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Age of Reform Project

US History I Honors

The period of the 1820s - 1840s is often referred to as the Age of Reform. A
characteristic of the period was the belief in the perfectibility of mankind. This desire
was based on the fundamental worth of the individual and a strong sense in
humanitarianism. Simply put, citizens sought to reform society on the belief that they
could perfect it. Progress toward such perfection is evidenced by events such as the
Second Great Awakening, Transcendentalism and social movements that organized to
address what many believed were Americas most fundamental flaws. The purpose of
this assignment is to develop a greater knowledge of and feeling for this time. What
were the motivations for these reforms? Who led them and who were they to benefit? To
what end would these reforms reshape America? These are the questions you will
explore and answer as we take an in-depth look at this most interesting period.

Congress has convened a special joint committee called the Committee on American
Interests and Progress(CAIP). This committee has been tasked by Congress to identify
the most pressing issues in society and to allocate funds for reform. Your group has
been granted a hearing before the joint committee.

Each group will submit a brief to be shared with the committee in advance of the
hearings, testify before the committee, ask/answer questions and lobby for funding. It
is important to note that your are competing with other worthwhile causes, and
Congress has made it clear that federal funding is limited. At the conclusion of the
hearings, Congress will decide which of these groups will receive federal support.

Prison Reform, Temperance, Womens Rights, Abolitionism, Promotion of the Sciences,
Mental Illness Reform, Educational Reform

Day 1 (March 6) - Groups assigned, research begins.

Day 2 (March 7) - Continue research. Post briefs to Google Classroom by start of class
on Wednesday.
Day 3 (March 8) - Review other groups briefs, write two specific, content-oriented
questions per brief. Questions must be submitted to your teacher by end of period.
Day 4 (March 9) - Each group will make a 2-minute opening statement followed by a
five-minute Q&A period.
Day 5 (March 10) - After finishing the last group presentations, delegates will engage in
an open forum discussion where they will argue why their organization is more
deserving of federal funding than the other groups.

Read the below descriptions carefully. Each team is responsible for preparing all of the
things in this list, though each item will be a different teammates responsibility to
submit, and each will be graded independently. All graded items are worth 15 points.
Please refer to the posted rubrics for direction.
Brief - Each team will choose one delegate to prepare a two-page written brief
describing (a) the groups origin and membership, (b) an explanation as to the nature of
the problems America faces relevant to the organization, and (c) a plan of action to
remedy these problems.
Questions - Each student will write two specific and probing questions for the other
groups based upon their briefs.
Opening statement - Each team will select one delegate to deliver a two-minute
opening statement to the CAIP Committee which augments your brief(do not just read
from your brief, add something!). You will be assessed for the quality of your oration,
clarity, persuasiveness and content. Each team may decide how many members of the
delegation will deliver the opening remarks.
Q&A - Following your opening statements, each team will be asked to answer CAIPs
questions. This Q&A session will last approximately 5-7 minutes. On day 2, all teams
will be given the opportunity for open debate to influence CAIPs final decision. CAIPs
chairman will announce the Committees decision following this open debate.
Closing statement - Each team will select one delegate to deliver a closing statement
2 minutes in length at the end of the second day of testimony. This statement should
redirect your arguments and will serve as your delegations final remarks to the CAIP.
Solo Exit Assignment (10 points per question) - Write a 3-paragraph response which
addresses the following questions/prompts:

Compare your reform movement with one of the other reform movements (from the list
of 7).
How did your reform movement impact American society between 1820-1840?
How is your reform movement still impacting American society today? (If your reform
movement is no longer relevant - i.e. temperance - then discuss how it was significant at
another point in American history)