Category Archives: Fall 2014 Projects

Great Depression

The Great Depression was from 1929 to 1939 and was the deepest and longest economic collapse in the history of the United States, but it did not just have an effect on the US but worldwide. In the United States the Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which we know as black Tuesday.  This sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors.  People rushed to the banks and take out their money but could not do it because there money was gone. The years following, consumer spending and investment dropped causing declines in industrial output and the unemployment began to rise, because companies began to lay off workers.  By 1933 the Great Depression reached its peak causing around 15 million people to be unemployed and half the banks in the United States have failed, by 1933 140 billion dollars disappeared.  Reforms that were put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after he won the election of 1933 helped the economy, but did not start to really turn around until 1939.

Economy entered a recession during the summer of 1929, as consumer spending dropped. At the same time stock prices continued to rise and by the fall of that year had reached levels that could not overcome. In October 1929, the stock market crashed, as investors tried to get rid of all their shares.  A record 12.9 million shares were traded that day, known as black Thursday. Five days later, on black Tuesday 16 million shares were traded after another bad day on Wall Street. Millions of shares ended up worthless, and those investors who had bought stocks with borrowed money were gone.

The New Deal was a series of domestic programs by the United States between 1933 and 1938. It had stated that laws passed by Congress as well as president during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. By creating this New Deal it helped him win again in a very large margin.  The New Deal programs created an alliance of labor unions, blacks and other minorities, and some farmers. The hardship brought on by the depression affected americans by losing jobs, money in banks were lost, and companies having to layoff employees.  During this time many women did not work, so families did not get much money.  Men were hit harder than the women were because they were supposed to be the providers of the families and they could not do that.

In the 1929 Herbert Hoover took over in office, and three years after he took office the depression got worse.  What I believed this stemmed from was that he thought that the government should not interfere with the economy, which means that the people should buy goods and services to get money into the economy to get it going.  1930 comes around and 4 million people were unemployed and one year later it rose to 6 million people.  The country’s industrial production had dropped by half, and the homeless people started to make the streets.  The minority population was hit harder than the whites particularly the blacks.  It is said that the jobs that the blacks did have were taken from them and given to the whites.  In 1930, 50 percent of blacks were unemployed, but Eleanor Roosevelt set out for black rights and the New Deal does not allow discrimination. Don’t get me wrong there was still discrimination but it was going on in the south.

Since  so many people were out of money and out of jobs they had no places to live.  Great depression and lasted about a decade, shantytowns appeared across the U.S. as unemployed people lost their homes. As the depression got worse in 1930s times got harder for millions of people they started to turn to the government for help. When the government failed to provide the help, President Hoover was blamed for the terrible conditions. The shantytowns that came up across the nation and were mainly outside of cities came to be known as  Hoovervilles.  One of the largest one in the country was in Missouri and was going on for the longest time.  It is also said that this Hooverville was so big that it had its own mayor to ran it and reported to the larger community outside the Hooverville.

In my opinion this was the worst time for the US economy and also the world.  Because of this even in history I personally think that it changed the way people do business.  What I mean by that is I think it turned the economy worldwide.  Businesses started to go overseas and exports and imports started to increase.  Even though the economy went through a rough time I think it made the economy stronger when it came back.


Where was the biggest and longest hooverville located?

Chicago, New York, Missouri, Washington DC

What year did the Great Depression start?


What president set apposed the New Deal?

Obama, Hoover, Franklin D Roosevelt, Theodor Roosevelt,



Andrew Carnegie and the American Steel Industry

Andrew Carnegie: 1835 – 1919

Andrew Carnegie, a poor immigrant from Scotland, would become one of the richest and most successful people in the U.S., representing the American Dream. Carnegie was a hard worker and made his way to the “center of the American Steel Industry” (An Empire of Wealth, 245). What separates Carnegie from other Rich people of his time is his philanthropist works. Throughout his lifetime he would donate $380,695,653 to foundations, charities and other ways to improve the poorer classes.

ChildHood Jobs

The Carnegie family moved from Scotland to Allegheny, Pennsylvania for the prospect of a better life. Allegheny was a very poor area and Andrews first job was as a bobbin boy at age 13. His starting wage was $1.20 per week. 2 years later Andrew became a telegraph messenger boy and received $2.50 per week. Within a year he was able to translate telegraphs without a slip and was promoted to operator. 3 years later in 1853 he became secretary telegraph operator for Thomas Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad company. He now earned $4.00 per week. He then began to develop a closer relationship with Scott allowing him investing opportunities in the railroad industry.  His mom helped him secure $500 on a mortgage for their $700 home, to invest in the Adams Express (another railroad). This would pay off and he would be saving up capital that would lead into success in the future.

