**This class will be taught on Zoom**
This set of lectures examines American history from the close of the Civil War to the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. We will put special emphasis on the Reconstruction era, its implications for both white and African-American southerners, the time of the Plains Wars with Native Americans, and the dramatic impacts of the industrial revolution on working families and the nation at large.
Weeks 1 & 2: Experiments in Freedom: Reconstruction and Race in Americans, 1865-1877
The first two classes will examine the Reconstruction era in US history with special focus on federal efforts to empower ex-slaves and freedmen’s efforts at holding onto their newly emancipated status in the face of implacable southern opposition. This is one of the darker chapters in US history – however it is also one marked by extraordinary heroism and courage by both blacks and whites who sought an unprecedented social revolution in the former confederate states.
Week 3: Crazy Horse and Westward Expansion
This week we examine the life and times of the Sioux chief Crazy Horse as he witnessed America’s growing assault on the Oglala Sioux nation in the Dakotas in the 1860s and 1870s. It will examine the history of the Great Plains Indians, their cultures and economy and how they were transformed by contact with American whites. It will explore the ecological and demographic impacts of white settlement and the range of issues that culminated in Crazy Horse’s battle with General Custer at the Little Bighorn and later the US Army’s massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee.
Weeks 4 - 6: Industrial Giant: The Crises of the Gilded Age
During the last three weeks, we cover the era from the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction to the Presidency of William McKinley. It focuses on the extraordinary industrial economy that emerged then with its great industrial giants such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller. It also examines the political gridlock that tended to dominate these decades and the degree to which the concerns of the Civil War generation tended to dominate the political agenda. In addition, we will be exploring the impact of industrialization and America's emergence as a global economic and geo-strategic player.