HIST 413: The American Revolution (SP 2022)

HIST 413: The American Revolution

Spring 2022

Professor Terry Bouton
Phone: 410-455-2056
Email: bouton[at]umbc.edu 
Office Hours: By Email or Online Appointment

Course Webpage: https://terrybouton.wordpress.com/hist-413-the-american-revolution-sp-2022/
*I would advise book-marking this page since it has links to all the documents and assignments*
Course Meeting Place: Sherman Hall 145
Course Meeting Time: MW 4:00pm-5:15pm

Course Description: History 413 is a course about the era of the American Revolution (1760s to 1800). It examines what historians have called America’s dual revolution. The first of these is what typically comes to mind when people think about the American Revolution: the independence movement against Great Britain to establish “home rule.” The second revolution developed in tandem with the first: an internal contest between different groups of Americans to decide “who shall rule at home.” Although this course covers the independence movement in depth, the primary focus is on the internal revolution. In particular, it explores the different ways people defined words like “freedom” and “independence” and the various hopes they brought to the cause. The goal is to understand what the Revolution meant to prominent “founding fathers” such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as well as the aspirations of ordinary people: farmers, artisans, women, slaves, and Indians. At issues is how these different visions of the revolution interacted: how they meshed peacefully or collided violently. When collisions happened, the question becomes whose visions “won” and “lost” and why things ended as they did and all of the resulting fallout in the form of changes, compromises, and layers of irony. HIST 413 traces all of this over the Revolution’s expansive terrain: from the initial conflicts with Great Britain; to the wrenching experiences of the War for Independence; to the post-war tensions over the direction of the Revolution, the extension of democracy, rights, and liberties, and the creation of new governments. By the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of the Revolution’s causes, its major events, its accomplishments, and its shortcomings.

Learning Objectives:

  • Develop skills in critical analysis of historical ideas, arguments, and evidence
  • Write cogent, coherent, well organized, and persuasive essays—and gain insights into how you can apply good writing techniques to other courses and projects
  • Make strong, clear arguments and support those arguments with effective use of quotations and specific examples from primary and secondary historical sources
  • Understand the causes of the Americans Revolution, the difficulties waging the War for Independence, and the Revolutionary settlement of the postwar decades
  • Appreciate the distinct goals and beliefs that different groups of Americans brought to the Revolution and comprehend who won and lost when those goals came into conflict.
  • Critically evaluate the possibilities, gains, and limitations of the social and political change brought about by the American Revolution
  • Gain an informed and nuanced understanding of the meaning and practice of democracy in Revolutionary and Early National America

There are no required books for the course. All readings will be included through links or on Blackboard.

I reserve the right to make changes to the requirements or to the schedule.

(I reserve the right to make changes to the requirements or to the schedule.)

MIDTERM EXAM:100 pts. (25% of grade)
FINAL EXAM:100 pts. (25% of grade)
SHORT ESSAYS (5 @ 20pts each):100  pts. (25% of grade)
DEBATES (5 @ 20pts each):100 pts. (25% of grade)
TOTAL GRADE:400 pts.

At the end of the semester:
360-400 points will be an A
320-359 points will be a B
280-319 points will be a C

240-279 points will be a D
Below 240 points will be an F

Both the midterm and the final exams will be take home and essay based. I will supply the question and you will have a week to complete your essays. Your job is to answer the question and use specific examples and quotes from lectures (mostly) and readings (supplemental) as evidence to demonstrate your case. You can use your lecture and reading notes to answer the questions. The exams are not cumulative.

Short Essays: The grade for Short Essays will depend on the quality of your posts to the Blackboard Discussion Board, which I will treat as short papers. There will be SIX short essay assignments throughout the semester, each worth twenty points. At the end of the semester, I will drop the lowest grade so that only your FIVE highest scores will count toward your final grade. NOTE: If you elect not to submit one or two of the Short Essay assignments (you can drop two), you are still responsible for having read that material, which may be included in the midterm or final exams.