Accumulating Wealth and Carnegie Steel 

During the Civil War Carnegie worked on several transportation investment opportunities while personally being in charge of the defeated forces. Defeating the confederacy required massive amounts of supplies and showed how integral these industries were to American Success. At this point Carnegie still did not have enough capital to pursue the steel industry. Then, in 1864, he invested $40,000 in Story Farm which would yield over $1,000,000 in dividends. After the war he focused all his energy on iron works, using his relationships from the Pennsylvania railroad eventually opening his own steel plant. This would lead into Carnegie Steel and Andrew would buy out most of the competition. Eventually, he would agree to a buy out by the United States Steel Corporation, his share was $225,639,000 that he would through 5% 50-year gold bonds. Now that he had a fortune, what was Andrew Carnegie going to do with it?

Heres a short video summary about Carnegie and His success in Steel

Words from Andrew Carnegie

“I propose to take an income no greater than $50,000 per annum! Beyond this I need ever earn, make no effort to increase my fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes! Let us cast aside business forever, except for others. Let us settle in Oxford and I shall get a thorough education, making the acquaintance of literary men. I figure that this will take three years active work. I shall pay especial attention to speaking in public. We can settle in London and I can purchase a controlling interest in some newspaper or live review and give the general management of it attention, taking part in public matters, especially those connected with education and improvement of the poorer classes. Man must have no idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! Whatever I engage in I must push inordinately; therefore should I be careful to choose that life which will be the most elevating in its character. To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time, must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery. I will resign business at thirty-five, but during these ensuing two years I wish to spend the afternoons in receiving instruction and in reading systematically!”


This period of Andrew Carnegie’s life is what makes him so unique and such a valuable person in the economic history of the United States. It is said that more than 2,800 libraries were opened with his support. Several are under his name while many others received funding without any recognition. Although it was written that he would commit to education and the community at age 35, Carnegie more than made up for the wait. The extra 25-30 years of work allowed for him to accumulate even more wealth and when you compare his career and buy out amount with what he donated, its easy to see that 60-70% of his earnings went towards our economies education or community. At one point, Carnegie possessed 4% of all wealth in the United States. That is amazing for a boy from Scotland that started working for a $1.20 per week. I also feel that his commitment to his goals set a great example for people to follow.

Written Works:

– Gospel of Wealth (1889)

– Triumphant Democracy (1886)

My Opinion

Overall, it’s people like Andrew Carnegie that make me happy to be an american. A country that rewards people who work hard and never give up. There is a big trend throughout history when you look at entrepreneurs. That is, they weren’t lucky, they made their own luck. Wealth can consume many and thats when character really shows. If you are a kind hearted person, wealth will only make you more generous. If you are a selfish person it will make you more self conceded. Andrew Carnegie set a standard for giving back at a level that is ridiculously high. Without him the United States wouldn’t be the same.

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  • An Empire of Wealth – Chapter 13

Nikola Tesla and Alternating Current

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian scientist that lived from 1856 to 1943. He is best known for his works of radio, the Tesla Coil, and the developing of Alternating Current.

Nikola Tesla worked for Thomas Edison in New York City. Thomas Edison had the idea of DC current while Nikola Tesla favored AC. DC current was much less efficient than AC current and with Nikola Tesla’s innovations in AC current, power was able to be provided very easily, cost effective, and safely.

By using AC, power was able to be provided to the United States much more effectively than using coal and gas lamps. With this, production was able to rise greatly. Instead of only being able to work with the light from the sun, light bulbs led the way. Along with just a reliable light source, more technology was able to be created using this new power to further enhance production.

There are many creations looking back at U.S. history at greatly changed everything. Rather it being the creation of railroads that helped trade and provided people a way of transportation, or the telegraph that allowed people to communicate. AC power was also one of the large steps forward in U.S. history because it allowed production to rise like never before. Power was available everywhere, not just where there was running water.

“Nikola Tesla (Serbian-American Inventor).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.


Henry Ford and The Assembly Line

Henry Ford was most commonly known as the creator of the Ford Motor Company, the 5th largest auto-maker in the world. Ford is also well-known for another thing. That other thing is his perfection of the vehicle assembly line. Ford created a way to build a Model T in just 93 minutes. This allowed for production for the masses. The assembly also allowed for cheaper production of the automobile, placing it in the $575 price range, which was just about 4 months pay for the average worker. This meant millions of people could now afford their very own automobile and caused mass expansion in the auto industry.

The first assembly line implemented by Ford was at the Highland Park Plant, where a central winch pulled the chassis of the car down a 150ft assembly line where 140 individual workers assembled parts onto the vehicle. This process took approximately 5 hours and 50 minutes.The next implementation to this line was a continuos conveyor which shortened the production time even further, to 93 minutes.

The new cheaper automobiles provided by ford also allowed for populations to branch out, away from the cities into what we call suburbs because they now had a reliable and cost effective way of getting to work. These cars started the whole new lifestyle of american families having automobiles and they were so easy to drive that nearly everyone knew how to drive one.

