History of the United States to 1865

  • 0/5 Stars
Course Level:
Course Length:
15 weeks


History 212: History of the United States to 1865

The main purpose of this course is to understand the creation and development of a distinctively different American civilization, from its origins through the Civil War.  The course seeks a balance between giving students knowledge of specific people, events, ideas and forces that were instrumental in the creation and development of American life, on the one hand; and examining how and why historical change occurred as it did in America, on the other. Students will read and reflect on some of the country’s most important original source documents, while using and testing the knowledge attained from secondary sources to survey the major political, cultural, economic, religious, and social themes in early American history.


Required Texts

Finkelman, Paul, ed. A Brief Narrative of the Case and Tryal of John Peter Zenger with

            Related Documents. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

            (ISBN: 0-312-47443-1)


Foner, Eric, ed. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. Second edition.  New York:

            W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.  (ISBN: 978-0-393-93106-8)


Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,

Written by Himself. Edited with an introduction by David W. Blight.  Second edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. (ISBN: 0-312-25737-6)


Course Requirements

Participation                     10%

Quizzes (10)                     20%

Papers (2)                         40%

Final Examination           30%



Course Schedule & Readings:

Week 1: Introduction

Foner: Documents 7-9.


Week 2: Beginnings of an English America

Zenger: Introduction, pages 1-40

Foner: Documents 10-13.


Week 3: Creating an Anglo-America, 1660-1750

Foner: Documents 14-15, 20.

Foner: Documents 16-19.


Week 4: Slavery, Freedom and the Struggle for Empire, to 1763

Foner: Documents 21-23.

Foner: Documents 25-26.


Week 5: The American Revolution, 1763-1783

John Peter Zenger Paper Due.
(Answer the following prompt: Interpret/analyze the Zenger trial narrative as a primary source by employing P.A.C.T.S. (perspective-audience-context-thesis-significance).

Foner: Documents 27-32.


Week 6: The Revolution Within

Foner: Documents 33-36.

Foner: Documents 37-39.


Weel 7: Founding a Nation, 1783-1789

Foner: Documents 40-42.
The Conflict over the Constitution, 76-82 (Readings posted on Angel).


Week 8: Securing the Republic, 1790-1815

Foner: Documents 45, 46, 48.

Foner: Documents 47, 49-51.


Week 9: The Market Revolution, 1800-1840

Foner: Documents 52, 53, 57.

Foner: Documents 54-56.


Week 10: Democracy in America, 1815-1840

Foner: Documents 58-60.

Foner: Documents 61-63.


Week 11: The Peculiar Institution

Foner: Documents 65-67, 70.

Frederick Douglass Paper Due.
(Answer the following prompt: Critically discuss how Douglass's Narrative might be read as a meditation on the multiple meanings of freedom.)


Week 12: An Age of Reform: 1820-1840

Foner: Documents 75-77.

Politics, Morality and Race in the Abolitionist Crusade (Readings posted on Angel).


Week 13: A House Divided, 1840-1861

Foner: Documents 78-80.

Foner: Documents 83, 84 and Lincoln’s first inaugural: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=59


Week 14: A New Birth of Freedom: The Civil War, 1861-1865

Foner: Documents 85, 86, 88, 89, 91.

Foner: Documents 87, 90 and Lincoln’s second inaugural: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=35


Week 15: Final