Your readings will reveal the ways in which the United States emerge as a modern nation in the years after the Civil War, in terms of industrialization, labor, urbanization, and the government regulation of the economy. The Depression undoubtedly has roots in this rapid transition, because it would have been difficult to imagine a program like the New Deal before the Progressive Era.
What, then, to you, is a "modern" nation? What do its citizens expect from the government, from the economy? Do all citizens, regardless of economic status, have an obligation to contribute to this modernity? If so, what is it?