Henry Ford, Circa 1919.

Henry Ford, Circa 1919.

The assembly line was originally implemented for automobiles by Ransom E. Olds, a Lansing native. Olds patented the assembly line he used to mass produce his Oldsmobile automobiles. Henry Ford then took that assembly line and made the addition of driven conveyor belts, which made a full Model T produceable in 93 minutes flat.

An Experimental Attempt by Ford to automate the process of adding the body to the frame.

An Experimental Attempt by Ford to automate the process of adding the body to the frame.

The assembly line also allowed for a better work environment, workers did not have to do any heavy lifting. This also allowed for more people to be able to do these jobs, as working an assembly line did not take any special skills or training.

Without Fords innovation, the auto industry would not have had nearly as large of a boom as it did. Everybody wanted an automobile now that they were affordable. This also made the business extremely profitable, which is where his major competitor General Motors came into play.

Regardless, Henry Ford knew what he wanted to do and exactly how to do it. He even went as as far as to pay his workers enough to actually afford their own Model T’s a practice hardly carried out even these days.

With his implementation of moving conveyor belts and today’s invention of automobile producing robots Ford is able to produce a new car every 10 seconds. Even today, ford has two of the top producing automobile plants in the US. These plants are the Dearborn MI Truck Plant and the Ford Factory in Kansas City, which produced 460,000 cars in 2011.



America’s Economy in the 1990s

America Enters the 1990s

A “New World Order”

The world entered the 1990s with a bang.  There were two major developments behind this, the victory of the United States and coalition forces in the 1990 Persian Gulf War, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Both of these foreign policy successes were a shot in the arm for Bush’s Administration, as his approval ratings skyrocketed to 90% 1.

Economic Recession

President George H.W. Bush inherited the economic prosperity of the Reagan years, which rejuvenated the nation.  However, by July 1990, the economy fell into a recession.  The federal budget deficit increased (despite President Bush’s tax hikes) as the economy contracted and unemployment increased (by 1.8 million workers).  The recession ended in March 1991, but the economy was experiencing a “jobless recovery”, where unemployment was stagnant.  Further compounding this problem was the popular conception that President Bush “wasn’t doing enough”.

President George H.W. Bush led America from 1989-1993.

President George H.W. Bush led America from 1989-1993


So while President George H.W. Bush had strong accomplishments with regards to foreign policy, the sluggish economy led to his defeat in 1992, when the third-party candidate Ross Perot entered the fray, taking votes away from the incumbent, allowing Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas to step up to podium.  A Centrist Democrat, his party had adopted a platform that diverged from the policies of the past, such as the Great Society and the New Deal.  The inauguration of moderate Democrat signaled that a new day had begun in America.

Governor Bill Clinton was President from 1993-2001.

Governor Bill Clinton was President from 1993-2001


The Information Age

Innovative Technologies

The world was transformed in the 1990s with the advent of new technologies 1.  The cutting-edge science and technological developments were a crucial factor in the economic expansion of the 1990s, as workplace productivity (the lifeblood of an economy) increased.  Important technologies that were improved and diffused through the 1990s include the personal computer (PC), advances in telecommunications, improved cell phones, software, and the World Wide Web, which connected Americans across the nation to the Internet.

The vast advances in technology augmented the economy, and also had an important impact on America’s financial system.  The stock markets (especially the NASDAQ) skyrocketed, which led to widespread prosperity for Wall Street.  This prosperity was known as the “Dot-Com Bubble”, and it burst in 2000-2001.

A repetition of the patterns we have seen throughout America’s economic history, technological innovation had a beneficial impact on the American economy overall.

The Computer Revolution continued to sweep America's economic, social, and political landscape

The Computer Revolution continued to sweep America’s economic, social, and political landscape

The Internet transformed daily life for Americans in the 1990s

The Internet transformed daily life for Americans in the 1990s


Federal Economic Policies

President Bill Clinton, Congress, and the Federal Reserve all implemented policies which played crucial roles in the economic growth of the 1990s.  After the 1994 midterm election, Republicans took control of Congress, following President Clinton’s failed healthcare reform proposal prompted backlash.  This divided government led the President to adopt a policy of triangulation, in which the legislature and the executive branch worked together and compromised to achieve legislative successes.  Consequently, both President Clinton and Congress enacted a wide array of policies which had important impacts on the American economy in the 1990s 2, 3.

First, taxes were raised on high-income Americans and corporations.  The corporate income tax rate increased to 35% for the firms in the top tax bracket, while income taxes increased for the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers to the level of 39.6%.  Clinton also (through an executive order) extended the tax base for Medicare FICA taxes.  These tax hikes probably helped to bring down the deficit.  Indeed, by the end of the 1990s, the federal government had a budget surplus (or a very minimal deficit of ~$17 billion, depending on if we count intragovernmental obligations).