Each Short Essay will answer a specific question based on the material being read for that particular assignment. I have listed the questions below in the schedule.  I will also post them on Blackboard. Your Short Essay will be graded based on the quantity and quality of your response. Each Short Essay must use SPECIFIC EXAMPLES and QUOTATIONS from the readings to support your argument. I will be looking to make sure that your quotations come from THROUGHOUT the reading and not just one or two documents or the beginning parts of a longer document. The postings should be about a page of single-spaced text. Remember to ANSWER the QUESTION rather than just reporting what the reading said.  These are analytical essays designed to prove an argument, not “book reports.” Make sure you proofread your posts before you submit them!

To receive full credit, you must submit your posting by on the due dates listed below usually 11:59pm

Late Postings:
I will accept late postings for each unit for reduced credit. If you miss multiple postings, it’s best to start with the most recent one and work your way back to the older ones since I stop deducting points once you have reached 10 points off out of the 20 total points for the assignment (so, after a few weeks being late, you start out with a max potential of 50%).

The “Debates” will serve as the class discussion part of the course. For each debate, students will complete the required readings and then respond to the Debate topic prompt (all of the specific debate requirements and prompts can be found in the unit folders on Blackboard along with the Debate Rubric). There will be SIX debates during the semester worth twenty points each. Only your FIVE highest scores will count toward your course grade. NOTE: If you elect not to submit one of the Debate assignments (you can drop one), you are still responsible for having read that material, which may be included in the midterm or final exams.

Your Debate grade will depend on the quantity and quality of your participation. For each debate, students are required to make at least THREE substantive postings, at least TWO of which must be detailed replies to the postings of other students. I encourage you to make more than three posts. If you post more than three times, they need not all be substantive, meaning you can also include short posts asking questions, looking for clarification from a peer, or making a brief statement to spur debate. The only requirement is that, at some point, you also make at least three longer, substantive posts that include citations to examples and quotes from the readings. The Debate topic prompts ask a wide range of questions to spur discussion, so everyone should be able to find something new to add to an existing discussion or else start a new debate thread on different question when the older conversations have run their course.

Each Debate will have a 96-hour window, running from a Thursday through a Sunday in which students must make all of their posts. You need to make your initial response to the to the debate prompt in the first 48 hours of the debate. This means that you must make (at least) your first substantive posting by 11:59PM on the FRIDAY of the debate window. Then you must make at least two responses to the postings of other students by 11:59 on the SUNDAY of the debate window. You can spread your postings out over the four days, but you MUST must make your first posting within the first 48 hours of the 96-hour debate window and complete two additional posts in response to the postings of other students within the second 48 hours. To receive full credit, students must post throughout that 96-hour window rather than all at the very beginning or, much worse, in the last hour of debate window. The point of the debates is for there to be interaction among students in the course and that means responding to one another’s posts and then replying to the responses from others. If you try to get all your posts done at once, by making three postings as soon as the window opens or (more likely) right before it closes, you are not really engaging in the conversation and are denying yourself and your peers the give-and-take discussion and feedback needed to make the debates a success. For these reasons, I am requiring that you must make your initial substantive posting during the first 48 hours of the debate window and at least two additional substantive postings that are responses to the postings of other students, at least one of which must be in final 48 hours of the debate widow (the other response to a student posting can come during either window..

Although the debates are about expressing your opinions, each of the three required posts for every Debate must include evidence to support your opinions. This will primarily be in the form of specific examples and quotations from the readings. The idea is to show me that you have understood and grappled with the readings by using examples from them as evidence to dramatize the points you’re trying to make. Be sure to explain your examples and ideas with enough depth so that your points are clear and persuasive.

