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Series of Short Writing Assignments

This learning portfolio consists of a series of short writing assignments. You will be required to complete and revise these assignments throughout the semester, and to compile and submit your completed portfolio in class on or before 12/05.

General Directions:

.Please complete ALL of the individual assignments listed below, and compile them into one document to submit by the due date. Note that some chapters do not have a corresponding assignment (e.g. chapter 1).

Follow the directions for each individual assignment closely. This sounds simple, but most of the points people lose are due to failure to follow the directions. To help with this, many assignments are broken down by components, for example A, B, C, D, etc. Please respond to these assignments by specifically addressing each component with its own paragraph.

Use your best writing skills. This assignment should reflect college-level writing ability and will be graded significantly lower if it does not. High school-level work uses proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and reasonable paragraph lengths, so these components are absolutely mandatory in the learning portfolio.

There are no length requirements for the individual assignments, so please do not try to lengthen your submission by including fluff, by being redundant, or using formatting tricks. But at the same time, do not provide superficial responses. Take your time to respond to the assignments in a complete, meaningful way, and whatever length it ends up being is the “right” length.

Unit 3 Discussion Essay

For my essay, I chose to use the source “I’d Rather Not Be on Relief”. The person who wrote this source was Lester Hunter and it was written in the year 1938. This source is actually a poem which eventually turned into a song. In this poem, Hunter was expressing how what his life was really like working on the fields and not being treated well by his farmer or making ends meet. If you think about the word relief, one form of it means assistance or help. You can see in his poem that he needed that relief for himself and his family. Not only, for him and his family, but also other workers in the field as well and that’s what he was trying to convey to his farmer.

This source tells us why Lester Hunter wrote this. It mentions, “Lester Hunter left the Dust Bowl for the fields of California and wrote this poem.” That tells me that he wanted to make a better life for himself and his family. The Dust Bowl where the vegetation had decreased and the soil had corroded. Since that happened, things went downhill for the workers. Another thing I realized was all the difficulty he was going through as a worker. He talked about the struggles on how they would dress, how they would barely have money for necessities, and how the farmer basically didn’t care about how much they were really struggling. It was really interesting reading some of the verses Hunter said in his poem like “We go around all dressed in rags while the rest of the world goes neat, And we have to be satisfied with half enough to eat. We have to live in lean-tos, Or else we live in a tent, For when we buy our bread and beans. There’s nothing left for rent.” (Hunter, 1938). That part of the poem gives us a gist of what life how much economic hardship there was back then and we could tell that the workers might’ve felt that they had no sense of freedom. Matter of fact, the government called workers “slaves of the depression” and also they mentioned that they were in “terrible and inhuman condition”. (Foner, pg. 871).

Was there a change that took place? Did the workers get a sense of freedom economically? Hunter says in his poem “The times are going to better. And I guess you’d like to know. I’ll tell you all about it, I’ve joined the C.I.O.” (Hunter, 1938). The CIO came into place in 1935. This turned around the economy for the workers in such a delightful light! The aim of this was to “secure economic freedom and industrial democracy for American workers.” (Foner, pg. 872-873). We can see by the source how the workers were in such terrible shape economically but things turned around for everybody.

Works Cited


Foner, Eric., Give Me Liberty! An American History (USA 2008), Chapter 21 pgs. 871-873.

My Essay:

Give Me Liberty by Eric Foner and Progress and Poverty, Selections by Henry George (1879).

The book chosen is the Progress, Poverty, Selections (1879) by Henry George which is the best book known for influential reforms. In 1879, the society was experiencing a rise in economic growth, but poverty was crippling in among the largest population. Henry George, an economist, wrote this book exploring the impacts of the situation the society was having. In his book, he was inquiring on the causes of the industrial depressions causing the inequality and what were the causes of people’s increase of want as the wealth increased. George proposes the implementation of the single tax to limit the disparity. He shows a clear intellectual insight with the people’s condition and is concerned in giving remedies that would heal the community from the human suffering. Just like Eric Foner in the “Give Me Liberty,” George is determined to provide a declaration of independence and freedom to the nation.

George wrote about the Gilded Age when income inequality had risen. Many Americans were living in poverty and society was made up of extreme paralysis and partisanship. Inequality was a threat to American democracy and thus getting out of poverty was their meaning of freedom. The prominent figures in that era argued that the free market gave the citizens the freedom to work hard and play by the rules, therefore, claiming that inequality was never the problem. But George insisted that if the government was not going to eradicate the inequality in the society, it would turn into a nation full of haves and have-nots where the majority were living in poverty, and the small population was the aristocrats ruling over the others.

Political inequality was one of the challenges that existed among the Gilded age in living out their concept of freedom, a country with no income inequality. George claimed that “It is not enough that men should vote; it is not enough that they should be theoretically equal before the law” (493). This statement meant that the people needed liberty that would help them achieve their freedom and open up to opportunities and means of life. If the Gilded age took part in the social reforms, they would attain the freedom of living and enjoying a decent standard of living (George, 209). A republican society would open opportunities for the members to have access to good housing, good jobs, effective education systems, and decent salaries. According to George, the government, therefore, had to form laws that would promote the common good of society and limit inequality. Increase in government power would protect people’s liberty and promote democracy.


The book by George Henry fits into the larger context of the struggle over freedom in the US because in the early 20th and 21st century there have been dangers of extreme inequality and individualistic economy threatening the democracy and republican of the citizens. Similar movements appear that aim in dealing with democracy, justice, equality and the common good of the citizen.

The laissez-faire government oppresses the people because of their greediness in controlling the modern industrial society that is large corporations and banks. The government should be a protector to the freedom of the members and not a threat to their liberty. A progressive movement as in the Gilded Age laid a foundation for the reforms that freedom fighters established in promoting the common good of the people.

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