Government Inc.

“Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, despite its look of somber, black-robed fairness, was doing its bit for the ruling elite” (260)

The saying “power corrupts all, and corrupts absolutely” rings truest in the liberty bells of America. The ultimate authority of the American judicial system was founded with the ambitious intent of being above corruption. Sanctified by the lack of term limits and the illegality of accepting bribes. However, how can we suppose any thing to be perfect while it is composed of naturally imperfect men? “How could it be nuetral between rich and poor when its members were often former wealty lawyers, and almost always came from the upper class?”(260) The panel of judicial princes promptly nullified the Sherman Act focusing on language such as “commerce” and “unreasonable,” (260) to orchestrate the circumvention of the people’s valiant acts of self-advocation. Monopolies were suddenly cartels in every possible category omitting of course “commerce.” The notion of “unreasonable” abruptly spoke only from the perspective of those within reasonable means. Meaning, a rich man’s government, runs on a rich man’s judgement.

Surprisingly, not only did the Supreme Court defend the rights of the people, “By this time the Supreme Court had accepted the the argument that corporations were ‘persons’-,” (261) but it also advocated for its tax payers. The laws labored into legitimate legislature by the layman were to be consumed and construed against said population. The Sherman Act now acted against dissenters along trade routes because this was obviously  not an oppostition to power but “commerce”. ” Supposedly, the Amendment had been passed to protect Negro rights, but of the Fourteenth Amendment cases brought before the Supreme Court between 1890 and 1910, nineteen dealt with the Negro, 288 dealt with corporations.” (261) The  extengencies for the direction of action were depenedend soley on the monatary motives of the emerging financial monarchies. The likes of Rockefeller donated to Tuskegee Institute and Hampton Institute yet, America’s presentation of fairness had only an eye for the fairest cases.

Should the Chinese Be Excluded? (1893)

“The Chinese are not driven away because there is no room for them. Our country is not crowded. There are many millions of acres waiting for the plow. There is plenty of room here under our flag for five hundred millions of people. These Chinese that we wish to oppress and imprison are people who understand the art of irrigation… They are modest and willing to occupy the lowest seats.”

Robert G. Ingersoll is an Illinois attorney who despised the unwarranted and racist views that filled anti- Chinese laws. He was a reputable speaker and public figure who addressed many other issues and established his creditability as an orator.

To explain his viewpoint on the unwarranted, unjustified treatment of immigrants, Ingersoll referred to the arrival of the Irish and German. They became numerous in population and soon became powerful and an influential presence in the political field. Eventually the Irish and the Germans drove the native Americans out of trades and other forms of labor.

Yet when the Chinese arrived, they had no plans of moving up the social ladder. They were “inoffensive, peaceful, and non meddlesome.” They simply worked for themselves and didn’t try to instil their different faiths and culture onto other people. The Chinese were considerate of others yet they were met with hate and resistance – political with the Exclusion Act in 1892. Their employers were the only ones sympathetic and offering them jobs. The Chinese were denounced and asked to leave.  They were willing to be servants and sweep and scrub. They did not expect to be masters, yet they were hated because of their patience and honesty in their work.

Midterm Essay Questions

For the midterm exam (Tue 10/22), you will have to write an essay in response to one of the questions below. Your essay should have a clear thesis and include at least TWO specific examples from each source (Film, For The Record, and A People’s History of the United States). 

Question 1:  According to the different sources we examined, what role did race play in determining the level of freedom experienced by different kinds of individuals during the era of slavery and Reconstruction in the South? Your essay should focus on ONE “type” of freedom:  political, economic, or social/cultural.

Question 2:  According to the different sources we examined, what role did industrialization play in determining the level of freedom experienced by different kinds of individuals during the Gilded Age? Your essay should focus on ONE “type” of freedom:  political, economic, or social/cultural.


“We’ll give them quail prices”

This movie’s message, as the title suggests, is that with industrialization comes blood. This comes not only as a result of the still primitive technology used in the extraction of oil, but also as a result of what industrialization, or better said the prospect of great wealth, can do to people, notably bring out their bad side.

Although after having told his son he was adopted Daniel added “I took you for no other reason than I needed a sweet face to buy land”, I believe he did at one point love him like a son. However, the prospect of great wealth brought out the evil in him. If is fair to say that Daniel Plainveiw embodies capitalism. He has no regard for human life, only the profit that can benefit him. When his son is no longer of use to him, he abandons him. That being said, he does show human emotion and morality when he takes back his son.

“Mr plainview has been generous enough to make a $5000 donation to the church which we are still waiting for”.

