Topic 52 – The historic evolution of the united states: From a. Lincoln to f.d. Roosevelt

Topic 52 – The historic evolution of the united states: From a. Lincoln to f.d. Roosevelt



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. Personal information.

2.1.1. The first presidents of the United States (1789-1865).

2.1.2. Abraham Lincoln: a biography (1809-1865).

2.2. Historical account of events.

2.2.1.The aftermath of the War of Independence (1778-1860).

2.2.2. The election of Abraham Lincoln (1860).

2.2.3. The Civil War (1861- 1865).


3.1. The presidents of the United States (1865-1933).

3.2. The aftermath of the Civil War (1865-1933).

3.2.1. Economic consequences.

3.2.2. Technological consequences

3.2.3. Social consequences.

3.2.4. Political consequences. The Spanish-American War (1898). The Caribbean domination policy. The Mexican revolution. The First World War (1914-1918).


4.1. Youth and early years (1882-1910).

4.2. Early political career (1910-1920).

4.3. Vice- Presidential Nomination (1920).

4.4. Governor of New York (1928).

4.5. President of the United States (1933).

4.6. The New Deal from 1935.

4.7. Foreign affairs: a prelude to war.

4.8. The World War II (1941-1945).





1.1. Aims of the unit.

The present unit, Unit 52, aims to provide a useful introduction to the historical development of the United States of America from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This historical period has not been chosen arbitrarily since we aim at examining an important period within the political history of the United States connected with the figures of Lincoln and Rooselvelt. Both political figures have in common that many historians consider them to be the greatest American presidents, together with George Washington, but differ in the time they achieved their presidential post, since Lincoln was the sixteenth president and Roosevelt, the thirty-second.

Hence, A. Lincoln shall mark the beginning of our study since he is the most representative figure from the period which examines the events between the War of Independence (1778-

1783) and the Civil War (1861-1865) whereas F. D. Rooselvelt marks the end since he is the

last political figure from the aftermath of the war up to the Second World War (1945). In between, we shall examine the political work of the other fifteen presidents which drove the country in between.

This is reflected in the organization of the unit, which is divided into three main chapters which correspond to the main tenets of this unit , that is, from the Presidential election of A. Lincoln to the death of F.D. Roosevelt. Therefore, we shall analyse (1) the historical development of the United States from the War of Independence to the figure of Abraham Lincoln as a president (1778-1865); (2) the historical development of the United States between A. Lincoln and F. D. Rooselvelt (1865-1933); and (3) the historical development of the United States under the figure of F. D. Rooselvelt (1933-1945). Hence, shall present our study in five main chapters.

Chapter 2 shall examine the historical development of the United States from the War of Independence to the death of Abraham Lincoln (1778-1865). Yet, we consider relevant to organise this section into two different parts, in which we shall offer first (1) personal information about (a) the list of the fifteen presidents who ruled before A. Lincoln, and (b) a brief biography of Abraham Lincoln so as to relate it later to a historical account of events in that period. Then we shall offer (2) a historical account of the main political events. Thus, we shall review the previous years to 1860 under the heading (a) the aftermath of the War of Independence (1778-1820) in terms of social, economical, and political consequences which

shall lead us (b) towards the election of Abraham Lincoln (1820-1860) as a president, and finally, we shall analyse its main consequence, (c) the Civil War (1861-1865).

Chapter 3 shall examine the historical development of the United States from the death of

Abraham Lincoln to the introduction of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the political field (1865-

1933). In doing so, we shall offer first (1) an account of the first presidents of the United States from George Washington (1789) to A. Lincoln (1865) during this period in relation to the main events which took place. Then we shall review the main historical events in (2) the aftermath of the Civil War (1865-1933) regarding the (a) economic, (b) technological, (c) social, including (i) the question of slavery, (ii) migrations to the West in the homeland, (iii) migrations from the rest of the world, and the main changes in the (iv) distribution of social classes; and (d) political consequences of the Civil war, which will be further developed into (i) the Spanish-American War, (ii) the American domination policy in the Caribbean, (iii) the Mexican Revolution, and (iv) the First World War.

Chapter 4 shall examine the historical development of the United States under the figure of Franklin Delano Rooselvelt (1933-1945), who was a charismatic political figure. So, we shall examine his life and, therefore, the history of the United States, regarding his (1) youth and early years (1882-1910), his (2) early political career (1910-1920), his (3) Vice-Presidential Nomination (1920), Roosevelt as (4) Governor of New York (1928), and as (5) President of the United States (1933), his political reform reflected in (6) The New Deal from 1935, (7) foreign affairs and a prelude to war, and finally, his participation in (8) the World War II (1941-1945).

Chapter 5 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 6 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 7 will include all the bibliographical references used to develop this account of the History of the United States from A. Lincoln to F.D. Roosevelt.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An influential introduction to the historical background of the United States of America is based on Thoorens, Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos de América (1969); Palmer, Historia Contemporánea (1980); Bradbury & Temperley, Introduction to American Studies (1981); Musman, Background to the

USA (1982); and Brogan, The History of the United States of America (1985). Other sources are

Encyclopaedia Larousse 2000 (1998).

The background for educational implicatio ns is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by the most complete record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2004) for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato; and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).


Chapter 2 shall examine the historical development of the United States from the War of Independence to the death of Abraham Lincoln (1778-1865). Yet, we consider relevant to organise this section into two different parts, in which we shall offer first (1) personal information about (a) the list of the fifteen presidents who ruled before A. Lincoln, and (b) a brief biography of Abraham Lincoln so as to relate it later to a historical account of events in that period. Then we shall offer (2) a historical account of the main political events. Thus, we shall review the previous years to 1860 under the heading (a) the aftermath of the War of Independence (1778-1820) in terms of social, economical, and political consequences which shall lead us (b) towards the election of Abraham Lincoln (1820-1860) as a president, and finally, we shall analyse its main consequence, (c) the Civil War (1861-1865).

2.1. Personal information.

2.1.1. The first presidents of the United States (1789-1865).

According to Larousse 2000 (1998), the first presidents of the United States including Lincoln are to be classified into three main groups. First, federal and republican presidents from 1789 to

1817; the presidents of the “era of good feelings” from 1817 and 1829; whigs and democrats from 1829 and 1861; and finally, Abraham Lincoln within the list of republican and democrats between 1861 and 1865.

Federal and republican presidents (1789-1817).

The first president was George Washington (1789-1793), who was followed by J. Adams (1797), Jefferson (1801-1805) and Madison (1809- 1813).

The “era of good feelings” (1817- 1829).

This era is represented by Monroe (1817-1821) and J.Q. Adams (1825). Whigs and democrats (1829-1861).

Among Whig presidents we find Harrison (1841), Tyler (1841), Taylor (1849) and Filmore (1850) whereas among the democrats we include Jackson (1829-1833), Van Buren (1837), Polk (1845), Pierce (1853) and Buchanan (1857).

