HIST 151 U.S. History to Reconstruction (Spring 2018)

Declaration of Independence, Dunlap broadsideThis course surveys American history from the pre-Columbian era to the end of Reconstruction. It will cover a broad range of topics in the political, social, and cultural development of the North American colonies and the United States, including: the exploration and settlement of North America by Europeans and their interactions with native peoples; the political development of the colonies and the early United States; the development of the American economy; and major social and cultural trends. In particular, the course will center on three key thematic questions:

  1. What does “freedom” mean in an American context? How does the concept change over time? To what groups and individuals was it available, and how have Americans used the term to define the boundaries of citizenship?
  2. How did American politics, culture, and society develop? How did they interact to shape one another?
  3. What did it mean to be an “American,” and how did definitions of the term change over time?

In addition, the course will introduce students to the craft of the historian, the variety of skills that historians bring to bear on evidence, and the range of evidence available about early America. These skills include reading and analyzing texts, images, and materials from the past, evaluating quantitative data, and interpreting other historians’ arguments. Students will have ample opportunity to practice these skills through short writing assignments, longer primary source analyses, and in-class discussions and exercises.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the political narrative of the colonies and the United States from first contacts to the end of Reconstruction.
  • Integrate important developments in American society and culture into a broad historical narrative.
  • Demonstrate the ability to reason through analysis and synthesis of various types of historical evidence.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate in writing an understanding of historical knowledge and reasoning.

General Education

The course fulfills the general education requirement for Domain III-A, Perspectives on the Past. It meets the following general education learning objectives:

  • Solve Problems Using Critical Thinking
  • Communicate Effectively in Writing
  • Demonstrate Civic Literacy

Course Schedule


General Policies

Contact Prof. Adelman

Catalog Information

A political, economic, social, and cultural survey of American history from the Age of Discovery to Reconstruction. The course examines the development of the United States within a global context and covers the movement of the colonies toward revolution and independence, the formulation of the Constitution, and the conflict between nationalism and sectionalism culminating in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Note: This is a writing intensive course. Prior completion of ENGL 110 Expository Writing is recommended. This course fulfills the State law requiring study of the United States and Massachusetts constitutions.

Course Attributes

Goal CCC – Reasoning Skills, Goal CCC – Writing Skills, Dv1_DomainGenEd-Domain III.A, D.v1_Constitutions Requirement, Undergraduate Level Course, G3_Goal 10: Forces in the U.S., G3_Constitutions Requirement, Lrng Objective 2, Lrng Objective 5