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UNI – Spring 2015
History of the United States: America in a Global Context
HISUS 1023, Tues./Thurs. 11:00-12:15 Section 2
 Seerley 212

Professor Cutter
Office: Seerley 336 – Telephone: 273-5909
Office Hours: Tues 12:30-1:45; Thurs. 12:15-2:00; and by appt.
Email: Barbara.Cutter@uni.edu
Website: http://www.uni.edu/cutter/
Course Description:

This is a lecture and discussion course in American society from the pre-Columbian era to the present.  This course will not attempt to provide comprehensive coverage of American history – to do this in one semester would mean there would be no time to analyze and discuss American society.  This course will focus on one very broad theme: America in a global context.  Within the framework of this theme we will explore how the politics, social movements, and technological developments of the United States were embedded in a broader stream of cultural values, popular prejudices, ideologies and semi-official mythologies.  During this period, the United States underwent several national shifts: from a colony to a republic, from subsistence oriented economy to a market oriented society, from a rural nation to an urbanized one, from a pre-modern sense of human insignificance to a modern concept of humanism and individualism.  In this class, we will try to puzzle out what these and several other transformations mean, for our society, the world, and ourselves.

History of the United States and the Liberal Arts Core:

This course fulfills Category 5 of UNI’s Liberal Arts Core.  Part of the purpose of this category is that “Students should … understand and identify relationships between the past, present, and future to further their understanding of their world and the roles that they play in their own society and in the world. Such understandings will enhance their ability to think critically, realize the importance of historical consciousness, make informed choices, examine and evaluate their values, assume the responsibilities of citizenship, and promote change in their community, country and world. …Students should gain experience in research, that is, the use of original sources, surveys, and other social science methodologies and be encouraged to develop and utilize skills in inquiry, critical analysis, and logical thinking.”  For these reasons this class will focus on developing and honing critical thinking and analytical skills that will enable you to be historians yourselves, and thus make you better able to understand the United States in a global context, in the past, present and future.

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance: After four absences students risk failing the course.  If you need to miss a class, make arrangements to borrow all notes, handouts, and lecture outlines from one of your colleagues in the class.  Even if you tell me you are going to miss a class, you are still responsible for the material presented or discussed during the missed period.

  2. Graded work: Grades for the course will be based on 3 take home exams, 1 presentation and class participation.

Exams –25% each
Presentation on primary source – 15%
Class Participation – 10%

The content of the take home exams will be discussed during the semester. You will receive an assignment sheet for each exam.  Take home exams are due in class on the listed due date.  Late exams will be marked down.  Class participation is demonstrated by a willingness to keep up with readings, an ability to understand and take part in class discussions and an ability to integrate class discussions into your own work. 

Presentations will be based on one of the primary source readings due for that day.  Students will provide background information on the source (historical context) and ask a discussion question about the source (handout will be provided). 

Course Website: go to https://www.uni.edu/cutter  Then click on “History of the United States – HISUS 1023”

The course syllabus and selected class handouts will be available on this website. 

Note on UNI’s Academic Ethics/Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined by UNI policy as the “process of stealing or passing off as one’s own the ideas or words of another, or presenting as one’s own an idea or product which is derived from an existing source.”  All students are expected to be familiar with UNI’s plagiarism policy, which is located in the UNI Catalog of Courses, 2014-2016 under Academic Ethics Policies.   As the policy states, “The plea of ignorance … is not a compelling defense against allegations of plagiarism.  A college student, by the fact that s(he) holds that status, is expected to understand the distinction between proper scholarly use of others’ work and plagiarism.” [http://catalog.uni.edu/generalinformation/academicregulations/]  Any student found committing plagiarism in this class is subject to disciplinary action.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA provides protection from discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Please address any special needs or special accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from Student Disability Services (SDS) (phone 319-273-2676).  SDS is located on the top floor of the Student Health Center, Room 103.