Republican and democrats (1861-1865).

Within this group we shall only mention the republican A. Lincoln (1861-1865).

2.1.2. Abraham Lincoln : a biography (1809-1865).

Abraham Lincoln (1809- 1865) was born on february 12 in Kentucky. His parents, both born in Virginia in undistinguished families, were Thomas Lincoln, who was an uneducated, but skilled carpenter, and a farmer, and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who had little or no schooling and could not write. Little is known about Lincoln’s mother, except that she died when Abraham was ten. The rest of the family were an older sister, Sarah, who died in childbirth in 1828, and a younger brother, Thomas, who died in infancy.

In 1816 the Lincolns moved to Indiana where he grew up because land ownership was more secure there. The Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for surveys by the federal government and also, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 forbade slavery in the area. The fact that Lincoln’s parents belonged to a faction of the Baptist church that disapproved of slavery, and this affiliation may account for Abraham’s later statement that he was naturally anti-slavery.

Indiana was a wild region in the woods and there was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education in Abraham. He attended some schools where, alike his mother, Abraham learnt to

read, write and cipher in his early years. In 1819, when he was eleven years old his father married a Kentucky widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, who proved a good and kind mother. In later years Abraham could fondly and poetically recall memories of his childhood. In 1828 he was able to make a flatboat trip to New Orleans.

In 1830 the Lincolns left Indiana for Illinois. Abraham made a second flatboat trip to New Orleans, and in 1831 he left home for New Salem, in Sangamon County near Springfield. The separation may have been made easier by Abraham’s estrangement from his father, of whom he spoke little in his mature life. In New Salem, Abraham tried various occupations and made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store in Illinois. In 1832 he served briefly in the Black Hawk War, where he was elected captain of his volunteer company, a distinction that gave him much satisfaction and opened new avenues for his life.

In the same year, he joined the Illinois legislature and two years later (1834) he was elected to the lower house for the first of four successive terms as a Whig (his membership in the Whig Party was natural since his father was also a Whig). Abraham Lincoln saw in the party’s ambitious program of national economic development the perfect solution to the problems he had seen in his rural, hardscrabble Indiana past. He spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. As a Whig, Lincoln supported the Second Bank of the United States, the Illinois State Bank, government-sponsored internal improvements (roads, canals, railroads, harbors), and protective tariffs.

Despite his Whig vision of the West, he remained conscious of his humble origins and was therefore sympathetic to agricultural labor. He bore no antagonism to capital, but he admired the American system of economic opportunity. Yet, slavery was the opposite of opportunity and mobility, and A. Lincoln stated his political opposition to it. Then he became a lawyer in 1836, and in 1837 he moved to Springfield, where he became the law partner of the Whig legislator John Todd Stuart. With a succession of partners, including Stephen T. Logan and William H. Herndon, Lincoln built a successful practice.

For the 4th and last time, Lincoln won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1840. Meanwhile he courted Mary Todd Lincoln, a Kentuckian of genteel origins who was a Presbyterian, though her husband was never a church member. After a brief postponement of their engagement, and in the fall of the elections, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd and they married on November 4, 1842. They had four sons, only one of whom lived to maturity (the former one): Robert Todd (1843-1926), Edward Baker (1846-50), William Wallace (1850-

62), and Thomas “Tad” (1853-71).

In 1844 Lincoln visited his former home in Indiana while campaigning for Henry Clay, the Whig candidate for President. In December Lincoln accepted William Herndon as his law partner. On 3 August 1846 Lincoln was re-elected to the United States House of Representatives, and between 1847 and 1849 Lincoln served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, where he opposed the Mexican War since he considered it unnecessary and unconstitutional.

This opposition was not a function of internationalist sympathy for Mexico, but of feeling that the Democratic president, James Polk, had violated the Constitution. Lincoln had been indifferent about the annexation of Texas, already a slave territory, but he opposed any expansion that would allow slavery into new areas; hence, he supported the Wilmot Proviso, which would have barred slavery from any territory gained as a result of the Mexican War. He did not run for Congress again, returning instead to Springfield and the law.

In 1854 Lincoln was elected again to the Illinois legislature, but he declined the office on November 27th to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate. His re-entry into politics was fueled by his opposition to slavery and his support on democracy. In 1856 he helped organize the new Republican Party in Illinois, and although he wasn’t nominated, he received he was voted for Vice-President at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Then in 1858 Lincoln Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator, but he lost the election. However, in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.

The same year in February, Lincoln made his first major political appearance in the Northeast when he addressed a rally at the Cooper Union in New York. He was now sufficiently well known to be a presidential candidate. By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration in March 1861, seven states had seceded from the Union. Then, despite the advice of a majority of his cabinet, Lincoln decided to send provisions to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, a symbol of federal authority. On April 12, 1861, South Carolina fired on the fort, and the Civil War began.

As President, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause, and January 1,

1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy. Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, and tried to convince Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in the spirit that guided and characterized him. Yet, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln’s death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.

2.2. Historical account of events.

2.2.1. The aftermath of the War of Independence (1778-1820).

The War of Independence (1778-1783), also known as the American Revolution, was first regarded as a civil war against Britain, but when other countries entered the confrontation, namely France (1778), Spain (1779) and the Netherlands (1780), it became an international war. Initial confrontations were mixed (the British being successful at Brandywine but suffering badly at Saratoga), but the situation improved for the colonists when these three countries utilized the opportunity caused by the confrontation to declare war on Britain as well. Eventually, by 1782, the British campaign was crumbling.

The British Parliament demanded an end to the war, largely due to its high expenses. The Prime Minister, now Lord North, resigned and, on 3 September 1783, treaties were signed at Versailles. Britain retained Canada and the West Indian Islands but the thirteen rebellious states were formally recognised as the United States of America. On the other hand, France retained their West Indian Islands and were given Tobago in addition, and Spain recovered Florida after twenty years of British control (but later sold it to the Netherlands).

Therefore, the aftermath of the war was particularly felt in the national division of the states due to the political struggle over slavery and the spread into new territories (the West). Hence, the North representing the modern, industrial, and business-minded states versus the South, which represented the cultures, colonial and aristocratic states. Yet, in general, the main consequences following the loss of the American colonies were to be noticed at social, economic and namely political consequences. Thus,

Social consequences.

In social terms, the United States exerted an irresistible attraction on visitors and therefore, immigrants, namely from Germany and Ireland. Between the 1830s and 1840s, population grew at an amazing rate attracted by an efficient network of economic and cultural richness in the new land. The German did well whereas the Irish immigrants were not rich enough to buy land. Hence they had to take the menial and unskilled labour needed by the expanding economy, and as a result, they suffered discrimination in towns and cities (their discrimination is compared to the free blacks in the North).

