SECTION 001: MWF: 9:00-9:50
Fall Semester, 2001 

Dr. Katherine M. B. Osburn                      e-mail:;

phone: 372-6297                                        office: Henderson Hall, 110

office hours: MWF: 10:00-12:50; M: 1:00-3:00 (and by appointment)


WARNING: This syllabus constitutes a contract between the student and the professor. Students will be held accountable for knowing what is in this document and for meeting the course requirements.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: To understand who we are as a nation requires knowledge of our national origins. This course traces American history from before Columbus to Reconstruction. The focus is on the creation of the Republic and its subsequent unraveling in the Civil War. We will examine the important processes of historical change that were present at the creation of America and seek to analyze why the nation split apart in only 73 years. Our study of this period will not focus on dry statistics, boring presidential administrations, and endless recitation of dates, facts, and figures but on ideas, cultural trends, social movements, the development of institutions, and the effects of economic and political changes on society.  In short, we will study how people lived in response to the forces of history that often drastically altered their lives.

1. To develop critical and analytical thinking and writing skills.
2. To comprehend several basic principles of historical thinking such as: change and/or continuity over time, multiple causation of historical events, origins of present problems, and historiography.
3. To learn to interpret historical materials.
4. To understand the historical development of early America as characterized by four themes: a. The creation of American society; b. The New Republic; c. Early industrialization and sectional conflict; d. The Civil War and Reconstruction
5. To discern the nature of social change over time.

1. America: A Concise History, Vol. I, to 1877, James Henretta et. al.

2. Documents. There are 2 documents linked into my web page. Please make copies of them. We will discuss them in class and there will be questions on them on your exams



1. EXAMS: You will have 4 unit exams, consisting of multiple choice, identification, & a short essay. I will conduct a review session on the Tuesday or Thursday closest to the exam from 3:00 to 4:20 in Henderson Hall 108. Students who attend these sessions generally do far better on the exams than students who do not. In order to attend these sessions, however, you must have completed all of the questions on the study guides (see below). I am no longer allowing people to come to these if they have only highlighted the book. I need to see actual notes answering the questions.  You do not have to have looked up all of the IDs and if all you have done is look up the IDs, you MAY NOT attend the sessions.  I will be in my office for half an hour before the review. Please stop by with your study notes to let me check them before the session. If you cannot stop by the office beforehand, catch me at the beginning of the study session. For a discussion of how I test and how best to prepare for my exams, see, What to do with Dr. O's exams.


POLICY ON MISSED EXAMS: Because I drop your lowest grade, I do not allow early or make-up exams except under the following very specific circumstances.


1. Students who must miss an exam for a legitimate, documented school activity may arrange to take the exams before they leave town. They must negotiate this at least one week in advance.


2. Students who miss an exam for a legitimate, documented medical emergency, personal tragedy, or extenuating family circumstances may take a make-up exam during the final exam period. A doctor’s appointment is not an excuse for missing an exam unless it is a medical emergency. Since you will be taking a different exam than the earlier one, this must also be arranged in advance. You have one week after the missed exam to contact me and explain, using the appropriate documentation, why you need a make-up. I reserve the right to refuse to allow a make-up exam if I think I am being conned. All test policies concerning study aids will be honored with early or late exams.


2. "STUDY AID:" You will be allowed to bring a "study aid" consisting of 2 sides of one 8x5 index card OR 1 side of 1 full-sized piece of paper into the exam.  The study aid may be typed or hand written. You may write on both sides of the card. The purpose of this is twofold. First, it helps to eliminate cheating. Second, preparation of the aid forces you to study. There are study guides linked to this web page that will tell you exactly what to study for each exam. My exam questions come straight from these guides. There will not be any material on these tests that is not mentioned on the guides. Consult the reading assignments outlined below on this syllabus and click on the appropriate study guides.  Using more than one card is cheating. Anyone caught using 2 cards will fail the entire course. If you are caught cheating before the drop period closes, you will not be allowed to drop the class in order to escape the consequences of your behavior. Rather, I will bring charges against you according to University policy.


