Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society - Session D

History 122AC

Summer 2014
Second 6 Week Session
Instructor: 
Location: 
214 Haviland
Day & Time: 
TuWTh 2-430P
CCN: 
48945
Units: 
4
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • HIST122 examines the period in which the United States became a continental nation and contributed to the escalating tensions that would precipitate the Civil War. As a broad overview of the this era, the class emphasizes the consequences of the War of 1812, the democratization of American politics, the rise of industrial manufacturing and the creation of transportation infrastructure, the dispossession and marginalization of Native Americans, the growth of slavery and the lives of slaves, changes in the lives of women, and the ways that religion and reform reshaped American society during these years.The course starts by examining what historian Edmund Morgan has famously illuminated as an American paradox: the symbiotic relationship between American freedom for white men and the enslavement of African-Americans. Beginning with Jeffersonian conceptions of liberty and republicanism, we will continually explore how an expanding conception of equality amongst white men during the first half of the nineteenth century remained dependent on the exclusion, exploitation, and subordination of women, American Indians, and African-Americans. After examining the hierarchical and white supremacist ideology of the Herrenvolk Democracy during the Jacksonian period, we will explore debates about the interplay between Indian, African, and Mexican racial inferiority and white economic opportunity. This theme is vividly displayed by analyzing the Cherokee Removal, American infiltration of Texas, the U.S. war with Mexico, and finally the conflict between the North and the South over the expansion of African slavery and the dignity of free white labor. 
     
    The course will also focus on the central importance of the War of 1812 in the lives of Americans during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. In addition to the multiple ways that the war shaped the daily lives and long-term fates of indigenous communities throughout the United States and Canada, the significance of the so called second war for American independence has remained obscured by a lack of sufficient scholarly attention and its chronological positioning between the American Revolution and the Civil War. We will examine how fortunate Americans were that the war ended the way it did and how Americans explained and remembered these events in romanticized ways that transformed what actually was at best a military draw into a great American victory. In terms of how Americans continued to elaborate a national narrative that suited their political ambitions, we will later explore Manifest Destiny as a cynical but pervasive ideology that allegedly explained not only the westward expansion of the United States but why white Americans repeatedly prevailed over disappearing inferior races. We will also examine the potency of myth and how it has shaped historical memory in the case of Andrew Jackson’s iconic status as a champion of the common man. Of course, both Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson made frequent use of their association with producer ideology and criticized luxury and the corruption of the rich. However, both men indulged throughout their lives in luxury and both also did things politically that contradicted the lofty ideals and practical goals they promoted.

    Course Books

    The Shirley Letters: From the Mines of California, 1851-2 by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe Heyday. ISBN: 978-1890771003 Required
    , Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830-1870 by Karen Halttunen Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0300037883 Required
    Narrative of the Life and Adventure of Henry Bibb: An American Slave by Henry Bibb Dover. ISBN: 978-0486441276 Required
    , The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America by David M. Henkin University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0226327211 Required