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History 214--U.S. History to 1865

Shawnee Community College, Fall 2001


Instructor: Chris Strangeman

Meetings: MWF 10-10:55, J2043

Contact: Office Hours, 8-9 MWF/9-10 TUTh/11-12 M-F

You can contact me with questions or concerns at anytime by e-mail at ccstrangeman@mailcity.com

Textbook: Blum, John M. The National Experience: A History of the United States. Eighth Edition. Forth Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace, 1993.

Course Setup and Guidelines

This course is designed to provide you with an overview of United States history from Colonial America to the end of the Civil War. We will go over major themes in United States history through lecture and discussion, possible movie watching, timeline exercises, journal keeping, and readings of primary and secondary sources. Thematically, the class is divided into four units, and we will hopefully be able to spend an equal amount of time covering each:

  • Colonial and Revolutionary America
  • "Farmer's Republic" to Industrialized Country
  • Towards a Great Nation--Political Statements and Westward Settlement
  • Sectionalism and the Civil War

During the semester, I will be stressing a "macro" rather than a "micro" approach to history. This means that, while there will be lecturing (kept to a minimum), I am more interested in you understanding the broader themes of each unit than the specific events and dates of each unit. As such, the approach is not necessarily chronological, but topical. Be aware that I consider your textbook as your aid to help you keep a perspective on what the class is covering. I am more concerned with you keeping up with the readings from the class handouts.


Each of the units we will cover are listed above, but you should have an idea of what I will be stressing for each unit.

  • Colonial and Revolutionary America (Textbook Chapters 1-6)

    For this period, we will be considering the formation of the United States, the first non-European republic in world history. Roughly spanning from English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 to the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, topics we need to consider are why people came to the United States, what political and religious philosophies they brought with them, and how these philosophies helped create a new nation.

  • "Farmer's Republic" to Industrialized Country (Textbook Chapters 6, 7, 9, 10)

    For this unit, we will be looking at how the new nation changed from Jefferson's ideal of a "Farmer's Republic" to a powerful, industrialized country. This change helped bring about the growing changes in governmental policy, as evidenced by different presidential elections and several important court cases.

  • Towards a Great Nation--Political Statements and Westward Settlement (Textbook Chapters 6, 8, 11, 12)

    For our third unit, we will be studying America's movement Westward and how this move helped shape the country's attitude. Such things as the Monroe Doctrine, Indian wars, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and Frederick Jackson Turner's "Frontier Thesis" will be considered.

  • Sectionalism and Civil War (Textbook Chapters 11, 13, 14)

    The last unit that we cover in class will analyze how the Civil War arose from the sectional conflict between North and South that had been growing since the Revolutionary War.

Grading Policies and Attendance


Attendance in this class will play a role in the grades you receive. You are expected to come to class every week, but it is understandable that there will be times when you cannot help but miss class. So, I have set the attendance policy at allowing you to miss six classes (two weeks of class) without a reduction in your grade. After four absences, however, you will be automatically dropped if you have reached this number of absences by midterm or you will automatically fail if you reach this number after midterm. Be aware that I do not make a distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences.


Grades in this course will come from a variety of sources, as follows:

  • Two Writing Projects: 150 points each/300 points total
  • Journal Notebook: 150 points
  • Reader Responses: 10 points each, no set number for the course (probably about 10) **Includes WebBoard Days and Class Activities**
  • Seminar: 50 points; Each student will attend one Seminar
  • Two Textbook Exercises: 10 points each/20 points total
  • Midterm and a Final: 100 points each/200 points total
  • Participation (Up to the individual)

There will be roughly 820 points possible during the course of the semester and grades are earned on a 90/80/70/60 scale (not counting participation -- see below). 300 of the possible grade in this class will come from two writing projects. These will be assignments for which you will need to produce a 4 page paper responding to a specific question that I tell you to write about, all based on the assigned readings that we have in class. We will go over these assignment more later and we will also have a week of conferences set aside at midterm and at finals so that I can help you individually with these projects.

For tentative writing dates see the course schedule.

Outside of writing projects, another 200 points of class grades will consist of a midterm and a final. These will be our class exams and will cover material from class lecture, activities, and your textbook exercises. About 100 points will come from Reader Responses. There will be no set amount of these given, but every time that new readings are assigned, there will be a reader response given at the beginning of class that you will be asked to write on a question for that reading. Because these quizzes are largely for me to make you think about the assignment, each quiz will only be worth 10 points so that it will not affect your grade too much. The reader response grade will also reflect the days where all you are required to do is post your response to the class WebBoard and when we do different activities and exercises in class. While every other assignment in class can be made up with the penalty of being reduced by one letter grade for each class day that it is late, any grade that comes under the Reader Response heading cannot be made up.

Other grades will include maintaining journal entries. These will be kept for each unit that we cover and will be collected once during the semester -- at finals, along with your second writing project. For each unit, you will be required to keep a journal entry on each assigned reading that relates how that reading relates to your life or how you feel. There will be a separate sheet for guidelines for keeping your journal.

In addition, each student will have to attend one Seminar Day. Seminars will be divided so that there one day of each unit is devoted to the seminar, consisting of an introduction by each person, a multiple choice test, a name game, and writing on short response questions. Most of these different parts will be done in groups. Each part of that day will relate directly to the unit we are covering. While the people signed up for this day must meet then, these will be the only people that do have to meet at the time -- attendance is not required of the other students. If you miss the seminar day you are signed up for, you will be able to make it up by attending one of the later ones, but only if you missed for a legitimate reason. While you can make these days up, you will still be counted as absent if you miss the day that you signed up for.

For tentative seminar dates see the course schedule.

Textbook exercises compose the last section of grade points for this class. Textbook exercises will be assignments that I give you -- covering both dates and terms/ideas -- which you will need to look through in your textbook to find. I give you these because it will considerably narrow down what you will need to look for in your text to know for the class midterm and final. Because these are designed to help you more than anything else, they will only be worth 10 points each time you turn them in (the points are for encouragement to complete the textbook searching). The first time you turn them in will cover the exercises for unit 1 and for unit 2 and the second time you turn them in will cover the exercises for unit 3 and unit 4.

For tentative textbook exercise dates see the course schedule.

Participation is a large factor in this class. There will be no set points for participation, but realize that unless you come to class everyday ready to participate and enter into class discussion that you will not get an A, regardless of the grades you get on the other assignments. On the other hand, if you do regularly make good contributions to class discussion of assigned readings, your grade will reflect it in that you will be bumped a letter grade. For instance if you have earned a strong C on the graded assignments, but make meaningful contributions, you will receive a B for your final semester grade. There will be days that all we do is discuss assigned readings, so your discussion is vital to this class--you are largely responsible for making the class run smoothly!!!

You also will have the option for completing extra credit as the semester goes along. You will get another sheet detailing the options for extra credit, but be aware that you could earn as much as thirty points of extra credit. If you earned all thirty points of extra credit, you could bump your grade by as much as four percentage points. This means you could go from a mid-C (76%), add on your participation bump (to a B), add on your extra credit bump (4%), and end up with a final grade of an A. Likewise, you could go from a mid-D to a B. The other thing to remember about extra credit is that you must do it as the semester progresses, so, donŐt put it off until the end of the semester if you are going to do it!