Us history to 1865 Instructor: Ryan Poe Course Description

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US History to 1865

Instructor: Ryan Poe

Course Description

What is the United States? The title of this course recalls images of colonists and patriots, Indians and Old Hickory, Confederate gray and Union blue in one long tumble toward the American Civil War. But it is grossly simplistic to characterize several centuries of events on the North American continent as the pre-history of a certain nation, much less the pre-history of a single civil war. Throughout the semester, we will explore the history of the United States, from the post-Columbian period until the end of the American Civil War in 1865, with an emphasis on heterogeneity and contingency. Regional and geographic diversity are stressed in order to understand the multitude of peoples, cultures, political trends, regions, and empires that contributed to the creation and continued existence of that part of the North American continent that would eventually become the United States of America. Contingency is a crucial element to understanding diversity. Andrew Jackson was no more inevitably deigned to ethnically cleanse Native Americans than the Civil War was an unavoidable consequence of irreconcilable sectional differences.
This course begins in the era in American history known to historians as “Borderlands,” exploring the interactions between Native Peoples and various empires on the North American continent, to the end of the American Civil War, a conflict as international in nature as it was local. In the course of the semester, we will focus on certain themes. The first, is the evolution of the nation in its various forms. What is the nation and who or what place gets to define and represent it? How did these categories change over time? Second, what is the meaning of citizenship—specifically, who was able to make claims to citizenship? Finally, we will chart the history of regional variation, raising questions of representativeness, intra- and international connections, and specificity. By highlighting a long history of contingency and diversity, we will raise questions about the very nature of the United States and its people.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of the course, you are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Explain the general trajectory of United States social, political, and cultural history from the early 18th century until the end of the American Civil War.

  • Describe the development of the nation, including changes in law, political economy, and structure of government.

  • Understand various contingencies of citizenship, regional development, state formation, and the general historical trajectory of the classical narrative of U.S. history.

  • Identify a handful of sources available to historians interested in United States history and evaluate how scholars have used these sources.

  • Construct an argument in writing based on a clear thesis, supported by yet critically engaged with relevant evidence.


The assignments for this course are crafted so that students must employ critical, written engagement with secondary readings and primary source materials in preparation for a life of critical thinking beyond this course.

  • Discussion Quizzes (10%)

    Every Friday before our actual discussion (and only on discussion days) you will be tasked with writing at least one question or critical observation about that day's source material. These serve as a rubric for evaluating the student's level of preparation for discussion, which is sometimes difficult to discern in the often-terrifying, performative setting of the classroom. Because the discussion material is generally a mix between primary and secondary sources, it may help think, in writing, how the historian we read that week would view the document given to you. Would it contradict or complicate their conclusions? Would it support them? You will not be given feedback on these essays unless I feel it is necessary or you request it. They are for the purpose of jogging your minds for discussion and for me to follow your progress, preparation, and attendance on discussion days.

  • Critical Engagement Essays (25%)

    Twice over the course of the semester, you will be asked to closely read a primary source from the syllabus from a section we have already covered. (Note: these cannot be sources we discussed on discussion days.) You will then write an essay evaluating, interpreting, and critically engaging that source in no more than 3,000 words. Do not feel a necessity to cite secondary works or read a stack of books about the material before you read the document! This exercise is to help you get a sense of what historians do: we use what we think we know about the past to evaluate documents, artifacts, and evidence that the past left behind.

    By close reading, I mean for you to dig down into the nitty-gritty of the document and its various details. Who was the target audience? What did the author intend? Would it have been read differently by different audiences? What was it printed on and why? What do certain phrases indicate about the author's historical position, standpoint, or circumstance? What is strange to you here, what doesn't make sense to you, and why? (After asking the latter question, try going about piecing together why you feel that way—is it because you held assumptions about the past that may not be entirely true? Is it because you have never heard of this type of thing before?) What is not said in the document, and why might that be important?

    • Essay One (10%) – Consider this your practice essay!

