History and the past are not the same thing. The past is everything that came before now -- all of the events, no matter how trivial, that have occurred since the universe began. History is the attempt to make sense of that past and craft it into something meaningful and useful to the present. This may come as a surprise to some: History is useful? Partly because of how it is often taught, history can seem a dull recitation of names, dates, facts, and places -- "one damn thing after another" in the immortal words of British historian Arthur Toynbee. But without history, we would suffer a kind of cultural amnesia. Think of it in a personal context: If you woke up, with no sense whatever of all that you'd ever done or dreamed or been through, who would you be? No one. You are, to an important degree, the sum of your experiences. What memory is to an individual, then, history is to a culture. Collectively, we sift through all that has happened to us and decide what it will all mean; through a process of story-telling and argument we select what to remember and what to forget, what we need to honor and what we need to live down.
As a discipline, history has always had one foot in the humanities. Stretching back to Herodotus and beyond, historians have sought to stimulate our moral imaginations with the stories of those who came before us -- inspiring or appalling us all the more because the stories are true. Thus do our failures and successes all become part of who we are, and we build our tomorrows on the back of failed yesterdays.
But history has always had one foot in the social sciences too. The forces that shape our world are vast and hard to predict. Historians believe it is easier to understand those forces in the laboratory of the past where their effects and dynamics can actually be measured. At base, historians are obsessed with change; they seek to know not only why things happen, but why they happen when they do. Thus they study the past not for its own sake — they are not antiquarians. Rather, they study 'then' to better understand 'now.'
Americans do not have a great relationship with history. As a relatively young country, we often have a young person’s resentment of the past. We particularly resent the idea that we have to answer for things that occurred before we were even born. Why don't we look forward rather than back? History seems to be mostly bad news anyway. Why don’t we just get over it? Unfortunately, time doesn't work that way. There's a saying that goes, 'if you don't know your history, you're like a leaf that does know it's part of a tree.' Whether we know it or not, like it or not, we are all in the grip of a titanic force -- the weight of history -- that impels us forward. Metaphorically, we are all aboard a vast ark borne along in the currents of time. If we would grab the wheel, if we would attempt to steer, we have to understand the currents we are in.
The practice of history involves three primary endeavors: researching historical records, building an interpretation from those records, and renewing the search -- for more records and better interpretations. Thus does history constantly renew itself so that it can tell truths about the past that are useful to an ever-changing present. To mimic this process, our typical class periods will involve three things: sources, interpretations, and research.
Welcome to HIST 2011H. Remember, if you ever have questions, don't hesitate to contact me.
PART I - CONTACT
How and why did Europe (and not China, not the Nations of Islam) rise to such a position of world dominance? What cultural assumptions did European explorers bring to Africa and the New World? How did those assumptions affect their interactions with native peoples and the lands they occupied? What did the native peoples think of the Europeans? What in each culture encouraged them to think so?
Introductions (Aug. 12)
The Study of History (Aug. 15)
Reading: Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be
Christopher Columbus and the Rise of the West (Aug. 17 & 19)
Sources: Christopher Columbus, "Journal of the First Voyage" || Bartholomew de Las Casas, "Short Report of the Destruction of the Indies"
Interpretations: Charles C. Mann, "1491" || Kirkpatrick Sale, "What Columbus Discovered" || The Valladolid Debate || "How the Potato Changed the World"
Research: Examine the following images of the New World produced by Europeans: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5. What do they suggest about the Indian image in the white mind?
PART II - COLONIAL BRITISH AMERICA (1667-1775)
What expectations, ambitions, and institutions did English colonists bring to the new world? How did these differ from colony to colony? What, if anything, united the colonies? How would you characterize British imperial policy before and after 1763? What accounts for the strains in Anglo-American relations? By what steps (cultural, psychological, intellectual) were Americans transformed from loyal British subjects into revolutionaries?
Jamestown and the Original Americans (Aug. 22)
Sources: Letter of John Rolfe explaining his intention to marry Pocahontas
Interpretations: Philip Young, "Pocahontas, Mother of Us All"
Research: Spend some time perusing the first-hand accounts at Virtual Jamestown. Based on your observations, what do you think life was like there?
The Pilgrims' Progress (Aug. 26)
Sources: Examination of Tituba during the Salem Witchcraft Trials
Interpretations: Various historians explain the origins of the Salem Witchcraft Trials
Research: Examine some of the records at the Salem Witchcraft Papers. Based on your findings, what similarities and differences do you note between life in Jamestown and life in Salem?
