The American History sequence is a full-year course comprised of two, three-credit courses: HST 101 American History to 1865 is offered in the fall semester; HST 102 American History Since 1865 is offered in the spring semester.
American History 101
In the aftermath of “9/11,” and as we begin a new millennium, there is great anticipation of a “new era,” a new beginning disconnected from the past. However, the future is inescapably tied to the past, and questions our society is facing and will face in the future are rooted there.
Our attitudes on such issues as political democracy, social justice, economic opportunity, equality, and the environment have been shaped by our society’s previous experiences. In this course, we will study how these attitudes and beliefs evolved in the first 250 years of our history. Ultimately, history in large part is a study and an attempt to understand those links among what we were, what we are, and what we hope to be.
While this course is an introductory course in American history covering the period from 1607 to 1865, it is not a survey course. We will not attempt to discuss every fact or cover every event in 250 years of American history. Rather, we will approach this period of history through a discussion of three themes.
- The first theme, essentially covering the period from the founding to the middle of the 18th century, will deal with the question of how Europeans from a medieval culture became Americans.
- The second theme will explore the political, social, and economic impact the Revolution had upon American society.
- Finally, we will focus on the modernization of American society in the 19th century and examine the relationship between modernization and the sectional crisis.
In all three themes we will focus, in part at least, on issues of political democracy, social justice, and equality.
This course has two major objectives. First, we will study history as a process through which our society and our country came to be as it is today. Our current society is the product of a diverse and complex past, and a fuller understanding of that past will give us greater insight and perspective into the historical roots of the problems that challenge us. One historian has written, “A nation’s attitudes towards its own history is like a window into its own soul and the men and women of such a nation cannot be expected to meet the obligations of the present if they refuse to exhibit honesty, charity, open-mindedness, and a free and growing intelligence towards the past that makes them what they are.”
The second objective of this course is to challenge students to develop critical reading and writing skills. We will introduce sets of complex historical problems and ask for them to be ordered, assessed, analyzed, and conceptualized in order to gain greater understanding of the particular problem with all of its ramifications. It is our belief that this course, along with a full undergraduate education, is part of a lifelong quest for education and learning.