    • Essay Two (15%)

  • Book Review (15%)

    You will be tasked with writing one very short (no more than 800 words) review of a serious academic book that covers or majorly overlaps with the time period covered in this course. I prefer your book selection to be from the list provided at the end of this document. However, if you wish to explore a different topic, you are free to do so as long as you request my permission.

    The goal of this exercise is put you in the mind frame of a historian, but in a way slightly different from the critical engagement essays. Instead of engaging critically with a single document, you will instead engage with what an author is arguing, ask why they are arguing it and to whom they are directing their criticisms, additions, or correctives. Your review should briefly summarize the author's main argument, identify what aspects of their narrative allowed them to make such arguments, and discuss what you perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses. Is the author convincing? What sources do they use? In what historiographical debates does this author intervene, and how?

  • Exams (50%)

    Students will be separately evaluated in writing in two very short exams twice in the semester. The course is specifically designed so that if you participate in class at expected levels throughout the year, you will not need to prepare any more intensely for exams than you do for regular discussion days.

    Each test will be made of one longer essay question from a choice of three pertaining to one of our themes (nation, citizenship, region) and a handful of identifications for the student to choose from. Because it is not the teacher's job to trick their students, I will be providing the three essay questions that you will choose from on test day ahead of time to enable ample preparation should you require it. Keep in mind, however, that no notes will be allowed at actual test time, so prepare adequately!

    Students should write no more than four, single-spaced hand-written pages for this part of the test.

    three identification questions from a list of five will be somewhat random, but again, it is not my job to fool you. Although I will not be providing a list of possible identification questions prior to the exams, if you participate in class regularly and keep up with the readings, you will have a decent idea of what events, places, and people will be worthy of an identification question. (Keep in mind that I will almost never use people as identifications unless we discuss them extensively.) Answers to identifications should include no more than three sentences explaining the chronological placement (exact dates are preferable!) and historical significance of the event, place, or thing in question.

    • Midterm Exam (20%)

    • Final Exam (30%)


Students may notice that attendance does not factor into the above grading scale save for the discussion quizzes. Only on discussion days is attendance required. Because the course structure is weighted toward lecture the first part of the week, textbook readings may supplement an absence or two. Note, however, that I can tell by reading your essays, quizzes, and test answers whether or not you have attended lectures and will couch my grade evaluations appropriately.
(This section must be altered to take into account any institutional attendance requirements.)

Readings and Course Structure

It goes without saying that any class period with an assigned reading, students are expected to have fully read the material in question. The only exception to this are textbook readings (Tindall & Shi), which are listed for the benefit of unavoidable absences, review purposes, or as a primer before lectures. For this reason, you are not required to purchase the textbook, but be forewarned: having the textbook makes preparing for your exams and writing essays infinitely easier.
Every week will generally follow the same schedule. Monday and Wednesday will be mostly lectures, with sporadic close readings of documents and short articles. Discussion will be light on these days, but students are encouraged to ask questions and spark impromptu discussions should any interesting or complicated subject matter come up. Fridays will be devoted to discussion of a handful of extremely light readings.
I have sacrificed volume—and at times secondary sources entirely—for the sake of key articles and those primary sources I find the most compelling. Participation is required on discussion days to demonstrate that students have read and understand the material. The goal of discussion is to spark critical engagement in both secondary and primary sources, to both understand and question every aspect of an argument or historical document one can manage.
Above all, keep in mind: do not be afraid to ask what you think is a dumb question! There is no more basic of a course in history than this one, and we are all here to learn.

Code of Conduct

(This section must be altered to take into account any institutional attendance requirements.)


  • Required

    • Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, and Jon Gjerde, eds. Major Problems in American History, Volume I: to 1877. Third Edition.

  • Recommended

    • George Tindall and David E. Shi, America: A Narrative History, Volume 1 (to Reconstruction). The Sixth Edition or newer.

Course Calendar

Readings Key:

* Required Reading

- Suggested Reading

Week 1


Course Introduction


Pre-Columbian Native Americans

This lecture is designed to prepare students for this course by introducing them to my methodology: I won't be talking much about nation states until those borders mean something to the people living in North America, and I'll always keep in mind the contingency of those borders.