Original Sins (Aug. 29 & 31)
Sources: Chapter Two from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself.
Interpretations: Rediker, The Slave Ship || "The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes"
Research: Spend an hour or so at the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database and come to class prepared to discuss your observations about the trade.
French and Indian War (Sept. 2)
Sources and Interpretations: The Economic History of the Fur Trade || "The French and Indian War"
Research: Read through the Speeches and treaties between William Johnson and the Iroquois, 1755-1756 and try to assess native motivations in allying themselves with the British and British motivations in allying themselves with the Iroquois.
No Class: Labor Day! (Sept. 5)
Revolution (Sept. 12 & 14)
Sources: The Declaration of Independence || Thomas Paine, Common Sense
Interpretations: John Shy, A People Numerous and Armed || Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy
Research: Read through this selection of soldiers' letters, and come to class prepared to discuss your conclusions about life in the Continental Army.
PART III - THE EARLY REPUBLIC
Did the Constitution codify or undermine the Revolution? What controversies led to the formation of the first parties? What principles and policies did the two parties come to represent? Does the election of 1800 really represent a "Revolution"? How would you characterize Jefferson's model republic? Did America look like his model? What happened to the Federalists? How does Thomas Jefferson symbolize white America's conflicted attitudes toward race? In what ways does the War of 1812 mark an important watershed in American history?
Securing the Revolution (Sept. 16)
Sources: Federalist No. 15 || Federalist No. 10 || Federalist No. 51
Research: Examine some of the documents relating to the Whiskey Rebellion from the Papers of the War Department. What did the government think the rebellion represented? Then read through the letters written by George Washington during the Constitutional Convention and come to provide evidence of his thinking during the period.
Federalists, Republicans, and the Burr-Hamilton Smackdown (Sept. 19 & 21)
Sources: Burr-Hamilton Correspondence
Interpretations: Kenneth S. Greenberg, "The Duel as Social Drama" || Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Dueling || Drunk History, vol. 1, "The Duel" || Ten Duel Commandments || Your Obedient Servant || World Was Wide Enough || Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells your Story || Lyrics to the musical Hamilton
Research: Peruse the documents made available at The Aaron Burr Trial and come to class prepared to argue whether you think Burr committed treason.
Jefferson's Blood (Sept. 23 & 26)
Sources: Madison Hemings, Interview, 1873 || Thomas Jefferson on race
Interpretations: Barbra Murray, "Jefferson's Secret Life" || Joseph J. Ellis, "Jefferson: Post-DNA"
The Republic Reborn (Sept. 28)
Sources: Tecumseh, "We Must Be United"
Interpretations: James Madison: Foreign Affairs" || Amanda Foreman, "The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than Americans Do"
Research: Peruse the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and come to class with examples of what they reveal about the United States in the period.
FIRST EXAM (Sept. 30)
PART IV - THE MARKET COMES OF AGE
How would you describe the transformation of the American economy in the Age of Jackson? American politics? How was America's inward and westward turn reflected in literature and art? In what ways was Indian removal central to white America's history and psychology? What were the major reform movements of the period? What unified them? What was the American Renaissance, who were its major figures, and what were its major themes? How did it represent a declaration of cultural independence for (white) America?
No class (Oct. 3)
Flush Times (Oct. 5)
Sources: Joseph Glover Baldwin, "Flush Times in Alabama and Mississippi" || Edgar Allan Poe, Diddling Considered As One of the Exact Sciences
Interpretations: Jill Lepore, Review of Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought?
White Giants and Black Giants, or Davy Crockett Meets Nat Turner in the American South (Oct. 7)
Sources: Davy Crockett, "I Outwit a Yankee" || Davy Crockett, "Crockett's Morning Hunt" || Comic book images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 || The Confessions of Nat Turner
Interpretations: Michael Lofaro, Preface and Introduction from The Tall Tales of Davy Crockett || Birth of a Nation Trailer
Research: Explore the almanac images taken from the Crockett Image Archive and come to class prepared to discuss what common whites thought was funny.
The Mexican War (Oct. 10 & 12)
Sources: Abraham Lincoln, "The War With Mexico" || John L. O'Sullivan on "Manfifest Destiny" || Southern Literary Messenger, "Manifest Destiny of the World"
Interpretations: "A Mexican Viewpoint on the War with the United States"
Research: Using the Early American Newspapers database, form a sense of how the Mexican-American War was covered in the United States press. Bring examples to class.
The Other Half of the Economy: Women and Reform (Oct. 14)
Sources: Seneca Falls Declaration || Hillary Clinton, "Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session"
Research: Browse the magazines digitized by the two "Making of America" websites -- one at Cornell and one at the University of Michigan -- and find an article that you think reveals something important about gender relations and the experience of women in the antebellum era. Then browse the Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture site and come to class prepared to answer whether Stowe's critique of slavery (and capitalism) is at heart a feminist critique.
Lives of Quiet Desperation (Oct. 17 & 19)
Sources: Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Interpretations: John Updike, "A Sage for All Seasons"
Research: Look for reviews and notices of Thoreau's Walden in contemporary magazines (also ">here) and newspapers (also here), and come to class with a sense of how Thoreau's book was received in his own time.
PART V - SECTIONALISM
What did the antebellum North and South share? What made the sections different? Why by the 1850s had slavery come under such sustained and relentless attack in the North? How was the critique of slavery different among abolitionists and freesoilers? What were the animating principles of the Republican party? How did the Southern defense of slavery change over time? What was the South's critique of the North? What was slavery like for the slaves, and how did they themselves help to bring down the institution? How did the major crises of the 1850s acclimate the nation to violence as a solution to sectional problems? Which states seceded, why and when?
The "New" North (Oct. 21)
Interpretations: William Gienapp, "The Crime Against Sumner: The Caning of Charles Sumner and the Rise of the Republican Party"
Research: Look through some of the articles and images related to the caning of Charles Sumner collected at House Divided and come to class with one or two pertinent observations about the event.
The "Old" South vs. The Slave Narrative (Oct. 24 & 26)
Sources: George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South || George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! || Hinton Rowan Helper, The Impending Crisis of the South
Interpretation: "Coroners and Slaves" at CSI:Dixie
Research: Read the following accounts of slavery and come to class prepared to discuss the institution's effects on the African American family and the narratives' effectiveness as an art form. Then spend some time on the CSI:Dixie site and find a case that you think says something important about the institution of slavery and its effects on southern society.
Fall Break! (Oct. 28)
No class (Nov. 2 & 4)
PART VI - CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION
What advantages and disadvantages did each side have when the war began? How and why was the Civil War won and lost? What did the war accomplish? How did Reconstruction play out at the federal level? On the ground in the South? How were African Americans active participants in Emancipation and Reconstruction? Did Reconstruction fail and if so, why?
What This Cruel War is Over (Nov. 7 & 9)
Sources: Declaration of Causes of Various Seceding States || Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address || Alexander Stephens, Cornerstone Speech || Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
Interpretations: Garry Wills, Prologue, Lincoln at Gettysburg || Garry Wills, "Lincoln's Greatest Speech?"
Research: Spend some time at Visualizing Emancipation. Is there an overarching argument to the site? What does the history of emancipation look like from the vantage of the enslaved?
No class (Nov. 11)
Victims (Nov. 14 & 16)
Interpretations: Paludan, Victims: A True Story of the Civil War
Research: Spend an hour perusing the letters of the Common Tongues Database. What do you think the war was like for the common soldier and his family?
The Math of After (Nov. 18)
Sources: The End documents || Images of Jefferson Davis's capture 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 || The Lincoln Memorial Diary
Research: Using Early American Newspapers or U.S. Newsmap research the immediate aftermath of the Lincoln assassination. Come in with one quote, image, or article that you think captures something important about the national mood in that moment.
Reconstruction From the Top Down (Nov. 28)
Sources: Articles of Impeachment against Andrew Johnson
Interpretations: Eric Foner, Nothing But Freedom || James McPherson, Ordeal By Fire
Research: Spend some time in the documents made available at the Andrew Johnson Impeachment Trial website and come to class with some observations.
Reconstruction From the Bottom Up (Nov. 30 & Dec. 2)
Sources: Petition to the Freedmen's Bureau explaining the urgent necessity for freedmen to be given land
Interpretations: "The Truth Behind Forty Acres and a Mule || Significant Dates on Black Land Loss & Land Acquisition || "The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today" || The Colfax Massacre
Research: Do some more digging into the Freedmen's Bureau Papers online, and come to class prepared to discuss Reconstruction's successes and failures.
Exam Review (Dec. 5)
Participation: Hamilton Holt described the typical academic lecture as "that mysterious process by means of which the contents of the professor's notebooks are transferred ... to the pages of the student's notebook without passing through the mind of either." For a class to be pedagogically defensible there must be reasons we all make the effort to physically drag ourselves into class. Expect, then, to be active participants, especially in your breakouts.
