American History: From Settlement to the Present
This is the second half of a two-semester course that began in Fall 2020.
This course spans the history of the United States of America. The first semester covers settlement to the Civil War; the second semester covers Reconstruction after the Civil War to the present day.
In the first semester, students will learn about the people, ideas, and events in early American history from the settlement of the eastern seaboard to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. The course will focus on the diverse nature of the American population beginning in the colonial period, as well as on the rapid transformation during the 19th century in the areas of industry, technology, politics, and social concerns. Examples include the break with England and the creation of the republic, the rise of political parties in the 1790s, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the expansion of the country to the Pacific Ocean. In addition, students will learn about such social issues as conflict with Native Americans, the rise of the antislavery movement, the women’s rights movement, and experiments in utopian communities. The course will also deal with the struggle to preserve the Union at a time when sectionalism gained strength in the South, especially during the 1850s when the republic began to unravel.
Individuals who will be highlighted during this semester include Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Eli Whitney, Noah Webster, Tecumseh, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, and others.
In the second semester, students will learn about America’s social, economic, political, and diplomatic challenges since the mid-1870s. The goal is for students to come away with an appreciation for the people and events that shaped our country and the world we share with other cultures. Topics will include the rise of big business and the responses by working-class and labor groups; Americans at war in Europe, Asia, and Latin America; the rapid political and social changes brought on by new technologies and new approaches to problem solving; and those individuals who have affected our society in important ways.
In addition, a number of people (some famous, some not so famous) will be highlighted, including Henry Ford (automobiles and mass production), Jane Addams (social work profession), Eugene Debs (labor leader and socialist), Joseph McCarthy (anti-communist crusader), Teddy Roosevelt (President), Martin Luther King, Jr. (African-American leader), Gloria Steinem (feminist and women’s rights advocate), Steve Jobs (computers), and many others who have impacted American life.
Live Classes: Mondays, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, from January 11th to May 10th. Classes will be recorded for later viewing by students who cannot attend or who want to revisit a class.
Assignments: Assignments will vary by class. Reading materials will include some original documents, as well as short secondary works. In addition, students will write brief papers on topics of their choosing.
Student Support: The instructor will be available via email and also via individual face-to-face online conferences.
Materials: All reading materials will be available on the internet.