* James Axtell, “The Columbian Mosaic in Colonial America,” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 76.2 (Winter, 1992-1993): 132-145.

- Karl Butler, “The Americas before and after 1492: An Introduction to Current Geographical Research,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 82.3 (September, 1992): 345-368.

- David G. Anderson and Marvin T. Smith, “Pre-Contact: The Evidence from Archaeology,” in Daniel Vickers, ed., A Companion to Colonial America (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2006): chapter 1.

Week 2
Early North America


Contact and European Visions of America

With this I want to detail the various narratives of contact throughout the Americas and then describe how both Europeans and Natives viewed each other, including their fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth century historical contexts—including philosophical trends, early colonialism, and continental developments.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 1.

- T.H. Breen and Stephen Foster, “Moving to the New World: The Character of Early Massachusetts Immigration,” William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 30 (1973): 189–222.

- John D. Daniels, “The Indian Population of North America in 1492,” William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 49 (1992): 298–320.

- Peter Mancall, “The Age of Discovery,” Reviews in American History 26 (1988): pp. 26–53.

- Jane H. Ohlmeyer, “‘Civilizinge of these rude partes:’ Colonization within Britain and Ireland 1580–1640,” in Canny, ed., Oxford History of British Empire: Origins (1998), pp. 124–147.


Natives, Empires, and Exchange

Early patterns of trade, exchange, and power maneuvering in North America, questioning the teleology of Anglo-imperialism by showing Spanish, French, and Native bargaining on the frontier. I want to include DuVal's sections on native women and marriage with Europeans here.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 2.

- Carole Shammas, “English Commercial Development and American Colonization 1560–1620,” in Andrews et al, The Westward Enterprise (1979), pp. 151–74.

- Nuala Zahedieh, “Overseas Expansion and Trade in the Seventeenth Century,” in Canny, ed., Oxford History of the British Empire: Origins of Empire (1998), 398–422.


Discussion: From Far and Wide

This discussion section is designed to examine the multiplicity of peoples, pasts, and experiences that came together on the North American continent in the immediacy of European contact.

* Major Problems Chapter 1, Documents 1, 2, 3, 8; Chapter 2, Document 8; Chapter 3, Document 8.

Week 3
Colonial North America


Native Visions of European Empires

An entire lecture on Native Americans' visions and interpretations of European empires, contact, and culture.

* James H. Merrill, “The Indians' New World,” and Neal Salisbury, “The Indians' Old World,” in Major Problems, pp 15-32.

- James Axtell, “Europeans, Indians, and the Age of Discovery in American History Textbooks,” The American Historical Review 92.3 (June, 1987): 621-632.

- Calvin Martin, “The European Impact on the Culture of a Northeastern Algonquian Tribe: An Ecological Interpretation.

- Daniel K. Richter, “War and Culture: The Iroquois Experience,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 40.4 (October, 1983): 528-559.


Early English North America

The first lecture on a section on 'pre-America' America focusing on the English, early settlements in New England, and life and culture on the frontier.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapters 2 and 3.

- Bernard Bailyn, “Communications and Trade: The Atlantic in the Seventeenth Century,” The Journal of Economic History 13.4 (Autumn, 1953): 378-387.

- Kathryn E. Holland Braund, “The Creek Indians, Blacks, and Slavery,” Journal of Southern History 57.4 (November, 1991): 601–37.

- Kathleen Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), chapter 2.


Discussion: A Continent Divided

This discussion section is to wrap-up the borderlands part by showing she enormous number of divisions in the area that would become the United States, even into the nineteenth century. We will be looking at contested maps, a variety of treaties and travel narratives, and so on.

* Major Problems Chapter 2, Document 1; Chapter 3, Documents 3, 4; Chapter 7, Documents 2, 5, 6; Chapter 11, Document 4.

* Briefly compare these two maps of the United States:

Week 4
Allegiances Forged,

Allegiances Frayed


The Coming of English Rule: Bacon's Rebellion and the Seven Years' War

This will serve as a sort of barebones narrative history of the colonial period of English rule in the century leading up to the Revolution.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 4.

- Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs, Chapter 5.

- Richard R. Johnson, “The Imperial Webb: The Thesis of Garrison Government in Early America Considered,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 43.3 (July, 1986): 408-430.

- Gary B. Nash, The Urban Crucible: Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), Chapter 5.


Discontent and Entitlement

The more focused section on the Revolution, what North America looked like before the Revolution, and the immediate events leading up to the conflict.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 5.

- T.H. Breen, “Narrative of Commercial Life: Consumption, Ideology, and Community on the Eve of the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 50.3 (July, 1993): 471-501.

- Woody Holton, “The Ohio Indians and the Coming of the American Revolution in Virginia,” The Journal of Southern History 60.3 (August, 1994): 453-478.

- Larry Sawers, “The Navigation Acts Revisited,” The Economic History Review, new series, 45.2 (May, 1992): 262-284.

- Harry S. Stout, “Religion, Communications, and the Ideological Origins of the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 34.4 (October, 1977), 519-541.


Discussion: Hipster Revolutionaries

This discussion section will cover the pre-Revolution revolutionaries and struggles that eventually culminated in the American Revolution.

* Major Problems Chapter 4, Documents 1, 7, Essay 2 (Gary B. Nash, “The Radical Revolution from the 'Bottom Up'”).

* Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many Headed Hydra, Chapter 7 (supplied).

Week 5
The American Revolution


Revere, Cornwallis, and Cornstalk

Crown and contested colonies in a Revolutionary world.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 6.

- Colin G. Calloway, “'We Have Always Been the Frontier': The American Revolution in Shawnee Country,” American Indian Quarterly 16.1 (Winter, 1992): 39-52.

- Sylvia R. Frey, “Between Slavery and Freedom: Virginia Blacks in the American Revolution,” The Journal of Southern History 49.3 (August, 1983): 375-398.

- Barbara Clark Smith, “Food Rioters and the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 51.1 (January 1994): 3-38.


Revolutionary Dreams:

What was it All For?

Here I want to lecture on the various visions, reasons, and contingencies of the new nation and its relation to the crown, the nation's relationship to its citizenry, and so on, which will serve as nice background to the discussion.

* Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), introduction (supplied).

- Caitlin A. Fitz, “'Suspected on Both Sides:' Little Abraham, Iroquois Neutrality, and the American Revolution,” Journal of the Early Republic 28.3 (Fall, 2008): 299-335.

- Gordon S. Wood, “Rhetoric and Reality in the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 23.1 (January, 1966): 3-32.


Discussion: The Radicalism of the American Revolution (Part One)

This will be the first part of two-part discussion series analyzing the Revolution itself for what it was just before, during, and right after. The central question is: How radical was the American Revolution?

* Major Problems, Chapter 3, Document 8, Chapter 4, Documents 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.

Week 6
Articles of Confederation and

the American Constitution


Building a Nation: Articles to Constitution

Today, we will focus on the Articles of Confederation, its strengths and weaknesses, popular reception to it, and end with the adoption of the Constitution.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 7.

* Articles of Confederation and the (adopted, including the Bill of Rights) American Constitution in Tindall & Shi, A48-A68.


Representation, Slavery, and American Citizenship

This will be a broad discussion of the problem of political economy, citizenship, and rights in the Early Republican period—including women, Native Americans, and African Americans, save and free.

* Orlando Patterson, “The Unholy Trinity: Freedom, Slavery, and the American Constitution,” Social Research 54.3 (Autumn, 1987): 543-577.

- Donald R. Hickey, “America's Response to the Slave Revolt in Haiti, 1791-1806,” Journal of the Early Republic 2.4 (Winter, 1982): 361-379.

- Linda K. Kerber, No Constitutional Right to be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (New York: Hill and Wang, 1998), Chapter 1.

- Peter S. Onuf, “Liberty, Development, and Union: Visions of the West in the 1780s,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 43.2 (April, 1986): 179-213.

