Crossroads: Middle School Curriculum
Unit VII: What,
Then, Is This American? ca. 1865 - 1900
Question/Problem 7: Were industrial leaders "captains of industry" or
Objectives: The students will be able to:
- distinguish between positive and negative attributes of industrial
- apply their understandings of these attributes to a specific industrial
- write a persuasive essay supporting a point of view.
Description of lesson/activity:
- The teacher should lead discussion on the differences between "captains of
industry" and "robber barons." This lesson should focus generally on the rise
of industry and the capitalists who provided leadership.
- Prior to beginning the research project, the teacher should review and
collect sufficient materials on an industrial leader. Generally information is
widely available on such well know leaders as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew
Carnegie. The teacher could add Collis P. Huntington, John J. Hill, Jay Gould,
Russell Sage or J. Pierpont Morgan as materials are available.
- The teacher should direct students to use the collected material to gather
information about the industrial leader selected in terms of the following
- - examples of business techniques used
- - examples of financial successes
- - examples of business ethics (conduct and values)
- - examples of concern for humanity (philanthropy)
- Students should be directed to classify the information they gathered in
the four categories found in Step 3. They should decided whether each piece of
information demonstrates that the industrial leader was a captain of industry
or robber baron, and list each under the appropriate heading.
- After looking over both lists, students should choose one position to
support, either captain of industry or robber baron.
- The teacher should assign the writing of a persuasive essay. A persuasive
essay is an expository writing piece containing an introductory paragraph with
a thesis statement at the end; the main paragraphs, stating the arguments with
the strongest t one last; the final paragraph giving the thesis statement
first and summarizing each topic.
- In a concluding discussion, the teacher should draw attention to the two
sides to being an industrial leader in the late 19th century.
- Student textbook
- Library media center material as available
Assessment Criteria: Industrial Leader Essay
to Crossroads: Unit VII:What, Then Is This American? 1865-1900