Eli underwent a similar transformation. At first he had a good heart, dedicated to living by the book. However, his coming into contact with capitalism in its most callous form which was the oil business, his ego began to take the best of him. It didn’t take long until his personal hatred of Daniel turned him into a manipulative, self-seeking individual. Despite Daniel’s vicious and heartless actions, Eli’s denial (up until the end) as to his town selfishness, paired with his image as representative of the church, renders him no better than Daniel.

At the beginning of the movie both characters appear respectable; Daniel for adopting an orphaned baby, and Eli for being a preacher. However, over the course of the movie they become adversaries, competing over the local population’s control. It is hard to decide which character is worse, as both develop into lying, conniving, self-seeking individuals. Daniel is more violent, while Eli is more hypocritical. One message is clear, capitalism was a contributor in both men’s downfalls.

Reading Secondary Sources: Active Reading



Reading secondary historical sources is a skill which may be acquired and must be practiced. Reading academic material well is an active process that can be far removed from the kind of pleasure reading most of us are used to. Sure, history may sometimes be dry, but you’ll find success reading even the most difficult material if you can master these skills. The key here is taking the time and energy to engage the material—to think through it and to connect it to other material you have covered.


  1. Read the title. Define every word in the title; look up any unknown words. Think about what the title promises for the book. Look at the table of contents. This is your “menu” for the book. What can you tell about its contents and structure from the TOC?
  2. Read the book from the outside in. Read the foreword and introduction (if an article, read the first paragraph or two). Read the conclusion or epilogue if there is one (if an article, read the last one or two paragraphs). After all this, ask yourself what the author’s thesis might be. How has the argument been structured?
  3. Read chapters from the outside in. Quickly read the first and last paragraph of each chapter. After doing this and taking the step outlined above, you should have a good idea of the book’s major themes and arguments.
  4. Read through the chapters actively, taking cues as to which paragraphs are most important from their topic sentences. (Good topic sentences tell you what the paragraph is about). Don’t read a history book as if you were reading a novel for light pleasure reading. Not every sentence and paragraph is as important as every other. It is up to you to judge, based on what you know so far about the book’s themes and arguments. If you can, highlight passages that seem to be especially relevant.
  5. Take notes: Many students attempt to take comprehensive notes on the content of a book or article. Instead, though, try to record your thoughts about the reading rather than simply the details and contents of the reader. What surprised you? What seemed particularly insightful? What seems suspect? What reinforces or counters points made in other readings? This kind of note taking will keep your reading active, and will help you better remember the contents of the piece.


Identifying Primary Sources



1.  What is the nature of the source?

You’ll want to know what kind of source it is — a newspaper, an oral history account, a diary entry, a government document, etc. — because different kinds of sources must be considered differently. For example, you might think about a description of a Civil War camp differently than you would think about a photograph of one, or you might have different questions about census data regarding poverty in the 1930s than you would about oral history interviews with people who were poor during the Depression.

2.  Who created this source, and what do I know about him/her/them?

Knowing something about who created the source you’re using can help you determine what biases they might have had, what their relationship to the things they described in the source might have been, and whether or not this source should be considered credible. Keep in mind that someone doesn’t have to be famous or need to have played a dramatic role in history to be a credible source — in terms of understanding the experience of World War I, for example, the writings of a regular soldier in the trenches may be as valuable or even much more so than the recollections of President Wilson or a general.  You might wonder different things about the account depending on who wrote it, so knowing the author would definitely help you start to ask the right questions.

3.  When was the source produced?

Knowing when the source was produced can help you start to put it into historical perspective. A discussion of women’s rights in America, for example, would obviously be very different in the 1820s (one hundred years before women could vote), the 1920s (when women first got the vote), the 1970s (when the feminist movement was thriving and the Equal Rights Amendment was debated), and 2013. If you don’t know when a source was written, you can’t start to put it into its historical context and understand how it connects to historical events.

4.  Where was the source produced?

Just as it is important to situate the source in time, it’s also important to identify the place where the source was produced. If you found an editorial in a newspaper discussing the Montgomery Bus Boycott, for example, you would want to know where the newspaper was published — a newspaper from Montgomery might be considered very differently from one published in Boston, Massachusetts, Mobile, Alabama, or Washington, D.C.


shame of slavery

Fredrick Douglass once said during his Independence Day address

“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. ‘To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass- fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival… .”

I believe this long speech shows one of Zinn’s views that not only was the south guilty for the crime of slavery, but the nation as a whole for even allowing it to happen in the first place. This plays well with Zinn’s idea because Fredrick Douglass not only stated some of Zinn’s ideas but also the fact that he even dared speak up in that specific time period that could provoke violence towards him. This might also show Fredrick’s strong beliefs that all individuals deserve to be treated equality despite the color of his skin. While Fredrick Douglass didn’t win his attempt to become the vice president of the united states he is still a great visionary for human rights and his views coincided with Zinn’s fairly well. This not only shows Fredrick’s character and his firm belief in freedom but also his desire to speak his mind despite what others might think and react towards him. Zinn’s writings can be provocative at times and so this mixes very well with Fredrick’s own personal views considering he is an African American slave who fled the life of  slavery he understood very well the horrors the nation choose to over look at times that he could not tolerate which is why he dedicated his entire life to trying to gain equality for all people.