Also, although the requirement is three substantive posts, you do not need to limit yourself to just those three or make every post a substantive one if you do more than three. My goal is to have you reading one another’s ideas and engaging with the course materials and with each other. Any level of engagement with one another is a positive as far as I’m concerned. So, if you read someone’s post and think it’s good but don’t have much to offer, it’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) just to say “good point” or “I agree” or “well put” and leave it at that without any further elaboration. Even a short reply gives your classmates some feedback and offers the potential for further discussion as we can see where there seems to be consensus around a topic and where people seem to disagree. That said, I don’t want you to go through the postings and say “That’s great” to every post–that’s as unhelpful as not commenting at all. But, if someone makes a good point, I encourage you to let them know you think they are on the right track. (I would expect that if you disagreed with a post, you would take some time to explain your disagreement and provide evidence to show why you think your position is more persuasive). As long as you make three substantive postings that cite course readings, you are free to engage however you wish (provided it’s relevant and civil) with whatever other entries you make in the debate.

I also encourage you to push one another to refine points and ideas. If you think someone has made too sweeping a generalization, then by all means express your concerns (hopefully backed by examples and quotes from the readings). My hope is that in a civil, evidence-based back-and-forth we can spark critical thinking and see the complexity and contingency in the topics we are studying.

I will grade the Debate postings based on several factors: 1) The length of the combined responses and whether they were submitted throughout the 96-hour window; 2) The mechanics of writing, including clear, logical organization, the use of topic sentences for paragraphs, and proper grammar and spelling; 3) The use of evidence in from of specific examples and quotations from the readings; 4) The critical thinking and analysis displayed by the posts, including the originality of the points made, the level of engagement with course material demonstrated, and the factual accuracy of the posts; and 5) The student’s overall contribution toward creating community, promoting interaction, and observing “netiquette.” All of these elements are spelled out in the Debate Grading Rubric.

How to Cite Documents for Postings and Debates:
Use in-paragraph, parenthetical citations to cite specific examples and quotes as evidence for the Discussion Postings and Debates. For Short Essays and Debates based on documents, use the following methods. Most of the document collections for specific assignments have a number of different short documents, labeled D1, D2, D3, etc. For Postings or Debates based these sets of documents, simply put the document number in parenthesis after the example or quote. For example: (D9). For assignments where there are two long documents or one long one, the directions for the posting will indicate how I want you to cite the documents.


I require everyone to save a personal copy of all of their discussion postings on their home computer, thumb drive, or whatever other storage device they have.  Since Blackboard is occasionally buggy, I HIGHLY suggest that you type out your response with a word processing program and then cut and paste your response into Blackboard. If you have a problem with Blackboard, it is your responsibility to ensure that I receive a copy of your posting by the deadline. DO NOT automatically email me a copy of every posting.  ONLY email postings in the event of a Blackboard emergency.

Warning: I consider the Short Essays and Debates to be the most important parts of the course. DO NOT take these assignments lightly. If you put effort into the postings, they are one of the surest ways to boost your grade. If you blow them off, they can kill your grade and result in you failing the course—no matter how well you do on the exams. When I assign final grades at the end of the semester, I always use postings to decide whether to bump up the grades of those on the borderlines. If you have diligently completed your postings, I usually will bump your grade. If you have failed to submit postings or continually submit them late, I WILL NOT BUMP YOUR GRADE even if you are one or two points short of the next grade level.

Getting started on Blackboard: Blackboard is relatively easy to use and will allow you to have access to course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Internet.  If you have registered for the course, you should automatically be registered on Blackboard. As a UMBC student, you have a personal email account and access to the Internet and through the school’s many on-campus computer labs.  You can also access Blackboard off campus through a personal account or from the UMBC dial-up.  BEFORE you do anything else, check to see if you are enrolled in the course by going to http://blackboard.umbc.edu.  If you have been automatically registered, take some time to explore the Blackboard site for the course.  If Blackboard indicates that you are not registered, follow the directions at the main Blackboard site for new users.

I will send all email messages to your UMBC email account through Blackboard 
(yourusername@umbc.edu). If you do not usually check this account, have messages forwarded to your preferred email address (such as yahoo, gmail, etc.). For help with this procedure, or if you have other questions about UMBC’s Office of Information Technology services visit the OIT helpsite at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/. Helpdesk personnel in the on-campus computer labs can help with most questions. The helpdesk phone number is 410-455-3838.

