Published Date

January 30, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom



AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


United States

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project.


By Kimberly Hill
Institution: University of Texas at Dallas
Location: Dallas, TX

Class Theme: How did Different Types of Labor Influence Americans’ Ideas about Liberty?


U.S. History Survey to Civil War (3 semester hours) An introduction to the methods of historical inquiry focusing on the study of American history from the beginnings through the American Civil War. No prerequisites (3-0) R


This semester, you will learn about the various ways that people lived and interacted within North America from the pre-colonial era through the end of the Civil War. We will focus on Americans’ desire for liberty in the midst of free and unfree labor systems. A textbook, a novel, and several historical documents will help us access people’s perspectives on the past.


The class schedule may change during the semester. If so, changes will be announced ahead of time. Most assigned primary source documents are listed by the author’s name and linked to the online syllabus. All of the other required readings are provided in the textbook or on the E-Learning page. Quizzes must be taken on the E-Learning page.

Unit 1: Pre-Colonial America.


Week 1 (Aug. 26-28): Introduction, First Peoples

  • America: Ch. 1: Pima Creation Story

Week 2 (Sept. 2-4): Spanish and French Explorers

  • America – Ch. 1: C. Columbus (print from E-Learning)

Week 3 (Sept. 9-11): English Explorers and the Early English Colonies

  • America: Ch. 2
  • BOUND Ch. 1-2 (to p.9) and the historical note (p. 305-307)
  • John Smith (print from E-Learning)

Week 4 (Sept. 16-18): Social Conflicts in the English Colonies

  • America – Ch. 3
  • BOUND: Ch. 3 (p. 13-16)
  • Olaudah Equiano
  • Slave Sale Ad

Week 5 (Sept. 23-25): Colonial Life and Revolutionary Thought

  • AMERICA: Ch. 4-5
  • BOUND Ch. 4 (p. 17-25)
  • William Byrd II (we will read it together in class)

Week 6 (Sept. 30-Oct. 2): The American Revolution and the New Nation

  • AMERICA – Ch. 6
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Abigail and John Adams
  • (Optional) Revol. War Physician

Unit 2: The Young Democracy


Week 7 (Oct. 7-9): The Search for American Equality; Creating a Strong Federal Government

  • AMERICA – Ch. 7
  • BOUND Ch. 5-6 (p. 26-40)
  • J. Martin, “Narrative of Revol. Soldier,”
  • Daniel Gray, Shays’ Rebellion

Week 8 (Oct. 14-16): The Frontier and the War of 1812

  • AMERICA – Ch. 8-9
  • Sedition Act (1798)
  • Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (“22nd Nov.- 30th Nov. 1804 Letter”)

Week 9 (Tuesday, Oct. 21): MIDTERM: Bring a scantron and blue book. (Thurs., Oct. 23): Expansion and the New Market Economy

  • BOUND Ch. 10-12 (p. 59-79)
  • Harriet Robinson, “Loom and Spindle.”
  • Homework: Interactive Game: Life as a Mill Girl

Week 10 (Oct. 28-Oct. 30): Jacksonian Democracy and The Common Man

  • AMERICA – Ch. 10 and Ch. 11
  • Samuel Cloud on the Trail of Tears

Unit 3: National Growing Pains


Week 11 (Nov. 4-6): The Age of Reform/Presentation: Alcohol & Temperance

  • AMERICA- Ch. 12-13
  • BOUND Ch. 13-14 (p.80-99)
  • Woman’s Rights Convention, Declaration (we will read it together in class)

Week 12 (Nov. 11-13): “Manifest Destiny” and Western Expansion/Presentation: Gold Rush/ ‘49ers

  • AMERICA- Ch. 14
  • BOUND Ch. 15 (p. 100-106)
  • José M. Sanchez
  • Homework – Oregon Trail Computer Game (use the Java version)

Week 13 (Nov. 18-20): The Old South/Presentation: Servants & Human Trafficking

  • AMERICA – Ch. 15
  • BOUND Ch. 22 (p. 163-167)
  • Slaves’ Memories: Images and Audio Clips

