Course Schedule

Week 1: Introductions


January 14

Introduction: The Course



January 16

Lecture: The World of Henry Adams


Primary Source Discussion:

Pioneer Farm

The Homestead Act

Quiz: The Syllabus

Week 2:  America 2.0


January 21

Discussion: The Gilded Age according to Richard White

“Always the Greater Reconstruction was as much about control as liberation, as much about unity and power as about equality. Indians were given roles they mostly didn’t want, and freedmen were offered roles they mostly did, but both were being told that these were the roles they would play, like it or not. There has always been a darker side to e pluribus unum, and when we look at the parallel policies toward Indians and blacks, we can see it in its full breathtaking arrogance.” Elliot West

“What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.” Henry George, 1872

“Beautiful credit! The foundation of modern society. Who shall say that this is not the golden age of mutual trust, of unlimited reliance upon human promises? That is a peculiar condition of society which enables a whole nation to instantly recognize point and meaning in the familiar newspaper anecdote, which puts into the mouth of a distinguished speculator in lands and mines this remark: ‘I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago, and now I owe two millions of dollars.” Mark Twain, 1872


Richard White, To the Republic for Which It Stands, Introduction, Chapters 1-2


White Paragraph Summaries. Don’t forget to format your document as a pdf and title the document “your last name white graf summaries”


January 23

Lecture: The Gilded Age

Week 3: the American west

January 28

Discussion: Maggor, “To Coddle and Caress These Great Capitalists”

Maggor – annotated

Reading: Maggor, To Coddle and Caress These Great Capitalists


Due (Group A):  Maggor Essay Analysis Worksheet


Quiz: Maggor

January 30
“In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted.” Anonymous 1880

Lecture: The American West

Source Discussion:



Animal City

Week 4: the modern World

February 4

Discussion: Hamlin’s Eve’s Curse

Reading: Hamlin, Eve’s Curse


Due: Hamlin graf summaries


February 6

Lecture: Texas and the Origins of the Agrarian Revolt


Source Discussion: The Cleburne Demands

“What came in the end was only a small war and a quick victory; when the farmers and the gentlemen finally did coalesce in politics, they produced only the genial reforms of Progressivism; and the man on the white horse turned out to be just a graduate of the Harvard boxing squad, equipped with an immense bag of platitudes, and quite willing to play the democratic game.” Richard Hofstadter


Week 5: the end of the frontier

February 11

Lecture: The Great Plow Up

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” John Winthrop (1630)

“The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the worship of the Most High — the Sacred and the True. Its floor shall be a hemisphere — its roof the firmament of the star-studded heavens, and its congregation an Union of many Republics, comprising hundreds of happy millions, calling, owning no man master, but governed by God’s natural and moral law of equality, the law of brotherhood — of ‘peace and good will amongst men.'” John L O’Sullivan (1839)

February 13

Lecture/Discussion: The Dust Bowl


Source Discussion: The Plow that Broke the Plains

“Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent – if it rains.” Roger Geiger, 1935

“Wearing our shade hats, with handkerchiefs tied over our faces and Vaseline in our nostrils, we have been trying to rescue our home from the accumulations of wind-blown dust which penetrates wherever air can go. It is an almost hopeless task, for there is rarely a day when at some time the dust clouds do not roll over. ‘Visibility’ approaches zero and everything is covered again with a silt-like deposit which may vary in depth from a film to actual ripples on the kitchen floor. I keep oiled cloths on the window sills and between the upper and lower sashes. They help just a little to retard or collect the dust. Some seal the windows with the gummed-paper strips used in wrapping parcels, but no method is fully effective.” Caroline Henderson, 1935

“All the quacks and cony-catchers now crowing the public trough at Washington seem to be agreed upon one thing, and one thing only. It is the doctrine that the capitalistic system is on its last legs, and will presently give place to something nobler and more ‘scientific’ There is, of course, no truth in this doctrine whatsoever. It collides at every point the known facts. There is not the slightest reason for believing that capitalism is in collapse, or that anything proposed by the current wizards would be any better.” H.L. Mencken, 1935

Week 6: The new deal and the birth of the mixed economy

February 18

Discussion: Dochuk, “Blessed by Oil, Cursed with Crude”

Reading: Dochuck, “Blessed by Oil, Cursed with Crude”

