The Making of Modern America

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The development of the United States in the twentieth century was shaped by several challenges: an economic collapse, global war, and social and political

upheaval at home. The economic collapse that preceded the Great Depression brought high unemployment, increased prices for goods, and displaced populations

across the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt promised a “New Deal” for Americans, and during his administration the federal government intervened

in the American economy with regulations and stimulus, changing the relationship between the states and the federal government. The aftermath of the Second

World War brought the United States to greater international prominence, but the following geopolitical and ideological struggle with the Soviet Union

divided the planet and threatened international destruction through the use of thermonuclear weapons. At the same time as the United States was expanding

its role as an international power, many domestic protest movements challenged institutional discrimination and unequal systems of power in federal and

state governments. Their victories resulted in legislation and legal precedents that changed the complexion of American society.

In this assessment you will examine several major events that shaped modern American society. You will consider how the New Deal policies were designed to

ameliorate the effects of the Great Depression, how the Cold War was waged both internationally and domestically, and how the civil rights movement

challenged the perceived assumptions of American society.


A. Explain (suggested length of 1–2 pages) the major causes of the Great Depression (e.g., economic policies, trade concerns, banking practices,

international commerce).

B. Describe three ways (e.g., major legislation, organizations, relief and recovery efforts) that the New Deal sought to address the problems of the Great

Depression (suggested length of 1–2 pages).

C. Explain how the end of World War II contributed to the rise of Cold War tensions (suggested length of 1–2 pages) by doing the following:
1. Discuss the effect of the arms race on the rise of Cold War tensions.
2. Describe how differing ideologies led to increased Cold War tensions.
3. Explain the effect of Cold War tensions on American culture and domestic policies (e.g., security concerns, organizations, discrimination).

D. Explain two changes (e.g., legislation, cultural shifts, economic shifts) that came about as a result of one of the following historical events

(suggested length of 1–2 pages):
• civil rights movement
• feminist movement
• gay rights movement
• rise of the religious right

E. Provide acknowledgement of source information, using in-text citations and references, for quoted, paraphrased, or summarized content.
1. Include the following information when providing source references:
• author
• date
• title
• location of information (e.g., publisher, journal, or website URL)

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