Welcome to HIST 265

I’ve taught this course–North America in the Age of Revolution–before. (I didn’t blog that syllabus.) I’ve made quite a few changes to it, including eliminating one of the writing assignments. Though I generally don’t approve of eliminating writing, this will allow me to put more emphasis on research process for the students’ term papers, and hopefully they won’t leave it until the end of the semester if they are less burdened with other writing assignments.

I’ve also added a test and made the midterm an in-class exam. The test is towards the beginning of the semester and will cover basic facts (names, dates, events) of the Revolution. I’m hoping students can get a handle on the who, what, and when so we can then spend the rest of the semester in close readings of several important secondary works (Bailyn, Fischer, Frey, and Countryman) and many important primary sources and shorter secondary readings. I haven’t tried teaching a class quite in this manner before, so this is something of an experiment.

HIST 265 North America in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1804

Dr. R. Goetz
Office hour: T 1-2 and by appointment
HUMA 334
Ext. 2886

Required texts:

• Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Harvard University Press reprint 1992)
• Edward Countryman, ed., What did the Constitution Mean to Early Americans? (Bedford/St. Martins, 1999)
• David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (Oxford University Press, 2004)
• Sylvia R. Frey, Water From the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton University Press, 1991)
• James Kirby Martin, ed., Ordinary Courage: The Revolutionary War Adventures of Joseph Plumb Martin (Brandywine Press, 1999)
• Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 (Penguin Great Ideas, 2006)
• Gordon Wood, The American Revolution: A History (Modern Library, 2003)

A copy of each of these books is available on reserve, or you may purchase them in our bookstore (or online if you prefer—be sure you get the right editions). I will also be handing out various primary sources in class. Make sure you keep these—I suspect some might turn up on exams. J

Short Paper………………15%
Term Paper Proposal…….10%
Term Paper………………25%
Final Exam………………25%


You will note that there is no percentage for participation. This does not mean, however, that your presence in class and active involvement in our discussions is not expected. Many aspects of your work rely on collaboration with your classmates, and so unexcused absences harm everyone in the class, not just yourself. I take attendance at each class; after three unexcused absences your final grade, based on the percentages listed above, will fall by one letter grade. Your grade will fall by another letter grade for each unexcused absence after the third. That means even the perfect A student will fail the course after six absences. So, the moral of the story is…come to class!

If you are sick, or if you have a personal emergency that requires your absence from class, provide the appropriate documentation and I will excuse you. You may come to office hours or make an appointment with me to discuss material you missed.

I will NOT accept late papers. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date (unless otherwise noted)…not halfway through the class, not at the end of class, not slipped under my office door sometime after the start of class. Computer and printer problems are not a suitable excuse for late papers. Only illness and personal emergency are suitable excuses for turning in a paper late with no penalty. Papers turned in late without verification of illness or personal emergency will receive a grade of ZERO.

If you are traveling on the day a paper is due for an athletic event or other college event, you must make arrangements with me to turn in your paper before you leave.

I do not accept emailed papers (as we all know, attachments sometimes get lost—there is no substitute for a hard copy!). If you send me an emailed paper, that paper will receive a grade of ZERO.

All assignments in this course are covered by the honor code. You may NOT work together on writing assignments or on the final paper. (You may of course study together for tests and exams.)

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations must speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities should also contact Disabled Student Services in the Ley Student Center.

