Turning Points in American History

Professor Edward T. O'Donnell Ph.D.
College of the Holy Cross

A Turning Point is when a society takes a new historically significant trajectory creating a new historical reality.

It may be marked by the success of a social movement, the result of a decisive battle, the emergence of a new technology and the establishment of a new ideal.

The impact may be immediate or develop of time.

Repeating historical themes include surprises, physical and mental conflict, actions of the mighty or the many, opportunity from crisis, multiple causes, and choices.

Teacher Sponsored Opened Ended Class Contest to Create Part 3 and 4.  $1000 Plus Scholarships. Teacher, Principle or Superintendent Should Contact Walter Antoniotti at antonw@ix,netcom.com  Students decide what the project is, when completed and if/when submitted to textbooksfree for Internet publication. I will help if asked.

A Changing Culture

  • 16 1821 The second Great awaking directed people toward perfection.



1831 The Righteous Crusade—Abolition

The great fear of a major slave insurection finallu camr in  August of 1831. Slave Matt Turner a deeply relegiouse man who felt he was chosen by God killed his master's household and before his revolt was over, at least fifty-five whites were killed! About 200 slaves were rounded up and killed. Turner was among 55 who were tried and executed by Visginia. The most popular reason given by Southerners was northern abolutionists.

    Both William Lloyd Garrison's entry into abolitionism and Nat Turner's violent slave


  • 19
    1845 The Ultimate American Game—Baseball
    Go back to the year 1845 and the birth of the quintessential American sport: baseball. What are baseball's origins? How did it evolve from a gentlemen's sport into a professional
  • 26
    1876 How the West Was Won and Lost—Custer
  • 29
    1900 The Promised Land—The Great Migration
    The movement of around 7 million African Americans into northern cities. A flourishing of African American culture that brought about the Harlem Renaissance. The rise of activist organizations fighting harder than ever for civil rights. These are some of the effects of the "Great Migration" of the early 1900s, which you learn more about here. x
  • 30
    1901 That Damned Cowboy! Theodore Roosevelt
    The presidency of Theodore Roosevelt—the youngest man to assume the presidency—left a powerful mark on the office and, more important, brought the ideals of the emerging Progressive movement to the national stage. Among the ones you explore here: trust busting, labor rights, and conservation.


More Summaries from Quick Notes

Very Quick Summaries

A Very Brief
U.S. History
Political Eras and
Important Events
1 pages

20th Century U.S.
Decade Ranking

Which Decade Was
Best, Worst?
1 pages

20th Century
Decade Evaluation

Interaction of Politics
and Economics 
4 pages

20th Century U.S.
 Political Economy
5 pages

Presidential Politics
Party Politics and Presidential Elections from 1788 to 2012

5 pages

The War On Terror
Who Are We Fighting

1 or 2 pages each

Middle East Facts

40 Maps Ex
40 Maps Ex
plain the Middle East

History of the Middle East Conflict in 11 Minutes

Brief Sunni-Shiite Conflict History



Militant Hamas Vs. Moderate Fatah

A Concise History of Christianity

Iran,20th Century History of

Iraq,20th Century History of

Islamic Fundamentalism

Sunnis and Shiites at War 

US, 20th Century History of

Military Decisions by US Presidents

Wars to Forge

A Look Back at the War in Afghanistan

The Rise and Fall
of the Great Powers’ 





















Summaries of Published Books

Presidential Courage Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
by Michael Beschloss 8 page summary

Turning Points in American History cove 400 years Five 2-page parts

Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power 2012 Jon Meacham 8 page summary

American Dynasty Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the
House of Bush
by Kevin Phillips
, 6 page summary 

See Welcome the Hackocracy,  a look at Bush 2's appointments that made a difference.

Second Chance Three Presidents and the Crisis of America Superpower
 by Zbigniew Brzezinski, 6 page summary,

Generations and The Fourth Turning  
William Strauss and Neil Howe 2 page summary  

Don't Know Much About History Everything You Need To Know About
American History But Never Learned, by Kenneth C. Davis 6 page summary

Education and Income Inequality, chapter 21 The Age of Turbulence, Adventures
in a New World, by Alan Greenspan 

Hoodwinked  An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets
Imploded--and What We Need to Do to Remake Them
, by 
John Perkins

The War Book Reviews

 Blackwater The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army Book
 Reviews from the New York Times, Crooks and Liars, and The Economist

How jihad went freelance is a review of three recent books. Al-Qaeda has
 evolved from a single group to an amorphous movement. Does that make
 it less dangerous or more so? Jan 31st 2008 of The Economist.