Another important issue to be highlighted is that of Northern blacks. Since they possessed theoretical freedom, they suffered discrimination at all social levels (politics, employment, education, religion, and even in cemeteries). Yet, their situation improved between the 1830s and 1850s under the Age of Reform, where a great variety of ideals and movements flourished in favor of women’ rights, pacifism, abolition of imprisonment, capital punishment, improving working classes conditions, and a better education, among others. Yet, a vast majority of Americans did not support these changes. The Reform reflected the sensibility of a small number of people.

Economic consequences.

Economically, after the War of Independence two different economic models towards capitalism developed, thus represented by North and South ideals. On the one hand, the North, supported by the Middle West, based its economy on industry and farming in order to set up tariffs to protect themselves against rival European products; on the other hand, the South, namely aristocratic, based its economy on cotton production in big plantations, and therefore, free trade of slaves. Slavery did not exisst in the Northern states, so the North found it difficult to accept the attitude of the South.

Political consequences.

Political consequences were felt in Britain and in the American colonies. Let us examine the most relevant events in both parts.

In in the British Empire, there was an increasing interest in the east. The East India Company had long been the main agent of Imperial expansion in southern Asia and exercised many governmental functions. Although the company maintained sole responsibility for trade and patronage, in 1784 under the India Act, a Board of Control was established to oversee the revenue, administration and diplomatic functions of the company as well as the aspects of its military expansion.

Yet, the new target of Britain was not only the East, but also the colonisation of the Antipodes so as to establish penal colonies (1788). The colonisation of Australia and New Zealand began with the desire to find a place for penal settlement after the loss of the original American colonies. The first shipload of British convicts landed in Australia in 1788, on the site of the future city of Sydney.

Regarding the American colonies, the resolution on the settlement in the West was to be realized by a Federal government, which was established according to the interests of the North states. Until 1789, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation, which created an extremely weak central government. The United States had no power to levy taxes; for income, it relied essentially on money from the states. In addition, the government of the United States had no central executive branch, making its already weak government further divided and lacking strong leadership. The government of the United States under the Articles was also weak with regards to foreign affairs, and during this period Britain and Spain treated the United States like a third-rate power.

Therefore, since the South was afraid of a possible centralized government, they started to think about the possibility of breaking with the Union and replaced the Articles of Confederation with a stronger central government. Those who advocated the creation of such a government took the name Federalists, and quickly gained supporters throughout the nation. The most well- known Federalists include Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These were the main contributors to the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 essays which served in many ways as seminal documents for the new United States that was to come.

The Constitution of the United States was adopted as a direct response to the Articles of Confederation and as a result, a strong executive branch was created for the first time to give the government the power to tax. After the first elections then the old nationalists (Federalists) took the power. Moreover, the Federalists gained a great deal of prestige and advantage when George Washington joined their cause.

2.2.2. Towards the election of Abraham Lincoln (1820-1860).

As we have seen, the Constitution in the aftermath of the war had been able to regulate conflicts of interest and conflicting visions for the new, rapidly expanding nation. But from 1820 to 1860 many other factors had changed, thus the rise of mass democracy in the North, the breakdown of the old two-party system, the increasingly virulent and hostile sectional ideologies (especially that of “free labor” in the North), the acquisition of new lands in the West in the 1840s and slavery in the south, which would catapult the nation into civil war. With the emergence of the United States Republican Party, the nation became the first major sectional political party, by the mid- 1850s.

There is little question that the salient issue in the minds of the public and popular press of the time, and the histories written since, was the issue of slavery. Slavery had been abolished in most northern states, but was legal and important to the economy of the Confederacy, which

depended on cheap agricultural labor. State sovereignty (for the South) and preservation of the Union (for the North) have both also been cited as issues, but both were reflections of the slavery issue.

The political atmosphere before the Civil War was therefore, one of unremitting crisis. The underlying problem was that the United States had been on the whole a country, but not a nation and hence, the major functions of government (education, health, transport) were carried out at a state or local level. Yet, an enduring manifestation of hostility toward the nationalizing tendencies in American life was the reassertion of strong nationalistic feelings threatened by the West.

There were several points of view from West, East, North and South. On the one hand, the West developed a strong sectional feeling, blending its sense of uniqueness and the feeling of having been exploited by the businessment of the East and, on the other hand, the East reasserted his national feeling. Moreover, the South persisted on Negro slavery, which had already been abolished or prohibited in all other parts of the United States. So, people from the South stated an elaborate pro-slavery argument on defending their institutions on biblical, economic, and sociological grounds. On the contrary, the North reaffirmed its position towards industry and against slavery, and made a great effort to change the South’s point of view.

In fact, George Washington received every electoral vote and became president, and only a handful of Anti-federalists were elected to Congress. When Washington determined not to continue, president John Adams was elected president, and in turn, Jefferson (a republican) in

1800, and James Madison in 1809. Britain and France were forced by Madison to respect the

commercial restraints in the seas, but the efforts were futile. Britain periodically humiliated the small American navy by seizing American ships.

By 1812, American relations with Britain did not improve. Rather, a popular clamour for war began to arise, namely due to the frustration and desire to redeem the national honour, and eventually, America declared the war against England in 1812. Two years later (1814), the Americans defeated England in 1814 and peace was reestablished in the United States by James Monroe (former secretary of state and president in 1816). This period was to be known as the “Era of Good Feeling”.

By 1860, the American society underwent both a sectional confrontation and an economic revolution, where depression was sharpened by economic and class divides, realigning the interplay of race, class, and political ideology. In other words, the realignment of cleavages and

cooperation among geographical, social classes, and party affiliations in politics between the depression of 1857 and the election of 1860 led to the election of a president so objectionable to Southern slave-owing interests that it would trigger Southern secession, and consequently a war to save the integrity of the Union.

Hence, in 1860 the presidential election of Abraham Lincoln took place in an atmosphere of great tension and was not received in the same way in the North and South. In the South, Lincoln’s election was taken as the signal for secession and South Carolina became the first state to withdraw from the Union. This time they were determined and soon, other states followed their proposal. In 1861, in February 4, six Southern states sent representatives to establish a new independent government, but Lincoln was not in favour of the Union to be divided. Then, in his inaugural address, his speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. The South, particularly South Carolina, ignored the plea, and on April 12, the South fired upon the Federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina until the troops surrendered.

2.2.3. The Civil War (1861- 1865).

The Civil War has been also called the main American social revolution, a watershed in the rise of modern industrial society in the United States and as the result of free-labor industrial capitalism, and the resolution of sectional conflict in the North. This war was fought between the northern states, popularly referred to as the “Union,” the “north,” or the “Yankees,” and the seceding southern states, commonly referred to as the Confederate States of America, the “Confederacy.” the “south,” or the “rebels.”

