COMING OF THE CIVIL WAR: ANTEBELLUM AMERICA,
Prof. Bruce Dorsey
Trotter 215 TTH 11:20-12:35
This course is designed to expose students to the significant
developments in American society during the four decades preceding
the Civil War. It will examine the social, cultural, and political
movements which shaped the emerging nation and which also led to
sectional rivalry and war. The primary theme of the course will be
the conflict between industrial capitalism (free labor/wage labor) in
the North and slaveholding (slave labor) in the South. The course
will also highlight such important themes as:
- The construction of gender roles and a "cult of
- Historical roots of racism in America
- Revivalism and the subculture of evangelical religion
- Reform movements
- Expropriation of Native American lands & Indian
- The West as frontier, borderlands, conquest ("Manifest
Destiny"), and sectional conflict
- The culture of "democracy" and partisan politics in
This course will encourage students to develop their own
interpretive framework for understanding the complexities of
The following books are required readings and are available at the
- Paul Johnson, Shopkeepers' Millennium.
- James Stewart, Holy Warriors.
- James Oakes, The Ruling Race.
- Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave.
- Deborah White, Arn't I a Woman.
- Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of
- Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.
- Michael Perman, The Coming of the American Civil
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
- William Wells Brown, Clotel: or The President's
Daughter (1854)in Three Classic African-American
Novels. Edited by William L. Andrews. (Also includes Frederick
Douglass, The Heroic Slave, and Harriet E. Wilson, Our
Additional readings (listed in the class schedule below) are on
reserve at McCabe Library. There will be several primary source
documents as required readings each week, and they will either be
distributed as handouts or on reserve in the History 46 Documents
binder at McCabe Library.
Reading and class participation: Students are expected to
attend all class meetings, complete the readings, and be prepared for
discussion of the assigned reading each week. Discussion meetings are
an integral part of the course, and all students are expected to
attend and participate. The following is the History Dept. policy
on attendance: "Students are required to attend all classes for the
successful completion of the course. Unexcused absences will result
in a lower grade."
Document Analysis: Each student will prepare two document
analysis papers during the semester from the documents assigned each
week. A document-analysis paper (2-3 pages) will set the document
within its historical context -- explicating its meaning from the
text, while also explaining the significant historical change it
reflects. Students will be expected to contribute their analysis to
the class discussion of that topic.
Short papers: Three papers (5-7 pages) will be written over
the course of the semester. A handout will be distributed outlining
the expectations and topics for the short papers. The short papers
will be based on the required readings.
Research Paper: Students may write a longer research paper
(20 pages), based on primary source research. This is a requirement
for any Senior history major taking this course to complete their
starred (*) course requirement. A handout that describes the possible
topics and the various deadlines for this reasearch paper will be
distributed to students. Students writing a research paper will
not be responsible for writing the third short paper, but they will
be responsbile for completing all the course readings and
participating in all of the discussions.
Final Examination: A final examination will be given on the
scheduled final exam date.
All assignments are due when stated in the syllabus. No
extensions will be granted. Late papers will receive grade
* = On reserve at McCabe Library
Sept. 3 INTRODUCTION.
PART ONE: ROMANTIC NATIONALISM AND SECTIONAL
Sept. 8 EMERGENCE OF A MARKET ECONOMY & BEGINNINGS OF
Sept. 10 DISCUSSION
- Johnson, Shopkeepers' Millennium, pp. 3-61
- * Paul Johnson, "The Modernization of Mayo Greenleaf Patch,"
New England Quarterly (1982), 488-516.
- * Jeanne Boydston, "The Woman Who Wasn't There: Women's Market
Labor and the Transition to Capitalism in the United States,"
Journal of the Early Republic 16 (Summer 1996), 183-206.
Also reprinted in Paul A. Gilje, ed., Wages of Independence:
Capitalism in the Early American Republic (1997), pp.
- * Christine Stansell, City of Women, Introduction,
chap. 5-6 (pp. 76-129).
- "The Prospect Before Us" & "American Manufactures"
Niles' Weekly Register (1815 & 1817).
- Letter from Lowell (1844).
- Protests of Women Mill Workers (1846).
- J.S.C. Abbott, Mother at Home (1833).
- Mrs. A.J. Graves, Woman in America (1843).
Sept. 15 RELIGIOUS REVIVALISM, GENDER, FAMILY AND CLASS
Sept. 17 DISCUSSION
- Johnson, Shopkeepers' Millennium, pp. 62-141
- Stewart, Holy Warriors, pp. 3-32.
- * Nancy Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, chap 2 (pp.
- Elizabeth, A Colored Minister of the Gospel (1889),
- The Life and Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee
- Peter Cartwright, The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright
(1856), 35-39, 45-55.
- Charles Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion, pp.
Sept. 22 BENEVOLENCE & REFORM MOVEMENTS
Sept. 24 COLONIZATION & ABOLITIONISM- DISCUSSION
- The Colonization Debate: For and Against (1827 &
- David Walker's Appeal (1829).
