COMING OF THE CIVIL WAR: ANTEBELLUM AMERICA, 1815-1860

History 46
Swarthmore College
Prof. Bruce Dorsey
Fall 1998

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:

This course will encourage students to develop their own interpretive framework for understanding the complexities of antebellum America.


REQUIRED READINGS:

The following books are required readings and are available at the College Bookstore:

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 Jacksonian America.
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.
Michael Perman, The Coming of the American Civil War.

ADDITIONAL TEXTS:

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 Nig.)

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.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

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 reductions.

 

CLASS SCHEDULE:

* = On reserve at McCabe Library

Sept. 3 INTRODUCTION.

PART ONE: ROMANTIC NATIONALISM AND SECTIONAL CULTURES

Week 1.

Sept. 8 EMERGENCE OF A MARKET ECONOMY & BEGINNINGS OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

Sept. 10 DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 2.

Sept. 15 RELIGIOUS REVIVALISM, GENDER, FAMILY AND CLASS FORMATION

Sept. 17 DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 3.

Sept. 22 BENEVOLENCE & REFORM MOVEMENTS

Sept. 24 COLONIZATION & ABOLITIONISM- DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 4.

Sept. 29 ABOLITIONISM, PLUS "ULTRAISMS" OF ALL KINDS

Oct. 1 CULTURE OF THE OLD SOUTH

First short paper due (by 5pm).

Readings:

Documents:

 

Week 5.

Oct. 6 FILM/VIDEO (TO BE ANNOUNCED)

Oct. 8 SLAVEHOLDING IN THE SOUTH & THE ECONOMICS OF SLAVERY - DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

FALL VACATION: NO CLASS - October 13 & 15

 

Week 6.

Oct. 20 SLAVE LABOR & THE LIFE OF A SLAVE

Oct. 22 DISCUSSION

Readings:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 7.

Oct. 27 SLAVE RESISTANCE

Oct. 29 GENDER, FAMILY, AND AN AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE - DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

PART TWO: AGE OF JACKSON & PRELUDE TO CIVIL WAR

Week 8.

Nov. 3 JACKSONIAN POLITICS & "AGE OF THE COMMON MAN"(?)

Second short paper due (by 5pm).

Nov. 5 DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 9.

Nov. 10 LABOR, RACE, GENDER AND ANTEBELLUM POLITICS

Nov. 12 CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY - DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 10.

Nov. 17 IMMIGRANTS AND NATIVISM

Nov. 19 NATIVE AMERICANS, THE TRAIL OF TEARS, & "MANIFEST DESTINY" - DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 11.

Nov. 24 TRANS-APPALACIAN FRONTIER -- EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE WEST

Nov. 26 THANKSGIVING - NO CLASS

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 12.

Dec. 1 IDEOLOGY AND POLITICS BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR

Dec. 3 SECTIONAL CONFLICT AND SECESSION - DISCUSSION

Readings:

Documents:

Supplemental Readings:

 

Week 13.

Dec. 8 EXPLAINING THE CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR

Dec. 10 CONCLUSIONS: THE CIVIL WAR AND BEYOND - DISCUSSION

Third short paper due (by 5pm).

Readings:

 

Dec. 11 Research Papers Due (5:00pm}

 

Final Examination: Date & Time: _______________________________