As stated above, the Civil War started with Lincoln’s victory in the presidential election of

1860, which triggered South Carolina’s secession from the Union. By February 1, 1861, six more Southern states had seceded. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America. The remaining southern states as yet remained in the Union, and less than a month later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States.

Since then a march of Union troops under the command of the Confederate force was built up by July 1861 at Manassas, Virginia . The first battle is known as the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas), whereupon they were forced back to Washington, DC by Confederate troops under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. Alarmed at the loss,

the United States Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union. Also, it stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.

Subsequent encounters took place and the first victory of the war was under the Union flag under the figure of Ulysses S. Grant, who captured Fort Henry, Tennessee on February 6, 1862. Later on in September 5, the Confederates made its first invasion of the North under the rule of General Lee, who led 55,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River at White’s Ford near Leesburg, Virginia into Maryland. Then, on September 17, 1862, Lee’s army, checked at last, returned to Virginia. Yet, the war’s turning point was made by George Meade, who stopped Lee’s invasion of Union-held territory at the Battle of Gettysburg between 1-3 July

1863, inflicting 28,000 casualties on Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia , and again forcing it to

retreat to its state.

In general terms, while the Confederate forces had some success in the Eastern holding on to their capital, fortune did not smile upon them in the West. Confederate forces were driven from Missouri early in the war. The Union’s key strategist and tactician Ulysses S. Grant, won victories at Fort Donelson, Battle of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, driving Confederate forces out of Tennessee. Grant’s aim was to defeat the Confederate forces and bring an end to the war.

At the beginning of 1864, Grant was given command of all Union armies in the East, who attempted to defeat Lee and fought several battles during that phase of the Eastern campaign: the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor. Grant was tenacious and kept pressing the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee. He extended the Confederate army, pinning it down in the Siege of Petersburg and, after two failed attempts, he finally found a commander, Philip Sheridan, who could clear the threat to Washington DC from the Shenandoah Valley.

Yet, the North superiority was in the air. The main advantages widely believed to have contributed to the Union’s success include the North’s strong, industrial economy; the North’s strong compatible railroad links (and the South’s la ck thereof); the North’s larger population; the North’s possession of the United States’ merchant marine fleet and naval ships; the North’s established government; the North’s moral cause given to the war by Abraham Lincoln (the Emancipation Proclamation); and last but not least, the recruitment of black men, including many freed slaves, into the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation was approved.

On 9 April 1865 Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court house. The Battle of Palmito Ranch, fought on May 13, 1865, in the far south of Texas was the last

land battle of the war and ended with a Confederate victory. All Confederate land forces had surrendered by June 1865 whereas Confederate naval units surrendered as late as November of



Chapter 3 shall examine the historical development of the United States from the death of

Abraham Lincoln to the introduction of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the political field (1865-

1933). In doing so, we shall offer first (1) an account of the first presidents of the United States from George Washington (1789) to A. Lincoln (1865) during this period in relation to the main events which took place. Then we shall review the main historical events in (2) the aftermath of the Civil War (1865-1933) regarding the (a) economic , (b) technological, (c) social, including (i) the question of slavery, (ii) migrations to the West in the homeland, (iii) migrations from the rest of the world, and the main changes in the (iv) distribution of social classes; and (d) political consequences of the Civil war, which will be further developed into (i) the Spanish-American War, (ii) the American domination policy in the Caribbean, (iii) the Mexican Revolution, and (iv) the First World War.

3.1. The presidents of the United States (1865-1933).

The presidents of the United States between the death of A. Lincoln (1865) up to the Presidential election of F.D. Roosevelt (1933) are classified into republicans and democrats. Thus, among the republicans we include A. Johnson (1865), Grant (1869-1873), Hayes (1877), Garfield (1881), Arthur (1881), Harrison (1889), McKinley (1897-1901), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1905), Taft (1909), Harding (1921), Coolidge (1923-1925), and Hoover (1929- 1953). On the other hand, among democrat presidents we include Cleveland (1885-1893), and Wilson (1913-1917), this latter to be followed by F.D. Roosevelt (1933- 1945).

3.2. The aftermath of the Civil War (1865-1933).

The aftermath of the Civil War is namely represented by the events occurred within the international and national field. Thus, though all the events are interrelated, we shall analyse

them in economic, technological, social and political terms for the sake of clarity, and not chronologically. So, we shall classify the main events after the Civil war regarding (1) economic consequences, which include the emergence of new industrialized fronts in the South and the West as a result of the late consequences of international events, such as the Industrial Revolution and the imperialist policy of powerful countries; moreover, the emergence of new inventions are to be included in (2) technological consequences; also, these changes brought about (3) social consequences reflected by the strong spirit of reform, reflected on important social and cultural changes; finally, we shall analyse the main (4) political consequences in this period.

3.2.1. Economic consequences.

First of all, following Musman (1982), “after the Civil War, American industry changed dramatically.” On the one hand, “machines replaced hand labor as the main means of manufacturing, thus increasing the production capacity of industry.” As a result, “a new nationwide network of railroads enabled businessmen to distribute goods far and wide” and promoted the rise of big business and the industrialization of the South and the West.

On the one hand, the rise of big business was the result of the increase in American industry produced by the value of goods between 1870 and 1916, and several production developments. Thus, the improvement of production methods favoured the use of machines in manufacturing. This use made factories employ thousands of workers, which were assigned specific jobs. This system of labor is known as the division of labor, which sped up production and had a tremendous impact on economy. It also allowed prices to get lower and meant that more people could afford more products.

On the other hand, the emergence of new industrialized fronts in the South and the West took place when the South decided to rebuild its society since, in economic terms, it had been behind the rest of the nation. Hence, though some industry developed in the region, the South remained an agricultural area throughout the period of American industrialization. On the other hand, the West industrialization started when the Congress passed the Homestead Act (1862) by means of which public land was offered to people for free or at very low cost, which had a great impact in social terms.

3.2.2. Technological consequences.

Closely connected to economic consequences are the technological developments, that is, the technological inventions, such as the typewriter (1867), the telephone (1876), the phonograph (1877), and Henry Ford’s gasoline automobile (1885), among others; the use of natural resources, such as water, forests, coal and iron, copper, silver and namely, petroleum for the mass production of cars; at a social level, a growing population, namely, due to the waves of immigrants entered the country and provided the additional workers needed; economically speaking, high investments and banking made the business boom increase, and as a result, new banks and, therefore, economy, expanded their operations in and out the United States.

3.2.3. Social consequences.

The main social consequences were to be felt since ancient times, such as (1) the question of slavery, and also, due to the industrialization and expansion to the West regarding (2) immigration movements to the West and (3) from different parts of the world, and the new (4) distribution of social classes. The question of slavery.