Academic Integrity:
By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC’s scholarly community in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.  Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal.  To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. To read the policy online, see: http://www.umbc.edu/integrity/.

See the UMBC resources on Academic Integrity: https://academicconduct.umbc.edu/plagiarism/

The penalty for academic dishonesty –including plagiarism and other forms of cheating– in any UMBC History Department course is an “F” for the course. In addition, cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Conduct Committee.

Trigger Warnings:
This course deals with lots of difficult material both in lecture and readings that some people may find hard to read or hear. The era in question was a deeply and violently racist, classist, and sexist place, where all kinds of bigotry flourished. Deep divisions existed over race, gender, class, ethnicity, and religion that were often expressed in horrific ways. We will explore such difficult topics as: racism, genocide, slavery, rape, and endemic violence. My lectures always include numerous illustrative quotes that often include racist and misogynistic language from the era. The course readings contain similar and often more graphic language and imagery. I include this material not to titillate, but because I don’t think you can really understand the authoritarian nature of elite rule, white supremacy, and patriarchy without hearing people from the past speaking for themselves. We also need to understand this condescension, harshness, and brutality to understand why Indian peoples resisted and sometimes rebelled and the obstacles their efforts faced. They are also important to understanding the divisions among indigenous Americans and why they sometimes participated in US efforts to defeat or disempower other Indian peoples. I believe it is important to expose and examine this array of prejudice in its full and awful expressions and to understand how bigotry of various kinds translated into policy and action so that students can appreciate the deep, ugly roots of today’s problems and conflicts. To help students deal with this difficult material, I will include trigger warnings at the start of each lecture when we deal with potentially disturbing subject matter.


Schedule of Lectures, Exams, Readings, Essays, and Debates 

UNIT I: Making the Revolution

Week 1:
Mon., Jan. 31:

Outpost of Empire: How did the thirteen colonies fit into the British empire on the eve of the American Revolution?

Wed., Feb. 2:

Democracy and Power in the Thirteen Colonies: Who held power in America before 1776? How democratic was life under British rule? How did ordinary people express their grievances?


1) Review the Cornell University “Recognizing and Avoiding Plagiarism” website. This cite walks you through what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. It teaches you when you need to cite information from secondary sources and gives examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing. The site also has a set of quiz-like exercises that provide examples of source material and student writing, asking you to evaluate whether a sample of student writing (compared to the source) represents plagiarism or is an acceptable paraphrase or quote.


Week 2:
Mon., Feb. 7:

The Seven Years War: How did a war between Britain and France serve as a catalyst for the American Revolution?

Wed., Feb. 9:

Economic Origins of the American Revolution: How did British policies after the French and Indian War stifle the economy and convince colonists that they were oppressed?


Debate #1: The Origins of the American Revolution (All responses for Debate #1 are due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Feb. 13)

Reading: Documents on the Causes of the American Revolution
Click Here for Documents:

Debate #1 Question: Was the primary cause of the American Revolution economic or ideological? In debating the origins of the American Revolution, Historians have long argued over whether the primary case was the economic impact of British policies or because those policies violated colonial ideological beliefs and their sense of their own constitutional rights. Tease out the main arguments for both sides based on the following documents and debate whether you think the American Revolution was more about economic or ideological issues. Make sure that you back each argument you make with evidence from the documents!

Debate #1 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, FEB. 10
Debate #1 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY, FEB. 13

[REMINDER: You need to make your initial response to the to the debate prompt in the first 48 hours of the debate. This means that you must make (at least) your first substantive posting by 11:59PM on FRIDAY, FEB 11. Then you must make at least two responses to the postings of other students by 11:59 on SUNDAY, Feb. 13. You can spread your postings out over the four days, but you MUST must make your first posting within the first 48 hours of the 96-hour debate window and complete two additional posts in response to the postings of other students within the second 48 hours.]

Week 3:
Mon., Feb. 14:

Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: What ideological and constitutional concerns drove the opposition to British policies?

