Making a Nation: The United States and Its People, Volume II

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9780130339966: Making a Nation: The United States and Its People, Volume II

Taking political economy as its organizing theme, Making A Nation offers an intellectual focus to history that is sensitive to the recent innovations in women's history and environmental history. The book focuses on the relationships that shape and define human identity—cultural, diplomatic, race, gender, class and sectional relations— and recognizes the importance of such traditional fields as politics and diplomacy. The reference synthesizes the literature in such as way as to allow readers to see the links between the particular and the general, between large and seemingly abstract forces such as globalization and political struggle and the daily struggles of ordinary men and women. Volume II covers U.S. history, including the second World War, the Cold War, the consumer society, the rise and fall of the new liberalism, living with less, the triumph of a new conservatism, and a new America. For historians and others interested in a comprehensive overview of the relationships that shape and define U.S. history.

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About the Author:

Jeanne Boydston is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early American Republic, coauthor of The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Woman's Sphere, co-editor of The Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women (second edition), as well as author of articles on the labor history of women in the early republic. Professor Boydston teaches in the areas of early republic and antebellum United States history and United States women's history to 1870. Her BA and MA are from the University of Tennessee, and her PhD is from Yale University.

Nick Cullather is Associate Professor at Indiana University, where he teaches courses on the history of United States foreign relations. He is on the editorial boards of Diplomatic History and the Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, and is the author of Illusions of Influence (1994), a study of the political economy of United States-Philippines relations, and Secret History (1999), which describes a CIA covert operation against the government of Guatemala in 1954. He received his AB from Indiana University and his MA and PhD from the University of Virginia.

Jan Ellen Lewis is Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program at Rutgers University, Newark. She also teaches in the history PhD program at Rutgers, New Brunswick and was a Visiting Professor at Princeton University. A specialist in colonial and early national history, she is the author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Family and Values in Jefferson's Virginia (1983), and co-editor of An Emotional History of the United States (1998) and Sally Herrings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture (1999). She is currently completing an examination of the way the Founding generation grappled with the challenge presented to an egalitarian society by women and slaves and a second volume of the Penguin History of the United States. She received her AB from Bryn Mawr College, and MAs and PhD from the University of Michigan.

Michael McGerr is Associate Professor of History and Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington. He is the author of The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928 (1986). With the aid of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently writing a book on the rise and fall of Progressive America. Professor McGerr teaches a wide range of courses on modern American history, including the Vietnam War, race and gender in American business, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, and the politics of American popular music. He received his BA, MA, and PhD degrees from Yale University.

James Oakes is Graduate School Humanities Professor and Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has taught at Purdue, Princeton, and Northwestern. He is author of <>The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (1982) and Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (1990). In addition to a year-long research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1989-90. His areas of specialization are slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the history of American political thought. He received his PhD from Berkeley.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Every human life is shaped by a variety of different relationships. Cultural relations, diplomatic relations, race, gender, and class relations, all contribute to how an individual interacts with the larger global community. This was as true in the past as it is today. Making a Nation retells the history of the United States by emphasizing the relationships that have shaped and defined the identities of the American people. For example, to disentangle the identity of a Mexican American woman working in a factory in Los Angeles in the year 2000 is to confront the multiple and overlapping "identities" that define a single American life. Making a Nation assumes that the multiplicity of cultures, classes, and regions, the vast changes as well as the enduring elements of our past, can nonetheless be told, as the story of a single nation, always in the making. There are many ways to explore these relationships. Making a Nation views them through the lens of political economy. This is an especially appropriate way to approach American history.

In March of 1776, Adam Smith published his masterpiece, The Wealth of Nations, a few months before American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain. The imperial crisis had been building for some time and was a topic of international discussion. Smith delayed publication of his work for a year so that he could perfect a lengthy chapter on Anglo-American relations. Thus The Wealth of Nations, one of the most important documents in a new branch of knowledge known as political economy, was written with a close eye to events in the British colonies of North America, the colonies that were soon to become the United States. The fact that a large portion of Smith's book was framed as a history of England is equally important. Smith believed that history was one of the best ways to approach the study of political economy. Making a Nation shares that assumption; it takes political economy as an organizing theme for the history of the United States.

What did Smith and his many American followers mean by "political economy?" They meant, firstly, that the economy itself is much broader than the gross national product, the unemployment rate, or the twists and turns of the stock market. They understood that economies are tightly bound to politics, that they are therefore the products of history rather than nature or accident. And just as men and women make history, so to do they make economies—in the way they work and organize their families as much as in their fiscal policies and tax structures.

The term "political economy" is not commonly used any more, yet it is a way of thinking that is deeply embedded in American history. To this day we casually assume that different government policies create different "incentives" shaping everything from the way capital gains are invested to how parents raise their children, from how unmarried mothers on welfare can escape from poverty to how automobile manufacturers design cars for fuel efficiency and pollution control. This connection between government, the economy, and the relationships that shape the daily lives of ordinary men and women is the essence of political economy. But that connection points in different directions. Politics and the economy do not simply shape, but are in turn shaped by, the lives and cultural values of ordinary men and women.

