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Here are the midterms I gave to my students this week. Let’s see how you do:

U.S. Civil War (we are in late 1863)

Answer 1 of the following 2 questions from Part A and Part B:

Part A:

1) In late 1862, the Union military effort to defeat the Confederacy had stalled out. By late 1863, the Union military effort had improved considerably. Discuss the military history of the first half of the Civil War to demonstrate an understanding of the Union’s changing fortunes over time. You may include a discussion of the Confederate military effort in this answer.

2) In 1861, both the Union and Confederacy thought the Civil War would be short and require little sacrifice. They were wrong. Discuss the problems the South and North faced in terms of fighting an effective war in the early years of the Civil War. What were the root causes of these problems?

Part B:

1) The Civil War was fought over slavery. But African slavery in what became the United States went all the way back to the 17th century. Discuss the early years of slavery and how it became a dominant feature of American life by the early 19th century.

2) From the very beginning of the Civil War, African-Americans, slave and free, north and south, did whatever they could to impact the war effort. Tell the story of the Civil War, at least up through 1863, from the African-American perspective.

U.S. Labor History (we are in 1920)

Answer 2 of the following 4 questions

1) What is free labor ideology? How did it impact the development of work and politics in the nineteenth century for both white and black workers?

2) How did the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries change the world of work for American workers?

3) Who were the Progressives? How did they change the experience of American workers on the job? What were their strengths and limitations?

4) In the years after the Civil War, the experience of American workers, especially white male workers, was a betrayal of what they believed capitalism would do for them. Discuss how workers responded to the challenges of the Gilded Age and what ideas and actions they had or took to attempt to fix the problems they saw in their lives and work and nation to restore their ideals of what America should look like.

As you can see, I write broad questions that allow the students to show what they know or don’t know without trying to trip them up. I find they can trip themselves up without any help from me.

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