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US History: Pre-Columbian to the Civil War (Syllabus)

I started teaching at Hunter College, CUNY in the spring of 2017. I have taught HIST 151, which is the United States History survey course, spanning from pre-Columbian history to the Civil War. The course was chronological in organization, but we also thematically investigated the history of women and African Americans during this period. We also thematically paid attention to the changing nature of citizenship and freedom during this period, coming to understand how "We the People" changed from the signing of the Declaration of Independence through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Below is my syllabus for this course

HIST 151: U.S. History—From the Colonial Era to the Civil War

Where: Hunter West 407
Time: M/W 4:10—5:25
Instructor: Dr. Dillon J. Carroll
Office: Hunter West 1545
Office Hours: by appointment
Email: dillonjc@uga.edu or dc2075@hunter.cuny.edu

 The Course

 This course will explore the diverse, peoples, events, and cultures that make up early American history. The course will provide you, the students, with a greater understanding of the major turning points in American history. Additionally, we will explore the experiences of Americans from diverse backgrounds, origins, ethnicities, races, and gender.  We will think about what it meant to be an American several hundred years ago and how that meaning changed as history unfolded. Conflict, compromise, liberty, and citizenship will be watchwords you will be hearing a lot of this semester, as well as major themes in this course.

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009)
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
James M. McPherson, What They Fought For, 1861-1865 (New York: Turtleback Books, 2012)
Course Documents available via blackboard

It is my hope that you will come to class having read the assigned materials for the day. If you come to class having not read the material, the lectures may seem strange and foreign to you. I have learned that an effective way to make sure that students are keeping up with their assigned readings is to administer quizzes. I will be administering quizzes at my discretion throughout the semester to make sure students are reading. When assigned, you are expected to have read the assigned documents. In addition, come to class with the printed documents in hand and be ready to engage in discussion of those documents.


I will be taking attendance for this course. You have 2 absences on the house. These 2 absences are free of charge. What this means is, if you are absent for whatever reason, do not send me a doctors note, or a note from your lawyer, or a note from mom and dad. Use 1 of your 2 free absences. If you are absent from class more than 2 days points will be deducted from your overall participation score. Cases of serious emergencies will be considered, in other words, if you catch the Hantavirus and are in the hospital fighting for your life I will be granting leniency for your absence. Everything must be documented. What this means is, if you are subject to a serious emergency and you feel I should be lenient with your absence, please come to me with some form of documentation. If you simply show up to class and tell me that you caught Malaria and could not come to class, I will not be lenient with your absence. 

Class Behavior

Please show up on time. Everyone is late now and again, and I simply ask that you try and enter the room as quietly as you can so you do not distract your fellow students or me. If you are consistently late to class, I will start counting you as absent. Stay off the Internet. If you use a laptop for notes, you must send me copies of your lecture notes each week. In my time as a teaching assistant I sat in the back of the class each semester and watched students with laptops scroll on Facebook or search the internet, basically doing anything but taking notes. This ensures you are actually taking notes and not diddling on the internet. Do not use your cell phone for any reason, that includes texting your friend how bored you are, taking your turn on Words with Friends or Draw Something, anything at all. If there is an emergency and you need to be notified, tell your family to contact the school and the school will contact you. Using your phone distracts your fellow students, and it distracts me (I can notice someone on their phone versus someone taking notes).

Students with Disabilities

Accommodations For Students With Disabilities. In compliance with the ADA and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational access and accommodations for all its registered students. Hunter College’s students with disabilities and medical conditions are encouraged to register with the Office of Accessibility for assistance and accommodation. For information and appointment contact the Office of Accessibility located in Room E1214B or call (212) 772-4857 /or f: (212) 650-3230/or vp: (646) 755-3129. email: AccessABILITY@hunter.cuny.edu
Web: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/studentservices/access

Academic Honesty

"Plagiarism is a very serious academic offense which will result in penalties ranging from reduction of class grade to failure in the course.  Plagiarism occurs when the ideas and words, published or unpublished, of others are presented as one’s own without citing the original source.  Plagiarism also occurs when the papers, research, or works of another person are presented as one’s own work."  Please see the full Statement on Plagiarism on the Department's website: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/history/departmental-policy-on-plagiarism/
CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity http://catalog.hunter.cuny.edu/content.php?catoid=25&navoid=3753