Other Interesting Reviews

How the West Was Lost Fifty Years of Economic Folly--and the Stark Choices
Ahead by Dambisa Moyo
1 page review and  8 Minute Video

and 43 Minute Video

The Predator State Video Part 1     

Part 2
Decades of US Problems Faced by US
oughts Concerning Society  

More Thoughts Concerning Society

Capitalistic Democracy

Generations and The Fourth Turning

The Big Secret Behind U.S. Federal Debt

Who Will Solve These Health Care Problems
Causes and Solutions to Health Care Problems

U.S. Education Vs. Germany and Britain, Our Biggest Value Added Competitors
GDP Per Capita by State

Election Issues, 1 page summaries of federal debt, health care, education & econ
Decades of US Problems Faced by US

Interesting Stuff

20th Century U.S. Political Economy

The Great Recession Using Quick Notes

The War On Terror: Who Are We Fighting

Capitalistic Democracy
Decades of US Problems
urrent Events Internet Libraryurrent Events Internet Library  

Travels with Walter, an Educator's Life
explores the genius behind these Free Internet Libraries.

E-mail antonw@ix.netcom with suggestions.




                   Political Economy Book Reviews

Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century "Why We' re in a New Gilded Age" by Thomas Piketty 2014

The Shifts and Shock What We Learned from the Financial Crisisby Martin Wolf 9/11/14 

Seven Bad Ideas How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World by Jeff Madrick Reviewed by Peter Richardson 2014

"This Time Is Different" is a history of financial collapse from 1300 to the present.

"The Shock Doctrine: The evil of “Disaster Capitalism, a book report video was posted to the Crooks and Liars  blog on December 1, 2007

"Nickel and Dimed" On (Not) Getting By in America is a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. Written from the perspective of the undercover journalist, ...Nickel and Dimed" On (Not) Getting By in America is a book written by Barbara Ehrenreich. Written from the perspective of the undercover journalist, ...

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism is critical and a good source of the twenty-three items 

Videos by the author Ha-Joon Chang    Part I     Part II     Part III   

A Brief History of US Banking is a brief chronology.

The Center Holds Obama and His Enemies is "the thrilling story of one of the most momentous contests in American history, the Battle Royale between Obama and his enemies from the 2010 midterms through the 2013 inauguration." Video by Jonathan Alter, 2013

Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century. By Christian Caryl. Basic; 400 pages
argues that 1979 belongs to the select club of real turning-points: "years in which one era ended and another was born. 1917 proved to be a bloody dead end and 1848 proved to be, in A.J.P. Taylor’s phrase, “a turning-point in history when history failed to turn”. But others, such as 1789 (when France’s ancient régime collapsed) and 1517 (when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door), resound down the ages." Editors note: Was the liberalism of the 20th century coming to an end?

Free Trade Doesn't  Work by Ian Fletcher, adjunct fellow at the United States Business and Industry Council, and CPA' In his effective 267 pages of text, Ian Fletcher dissects and often demolishes fundamental teachings about the benefits and risks of trade and replaces them with evidence based updates.  He then recommends a practical alternative based on clear objectives.

Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson from Stephen Lendman of counter currents "Our democracy and way of life are now threatened because of our single-minded pursuit of empire with a well-entrenched militarism driving it that's become so powerful and pervasive it's now an uncontrollable state within the state."

How You Can Kill Al-Qaeda in Three Easy Steps review from  Boing Boing  
I just got done reading Howard Clark's new book "How You Can Kill Al-Qaeda (in Three Easy Steps). He's an ex-Marine and former Homeland Security adviser who says the way to win the war on terrorism is to help empower the mainstream Muslim community, who in recent years has been overshadowed in the public spotlight by fringe Al-Qaeda extremists. The whole idea of fighting terrorism with ideas and not weapons is definitely nothing new, but Clark's populist tone and foreign policy street cred was a refreshing perspective to have in the discussion. "Click on the link below in the next 30 minutes and I'll throw in this egg slicer absolutely free! Here's how to order!" Book's official site...  
One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy
In this CSPAN2 book interview,  Allison Stanger talks of her book which looks at the increasing use of private contractors by the U.S. government and argues that with proper oversight contractors can be valuable tools for carrying out our foreign policy.  Includes audience Q&A. 

Guns, Germs, and Steel -  the fates of human societies '...attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations, as a whole, have survived and conquered others, while attempting to refute the belief that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority." 

The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism,
Bill Moyers sits down with history and international relations expert and former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich who identifies three major problems facing our democracy: the crises of economy, government and militarism, and calls for a redefinition of the American way of life

The Limits of Power Democracy Now interviews Andrew Bacevich, a conservative historian who spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army.  

Our Best Improving Education Materials

Changing Education Paradigms 
is an 11 minute video from the Royal Society or the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
 It is the most significant analysis of Western education I've encountered
since I began teaching in 1966.

Educational Observations
of Academic, Political, Business  and Economic Leaders  Provide the
 Key to Educational Improvement

The Long Shadow of Race, Class and Privilege in Baltimore 1 of 5 by Karl L. Alexander the Chair and John Dewey Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University

5 Bad Education Assumptions the Media Keeps Recycling Were Number Umpteenth the Myth of Lagging US Schools

Homework an Unnecessary Evil Surprising Findings from New Research