Exams: There will be two in-class exams. Dates are given in the class schedule. Exams will consist of "objective" questions (fill-in-the-blank), identifications (you are given a term, which you must identify, place in context, and state the significance of), and short essays. Ample instruction will be given on what to expect on the exams.
Research Papers: In virtually every class, we will discuss your research assignments, but on three occasions you should prepare a more formal response. Research papers should be 4-5 pages and should embody the values we have learned to associate with the discipline of history: deep work in original records coupled to an original and compelling interpretation. Given the relative shortness of these papers, your topics will need to be very specific and very carefully chosen. Consult with me whenever you have questions.
Papers: 45% (3 @ 15% each)
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Exam: 20%
I am happy to meet with students at my office (111 LeConte Hall) on Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:15p to 4:30p. To schedule a meeting at another time, please feel free to call (706-542-8848) or email me.
=== FIRST EXAM ===
New Worlds for All
Major questions: Why did Europe "discover" America? Why didn't China? The Empire of Islam? Why does the question mean so much? What were the consequences of this "discovery"? In what ways was Columbus representative of his culture? Why was Columbus's "discovery" followed up by a concerted attempt to colonize and conquer the New World? In what ways were European and Native American societies different? Why does the Indian image in the European mind say more about Europeans than Native Americans?
Key terms: megafauna, domestication of plants, domestication of animals, junks, Zheng He, the House of Wisdom, Baghdad, Black Death, the Renaissance, Christopher Columbus, Silk Road, Pax Mongolica, Moors, reconquista, Martin Pinzon, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, caribs, La Navidad, Columbian exchange, conquistadors, Incas, Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, Cortes, Pizarro, Moctezuma, Atahuallpa, Black Legend, Las Casas
Major questions: What do the founding myths of English Colonization (Pocahontas and Thanksgiving) suggest about American self-belief? Why was Jamestown such an early failure? How did it become a success? How and why did Jamestown change its form of labor organization? What were things like aboard a slave ship? How and why was Massachusetts settled? How would you compare/contrast colonial Virginia and colonial Massachusetts? What were the dominant characteristics of New Spain and New France? How did Native American societies adjust to the presence of Europeans? What were the consequences of those adjustments? What were the causes and consequences of the French and Indian War?
Key terms: mercantilism, the Lost Colony, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Spanish Armada, Jamestown, the Virginia Company, Powhatan, Pocahontos, Captain John Smith, John Rolfe, Nathaniel Bacon, indentured servitude, Martin Luther, justification by faith alone, priesthood of all believers, Protestant Reformation, John Calvin, predestination, Great Migration, Squanto, City on a Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Puritans, separatists, Mayflower Compact, John Winthrop, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, Salem Village, the French and Indian War, New Spain, New France, scalping, fur trade, Edward Braddock, William Shirley, John Campbell, Lord Loudon, William Pitt, Battle of Quebec
Major questions: How and why did English colonial policy change after 1763? Why were the changes met with such hostility in the colonies? By what steps (cultural, psychological, intellectual) were Americans transformed from loyal British subjects into revolutionaries? What advantages did each side enjoy during the Revolution? How and why did England lose?
Key terms: "salutary neglect," Navigation Acts, Proclamation of 1763, Sugar Act, Quartering Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, Boston Massacre, Tea Act, Coercive Acts, Thomas Gage, committees of correspondence, Samuel Adams, Sons of Liberty, Gaspee, John Hancock, Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Second Continental Congress, Olive Branch Petition, hessians, Paul Revere, Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill, William Howe, Battle of Long Island, Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, Britain's "southern strategy," Nathanael Greene, Continental Army, George Washington, Newburgh Conspiracy
Major questions: How does the Constitution represent a bundle of compromises? What controversies led to the formation of the first political parties? What principles and policies did the two parties come to represent? Does the election of 1800 really represent a "Revolution of 1800"? How would you sketch Thomas Jefferson's character? How does Thomas Jefferson symbolize white America's conflicted attitudes toward race?
Key terms: Treaty of Paris, Shays' Rebellion, Articles of Confederation, Constitutional Convention, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Federalist Papers, Antifederalists, Hamilton's Treasury Reports, Whiskey Rebellion, Jay Treaty, Quasi War, Alien and Sedition Act, Revolution of 1800, Aaron Burr, Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, Sally Hemings
=== SECOND EXAM ===
Major questions: What were the causes and consequences of the War of 1812? How would you summarize the major events of the war? How would you describe the transformation of the American economy after the war? How were gender, labor, and market relations affected by this transformation? How was Andrew Jackson both a product and a producer of the new mass party politics?
