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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robert T Mckenzie
HSTAA 411
Seattle Campus

The United States During the Era of Civil War and Reconstruction

Conflicting interests, ideologies, and ways of life in the United States from the 1840s to the 1870s.

Class description

War—especially civil war—is the most demanding trial a society can endure. Between 1861 and 1865, the United States experienced its “ordeal by fire,” a nightmarish four years in which profoundly crucial issues were at stake: the fate of the Union, the definition of democracy, the meaning of freedom, and for some three million young men uniformed in blue or gray, life and death itself. HSTAA 411 seeks to understand the meaning of that conflict by looking broadly at the period between 1846-1877, turning first to the politics of slavery and the secession crisis, then to the war years themselves, and finally to the period of political and economic reconstruction that followed. Broadly speaking, course readings and lectures focus on the values of common Americans—Northern and Southern, free and enslaved. In the process we will focus particularly on two sub-themes: 1) the ongoing struggle to define the political meaning and significance of the federal union, and 2) the complex relationship between the issues of slavery and racial equality.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures each class period but with discussion of key readings regularly integrated as well.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites, but some previous experience with college-level history (upper-division, ideally) is absolutely recommended.

Class assignments and grading

Course grades will be based on two short essay assignments (5-7 pp.), a midterm quiz, and a final exam.

first short essay 30%, second short essay 30%, midterm quiz 10%, final exam 30%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Robert T Mckenzie
Date: 01/29/2010