“Hard Times Come Again No More” and Economic Depressions
1-2 class periods
AP US History
Expansion and Reform. 1800-1860
Common Core Standards Addressed:
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
Lisa Waligora (2006)
Once James Monroe leaves the presidency in 1824, the Founding Fathers era is over and the United States finds itself redefining America and Americans. The election of 1824 brought a new breed of politicians and voters. The country begins to force its way to the west under Manifest Destiny as immigrants and citizens alike find themselves moving from rural to urban areas. Industry begins its takeover of the U.S. economy setting the foundations for trust building and hurling the United States into economic depression.
The song selections incorporated into these lessons illustrate many of the feelings of everyday citizens regarding issues facing Americans in this new era of U.S. History. They also serve as a new way of thinking about the events dryly explained in textbooks.
After completing this lesson students will:
1. Explain the effects of an economic depression on different classes of society.
2. Satirize the actions of the government regarding the depressions of the early 19th century.
Song used in this lesson:
“Hard Times Come Again No More” (Stephen Foster, 1855)
1. Class begins with a journal writing activity, 3 minute timed writing to this prompt:
What is an economic depression?
Students will have a chance to share responses and get teacher-directed definitions.
2. Next students will look at the political cartoons and as a class discuss the images and its meanings. One option is to examine one cartoon together then let students look at the others on their own or in pairs.
3. Handout the lyrics to “Hard Times Come Again No More” and have students look at the images again.
1. In pairs and using available classroom resources such as the internet, textbooks, etc., Have students complete the Depression Study Guide.
2. Once the study guide is complete, re-examine the song lyrics, discuss the study guide answers and how all of this related to the working class. Let each student pick one aspect of the depressions examined and create a political cartoon clearly illustrating their point.
Extending the Lesson
Extensions can include researching other songs written about this time period, comparing this depression to future economic crises in the U.S., ramifications of the depression on future elections, and the effects depression and government response had on business practices, labor relations, business expectations and government regulations.
“Hard Times Come Again No More”
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away
'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
* “Economic Depressions of the United States” http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/depressions.htm
* Library of Congress Political Cartoon Analysis http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/political_cartoon/cag.html
* Ohio History Central Online Encyclopedia http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=537
*Harper’s Weekly Cartoon for the Panic of 1857 http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Month=October&Date=24
* President James Buchanan Cartoons (especially referring to Buchanan as an Irish Mother) http://www.assumption.edu/users/McClymer/his260/IntroBuchanan.html
“A commentary on the depressed state of the American economy, particularly in New York, during the financial panic of 1837.” (From the Library of Congress). For more information, pleae visit Explore PA History. (http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-172F)
For more information concerning this image visit: HarpWeek, Political Cartoon.
For a complete explanation of this image, please visit: HarpWeek, Political Cartoons
"IRISH BEGGAR" cartoon, Harper’s Weekly, 7 November 1857, p. 720. Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries. Photograph by the author. From “Anti-Catholicism in Albert Bierstadt's Roman Fish Market, Arch of Octavius” by Paul A. Manoguerra, Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide, 2:1 (Winter, 2003). http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/winter_03/articles/mano_3.html
“The Irish, as caricatured in the Harper's series, fight, live among dogs, imbibe alcohol, and openly corrupt the American naturalization and political processes.
Cartoon Analysis Guide
Use this guide to identify the persuasive techniques used in political cartoons.
Once you’ve identified the persuasive techniques that the cartoonist used, ask yourself:
*What issue is this political cartoon about?
*What is the cartoonist’s opinion on this issue?
*What other opinion can you imagine another person having on this issue?
*Did you find this cartoon persuasive? Why or why not?
*What other techniques could the cartoonist have used to make this cartoon more persuasive?
Cartoon Analysis Worksheet
“Hard Times Come Again No More”
Stephen C. Foster, 1855
1. Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
Depression Study Guide
Complete with a partner using available resources.
1. What happened to the U.S. Banking system?
2. What was President Van Buren’s response to the Bank crisis?
3. Why did he choose this response?
4. How did the economy respond to the crisis and the President’s actions?
5. What year does the Depression officially begin?
6. What are the official causes of the depression?
7. How does the economy begin to recover?
8. What affect did this depression have on working Americans?
9. What year does this first Depression officially end?
10. What is the difference between a “Depression” and a “Panic”?
11. When did the next Panic begin in the US?
12. Why did this event occur?
13. What did the Ohio Life Insurance and trust Co. have to do with the Panic?
14. What else caused the market economy to decline?
15. What does speculation mean?
16. How would speculating contribute to economic crisis?
17. What parts of the country were hardest/least hit?
18. What thinking/beliefs did this phenomenon create?
19. What was the government response?
20. Which was worse, 1837 or 1857? Why?
Copyright 2011-2012 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System