Course Readings/Proto-Syllabus, History 301: American Founding

A couple of students have asked about the spring 2016 course on the American Founding (H301). Here’s a rough description and list of readings. I’ll also be adding Gordon Wood’s short history of the Revolution.

Scope
We’ll go straight through the chronology of the time, from the French and Indian War (the North American theater of the Great War for Empire) to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. That is, we’ll move from ca. 1753 to ca. 1806. Along the way, we’ll look at the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) of the period, especially exploring their own understandings of the world, intellectually, culturally, and religiously.

In many ways, the founding era is a time period without equal in all of modern history, as a dedicated group of citizens attempted to create and sustain the first republic on any large scale since the collapse of the Roman republic with the assassination of Senator Marcus T. Cicero (43B.C.). They did so with an astounding amount of bravado and audacity, though certainly not without error and, at times, gut-wrenching compromise.

Readings
The founding generation—one of the single most literate generations in the history of the world—wrote much and, usually, for public consumption. Indeed, they considered the writing out, the debating of, and the transmission of ideas, a crucial component of their own cherished republicanism and Protestantism. Thus, I’ll only assign primary documents in this class (and Gordon Wood). Thanks to the beauty and decentralization of the web, every source you’ll read is available online. Please see semester dates (below) for actual assignments. Unless otherwise stated, all readings are available at http://oll.libertyfund.org/. N.B.: the readings may or may not correspond perfectly to the lectures of the week. That is, you might very well be reading the Constitution, even though I’ve only reached 1779 in course lectures.

Grades
I encourage you to study in groups throughout the semester. I tend to talk quickly and cover a lot of material in a semester, and I firmly believe that you should use any ethical means possible to learn a subject. Feel free to trade notes, idea, etc. with one another. Obviously, during each examination, you’ll be tested individually. But, leading up to each exam, feel free to work with as many other students as you’d like.

Course schedule
1.
Readings: Cato Letters, Letters 84, 94, 106, 114-115
Readings: Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

2.
Readings: Mercy Otis Warren, History of the Rise, vol. 1, chapters 1-4

3.
Readings: Stephen Hopkins, The Rights of the Colonies Examined, 1764
Readings: Richard Bland, An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies, 1766

4.
Readings: Demophilus: The Genuine Principles of Ancient Saxon Constitution

5.
Readings: J. Adams, Instructions of the Town of Braintree to their Representative, 1765

6.
Readings: Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer, 1-3, 12

7.
Readings: Continental Congress, Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec, 1774
Readings: Samuel West, On the Right to Rebel

8.
Readings: CX Letters (handout; emailed to you)
Readings: Declaration of Independence
Readings: Novanglus, Letters 1-4
Midterm

9.
Readings: Hamilton, Continentalist Letters 1-3
Readings: Washington, Speech to the Officers of the Army, March 15, 1783

10.
Readings: Northwest Ordinance of 1787
Readings: Federalist Papers 1, 10, 37-39, 45-51

11.
Readings: Anti-Federalist Papers, Brutus (handout; emailed to you)
Readings: Anti-Federalist Papers, Old Whig (handout; emailed to you)
Readings: U.S. Constitution

12.
Readings: Bill of Rights

13.
Readings: Washington, First Inaugural Address
Readings: Washington, Farewell Address

14.
Readings: Thomas Jefferson, Inaugural Address

15.
Lewis and Clark Toasts (handout; emailed to you)

About bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s