Due (Group B):  Dochuk Essay Analysis Worksheet

Quiz: Dochuck

“The chief business of the American people is business.” Calvin Coolidge

“A car for every purpose and purse.” Alfred Sloan, Chairman, General Motors

“We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land… we shall soon, with the help of God, be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this nation.” Herbert Hoover, one year before the Great Depression

“The men leaned back on their heels, put their hands in their trousers-pockets, and proclaimed their views with the booming profundity of a prosperous male repeating a thoroughly hackneyed statement about a matter of which he knows nothing whatever.” Sinclair Lewis in Babbit

“The businessman, in fact, acquiesces in this assumption of his inferiority, even when he protests against it. He is the only man above the hangman and the scavenger who is forever apologizing for his occupation.” H.L. Mencken, 1921


February 20

Lecture: American Capitalism and the New Deal

“How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what’s intended for nine-tenths of the people to eat? The only way you’ll ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!” Huey P. Long

“Big business sure got big, but it got big by selling its stocks and not by selling its products.” Will Rogers

Source Discussion: Tugwell, No More Frontiers

Week 7: midterm week

February 25

Discussion: Semester in Review



February 27


Week 8: the new world

March 3

Lecture: World War II and the Birth of the Atomic Age

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.” FDR, 1/41″

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.” Dwight Eisenhower, 6/44.

“I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.” Robert Oppenheimer, Head of The Manhattan Project

Source Discussion: The Day the Sun Rose Twice

March 5

Lecture: The Montgomery Bus Boycott


Source Discussion: King, on the MBB


Week 9: Welcome back: Cyberclass and the rest of the semester


March 24

No Class

March 26

Facebook Live at 1:00

The plan for the rest of the semester.

Week 10: the 1950s

March 31

 Facebook Live at 1:00

Mini – Lecture: Unintended Consequences


The GI Bill

The Interstate Highway System


April 2

Email Discussion

Welke, “The Cowboy Suit Tragedy”

Prompt: Prompt: How does Welke use the Cowboy Suit Tragedy to explain and examine fundamental changes in the American economy and culture and important shifts in its political and legal systems? What do you imagine would be a potential solution to the issues and problems she raises? How has product liability insurance, corporate lobbying and media influence come to transform the relation between manufacturer and consumer?

Discussion will close April 5th.

Reading: Welke, “The Cowboy Suit Tragedy”

Due:  Group A, Welke, “The Cowboy Suit Tragedy” Summary

Week 11: The rise of the right in the 1960s

April 7

1:00 pm

Facebook Live Mini Lecture: The Rise of the Right

Barry Goldwater Acceptance Speech 1964

Buckley vs. Chomsky

April 9

Email Discussion:

Branch, The Fall of Ole Miss


A famous line – the past is a different country; they do things differently there – seems an apt approach for our discussion this week. I can tell you that when I moved to the South in the mid-1980s, I was taken aback by the casual racism that I witnessed daily. It was one of the reasons that I became interested in how and why white southerners reacted the way that they did to the civil rights movement.

For our email discussion this week, I’m curious to hear your reactions to the events in Mississippi and Georgia from fall 1962, from the church burnings, to the random shootings into civil rights headquarters, to the threats toward those who supported voter registration, and of course to the riots that accompanied James Meredith’s entrance into the University of Mississippi. How do you respond to the descriptions and accounting of the levels of murderous violence committed by white southerners to preserve segregation in schools and a political system that disfranchised African American citizens.

Discussion will close April 17th.

Reading: Branch, The Fall of Ole Miss

Due: Branch Paragraph Summaries

Week 12: Collapse

April 14

 1:00 p.m.

Facebook Live Mini-Lecture: Watergate, the Fall of Saigon, and the Collapse of Institutional Trust

April 16

Email Discussion:

Waterhouse, “Mobilizing for the Market”


Discussion will close April 19th

Reading: Waterhouse, “Mobilizing for the Market”


Due:  Group B, Waterhouse, “Mobilizing for the Market” Summary

Week 13: The limits of American power

April 21

1:00 p.m.

Facebook Live Mini-Lecture: The Aids Crisis and American Response

United in Anger

April 23

Email Discussion:

 Herring, “The Strength of a Giant”


Discussion will close April 26th

Reading: Herring, “The Strength of a Giant”

Due: Herring graf summaries

Week 14: OUr World

April 28

1:00 pm. TBD

May 1

Email Discussion:

Wrap up


Discussion will Close May 4th