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History of the American Civil War and Reconstruction (Syllabus)

­­­­­HIST 165: American Civil War and Reconstruction
Time: 12:50—2:15 M/W
Where: New Academic Building 302
Instructor: Dr. Dillon Carroll
Office: New Academic Building 312
Email: Dillon.J.Carroll@hofstra.edu or dillonjc@uga.edu
Office Hours: M/W 3-4 pm

 “There will never be anything more interesting than the American Civil War.” – Gertrude Stein

 The Course

 Ever since Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant near Appomattox Courthouse in 1865, Americans’ have held a collective fascination with the American Civil War. This obsession has led to the publication of hundreds of thousands of books on the war’s many facets, Hollywood movies, and annual demonstrations. Americans continue to find the Civil War of 1861-1865 one of the most influential events in American history, and still very relevant to their lives. This is no surprise. The War fundamentally altered citizenship, race, labor, gender, and the country itself. In this course, we will seek to understand this very revolutionary war and what it meant for the people who fought its battles, suffered through its destruction, and lived to see its results and shape the memory of the conflict.

Michael Fellman, Lesley J. Gordon, Daniel E. Sutherland, This Terrible War: The Civil and its Aftermath, 3rd ed.
Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction
Michael P. Johnson, ed., Abraham Lincoln, Slavery and the Civil War
Course Documents

 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 3 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 3 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. Refrain from talking too much or too loudly with your friend, or classmate next to you. I do not want to discourage anyone from reflecting on the class material, but I also want to protect the integrity of the classroom. Talking during class distracts me, and your fellow students, do not do it. Do not use the Internet. 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. Therefore, please stay off 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).

 Academic Honesty

 As a student at Hofstra University, you have agreed to abide by a Code of Honor. You may not know that, but that does not mean you did not agree to uphold the principles of honesty that Hofstra University supports. By agreeing to the Honor Code you agree that you will pursue your coursework with integrity and honor, and that you will neither give nor receive unauthorized assistance. Plagiarism, of any kind, will not be tolerated, and I am legally obligated to report academic dishonesty to the student affairs council. If you do not know what this is please visit here: http://www.hofstra.edu/academics/colleges/huhc/integrity/integrity_honor_code.html


 Quizzes:           20%

Paper:              40%

Exam 1:           20%

Final:               20%

 * Assignments may change throughout course

 Course Schedule

 Week 1: Introduction


 Monday 9/5: No Class (Labor Day)

 Wed 9/7: Introduction

 Week 2: Slavery

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 1, 10-37;  Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 1; course documents

 Mon 9/12: Slavery and the New Republic

 Wed 9/14: Experience of Slavery


 Week 3: Political Collapse

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 2, 38-72; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 2; course documents

 Mon 9/19: The 1850s Part I

 Wed 9/21: The 1850s Part II

 Week 4: The Middle Ground Unravels

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 3, 74-105; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 3; course documents

 Mon 9/26: No Class (Presidential Debate)

 Wed 9/28: Secession Winter


 Week 5: The War

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 4, 107-136; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, 94-102; course documents

 Mon 10/3: Convention Simulation

 Wed 10/5: The Early War: 1861-62


 Week 6: 1862

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 5, 138-161; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, 103-140; course documents

 Mon 10/10: Developments in 1862    

 Wed 10/12: Antietam

 Week 7: 1863

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 6, 163-181; Chapter 8, 210-218; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 6

 Mon 10/17: No Class (Fall Break)

 Wed 10/19: Exam 1

 Week 8: Experience of the War

Reading: Stephen Berry, When Metal Meets Mettle: The Experience of Soldering; William W. Keen, “Surgical Reminiscences of the Civil War,” 420-441, accessible here: http://ebooks.library.ualberta.ca/local/addressesotherpa00keenuoft

 Mon 10/24: Experience of Soldering in the Civil War

 Wed 10/26: Medicine in the Civil War

 Week 9: Tide Turns  

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 8, 218-241;

 Mon 10/31: War in the East from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg

 Wed 11/2: Grant Takes Command


 Week 10: 1864

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 7, 183-208; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 7; course documents

 Mon 11/7: Dwindling Resistance

 Wed 11/9: New Ways of War 


 Week 11: 1865

Reading: This Terrible War, Chapter 9, 244-278; Johnson, ed., Lincoln, Chpt 8; course documents

 Mon 11/14: Fall of the Confederacy

 Wed 11/16: 13th Amendment (movie)



 Week 13: Reconstruction

Reading: Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1-81; course documents

 Mon 11/28: Early Reconstruction

 Wed 11/30: Johnson vs. Congress

 Week 14: Reconstruction

Reading: Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 82-147; course documents

Mon 12/5: Violence and the Retreat from Reconstruction

 Wed 12/7: Exam 2

 Week 15: Reconstruction

Reading: Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 148-254; course documents

 Mon 12/12: Veterans/Long Civil Rights Movement

 Wed 12/14: Snow Day

 Week 16: Finals

 Final Paper Due on Day of Final











Writing Assignments:


You will be asked to write a research paper as part of the writing requirement for this course. Your research paper will be different from most papers you will write for college, it entails a significant amount of work. You have 2 deadlines to meet before your final paper is due. These deadlines have been established in part, to get you to start working on your research paper very early. This is not a project you can put off until the end of the semester. It is a project you need to be working on early and often. First you need to pick your research topic. You could virtually pursue any topic on the Civil War, you just need to clear it with me first. Good topics to write on are: why soldier’s fought, the experience of the war, Confederate experience, southern families in the war, etc. If you have no idea what you would like to study, or if you need some help, please contact me and I can help you choose a topic.


Below are a list of good online archives to check out:


Valley of the Shadow Project, University of Virginia (good for understanding why soldier’s fought)



Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina (good for southern history)



Richmond Daily Dispatch Newspaper (good for a southern view of the war)



Civil War Manuscripts, University of Notre Dame (good for Union soldier’s experience)



Civil War Letters and Diaries, University of Washington (good for Union soldier’s experience)



4. Final Paper due the day of the final. You will need to turn in your final paper to me on this date. Your final paper should be 8-10 pages in length. Your paper should have a unique thesis and a demonstrable argument, that reflects your work and interpretation of the sources. Your paper should have plenty of citations to support your thesis and your argument. Your paper should have limited grammatical errors. It should have a clear organization, and well-written prose.



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