The federal government’s involvement in the development of highway infrastructure has a long
and contentious history in the United States. The earliest efforts were abandoned after the Civil
War, and many rural Americans were left to care for their roadways on their own. By the 1880s,
the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.) began a grassroots lobbying effort to improve
country roads. Most L.A.W. members resided in cities and urban areas, and their leisure bicycle
riding in America’s countryside was considered a nuisance by farmers and other rural residents.
By 1892, the L.A.W. succeeded in convincing Congress to create and Office of Road Inquiry to
see to the nation’s roads. From that moment, a national movement took shape, and thus marked
the genesis of United States highway policy.
Write an analytical essay (750-1000 words, 3-4 pages) that makes an insightful and compelling
assessment of how early attempts at rural road reform shaped policy debates during the early
twentieth century using evidence from The Gospel of Good Roads and other secondary readings
(listed on Canvas).
You may wish to address some, or all, of these questions:
• How did farmers respond to urban bicyclists request for better country roads (consider
the content and tone of Gospel of Good Roads)?
• What developments in road improvement and reform were initiated by the government?
• How did various Americans relate to the idea of improved roads?
You must do all of the following:
• make substantial, not cursory, use of quotations and ideas from the primary source
document listed on Canvas (The Gospel of Good Roads);
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