Although these taxes were raised, the tax burden was offset somewhat.  The federal government expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income families, and also expanded the child tax credit, both efforts to shore up middle-class incomes.  After the 1996 elections, capital gains taxes were also reduced.

The federal government eliminated the budget deficit in the late 1990s, through robust economic growth, tax increases, and spending cuts

The federal government eliminated the budget deficit in the late 1990s, through robust economic growth, tax increases, and spending cuts


Second, the level of spending growth was decreased.  Discretionary programs were occasionally cut, but usually, spending levels were not decreased in absolute levels.

Third, the NAFTA was enacted.  A free-trade zone encompassing the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the treaty promised to stimulate trade and economic activity throughout North America.  This policy had important ramifications for America’s economy in the 1990s, and its impacts are still lasting today.

Fourth, the government had a rollback of regulations.  This effort was led by Vice President Al Gore (at the right in the picture below), and this initiative was known as Reinventing Government.  About 15,000 pages of business regulation were scrapped – leaving the federal regulatory apparatus intact – but allowing greater flexibility for the private economy to function.

The Clinton Administration spearheaded an effort that reduced government expenditures and regulation

The Clinton Administration spearheaded an effort that reduced government expenditures and regulation


Fifth, the government reformed welfare.  The traditional AFDC program had a bad reputation of encouraging dependency, the split-up of marriages, increased childbirth levels, and so forth.  President Clinton signed the Republican welfare reform bill (PRWORA of 1996) into law in 1996.

Sixth, the federal minimum wage was increased.  This minimum wage hike affected 10 million Americans, and was part of Clinton’s campaign agenda in the 1992 election.

President Clinton signed legislation which raised the federal minimum wage to $5.15

President Clinton signed legislation which raised the federal minimum wage to $5.15


As stated earlier, President Clinton was a “New Democrat” 6 who was fiscally moderate and socially liberal.  President Clinton emboldened this label throughout his presidency, in particular after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 after Clinton’s healthcare reform proposal died.  The actions that President Clinton and Congress enacted probably strengthened America’s economy in multiple ways.

The Federal Reserve also had an important (if less noticed) influence in the 1990s.  Under the careful stewardship of the Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Fed carefully managed interest rates to “calibrate” the economy – raising interest rates when inflation threatened to increase, and lowering interest rates to protect the U.S. economy from overseas crisis (such as the Mexico Peso Crisis in 1995, the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, and the Russian economic collapse in 1998).

The federal government also enacted other policies (which were less significant for the economy, yet still had an impact).  Such policies include HIPA (which increased the “portability” of health insurance, and prevented insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing condition), SCHIP (expanded Medicaid to low-income kids), and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which allowed LGBT individuals to serve in the military, if they kept their sexual preferences private).


The Longest Economic Expansion in U.S. History

The United States was flourishing in the 1990s as America was largely at peace and the economy was prosperous.  The economic growth was also impressive, with the American economy growing 3.6% annually on average.

One of our books, A Short History of American Capitalism, remarks that “The 1990s expansion was the longest but also the weakest since 1945.” Furthermore, the text says “Until 1973, the economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate, or more, most of the time.” 4 These statements are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  The 1990s may have indeed been a time of the weakest economic expansion since 1945, but it must be remembered that the compounded effect of the 1990s expansion (the longest in U.S. History) augmented the overall growth levels, and that the difference (at 3.6% compared to say 4%) are not incredibly significant, unless we base these figures over time.

Thus, the American economy grew by 40% in the 1990s, when evaluating economic output (real GDP in chained 2009 dollars) 5.

The average American also benefited from this prosperity, as median household income (from 1993 to 1997) increased by 8.4% to $37,005 (adjusted for inflation) 1.  Poverty also fell.

Employment also increased.  The national unemployment rate fell to 4.1% in December 1999, the lowest level in 30 years 3.  The scarcity of labor led to higher wages.

The stock market also increased dramatically.  Although the bubble (known as the Dot-Com bubble) burst in 2000, the economy didn’t fall into recession until the March of 2001.

The stock market boomed, especially the tech-heavy NASDAQ

The stock market boomed, especially the tech-heavy NASDAQ


Conclusion:  The Dawn of a New Era

The 1990s were a unique extension to the 1980s.  American politics shifted to the right as conservative policies gained greater approval.  The Democrats, in particular Bill Clinton, reacted successfully to these changes to succeed politically.  The economy thrived and Americans were optimistic about their futures as the deficit became a surplus, new technology improved productivity and median incomes, and peace abroad eased fears.  Although domestic terrorism and sporadic conflict overseas remained, they were somewhat insignificant for the vast majority of Americans.  The information revolution in the 1990s allowed America to prosper and enter the 21st century in a strong position as the leader of the free world.  In many ways the 1990s also serve as a foil to the following decade, the 2000s, as the latter was a period of conflict (the War on Terrorism and the Iraq and Afghanistan war), sluggish economic times (the 2001 and 2008 Recessions), and a resurgence of federal spending and federal debt.  We should take note of what made the economy thrive in the 1990s, and try and apply this wisdom accordingly to federal and state government policy.

