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The Enlightenment: The enlightenment started in the early 1700s in Europe and slowly made its way to the thirteen colonies. Philosophers such as Copernieus, Galileo, and Newton valued reason and science and started to questions the belief that the world is governed by God. They started to question the bible and looked beyond religious beliefs for answers on how the world worked. Some scientists embraced the idea of gaining knowledge through experimentation and reason. Enlightenment thoughts spread quickly because literacy rates were higher and with the spread of scientific thought came the questioning of the government. People believed they had natural rights for certain things and began questioning the British monarchy.

Building of the Panama Canal: When Theodore Roosevelt became president many Americans wanted a canal cutting through central America to make travel time shorter for commercial and military ships. In the early nineteen hundreds the French came to the US asking if they would like to buy the French’s claim on the canal they were building in Panama. The US agreed and bought the route for 40 million dollars. When the US asked Columbia for permission to build the canal they were rejected; so in 1903 a dozen US warships went to help Panama fight for its independence. Panama and the US defeated Columbia and signed a treaty stating that the US would pay Panama 10 million dollars plus 250,000 every year for rent.

Great Migration: The great migration was a large scale movement in which hundreds of thousands of Southern blacks moved to northern cities. This happened slowly during the early nineteenth century to escape southern prejudices, but after WW1 stared African Americans stormed the north. Several reason African Americans moved north was to escape the harsh prejudices of white southerners, their cotton fields had suffered from floods and droughts, and in the north there were more job opportunities because all of the white city dwellers went off to the war.

Transcontinental Rail Road Completed: The transcontinental rail road was 1,907 mile long railroad built from 1863-1869 across the western US. It started in California and ended in Utah. Irish and Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and Mexican Americans did most of the labor lying about 8 miles of track a day. When the railroad was finally finished it decreased the time needed for transporting goods and made it much cheaper. Companies were later


able to sell some of the land to American farmers and also sent people to European countries to recruit people to buy their land. By 1880 almost 70 percent of the people living in Minnesota or Wisconsin were immigrants.

Chinese Exclusion Act: During the depression of 1873 more and more Americans were getting frustrated with Chinese immigrants who were taking their jobs because immigrants were willing to work for less. Labor groups started to pressure congress into restricting immigration from China. In 1882 congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which banned entry into America to all Chinese except students, teachers, merchants, tourists, and government officials. In 1892 it was extended for ten more years, then indefinitely in 1902, and not repealed until 1943.

Gilded Age: First a book written by Mark Twain, the Gilded Age became a representation of the greed and selfindulgence time period from the 1870s to the 1890s. First came the political machines which were organized groups that had control the activities of a political party and would bribe others for political or financial support. Boss Tweed was famous for graft, the illegal use of political power for personal gain, to defraud the city from 1869 to 1871. He cost the city millions of dollars and had pocked more than 10 million dollars in the building of the New York City court house. Many politicians were also guilty of patronage, giving government positions to people who helped get them elected.

Pure Food and Drug Act: Before government regulations of advertising businesses would lie blatantly about the abilities of their products. Children’s medicine also often contained opium, cocaine, or alcohol. Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley was the first to reveal the scandals of the food industry, which often put harmful preservatives in its food. In 1906 congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act which halted the sale of contaminated foods and labeling and required businesses label correctly.


Building of the Panama Canal: When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901 many Americans wanted a canal cutting through central America to cut travel time for commercial and military ships.

Great Depression: The Great depression was period between 1929-1940 where the economy failed and unemployment increased exponentially. Tariffs and war debt that cut down the foreign market for Americans goods, crisis on the farms, availability of credit, and unequal distribution of income. As the need for consumer goods fell more and more businesses fired more people and soon closed down. Farmers had to deal with the drop in demand for crops after the war and eventually had to sell off their equipment and farms. The start of the dust bowl also made living and farming impossible in the mid-west. After the stock market crash people quickly went to pull their money out of the bank who did not have the money to give to everyone. As a result almost all the banks in the US had failed by 1933. Hoover was the president during this time period but believed the economy would fix itself so he did very little to help the crumbling economy. Near the end of his term he put in several governmental projects to give people jobs. Though he never fully helped to the economy back together, neither did Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


Both struggled to fully get the economy back and the only thing that completely pulled the US out of its Great Depression was the second world war.

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