AP: ‘A People’s History…’ Reading Assignment

Let me preface this reading assignment with the following: This is an extremely pointed and critical look at American history that if you accepted wholeheartedly would make you bitter, jaded, and no fun to be around. It’s a book written about history from the bottom up: how the average, overlooked, and exploited experienced history. I love this book, but know that Zinn is one of many voices competing to create an understanding of our past.

I have posted an excerpt from the chapter on what were are currently studying. People’s History Ch.11 This scan has my highlights (that usually helps). Have the following questions answered and ready to turn in on the day after MLK day (1.21.14)

Answer 10 of the following questions. Your answers don’t have to be long rehashings of the chapter. They need to be thoughtful and that you have done the reading.

  1. What were some of the things Zinn describes as necessary for the transformation of America to have taken place following the Civil War?
  2. Is the Horatio Alger story true for most of the major figures from this period? Does that even matter?
  3. What do we learn about each of the transcontinental railroad and these key figures from the period: JP Morgan, Rockefeller, and Carnegie?
  4. The government was supposedly hands-off, laissez faire, survival of the fittest, help will only enable the poor and weak. The reality was quite different, according to Zinn. How would you describe the relationship between government and business, especially in the area of labor unions?
  5. Referring to the top of pg. 253, how does Cleveland’s handling of the Texas drought strike you given what you have read in the preceding pages?
  6. Explain how the 14th Amendment’s purpose was distorted in order to benefit corporations.
  7. Acres of Diamonds: and people thought Mitt Romney’s 47% remark was elitist? Please.
  8. What purpose did high schools suddenly serve in the new economy?
  9. Pg. 259 begins a section on the immigrant experience. What stuck with you after reading this section?
  10. The struggles of labor and the violence associated with strikes and disputes is one of the reasons I chose this chapter. It’s a part of the period that is often glossed over. Briefly describe the events at Haymarket square (pg. 265-267)
  11. There was labor conflict in the south. I didn’t know this. Kind of assumed it was another northern thing that Southerners rejected. What were some of the ways Tennessee found it was into this chapter?
  12. The Homestead Strike was one of the bloodiest of the period. What brought about the strike and what was the result of the fight between strikers and Pinkerton agents?

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