Works Cited

[1] Ochoa, George (2006). America in the 1990s. New York. Print.

[2] Moore, Kathryn (2007). The American President. New York. Print.

[3] Whitney, Robin (2009). The American Presidents. Montreal. Print.

[4] Weinberg, Meyer (2002). A Short History of American Capitalism. United States, Print.

[5] “Download NIPA Tables.” U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Web. All Sections, Section 1, Table 1.1.6. (

[6] Kallen et al (2000). The 1990s. San Diego. Print.

Bob Dylan and his influence on the world

Bob Dylan


Robert Allen  Zimmerman, otherwise known as ” Bob Dylan”, was born to his father Abe Zimmerman on May 24 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. His father worked for the Standard Oil Co. At the young age of six years old they up and moved the family to Hibbing. There in Hibbing is where Dylan first taught himself how to play the piano and guitar. He started off playing in many high school rock bands and in 1959 he began at the University of Minnesota and this is when he first started performing in clubs and using the name he most known; “Bob Dylan.” That next year Dylan moved to New York and in 1961 is when Columbia signed Bob Dylan with his contract and the following year Is when his first album was released.

Bob Dylan is a folk rock singer-songwriter who started his career in the 1960s. Well known for his songs having to do with social issues such as civil rights. He aimed to get his opinion across through his music. His music was very much apart of what was going on around the world in the 60’s. Bob expressed what he wanted through his music and people caught on to is as an expressions of how they were thinking and feeling about current worldly events. Bob changed the way of music.

He was known for much more than being just a singer. It would be rare to have been a teenager of the 1960s and not know who he was. He effected a lot of worldly movements. Dylan was very much involved with the Civil Rights movement.


Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights movement is a very powerful and ‘heroic” time in America’s history. It is one that will never be forgotten. The goal of the movement was to give African-Americans the same citizenship as Americans. African-Americans were treated very poorly throughout history. Times had been so bad and heartbreaking to those of their race. For some African-Americans this will be something that they will always hold a grudge against. Times had been so bad that African-Americans weren’t even allowed to share the same bathrooms as whites and they even had their own drinking fountain because white people did not even want to touch anything that they had laid their hands on. Restaurants would not serve them, sports teams would not allow them to play and teachers wouldn’t even considering having them in their classrooms. Times were more than just tough for African-Americans. They were not given any right to vote or have a say on any current events going on and finally people were so fed up with the way that they were treated that they began to rebel. And this.. this is what all led up to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America.

Bob Dylan’s Involvement

On August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. on the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr gave his world-famous speech “I Have a Dream.” This speech took place during the time of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The dream was, in King’s words, “that white and black children would one day walk hand in hand and that one day sons of former slaves and sons of former slave-owners would be able to agree to live together.” At the world-famous speech one of the singing performances was by non-other than Bob Dylan himself. He performed to of his song’s title by “When the Ship Comes In” and “Only a Pawn in Their Game.”

 “Yes, how many years can some people exist Before there allowed to be freed?  Yes, how many times can a man turn his head Pretending he just doesn’t see?”


Bob Dylan had a great impact in the music world because he was “one of the first musicians to take an active role on ethical issues.” He was able to unite people with his sing writing. Through his music Dylan was able to gain attention of the officials in Washington and not only that but the youth in America. His goal was to bring everyone together. He wanted peace and freedom for everyone no matter their race. Bob Dylan took a huge part in moving towards the Civil Rights Movement.

As it is said Bob Dylan was “crowned as the laureate of a social movement, hailed as “the voice of a generation“.


Bob Dylan’s career in the early days and through 1963 was well-known for his thoughts and helping of the civil rights movement but as shown in 1964 he speaks out that he no longer wanted to be the voice of anyone. He no longer wanted to write music for people but ultimately he just wanted to write music about his feelings and anything else he felt in his heart. As said in an interview with a critic named Nat Hentoff Dylan says “Me, I don’t want to write for people anymore – you know, be a spokesman. From now on, I want to write from inside me …I’m not part of no movement… I just can’t make it with any organization…”