The question of slavery is closely related to the Emancipation Proclamation, which was supposed to free all slaves who were in territory under Confederate control at the time of the Proclamation. Yet, slaves were not freed in the remaining states and parts of the Confederacy until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by third quarters of the states, which did not occur until December of 1865. A good deal of ill will among the Southern survivors resulted from the destruction inflicted on the South by the Union armies as the end of the war approached, the resulting shift of political power to the North, and the Reconstruction program instituted in the South by the Union after the end of the war. Migrations to the West.

On the one hand, as a result, thousands of Americans and immigrants started farms in the West, namely on the Great Plains. Mine and cattle industry also developed in that area, so after 1870, settlement became so widespread in the West that it was no longer possible to draw a continuous frontier line. This expansion to the West meant the end of native Indians since new

settlers occupied their la nd and slaughtered indiscriminately buffalo herds, namely their main way of survival. Eventually, federal soldiers were sent by the government to crush the Indian conflict, and pushed them onto reservations. Migrations from the rest of the world.

Following Brogan (1985), another kind of immigration is the early twentieth-century one, which was given at a higher scale. America had received immigrants from its colonial days due to its attractive image, which was derived to a large extent from its dynamic economy, but in a low number. Yet, immigration reached its highest point after the American economic recession in the decade from 1901 to 1910, when millions of emigrants came from south-eastern Europe. This movement is known as the Melting Pot of America due to the ethnic diversity.

In general terms, we can talk about immigration waves, which are classified into four main periods: first, from the first British colony in America established by John Smith, Jamestown to the Revolution (1607-1778), where people came namely from Ireland and Great Britain; from the Revolution to 1896, where the American population was heterogeneous (homeland vs. foreign, white vs. black), and immigrants were namely Mexicans, Scandinavians and Germans, but less Negroes; from 1896 to 1921, where most immigrants came from Eastern and Southern Europe (Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Poland); and from 1921 to the present day, the United States has imposed an annual limit upon those who come from abroad, except for immigrants from Canada, Mexico, and the states of South America.

After obtaining its independence, the United States lacked a cultural pattern and was continuously searching for an identity. In this sense, the mass immigration has helped the United States define the national culture as politically egalitarian and democratic since the first large-scale immigration occurred. Also, it has provided richness, color, cultural heritage and art to American life. Yet, immingration also creates conflicts, such as those regarding housing, sanitation, crime and, therefore, legal system due to problems of assimilation and adjustment. Distribution of social classes.

On the other hand, the effects of the Industrial revolution on society made the spirit of reform be stronger, and were to be felt name ly on the American people lives and, therefore, social classes since thousand of people moved from farms to cities. Hence we can distinguish three main social classes: a small percentage of high social class, who enjoyed wealth and luxury lives; a

larger percentage of middle class, who lived comfortably, but below the level of the former; and a huge number of people who belonged to the low socialclass and lived in extreme poverty.

It is worth mentioning that during the early 1900’s the reformers wanted to reduce poverty by improving the living conditions of the poor and regulating big business. Also, the government aimed at putting an end to corruption, making government closer to the people, and obtaining other goals such as the women suffrage. Yet, by 1917, since the reformers had achieved most of their aims and some of them were called progressives, this period of American history is often known as the Progressive Era (Palmer, 1980).

3.2.4. Political consequences.

The main political consequences of the Civil war are, for our purposes, the Spanish-American War (1898), the American domination policy in the Caribbean area, the Mexican revolution, and the First World War (1914-1918). The Spanish-American War (1898).

The Spanish-American War (1898) was the principal event of the administration of President William McKinley (1897-1901), who fought over the issue of the liberation of Cuba, though it started under the rule of the previous President, Cleveland (1885- 1893). Following Brogan (1985), most Americans wanted their country remain away from European affairs and thought it should offer an example of democracy and peace to the rest of the world. Actually , this war made the United States come up into the world politics on a new road to imperialism.

Previously to the event, it is worth remembering that Spain ruled over Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and other overseas possessions during the 1890’s. When Cuba rebelled against the Spanish rule in 1895, the repression was hard. Yet, soon the rising public in America demanded for intervention.Yet, on February 15, 1898, the American battleship Maine was blown up off the coast of Havana, in Cuba and, although it is not clear enough who caused the explosion, many Americans blamed Spain.

As a result, on April 25, 1898 McKinley gave way to the Congress to declare the war on Spain. The war was officially ended by the Treaty of Paris in the same year. Militarily speaking, this war was brief and relatively bloodless whereas its political and diplomatic consequences were enormous. Actually, this event marked a turning point in the history of the United States foreign policy since Spain relinquished Cuba (whose independence was recognized in 1902) and ceded to the United States the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Expansion of the nation to include regions outside of the North American continent was denounced as imperialism by the Democratic Party, and became the principal issue of the 1900 presidential campaign. The nation, however, supported the policy of expansion as carried out by the McKinley administration. In September 1901 McKinley was assassinated by a crazed anarchist, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt became president. His administrations marked a new attitude held by a section of the Republican Party toward the important social, political, and economic questions of the time, and led gradually to a sharp split in the party. The Caribbean domination policy.

The next important political event was the American domination in the Caribbean, which ranges approximately from the presidence of Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1905) to that of Wilson (1913-

1917), though the latter coincides with the First World War. As we mentioned before, the era of

Th. Roosevelt is related to a period of progress and, therefore, his policy is known as Progressivism. Actually, Roosevelt, like Jackson and Lincoln, believed that the president had the duty of initiating and leading Congress to implement a policy of social and economic benefit to the people at large. Among domestic questions, Roosevelt addressed those of federal supervision and regulation of all interstate corporations; amendments of the Interstate Commerce Act to prohibit railroads from giving special rates to shippers; the conservation of natural resources; federal appropriations for irrigation of arid regions in the West; and the extension of the merit system in civil service.

Yet, for our purposes, the most relevant domestic affair had to do with the desire of Eastern business to have easy access to Pacific markets. An isthman canal was demanded to link the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, but the only obstacle was the government of Colombia, which owned Panama. Then, both governments negotiated a treaty and the construction of the canal began so soon that on August 15, 1914 it was opened to shipping. Hence when crisis appeared in the Caribbean area, Wilson was determined to protect American security even with the use of force. Therefore, a protectorate was established by force in Haiti in 1915 and also a military occupation of the Dominican Republic in Nicaragua in 1916.

Roosevelt gained worldwide importance through his dramatic speeches and actions as president, his inauguration of the building of the Panama Canal, and his activities in ending the Russo- Japanese War (1904-1905). Roosevelt declined to run for reelection in 1908 and the Republicans nominated his secretary of war, William Howard Taft in 1909, based on Roosevelt’s recommendation. He was followed by Woodrow Wilson who, like Roosevelt, believed that the presidency should be used for initiating and guiding national legislation in accordance with the chief executive’s interpretation of the will of the people. The Mexican revolution.