Almost all the readings for this course will be on a course CD which will be available for purchase in the History Dept office (319 Seerley) for $1.  A few additional readings will be available through the course website.

**You will need to print out the reading and bring it to class on the date each reading is due, so that you can use it during class discussion.

Tentative Schedule of Meetings, Readings and Topics

Part I – Early America – Individuals and Communities in Cultural Contact and Conflict

January 13: Introductions and Context


Jan 15: Precolumbian America

Reading 1: Peter Nabokov and Dean Snow, “Algonquians and Iroquoians: Farmers of the Woodlands,” The Way We Lived Vol. 1 (1992), 5-13.

Jan 20: Life in Early Modern Europe: Why Did Europeans Come to America and what did they expect to find?

Reading 2: The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (1371) (excerpt)

Jan. 22: First Contacts: European Arrivals

Reading 3-5:
“Announcing the Discovery; Christopher Columbus”  (1492)
“Destruction of the Indies: Bartolomae de las Casas”
 “Description of Virginia: John Smith”

Jan. 27: Early New England: Puritans and Indians

 Reading 6-8:
John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630)
William Wood, New England’s Prospect (1634)
 John Elliot, “Rules of Conduct for Praying Indians” (1650)

Jan. 29: Tobacco Culture and Virginia

Reading 9-11:
Richard Frethorne, “The Experiences of an Indentured Servant” (1623)
John Smith, General Historie of Virginia (1624)
“A Declaration of the State of the Colonie and Affaires in Virginia by His Majesty's Council for Virginia” (1620)

Feb. 3: From Indentured Servitude to Slavery

Reading 12: excerpts from Laws of Virginia 17th and early 18th Century.

Feb. 5: African Cultures, The Slave Trade and Meanings of Race 
Video: selection from Wonders of Africa with Henry Louis Gates Jr

Feb. 10: African Cultures, The Slave Trade and Meanings of Race 
            Finish videoand discussion

Part II:  A Revolutionary Era:

Feb. 12: The European Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution

**First Take Home Exam Due**

Feb. 17: The Rights of Englishmen
Reading 13-14:
            “Congress Condemns the Stamp Act” (1765)
            “The Boston Massacre” (3 documents) (1770)

Feb. 19: What did the Revolution mean for Americans?

Reading 15-16:
“Abigail and John Adams Letters,” (1776)
“African Americans Petition for Freedom,” (1777)

 Reading 17:
Declaration of Independence (1776) [link on class website].

Feb. 24: Legacies of the Revolution: Revolution in Indian Country

Reading 18-19:
Mohawk Leader Joseph Brandt Commits the Loyalty of his People to Britain (1776), 114-5.
William Apes, Indian Nullification of the Unconstitutional Laws of Massachusetts relative to the Marshpee Tribe (1835), 115-118.


Feb. 26: Legacies of the Revolution: The Constitution, Bill of Rights and the unruly masses

Reading 20-22
Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights [links to documents on class website]

March 3: From Local to Global: the Market Revolution and the New Economy

 Reading 23-24:
“Growth of Cities in the United States,” in Harpers New Monthly Magazine vol. 7 (July 1853): 171-175.
 “The Lowell Textile Workers: Harriet Hanson Robinson” (1898), 226-233.

March 5: From Local to Global: the Market Revolution and the New Economy (cont.)
Reading 25-27:

Eli Whitney obituary, Niles Weekly Register Jan 25 1825

John L. O’Sullivan, “The Great Nation of Futurity,” United States Democratic Review, Vol. 6, 23 (November 1839): 426-430.
Andrew Jackson “State of the Union Address” (1830)

March 10: The Rise of Reform Movements and the Abolition of Slavery
Reading 28-32:
Catherine Beecher, “Circular Addressed to the Benevolent Ladies of the United States, December 25, 1829,” 111-14.
“Pioneer for Women’s Rights: Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” (1898), 241-248.
 African American Abolitionist David Walker Castigates the United States for its Slave System” (1829), 266-68.
“Natural Equality” and “What other nations think of American slavery”
Antislavery Record Vol. 1 no. 1 January 1835: 8-9.   
“Ralph Waldo Emerson Considers the United States as a Center of Reform” (1841), 270-1.