Where would we even be without music today? What would some of our biggest life events be if music wasn’t apart of? Imagine a birthday cake without a Happy Birthday song or a bride walking down the aisle of a silent church. Think about sitting in the car on a long road once everyone is too tired to talk. Think about the big smile that shoots upon your face when you’re brought back the memory of your favorite day lying out on the beach with you best friend that shoots upon your face when you’re brought back the memory of your favorite day lying out on the beach with you best . Maybe even the Christmas song your family listens to every year while decorating the Christmas tree. Music can jog so many different emotions within a person. In my eyes, music plays such a powerful part in our lives and quite frankly I’m not too sure where we would be without it. Not only does music make you feel but it makes you think. It can help you remember loved ones who are no longer around, it can make you dream of the future, it can help set you at ease when you are stressed out or having a bad day, it help you express your emotions when you’re at a loss of words. Music is so powerful and Bob Dylan knew just that. Dylan used his thoughts and put them into lyrics so that he express exactly what you felt about Americas struggles back in 1960s. He wrote about the way it felt to struggle and how to overcome them. Dylan used his music to express his opinion on racism and by doing so he grabs the attention of many other around him. This is the reason I was so drawn and interested in Bob Dylan and his work. What better way to express yourself than through music. Not only did he express himself but he effect a nation, he brought people together and made a difference and to me that is just amazing. No matter our shape, size, color or gender we are all human beings with feelings that should have every right to be free to express ourselves. We are all equals and that should never be forgotten. Bob Dylan was a part of making this movement a reality and for that he is heroic.



What is the Civil Rights Movement?

“I Have a Dream”



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In the world we live in today most adult’s preoccupation with works starts and ends with their work day. Generally speaking their evenings and weekends are their own, with little interference from their employer. Imagine for a moment a different existence. Imagine a life where your employers grasp is much longer reaching, coming into most of the everyday aspects of your life. Suppose your home is owned by your company and you’re just a renter. Also suppose all of your shopping is done at the company owned store. Maybe your boss built and owns your local church. Let says they’ve even gone as far as to dictate the activities that you are and are not allowed to do. Today this seems odd, even absurd. However, toward the turn of the 19th century and even though much of the first half of the 19th century many of these communities existed. In one such town in the summer of 1894, history was in the making. The little community of Pullman Illinois was created just outside of Chicago by the Pullman Palace Car Company to house its multitude of laborers and their families. The Pullman Palace Car Company was started by George M. Pullman, and eventually made him one of the countries foremost capitalists of his time. However, George Pullman’s rise to history was not solely based upon the success of the company. His actions caused a labor strike of epic proportions, and changed the face of the labor movement as we know it.

The 1890s were volatile economic time, and many companies were on the decline. The Pullman Palace Car Company was one such company, and in an attempt to mitigate some of their lost profits Pullman decided to cut his worker’s wages by approximately 25%.  Cuts like these were already detrimental to the families facing them, but when George Pullman levied them, he gave no such reductions on the rents and other costs within the town he’d created for his employees. As such, a group of employees requested a meeting to speak with Pullman about the wage cuts and other issues the workers were facing. Their request was not granted, and Pullman even ordered the men fired for attempting to air their grievances. Due to the lack of response to the workers request they and the other plant workers walked off the job May 11th 1894.

The American Railway Union (ARU) was initially forced into the dispute at Pullman because they represented a portion of the Pullman employees. The president of the union, Eugene V Debs was hesitant to involve the ARU at the onset because so many of the Pullman employees were actually plant workers, not railway workers. However, one they received the support of the railway switchmen (The workers attaching and detaching the rail cars) the ARU voted in favor of a Pullman boycott. Just over a week after the boycott began over 125,000 workers had walked of the job on 29 railways bringing much of the US railway traffic to a halt. All seemed to be going well until an ARU support rally turned violent. At the end of the rally riots broke out and angry railway workers overturned a locomotive that was attached to a U.S. mail train. Debs pleaded with the workers to maintain a peaceful protest, but his attempts where fruitless and riots and violence continued to breakout over the days to come.

Once news of the disrupted mail cart reached Washington DC it was just a matter of time before the federal government stepped in. This finally happened in the form of a federal injunction on July 2nd after the attorney general Richard Olney got the support of President Cleveland and his cabinet. The injunction prohibited ARU leaders from “compelling or inducing” any employees of the affected railroads “to refuse or fail to perform any of their duties,” but it also allowed president Cleveland to send in Federal troops, which he did the following day on July 3rd. Over the next few days anger and backlash to the appearance of federal troops finally intensified to the point of lives being lost. On July 7th a group of national guardsmen were under such heavy attack that they fired into an angry mob killing somewhere between 4 and 30 strikers, and wounding numerous others. At this point Debs attempted to call off the strike, but the railway management would not settle, and instead started hiring nonunion workers. With workers getting back on the lines the railways starting moving again, the strike eventually fizzled out, and the National Guard troops were recalled on July 20th. Upon the reopening of the Pullman Company on August 2nd the strikers there were able to regain their employment, but only with a signed agreement that they would never join a union. Sources estimate that by the end of the strike approximately $80,000,000.00 total had been lost, which in today’s money would be equivalent to about $2.7 billion dollars.