- Alfred F. Young, “The Pressure of the People on the Framers of the Constitution,” Jack N. Rackove, “The Hope of the Framers to Recruit Citizens to Enter Public Life,” in Major Problems, Chapter 5.


Discussion: The Radicalism of the American Revolution (Part Two)

With the second part after the lectures on the Constitution and Articles of Confederation, debates over representation, a few hints toward Native Americans' futures in the nation, and slavery, we will again discuss the question of how radical was the American Revolution.

* Major Problems Chapter 5, Documents 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9; Chapter 6, Document 2.

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “Teed Off: The Tea Party, Then and Now,” teed-off-the-tea-party-then-and-now/

Week 7
Federalism and


With this week I obviously want to break down competing visions of the nation and its proper role in American life in an effort to inject a longer history of contingency into the portrait of national development.


The Federalists

With this I want to talk about the Federalists, the early presidents, Federalist ideology, and their core.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 8.

* Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist Papers (1787-1788), introduction,


The Anti-Federalists

And here, of course, Jefferson, his presidency, and the anti-Federalists. In this section, I'll begin discussing the actual debates and key differences between the two camps.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 9.

* Patrick Henry, June 12, 1788 Ratifying Convention Speech, founders/documents/v1ch8s38.html


Discussion: Dreamers of the New Nation

With this discussion section, we will question each side of the federalism/anti-federalism debate, and raise the question of who was “more American” with the ultimate goal of questioning that initial question: does it really matter who was “more” American? What does that even mean when there was never a singular vision of America?

* Major Problems Chapter 5, Document 7; Chapter 6, Documents 1, 3, 5, 6, 7.

Week 8
Whiggery and the Continent: Building the Early Republic


Revolutions Economic and Technologic

Here I want to take a break from law, nation-building, and ideology to talk about steam, communications, railroads, and the cool new world Americans were finding themselves in.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 12.

- Craig R. Hanyan, “China and the Erie Canal,” The Business History Review 35.4 (Winter, 1961): 558-566.

- Nancy F. Cott, “The Market Revolution and Changes in Women's Work,” and Daniel Walker Howe, “The Changes Wrought by Cotton, Transportation, and Communication,” in Major Problems, Chapter 8.


Slavery and Expansion in Early America

These two lectures go together to show how it was a combination of technology (railroad, cotton gin), expansion, and politics that began creating distinct sectional economic differences that had the potential to crystallize into political cleavages.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 10.

- Peter S. Onuf, “The Revolution of 1803,” The Wilson Quarterly 27.1 (Winter 2003): 22-29.

- Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity:A History of African-American Slaves (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), Chapter 4.


Discussion: Life in the New Republic

With this section we will examine how all of the things I mentioned in the week prior are either important or not, affected people differently, and contributed to a diversity of lived experiences in the first half of the nineteenth century. Particularly, I want to focus on technology, change, and agricultural change in this era, too.

* Major Problems Chapter 8, Documents 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Week 9
Old Hickory and

His Times


A Champion of the People?

This is the big lecture on Jackson, his background, various political battles, and his term. I want to save Indian removal and the details of his ideology for later, though, so this lecture will serve as a sort of proxy for everything between the War of 1812 and (roughly) the end of Van Buren's term.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 11.

- Mary P. Ryan, “Antebellum Politics as Raucous Democracy,” and Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin, “Antebellum Politics as Political Manipulation,” in Major Problems, Chapter 9.

- Alan Taylor, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), introduction.

- Sean Wilentz, “Striving for Democracy,” The Wilson Quarterly 23.2 (Spring, 1999): 47-54.


The Sordid Legacy of Indian Removal

With this lecture I want to portray the US as a classically colonial nation, with Native Americans as the colonized.

* Mary Hershberger, “Mobilizing Women, Anticipating Abolition: The Struggle against Indian Removal in the 1830s,” Journal of American History 86.1 (June, 1999): 15-40.

- Edward Countryman, “Indians, the Colonial Order, and the Social Significance of the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 53.2 (April, 1996): 342-362.

- Julia Gaffield, “Jaiti and Jamaica in the Remaking of the Early Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World,” The William and Mary Quarterly 69.3 (July, 2012): 583-614.

