The Birth of America.docx - The Birth of America This course is an introduction to Early American history specifically an examination of the creation of

The Birth of America.docx - The Birth of America This...

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The Birth of America This course is an introduction to Early American history, specifically an examination of the creation of the United States, focusing on political, cultural, religious, social, and economic developments. The years between the Anglo-French imperial conflicts of the early eighteenth century and the United States’ second and final war with Britain (the War of 1812) saw the transformation through war of the English-speaking American colonies from an assemblage of quarreling settlements into a revolutionary republic. During these years European Americans took part in the first global military conflict (the Seven Years’ War); fought the world’s strongest power to a standstill, consummating what became the first in a series of movements in this hemisphere for colonial independence; founded some of the most radically democratic states in history; fought with and terrorized dozens of Indian nations, metastasizing to claim great spans of land; and shrank, for a time, the young British empire, in which they forced permanent changes. This course touches on many of these topics to offer a historiographical context for surveying the sweep of North American history, from the American Revolution through the mid-nineteenth century. This is a critical time span, one in which the ideals of the Revolution met the realities of statecraft, when the social institutions of British America were mixed with new American ideas, and when many of the issues that would prove vital to subsequent American history first cropped up. We will examine a diverse array of issues, ranging from the ratification of the Constitution to the history of bibles in the United States. This course will be able to explain the origins of America’s political party system, what made it possible for the United States to emerge as a world power after the Spanish American War, and what the main reasons were for sectionalism’s rise and the outbreak of the Civil War. Week 1: Declaring Independence Readings: Jay Fliegelman, Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language and the Culture of Performance (1993); Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1997) Questions to Consider: How did Americans imagine social relations as they decided to break from Britain? What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and how has that purpose been fulfilled since its publication? Why has the Declaration of Independence come to be “sacred”? Since the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s version, was not the only such Declaration, what do the others indicate about the Revolution and how it unfolded? Week 2: Colonial America in the Atlantic Context Readings: Andrew O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided (2000) Questions to Consider: Why did the British West Indies concede British imperial authority during the American Revolution? ion? How did the Revolutionary war affect life and politics in the British Caribbean? Why couldn’t British Caribbean planters not afford independence?
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  • Spring '10
  • Platt
  • American Revolution

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