Monday, January 7 Course introduction: What was the Revolution about?
W 1/9 Interpreting the American Revolution, Part I
*Mercy Otis Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution (1805), 3-16; Charles Beard, The Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, xli-liii (1913); and Charles M. Andrews, “The American Revolution: An Interpretation” American Historical Review, vol. 31, no. 2 (January 1926), 219-232. (handouts)
F 1/11 Interpreting the American Revolution, Part II
*Edmund S. Morgan, “The American Revolution: Revisions in Need of Revising” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., vol. 14, no. 1 (January 1957), 3-15; Jesse Lemisch, “The American Revolution Seen from the Bottom Up” in Towards a New Past: Dissenting Essays in American History; and T.H. Breen, “Ideology and Nationalism on the Eve of the American Revolution: Revisions Once More in Need of Revising” Journal of American History vol. 84, no. 1 (June 1997), 13-39. (handouts)
Monday January 14 Wood, American Revolution, 1-44
W 1/16 Wood, American Revolution, 46-109
F 1/18 Wood, American Revolution, 113-166
Monday January 21 NO CLASS (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
W 1/23 TEST
F 1/25 Bailyn, Ideological Origins, v-xvi, 1-54
Monday, January 28 Bailyn, Ideological Origins, 55-159
W 1/30 Bailyn, Ideological Origins, 160-198
Friday February 1 Bailyn, Ideological Origins, 198-246
*Thomas Fitch, et al. Reasons Why the British Colonies in America Should Not Be Charged With Internal Taxes (1764) (handout)
Monday February 4 Bailyn, Ideological Origins, 246-320
F 2/8 Paine, Common Sense, 3-24
Monday February 11 Paine, Common Sense, 24-46
W 2/13 Paine, Common Sense, 46-78
Monday February 18 MIDTERM EXAM
W 2/20 Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, 1-65
F 2/22 Fischer, WC, 66-114, Joseph Plumb Martin, vii-xviii, 1-64
Monday February 25 Fischer, WC, 115-205, JPM, 65-121
W 2/27 Fischer, WC, 206-262, JPM, 123-145
F 2/29 Fischer, WC, 263-289, JPM, 145-168
Monday March 10 Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, 290-379
W 3/12 Who were the Loyalists?
*Robert M. Calhoun, “Civil, Revolutionary, or Partisan: The Loyalists and the Nature of the War for Independence,” in The Loyalist Perception and Other Essays (on reserve)
F 3/14 The Indians’ Revolution
*Colin Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country, Chapter Three (Stockbridge: The New England Patriots); Chapter Nine (Cuscowilla: Seminole Loyalism and Seminole Genesis); Chapter Ten (The Peace That Brought no Peace)
Monday March 17 Frey, Water from the Rock, 3-80
W 3/19 Frey, Water from the Rock, 81-142
F 3/21 Frey, Water from the Rock, 142-205
Monday March 24 Frey, Water from the Rock, 205-332
W 3/26 Visit from Dr. Byrd
F 3/28 State Constitutions
*The Pennsylvania and Massachusetts state constitutions (handout)
Monday March 31 The Articles of Confederation
W April 2 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 69-88
*Alan Taylor, “Agrarian Resistance in Post-Revolutionary New England,” in Robert Gross, ed., In Debt to Shays (on reserve)
Monday April 7 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 1-29
*Gary Nash, The Forgotten Fifth, 69-122 (on reserve)
W 4/9 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 33-68
F 4/11 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 89-112
Bailyn, Ideological Origins, 321-379
Monday April 14 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 113-140
Linda Kerber, Liberty’s Daughters, 256-299 (on reserve)
W 4/16 Countryman, What Did the Constitution Mean? 141-163
F 4/18 Federalists, 10, 84, and 85 (handout)
Monday April 21 The Haitian Revolution
W 4/23 What was the Revolution About?


4 thoughts on “

  1. It’s great that you’re including Beard and Andrews in the reading assignments. I don’t think many students are getting exposure to the classic historiography anymore.You Know Who

  2. This course looks great. I would register for it.Have you ever thought of designing the course to embrace “Atlantic Revolutions”? Maybe incorporating the Haitian and French Revolutions?Have a good semester.

  3. Yes, I’ve thought about that, but I think a course like that gives short shrift to all those Revolutions. And, I want American students to have the opportunity to really understand the country’s founding moment, warts and all. I do touch on Haiti at the end of the course–we’ll read the Constitution of 1804 and discuss.

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