Week 14 (Nov. 25-27): Fall Break. Enjoy your THANKSGIVING holiday

Week 15 (Dec. 2-4): The Crisis of the Union

  • AMERICA – Ch. 16
  • BOUND Ch. 33
  • Republican Platform

Week 16 (Dec. 9): The Civil War; class overview

  • AMERICA – Ch. 17
  • BOUND Ch. 36-38 (p. 272-307)
  • Robert E. Lee, General Order, No. 9 (1865) (we will read this during class)
  • One of the following:
    • James B. Griffin, Letters from Confed. Officer (all three January letters)
    • Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Diary of Union Officer (March 21-July 9; Sept. 30-Oct. 8, 1862)

FINAL EXAM: See the Orion Student Center site for your exam day and time:


  1. Tindall, George Brown and David Emory Shi. America: A Narrative History, vol. one. 8th or 9th Edition. Price: $45-$56 new. ISBN: 978-0-393-93406-9 or 978-0-393-91263-0. This book is also available as an e-book for half the price at:
  2. Gunning, Sally. Bound: A Novel. William Morrow Paperbacks, 2009. ISBN: 0061240265. Available as an e-book at
  3. Two “blue books” (blank paper stapled inside blue covers).
  4. Weekly Internet Access for the E-Learning site, the textbook Study Space, quizzes, and occasional e-mailed announcements.


Students who successfully complete this course will demonstrate competency in the following core objectives:

  • Critical thinking skills – Students will engage in creative and/or innovative thinking, and/or inquiry, analysis, evaluation, synthesis of information, organizing concepts and constructing solutions.
  • Communication skills – Students will demonstrate effective written, oral and visual communication.
  • Social responsibility – Students will demonstrate intercultural competency and civic knowledge by engaging effectively in local, regional, national and global communities.
  • Personal responsibility – Students will demonstrate the ability to connect choices, actions and consequence to ethical decision-making.


Students will learn:

  • Critical thinking skills; to analyze and think critically about some of the major political, economic, and cultural themes that characterize pre-1865 American history (assessed via the reading exercises, essay, midterm, and final exam).
  • Communication skills; to write about your understanding of some of the major events that directly affected the trajectory of colonial/early American history (assessed via the reading exercises, essay, midterm, and final exam).
  • Social responsibility; to become aware of how relations among and between cultures (e.g., race and gender) evolved from the colonial period through the end of the Civil War (assessed via the quizzes, essay, midterm, and final exam).
  • Personal responsibility; to analyze major events such as armed conflicts and government initiatives in terms of ethical decision-making (assessed via the workers’ rights assignment and final exam).


Three Reading Exercises: 18%
Four Quizzes: 12%
Midterm: 20%
Workers’ Rights Assignment: 10%
Three-Page Essay: 20%
Group Presentation (optional to replace the essay): (20%)
Final Exam: 20%

We will use historical facts as tools. Each of the assignments is designed to help you learn to evaluate information and represent your opinions well in any profession.

Reading exercises are short note-taking assignments designed to help you prepare for exams and review major class themes.
The quizzes will be short, multiple-choice questions based on the textbook and the novel. You must complete each one on the E-Learning site by noon on the due date. The due date is always a Thursday.
The midterm and final exam will consist of multiple choice, key term identification questions, short answers, and/or essay questions. The final exam essay will be based on the theme question at the beginning of this syllabus.
The essay assignment must be based on analysis of primary sources in connection to certain historical themes. The sources will be provided by your professor three weeks before the due date. No extra research is required.
The workers’ rights assignment asks you to practice the publicity strategies of 19th century reformers and convince a certain group to help protect workers’ interests.
The optional group presentations are meant to supplement class readings and lectures by focusing on notable people or events from a specific time period. Each group member shares responsibility for analyzing the provided readings and presenting your answers with visual aids. Each group will be provided with all of the readings for the presentation; no extra research is required. Groups must include three to six students.
You can earn up to four extra credit points added to your final grade average by attending recommended events. Attendance at each one earns one point of extra credit. You can also bring up to four primary sources and describe them to Dr. Hill or Mr. Landrum for extra credit. Discussions on the E-Learning site count for half a point of extra credit each.


