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Early United States History - History 172

California State University at Long Beach


Dr. Troy Johnson email: trj@csulb.edu
Fall Semester 2001 Meeting Room: MM200 or by appointment
Office: FO3, 328 T.TR 2-3:15pm Office Hrs. TW 3:30-4:30


This early United States history course presents a conceptual framework that differs significantly from what has been taught in college survey classes. While the course was originally designed to be used in the teacher's education program at California State University, Long Beach, it has now been adopted as the standard course outline for all early U.S. history courses taught at this university and has been successfully used at colleges and universities across the nation. The first thing of significance is the amount of work that the student and professor must do. For instance, the course uses two textbooks; one standard U.S. History Textbook and the second, a textbook that I used as the primary reader in my early American Indian History classroom. Students will essentially be taking a combination of U. S. History and American Indian History simultaneously. This solves the problem of American Indian people disappearing after the American Revolution or perhaps the War of 1812. Secondly, this course requires that students produce a portfolio that includes all work done during the semester including final group projects of writing a chapter for a history book. This assignment brings together the entirety of the early United States experience including the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Thirdly, this courses uses as its course objectives selected standards taken from the California standards for the teaching of United States history.


This course is designed to provide a survey of the political, social, economic, and cultural development of the United States from pre-European contact through reconstruction. Specific attention will be directed to the colonial era, establishment of the new nation, sectional problems, national growth, disunion and reconstruction. In keeping with the name of your text, we will focus as often as possible on the history of the United States through the lives of the people who created the new nation and the new society. Particular attention will be placed on the interaction between Europeans, Americans, and the Native Peoples of the "New World."


(What you are expected to know upon completion of this course of instruction). The following course objectives are broad statements that include a number of subsets of knowledge to be gained.

  1. Upon completion of this course of study students will understand the major events preceding the founding of the nation and be able to relate their significance to the development of American constitutional democracy.
  2. Students will understand the political principles underlying the U. S. Constitution and compare the enumerated and implied powers of the federal government.
  3. Students will be able to understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in it.
  4. Students will analyze and understand U. S. foreign policy in the Early Republic
  5. Students will understand the divergent paths of the American people from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced in the North, South, and West.
  6. Students will analyze and identify the early and steady attempts to protect and to abolish slavery and realize the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.
  7. Students will analyze and understand the causes, key events, and complex consequences of the Civil War.
  8. Students will analyze and understand the character and lasting consequences of Reconstruction.
  9. Students will understand that concepts such as race, class, gender, freedom, and rights are historical and cultural constructs that change over time.
  10. Students will recognize and understand the concept of "agency." People of African descent, Mexican descent, American Indians, or women were not simply "acted upon," but exercised historical agency themselves by the choices they made and the actions they took individually or collectively.
  11. Students will be able to identify, understand, and explore the connections between religious, social, economic, and political developments from the time of European contact in the New World through the Reconstruction Era.


Throughout the semester I will present historical documents, photographs, and commentary through the use of Laser Disk, CD Rom, and other computer technology. These rubrics are intended to supplement my lectures, your assigned readings, and to enhance the learning experience through the use of the latest classroom technology. While entertaining in-and-of themselves, it should be understood that they are intended as educational and instructional materials and contain testable materials.


The reading assignments for each week and class session are listed by date. You are expected to have completed your readings prior to class and be prepared to discuss or address specific issues raised in the readings. In addition to the three scheduled essay exams each of which is worth 100 points, each student will be requited to prepare a 10 page research paper addressing some particular issue in early American history. The research paper will be worth 100 points. Research papers must be typed or prepared on a word processor and prepared in the "Turabian" style. For guidelines see A Manual for Writers, Kate L. Turabian, fifth edition, available in the bookstore or the college library.


A grading rubric is provided to guide and assist you in understanding how I evaluate your essays.


Each student will participate in the development of a group project that will be due on the final day of class. Students will work together in groups of four on this project. The group assignment is as follows: Your group is assigned the responsibility of writing a chapter for a History Textbook titled "The Cause of The Civil War." Choose one of the following thesis statements: Slavery Caused the Civil War, Slavery Did Not Cause the Civil War, or Slavery Was One of Several Causes of The Civil War. Using at least four sources outside of your assigned reading write a double-spaced draft of a book chapter that supports your thesis and includes analysis of the following factors. 1) Religion 2) politics 3) sectionalism 4) economics 5) the U.S. constitution 6) states' rights, and 7) individual rights and liberties. Each of these factors has roots that reach back into the colonial era and a thoughtful analysis should include such an evaluation. You may choose to include other factors that I have not identified above. There is no page requirement or limit for this project. You will be graded as a group and individuals who do not participate will be marked accordingly. The group project is worth up to a maximum of 100 points for each student and is due on the day of the final exam.


Throughout the course students will be required to access my World Wide Web Site (listed above) and to analyze and critique specific assigned areas as they relate to the founding of the United States and its developing governmental structure. Written, graded assignments will accompany the analysis and critique. Grades assigned will be added to the above scores as extra credit.


