Welcome to U.S. History to 1865

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 doesn't know it's part of a tree.' Whether we know it or not, like it or not, we are all in the grip of titanic forces -- the weight of history -- that impel us forward. Metaphorically, we sit 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.

Welcome to HIST 2111. Remember, if you ever have questions, don't hesitate to contact me.


Office Hours


Required Texts


Class Schedule

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)

Lecture: Rise of the West (Aug. 15) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 1-19

Breakout: Christopher Columbus (Aug. 17)
Reading: Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be || Charles C. Mann, "1491" || Kirkpatrick Sale, "What Columbus Discovered" || Christopher Columbus, "Journal of the First Voyage" || Bartholomew de Las Casas, "Short Report of the Destruction of the Indies"
Questions: What does Andrew Delbanco think college is for? Do you agree? What do you hope to get out of it? What did pre-Columbian America look like? What is the "pristine myth"? Why is it important? What sort of captain was Columbus? What sort of man was he? What do you think motivated him? Can you find supporting evidence for your opinions in his journal? What sort of man do you suppose las Casas was? In what ways does he seem unusually sensitive to the plight of the natives? In what ways does he seem ethnocentric? How would you compare Columbus and las Casas? In your opinion, was Columbus's voyage and its results glorious, malevolent, tragic, or merely inevitable? Why did we used to celebrate Columbus Day? Why did we stop? What does it mean that we stopped?

Lecture: New Worlds for All (Aug. 19) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 19-30 || "How the Potato Changed the World"


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?

Lecture: Jamestown (Aug. 22) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 43-52, 80-85

Breakout: The Original Americans (Aug. 24)
Reading: Philip Young, "Pocahontas, Mother of Us All"
Questions: What do we really know about Pocahontas? What myths have been built up around her? What needs do those myths seem to serve? Why does author Philip Young go back to the medieval period to find stories that are similar to that of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith? Why does he think such similarities are more than coincidental? Why do you suppose the Pocahontas story has proved so enduring? Why do you think Disney's animated movie was so controversial? Would you allow your children to watch it? Is it just a movie?

Lecture: The Pilgrims' Progress (Aug. 26) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 53-67

In Class Writing: Original Sins (Aug. 29)
Reading: Rediker, The Slave Ship
Questions: The Slave Ship is a comprehensive study of the vessel itself (from 1700-1808): its material characteristics, its promoters and captains and crews, its human cargo, and its complex, profound relationship to the economic and cultural conditions of the Western world. Rediker studies "how the slave ship worked as a machine to produce the commodity 'slave' for a global labor market" (338) -- and how it grounded its operation in an organized, purposeful system of "terror." How does Rediker lay bare the differing perspectives of captain, crew, and enslaved? What does Rediker reveal about the slave trade in Africa? How did slavers practice calculated "terrorism"? What kind of background did sailors have? What constraints did they operate within? How did slaves typically resist? How did captive Africans "learn to act collectively" (265) on slave ships? How was the American slave trade bound up within a larger macro-economic context?

Breakout: Original Sins (Aug. 31)
Reading: Foner 104-116 || Rediker, The Slave Ship
Questions: See above.

Lecture: French and Indian War (Sept. 2) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 127-138

No Class: Labor Day! (Sept. 5)

Breakout: The Stamp Act Crisis: A Simulation (Sept. 7)
Reading: The Stamp Act Packet
Questions: See assignment.

Lecture: To the Revolution (Sept. 9) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 140-157

Lecture: Revolution (Sept. 12) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 158-166

Breakout: George Washington, Thomas Paine, and the Soldiers of the Revolution (Sept. 14)
Reading: The Declaration of Independence || Thomas Paine, Common Sense || The Soldiers' Experience || John Shy, A People Numerous and Armed || Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy
Questions: What does the Declaration of Independence actually say? What about beyond the Preamble? Why do you think Paine titled his pamphlet, Common Sense? Why do you think Washington "assigned" Paine's tract to his army? What was life like for soldiers in the Continental Army? Why did they fight? What was it like for their officers? What was it like for Washington? How does the Newburgh Conspiracy dramatize and reveal some of those tensions? How did they all hold it together? Given the Americans myriad problems, why did the British lose? John Shy seems to think it has something to do with the nature of the American society itself. What do you think? What happened in the Newburgh Conspiracy?


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?

