Syllabus, H301: Founding of the American Republic
Instructor: Brad Birzer
Office: Delp 403; Office hours: TBA
Classes Meet: Lane 333, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 10-10:50AM
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have always been the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. . . . armies kept up under the pretext of defending have enslaved the people.–James Madison, June 29, 1787, debate at the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia.
- Edmund Morgan, Birth of the Republic (3d or 4th edition is fine—kindle or tangible)
- Multiple Documents: You can most of the documents, in several formats, at the Online Library of Liberty (http://oll.libertyfund.org).
- Handouts, timelines, quotes, and misc. items.
- Notices, additional documents, etc. for class at: https://stormfields.wordpress.com. See below for list of documents to use.
- Semester-long Research Paper: 30%
- Midterm Examination: 30%
- Final Examination: 40%
Worth 30% of your grade, your research paper can cover any topic—biography, expedition, settlement, military battle or campaign, Congress, administration, idea(s), debate, etc.—between 1754 and 1807. Final paper, due to me no later than April 4, 2014, 5pm. The paper should be 10-12 pages in normal 12-point font (Cambria, Times, etc.), double spaced, footnoted, and with 1 inches margins on the top, bottom, and sides. For footnote format, please use either Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style formats. I encourage you to own a (real; tangible—not just e-version) of a good dictionary and thesaurus. As to computer programs/apps, I suggest Endnote as the best for bibliographical reference and formatting, and Scrivener as the best writing program. Our library possesses excellent primary document collections, on the shelves as well as online. While I do not mind you using secondary sources, I would encourage you strongly to use as many primary sources as possible. Frankly, it is very difficult to find satisfactory secondary sources on almost any aspect of the founding, as almost every author comes at the topic with some agenda. Every writer (especially American writers)—left, right, above, below, next to—desires to co-opt and use the founders for personal goals. Hence, the desire to teach and learn almost exclusively from primary documents.
Laptops and other electronic note taking devices
You’re more than welcome to use a laptop or equivalent to take notes during class. Please, however, do not turn on the wireless or anything to connect to the world outside of this classroom! Thank you.
Documents to read before midterm:
- John Adams, Dissertation on Feudal and Canon Law
- Cato’s Letters: 15, 17, 18, 25, 27, 31, 35, 42, 59, 62, 66, 84, 94, 106, 114, 115
- Thomas Gordon, “A Discourse of Standing Armies”
- Demophilus, “The Genuine Principles of the Ancient Saxon, or English Constitution”
- Addison, Cato: A Tragedy
- Hamilton, “Remarks on the Quebec Bill”
- Dickinson, Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer: 1, 3, 8-10, 12
- Edmund Burke, “Speech on American Taxation”
- Edmund Burke, “Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies”
- Samuel Sherwood, “The Church’s Flight into the Wilderness”
- CX Letters (will be emailed to you)
- Articles of Confederation
- Declaration of Independence (Jefferson’s version; will be emailed to you)
Documents to read before the final:
- George Washington, “Circular to the States” (1783)
- Northwest Ordinance, Articles 1-6
- Farrand, ed., Records of the Federal Convention: May 29-June 8, June 18, June 26, June 28-29, July 26, August 7-9, August 13-14, August 21-22, August 30-31, September 17
- Federalist Papers: 1, 10, 39, 45-51, 63, 70, 78, 84-85
- Anti-Federalist Papers:
- James Wilson, “Speech to the Pennsylvania Convention” (December 1787)
- John Dickinson as “Fabius,” letters 10-3
- Noah Webster, “A Citizen of America”
- Tench Coxe, “An American Citizen”
- James Wilson, “Of the Law of Nature”
- James Wilson, “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals”
- Burke, “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” pp. 87-176
- Burke, “Further Reflections on the Revolution in France,” (1791), pp. 75-124, 160-201
- George Washington, First Inaugural Address
- George Washington, “To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport”
- George Washington, “To the Roman Catholics”
- George Washington, Farewell Address
Dates of the Semester
1. January 15-17
2. January 20-24
3. January 27-31
4. February 3-7
5. February 10-14
6. February 17-21
7. February 24-28; Midterm: Feb. 28
8. March 3-7 (Vernal Frolick Break—March 7-16)
9. March 17-21
10. March 24-28
11. March 31-April 4 (Research Paper due—April 4, 5pm)
12. April 7-11
13. April 14-18 (April 18 (noon)-April 21: Easter Break)
14. April 22-25
15. April 28-29
To what truths, then, ought the Academy to be dedicated? To the proposition that the end of education is the elevation of reason of the human person, for the human person’s own sake. To the proposition that the higher imagination is better than the sensate triumph. To the proposition that the fear of God, and not the mastery over man and nature, is the object of learning. To the proposition that equality is worth more than quantity. To the proposition that justice takes precedence over power. To the proposition that order is more lovable than egoism. To the proposition that to believe all things, if the choice must be made, is nobler than to doubt all things. To the proposition that honor outweighs success. To the proposition that tolerance is wiser than ideology. To the proposition, Socratic and Christian, that the unexamined life is not worth living. If the Academy holds by these propositions, not all the force of Caesar can break down its walls; but if the Academy is bent upon sneering at everything in heaven and earth, or upon reforming itself after the model of the market-place, not all the eloquence of the prophets can save it.
Source: Russell Kirk, Academic Freedom: An Essay in Definition (Chicago, IL: Regnery, 1955): 190-191.
Date: August 25, 2013
With apologies, I will be out of town today (August 25) through Friday (August 30) afternoon. I’m traveling on college business, just in case you thought I might be AWOL. So. . . .
