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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Suggested Lecture Topics
Chapter 24
Developing The Chapter: Suggested Lecture Or Discussion Topics


  • Explain the central role the railroads played in late-nineteenth-century America. Show how they not only moved goods and people but dominated politics, employed workers, promoted farms and cities, and created the models for American big business. Perhaps use the building of the transcontinental railroad as a key symbolic event of the age.

    REFERENCE: David Bain, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad (1999).

  • Examine the dramatic impact of "big business" and the new industrial corporations on the American economy and American life generally. Use Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller as examples of how the new corporate industrial organizers became widely celebrated heroes as well. Consider their effects not only on the economy but also on American culture.

    REFERENCE: Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (1982).

  • Consider the impact of industrialization on the nature of work and the lives of workers. Point out how most workers went from being self-employed or working in small enterprises to being employed in large, impersonal corporate enterprises.

    REFERENCE: Herbert Gutman, Power and Culture: Essays on the American Working Class (1987).

  • Analyze the growing place of wage-earning women in the late-nineteenth-century industrial economy. Compare and contrast men's and women's attitudes toward work, family, and labor unions.

    REFERENCE: Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (1982).



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