3. QUIZZES: To help facilitate good classroom communication, I give several short, diagnostic, in-class quizzes over my lectures. With the exception of the Bill of Rights Quiz, these will be open-note quizzes consisting of a few multiple-choice questions and sometimes some IDs. These quizzes serve 3 purposes. First, they reward attendance. Secondly, they let me know if I am getting my main points across because I test what I think I said. Occasionally, I find that most of the class misses a particular point. That lets me know that I have not communicated clearly, and it helps me improve my teaching. Finally, the quiz highlights how students take notes and, hopefully, trains them to take better ones. Quizzes are only given in class and they are not announced. If you miss a quiz, then you just miss out on the points. Students who miss a quiz for a legitimate, documented school activity or a legitimate, documented medical emergency, personal tragedy, or extenuating family circumstances may write one extra ID on their next test in order to make up the points.  They must, however, provide me with documentation regarding the missed class. AND remind me of the reason for the ID when they turn in their exam.  This ID will be worth 5 points instead of the usual 4.  I reserve the right to refuse to allow a substitute ID if I think I am being conned.


4. LETTER TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL: Because the purpose of requiring this class is to instill "good citizenship" in students, you are required to contact an elected official either at the local, the state or the national level, and write him or her a letter about any topic you chose. This letter must be well thought-out, well researched and written. You will turn in 2 copies1 to read and mark on and 1 to send--of the letter paper-clipped to an addressed, stamped envelope. I will read and grade the letters and then mail them. Do not seal the letter in the envelope because then I cannot read it and grade it. (HELLO!) Letters are due by Monday, April 16 at the BEGINNING of class. If you show up to class without a stamp or an envelope, you will not be allowed to go get what you need.  You have 14 weeks to get this done, please be ready to turn everything in when class begins. Late letters (meaning letters given to me after class begins) OR single copies of letters OR letters not accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope OR letters turned in with the letter inside of a sealed envelope will not be accepted.  This means that if you do not follow my directions, you will fail this assignment.  Please follow the guidelines on letter writing in Writing Your Elected Official. I will dock points for not following these guidelines.

    If you want to write about the TBR document "Defining Our Future" click here. If you want to sign the pledge for "A Better Tennessee," click here.


Students may also opt to engage in public dialogue regarding the terrorist attacks on the United States. For an overview of the public policy debate on the terrorist attacks see: 

The Issues of Terrorism: An Historical and Cultural Paradigm

How to Use the Web page


POLICY ON COMPLAINING: Please feel free to come and talk with me about your grade. I am happy to go over tests with you or to advise you on your study aid. If you are concerned for your grade, please talk to me EARLY in the semester. I will do everything that I can (within reason, of course) to help you. I do genuinely want all of my students to succeed. Consequently, I have outlined specific steps on my web page to help you do your best in this class. If you are not willing to follow my suggestions, then please do not waste my time asking for special breaks. I am often unsympathetic near the end of the semester, especially if you have failed the first 2 or 3 tests and have never come to speak with me. All final grades are exactly that--final. Do not ask me to change your grade after the class is over. Unless I have made a mistake in math (which happens occasionally) I will not do it. This includes asking to change your grade to an incomplete. Incompletes must be arranged in advance.


5. GRADES: may be broken down as follows:

unit exams: 4 @ 50.  While 4 @ 50 adds up to 200, your lowest test grade will be dropped, so your true total exam points are 150.

quizzes:  40 points
letter to elected official: 15 points
total:  205-185 = A

            184-164 = B

            163-143 = C

            142-122 = D

            121----0  = F 

All grades will be posted to the web page according to your secret name.  Look them up using your last name.

