Course Syllabus

History 204: U.S. History to 1877

May Term 2013

Dr. Chris Schutz

Durham 203C

Phone: 746-5321


Professor’s Website:

Professor’s Old Website:

Required Textbook:

• Goldfield, David, et al. The American Journey: A History of the United States, vol. 1, Brief edition. 6th Edition. Prentice Hall, 2011

Required Reader:

• Belmonte, Laura, ed. Speaking of America, volume 1: To 1877. 2nd edition. Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.

Required Supplemental Book:

• Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Simon and Brown, 2012.

Course Themes:

In this course we will examine the beginnings and early trajectory of what was seen as an extraordinary experiment in 1789: the United States of America. While its high-minded rhetoric and ideals has left a legacy well beyond that year and even its own national borders, it has also proven to be a nation vexed by contradictions. A country which proudly recalls its Puritan predecessors’ determination to root the society in religious and moral principles has also been criticized as lauding the headlong pursuit of materialism above all else. A nation which has prided itself on being a multiethnic melting pot has also been bedeviled with racism throughout its history. America is also peculiar in its newness. Lacking a lengthy cultural heritage, Americans were faced with the fascinating task of discovering who they were. Germans had a mythical Teutonic past which they heralded, the French harkened to their Gaulic ancestry, and so on. Besides covering the above topics, then, we will also review how Americans had to create their own identity in the land that all but the American Indians came to fill.

Course Requirements:

Readings: I will give assigned readings from your course reader (America Through the Eyes of Its People) in class as we move throughout the semester, so keep abreast of those announcements. The readings and books (Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl and the textbook) may be discussed in class, and students will certainly be graded on their mastery of these materials. We may discuss many (if not all) of those materials in class, and that will be a substantial basis of determining your class participation grade for the course (discussed further below). The readings will be subject to the possibility of an unannounced “pop” quiz on the day in which they are discussed in class. These quizzes, added together at the semester’s end, will total 10% of your final grade. Attendance for the discussion date of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Thursday 5/16) is mandatory.

Exams: There will be three written exams in the class. The first two midterm exams will be held in class approximately one-third and two-thirds, respectively, of the way through the semester. The third will be the cumulative final exam. Any makeups for those exams will require valid medical documentation or my approval prior to the date of the exam.

Student Scholarly Integrity: Any student cheating on exams, plagiarizing on papers, or copying other students’ work on assigned papers will be subject to failure in the entire course.

Class Participation: This will be a important part of our class time together, and discussions will occur frequently throughout the semester. As such, it (together with attendance) will comprise 15% of your course grade. While I expect some students to be better suited than others to class participation (i.e., more vocal and assertive in public speaking), all students are expected to participate to some extent during the course, or suffer in this portion of their grade.

Attendance: I will take roll daily. In a short mini-session course, I do not recommend you miss any classes because of the rapid nature of the term’s progress. Should you do so, two points will be awarded to your final course average. Roll will be taken at the beginning of class. It is the responsibility of any late students to inform me of your presence in class immediately after class is completed. After that time has passed, you will remain marked as “absent,” which, of course, may result in penalties in the 15% portion of your class participation grade. While I will make an effort to repeat any announcements of upcoming assignments or exams, it remains the responsibility of anyone who misses class for catching up on any missed material— including the announcement of any dates (or date changes) in upcoming assignments. Be aware also that, since discussion is a critical part of your grade, missing class may also gradually damage your grade in that area as well. Please note: Being present means just that– being present to what is going on in this class. Students asleep, doing work for another class, text messaging, or doing anything else other than what pertains to this class means being absent (and will count as such in my record), and will not be tolerated.


Course Grade Distribution:                                Course Grade Scale:

Midterm Exam #1: 20%                                             A: 92-100/ A- : 90-91

Midterm Exam #2: 25%                                             B+: 88-89/ B: 82-87/ B- : 80-81

Final Exam: 30%                                                        C+: 78-79/ C: 72-77/ C-: 70-71

Class Participation: 15%                                            D+: 68-69/ D: 62-67/ D-: 60-61

Pop Quizzes: 10%                                                      F: 0-59

Course Schedule

NOTE: All dates are subject to change as course needs dictate, and will be announced in class by instructor. The following dates are given to highlight reading and other class assignments. However, classes will always meet regularly with or without an assignment scheduled.

Important Note: Should inclement weather or other problems force the cancellation of class on a scheduled exam (or mandatory discussion) date, you should presume that that exam (or discussion) will be held on the next available class meeting.

The Atlantic World Before Columbus’ Arrival (May 6)

Lecture Topics: Native American Civilizations, Europe before Contact with the Western Hemisphere, Foundations for European Exploration, Columbus and the Conquistadors


The Columbian Exchange and Early European Settlement (Tuesday, May 7)

Lecture Topics: the Jamestown settlement and its dreams of wealth, the Puritans and their dream of a “city on a hill”

Tue, 5/7: Reader Reading > pp.11-14, 27-29; Textbook Reading > pp.33-42


Making a Go of It: Peopling and Struggling in the “New World” (Wednesday, May 8)

Lecture Topics: demographics of Settlers and immigrants, Unfree Labor, Indentured Servants, Slaves, and Rebellion

Awakening a New Republic (Wednesday, May 8 – Monday, May 13)

Lecture Topics: the “First Great Awakening,” Ideological Impact of European ideas, the Seven Years War, Colonial Agitation, the Boston Massacre, the First Continental Congress, American Revolution, Articles of Confederation, Shay’s Rebellion

Thursday, 5/9: Reader Reading > pp.70-92

Friday, May 10: Midterm Exam #1

The New Republic (Monday, May 13 – Tuesday, May 14)

Lecture Topics: Constitutional Convention, President George Washington, election of 1800

Tuesday, 5/14: Reader Reading > pp.141-145, 170-178

Quiet Revolutions (Wednesday, May 15)

Lecture Topics: Social Change in Agriculture and Transportation, Industrial Revolution, the Market Revolution, the War of 1812, the “Era of Good Feelings,” Missouri Compromise

Wednesday, 5/15: Textbook Reading > pp.229-235, 305-317

Jacksonian America (Thursday, May 16– Tuesday, May 21)

Lecture Topics: Andrew Jackson, Missouri Compromise, Nullification Crisis, the Slave South, Indian Removal, Slave Society, Jacksonian Period and party politics

Thursday, 5/16: Mandatory Discussion Date: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Monday, May 20: Comment Midterm Exam #2

The “Benevolent Empire” (Tuesday, May 21– Wednesday, May 22)

Lecture Topics: Reform Movments, Second Great Awakening, Abolitionism, Romanticism

Tuesday, 5/21: Reader Reading: pp.213-219, 249-252, 315-317; Textbook Reading > pp.250-253, 317-325

Wednesday, 5/22: Reader Reading: pp.221-225, 282-283, 308-310, 331-333; Textbook Reading > pp.325-331, 355-359

The Secession Crisis (Wednesday, May 22– Tuesday, May 28)

Lecture Topics: Sectional Friction, “Bleeding Kansas,” 1860 Election

War Between the States & Reconstruction (Tuesday, May 28– Wednesday May 29)

Lecture Topics: Civil War and Emancipation

Tuesday, 5/28: Reader Reading: pp.373-375, 378-379; Textbook Reading > pp.379-383

Wednesday, 5/29: Reader Reading > pp. 392-395, 398-402, 407-412, 417-421; Textbook Reading > pp.436-461

Thursday, May 30: Final Exam