Lecture: The Founding Generation (Sept. 16) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 194-215

Lecture: Federalists and Republicans (Sept. 19) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 222-236

Breakout: The Burr-Hamilton Smackdown (Sept. 21)
Reading: Burr-Hamilton Correspondence || 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
Questions: Why does Burr write Hamilton the first letter? Why does the disagreement escalate? Who do you think has the better of the argument in the letters? What was Hamilton trying to do with his 'mea culpa'? What did you make of Hamilton's letter to his wife? What did you make of Burr's letter to his daughter? What do you think of each man's conduct? Why does John Lyde Wilson claim he's writing "The Code of Honor"? Why does he think legal methods of redress are insufficient? Why does he think Christian forbearance is insufficient? According to Kenneth Greenberg, what were the social functions of dueling? How did dueling enact a particular kind of white masculinity? How did dueling replicate patterns of Southern republican statesmanship and mastery over slaves?

Lecture: The Republic Reborn (Sept. 23) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 243-266

Lecture: Jefferson's Blood (Sept. 26)
Reading: Foner, 215-219, 236-242

Breakout: Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (Sept. 28)
Reading: Barbra Murray, "Jefferson's Secret Life" || Madison Hemings, Interview, 1873 || Joseph J. Ellis, "Jefferson: Post-DNA" || Thomas Jefferson on race
Questions: What characteristics do you think make for a good president? Does Jefferson measure up? Why does Ellis call Jefferson "Clintonesque?" Do you think this is accurate? Given that Jefferson fathered children by his slave Sally Hemings, what weight would you give this fact in your assessment of Jefferson's achievements? Of his character? Early in his life, Jefferson was an advocate of limiting slavery's extension; later, he was more fatalistic on the subject. What do you make of the trajectory of Jefferson's thoughts and actions on the subject of slavery? What did the Frontline commentator mean when he said that in later life Jefferson was encircled by America's racial primitivism and must have known himself as primitive too? Do you think this is true? Do you think Jefferson had a sense of his own hypocrisy?

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?

Guest Lecture: Antebellum Reform (Alisha Cromwell) (Oct. 3)
Reading: ?

Breakout: White Giants and Black Giants, or Davy Crockett Meets Nat Turner in the American South (Oct. 5)
Reading: Michael Lofaro, Preface and Introduction from The Tall Tales of Davy Crockett || Davy Crockett, "I Outwit a Yankee" || Davy Crockett, "Crockett's Morning Hunt" || Comic book images 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || The Confessions of Nat Turner || Birth of a Nation Trailer
Questions: What happens in "I Outwit a Yankee"? Why do you suppose Crockett's handling of Job Snelling made him "the true grit" for his constituents in Congress? What happens in "Crockett's Morning Hunt"? How is the Davy of "Crockett's Morning Hunt" different from the Crockett of "I Outwit a Yankee"? Why do you suppose Davy Crockett was so wildly popular? What American needs did he serve? Some historians have argued that Davy Crockett is America's first comic superhero. What support can you think of to support that argument? Who are our superheroes? What do they say about us? Do you see problems with the "confessions" of Nat Turner as a source? Do you think some of the real Nat remains in the text? How is Nat treated differently in the trailer? Do you see 'progress' when you watch the trailer?

Lecture: Who Is This New Man? (Oct. 7) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 267-289

Lecture: The Mexican War (Oct. 10) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 367-378

Breakout: Manifest Destiny and the Mexican War (Oct. 12)
Reading: Abraham Lincoln, "The War With Mexico" || John L. O'Sullivan on "Manfifest Destiny" || Southern Literary Messenger, "Manifest Destiny of the World"
Questions: At the time of its prosecution, Congressman Joshua Giddings called the war with Mexico "aggressive, unholy, and unjust." Was it? In what ways was the war a departure from American commitments? In what way was it a fulfillment of American impulses? What was "Manifest Destiny" and what were its intellectual tropes and tendencies? How should we "feel" about the Mexican War today?

Lecture: The American Renaissance (Oct. 14) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 340-364

In Class Writing: Lives of Quiet Desperation (Oct. 17)
Reading: Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Questions: Granting, completely, that Thoreau can come off alternately as an egomaniac, a snob, and a curmudgeon ("beware of all enterprises that require new clothes..." Seriously?) -- and granting, equally, that his prose style might be best described as "rambling sublime" -- we must also grant that he has profoundly engaged the question: What is the life worth living? How should we be in our skins? How should we be in the world? Thoreau claims that his move out to Walden was a "private experiment." An experiment to see what? Do what? What does he mean, "in wildness is the preservation of the world"? Why does he think America's dominant system of social and economic values doom people to "lives of quiet desperation"? Why does he compare himself to a rooster trying to wake his neighbors? Why does he think they're asleep? Do you think they're asleep? Do you think we're asleep? Or do you think Thoreau's just an annoying rooster? [Be especially prepared to place Thoreau in the context of his times. Critical chapters are "Economy," "Where I lived, and What I Lived For," "Sounds," "The Bean-Field," "Brute Neighbors," "Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors," and "Conclusion."]