Grades, 201-001


        Sometimes students are unavoidably detained on their way to class and  cannot get there on time.  When this happens, it is considered a sign of respect for the professor and for your fellow students (who have been distracted from their studies by your interruption) to apologize to the professor after class. I understand that sometimes things do happen to make students late, and the vast majority of students are very polite about slipping into class as unobtrusively as possible. If you are a respectful student with a problem beyond your control you have nothing to fear from your occasional tardiness.   However, I have recently been plagued by certain students who saunter into class late on a regular basis, dripping with arrogance and never offering an apology to me or to the class.  This kind of disrespect for my classroom will no longer be tolerated. Be warned, therefore, that if you do this more than once, you will be asked to leave. 

        While I have given up on taking regular attendance, I strongly encourage you to attend class. Much of the material you will be tested on comes from the lectures, which do not merely repeat information from the text.  Moreover, missing  class means you miss  quizzes.  Missing several quizzes can mean the difference in an entire letter grade. Finally, students who are happy with their grades sometimes stop attending classes in the last few weeks.  If you do this, I reserve the right to lower your grade by as much as one full letter. Class attendance, however, does not automatically mean passing the class.     


7. GENERAL EDUCATION: This course is designed to enable students to achieve several general education outcome goals. A description of these goals may be found through the History Department Home Page under "General Education Requirements." Please see:

8. ADA STATEMENT:  Students with a disability requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS).  An Accommodation Request (AR) should be completed as soon as possible, preferably by the end of the first week of the course.  The ODS is located in the Roaden University Center, Room 112; phone 372-6119.  I will work with the ODS to the best of my ability to help you.


9. Extra Credit Assignments. 




WEEK                                                                                                            CHAPTER

Part One: The Creation of American Society, 1450-1789

Week 1:         A. Introduction:

                        B. Pre-Columbian America                                                     1

                                Prehistory Chart

                       C. First Contact                                                                               2

Week 2:         D. Settlement: The Chesapeake                                                   3

                        E. New England                                                                              3


                        F. The British Empire in America                                                 3

Week 4:         G. Colonial Society                                                                        4

                        H. America at mid-century                                                            4

Review Session, Henderson Hall 108, 3:00-4:20

FIRST UNIT EXAM ON FRIDAY, SEPT. 14; see 201-first-ids.html

Week 5:    I. The Imperial Crises                                                                    5 & 6

Week 6:    J. Revolution and Independence, the Revolution                                                                                 5 & 6

Part II. The New Republic, 1789-1828

                      A. The Crisis of the Confederation                                             6

Week 7:        B. The Constitution

                      C. The Bill of Rights   

See:   the Second Amendment and Gun Control 

and the Fourth Amendment and Asset Forfeiture 

for 2 good essays on these amendments.        



Week 8:     D. The Early Republic: Social and Political Structures              7

                   E. The Early Republic:  Nationalism v. Sectionalism                 8  

SECOND UNIT EXAM ON FRIDAY, OCT. 12; see 201-second-ids.html 

Part III. Early Industrialization and the Sectional Crisis, 1820-1860

The Political Economy of Sectionalism--An Outline


                    A. The Market Revolution & Industrialization                                 

                     B. Responses to Industrialization: Shopkeepers' Millennium 10


                    C.  Other Ante-Bellum Reform Movements                            12



Week  11   D. Jacksonian Politics & the Second Party System             11       

Week 12    E.  Manifest Destiny                                                                 13

                    G.  Slavery and Sectionalism                                                 13

THIRD UNIT EXAM ON FRIDAY, NOV. 9, see 201-third-ids.html

Week 13:       H. The Gathering Tempest                                                   14

Week 14:    NO CLASS ON FRIDAY, NOV. 23    

                        I. Secession                                                                           15

 DOCUMENTS: Alexander Stephens's Cornerstone Speech @ You need not download the entire speech from the link on this page--just the excerpts contained on this page.

And the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession  @

There will be an open note quiz on these documents in class during this week. (Date TBA) Please download them and bring them

 with you. Make sure you read them carefully first.

Part IV. War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877

                       A. The War of Yankee Aggression                                     15

Week 15:       B. Reconstruction                                                                 16

The NAACP Challenge to the 2000 Florida Vote Count

WEEK 16:      Catch-up week


001 Monday December 10, 1:00-3:00

See 201-fourth-ids.html