In-depth examination of the U.S. from 1820 to 1850, including changes which affected American politics, society, and culture.
President of the United States from 1829-1837, Andrew Jackson gives his name to an era marked by new political ideologies and social conditions that shaped a more democratic and a more capitalistic United States. The course will explore the meaning of American citizenship in Jacksonian Democracy from the debates on voting rights (among enfranchised white males), public education, and the commercial policies of the federal government, among others. The course will also juxtapose these political debates to such topics as the experience of enslaved African Americans, the movements of abolitionists and women suffragists, the government policies toward Native Americans, the conditions for immigrant laborers, and the transformation of American life by the market/transportation/communication "revolutions" during the period from 1820 to 1850.
Student learning goals
With attention to the free and unfree origins of U.S. political and economic developments in the Jacksonian era, the goal of the course is to study the roles of gender, race, and class in the course of American freedom and democracy in the early nineteenth century.
The life of Jackson spans nearly 80 years, from 1767 to 1845. We will use Jacksonian-era policy and party conflicts as a prism to understand the political culture of the early American republic, while covering subjects ranging from the ratification of the Constitution to the Mexican-American War.
The Jacksonian era is also something of a crossroads in the social and cultural transformation of the United States. Jackson, a "frontiersman" and slaveholder in Tennessee, was president during a period in which the market economy, urbanization, and a popular consumer culture emerged in America. We will examine these changes to assess the extent to which Jackson's supporters (and opponents) represented modernizing and antimodern forces in the antebellum United States.
General method of instruction
The course will combine class lecture, discussions, and viewings of documentaries or visual materials.
No prerequisites, the course will not presume any prior coursework in early American history. Some familiarity with the revolutionary period and early American republic may be helpful for those who seek the optional writing credit.
Class assignments and grading
As a 400-level class, there will be a substantial reading component of both secondary and primary sources provided by the instructor. There will NOT be a substantial research component to the course (i.e., 10-12 page original research paper). There will be an OPTIONAL writing credit (for those who want W course credit).
Grading determined by class participation, two exams, and a two short writing assignments, 3-5 pages in length.