Breakout: Lives of Quiet Desperation (Oct. 19)
Reading: Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Questions: See above.


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?

Lecture: The "New" North (Oct. 21) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 378-390

Lecture: The "Old" South (Oct. 24) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 312-338

Breakout: The Slave Narrative (Oct. 26)
Reading: Accounts of slavery: Selections from various slave narratives
Questions: What was life like for African American families under slavery? What was it like for fathers? Mothers? How was Jacobs' experience of slavery different from that of Frederick Douglass? Were she and Douglass on the same or different journeys to freedom? What do these narratives reveal about the psychological dimensions of childhood under slavery? Do you see any signs that these authors knew they were writing for a predominantly white audience? Do you think these narratives would have been an effective form of consciousness-raising? Why or why not? Why should we read slave narratives today?

Fall Break! (Oct. 28)

In Class Writing: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Oct. 31)
Reading: Berry, A House Dividing
Questions: See questions in volume.

Breakout: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (Nov. 2)
Reading: Berry, A House Dividing
Questions: See above.

Guest Lecture: An Irrepressible Conflict? (Angie Alexander) (Nov. 4)
Reading: ?


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?

Lecture: The Civil War in Fifty Minutes (A Military History) (Nov. 7) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 391-410, 431-439

Breakout: What This Cruel War is Over (Nov. 9)
Reading: Declaration of Causes of Various Seceding States || Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address || Alexander Stephens, Cornerstone Speech || Garry Wills, Prologue, Lincoln at Gettysburg || Garry Wills, "Lincoln's Greatest Speech?" || Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
Questions: Why did the South secede? What were Lincoln's attitudes toward slavery? Toward race? Did they evolve over time? What does Alexander Stephens think the Confederacy is? Summarize Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. What does Wills think Lincoln accomplished at Gettysburg? Do you agree? Can 272 words do so much? Summarize Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Why does Wills think the Second Inaugural is Lincoln's greatest speech? How does the speech build on and add to the Gettysburg Address? What does Wills think we lost when we lost Lincoln? Do you agree?

Guest Lecture: The Lost Cause (Kate Dahlstrand) (Nov. 11)
Reading: "Confessions of a Former Neo-Confederate," Vox, September 30, 2016

In-class Writing: Victims (Nov. 14)
Reading: Philip Shaw Paludan, Victims: A True Story of the Civil War
Questions: What did Lincoln claim the war was about in the Gettysburg Address? What about in the Second Inaugural? Is that what the war looks like from the ditch at Shelton-Laurel? What is an 'atrocity-producing situation,' and why does Paludan think Shelton-Laurel qualifies? What do you think was the Civil War's essential nature? Was there some redemptive purpose to it? Or was Jefferson simply right when he said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." Did the country simply get what it deserved? What about the kid in the ditch? Did he get what he deserved? Was Lincoln right in any way?

Breakout: Victims (Nov. 16)
Reading: Paludan, Victims: A True Story of the Civil War
: Paludan, Victims: A True Story of the Civil War
Questions: See above.

Lecture: The Civil War in Fifty Minutes (A Social History) (Nov. 18) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 410-431

Lecture: Reconstruction From the Top Down (Nov. 28) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 442-462

Breakout: Reconstruction (Nov. 30)
Reading: The Colfax Massacre || Eric Foner, Nothing But Freedom
Questions: What is the significance of the Colfax Massacre? What role did violence play in Reconstruction? How culpable was the federal government? In what sense was the Civil War not over at Appomattox? Why does Eric Foner seem to think that economics, not race, should be at the center of our understanding of Reconstruction? Why does he think its important to put American emancipation in the context of other post-slavery societies? Do you agree? Could Reconstruction have worked, and if so, how?

Lecture: Reconstruction From the Bottom Up (Dec. 2) [ppt]
Reading: Foner, 462-474

Exam Review (Dec. 5)
Reading:

FINAL EXAM (Dec. 9 from 12:00p - 3:00p)


Assignments

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.

In-Class Writings: There will be four in-class writing assignment opportunities, but we will drop the lowest of your in-class writing grades, meaning you can effectively miss one altogether, though you would still need to be prepared to discuss that reading in the following breakout. If you can answer the questions given after each reading assignment, you will be in good shape for your in-class writing.


Grading

Participation: 20%

In-class writings: 45% (15% each)

Midterm Exam: 15%

Final Exam: 20%


Contacting Us

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.


Exam Guides


=== 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

English Colonies
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

Revolution
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

Early Republic
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 ===

America's Transformation
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"

Sectionalism
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

Civil War
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

Reconstruction
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