Woodrow Wilson succeeded in carrying out notable revisions and reforms in the laws governing the tariff, the banking system, trusts, labor, and agriculture. One of his main achievements in domestic affairs was to deal with an uprising in Mexico in 1913 started by a Victoriano Huerta, a military usurper who murdered the preceding president Francisco Madero. Wilson tried to persuade the dictator to step down from office and allow free elections for a new democratic government. Then Wilson gave open support to Madero’s successor, Venustiano Carranza. Yet, when Civil War appeared, Wilson refused to interfere. It is at this point that the figure of Pancho Villa comes to the scene, seeking to provoke war between the United States and Mexico. Wilson then sent a punitve expedition which was a failure. Relations between the two government were greatly improved when Wilson extended recognition to Carranza’s new constitutional regime in 1917.

Wilson also achieved a victory in domestic affairs when the 19th Amendment to the United

States Constitution, which legalized women’s voting rights, was passed in 1919 and ratified in

1920, hence the so-called Woman Suffrage. Yet, the most important issues of Wilson’s presidence were those arising from the outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914, the entrance of the United States into the war in 1917, and the making of peace in 1919. The First World War (1914-1918).

The First World War (1914-1918) brought a period of diplomatic conflict between the United States and Great Britain and between the United States and Germany since it was an outgrowth of European territorial problems and nationalism. Following Palmer (1980), the great majority of Americans were firmly neutral and determined to avoid intervention unless American rights and interests were violated, and in 1915 an official proclamation of neutrality was proclamated. This proclamation appealed the Americans to be impartial both in thought and action. Yet, in April 6, 1917 the United States was finally drawn into the war against Germany and its allies due to the unrestricted German submarine warfare on Atlantic shipping.

The United States contribution was decisive in the outcome because of its military superiority both in armament and people. Hence it provided Britain with the ships to overcome the submarine threat and also, with the American Expeditionary Force on September 1918 to France. As a result, this military power inclined the balance on the western front and helped to end the war in November 1918. Next year, the United States was also influential in the writing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the war in 1919.

The Senate of the United States rejected the treaty and the United States membership in the League of Nations (the covenant for which formed part of the treaty) which temporarily reversed the tendency toward U.S. involvement in world affairs. Actually, a separate treaty of peace was signed by the U.S. and Germany in Berlin in August 25, 1921.

Although the early 1920s brought improvements in architecture, education, technology, these years also saw the rising of mass law-breaking and the rise of organized crime. Therefore, several acts were passed, such as the ‘Volstead Act’, which prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors (the Prohibition Amendment). Yet, the late years of the

1920s witnessed the cease of this prohibition due to the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the turn

of the decade saw the Great Depression which was an unparallelled economic disaster in the history of the United States.

During the 1930s all social classes were affected by this crash. Actually, millions of workers lost their jobs in the cities and large numbers of farmers were forced to abandon their farms. Also, thousands of banks failed during the depression and foreign trade decreased very quickly. The nation’s economy was paralyzed and poverty swept through on a scale never experienced under Hoover’s presidence (1929). In addition, the depression deepened as the elections of 1932 approached.

Both republicans and democrats nominated their political figures, Herbert Clark Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New York governor, respectively. After promoting their campaigns, in which both promised government action to end the Great Depression, Roosevelt won due to his program for recovery and reform called the New Deal (472 vs. 59 votes).


Chapter 4 shall examine the historical development of the United States under the figure of Franklin Delano Rooselvelt (1933-1945) , who was a charismatic political figure. In general terms, it is worth remembering that he became the 32nd president of the United States in March

1933 at the depth of the Great Depression, was reelected for an unprecedented three more terms, and died in office in April 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Germany in the World War II. Despite an attack of poliomyelitis, which paralyzed his legs in 1921, he was an optimistic person whose confidence helped sustain the American people during the strains of economic crisis and world war.

But let us remember why he was so popular among the American population at that time. In doing so we shall review his biography in more detail so as to make it coincide with the main political, social and economic events which took place under his ruling. So, we shall examine his life regarding his (1) youth and early years (1882-1910), his (2) early political career (1910-

1920) , his (3) Vice-Presidential Nomination (1920), Roosevelt as (4) Governor of New York (1928), and as (5) President of the United States (1933), his political reform reflected in (6) The New Deal from 1935, (7) foreign affairs and a prelude to war, and finally, his participation in (8) the World War II (1941-1945).

4.1. Youth and early years (1882-1910).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was born at the family estate in Hyde Park, New York on January 30. He was the son of James Roosevelt1 and Sara Delano Roosevelt, who provided him with almost all his formative education. He attended Groton (1896- 1900), a prestigious preparatory school in Massachusetts. His record at Harvard, which he attended between 1900 and 1904, was only slightly more impressive. Thanks to his excellent preparation at Groton, he was able to complete his course of study for his B.A. in 1903, in only three years. During his fourth year he served as editor of the Crimson, the college newspaper.

In 1905, he had married a distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. The couple had six children, five of whom survived infancy: Anna (1906), James (1907), Elliott (1910), Franklin, Jr. (1914) and John (1916). Meanwhile, Roosevelt attended New York’s Columbia University, where he studied law; practised law with a prominent New York City law firm; and entered politics in 1910.

4.2. Early political career (1910-1920).

His early political career is characterized by his post as Senator of New York and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. First of all, he was elected to the New York State Senate in 1912 as a Democrat from his traditionally Republican home district. Since he supported Woodrow Wilson’s candidacy at the Democratic National Convention, he was rewarded for his support,

clip_image001and Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913, a position he held until

1 His father, James (1828-1900), was descended from Nicholas Roosevelt, whose father had emigrated from Holla nd to New Amsterdam in the 1640’’s. One of Nicholas’ two sons, Johannes, fathere d the line that ultimately produced President Theodore Roosevelt. The other son, Jacobus, was James’ great-great-


1920. He was an energetic and efficient administrator, specializing in the business side of naval administration. This experience prepared him for his future role as Commander-in-Chief during World War II.

4.3. Vice-Presidential Nomination (1920).

Roosevelt’s popularity and success in naval affairs made him a popular choice for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1920. Running with the governor of Ohio, James M. Cox, he supported progressive ideals and American participation in the League of Nations. Although he proved an energetic and well-received campaigner, the popular sentiment against Wilson’s plan for U.S. partic ipation in the League of Nations propelled Republican Warren Harding into the presidency, and Roosevelt returned to private life.

In the summer of 1921, when he was 39, he was stricken with poliomyelitis. He formed a law firm in New York City and became vice president of Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, a surety bonding firm. Demonstrating indomitable courage, he fought to regain the use of his legs, particularly through swimming. In 1924 he dramatically appeared at the Democratic Convention on crutches to nominate Alfred E. Smith as “the Happy Warrior” and, in the same year he became president of the American Construction Council, a trade association that attempted vainly to bring order into the building business.