March 12: The Coming of the Civil War
Reading 33:
 “Senator Charles Sumner Address the Crime Against Kansas,” “Chief Justice Roger Taney Determines the Legal Status of Slaves” and other documents, 396-404.  

March 17 & 19: Spring Break - no class!

March 24: The Civil War and the End of Slavery
Reading 34-36:
Alexander Stephens, “Slavery is the Cornerstone of the Confederacy” (1861), 71-2.
Cyrus Boyd, “An Iowa Soldier ‘Sees the Elephant’ at Shiloh” (1862), 89-91.
Ulysses S. Grant, “I Gave Up All Idea of Saving the Union Except By Complete Conquest” (1885)
Abraham Lincoln, “The Emancipation Proclamation” (1863), 165-6.

Part III The Transition to Modernity

A. The Rise of Corporations and Consumers

March 26:  Railroads, Indian Removal and the (Near) Extinction of the Buffalo
Reading 37:
Hamlin Russell, “The Story of the Buffalo,” Harpers Weekly Vol. 86, no. 515 (April 1893): 795-8.

*** 2nd Take Home Exam Due***

March 31: The Rise of Big Business

Reading 38-39:
Andrew Carnegie “Wealth” 44-47.
Henry Demarest Lloyd “Wealth against Commonwealth,” 47-51.

April 2: Workers and Farmers Respond to Big Business
            Reading 40-42:
Populist Party Platform (1892), 68-71.
“Gunner Jesse Blake: Narrative of the Willmington Rebellion of 1898, 72-76.
“Thomas O’Donnell Testimony Before a U.S. Senate Committee,” (1885), 52-56.

April 7: The Rise of Consumer Culture

            Reading 43-44:
 The Thompson Blue Book on Advertising (1906) (excerpt)
“Bruce Barton sees Jesus as an Advertising Man” (1925) and “The Automobile Comes to Middletown” (1929), 189-191.

April 9: The Great Depression

            Reading 45-46:

 “The Great Depression Documents,” (3 documents) (1933-1939), 178-184.
 “Howard Johnson, A Communist in Harlem,” and David Friedman, “A New York City Schoolteacher in the Party,” 110-115.

B. The U.S., The Cold War and Global Corporate Capitalism, 1941-present

April 14:  World War II

Reading 47-48:
“Nazi Leader Adolph Hitler links Race and Nationality” (1927), 247-9.
“President Franklin Roosevelt Identifies the ‘Four Freedoms’” (1941)
 “An African American Soldier Notes the ‘Strange Paradox’ of the War (1944); “Stanford Professor Yamato Ichihashi Writes of his Internment” (1942) and
“Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin Plan the United Nations” (1943), 252-8.

April 16: The Origins of the Cold War

Reading 49 due: “The Cold War and the Nuclear Age” documents, 278-292.

April 21: Cold War and Cold War Foreign Policy

Movie: Red Nightmare (1962)

April 23: The Global 1960s

Reading 50-52:
National Organization for Women Calls for Equality” (1966), 353-5.
Students for a Democratic Society, “Port Huron Statement” (1962) (excerpt), 1-17.
Black Panthers, “Ten Point Program” North American Review 253 no. 4 (July-Aug 1968): 16-17.
April 28: End of the Cold War and the Rise of the Global Economy
Reading 53-55:
Naomi Klein, “How science is telling us all to revolt,” The New Statesman 29 October 2013.
Thomas Friedman, “The World is Fast” New York Times, 4 November 2014.
Letter from Bob Ward of The Royal Society to Nick Thomas at Exxon-Mobil 4 September 2006.

April 30: Finish up and review day

Take Home Final Examination: Due Thursday, May 7 by 11:00 am, in my office, 336 Seerley.