Free GED Test
The only truly free online GED® test prep course available!
GED HomeAbout GED TestGED Test PreparationGED FAQGED Test Login

Home | Writing | Reading | Social Studies | Math | Science


Overview Part II

I.                   1876-1910: A New Economy

1.      Western expansion encouraged the industrial development of the U.S.

·        The Homestead Act of 1861 and the transcontinental railroad of 1869 helped the settlement of the West

·        Western industries were based on mining, grain, and cattle farming

·        The Great Plains were settled by farmers and ranchers

2.      The industrial growth of the U.S. boomed

·        Inventions led to industrial growth

·        Regional economic diversity was encouraged by both raw materials and geographic factors

·        Better communication and transportation helped the industrial growth of the U.S.

·        New production methods like standardized parts, division of labor, and assembly line production helped the expansion of industry

·        The expansion of markets in the U.S. and abroad contributed to industrial expansion

·        Steel, mining, petroleum, electric, textile, and food-processing industries developed, characterizing the period

3.      The increase in industrialization was reflective of changing attitudes and living conditions

·        Factories and mechanization were introduced

·        Labor unions came out of problems associated with industrialization

·        Political, social, and economic changes appeared

·        Cities grew parallel with the industrial growth

·        Government intervention became necessary

Ø      Child labor laws, workmen’s compensation laws, and laws regulating working conditions and minimum wages were included in the congressional reform movement for the improvement of the condition of the working person

Ø      In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act was passed by Congress and gave collective bargaining rights for employees

·        The importance of conserving natural resources became apparent during the continued industrial growth of the U.S.

II.                The Twentieth Century: American Society Takes on a New Shape

1.      Immigrant labor became necessary for the expanding industrialization of the country

·        Most new immigrants came from eastern and southern Europe

·        They came to escape religious, economic, and political persecution

·        Many immigrants retained their ethnic identity by living in immigrant communities

2.      Sanitation, health, crime, and housing became large concerns for the urban lives of immigrants in the U.S.

3.      Lifestyle reforms were put in place to “better” the American life

·        Temperance movement, women’s rights movement

·        The public school movement supplied free public education

4.      People enjoyed a greater opportunity to participate in civic and political life under the development of democracy

III.             The Twentieth Century: The Development of the U.S. as a World Power

1.      Territorial expansion

·        The U.S. purchased Alaska and Hawaii for more national security

·        In 1898, the Spanish-American War resulted in the ceding of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the U.S.

·        To protect the new global interests of the U.S., the Panama Canal was built

2.      New applications of the Monroe Doctrine marked U.S. foreign policy in Central and South America

3.      The way the U.S. related to Japan and China was now run by the need for raw materials and trade

4.      The U.S. entered World War I due to events in Europe

·        The war resulted in Wilson’s Fourteen Points and Congress’ failure to ratify the League of Nations

5.      The Great Depression of 1929 was foreshadowed by the economic slump following WWI

·        The depression was caused by: the growth of monopolies, an unequal distribution of income, and overspeculation in the stock market

·        President Roosevelt’s New Deal was initiated (1932-1938)

Ø      The New Deal gave government programs to provide jobs for the unemployed

Ø      It also broadened the reach of the activities of the federal government

Ø      It permanently expanded the role of the Presidency

6.      World War II was foreshadowed by events in Europe and Asia

·        The rise of Russian, German, and Italian dictators

·        Japanese aggression in Manchuria led to more military activity

·        The American foreign policy was based on isolationism

7.      Pearl Harbor: The surprise attack by the Japanese brought the U.S. into WWII

·        The Allies won the war in Europe

·        The atomic bomb on Japan ended the war in the Pacific

·        The war ended with the allies occupying Japan and Germany, the economic recovery of Europe under the Marshall Plan, the creation of the United Nations, and the surfacing of Communism as an international threat

IV.              The Crisis in the 1950s

1.      1950-1952 marked the Korean conflict, which was a controversial UN attempt to stop the spread of Communism

2.      The cold war imposed new foreign policy considerations

·        Russia’s establishment of the “iron curtain” in Eastern Europe

·        The US foreign policy developed to contain Communism

3.      The cold war had a large effect on domestic U.S. policy

·        Senator Joe McCarthy exploited the atmosphere of fear that followed the Korean war

·        The idea of U.S. technological superiority was broken by Sputnik

·        Frustration over Korea led to the election of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952

·        The U.S. joined NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to protect its global interests

4.      Science, labor, and civil rights marked the end of the 1950s

V.                 From 1960 to 1980

1.      President Kennedy’s New Frontier promised to fix domestic and cold war problems

·        “The Bay of Pigs,” the name for the U.S. backed invasion of Cuba in 1961 was a foreign policy disaster

·        The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 between the U.S. and Russia (then USSR) nearly resulted in a superpower conflict

Ø      U.S. learned that Soviet missiles had been secretly installed in Cuba. Kennedy demanded that they be removed and the USSR complied

·        U.S.-Russia relations were improved after the Cuban Missile Crisis

·        Civil rights legislation and the space program were expanded

·        Kennedy’s assassination left feelings of conflict and doubt

2.      President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society of 1964, a domestic reform program, tried to continue New Deal-esque programs like ending poverty, renewing urban life, cutting down on pollution and continuing to pursue civil rights legislation

·        The Great Society could not be realized due to the intensification of the situation in Vietnam

·        Frustration over Vietnam and domestic unrest led to the presidential election of Richard Nixon in 1968

3.      President Nixon tried to unify the nation

·        Vietnam was a disaster that led to violence and cynicism

·        Inflation and recession increased in gravity

·        The U.S. diplomatic troubles focused on the Middle East

Ø      The Arab oil embargo of 1974 followed the Arab-Israeli War

Ø      American global interests were redefined by oil diplomacy

·        President Nixon made better relations with Russia and China

·        In 1974, the Watergate scandal ruined the U.S. government’s credibility

4.      Post-Watergate, the U.S. climate was uncertain

·        President Nixon’s pardon damaged President Ford’s political future

·        President Jimmy Carter was much respected by the people, but his administration had a great number of problems

Ø      the energy crisis

Ø      the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt left many problems unsolved

Ø      alternative energy sources became a national priority

Ø      Détente with Russia suffered many setbacks

Ø      Inflation continued to be an important problem in the U.S. economy

In addition to this general historical outline, there are four major historical documents that are referenced in the social studies section of the GED® test: The Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist papers, and Landmark Supreme Court cases (in the US). These documents would be analyzed in a high school classroom with special attention paid to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. You can access these documents on the Internet at the combined site for the Library of Congress and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration:

You can read through these documents just to familiarize yourself with what they are about. You will not need to have them memorized for the GED® test. You will never encounter a question like "What does the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution say?" You may have a question that references the 12th Amendment, but it will provide you with the text.  We will further discuss these documents in the Civics and Government overview.

Back: Overview US History Part 1 | Next: United States History

Signup! It's Free! | Language Arts | Reading | Social Studies | Math | Science

Free GED Course Online

The entire course is free and online. Nothing to pay, ever.

Click here to get started!
  Home  |  ResourcesPrivacy Policy
© Copyright 2012