Wed., Feb. 16:

Class and the Internal Revolution: How did the crisis with Britain trigger conflict between Americans along class lines?


Essay #1: The Internal Revolution (Due by 11:59PM on Friday, Feb. 18)

Link to Documents: https://terrybouton.wordpress.com/the-internal-revolution/

Short Essay #1 Question: What do these documents reveal about the internal struggles within American society that the conflict with Britain touched off? To what extent are the different visions of the Revolution between these different groups compatible? To what extent are those visions in conflict? Use specific quotes and examples from the documents to support your answers. [The posting is asking you to examine some of the divisions within American society on the eve of the American Revolution. When we talk about the Revolution this semester, we are really talking about two revolutions: the first one was the Independence movement against Great Britain (historians have called this the Revolution to establish “home rule”); the second revolution was an internal struggle between different groups of Americans to decide how to remake their newly independent government and society (historians have called this the revolution over “who shall rule at home”). For this assignment, we’re looking more closely at the second revolution between different groups of Americans who often disagreed over how revolutionary (or democratic) they thought the new society and government should be. As you will see from the documents (and as we will talk about in class), different groups of people defined the key words of the Revolution in dramatically different ways. There were often strong disagreements over exactly what terms like “liberty” and “freedom” should mean and to whom they should apply. The objective of this posting is for you to use the documents to try to figure out what some of those divisions were.]

Week 4:
Mon., Feb. 21:

Race and the Internal Revolution: How did slaves and Indians pushing for their own notions of freedom deepen the conflict between Britain and the colonies?

Wed., Feb. 23:

The Imperial Crisis: What crises led the colonies to go to war with Great Britain?


Essay #2: The Colonial Response to the Coercive Acts (Due by 11:59PM on Friday, Feb. 25)

Link to Documents: http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/crisis/text7/text7.htm

Essay #2 Question: The British laws that colonists referred to as “The Coercive Acts” united the thirteen American colonies like nothing before. After their passage, the colonies mobilized at all levels and ratcheted up their resistance considerably. In what ways did colonists come together and intensify their resistance?

Week 5:
Mon., Feb. 28:

Organizing a Revolution: How was the Revolution organized? What was the relationship between the founding elite and “the people”?

Wed., Mar. 2:

The Ideology of Independence: What were the keywords of the Revolution? How did different Americans define terms like “liberty,” “equality,” and “independence”?  How were those ideals reflected in the Revolutionary governments of 1776?


Debate #2: Rough Music: Political Violence and the American Revolution (All responses for Debate #2 are due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Mar. 6)

Link to Documents:

Debate #2: Were the colonists justified in their use of political violence? The protests described in these documents below–which relate central events in the American Revolution–raise questions about political violence and the conditions under which it is acceptable. Is it ever ok to use violence as a political weapon? If it is ok, under what conditions is violence an acceptable means of political self expression? Is destroying property acceptable? What about verbal threats to do violence? How about actual physical assault? Do the actions of Revolutionary-era crowds meet your standard of acceptability? What did Revolutionary-era crowds do that was acceptable? Where did they cross the line? Or was everything they did ok because they didn’t kill anyone and they only inflicted relatively minor bodily injuries in the name of a larger cause? Do you think non-violent protest by American revolutionaries could have accomplished the same political ends or perhaps even have had greater success? Or was this a situation in which mass political violence–protests, self-organized militias, war–was the only answer? [Remember the point of the debates is to show how you can mobilize evidence from the documents as support for arguments that you make. Although this question asks you your broad opinion about political violence (which I am interested in learning), I am more interested in seeing how you evaluate the examples of political violence described in the documents based on your ideas of what is acceptable and/or effective. NOTE: I use this document set for different assignments and there are different sets of questions on the main document page. I want you to focus specifically on the questions listed above about whether political violence is acceptable and the conditions under which you find it to be ok as reflected in the actions described in the documents.]