If you’re taking me for H104 (Heritage), you will still be meeting on Wednesday, August 28 (Feast of St. Augustine) in the assigned classroom. My wife, Dr. Dedra Birzer, will hand out the books and the syllabus. And, she’ll smile and say brilliant things.
If you’re taking me for H495, Christian Humanism, we’ll meet for the very first time, Monday, September 2, normal time, normal place. Please have finished CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by our first class meeting.
Should you need anything immediately, the ubercool Delp Hall Tzarina, Denise Nivison, can get a hold of me.
Thanks and God bless,
Her body rests nearby. My home, what would have been her home, is the closest one to her resting spot. The ground in which she is buried is holy ground. Sanctified, a stone sits; upon it is engraved her name, a date, a descriptive, a verse from St. John, a cross, a harp, and a rose. Rocks from various regions of God’s country (the American West), shells from Lake Michigan and the Pacific, a statue of His mother, a figurine of Briar Rose, and a multitude of flowers watch over her grave.
A shrine, this is hallowed ground. I touch the stone everyday. “Hail Mary, full of grace. . .”
Her soul is as alive as her body is dead, as the stone is cold. She dances, you know. She dances with the Lord, she dances with His Mother, she dances with His angels, she dances with her grandfather and all those who came before her. Her great grandmother even greets her every morning with sugar-free candy, a hug, and a Germanic “gella.”
I’ve seen my Cecilia Rose–in imagination and in prayer–many times. She would be two years old this morning, had she lived in this world. God had other plans for her.
What age is a dancing spirit in heaven? I have no idea. In my mind and in my soul, though, she appears as a 6 or 7 year old.
She’s delightfully beautiful. Mischievous, to be sure. She’s come up and tagged me on the back, laughed, and run away. She’s hid behind the hem of God’s robes and smiled at me, confidently. She’s glanced at me, faerie like, from behind and in between flowers blessedly left behind by a previous owner of our property.
I’ve also seen in her the intensity of my oldest son, Nathaniel; I’ve seen in her the warm smile and caring of my daughter, Gretchen; I’ve seen in her the playful and mysterious look in the eyes of my daughter, Maria Grace; I’ve seen in her the open emotions in the running welcome of my son, Harry; I’ve seen in her the piercing joy in the giggle of my youngest son, John; and I’ve seen in her the unrelenting grace in the strength of my wife, Dedra.
Every vision, every touch, every thought of her is a gift beyond measure. Every glimpse of her in the life of one of my living children and in my wife is an insight into what is eternally true.
And yet, despite all of this, and the confidence I have that she resides in her heavenly home and with her heavenly Father, the anguish continues, the intellect questions, and the faith wanders, sometimes near, sometimes far.
How does one cope with the death of a daughter? How does one accept that God asks us to bring a soul into the world, only to take her before she can breathe her first breath, only to be strangled by the very thing that gave her life for nine months?
Dear God, why would you do this? Dear God, why would you have my wife bring into this world the child she carried within her for nine months only to keep her for Yourself? Dear God, you are taking care of my daughter, right? Right?
Though I do not fully understand–nor pretend to–Your reasons, You promise to bring all things to right order, to right all wrongs, to heal all ills. Dear God, I pray Cecilia Rose has not been left behind. I trust You keep her safe, I trust You love her, I trust You let her dance, I trust You let her sit on the velour-panted legs of my grandmother. (Grandmother, I trust you share your sugar-free candy with my little not-left-behind one. Grandpa, I trust you walk with this blue-eyed one, hand in hand, named after your sister, as I assume you know, who also left this world at an age too young. By the way, I miss you two as well.)
Yes, the doubts still linger, the pain still stabs. . . . but each comes and goes less frequently than before. When they come, they come just as strong as they’ve always come; they hurt as much as they’ve always hurt. But the coming is less, the hope is greater.
I will trust You. For, have I mentioned? I’ve seen her. She’s delightfully beautiful. Mischievous, to be sure. And, have I mentioned? She dances.
Someday, I pray, she will dance with me.
One is sometimes asked about the “obstacles” that confront young writers who are trying to do good work. I should say the greatest obstacles that writers today have to get over, are the dazzling journalistic successes of twenty years ago, stories that surprised and delighted by their sharp photographic detail and that were really nothing more than lively pieces of reporting. The whole aim of that school of writing was novelty—never a very important thing in art. They gave us, altogether, poor standards—taught us to multiply our ideas instead of to condense them. They tried to make a story out of every theme that occurred to them and to get returns on every situation that suggested itself. They got returns, of a kind. But their work, when one looks back on it, now that the novelty upon which they counted so much is gone, is journalistic and thin. The especial merit of a good reportorial story is that it shall be intensely interesting and pertinent today and shall have lost its point by tomorrow.
Art, it seems to me, should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole—so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader’s consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page. Millet had done hundreds of sketches of peasants sowing grain, some of them very complicated and interesting, but when he came to paint the spirit of them all into one picture, “The Sower,” the composition is so simple that it seems inevitable. All the discarded sketches that went before made the picture what it finally became, and the process was all the time one of simplifying, of sacrificing many conceptions good in themselves for one that was better and more universal.
Any first rate novel or story must have in it the strength of a dozen fairly good stories that have been sacrificed to it. A good workman can’t be a cheap workman; he can’t be stingy about wasting material, and he cannot compromise. Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand—a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods—or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values. The courage to go on without compromise does not come to a writer all at once—nor, for that matter, does the ability. Both are phases of natural development. In the beginning the artist, like his public, is wedded to old forms, old ideals, and his vision is blurred by the memory of old delights he would like to recapture.
The Borzoi, 1920