4.4. Governor of New York (1928).

In the early 1928 Smith became the Democratic candidate for president and arranged for Roosevelt’s nomination to succeed him as governor of New York. Since Roosevelt’s primary interest was still in politics, he became Governor of New York in 1928. Followin g his reelection as governor in 1930, Roosevelt began to campaign for the presidency. While the economic depression damaged Hoover and the Republicans, Roosevelt’s bold efforts to combat it in New York enhanced his reputation.

In Chicago in 1932, Roosevelt won the nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for president. He broke with tradition and flew to Chicago to accept the nomination in person. He then campaigned energetically calling for government intervention in the economy to provide relief, recovery, and reform. His activist approach and persona l charm helped to defeat Hoover by seven million votes.

4.5. President of the United States (1933).

In November 1932 Roosevelt was elected President and in the months preceding Roosevelt’s inauguration presidency, the Depression worsened. By March 4, 1933 factory closings, farm foreclosures, and bank failures increased, while unemployment soared. Actually, there were

13,000,000 unemployed, and almost every bank was closed. Roosevelt faced the greatest crisis in American history since the Civil War. He undertook immediate actions to initiate a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in danger of losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority. This program, proposed by Roosevelt and enacted by Congress was known as the New Deal.

To stop depositor panics, he closed the banks temporarily. Then he worked with a special session of Congress during the first ‘100 days’ to pass recovery legislation which set up alphabet agencies such as the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) to support farm prices and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to employ young men. Other agencies assisted business and labor, insured bank deposits, regulated the stock market, subsidized home and farm mortgage payments, and aided the unemployed.

These measures revived confidence in the economy and results were soon to be felt since banks reopened and direct relief saved millions from starvation. But the New Deal measures also involved government directly in areas of social and economic life as never before and resulted in greatly increased spending and unbalanced budgets which led to criticisms of Roosevelt’s programs. However, the nation-at- large supported Roosevelt, elected additional Democrats to state legislatures and governorships in the mid-term elections.

4.6. The New Deal from 1935.

By 1935 the Nation had achieved some measure of recovery, but businessmen and bankers were turning more and more against Roosevelt’s New Deal program. Actually, Roosevelt applied his reform through sponsored bills that aimed at abolishing public -utility holding companies, at raising taxes on the wealthy, and at shifting control of monetary policy from Wall Street bankers to Washington. Businessmen feared his experiments and were also appalled because he had taken the Nation off the gold standard and allowed deficits in the budget, and disliked the concessions to labor. Roosevelt responded with a new program of reform: Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed.

In 1936 he was re-elected by a a smashing victory. Feeling he was armed with a popular mandate, he sought legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had been invalidating key New Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle, but a revolution in constitutional law took place. Thereafter the Government could lega lly regulate the economy. Controversy disrupted the president’s second term and his troubles began in February 1937, when he called for a court reform plan. In the fall of 1937 a sharp recession, caused in large part by cuts in federal spending earlier in the year, staggered the country. Taken aback, Roosevelt waited until the spring of 1938 before calling for increased federal spending to recharge purchasing power. His procrastination revealed again his reluctance to resort to deficit spending.

These developments in 1937 and 1938 severely damaged his standing in Congress, which had grown restive under his strong leadership as early as 1935. After Republican gains in the 1938 elections, a predominantly rural conservative coalition in Congress proved still more hostile. Henceforth it rejected most of the urban and welfare measures of Roosevelt’s administrations.

4.7. Foreign affairs: a prelude to war.

Following Palmer (1980), by the mid-1930’s dictatorial regimes in Germany, Japan, and Italy were casting their shadows over a good neighbor policy. By 1938, Roosevelt was spending increasing amounts of time on international affairs to pledge for arrangements of mutual action against aggressors, that is, neutrality acts designed to keep the United States out of another world war. Yet at the same time he sought to strengthen nations threatened or attacked.

Germany’s aggressiveness in 1939 forced Roosevelt to take a tougher stance. When Hitler overran Poland in September and triggered the formal beginning of World War II, Roosevelt tried again for repeal of the embargo, and succeeded. Thus, when France fell and England came under siege in 1940, he began to send Great Britain all possible aid short of actual military involvement. He negotiated an unneutral deal with Britain whereby the British leased their bases in the Western Hemisphere to the United States in return for 50 overaged American destroyers. Roosevelt also secured vastly increased defense expenditures, but he remained cautious. Yet, when campaigning for reelection in 1940 against Wendell Willkie, a relatively progressive Republican who agreed with some of his policies, Roosevelt’s margin fell sharply from his previous reelection.

However, safely reelected, Roosevelt increased the flow of supplies to Britain. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, help went to the Russians as well. To protect the supplies against German submarines, U.S. destroyers began escorting convoys of Allied ships part way acros s the Atlantic. In the process when a German submarine fired a torpedo at the

American destroyer Greer in September 1941, he feigned surprise and outrage and ordered U. S. warships to shoot on sight at hostile German ships. By December the United States and Germany were engaged in an undeclared war on the Atlantic.

4.8. The World War II (1941-1945).

America, though a neutral in the war and still at peace, was becoming the heart of democracy, as its factories began producing as they had in the years before the Depression. However, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation’s manpower and resources for global war. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor followed four days later by Germany’s and Italy’s declarations of war against the United States, brought the nation irrevocably into the war.

Roosevelt became the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, a role he actively carried out. He worked with and through his military advisers, overriding them when necessary, and took an active role in choosing the principle field commanders and in making decisions regarding wartime strategy. Feeling that the future peace of the world would depend upon relations between the United States and Russia, he devoted much thought to the planning of a United Nations, in which, he hoped, international difficulties could be settled.

He moved to create a great alliance against the Axis powers through “The Declaration of the United Nations” on January 1, 1942, in which all nations fighting the Axis agreed not to make a separate peace and pledged themselves to a peacekeeping organization (now the United Nations) on victory. The United States and its allies invaded North Africa in November 1942 and Sicily and Italy in 1943. The D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches in France on June

6, 1944, were followed by the allied invasion of Germany six months later. By April 1945

victory in Europe was certain.

As the war drew to a close, Roosevelt’s health was seriously deteriorated. By early 1944 a full medical examination disclosed serious heart and circulatory problems and although his physicians placed him on a strict regime of diet and medication, the pressures of war and domestic politics weighed heavily on him. On April 12, 1945, while at Warm Springs, Georgia, he suffered a massive stroke and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 63 years old and his death came on the eve of complete military victory in Europe and within months of victory over Japan in the Pacific. President Roosevelt was buried in the Rose Garden of his estate at Hyde Park, New York.


