Village of Pomeiooc, North Carolina coastal
plain, watercolor by John White, 1585
Hist 2111 U.S. History to 1865
121 Leconte Hall
Tu 12:30-1:30, W 1:30-3:00 & by appt
Engineers of the 8
N.Y. State Militia, 1861
A Story of Liberty?
The American People to 1865
This course is designed around
two central concepts
: 1) the experiences and ideas of everyday Americans matter in
history; 2) students learn about history best when they have a chance to “do” history themselves.
The central question we shall explore this semester is: how has “liberty,” both as an idea and a lived reality evolved for
America and Americans over the years?
Keeping these motifs in mind, we will:
By acquiring knowledge of the basic facts and events of U.S. history to 1865, we will be able
to identify the significant questions about the period:
Why did Europeans settle North America?
happened when European, African, and Native American worlds collided?
How did Americans define and
understand the role of government?
How did the American political system develop over time?
economic development affect religion, culture, and politics?
How was it that the United States entered Civil
By learning to ask
as well as who, what, where, and when, we will gain
an understanding of historical change, of how historians think and interpret the past through the lens of the
: Through an exposure to a wide variety of historical sources and practices, we will
learn how historians go about "recovering” (interpreting) the past.
We will analyze a variety of secondary
sources (writings by historians, including the textbook) and primary sources (autobiography, cartoons, political
documents, speeches, etc.), learn to assess their reliability, and produce our own interpretation of them.
After learning some of the historian’s tools, we will employ these tools in producing history
ourselves by writing essays with interpretive arguments based on historical evidence.
The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Vol 1
, 5th Ed.