think any number of things. Just as with the news, if the cartoonist is biased it can make average citizens without realizing it. For example, many people are worried about McCain's age, and how that will affect America if he is elected. It might not be that big of a deal had the news articles and cartoons made his age very obvious. (Kara H.)
... Another example of the influence of political cartoons is the cartoon of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying “I want you.” This picture has become the face of Uncle Sam and America. (Ruth L.)
I believe that they are very influential. Last week, as I studied the political carton untitled “Abraham’s Dream”, I found myself thinking of the views presented in it as factual. I had to constantly remind myself that what the cartoonist was saying wasn’t necessarily true. Political cartoons express a person’s view in a way that makes it seem that his view is the only view. It has been very interesting to study political cartoons from many years ago. (Jenna N.)
... I think that cartoons were very influential but are becoming less influential. Many cartoons were published in newspapers, which is considered by many to be a dead media. ... (Michelle F.)
Political opinions shape the views of the public. If one reads a cartoon that displays a certain opinion well, they come to accept that opinion. For instance, if one were to draw up a cartoon that showed Senator Obama sitting in the White House, many Republicans might be discouraged, and not vote at all, because it seems as if Obama has already won the election. (Christina F.)
I think political cartoons are very influential in the United States, especially before TV and radio. ... (Tom H.)

6. Other than Thomas Edison, who do you think was the most influential person between 1877 and 1896?

George Westinghouse Jr. He was an inventor that pioneered AC current as an alternative to Edison’s favored DC because there was a drawback to Edison’s plan for DC: the effective range for DC current was only three miles. In The Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, Westinghouse and his hired assistant Nikola Tesla made a big splash, and their AC was supreme; later, 95% of the public had AC power in their homes. (Jonathan R.)
Other than Thomas Edison, I believe that Samuel Gompers had a huge affect on the public by forming the American Federation of Labor. (Olivia F.)
... It doesn't matter who was more influential than him, or less, but each person is just as important as the rest, though perhaps not as influential when it comes to the economy or daily living. The only difference between people like Thomas Edison, and Abraham Lincoln and a next door neighbor, is that the neighbor probably will never be told about in a text book. (Jessie H.)
I think Jane Adams was the most influential person in this period because she started a trend of houses for the poor and helped to start saving those who were poor, overworked and not paid enough. (Isaac Z.)
Other than Thomas Edison, I see Alexander Graham Bell as being the most influential person during that time period in history. Bell is the inventor of the famous device, the telephone. This invention was inspired mainly by his mother and wife who both suffered from loss of hearing. He decided to experiment with hearing devices which soon led to him inventing the telephone and receiving the first U.S. patent award in 1876 due to his invention. Upon Bells death all telephones in America stilled their ringing for a silent minute in tribute to the man whose yearning to communicate made them possible. (Amanda S.)
I think one of the most influential people between 1877 and 1896 was Thomas Nast, a German immigrant who is famous for his political cartoons. Thomas Nast was very influential through his cartoons ... [and] created many cartoons about the corrupt New York politician, “Boss” Tweed. “Boss” Tweed’s actions were brought out in the open and angered many citizens of New York. Tweed was eventually brought to justice and thrown in jail. Lastly, Nast also used his cartoons to illustrate his strong Anti-Catholic views. This widely appealed to fellow Catholic-hating Americans and caused problems between Catholics and Protestants. (Mark DeJ.)
I believe that (other than Thomas Edison) John D. Rockefeller was the most influential person during the time. He turned a small company into a monopoly and completely controlled the oil business. Like Thomas Edison he had a tremendous work ethic and from this ethic he built himself an empire on the oil industry. (Sean R.)

7. Please interpret the above cartoon, with special emphasis on explaining the images used and including a description of the point of view of the cartoonist.