- Allan Greer, “Commons and Enclosure in the Colonization of North America,” The American Historical Review 117.2 (April, 2012): 365-386.


Discussion: Democracy for Whom?

This week, we will discuss Jacksonian Democracy in the context of Republicanism/Democracy, women, and Native American colonization.

* Major Problems Chapter 7, Documents 8, 9; Chapter 10, Document 8; Chapter 11, Documents 2, 6, 7; Chapter 12, Document 7

Week 10
American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, and Reform


Rationality, Religion, and Romanticism

This is the lecture on the Enlightenment, the Second Great Awakening, and various philosophical and literary movements at the turn of and beginning of the nineteenth century.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 13.

- Margaret Abruzzo, Polemical Pain: Slavery, Cruelty, and the Rise of Humanitarianism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), introduction.

- Nathan O. Hatch, “The Christian Movement and the Demand for a Theology of the People,” The Journal of American History 67.3 (December, 1980): 545-567.


Antebellum Reform and Education

Literacy, public schools, popular education, and social reform. I want to bring in a bit here about African-American reform and schools while keeping in mind women's rights, and (briefly, since it will be covered in more detail later) abolition.

* Anne M. Boylan, “Evangelical Womanhood in the Nineteenth Century: The Role of Women in Sunday Schools,” Feminist Studies 4.3 (October, 1978): 62-80.

- Anne M. Boyland, “Women in Groups: An Analysis of Women's Benevolent Organizations in New York and Boston, 1797-1840,” The Journal of American History 71.3 (December, 1984): 497-523.

- Julie Roy Jeffrey, “Permeable Boundaries: Abolitionist Women and Separate Spheres,” Journal of the Early Republic 21.1 (Spring, 2001): 79-93.


Discussion: Morality – Indian Removal, Women's Rights, and Slavery

With this discussion section I want to bring in things by folks like David Walker and the Grimke sisters to raise questions over how people envision their moral systems. Are people always entirely non-contradictory and subscribe only to compatible ideals? When we see paradoxes in peoples' reasoning, does that necessarily damn their worldview? How do we study intellectual and cultural contingencies and alternatives when faced with self-contradictory world views?

* Major Problems Chapter 10, Documents 2, 3, 4, 5, 9.

* Skim the articles by Paul Johnson and Nell Painter at the end of Chapter 10 to get a sense of how complicated reform was in Antebellum America.

Week 11
Manifest Destiny and America's Western Empire


“Exploring” the West: The Pre-Anglo History of the West

The lecture will be a brief review of the borderlands lectures combined with a “what has been happening since” sort of catch-up about Native Americans, early Anglo expansion West, Mexican, Spanish, French, Anglo, and Native encounters, various “exploratory expeditions” (and why I put that phrase in quotations), and the sheer network of peoples in the West before historians generally begin discussing the area.

* Elliot West, “The West Before Lewis and Clark: Three Lives,” in West, The Essential West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012).

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “Here to There: A History of Mapping.” Listen to these two segments: Max Edleson, “The Measure of a Man,” and Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, “What's in a Name?”

- George Oberst, “Neither Empty nor Unknown: Montana at the Time of Lewis and Clark,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 57.2 (Summer, 2007): 44-57.

- Peter S. Onuf, “American Exceptionalism and National Identity,” American Political Thought 1.1 (Spring, 2012): 77-100.


Expanding the Nation, Circumscribing Belonging

Lecture on expanding American borders via policy, peopling, and displacing. Include things like various Indian removal schemes to settle white settlers, things like the Louisiana Purchase, the importance of the Mexican-American War, immigrant Chinese labor, and so on.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 14.

- Moon-Ho Jung, "Outlawing "Coolies": Race, Nation, and Empire in the Age of Emancipation," American Quarterly 57 (2005): 677-701.

- William J. Novak, “The Legal Transformation of Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Meg Jacobs, et al., The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp 85-119.


