"Closing" the West Watch the film


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“Closing” the West

  • Watch the film The Searchers and conduct a historical analysis of the film. You will research the lives of cowboys, Indians, and homesteaders as they really were during the period depicted in the film. Then report on how accurately the film shows each group.

  • Who were the Exodusters? What were the reasons for their departure from the south? Who and what was involved in convincing them to leave? What was frontier life like for them?


  • What was the Dawes Act? What were the reasons that Congress passed this act? What ideas and attitudes in American culture did it promote? What direct impact did it have on Native Americans and their culture? WALKEISHA

  • Tell the story of the Battle of Little Bighorn from the perspective of the leaders of both sides. Why did Colonel George A. Custer want to get rid of the Sioux? How did Sitting Bull justify his violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty and end up attacking Custer’s men. What was the result of the Battle of Little Bighorn? CHRIS

  • What was the Ghost Dance Movement? Explain how it affected the Sioux on the Dakota reservation in 1890. Tell the story of the arrest and killing of Sitting Bull and the massacre at Wounded Knee in December of that year.


Invention & Industrialization

  • Tell the story of the “War of the Currents” between Thomas A. Edison and Nikola Tesla (backed by George Westinghouse) in the late 1880s. Why were they fighting with each other? What methods did they use to try to win? Who won and why? GREG

  • The typewriter, the telephone, and the radio were all inventions from the late 1800s. For each one, tell the story of who invented the device, how it basically worked, and what impact it had on ordinary people’s lives.

  • How dangerous were the railroads for passengers and pedestrians in the late 1800s? Tell the story of major accidents and traumas on the railroads and the movement for railroad safety. What devices and rules were made to make railroads less dangerous? SEYABAND

  • By the late 1880s, architects could design much taller buildings than ever before. Tell the technological history that explains why they could do this. What was the role of steel in the building of new “skyscrapers?” Discuss the impact of these buildings on American city life.

  • Who were Orville and Wilbur Wright? Tell the story of their invention of the airplane, beginning with their first “glider” and ending with their first successful flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in December of 1903. ALFREDO

Capital versus Labor

  • What was Social Darwinism? Identify Darwin’s original biological theories from his On the Origin of Species and explain how Herbert Spencer took these ideas and applied them to human society and economics. What influences did this philosophy have on people’s views of success and failure in nineteenth century America? CRISTIAN

  • In 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed. What problem did it intend to solve? Tell the story of the government’s attempts to enforce this act and explain how the Supreme Court interpreted the law. What was the end result for big business? ZIAM

  • In 1903, there was a successful strike by farm workers in Ventura County, California. Tell the story of the Sugar Beet and Farm Laborers’ Union of Oxnard. Who were they? Why were they striking? What was the result of their labor movement?

  • In 1905, a conference was held that resulted in the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World. Why was this meeting held? What disagreements did the members have with existing labor unions? What philosophies motivated them in forming the IWW? NICK

  • What happened in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York in March of 1911? What was public response to this event? What changes in business and labor happened afterwards as a result? JANET

  • Mary Harris Jones (nicknamed Mother Jones) was called “the most dangerous woman in America” in 1902. Why did she earn this comment? What labor struggles was she involved with? Tell the story of her involvement with the labor movement in America. BRIANA

Immigration, Urbanization, and Mass Culture

  • In 1896, two women’s group merged to for the National Association of Colored Women. Who were the founding members and what was the purpose of the group? Tell the story of this organization and its goals and compare it to the goals and achievements of other women’s groups in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. MOYO

  • In 1882, the United States passed a law excluding most Chinese workers from the United States. What was the name of this act? Why was it passed? What did Chinese and Chinese Americans do to resist this law? JUAN

  • Ellis Island and Angel Island were entry ports for immigrants coming into the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Compare and contrast the two locations, explaining what type of people passed through each port, what procedures were undertaken, and the difficulties faced by immigrants at each site. JESSICA

  • In 1887, a group called the American Protective Association was formed. What was the purpose of this group and what sort of people joined it? What was the connection between nativism and anti-Catholicism? What did this group accomplish and why did it disappear by 1900? AMBER-RAYE

  • The National League of baseball was started in 1876. In 1903, the first World Series was played. Tell the history of the professionalization and standardization of this sport during the years in between. Discuss its impact on American popular culture during the period. JAYA

  • Who was George Washington Plunkitt? Tell the story of the political machine that he ran in New York. What was his view of the type of political corruption associated with his city?


  • In 1872, a party called the Equal Rights Party nominated a candidate for president named Victoria Woodhull. Who was this woman? How did she become involved in politics? What controversial views did she have on sex and marriage? What were the reactions from mainstream society? GABRIELA

  • At the end of the nineteenth century, what sort of sanitation problems did New York City face? What city services were formed in response? Explain who made these changes happen in the story of sewage, water, and garbage disposal. ORONDE

  • In 1892, Jim Corbett beat John L. Sullivan to become the first heavyweight champion of the world in boxing according to a new set of standardized rules. Tell the story of boxing’s change from bare-knuckle spectacle to a professionalized and respectable sport in the late 1800s. Who were boxing fans in America? Where were the fights watched? What was the role of gambling in boxing? JOSEPH

America as a Global Power

  • How was Hawaii caught in between Japanese and American imperial intentions in the Pacific Ocean? How did the United States of America acquire the Hawaiian Islands? Tell the history of American imperialist policies in the islands, beginning with the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 and ending with the U.S. annexation of Hawaii in 1898. AMINA

  • In February of 1898, the U.S. battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor in Cuba. Tell the story of how this event became an important ingredient in the U.S. decision to go to war with Spain. What was the role of the press in these events? Discuss the manipulation of “truth” and the idea of “war fever” in telling your story. ERIKA

  • In 1900, Congress passed the Foraker Act which severely limited the political rights of the people of Puerto Rico. In 1917, Congress granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. What happened in between to create this change in policy? Discuss the importance of the Insular Cases and the role of Puerto Rican leaders in shaping U.S. policy. TIFFANY

  • Who was Emilio Aguinaldo? Tell the story of his changing relationship with the U.S. government, beginning with his leading of the rebellion against Spain in 1896 and ending with his swearing allegiance to U.S. sovereignty over the Philippines in April of 1901. What were the U.S. intentions in the Philippines? When and why did Aguinaldo change his alliances and strategies? BRITTANY

  • Between 1899 and 1913, the United States was in a war with the insurgent forces in the Philippines. Compare and contrast the views of various American opponents of the war. Why did different groups of people object to annexing the Philippines? Discuss the different flavors of anti-imperialist thinking and the role of racism on both sides of the issue. AARON

  • In 1912, the United States sent 2,000 marines to Nicaragua and kept a military presence there until 1933. What were the competing sides within Nicaragua? Why did the United States intervene? Whose side was the U.S. on? What made the U.S. finally leave? JOJO


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