Although the Pullman strike was not a successful it reminded the capitalists of the time that all people have limits, and their laborers were not exempt of this quality. The strike also prompted President Cleveland to make the then grass roots Labor Day celebration into the national holiday that is now celebrated the first Monday in September.

(All though the unofficial holiday started a few years earlier, the first national Labor Day celebration was held September 1894, as a direct result of the Pullman Strike)

(The song 16 ton originally by Tennessee Ernie Ford was written about life in a mining company town, which was very similar to the town the Pullman employees lived in. The song quotes the famous lyrics “Saint Peter don’t you come for me, for I can’t go…I sold my soul to the company store” lamenting the unfortunate reality of many of these laborers)


Key Sources:



Benjamin Franklin and America’s Mail

Benjamin Franklin has long been considered one of the Founding Fathers of America with contributions that are still in use today. As a printer, he purchased and published the most successful newspaper within the colonies, the Pennsylvania Gazette, along with other pamphlets and papers. As an inventor, his Franklin stove kept homes warm until more modernized heating systems were developed, and bifocals remain heavily in use today.

Another contribution applied to Mr. Franklin is also his turn as the first Post Master General of the United States in 1775, however he began as the joint postmaster of the British Crown Post in 1737 due to his station as a newspaper publisher. During his time as the Postmaster of the British Crown Post, the post office of the colonies posted its first profit in 1760. Under Franklin’s guiding hand, the penny post was implemented, allowing for delivery of mail to locations other than the post office, newspapers being delivered for a small fee, and much faster delivery times due to the mail being moved day and night, and more efficient routes within the colonies, which Franklin himself helped map and scout.

During his time as a young man, Ben Franklin took part in a group of like minded individuals to form a group, known as the Junto, to discuss the matters of the day. All the members had a fondness to reading, and they discussed developing a library system by pooling their money and buying books to share. This may have been the inspiration for one of Ben Franklin’s lesser known contributions, a mail order service for books.

File:Benjamin Franklin, Catalogue of Books.djvu

“A Catalogue of Choice and Valuable Books, Consisting of Near 600 Volumes, in most Faculties and Sciences” was sent out by Ben Franklin in 1744 and offered hundreds of titles for sale. The sale began April 11th at 9 am and would continue for 3 weeks and no longer. The books were sold at the lowest cost during the sale, but after the sale ended, they would be sold at an ‘advanced cost’.

This opportunity was almost unheard of back in 1744.  While the printing press allowed for mass producing the written word, books were expensive and not as freely available as they are now.   In addition, postal carriers never seemed to carry parcels as cumbersome as a book.  It is believed that the books would have been delivered by wagons traveling to the delivery area, as most other materials would have been.  This publication may seem small in scale but it acted as a precursor to the mail order catalogs that still are in use today.

The significance of his appointment as the first Post Master General (and his appointment as a Joint Postmaster prior to the first Congressional Congress) is that we as a society today enjoy one of the most efficient postal services around the world, and have for over two hundred years.

As for his use of the ‘Catalogue’ to begin the process of mail ordered materials, major corporations such as Sears, Montgomery Ward, JCPenny and Hammacher Schlemmer have conducted business for decades using that same business model. While the creation of websites and online businesses have since replaced the majority of mail order catalogs, many are still sent out by businesses such as LL Bean and Dell to draw attention to their products.


The First American by H.W. Brands (2002)

The story of Alexander Hamilton

Hardships, trials, abandonment, sex scandals, and death are hardly the things that are thought about when our founding fathers are thought of.  The great things that they did, the war that they fought, and the constitution are things that normally come to mind.  Often it is hard to imagine an of these great men going through tough times.  Alexander Hamilton, however, had to overcome all of these things are more.

Alexander Hamilton’s rough life started long before he was born.  His mother Rachel Faucett, was wed to a man that she did not love at the age of 16. According to Michael  Gerson, author of  Overcoming adversity: The Childhood of Alexander Hamilton, Rachel’s husband was abusive and controlling.  Rachel fled from her marriage to the island of St. Kitts, leaving behind her first born son, Peter.

While on St. Kitts Rachel met John Hamilton, Alexanders father and they fell in love and began living together.  They were unable to get married because Rachel was still legally married.  During this time Rachel gave birth to Alexander and his older brother John.  Rachel’s husband eventually fell in love with another woman and sued Rachel for a divorce.  During the divorce he told the courts all about Rachel’s shameful acts of adultery and the bastard children she had born.  As a part of the divorce decree the courts ruled that Rachel was not to return to St. Croix and when she died all of her estate will belong to her only legitimate child Peter, whom she had not seen since she left her husband.

