Congress in the 20th and 21st Centuries125 min
- Students will analyze twentieth and twenty-first century reforms of Congress.
- Students will analyze the difference between constitutional reforms and the reforming of congressional rules.
- Students will assess the arguments for and against congressional reforms.
- Students will analyze the effects and significance of these reforms on Congress.
- Handout A: Background Essay – Congress in the 20th and 21st Centuries
- Handout B: Critical Reading Graphic Organizer
- Handout C: The Indirectly Elected Senate
- Handout D: The Directly Elected Senate
- Handout E: The Seventeenth Amendment Class Discussion
- Handout F: The Filibuster
- Handout G: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
- “Lame duck”
- Prior to the lesson, have your students read Handout A: Background Essay: Congress in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries.
- When students arrive in class, pass out Handout B: Critical Reading Graphic Organizer.
- Have students complete the handout individually or in groups. Then discuss the answers as a class.
Activity I » 50 minutes
- Divide the class in half.
- Distribute Handout C: The Indirectly Elected Senate, to one half of the class. Have them read the quotes and answer the questions at the bottom of the page.
- Distribute Handout D: The Directly Elected Senate, to the other half of the class. Have them read the quotes and answer questions at the bottom of the page.
- Now, switch the sides. Have those who first completed Handout C read Handout D and have those who read Handout D complete Handout C, and answer the questions at the bottom of the page.
- Once both sides have completed the handouts, pass out Handout E: The Seventeenth Amendment Class Discussion, and conduct a Socratic discussion with your class.
Activity II » 30 minutes in class, 30 minutes homework
- Distribute Handout F: Filibuster to the class.
- Distribute the two articles on Handout F or read them together as a class.
- Have your students complete the critical reading questions.
- As a class, discuss how political views on filibusters change over time.
- Have students write letters to the editor outlining their positions regarding a hypothetical controversy explained on Handout F.
- Distribute Handout G: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
- Have your students watch the filibuster clip from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPv0S1-ETdI) and lead your class in a discussion about the themes in the clip.
- After the discussion, have students reassess the letters to the editor that they wrote at the end of Handout F. Did their position change or did it stay the same? Take a class vote to determine the outcomes.
Commerce and the Progressive Era
The twentieth century saw the rise of a widespread but not very clearly defined group of reformers known as the progressives. The basic belief that united them was that the industrialized, urbanized United States of the nineteenth century had outgrown its eighteenth-century Constitution.
Did the Progressive Movement Diverge from Founding Principles and Did It Affect the Purpose of Government?
Two scholars debate this question.
The Progressive Era
Part of the Civil War’s legacy was a shift in the role of the national government. The defeat of the South, Reconstruction, and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment gave the national government growing power over the states and the people. The Fourteenth Amendment gave the national government power (though exactly how much power was still being debated) to ensure state laws did not violate the rights of the freedmen. Additional amendments during the Progressive Era (the 1890s - 1920s) continued this transfer of power to the national government. In the name of giving power to the people, the national government was given power to tax incomes; states lost their representation in Congress, the manufacture and sale of alcohol was banned, and women achieved the right to vote.
The Progressive Movement DBQ
Use this Lesson with the Wilsonian Progressivism Narrative and the Did the Progressive Movement Diverge from Founding Principles and Did It Affect the Purpose of Government? Point-Counterpoint to understand the Progressive Era.
AP U.S. History Prep Episode #7 | The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era (1860-1920)
In this episode, we will focus on economic and political developments of the Gilded Age and the Progressive era, with a focus on comparing the relationship between government and big business during these two periods.