Introduction to American History

The Course
Course Readings
Course Assignments
Attendance Policy
Course Supplements
Course Schedule

HIS 223: Introduction to American History, 1492-1877

HIS 223: Introduction to American History, 1492-1877

History 225: 1877 to the Present


Exams: Exams will be composed of objective and essay questions. Three exams will be given during the course of the semester. Each of these exams will cover about one-third of the course material and each will count for 25 percent of the student's final grade. The first two exams have been tentatively scheduled for October 4 and November 8. The third exam will be given during the final exam period. For section A (12:00 MWF), the third exam will be given on Thursday, December 16, at 3:00-5:00. For section B (1:00 MWF), the third exam will be given on Friday, December 17, at 3:00-5:00.

Student Debates: Each student is required to participate in one formal debate on one of the historical issues in Madaras and SoRelle, eds., Taking Sides. It is hoped that there will be several debaters for each topic, allowing the debaters to be divided into teams. Students will also produce a brief paper (no more than 5 pages) outlining their arguments in the debate. The debate and paper will count for 10 percent of the student's final grade. The following is a list of the debate topics. The dates listed below for each topic are tentative and will be adjusted as we move chronologically through the course material.

Oct. 11 -- Is the Constitution a Democratic Document?

Some historians have argued that the writing of the Constitution in 1787 should be seen principally as an effort by a group of wealthy Americans to protect their economic interests against threats from the lower classes. Other historians have argued that the Constitution should be seen as an outgrowth of the republican values of the revolutionary generation, and that these values were more important than the economic interests of the Founding Fathers in shaping the Constitution.

Dec. 6 -- Did Abraham Lincoln Free the Slaves?

Some historians have argued that the initiative for ending slavery came not from Lincoln or the federal government but from the slaves themselves, who used the opportunities provided by the Union Army advance through the South to escape from their masters. The mass exodus of people who took shelter with the Union Army forced a reluctant Lincoln to act in favor of emancipation. Other historians, while acknowledging Lincolnís initial slowness to free the slaves, note that few Americans initially supported freedom. These historians argue that without Lincolnís ultimate willingness to lead the nation toward emancipation, the Civil War never would have turned into a war for freedom.

Dec. 13 -- Was it Wrong to Impeach Andrew Johnson?

Some historians have argued that Johnson was impeached for political reasons: he had opposed the Reconstruction policies of a fiercely partisan Republican Congress. It was not Johnson but Congress which violated the Constitution by impeaching Johnson for actions which were not high crimes and misdemeanors. Others argue that the struggle between Johnson and the Republicans started as a disagreement over policy, that Johnsonís efforts to resist Congress caused him to take illegal actions which were impeachable offenses.

Quiz: A quiz will be given on The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The quiz has been tentatively scheduled for September 22. The quiz will count for 5 percent of the student's final grade.

Critical Questions Exercises: To help students ask better questions about American history, each student will participate in Critical Questions Exercises. Students will complete two short written assignments which will encourage them to ask better questions about American history. These assignments will be made later in the course. The Critical Questions Exercises will be due on October 27 and December 3. Each Critical Questions Exercise will count for 5 percent of the students' semester grade.

Make-Up Assignments: Students will be allowed to make up missed assignments only with the consent of the professor. Ordinarily, the professor will accept make-up assignments only in cases of unavoidable student absences, such as those caused by illness or by a death in the immediate family. Students may be required to document the causes of their absences before the make-up work will be accepted by the professor.

Other Departmental Courses in American History and Civilization:
| AMS 250 | HIS 223 | HIS 225 | HIS 227 | HIS 306 |
| HIS 308 | HIS 310 | HIS 312 | HIS 314 | HIS 318 | HIS 325 |
| HIS 338 | HIS 426 | HIS 430 | HIS 432 | HIS 470 | HIS 475 |

| This page was last updated on 9/2/99. | Return to Top of Page | Site Map |

Dr. Harold D. Tallant, Department of History, Georgetown College
400 East College Street, Georgetown, KY 40324, (502) 863-8075

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The American Studies Major
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