In short, political economy establishes a context that allows students to see the links between the particular and the general, between large and seemingly abstract forces such as "globalization" and the struggles of working parents who find they need two incomes to provide for their children. Making a Nation shows that such relationships were as important in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as they are today.

So, for example, we begin this history of our nation by stepping back to view an early modern "world in motion." Every chapter in the book opens with a vignette that captures the chapter's theme, but each of the first six vignettes focuses on a different traveler whose life was set in motion by the European expansion across the Atlantic: an explorer, a settler, a young mother, a slave, a Native American. In a sense, globalization has been a theme in American history from its earliest beginnings. Europe, Africa, and the Americas were linked to each other in an Atlantic world across which everything was exchanged, deadly diseases along with diplomatic formalities, political structures and cultural assumptions, African slaves and European servants, colonists and commodities.

In subsequent chapters Making a Nation traces the development of the newly formed United States by once again stressing the link between the lives of ordinary men and women to the grand political struggles between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, between Andrew Jackson's Democrats and Henry Clay's Whigs. Should the federal government create a centralized bank? Should it promote economic development by sponsoring the construction of railroads, turnpikes, and canals? At one level, such questions exposed competing ideas about what American capitalism should look like and what the implications of those ideas were for American democracy. But a closer look suggests that those same political quarrels were propelled by the concerns that farmers, workers, and businessmen were expressing about the pace and direction of economic change. A newly democratic politics had given many ordinary Americans a voice, and they immediately began speaking about the way the policies of the government affected the basic elements of their daily lives. They have been speaking the same way ever since.

Similarly, the great struggle over slavery and freedom—a struggle that literally tore the nation apart in the middle of the nineteenth century—is told as the story of dramatic political maneuvers and courageous military exploits, as well as the story of women who created the modern profession of nursing by caring for civil war soldiers and of runaway slaves who helped push the United States government into a policy of emancipation. The insights of political economy frame the way Making a Nation presents the transition from slave to free labor in the South after the Civil War. A new labor system meant an entirely new pattern of gender relations between freedmen and freedwomen whose marriages were legalized for the first time.

In the twentieth century, as America became a global power, the demands of the new political economy of urban and industrial America inform our examination of both U.S. diplomacy and domestic affairs. It was no accident, for example, that the civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph took advantage of the crisis of the Second World War to threaten Franklin Roosevelt's administration with a march on Washington. For Randolph, the demand for racial equality was inseparable from the struggle for a more equitable distribution of the rewards of a capitalist economy.

The United States victory in World War II, coupled with the extraordinary burst of prosperity in the war's aftermath, gave rise to fantasies of omnipotence that were tested and shattered by the American experience in Vietnam. Presidents, generals, and ordinary soldiers alike shared in the illusion of invulnerability. America's was the greatest democracy and the most powerful economy on earth. Thus did Americans in Southeast Asia in the late twentieth century find themselves in much the same place that Christopher Columbus had found himself centuries before: halfway around the world, face to face with a people whose culture he did not fully understand.

Student Learning Aids

To assist students in their appreciation of this history, we have added several distinctive features.

Chapter Opening Vignettes
The vignettes that open each chapter have already been mentioned; they are intended to give specificity as well as humanity to the themes that follow. From the witchcraft trials in Salem to the Trumps' American dream, students are drawn into each chapter with interesting stories that illustrate the organizing factor of political economy.

"Where They Lived, Where They Worked" sections, such as the story of the company-owned town of Pullman, Illinois, featured in Chapter 20 help students see the connections between home and work that are obscured in most accounts of American history.

"Growing Up In America" includes the history of young people in a systematic way. Instead of just concentrating on famous people in history, these sections look particularly at one or a group of younger people and relate their experiences to the larger movements of their day. By providing students insights into the lives of ordinary people like themselves, such as Jarena Lee presented in Chapter 9, this special feature makes the text inherently more interesting.

"On Trial" highlights a series of cases, such as the Scottsboro trial in Chapter 24, that show how personal, social, and even political struggles are often played out as dramatic and illuminating courtroom battles.

Web Connection
Making a Nation is the first text to integrate Web-based activities into each of its chapters. Tied closely to the themes of the text, each Web Connection combines text, audio, and visuals to explore provocative topics in depth.

Maps
The study of history has always been enhanced by maps. To help students understand the relationships between places and events, Making a Nation provides extensive map coverage. With over 120 full color maps devoted to such topics as "Exploring the Trans-Mississippi West," "Patterns of Global Migration," and "The Globalization of the U.S. Economy," students can more readily place events in their geographic context. To capture the element of globalization, almost every chapter contains at least one map dedicated to that theme.

Pedagogical Aids
Each chapter has numerous...

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