Assessment is the way in which the individual professor and the university evaluate the effectiveness of a particular course of instruction. To do this a basis must be established upon which to judge intellectual growth. Accordingly, you will be given an ungraded essay exercise at the first class meeting which will become part of a portfolio that each student will be required to keep for the duration of the semester. Every graded exercise, including the final research paper and group project will become part of this portfolio. The portfolio will be turned in at the final exam and can be picked up at the beginning of the spring 2000 semester. A penalty of twenty-five points will be assessed for failure to turn in completed portfolios.


In the event of a missed examination you may contact me for an alternate exam date.


The university policy on dropping and withdrawal from classes is set forth on page 32 of the fall 99 schedule of classes. Students are obligated to officially withdraw from their courses even though they have not attended. Withdrawals require the signature of the instructor, the chairperson and the dean of the college. Drops are not permitted without the Dean's signature after November 19, 1999.


  1. You are expected to be present at every class meeting. This is a survey course and failure to attend class, as well as failure to prepare for class, will result in your missing a large amount of material.
  2. Do not read material other than your assigned texts in the classroom. If you bring a newspaper or other material, please put it away at the beginning of class.
  3. You may not listen to radios/CDs, etc, during class.
  4. No beepers, pagers, or alarms are to be activated during the class session.
  5. If you have a question or wish to make a comment on relevant material please do not hesitate to raise your hand. I do not mind being interrupted as your input and thoughts are an important part of the educational process.
  6. Plagiarism is a serious offense when preparing research papers. Plagiarism is not allowed and is a violation of university regulations as well as our classroom rules. We will discuss this in class.


The course outline indicates general reading assignments to accompany the lecture topics. Read the indicated materials (plus any handouts) prior to coming to class.

Week One
August 31: Class introduction (Evaluative essay - non-graded)
September 2: Colonizing a Continent: Three Worlds Meet (Nash Chapter One, pages 4-34)

Week Two

September 7: Precontact Indian Cultures - The Atlantic Seaboard, The Western Seaboard (Calloway 1-25)
September 9: Colonizing a Continent (Nash Chapter Two pages 36-68)
Week Three
September 14: Precontact Indian Cultures - The Great Plains & Southwest (Calloway Chapter One, pages 28-42)
September 16: Mastering the New World (Nash Chapter Three pages 70-98)
Week Four
September 21: Spanish contact (God, Glory, & Gold) New France and the Fur Trade (Calloway Chapter One, pages 44-58, 60-66)
September 23: The Maturing of Colonial Society (Nash Chapter 4 pages 100-142; Binder Chapter One, pages 4-23)
Week Five
Turn in paper indicating topic of research paper
September 28: Exam #1 = Blue Book essay 100 points
September 30: British Indian Contact: Puritans and Agricultural Expansion (Calloway Chapter One, pages 67-94)
Week Six
October 5: Bursting the Colonial Bonds (Nash Chapter Five pages 143-176)
October 7: Crisis in the Northwest: Indians and the American Revolution (Calloway Chapter Two, pages 123-142)
Week Seven
October 12: A People in Revolution (Nash Chapter Six, pages 180-219 Calloway Chapter Three, pages 144-165)
October 14: Indians and the Young United States (Binder Chapter Four, pages 65-86, Nash Chapter Seven)
Week Eight
Turn in working bibliography of research paper.
October 19: Consolidating the Revolution (Nash Chapter Seven, pages 220-243; Binder Chapter Seven, pages 123-139)

October 21: Foundations of American Indian Policy (Calloway Chapter Four, pages 211-220)Creating a Nation (Nash Chapter Eight pages 244-268)

Week Nine
October 26: Society and Politics in the Early Republic (Nash Chapter Nine, pages 270-316)
October 28: Currents of Change in the Northeast and the Old Northwest (Nash Chapter Ten pages 320- 356; The U. S. Constitution and the Iroquois League)
Week Ten
November 2: Exam #2 - Blue Book - 100 points
November 4: Slavery and the Old South (Nash Chapter Eleven pages 358-392 Binder Chapter Fourteen pages 258-273)
Week Eleven
Turn in introduction (1 page) of your research paper.
November 9: The Rise of Pan-Indian Resistance & Revitalization Prophets
November 11: Shaping America in the Antebellum Age (Nash Chapter Twelve pages 395-430; Indians and the Northwest Ordnance)
Week Twelve
November 16: Moving West (Nash Chapter Thirteen pages 432-468, Binder Chapter 10 pages 180-195)
November 18: Indians as Slaves and Slaveholders. The Union in Peril (Nash Chapter Fourteen pages 470-502)
Week Thirteen
November 23: The Union in Peril (Nash continued)
November 25: Thanksgiving Holiday
Week Fourteen
November 30: Andrew Jackson and the Removal Era (Binder Chapter Nine, pages 161-179; Calloway Chapter Four, pages 220-230, pages 44-58)
December 2: The Union Severed (Nash Chapter Fifteen pages 504-537; Calloway Chapter Four, pages 233-248: Research paper due in class)
Week Fifteen
December 7: Reconstructing the Nation (Nash Chapter Sixteen, pages 538-571; Binder Chapter Fifteen, pages 280-298)
December 9: Reconstructing the Nation continued (Binder Chapter Sixteen, pages 299-318; Indians and The Civil War, The Allotment Land Grab; Calloway Chapter Five, pages 276-348)

Final exam

December 16, 12:30-2:30 Blue Book - 100 points.

Group Projects due in class. Portfolios to be turned in.