When Alexander was about 8 years old, his father was required to move to St. Croix for work (Overcoming Adversity).  Even though Rachel was not supposed to return, she packed up Alexander and his brother and they moved with their father to St. Croix.  Here Alexander was known to be a bastard and was treated by the locals as lower than dirt.  Shortly after arriving at St. Croix Alexanders father abandon them.  Even though Alexander had a very close relationship with his father, he was never to see him again.

Alexanders mother, alone and jobless took out a loan and opened her own local grocery store (overcoming Adversity). There Alexander and his older brother worked for their mother and learned how to run a business.  Things seemed to be looking up for the family and when Alexander was about ten years old he was able to get a job working for one of the distributes for his mothers store.  There it became apparent that he was a very bright and a fast learner.  His employers enjoyed him and taught him everything he could learn.

When Alexander was eleven tragedy struck and both Alexander and his mother.  They became very ill with high fevers.  His mother would not recover and would leave Alexander and his brother as orphans.  Because of the past court ruling, Alexander and John would not see a dime of their mothers estate. They went to live with his mothers cousin who committed suicide a year later leaving the two boys all alone to fend for themselves.

Alexander’s older brother John would become an apprentice carpenter and Alexander would go live with a friend’s family. The only good thing he had going for him was that he was still working for Cruger Wholesale Export Firm.   He took on more responsibility and advanced very quickly.  He learned about business and finance and by the age of fourteen he was making complex business decisions, and running the entire operation (Overcoming Adversity).

Education was very important to Alexander, and every spare minute he had he spend teaching himself reading, writing, and arithmetic. One person was especially impressed with his self directed reading program, the Minister of his Church, Reverend Hugh Knox.  Reverend Knox, and Alexanders’ employer, Nicholas Cruger, arranged for Alexander to go to the new country to attend a university.  Reverend Knox wrote letters of introduction to friends in America, who would take Alexander under their wing when he arrived (overcoming adversity).

At age sixteen Alexander would arrive in America to begin his formal education.  His mentors felt that he was not quite ready to attend college.  For a year Alexander would attend Presbyterian Academy in Elizabethtown, a prep school that was sponsored by College of New Jersey, currently known as Princeton.  Regardless of this Alexander would fall in love with New York City and despite the wishes of his mentors and sponsors would attend Kings College, currently known as Columbia University.

Alexander Hamilton’s military career started in 1775 according to the army historical Series, Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution by Robert K Wright Jr., and Morris J. MacGregor Jr.  He joined a volunteer militia group called Hearts of Oak.  There he trained under a former British officer and was commissioned a Captain in 1776.  Shortly after receiving his commission he was called to duty by orders from Colonel Henry Knox.  Knox was so impressed with Alexander that he recommended him to Washington’s personal attention (Soldier-Statement of the Constitution).  In March he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and received the position of Commander in Chief.  He resigned form his duties under Washington after a minor reprimanded in April of 1781.

In December of 1780 Alexander married Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of Major General Philip Schuyler.  In 1782 he took up the study of law and he and Elizabeth lived in New York.  Alexander completed an apprenticeship in three months that normally would take three years and was admitted to the bar in July.  With in six months he was representing New York in the Continental Congress.  In 1789 he was appointed to be the nations first Secretary of the Treasury (Soldier-Statesman of the Constitution).

Alexander Hamilton  understood public finance and helped to shape the future of the America.  According to John Steel Gordon in An Empire of Wealth, “Hamilton’s most pressing problem was to deal with the federal tax”.  In January of 1790 Hamilton submitted his first report on public credit.  He suggested that bonds be issued backed by the new tariff that had just been placed on foreign vessels.   Also in order to help the hold on Union Hamilton insisted that the government take on the debts that had been incurred by the state while fighting the revolution (Empire of Wealth). The bonds were such a success that by 1794 the United States had an excellent credit rating in France and the bonds were often selling above par.  Hamilton also established the first central bank.  He insisted that the bank be owned privately so that the government would not be able to print money when ever they wanted it.

Alexander Hamilton is also on of the first political figures in America to have a public sex scandal.  Which caused him to step down from office just five years after obtaining the position.

Like most of his unique life Hamilton also had a unique death.  He was killed in a gun dual by Arron Burr in July of 1804.  Arron Burr was later accused of murder however the charges were dropped.  Alexander Hamilton is the picture of the American dream.  He grew up in poverty and was still able to create a wealth for himself and become one of the founding fathers and most famous men in American history.


Works Cited

“Alexander Hamilton – Mini Biography .” You Tube. BIO., Sept. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. <>.

Gerson, Michael J. Overcoming Adversity: The Childhood of Alexander Hamilton. Archiving Early America®. , n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <>.

Gordon, John S. En Empire of Wealth. New York: Harper Perennial, 2004. 68-81. Print.

Wright, Jr., Robert K., and Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. N.p., 11 Aug. 2000. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <>.