Debate #2 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, MAR. 2
Debate #2 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY, MAR. 6

[REMINDER: You need to make your initial response to the to the debate prompt in the first 48 hours of the debate. This means that you must make (at least) your first substantive posting by 11:59PM on FRIDAY, MAR. 3. Then you must make at least two responses to the postings of other students by 11:59 on SUNDAY, MAR. 6. You can spread your postings out over the four days, but you MUST must make your first posting within the first 48 hours of the 96-hour debate window and complete two additional posts in response to the postings of other students within the second 48 hours.]

Week 6:
Mon., Mar. 7:

The Revolutionary War: When war broke out, who chose which sides and why? What was the militia and what were its strengths and weaknesses?

Wed., Mar. 9:

Winning and Losing: Why did the colonies do well at the beginning of the war? Why did they start losing in 1776?


Essay #3:  Revolutionary War Pension Applications (DUE by 11:59PM on Friday, Mar. 11)

Link to Documents: http://www.usgwarchives.net/pensions/revwar/
This link takes you to a website filled with transcribed pension applications from Revolutionary War veterans and their widows. Most of the applications were filed under 1818 and 1832 pension laws that sought to address the issue of poverty among veterans of the War for Independence. As part of the application process, the veteran or widow had to describe the veteran’s service during the war. The applications also serve as a window into the postwar lives of the soldiers and their families.

Essay #3 Question: What conclusions can you draw about the wartime experiences and postwar lives of Revolutionary War soldiers and their families? Use a minimum of FIVE pension files to draw some conclusions about the wartime and postwar experiences of the men who fought the Revolutionary War and their families. Bear in mind that not every file is a good one to use: many are incomplete and provide little detail about wartime or postwar service. Choose carefully! (Keep in mind the Maryland ones are among least complete of the lot). The goal is to be analytical and draw conclusions based on the information in the petitions and then use the petitions as evidence to support your conclusions. I do not want you to simply report the information from each file. I want you to draw some conclusions about the experiences of the soldiers and/or their families and use the information from the pension files as evidence to support your argument. The idea here is to have you approach these sources like an historian would: seeing if there are patterns in the documents that allow you draw some tentative conclusions.

Week 7:

Mon., Mar. 14:

Turning Points and Tough Times: How and why did the tide of war shift in the colonies’ favor? Despite this shift, what problems continued to make it difficult to wage war?

Wed., Mar. 16:

Victory: How and why did the colonies ultimately win defeat the British?

Week 8:
Mon., Mar. 21:


Wed., Mar. 23:


Week 9:
Mon., Mar. 28:

TAKE HOME MIDTERM EXAM DUE BY 11:59PM on Monday, Mar. 28

UNIT 2: Tying Up the Revolution

Wed., Mar. 30:

Origins of the Counter-Revolution: At the end of the War of Independence, why did many of the founding elite think the Revolution had gone too far? How did they think it should be scaled back? What were the results of those efforts?

ALL LATE POSTINGS FOR UNIT 1 (Essays 1-3, Debates 1 and 2) ARE DUE BY 11:59 ON SUNDAY, APR. 3)

Week 10:
Mon., Apr. 4:

Crisis of the 1780s: At the end of the War of Independence, why did many of the founding elite think the Revolution had gone too far? How did they think it should be scaled back? What were the results of those efforts?

Wed., Apr. 6:

Defending DemocracyHow did ordinary Americans propose to alleviate the hardship caused by the economic depression of the 1780s? Why did they have such a hard time enacting those political reforms?


Debate #3: Too Much Democracy or Not Enough? (All responses for Debate #3 are due by 11:59PM on Sunday, Apr. 10)

Question: What did ordinary Americans think was wrong with democracy in the 1780s? Were their views justified? The traditional story of the 1780s adopts the views of the Founding elite and portrays this period as democracy run amok, where ordinary people dominated the postwar state governments and made a mess of things. Meanwhile, ordinary Americans at the time believed that their governments were too undemocratic to allow them to pass the policies needed to end the First Great Depression and save their farms and businesses. Based on the following petitions, what did these ordinary Americans think was wrong with their democracy?