Key terms: Embargo, War of 1812, Battle of New Orleans, Tecumseh, Francis Scott Key, Fort McHenry, Lake Champlain, James Madison, the rise of the middle class, modernization, Eli Whitney, cotton gin, internal improvements, Erie Canal, Robert Fulton, Clermont, McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, Andrew Jackson, mass party politics, Bank War, Whigs, Second Party System
This New Man
Major questions: How was America's inward and westward turn reflected in literature and art? How did Davy Crockett embody America's self-concept? Why did Americans become obsessed with their national character after the 1820s? Where did the search for that character lead them? What was the Trail of Tears? In what ways was Indian removal central to white America's history and psychology?
Key terms: Andrew Jackson, Trail of Tears, James Fenimore Cooper, Knickerbocker Group, Leather-Stocking Tales, Last of the Mohicans, Natty Bumppo, Hudson River School, Thomas Cole, Southwestern Humor, Davy Crockett, the Crockett Almanacs, the Alamo, Manifest Destiny, Mexican War
Reform and Renaissance
Major questions: What were the major reform movements of the period? What unified them? How was reform related to shifts in the economy? What was the American Renaissance? Who were its major figures? What were its major themes? In what ways did it draw on the dominant cultural elements of Jacksonian America?
Key terms: temperance, women's rights, Shakers, Mormons, Oneidans, John Humphrey Noyes, Ann Lee, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, celibacy, polygamy, pantagamy, monogamy, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Seneca Falls Convention, Dorothea Dix, asylum movement, Nauvoo, spermatic economy, male continence, perfectionism, millenialism, Charles Finney, domesticity, utopias, abolitionism, lyceum movement, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, transcendentalism, Walden, Moby-Dick, Leaves of Grass, The Scarlet Letter, nonconformity, romanticism, Song of Myself, I Sing the Body Electric, I Hear America Singing, "Civil Disobedience," "The American Scholar"
Major questions: What did the antebellum North and South share? What made the sections different? Why by the 1850s had slavery come under such sustained and relentless attack in the North? How was the critique of slavery different among abolitionists and freesoilers? What were the animating principles of the Republican party? How did the Southern defense of slavery change over time? What was the South's critique of the North? What was slavery like for the slaves, and how did they themselves help to bring down the institution? How did the major crises of the 1850s acclimate the nation to violence as a solution to sectional problems? Which states seceded, why and when?
Key terms: Charles Sumner, Harper's Ferry, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dred Scott, Roger B. Taney, abolitionism, Free Soil Party, William Lloyd Garrison, Know Nothings, Election of 1860, Slave Power, Black Republicanism, Missouri Compromise, Frederick Douglass, Stephen A. Douglas, Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, George Fitzgugh, gag rule, nullification, popular sovereignty, bleeding Kansas, fugitive slave law, nativism, white supremacy, wage slavery, cotton kingdom, black belt, upper south, lower south, paternalism, yeomen, planters, Nat Turner, Virginia Debate of 1832, Pottawatomie massacre, James Buchanan, fire-eaters, Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lecompton constitution, secession
Major questions: What advantages and disadvantages did each side have when the war began? How would you describe Union strategy? Confederate strategy? Was Union victory inevitable? In what ways was the Civil War the first modern war? What would you include in a sketch of the major events in the war? How did African Americans contribute to the Union's winning the war?
Key terms: Sumter, Claude E. Minie, rifled muskets, Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural, Gettysburg Address, Second Inaugural, Emancipation Proclamation, Vicksburg, Sherman's March, Joseph Johnston, Robert E. Lee, ANV, Army of the Potomac, Dan Sickles, Pickett's Charge, Appomattox, Stonewall Jackson, copperheads, the Election of 1864, Jefferson Davis, David Farragut, 54th Massachusetts, border states
Major questions: What problems did the Republican party face in 1865? How did Reconstruction play out at the federal level? On the ground in the South? How were African Americans active participants in Emancipation and Reconstruction? Did Reconstruction fail and if so, why?
Key terms: Radical Republicans, sharecropping, carpetbaggers, scalawags, Thirteenth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Fifteenth Amendment, black codes, Great Railroad Strike of 1877, Panic of 1873, Andrew Johnson, Presidential Reconstruction, Tenure of Office Act, impeachment, Congressional Reconstruction, Thaddeus Stevens, redemption, Freedmen's Bureau, Civil Rights Act of 1875, Ten-percent plan, Ku Klux Klan