This course introduces students to American history from the early settlement of North America in the 17th century to the conclusion of the Civil War. The emphasis will be less on facts and figures (who did what when) and more on the larger themes of social, political, and religious change. We will explore such questions as:
These are questions that continue to have relevance today, and one aim of this course is to enable you to participate in current-day discussions about American politics and culture armed with an accurate and expansive understanding of the history that produced the society we live in today.
- What was “new” about the New World for both European and Native American inhabitants?
- How did the relationship of colony to empire change over two centuries, and was the American war for independence a true “revolution” or a regime change?
- How did a multiracial society composed of peoples from different continents and faiths come into being — what united and what divided Americans from one another?
- Was the American Revolution the “first emancipation” for enslaved Africans or did it affirm the new nation as a slave republic?
- How did the profound political and economic changes of the early nineteenth century lead to the Civil War and what role did slavery play in that conflict?
- Is the United States a “Christian nation” or a nation of many faiths?
The required readings will include both primary and secondary sources and will be examined in weekly discussion sections. Course assignments include a mid-term and final exam, and a short research paper.
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Lecture twice per week, discussion twice per week.