Debate #3 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, Apr. 7
Debate #3 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY, Apr. 10 

Week 11:
Mon., Apr. 11: 

Rings of Protection: What was the purpose of the mass popular resistance, protest, and rebellion during the 1780s?

Wed., Apr. 13:

Road to the Constitution: How did popular political reforms and mass resistance threaten the founding elite and lead to calls for a stronger and less-democratic national government?

Essay #4: History Websites and the Creation of the US Constitution (Due by 11:59PM on Friday, Apr. 15)
Examine at least three mainstream websites that deal in some way with the creation of the 1787 Federal Constitution.

Essay #4 Question: How do the websites portray the factors leading to the Constitutional Convention in 1787? According to the sites, what were the founders’ motivations in creating a new form of government? Do the sites address the question of democracy? If so, how do they handle it?

Week 12:
Mon., Apr. 18:

The Constitution: How did the framers intend for the Constitution to be a “stronger barrier against democracy”?

Wed., Apr. 20:

Ratification: Why did the states ratify a document that promised to scale back democracy so dramatically?


Essay #5: The Debate Over Executive Power (Due by 11:59PM on Friday, Apr. 22)

Essay #5 Question: According to these documents for this week, what were the main arguments for and against a powerful, largely unchecked executive? Which arguments do you find more persuasive and why??

Week 13:
Mon., Apr. 25:

The Bill of Rights: Why was the Bill of Rights created?  How did James Madison, who had opposed a bill of rights during the writing of the Constitution, emerge as its so-called “father”?  How did Americans differ over understandings of their “rights”?

Wed., Apr. 27:

The Federalist Era: How did the Federalists try to reshape the social, political, and economic landscape of the new republic?  How successful were their efforts?


Debate #4: How revolutionary were the Constitution and Bill of Rights?
Links to Documents:
1) How Democratic was the Constitutional Convention? (1787)

2) The Bill of Rights in Context

Debate #4 Question: How revolutionary were the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights in terms of granting ordinary Americans new rights and powers?

Debate #4 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, Apr. 28
Debate #4 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY, May 1 

Week 14:
Mon., May 2:

Revolution of 1800: Who were the Jeffersonians and how revolutionary was their “Revolution of 1800”?

Wed., May 4:

Was There a Revolution for Women?: In what ways was life the same for women before and after the Revolution? What changes did the Revolution bring for women?

Debate #5: Ordinary White Men Assess the Revolution’s Ending

Debate #5 Question: Based on these petitions, did ordinary White men think the American Revolution end in ways that fulfilled their goals and ambitions?

Debate #5 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, May 5
Debate #5 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY, May 8 

Week 15:
Mon., May 9:

Was There a Revolution for Slaves?: What difference did the Revolution make for slaves in the North and South?

Wed., May 11:

Was There a Revolution for Indians?: How and why did the Seneca accommodate the new order the US was trying to impose on them? What were the results? How and why did other Indian peoples resist? What were the results?


Debate #6: Petitioning and the Limits of Women’s Politics in the American Revolution

Link to Documents: https://terrybouton.wordpress.com/virginia-women-petition-1776-1800/

Debate #6 Question: Assess the political power exercised by women based on the petitions that Virginia women sent to the state Assembly from 1776 to 1800.

Debate #6 Window Opens at 12:01AM on THURSDAY, May 12
Debate #6 Window Closes at 11:59PM on SUNDAY,
May 15

Week 16:
Mon., May 16:

Making an American Culture and the Battle Over the History of the Revolution: How did the Revolutionary elite try to fashion a “new” American culture? What messages and values did this new culture promote? How has historical and popular understanding of the American Revolution changed over time? Why is the American Revolution you learn about in college so different than the one you learned about in high school?


Essay #6: Race and the Limits of the American Revolution (Due by Friday May 20)

Essay #6 Question: What limits did race place on the lives of non-White Americans by the end of the American Revolution?