As can be expected, at first students seem to be hesitant in approaching the class in a style more often associated with a literature class but after encouragement and their acclimation to my methods they become much more accepting. It usually takes a week or two of class to notice a willing acceptance and for the class to really start going well with all of the students feeling comfortable. Things they are most hesitant about are the primary readings. However, with careful choices for reading assignments, nearly every student finally starts to see how history can be very interesting and actually relate to the way they think about things. Journal assignments have them choose several readings to summarize and then explain their personal views and connections to the readings. A good example of a reading students seem to really enjoy is Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, which I use during the second unit of my class. Favorite excerpts include how Tocqueville describes the relations between blacks and whites and another where he writes about the relations between the sexes. Every student has something to say about these excerpts and it is easy to provide the historical context of Jacksonian America for this discussion.

Another example of easy acceptance of assigned readings is from the historical context of religion in early America and excerpts from the Salem Witchcraft Trials and a sermon of the Great Awakening. I use these readings with my first unit. With my third unit, I often use articles like "The Great Nation of Futurity" (1839) and "Annexation" (1845) from the Democratic Review. These articles are very easy to integrate into discussions of nationalism, patriotism, and "Manifest Destiny." Primary sources of Indian speeches are also great with my third unit. For the fourth unit, almost any reading on slavery and especially readings from a Southern standpoint defending the "peculiar institution" always seem to lead to lively discussion. Despite some early hesitation, students seem to really get into a lot of the class readings and see how history really can be interesting and relevant to the way that they think and feel about things. It is even possible they can change their own dispositions and prejudices on certain matters.