Discussion: Nationalism and Peopling the Continent

With this discussion I want to raise questions about how policy makers and settlers themselves viewed settlement of the West: who did they view as most suitable to inhabit the area? Why? What type of societies did they seek to build in these areas? What were some tensions created by various people running up against existing societies and trying to “civilize” them? What did the process of “civilization” entail to nineteenth-century white settlers?

* Major Problems Chapter 9, Documents 6, 8, 9; Chapter 11, Document 7.

Week 12


Atlantic Systems of Slavery: A Brief History

With this lecture, I want to incorporate a very long history of the slave trade in the Americas, from the very first slaves brought over to the end of the British slave trade. I want to bring in slavery here in two senses: its importance in creating the Atlantic world (Eric Williams is instructive here), as well as the lived experience of it, thinking about Berlin, Jennifer Morgan, and Stephanie Smallwood. I may also want to go over Bacon's Rebellion, indentured servitude, and early American labor systems again, as well.

* Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity:A History of African-American Slaves (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), supplied selections.

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “Black & White: The Idea of Racial Purity,” black-and-white-americas-most-stubborn-color-line/

- Winthrop Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968).

- Philip D. Curtain, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).


North American Slavery

Now with this section I want to detail American slavery in the nineteenth century with an emphasis on how it was both a national and international phenomenon. I then want to incorporate Walter Johnson to show how the slave trade in the US was felt by slaves, then move into Genovese, Glymph, and company to show slave life.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 15.

- Eric Foner, “The Meaning of Freedom in the Age of Emancipation,” The Journal of American History 81.2 (September, 1994): 435-460.

- Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

- Walter Johnson, “The Slave Trader, The White Slave, and the Politics of Racial Determination in the 1850s,” The Journal of American History 87.1 (June, 2000): 13-38.

- Walter Johnson, “Slaves and the 'Commerce' of the Slave Trade,” and Anthony Kaye, “The Neighborhoods and Intimate Lives of Slaves,” in Major Problems, Chapter 12.


Discussion: The Varieties of the Lived: Time, Place, and Context in Studies of Slavery

This discussion will be all about the affect of region on slave life. I want to incorporate Berlin's introduction as well as key documents from slaves in each section in order to tease out the affect of place on life for the enslaved.

* Major Problems, Chapter 2, Documents 5, 6, 7; Chapter 8, Document 1; Chapter 12, Documents 2, 3, 4, 6.

Week 13



With this lecture I want to compare and contrast the way historians have viewed sectional conflict in the pre-Civil War era with how contemporaries saw it—that is, I want to de-essentialize the teleology of sectional division by showing that at no point was sectional breakdown imminent.

* Tindall & Shi, review Chapters 10 and 15.

* Michael F. Holt, “The Political Divisions that Contributed to Civil War,” and Bruce Levine, “The Economic Divisons that Contributed to Civil War,” in Major Problems Chapter 13.

- David W. Blight, “Perceptions of Southern Intransigence and the Rise of Radical Antislavery Thought, 1816-1830,” Journal of the Early Republic 3.2 (Summer, 1983): 139-163.


Republicans, the West, and Race

Here I want to discuss the latter portions of the sectional crisis with what seems to be an “impending” crisis, but then end it with compromise that, again, didn't lead to sectional disunity.

* Elliott West, "Reconstructing Race," The Western Historical Quarterly 34, no. 1 (2003): pp. 6-26.

- Bruce Levine, “Conservatism, Nativism, and Slavery: Thomas R. Whitney and the Origins of the Know-Nothing Party,” The Journal of American History 88.2 (September, 2001): 455-488.

- Michael D. Pierson, “'Slavery Cannot Be Covered up with Broadcloth or a Bandanna': The Evolution of White Abolitionist Attacks on the 'Patriarchal Institution,'” Journal of the Early Republic 25.3 (Fall, 2005): 383-415.

- Manisha Sinha, “The Caning of Charles Sumner: Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War,” Journal of the Early Republic 23.2 (Summer, 2003): 233-262.


Discussion: The Inevitability of the Civil War

Here, we will discuss the various events that count as moments of sectional crisis, the differences between North and South, the differences within the South, and so on. We will think less about what you know will happen from the benefit of hindsight, to what, given the evidence I have given you as well as the lecture material, you think may have happened.