Course Syllabus

HIS 1000:  Modern American History

“American Society and the Individual”

Fall 2013


TTH 11:10am-12:25pm VC 5165

Instructor:  Dr. David Parsons


Office Hours: Thursday 10:00am-11:00am (VC 5-250 C)

* * * 

            Welcome to History 1000!  In this course, we’ll be examining a series of key eras in American history since the 1860s, focusing on the theme of “American Society and the Individual.”  In each of our four units, we will investigate the particular role of the individual within the larger narrative of American history. Each unit will begin with a screening of a major, well-received Hollywood film that takes place in the era to be studied. Treating the film like any other academic text, we will explore cinema’s particular way of portraying history. We’ll continue by reading primary sources from the era, drawing greater distinctions and connections between Hollywood fiction and the lived realities of actual historical figures. Finally, we’ll read a chapter from a popular classic of American history, noticing how arguments about history are constructed and furthering our understanding of the period. By studying history from these many different angles, we will develop the following skills:

            • Knowledge: This course aims to broaden and deepen your knowledge of some of the most important events, people, developments, and issues in U.S. history over the past 150 years.

            • Critical Thinking: This course will help you sharpen fundamental skills of critical and historical thinking, such as reading for the main point, asking good questions, drawing connections, assessing the reliability of sources, constructing sound arguments, assessing change over time, and determining the limits of what can be known. In addition to learning how to “think like a historian,” you’ll also learn why it makes sense to want to do so.

            • A Point of View on American History: As we debate what “story” best makes sense of the history of the United States, you will develop your own perspective on the nation’s past and learn to recognize, critique, and understand other perspectives.

            • Communication Skills: This course will help you improve your ability to write persuasively in a variety of formats.


Grading Scheme 

Online Contributions :  25%

Midterm Essay:  20%

Final Essay:  30%

Attendance:  25%      

Course Blog:

            An important component of the course will be your contributions to our collective online space, which can be found at:


Detailed instructions on how (and when) to contribute will be shared in class.  Since this is a “jumbo” course, the course blog is meant to provide a place for you to participate in the larger class discussion, to try out ideas in a low pressure environment, and to collaborate with your classmates in thinking about the course material.

Attendance and Participation: 

            In order to succeed in the course, you will need to show up, on time, to each scheduled class meeting, with the day’s required text.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class; lateness and absences will adversely influence your grade.  Any more than four absences throughout the semester (whether excused or unexcused) may result in a failing grade.

We will try to maintain a friendly, mindful, and all in all collegiate atmosphere in our time together. While in class, you will be expected to demonstrate respect for the learning environment.  This means refraining from playing with your phone or other device, coming in late/leaving early/getting up to leave in the middle of class, or otherwise behaving in a distracting way.  Although I will rarely publicly call you out for these kinds of things, I do notice them.  If you are the type of student that engages in these types of behaviors, you can expect a negative impact on your overall grade.

            Required Books: 

            • David E. Shi (Editor), Holly A. Mayer (Editor), For the Record: A Documentary History of America:  From           Reconstruction Through Contemporary Times (Vol. 2, Fifth Edition, W.W. Norton, 2012)

            Howard Zinn,  A People’s History of the United States (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005)

Academic Integrity:

Plagiarism and cheating are inimical to maintaining the bonds of trust necessary for academic freedom to flourish. Academic sanctions in this class can range from an F on the assignment to an F in this course.  Additional information and definitions can be found at:           


Unit One:  Slavery and Reconstruction


Th 8/29

Course Introduction

T 9/3

Film:  Django Unchained (Director:  Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

Th 9/5


T 9/10

Film:  Django Unchained

Th 9/12

**Django online work due**

Primary Source Reading: For the Record

            Chapter 17:  Reconstruction, North and South                      

T 9/17

Primary Source Reading: For the Record, Ch. 17         

Th 9/19

**Primary Source online work due**

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History of the United States

Chapter 9:  Slavery without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom

T 9/24

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History, Ch. 9


Unit Two:  Industrialization and Labor

Th 9/26

**Secondary Source online work due**

Film: There Will Be Blood (Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

 T 10/1

Film:  There Will Be Blood

Th 10/3

** There Will Be Blood online work due**

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record

            Chapter 21: Gilded Age Politics and Agrarian Revolt

T 10/8

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record, Ch. 21

Th 10/10

**Primary Source online work due**

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History of the United States

Chapter 11:  Robber Barons and Rebels

T 10/15


Th 10/17

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History, Ch. 11

T 10/22



Unit Three:  America in the 1950s 

Th 10/24

**Secondary Source online work due**

Film:  Far from Heaven (Director:  Todd Haynes, 2002)

T 10/29

Film:  Far from Heaven

Th 10/31

**Far from Heaven online work due**

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record

            Chapter 30:  The 1950s:  Affluence and Anxiety in the Atomic Age

T 11/5

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record, Ch. 30

Th 11/7

**Primary Source online work due**

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History of the United States

Chapter 17:  “Or Does it Explode?”