My Responsibilities: I will do my best to provide informative lectures and academic guidance throughout the semester. Each class will begin with a lecture outline to guide your note taking. Though I cannot provide lecture notes, I will remain accessible during office hours and by e-mail to discuss history, class work, academic issues, and college resources. Unless there is an emergency, I will check e-mail twice a day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. except for weekends. Quizzes, midterms, and written assignments will be graded and returned within two weeks of the due date.

Your Responsibilities: You are expected to uphold the UTD standards of student conduct. Come to class prepared to take notes, ask questions, and discuss the assigned readings. You should attend every class session because lectures will include information not covered in the readings. Also, we gain a better understanding of people in the American past from listening and responding to each other’s diverse perspectives.

Copy the lecture outlines and key terms for each class session. Ask a classmate for notes if you miss a class. If you have trouble understanding reading assignments or exam questions, ask Dr. Hill or Mr. Landrum for help and sign up for on-campus tutoring.

As a courtesy to other students, please sit near the door if you need to leave class early. Do not cross the front of the classroom if you arrive late; choose a seat near the side or the back. Please step outside if you must call or text and keep cell phones off or on vibrate during class. Do not use phones or other devices during exams.


Call my office ahead of time if you must miss your exam, presentation day, or assignment deadline. An unexcused absence on the day of your exams, essay assignment, or group presentation will result in zero credit for the assignment. Make-up quizzes and exams will only be offered in exceptional and unavoidable circumstances, and you will need documentation such as a doctor’s note. No late reading exercises will be accepted. No late essay assignments will be accepted without prior notice by phone or in writing. The grades for late essays will be reduced by one letter grade for each additional day. Do not plagiarize others’ work; your entire course grade may be withheld.

If you need to drop the course, contact the Registrar’s office for the appropriate forms. I will not drop students from this course based on attendance.


What are the reading exercises?
These are one-page notes that you will take on some of the assigned primary sources.

How are the assignments graded?
Reading Exercises will be graded out of 10 points based on completion and relevance. Essays, workers’ rights assignments, and presentations will be graded using rubrics. Exam grades are on a 100 point scale: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, 59 and below=F

How can I make up missed assignments?
You can only make up the quizzes, essay, and workers’ rights assignment if you contact Dr. Hill by phone or email in advance. No late reading exercises will be accepted, but you can earn up to four points of extra credit added to your final grade average.

How do I earn extra credit if I cannot attend the suggested events?
If you cannot attend events outside of class time, you can earn one point of extra credit for each primary source (up to four) that you bring to class and explain to Dr. Hill or Mr. Landrum. You can also participate in occasional online discussions (worth a half point each).

What is a primary source?
For HIST 1301, a primary source is something that was created or used in America before 1865. For the extra credit, you would need to give an example of how that item represents part of American life before 1865. For examples, see Primary Source Investigator:

How should I take notes on the textbook?
I suggest using the lecture outlines and the reading exercises to guide how you take notes on the textbook. Focus on the parts relevant to the themes and assignments mentioned in class.

How will I know if I should do a group presentation?
Before the midterm, Dr. Hill will notify the students eligible to complete a group presentation. You can choose to do a presentation instead of a three-page essay if you earn an A on all quizzes and miss no reading exercises. Read the group presentation assignments on the E-Learning site and decide if one of the topics interests you. The presentations require less writing, but the group is responsible for reading documents and answering questions.

Can I pass the class by only taking the exams?
The exams only count for 40% of your overall course grade, so you need to turn in the other assignments in order to pass.

What is plagiarism, and what are the consequences?
Plagiarism includes using other people’s work without acknowledgment. Students are expected to maintain the integrity of the university by avoiding dishonesty in their own behavior and by expecting honest behavior from their fellow students. Possible consequences range from withholding your grade for assignments to zero credit for the overall course.

What if I do not memorize dates well?
This class will ask you to remember key terms (important themes that connect historical events) more often than requiring memorization of dates. I suggest using flash cards and reading notes to remember key terms from the lessons.

Is research required in this class?
No research is required for any part of this class, including the essay assignment. You will practice analyzing the assigned primary sources.