* Major Problems, Chapter 9, Document 2, 3, 4; Chapter 11, Document 3; Chapter 13, Document 3, 4, 5, 7.

Week 14


The Election of 1860

Continuing my discussion on the last few years of national politics and the election of 1860 to bring in Lincoln, Davis, and, finally, the Confederacy. One question I want to raise as part of a lecture/discussion is: When was secession imminent, or even inevitable?

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 16.

* BackStory with the American History Guys, “Civil War 150th: The Road to Civil War,”


The Civil War and Emancipation

In lieu of an entire section devoted to Civil War battles, I want to instead discuss emancipation, the development of national policy in the absence of southern congressmen, and the Civil War as revolution in American History. I also want to incorporate Northern events, like draft riots and racism in New York.

* Tindall & Shi, Chapter 17.

* Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), supplied selections from Chapters 1-4, 6, and 10.

- Ira Berlin, et al., “The Destruction of Slavery, 1861-1865,” in Slaves No More (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), chapter 1.

- Iver Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

- Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), chapter 4.


Discussion: Emancipation and the International Crisis of American Cotton

This section will be a discussion of the myriad international connections of American cotton. We will discuss how enmeshed slavery in North America was in an international capitalist economy, and the importance of that. I want us to focus particularly on the implications of emancipation in the United States on the international cotton market and on the global history of freedom.

* Sven Beckert, "Emancipation and Empire: Reconstructing the World Wide Web of Cotton Production in the Age of the American Civil War," American Historical Review 109 (2004): 1405-1438.

* Major Problems Chapter 12, Document 8.

* “The West Indian Negro,” The Washington Telegraph (Hempstead County, Arkansas), August 2nd, 1865, page 1 (supplied).

Week 15


Discussion: A Preview of Reconstruction

This will serve as a preview of Reconstruction to get a sense of what students think will happen given what they have learned so far. Asking this question is fascinating, because so few students have actually been exposed to this era in American History.

* Major Problems, Chapter 14, Documents 1, 4; Chapter 15, Documents 2, 8.


Course Wrap-Up

Suggested Readings and Books to Review

Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998.
Brown, Kathleen. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
DuVal, Kathleen. The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.
Games, Alison. Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Greene, Jack. Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.
Jordan, Winthrop. White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.
Miller, Perry. The New England Mind: From Colony to Province. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939.
Morgan, Edmund. American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia. New York: Norton, 1975.
Morgan, Jennifer. Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Wood, Peter. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Knopf, 1974.
Bouton, Terry. Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Cott, Nancy. The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835.
Edwards, Laura. The People and their Peace: Legal Culture and the Transformation of Inequality in the Post-Revolutionary South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.
Einhorn, Robin. American Taxation, American Slavery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Elkins, Stanley and McKitrick, Eric. The Age of Federalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Freeman, Joanne. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
Genovese, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Pantheon Books, 1974.
Harris, Leslie. In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1823. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Kerber, Linda. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980.
Klein, Rachel. Unification of a Slave State: The Rise of the Planter Class in the South Carolina Backcountry, 1760-1808. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Linebaugh, Peter and Rediker, Marcus. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.
McCurry, Stephanie. Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Nash, Gary B.. The Urban Crucible: The Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.
Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell. American Negro Slavery: A Survey of the Supply, Employment and Control of Negro Labor as Determined by the Plantation Regime. New York: D. Appleton Company, 1918.
Prude, Jonathan. The Coming of Industrial Order: Town and Factory Life in Rural Massachusetts, 1810-1860. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1983.
Sellers, Charles. The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Sensbach, Jon. A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World in North Carolina, 1763-1840. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Stansell, Christine. City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
Taylor, Alan. Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Ulrich, Laurel. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. New York: Knopf, 1990.
Wood, Gordon. The Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1992.
Bernstein, Iver. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Blight, David. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001.
Edwards, Laura. Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
Masur, Kate. An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
Potter, David. The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.
West, Elliot. The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Wyatt-Brown, Bertram. Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

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