T 11/12

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History, Ch. 17


Unit Four:  America in the 1970s

 Th 11/14

**Secondary Source online work due**

Film:  Taxi Driver (Director:  Martin Scorsese, 1976)

 T 11/19

Film:  Taxi Driver

Th 11/21

**Taxi Driver online work due**

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record

            Chapter 32:  Rebellion and Reaction:  The 1960s and 1970s

T 11/26

Primary Source Reading:  For the Record, Ch. 32

 Th 11/28


T 12/3

**Primary Source online work due**

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History of the United States

Chapter 20:  The Seventies:  Under Control?

 Th 12/5

Secondary Source Reading:  A People’s History, Ch. 20


T 12/10

Course Review

Th 12/12

Course Review



Group List


Group 1

  1. Jessica Gianelli 
  2. Patricia Florvil
  3. Kevin Ensuncho
  4. Joseph Dimicelli
  5. Ruben Davis
  6. Farah Daniels
  7. Oscar Cruz-Fong
  8. Christina Cirillo
  9. Jinwoo Choi
  10. Risham Chaudry
  11. Yoonsuk Cha
  12. Jade Caron
  13. Jie Cao
  14. Zaid Butt
  15. Jessica Bonilla
  16. Robert Aronov
  17. Emmanuel Arabit
  18. Mohammed Amla
  19. David Alabo
  20. Haroon Ahmed

Group 2

  1. Omar Zougari
  2. Mel Gili Zhu
  3. Qiao Zheng
  4. Huishan Zheng
  5. Paulina Zelman
  6. Iris Zelenko
  7. Victor Saidan
  8. Jacky Yung
  9. Liangliang You
  10. Neil Yasnogorodsky
  11. Jiaqi Xu
  12. Lulu Wu
  13. Delia Wu
  14. Trisha Wong
  15. Quibilah Williams
  16. Brian Waldron
  17. Valbona Vucetaj
  18. Aminah Vasco

Group 3

  1. Dhruv Kothari 
  2. Constantine Kontopirakis
  3. Sarah Khoja
  4. Larab Khan
  5. Makiko Kamei
  6. Darrell Johnson III
  7. Jose Jimenez
  8. Juntao Jiang
  9. Soyeon Jeong
  10. Kyle Jean-Pierre
  11. Ali Javaid
  12. Felipe Jaramillo Aragon
  13. Raisa Iqbal
  14. Wiejiong Huang
  15. Stephanie Hou
  16. Alexandra Grady
  17. Vanessa Gomez
  18. Scott Godwin

 Group 4

  1. Dmitriy Treyger 
  2. Harmony To
  3. Noam Teleky
  4. Nicholas Tang
  5. Monica Tang
  6. Irene Tang
  7. Kevin Sung
  8. Alexander Sternberg
  9. Marlon Somwaru
  10. Julia Sinyavsky
  11. Roman Shelkov
  12. Nishant Shah
  13. Kristina Sarkissyan
  14. Marium Sarder
  15. Manpreet Sandhu
  16. Devona Samwaru
  17. Nora Salama
  18. William Sacerio

Group 5

  1. Ryan Marszalkiewicz 
  2. Daniela Marquez
  3. Steven Longo
  4. Julia Lo
  5. Minxin Lin
  6. Helin Lin
  7. Juyoung Lim
  8. Jianjun Liang
  9. Kevin Li
  10. Anni Li
  11. Angelika Letowska
  12. Brian Lee
  13. Christina Law
  14. Yulia Lavrentieva
  15. Chrystelle Lanou
  16. Kevin Lam
  17. Ashika Kuruvilla
  18. Brandon Kuo

Group 6

  1. Patrick Ryniewski 
  2. Gabrielle Ru
  3. Micah Reyes
  4. Autumn Razzi-Madden
  5. Mirzomuhsin Qodirov
  6. Marta Przybylowska
  7. Sebastian Perez
  8. Daniel Oron
  9. Anntia Olivacce
  10. Nikola Ognjanovic
  11. King Obamedo
  12. Wojciech Nieprzecki
  13. Ibrahima Niang
  14. Susan Ngo
  15. Kristina Naplatarski
  16. Felix Moronta
  17. Oscar Mendoza
  18. Serena Menaged