This cartoon depicts Uncle Sam sinking in quicksand. The quicksand represents gold, and the reason it is quicksand is because the cartoonist obviously saw gold as a hindrance and as not helping America. The quicksand can also be seen as deflation. The cartoon shows bimetallism because it shows both silver and gold. The cliff of silver, shown as much more superior because it is above the gold, is a solid path to prosperity, represented by the sun on the horizon. It represents the Gilded Age, when America was obsessed with gold. The cartoonist is against the Gilded Age and believes that gold does not lead to prosperity, rather, it leads to disaster. (Bethany S.)
This cartoon appeared in a paperback book entitled Coin’s Financial School. The author of the book, William H. Harvey, advocated bimetallism. Bimetallism is a monetary system in which two commodities, usually gold and silver, are used and coined, without any restrictions, at a ratio fixed by law. Harvey believed the ratio should be 16:1. He also believed that reliance on gold without anything else tended to tighten the money supply and lower prices. The cartoon represents Uncle Sam sinking in the gold while there is plenty of silver to be mined. Because of this, he will never reach prosperity. (Mark DeJ.)

Honors (answer 3 out of 5):

H1. Do you agree that the Democrat Grover Cleveland was a conservative, and why?

I believe that Grover Cleveland was a conservative. Many of his ideas are in line with those of conservatives. For example, he had an extreme dislike of paternalism, a system under which an authority figure treats those under his control paternally by regulating their conduct and taking care of their needs. Because of this belief, he opposed the idea of a social service state. He felt that Americans should have economy, purity and justice in their government, but nothing else.
Also, like conservatives, Grover Cleveland was fiscally frugal. He opposed tariff favors for businesses, pensions for Civil War veterans, land favors for railroads, and “pork barrel spending” by the government.
Lastly, conservatives oppose high taxes. So did Grover Cleveland. Here is one of his most famous quotes: “When more of the people's substance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of the Government and the expense of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free government." (Mark DeJ.)

H2. The Blaine Amendments: good, bad, or bigoted? Your view, please.

...By adding these amendments, Blaine was just giving the federal government more power. (Nathanael H.)
I think that the Blaine Amendment is stupid and prejudiced. Those religious schools are providing an education just like public schools are. Why deny them the same rights public schools have just because they’re religious? (Sarah W.)

H3. Write about any controversy or mystery relating to the time period covered by the lecture.

Debate question: Should government break up monopolies? Sometimes. A monopoly may, by buying up all its competition, end up emulating from the private sector the same sort of practices found in a planned economy; most importantly, inefficiency, since there is no competition to deal with or to potentially lose customers to. A monopoly may lower the standards of an industry in general. If a serious or necessary industry becomes monopolized and subsequently inefficient, then I would probably support breaking it up. ... (Addison DM)
Debate question: Do you think government should be able to set the rates charged by railroads and other “public facilities”? I do not think the government should be able to set the rates charged by railroads and other “public facilities”. Unless the government owns the railroads or facilities, they should not be able to determine the rates. America is supposed to be a place for free business, by making these regulations, the government is not upholding America’s reputation. (Nathanael H.)

H4. Do you support or oppose unions? Use an example from the late 1800s.

For the most part, I oppose unions. I think the idea of unions is good, creating fair wages and working hours for employees, but it never works out quite right in actual circumstances as in theory. Back in the late 1800’s, Unions were necessary and helpful. For example, the American Federation of Labor formed in 1886 limited the workday to 8 hours a day. Today, public teacher’s get ridiculous benefits from their union, American Federation of Teachers. After teaching at a school for only a few years (three I think) they have a permanent job, get a huge pension and retirement plan, and full, free health care for the rest of their lives! To me, this seems to be taking advantage of the system. Also, unions today use their power to get their political candidates in, the candidates that are favorable to the laws that are advantageous to them. Their is also a chance of corruption among modern unions, who give large sums money to their favored candidates. (Natalie D.)
No, I do not support unions. In a union, it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you accomplish, unions just say that you aren’t being paid enough for it. This discourages working hard to earn your raise because you can be lazy and still get paid well for it. (Danielle R.)

H5. William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech: right, wrong, and/or pure demagoguery? Your view, please.

I think that William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech was wrong in its fundamental belief that the trickle-down economic theory was wrong. However, I do not think his speech was pure demagoguery ... because although he did appeal to the masses to overthrow the trickle-down economic theory, I think it was more a result of him getting a little too emotional while giving his speech than it was a calculated political maneuver. (Kevin F.)