The United States went through dramatic economic change during and after the Civil War, as industrialization spread rapidly and changed society. This transformation and some of the apparent abuses that developed led to an increased role of the government in regulating businesses and society. This role was heightened as government was viewed as the arbiter between business and organized labor. One can explore these developments from 1865 on through to World War II. Take one of the positions as suggested below, draw from the sources listed, and present a paper with specific examples and arguments to demonstrate the validity of your position.
Possible position—in each case you can take the pro or con position:
- From the Progressive era through the New Deal period, political interventions generally tended to favor big corporations and hurt the common workers, leading to economic instability. (or you can argue that they helped the workers and promoted economic stability)
- From 1865 to 1940, the development of labor unions was generally a negative force leading to economic disruption and unnecessary laws that stifled businesses and hindered job growth. (or you can take the position that labor unions had a necessary function and generally positive impact)
- From 1865 to 1940, expansion west was devastating to Native American culture, but government policies promoted economic growth in these territories and generally equal opportunities to the settlers. (or you can take the position that government policies did not promote those benefits in those new areas)
After giving general consideration to your readings so far and any general research, select one of the positions above as your position—your thesis. (Sometimes after doing more thorough research, you might choose the reverse position. This happens with critical thinking and inquiry. Your final paper might end up taking a different position than you originally envisioned.) Organize your paper as follows, handling these issues:
- The position you choose (from the list above)—or something close to it—will be the thesis statement in your opening paragraph.
- To support your position, use four specific examples from different decades between 1865 and 1940.
- Explain why the opposing view is weak in comparison to yours.
- Consider your life today: In what way does the history you have shown shape or impact issues in your workplace or desired profession?
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