In our My Virtual Academy Social Studies curriculum, we offer a broad range of classes for our high school students that cover significant events, both past and present. Each of our social studies teachers would like to share an event from their specific course, that they feel is especially important for students to understand and dive further into. These Events include the Industrial Revolution, Civil War, World War 1, Roaring “20’s, and the 2013 Government Shutdown. Class is in session!
In history there are many significant events that have shaped our world into what it is today. Revolution, when bellowed, is a word that invokes a sense of uprising or call to action for many people. The word has many meanings but has been used most synonymous with the overthrow of an organization or governing body. The Industrial Revolution, however, is different from the typical revolution; it is more about significant change than it is an immediate correction that is fueled by politics. For tens of thousands of years humans hunted, gathered, farmed and made products by hand; they used very few tools to accomplish these tasks. The Industrial Revolution was a major shift in how we made everyday products. By mechanizing we were able to mass produce items like clothing, furniture, tools and automobiles. In about 200,000 years’ time modern man had not seen massive change, until the Industrial Revolution. In the span of the last 200 years we went from horse riding for transportation to using rocket ships to go to our moon; it’s quite amazing.
The Civil War
Is the United States one nation, indivisible or is the United States a collection of linked but separate states?
The Civil War was the most deadly and arguably the most important event in the nation’s history. There are few events in American history that have changed our country like the Civil War. The Civil War was fought from 1860-1865, but there was sectional tension building up from as early as 1857. Slavery was the root cause; however the tension spanned across America socially, politically, philosophically, and economically. Some historians may argue that everything leading up to the Civil War was caused by the Civil War and everything after was caused by the Civil War. Almost every part of American society was fundamentally changed. Americans killed Americans until the death toll reached 600,000 people, about 2% of the nation’s population at the time. The war changed the way the Americans viewed their own nation and it answered many of the fundamental questions that Americans had at the time: free or slave, one or many, united or divided.
U.S. Involvement in World War I?
For the most part, the United States did everything in their power to stay out of the fighting in Europe when war broke out in 1914. Most people in the U.S. didn’t feel the need to risk American lives for a war that was so far away and, in theory, didn’t cause them much concern. European countries were fighting for political and military positioning; an issue the U.S. didn’t want to interfere in due to our business and military alliances with both sides. Despite an attempt to block our trade, and the sinking of the Lusitania, which killed 128 Americans, we remained neutral. However, our position would change in January 1917 when we received word that Germany had sent a letter to Mexico promising to help them invade the U.S. once they were victorious in Europe. Upon receiving the ‘Zimmerman Note’, the U.S. and its citizens were in full support of going to war. The U.S. would help the Triple Entente defeat Germany and it’s Triple Alliance, thus, laying the foundations for WWII in the 1940s. Here is a copy of the actual note sent from Germany to Mexico.
The Roaring ‘20s
– Thomas Stedman
In the decade following the conclusion of The Great War, America experienced a time of unprecedented success and prosperity. By contributing to an Allied victory in WWI, America proved that it belonged as a world superpower, used its newfound success to make important financial, cultural and political contributions that can still be seen today.
Improvements in technology opened the door for new jobs in manufacturing which raised wages and created a middle class. With more time and money, Americans were able to spend their income on recreational items such as automobiles, radios, and movie tickets. Despite a federal ban on the production, transportation and sale of alcohol, jazz clubs and speakeasies thrived. The passing of the 19th amendment allowed women to vote for the first time, altering the traditional views that Americans had on the role of women in society.
Image Courtesy of headsupdetroit.com “Woodward Avenue in 1917”
Although the “roaring twenties” are often remembered in a positive light, there were a lot of growing pains and racial tension during the era as well. The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan intimidated and negatively affected the lives of immigrants and African-Americans. The spending and extravagance of the decade came to a screeching halt with the bank failure of 1929, leading to the Great Depression.
The ‘20s are a fascinating look into the imagination, willpower and creativity of the American people. Within the span of 10 years, the country had completely changed the status-quo and paved the way for even more radical changes in the way of life after World War II.
2013 Government Shutdown
According to the Constitution, the responsibility for funding the government (passing the budget and paying the bills) falls on Congress. If it doesn’t perform this function, different government-run places and processes, including passport requests, issuing checks to government employees (Congress not included), and mowing the lawn and changing the trash at national parks and monuments, stop. In 2013, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had been a source of conflict between Republicans and Democrats in the government, and Congress was fighting about whether or not to continue Obamacare and fund the programs within it. As a result, the Senate and the House did not pass the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund normal government programs past September 30, 2013 (the end of their budget year); because of this, the Federal Government partially shutdown, meaning that essential government functions (mail, payment to the military, etc.) continued, but others stopped. The shutdown lasted 16 days, and 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, meaning they didn’t receive a paycheck during this period. On October 16th, 2013 Congress finally passed the CR to start things back up again, but the shutdown cost the economy 24 billion dollars when all was said and done.
More information aimed at high school students: Dogo News: Fodder for Young Minds
(Material drawn from Forbes.com and CNN.com)