Course Learning Outcomes
• Identify and apply the key historical concepts of change-over-time, cause-and-effect, agency, historical empathy, and continuity and discontinuity, and recognize how these concepts are employed in the historical method.
• Analyze and interpret primary sources with attention to audience, authorship and context • Recognize some of the ways in which historians have conflicting interpretations of the past
• Produce a paper with a clear thesis and appropriate citations based on strong evidence drawn from historical sources
• Identify and discuss the importance of contact and conquest, colonial foundations, Revolution and the Constitution, immigration, geographic expansion, experiences of native peoples, role of women, slavery and African American experiences, and the sectional crisis leading to the Civil War

Credit/No Credit Option

Credit/No Credit system may be elected up until the beginning of the final exam.  In order to be take this option, you must have fulfilled all of the course requirements, including the attendance requirement.  Credit/No Credit forms are available on the Office of the Registrar web page at registrar.hunter.cuny.edu/forms/ncrform.pdf.   Full instructions are included on the form.  See the following for further information - http://catalog.hunter.cuny.edu/content.php?catoid=18&navoid=3150.

Participation: 10%
Midterm:        20%
Final:              25%
Papers:            30%
Quizzes:          15%    

Course Schedule

 Part I: Contact and Conflict
Week 1: The First Americans
M 1/30            Introduction   
W 2/1            Native Americans

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 1; course documents (blackboard)

Week 2: European Colonization of North America, 1607-1660

M 2/6            Spanish and English Colonization

W 2/8            New Spain, New Amsterdam and New England  

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 2; Course documents (blackboard)

Week 3: Growing Pains, 1660-1750

M 2/13                        (NO CLASS)

W 2/15                        Colonial America

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 3; course documents (blackboard)

Week 4: The Struggle for Empire, 1750-1763

M 2/20                        (NO CLASS)

W 2/22                        Seven Years War        

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 4; course documents (blackboard)

Part II: Creating a Nation
Week 5: The American Revolution, 1763-1783
M 2/27                        Road to Revolution

W 3/1            Revolutionary War

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 5; course documents (blackboard); Activity: Voting for independence activity. Students will be divided up into 5 groups. Each group represents a colonial delegation to the 2nd Continental Congress. Each group shall receive an outline for their delegation, which includes guidelines for the delegation. These guidelines shall help you in voting for independence; essentially what compromises are necessary for you to vote for independence. I shall act as president of the Congress, guiding debate along. You all shall spend the discussion period attempting to reach a compromise to get all colonies to vote for independence. Independence must be voted in unison, if any colony votes against independence, which you can do, then the game is lost. This activity is meant to demonstrate the difficulty of voting for independence and how it really could have gone either way.

Week 6: Who’s Nation Will it Be?

M 3/6            Creating a Country

W 3/8            A New Nation

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 6; course documents (blackboard)

Week 7: Making a Republic, 1783-1789

M 3/13                        Creating a Country

W 3/15                        Federalist Nation

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 7; course documents (blackboard); start reading Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Week 8: Keeping a Republic, 1790-1815

M 3/20                        Age of Revolution

W 3/22                        Midterm Exam

Week 9: What Hath God Wrought, 1800-1840

M 3/27                        Market Revolution

W 3/29                        the 19th century

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 8, 9; Douglass, Narrative; course documents (blackboard)

Week 10: The Age of Democracy…for Some, 1815-1840

M 4/3            Age of Jackson

W 4/5            Age of Democracy?

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 10, Douglass, Narrative; course documents (blackboard)  

Week 11: 4/10—4/18 Spring Recess (No CLASS)

Week 12: The Peculiar Institution

W 4/19            The Peculiary Institution

Th 4/20           Slavery

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 11, Douglass, Narrative

                        Discussion: Douglass, Narrative

                        Paper 1 Due on Douglass, Narrative

Week 13: The Growing Debate, 1820-1840

M 4/24                        Second Great Awakening

W 4/26                        Abolitionist Movement

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 12; course documents (blackboard); start reading James McPherson, What They Fought For

Part III:
Week 14: Cracks in the Foundation, 1840-1861

M 5/1            The Growing Debate

W 5/3            Slave or Free?

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 13; McPherson, What They Fought For; course documents (blackboard)

Week 15: This Terrible War, 1861-1865

M 5/8            This Great War

W 5/10                        Bind up the Nation’s Wounds

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 14; McPherson, What They Fought For

                        Discussion: James M. McPherson, What They Fought For

Week 16: Reconstruction, 1865-1877

M 5/15                        Reconstruction

W 5/17                        Reconstruction II

                        Reading: Foner, Chapter 15; course documents (blackboard)

                        Paper 2 Due on McPherson, What They Fought For

Week 17: Finals

 Final Schedule: May 24th 3:00—5:00 pm

U.S. History: Civil War to Present (Syllabus)