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Debating Industrial Progress: Andrew Carnegie vs. Henry George

65 min
  • Students will examine differing accounts on human progress by reading and summarizing the arguments of Henry George and Andrew Carnegie.
  • Students will practice civil discourse by following the Structured Academic Controversy model of debate.

Students can complete the readings for this activity in class or for homework.

Ask students to share the challenges (e.g., overcrowding, crime, sanitation, poverty) and opportunities (e.g., more jobs, available wealth) brought on by the Gilded Age to prepare them to examine two famous arguments on industrialization and progress.

Individually, students will read the two sources, identify the central arguments, and note the major points of each author in their graphic organizer.

Students will engage in a Structured Academic Controversy Activity to argue both sides of the central question.

Student will share their consensus statements and engage in a class debrief. To what extent are George’s and Carnegie’s arguments still valid today? Why or why not?

In class discussion and/or essays, students may explore the following essential questions:

(a) To what extent has industrialization been a blessing or a curse to American society?

(b) To what extent has industrial progress advanced and strengthened the U.S. economy?

(c) To what extent is muckraking an effective tool to reform American business, politics, and society?