Classroom activity: Contemporary America 1970 to the Present


The era from the 1970’s to the present, for our purposes, will be identified as Modern America. Throughout the world enormous strides in technology changed the lives of all. In this era, United States foreign policy shifts to more open relationships with communist China and the Soviet Union. As the Cold War ended the focus turned to combating terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East. On the domestic front, this period ushered in a conservative movement to address the growth in federal power. This often led to a conflict in the direction the U.S. should take as a nation.

Directions: Use the content from the Texas Citizen Bee website to help answer the following questions:


Sanford Dole

  1. In what capacity did Sanford Dole serve with regards to the territory of Hawaii?
  2. How you describe Sanford Dole’s position with regards to the residents of Hawaii when Hawaii was annexed to the United States?

Henry Cabot Lodge

  1. What did Lodge believe was necessary for the United States to become a world power?
  2. How would you describe the difference of opinion between Lodge and President Wilson with regards to U.S. foreign policy?

Alfred Thayer Mahan

  1. How role did Mahan’s book The Influence of Sea Power on History play in the United States becoming a world power both politically and economically?
  2. Who was influenced by Mahan’s book?

General John Pershing

  1. How did Pershing get the nickname, “Black Jack?”
  2. As commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, sent to Europe when the United States entered World War I, how did General Pershing demand the U.S. troops be used to defeat the Germans?

Teddy Roosevelt

  1. What did Roosevelt mean when he said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick” when describing his foreign policy?
  2. As President of the United States, how did his actions increase the power of the federal government?

Woodrow Wilson

  1. What was Wilson’s policy concerning the U.S. entering World War I?
  2. How did Wilson hope to prevent another world war from occurring?

Alvin York

  1. For what action did Alvin York win the Congressional Medal of Honor?



14 Points

  1. How did Wilson hope the three goals of his 14 points would help prevent another war such as World War I?
  2. What was the major reason that the Treaty of Versailles was not ratified by the U.S. Senate?



Schenck v. U.S.

  1. What was the intent of the Selective Service Act and the Espionage Act passed by Congress in 1917?
  2. How were both acts involved in the arrest of Charles Schenck?



  1. Which person from this era do you feel most impacted the United States politically at this time? Socially? Economically?   Defend your answers.
  2. Which three people from the era best represent the characteristics of the period from 1898 to the 1920’s? Defend the reason for your selections.
  3. How do the 14 Points and the case of Schenck v. U.S. reflect the era of the U.S. Becomes a World Power?
  4. If you had been a member of the U.S. Senate asked to ratify the Treaty of Versailles based on Wilson’s 14 Points, how would have voted and why?
  5. How has the precedent of “clear and present danger” been used with regards to limiting the First Amendment’s right of freedom of speech?

Click here for a PDF copy of the questions.