Eras of American History






This outline summarizes and generalizes in the broadest terms about the basic eras of American history.  It divides the half-millenium of American history into 4 broad eras:

The Origins of a New Nation (1492-1787)
Conquering a Continent (1787-1865)
Industrializing the Nation (1865-1917)
Saving the World (1917-present)

It also speculates about the issues facing America in the 21st Century.  Each section denotes a broad theme that dominated that era in four categories of American life--Political, Economic, Race, and America's place in the world system.  It also ranks the relative importance of the four ideologies that have shaped American life and thought:

Capitalism
Democracy
Christianity
Racism
 

I. 1492-1787: Origins of a New Nation: From Colonies to Nation

Political: God and Empire

Economic: Survival, Subsistence, and Export

Race: Stealing Land and People

World System: Colonies of European Powers

Relative Strength of the 4 American Ideologies

1=Christianity
2=Racism
3=Capitalism (Liberalism)
4=Democracy (Republicanism)
 

II. 1787-1865: Conquering a Continent: From the Constitutional Convention to Civil War

Political: Making a Nation, Manifest Destiny

Economic: Agriculture, Trade, and Manufacture

Race: Genocide and the Plantation System

World System: Weak, Third World Nation

Relative Strength of the 4 American Ideologies
1=Racism
2=Christianity
3=Capitalism
4=Democracy (Republicanism)
 

III. 1866-1916: Industrializing the Nation: Social Darwinism and Progressivism

Political: Republicans, Robber Barons, Populists, and Progressives

Economic: The Industrial Transformation

Race and Ethnicity: Reservations, Segregation, and Nativism

World System: Rising American Power under British Hegemony

Relative Strength of the 4 American Ideologies
1=Capitalism
2=Racism
3=Christianity
4=Democracy
 

IV. 1917-present: Saving the World: World Wars, Cold War, and Hegemony

Political: The New Deal, the Welfare State, and the Warfare State

Economic: Roaring Twenties, Depression, Prosperity, and Post- Industrialism

Race, Gender, and Social Issues: Civil Rights, Crime, and Culture Wars

Global: The American Century: From World Wars to Cold War to Only Superpower

Relative Strength of the 4 American Ideologies
1=Capitalism
2=Racism
3=Democracy
4=Christianity
 

V. America in the 21st Century

Political: Welfare State, Warfare State, or Withering State?

Economic: New Economy or Old Cycle?

Race: Multiculturalism or Beige vs. Brown?

Global: Hegemony, Decline, or New Cold War?
 
 

Decades of the 20th century and Cycles of American History

This section presents the issues and philosophies which have defined each decade of the 20th century.  It also traces the recurrent cycles of American history.

Progressive Era (1901-1914) (A)

World War Teens (F)

Roaring Twenties (C)

Depression Thirties (A)

World War Forties (F)

Cold War Fifties (C)

Turbulent Sixties (A)

Dillusioning Seventies (F*)

Conservative Eighties (C)

Hegemonic Nineties (F)
 

A = activist decades
    Progressive era = regulatory state
    Thirties = welfare state
    Sixties = racial issues

C = conservative decades
    Twenties = isolationism, nativism
    Fifties = cold war, anti-communism
    Eighties = new cold war, racial backlash

F = foreign triumphs and defeats
    Teens = victory inWorld War I
    Forties = victory in World War II, beginning of Cold War
    Seventies = defeat in Vietnam, corruption at home
    Nineties = victory in Cold War, hegemony realized globally
 
 

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