The American Dream and the Gospel of Wealth in 19th-Century American Society
A document-based teaching unit
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Students read excerpts from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick or Street Life in New York (1868), P. T. Barnum, Thorstein Veblen, Andrew Carnegie, and Nathanael West to understand American values as they progressed from eighteenth-century values of frugality and hard work to the increasingly urban mid-nineteenth century values of luck, pluck, and self-help as the path to success. Students evaluate the writings for positive and negative interpretations of the "gospel of wealth."
Lesson 1: Benjamin Franklin and the Virtues of Frugality
Lesson 2: Horacio Alger and the Virtues of Wealth
Lesson 3: The Gospel of Wealth
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