History, as well as literature, is a crucial aspect of educational activit y and therefore, handling historical accounts and, in particular, American History, makes relevant a comparison of the main political, social and economic works with the ones in our country up to 1945. Hence, it makes sense to examine relevant figures in the political field such as the presidents of the United States or other relevant European figures such as Hitler. American history is so close to our culture that most of our students know about it through TV, films, books, and magazines, among others.

Learning involves a process of transformation of participation itself which has far reaching implications on the role of the teacher in the teaching- learning relationship. This means that historical accounts are an essential analytic tool to identify the potential contributions and potential limitations of our students’ knowledge of the world. We must bear in mind that most students will continue their studies at university and there, they will have to handle successfully all kind of information regarding interdisciplinary subjects, such as History, literature, language, science, technology, computers, and so on.

But how do American History tie in with the new curriculum? American history may be approached in linguistic terms, by comparing American vs. British language, thus form and function (morphology, lexis, structure, form) and also from a cross-curricular perspective (Sociology, History, Language, Literature, Technology, Science). Spanish students are expected to know about the American culture and its influence on Europe since students are required to know about the world culture and history.

In addition, one of the objectives of teaching the English language is to provide good models of almost any kind of literary productions for future studies, history books for our purposes (contemporary history). Following van Ek & Trim (2001), ‘the learners can perform, within the limits of the resources available to them, those writing (and oral) tasks which adult citizens in general may wish, or be called upon, to carry out in their private capacity or as members of the general public’ when dealing with their future regarding personal and professional life.

Moreover, nowadays new technologies may provide a new direction to language teaching as they set more appropriate context for students to experience the target culture. Present-day approaches deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significance over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced by means of new technologies. Hence historical events may be approched in terms of films and drama

representations in class, among others, and also, by means of books (novels: historical, terror), papers (political essays), among others.

Actually, the influence of the United States of America upon 20th-century history was wide since most of his works have been approached in terms of literature or films. For instance, such events as the American Civil War, the question of slavery, massive migrations from Europe (Italy, Austria) to America in the nineteenth century, life during the industrial era, or the World War II have been reflected in films like “North and South”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “Titanic”, “The Godfather”, “Hard Times”, “Pearl Harbor” respectively, as well as those events directly related to Spanish History such as the Spanish-American War (1898) and its main consequence, the loss of Cuba.

The success partly lies in the way the language becomes real to the users, feeling themselves really in the language. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural environment in the classroom. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals, for instance, acting out in a theatre play, representing a film scene orally, writing a summary of some historical events, a biography of a political figure, among others.

The knowledge about American history and culture should become part of every literary student’s basic competence (B.O.E., 2004). There are hidden influences at work beneath the textual surface: these may be sociocultural, inter and intratextual. The student has to discover these, and wherever necessary apply them in further examination. The main aims that our currently educational system focuses on are mostly sociocultural, to facilitate the study of cultural themes, as our students must be aware of their current social reality within the European and American framework.


Since historical events reflect the main concerns of a nation at all levels, it is extremely important for students to be aware of the close relationship between the History of the United States, Great Britain, Spain and the rest of countries all over the world. In this unit, we have particularly approached the historical development of the United States of America from

Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a time of great changes, with an atmosphere of well-fare and conflicts, wealth and depression, right and wrong decisions up to 1945.

So the unit has aimed to provide a useful introduction to this historical period in three main chapters which analysed (1) the historical development of the United States from the War of Independence to the figure of Abraham Lincoln as a president (1778- 1865); (2) the historical development of the United States between A. Lincoln and F. D. Rooselvelt (1865- 1933); and (3) the historical development of the United States under the figure of F. D. Rooselvelt (1933-


The first part has examined the historical development of the United States from the War of Independence to the death of Abraham Lincoln (1778-1865), first, by offering personal information about the list of the fifteen presidents who ruled before A. Lincoln, and a brief biography of him so as to relate the main historical accounts in that period to his figure. For students it is relevant to know what he did, how he did it and why he died, and also it is essential for them to establish a parallelism between the historical account of the main political events in America and in Europe.

The second part, Chapter 3, has reviewed the historical development of the United States from the death of Abraham Lincoln to the introduction of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the political field (1865-1933). In doing so, we considered relevant to offer an account of the first presidents of the United States from George Washington (1789) to A. Lincoln (1865) for students to relate them to the main events in the aftermath of the Civil War (1865-1933) regarding the economic, technological, social, and political consequences of the Civil war. At this point it is important to make students aware of how the cinema, the novel or a magazine may bring up certain historical events to the most up-to-date reality, for instance, films such as “Titanic”, “The Godfather” or “El Zorro” which correspond respectively to mass migration of Europeans to America, the Italian mafias in America in the 1920s, or the Civil War in Mexico with the brave ‘Zorro’. In this way, students will not forget about important historical dates.

Finally, Chapter 4 has examined the historical development of the United States under the figure of Franklin Delano Rooselvelt (1933-1945), a charismatic political figure worth studying since he partly drove America’s political life in the first half of the twentieth century. On examining his life, we have reviewed the main historical events in history of the United States worth remembering such as the attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor in 1941 which was the trigger for the World War II. Students have the opportunity to bring F.D. Roosevelt to life in the film “Pearl Harbor” and become aware of some details of his personal life, like his legs physical

handicap due to the polio. Actually, in one of the scenes of the film, he tries to stand up by himself during a meeting after the Japanese attack to show he is still able to handle the situation despite his inability to walk.

Finally, we have presented the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting, and we are already in the conclusion where we have broadly overviewed our study. Next, we shall briefly present all the bibliographical references used to develop this study since they were already commented at the beginning.

So far, we have attempted to provide the reader with a relevant historica account of the political development of the United States up to 1945. This information is relevant for language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, who do not automatically establish similiarities between British, Spanish and other worldwide countries So, learners need to have these associations brought to their attention in cross-curricular settings. As we have seen, understanding how history developed and is reflected in our world today is important to students, who are expected to be aware of the richness of English history, not only in Great Britain but also in other English and non-English speaking countries.


B.O.E. 2004. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 116/2004, de 23 de enero. Currículo de la

Educación Secundaria Obligatoria en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

B.O.E. 2004. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 117/2004, de 23 de enero. Currículo de

Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Reg ión de Murcia.

Bradbury, M. and H. Temperley. 1981. Introduction to American Studies, Longman.

Brogan, H. 1985. The History of the United States of America, Penguin Books, New York.

Council of Europe (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessme nt. A Common European

Framework of reference.

Musman, R. 1982. Background to the USA, Macmillan Press, London.

Palmer, R. 1980. Historia Contemporánea, Akal ed., Madrid.

Thoorens, Léon. 1969. Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran

Bretaña y Estados Unidos de América. Ediciones Daimon.