- Letter to The Liberator by the Andover Female
Antislavery Society (1836).
- Angelina Grimke, Appeals to the Chrstian Women of the
Sept. 29 ABOLITIONISM, PLUS "ULTRAISMS" OF ALL KINDS
Oct. 1 CULTURE OF THE OLD SOUTH
First short paper due (by 5pm).
- * Kenneth S. Greenberg, Honor and Slavery, chap. 1 (pp.
- * Elliott Gorn, "'Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch': The
Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry,"
Historical Review 90 (1985), 18-43.
- Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention
Oct. 6 FILM/VIDEO (TO BE ANNOUNCED)
Oct. 8 SLAVEHOLDING IN THE SOUTH & THE ECONOMICS OF SLAVERY -
- Oakes, The Ruling Race.
- * Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress, chap.
- * Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, chap. 6
- John Pendleton Kennedy, Swallow Barn (1832).
- Diary of Sarah H. Gayle (1828).
- Advertisements for Runaway Slaves in North Carolina Newspapers
FALL VACATION: NO CLASS - October 13 & 15
Oct. 20 SLAVE LABOR & THE LIFE OF A SLAVE
Oct. 22 DISCUSSION
- Northup, Twelve Years a Slave.
Oct. 27 SLAVE RESISTANCE
Oct. 29 GENDER, FAMILY, AND AN AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE -
- White, Ar'n't I a Woman.
- * Lawrence Levine, Black Culture and Black
Consciousness, chap. 1.
- The Confessions of Nat Turner (1832).
- "Resistance" in Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your
PART TWO: AGE OF JACKSON & PRELUDE TO CIVIL
Nov. 3 JACKSONIAN POLITICS & "AGE OF THE COMMON MAN"(?)
Second short paper due (by 5pm).
Nov. 5 DISCUSSION
- Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian
- * Edward Pessen, Riches, Class, and Power Before the Civil
War, chap. 3, pp. 31-43.
- * Daniel W. Howe, The Political Culture of the American
Whigs, pp. 1-42.
- Jackson's Veto of the Maysville Road Bill (1830).
- Henry Clay's Response (1830).
- Jackson's Veto of the Bank (1832).
- Daniel Webster's Response (1832)
- South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification (1832).
- Jackson's Proclamation on Nullification (1832).
Nov. 10 LABOR, RACE, GENDER AND ANTEBELLUM POLITICS
Nov. 12 CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY - DISCUSSION
- * Alexander Saxton, Rise and Fall of the White Republic,
pp. 67-72, 127-54, 165-81.
- * Bruce Levine, Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of the
Civil War, chap. 5, pp. 121-144.
- * Elizabeth R. Varon, "Tippecanoe and the Ladies, Too: White
Women and Party Politics in Antebellum Virginia," The Journal
of American History 82 (Sept. 1995), 494-521.
- * Norma Basch, "Marriage, Morals, and Politics in the Election
of 1828," The Journal of American History 80 (Dec. 1993),
- Mechanics Free Press (1828).
- Thomas Skidmore, The Rights of Man to Property!
- True Workingman (1846).
Nov. 17 IMMIGRANTS AND NATIVISM
Nov. 19 NATIVE AMERICANS, THE TRAIL OF TEARS, & "MANIFEST
DESTINY" - DISCUSSION
- * Tyler Anbinder, "The Ideology of the Know Nothing Party,"
inJon Gjerde, ed., Major Problems in American Immigration and
Ethnic History, pp. 152-60. [From Tyler Anbinder,
Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings and the
Politics of the 1850s (1994).
- * Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, ed., The Cherokee
Removal, pp. 24-48, 82--126,
- Thomas R. Whitney, A Defense of the American Policy
- "Plea from a Chickasaw" (1826).
- "Tushpa Crosses the Mississippi."
- George Catlin, critique of Indian removal (1841).
Nov. 24 TRANS-APPALACIAN FRONTIER -- EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WEST
Nov. 26 THANKSGIVING - NO CLASS
- * Lisbeth Haas, Conquests and Historical Identities in
California, 1769-1936 (1995), chap. 2 (pp. 45-88).
- Amelia Stewart Knight, Crossing the Plains (1853).
- David Crockett, On Law and the Frontier (1834).
Dec. 1 IDEOLOGY AND POLITICS BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR
Dec. 3 SECTIONAL CONFLICT AND SECESSION - DISCUSSION
- Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.
- * Mary P. Ryan, Civic Wars, chap. 4 (pp. 135-80).
- Lincoln, Reaction to Dred Scott Decision (1857)
- R. Purvis and C.L. Remond, Reaction to Dred Scott Decision
- Lincoln, House Divided Speech (1858)
- "The Record of the Black Republicans," New Orleans Daily
Dec. 8 EXPLAINING THE CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR
Dec. 10 CONCLUSIONS: THE CIVIL WAR AND BEYOND - DISCUSSION
Third short paper due (by 5pm).
- Perman, The Coming of the American Civil War.
Dec. 11 Research Papers Due (5:00pm}
Final Examination: Date & Time: