19th Century America
[Overview] [Books] [Schedule/Assignments] [Academic Honesty]
[Discussion Groups] [Exams] [Term Paper] [Footnoting]

Instructor: Lloyd Benson

Office: Furman Hall 213-A (next to the elevator)
Office Hours:
10:30-11:30 Monday-Friday
1:30-3:00 Monday and Friday,
1:30-5:00 Wednesday
other times by appointment
Phone: 294-3492
e-mail: Lloyd.Benson@Furman.edu


A Critical Era

The United States changed rapidly in the nineteenth century. residents of the United States began the 1820s as a mostly rural and agricultural people living in scattered settlements along the eastern seaboard. They lived by habits of local self-sufficiency, social deference, and household industry. By the 1890s the nation's people had settled coast-to-coast and become politically centralized, urban, and industrial. Americans of this later generation confronted problems of national culture, ethnic identity, urban poverty, mass political parties, corporate liberalism, labor unrest and mass-production completely unforeseen by citizens of the early republic. Add to this list a cataclysmic civil war and the end of slavery in mid-century. It is no surprise that the era's changes captivate historians. Their actions, heroic and tragic, continue to shape the nation today.

Course Emphasis

Many of the century's critical events involved debates over the limits of social order, autonomy and individual identity. To help make sense of these episodes this term we will focus on the themes of community, hierarchy, and control of the nation's culture.


The books listed below are required reading for this course. They are available for purchase at the Furman University Bookstore and through other sources. You will need to purchase all books by the end of the second week of class or they will be returned to the publisher to make space for next term's orders. As with all other Furman courses you should plan to spend at least two hours out of class on reading and assignments for every hour we meet. If it is taking you significantly longer than this for you to complete these assignments please let me know. The required books and readings are as follows:



See the attached Schedule and Assignment Page <http://www.furman.edu/~benson/h41schedulef02.htm> for schedule and assignment information. Note that the mid-term examination s have been scheduled for the evening to allow fairly for those who need extra time. This is an official class meeting and may not be rescheduled without University approval. Please let me know during the first week of class if this poses an extraordinary burden.


You need to attend every class. A flagrant absence pattern will result in the invocation of the official university policy as defined in the Helmsman.


Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations should contact Susan Clark, Coordinator of Disability Services, (2322), in Plyler Hall 1 (basement). After an meeting with her, contact me during my office hours. Don't procrastinate: do this EARLY in the term before the first assignments are due.


The academic community only works when all members freely exchange their ideas without taking credit for someone else's work. Academic honesty creates the trust that makes learning possible. When students complete their work with integrity, teachers do not have to adopt elaborate procedures that clog the educational mechanism. When all students in a class are honest, instructors can judge their work fairly and equally. And when all members of the institution strive to work honestly, the value of the diploma and the reputation of the school are enhanced. Finally, academic integrity ensures that special opportunities such as jobs, scholarships, and awards go to those who earned them. It is therefore in the interest of every student to promote the integrity of all students in the classroom.

You must include full citations for any original ideas or products of others in all written or compiled work in this class. As a general rule, papers in this class should follow the documentation standards outlined in the pamphlet Plagiarism And Academic Integrity At Furman University. Note: any images, sound, or video that you did not create yourself must be properly documented and in the public domain or you will be considered in violation of the plagiarism policy and all other applicable regulations.

When in doubt, you should consult with me. Facts learned from class lectures and discussions should be traced to their original published source. I will be happy to provide references as needed. You should discuss course material at every opportunity, but must not reveal test answers. When using study guides to prepare for in-class exams, students are not allowed to divide up topics or share their prepared answers. Copying of lecture notes falls into a gray area of academic honesty. To avoid problems, you should not copy another person's notes without prior permission from me. Because unreported academic dishonesty affects the grading scale and classroom atmosphere severely, you should report any questionable incidents to the instructor immediately. Use of purchased term papers and similar resources is also a violation of class policies and may also conflict with state and federal laws.

Cases will be judged according to procedures outlined in published university policy. The professor reserves the right to invoke punishments from failure of the assignment to failure of the course. The Associate Academic Dean may impose additional penalties at her discretion.


Message Requirements

I have established a web-based on-line message system (<http://www.quicktopic.com/16/H/GdyhMRZRf5C;) for this course.

Messages can be brief, but you are responsible in your submission for (1) reflecting in a scholarly way on your day's lecture, presentations, or exercises, (2) responding explicitly (with specific names and quotations) to what you think is the best or most intellectually provocative message from your group and previous postings. You must do both the reflection and the reaction tasks to receive credit. In addition to this you are encouraged to develop spontaneous discussion threads and conversations. You are encouraged to submit more than one message per assignment, especially when responding to another participant. In the event of technical problems you will need to notify me (before class if possible).

You are required to submit at least one graded message per cycle. You may exclude other messages from the grading process if you wish, by writing Not for evaluation at the top of your submission. Messages will be graded on their relevance, sophistication, inquisitiveness, and choice of other messages responded to. I am especially favorable to comments that (1) make specific references to specific pages, sections, or paragraphs in assigned materials, (2) that make connections to course themes and previously-discussed course topics, (3) that put things into an historical and historiographical context, and finally (4) Show serious intellectual engagement with the comments of your fellow students. In addition to the individual discussion grade I will assign an overall group grade at the end of the term which will reflect the quality of intellectual exchange among all of your group's messages and your group's ability to integrate your topics with the themes that emerge in other groups. Messages that could have been submitted by a fourth grader or that show obvious ignorance of previous postings will not be considered passing quality. Your initial message should be at least a paragraph in length. Except where noted in the syllabus these submissions are due before class meeting time. In the event of technical problems you will need to notify me before class.

On-line Manners

Do not steer away from controversy. Course readings and topics have been selected in part because they raise difficult questions with strong emotional implications. If we did not care about them they would be scarcely worth talking about. Being able to argue a passionate point intellectually and analytically is one of the most important skills you can learn at Furman. The only ground rule is that messages should follow the rules of civilized academic discussion. Never submit anything you would not want me, the department chair, or Dr. Shi to read. You may attack any flawed idea but never the person who uttered the statement. Likewise, it is okay to say that you are bothered or offended by something that someone says in a message, but direct your responses to the substance of the comment rather than to the admittedly flawed character of the author. Be alert that irony, sarcasm, and role-playing don't translate well into messages. In short, tact and discretion are essential. So are vigorous dissent and wise verbal defense.

Some Technical Advice

Do not depend on the message system to be available at the last minute. Servers have a nasty habit of crashing about an hour before the final submission deadline. Be patient. The system may take a minute or two to respond to your submissions, depending on how many previous messages there are and how busy the Furman network is. If your message is particularly long or important, it would be wise for you to save a copy of it before sending it off to the message system. Failure to properly back up your work will not normally be considered a legitimate excuse for not submitting your messages on time. Let me know if you have problems.

Direct References to On-Line Documents

In those discussions where our concentration is on the web-based documents, I will expect you to make specific hyperlink references to the on-line text. Each of the on-line documents used in this course has been numbered sequentially by paragraph. To refer to a specific paragraph in a document, type in the complete web address, followed by a pound sign (#) and the paragraph number. For example, to refer to the 25th paragraph of Andrew Jackson's veto message, enter the following into your message. This will create a working link that all future readers of your message can use.


Note: computer terms and techniques such as web address, URL, or "cut and paste" are not familiar to everyone. If you are not adept with such concepts, please see me or someone in Computing and Information Services immediately for assistance.

Tips for In-Class Examinations


Students in this class will take two preliminary examinations and a comprehensive final. Tests will include sections for image and geography interpretation, short answer ids, and at least one long essay question. You will generally be given a choice of questions to answer on some or all of the sections. You will be expected to show a solid grasp of names, dates, and details. Responses to paragraph questions will typically be four to six sentences long. They will need to include at minimum an explanation of causes and effects, along with a summary chronological description of the item itself. Longer essays will need to be proportionate in length to the time allotted them. Essay grammar and spelling will not affect scoring, but clear, concise expression and reasonably neat handwriting are always a plus.

A good in-class essay will have a clear thesis paragraph stating your overall ideas about the topic. The remainder of the essay should have a logical organization, extensive details such as names, dates, and events, and a convincing conclusion. Longer essays should strive for a good sense of chronological development (including a carefully itemized sequence of events with dates) and should address the essay topic from as many different angles and approaches as possible. Time permitting, most students find it helpful to outline the essay briefly before writing. You will be expected to include examples and arguments from the readings on reserve. Finally, students should feel free to either agree or disagree with the essay question, but should make an effort to explicitly answer arguments that might be made by someone on the other side.

Other Study Suggestions

You are responsible for integrating lectures, class activities and readings together into a single seamless analysis, so it is wise to work topic by topic, rather than studying the textbooks first and then the notes. Begin by looking at the major topics (as listed in the syllabus and in textbook chapters) that will be included on the test. For each of these main topics you should be able to give an itemized list of major causes, a brief chronology of the most important historical turning points (look for at least four or five of these), an accounting of the major individuals, organizations, or intellectual traditions most directly involved, and a list of the most important results. Many of the main topics (Jacksonian Politics, for example) will be divided into subordinate topics. Apply the same rules of causes, chronology and character, and consequences, to each of these. It goes almost without saying that such systematic study cannot be done well if you start just a couple of days before the test. These are questions and organizing frameworks that you should work on every day between the major assignments.

Term Paper

Primary Source Essay

Furman Library has an extensive collection of materials relevant to our era. For your final term project you will be asked to read extensive selections from one of these primary sources and write a commentary and analysis of its context and implications. You will be expected to work regularly on this project throughout the term. In consultation with me you will define your own topical emphasis and themes. Topics should be chosen with an eye to how well they incorporate the richness of the source materials, how well they illustrate the era's most critical transformations, how thoughtfully they analyze the unstated connections between apparently disconnected events, and how cleverly they reflect your own interests in the period. They should also in some way reflect the overall political and civil rights theme of this course. Minimum coverage requirements for the essay as follows, including any one source from the following list:

There are some alternatives and exclusions that apply. None of your topics may focus exclusively on Civil War battles, though consideration of Federal and Confederate civil rights policy is acceptable. It is possible to combine more than one of the sources above. For example, you could read four months of a weekly paper and two months of a diary from the same period. All such combinations need to be approved by me in advance.

Requirements and Evaluation

Final papers must be submitted electronically, preferably as an e-mail attachment, in MS-WORD format. You must use regular text endnotes using the proper footnote style (see the Footnoting Guidelines below). Papers should be approximately 2200 to 3000 words in length, exclusive of footnotes. Since you will be completing a research journal it is not necessary to include a separate bibliography. Papers using Word's automatic footnoting function must have their footnotes converted to regular text. Although your focus should be the primary source itself, you also need to place the source into its context using the secondary literature. To meet minimum passing requirements you will need to consult at least eight relevant books or articles and include them meaningfully into your analysis. Beyond this minimum number it will be the quality and appropriateness rather than the quantity of sources used that will be most impressive.

I will ask you to identify a topic proposal and select a source within the first two weeks of the term. Further information about the scope and topic choices for the assignment will be given in class.

You will also need to submit a research journal. You will need to record entries into the journal as you are conducting your investigation. The journal should include information on
a) the dates you worked on the project,
b) the databases, research tools, journals, and books you consulted (list these by name and date), and how you used them to locate the source (ie: Found on "America: History and Life.")
c) A brief assessment of the quality and biases of the source.

It is my preference that you use an electronic journaling tool for this portion of the assignment. Then you can just e-mail me the url. Of the available tools, www.blogger.com is probably the best, but there are others. These will allow you to complete your entries at the library as you are working through your project. Consult one of the specialists in the CCLC for further technical assistance.

You will be evaluated on the organization, vividness, clarity, and sophistication of your writing, the diligence, creativity, and thoroughness of your research process, and the quality of your overall essay thesis and supporting arguments. Innovation and risk-taking in arguments will be rewarded favorably. The grade will be based primarily on the paper itself, but evidence from the research journal will be a contributing factor.

Stylistic Hints and Suggestions

Take a look at Strunk's Elements of Style. Closer to home, and with a good sense of humor, is Dr. Chris Blackwell's Writing Tips Page. I strongly recommend that you review his section on "How to make sure you have written a good paper." You may find other useful suggestions by looking for "online writing centers" on the web and consulting their writing tips pages.

Below I have listed a few of my personal peccadilloes about style and grammar. You are advised to double-check your papers for such things and remove them, lest red ink flow like water.

  1. A clear thesis and logical organization are essential.
  2. Write concisely.
  3. Avoid passive constructions such as "it was," and "it has been." You must tell who is doing the thing you describe.
  4. Like strong seasonings, quotations should be used sparingly.
  5. Do not use "I" in formal writing. Declarative sentences are more effective. Everyone already knows from the essay format that this is your own viewpoint. Indiscriminate use of "I" is at once a sign of vanity and of poor confidence.
  6. Sentences that combine commentary with descriptive information are a plus. (For example: "The author effectively describes Calhoun's position in the Southern Address of 1849.")
  7. Strive for gender-neutral phrasing.
  8. Do not start sentences with the word "however."
  9. The following words or phrases are powerless and inaccurate. Do not use them:
    1. obviously
    2. in terms of
    3. certain, certainly
    4. basically,
    5. "on a ____ basis"
    6. feels, felt
    7. in-depth
    8. deals with, dealt with
    9. succession (when you mean secession)
    10. Wilmont (when you mean Wilmot)
    11. dominate (when you mean dominant)
    12. Negro, when you mean "African-American" or "Black."
  10. Avoid qualifiers. Words such as "somewhat," "literally," and "definitely." are right out.
  11. Centuries ("the 1700s") are plural, not possessive. Do not use an apostrophe.
  12. Always use the past tense when describing events in the past.

Style Guide for Footnotes or Endnotes


Students are expected to be familiar with the academic honesty and plagiarism guidelines for this course. All citations must be formatted using footnotes or endnotes of the "Turabian Style" of annotation, in reference rather than parenthetical format. For common examples, see the details below or consult with me. For a complete guide to this style consult Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations.

Improperly documented papers will be returned to their authors for revision, along with a dirty look from the instructor. You should use endnotes for both assignments. (MS-Word users should be forewarned that Word's default footnote and endnote settings are non-standard for academic work. Be sure you understand how to set them properly before starting your projects.) Notes are to be numbered sequentially in arabic numbers from the beginning to the end of the document. You are encouraged to combine multiple references into a single note at the end of a paragraph, except when citing a direct quote. For other examples of proper footnoting, look at the Journal of Southern History, the Journal of American History, or the American Historical Review.

Sample Footnoted Paragraph

Example excerpted and heavily adapted from Peter S. Onuf and Drew R. Cayton, The Midwest and the Nation, (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990), 7-14.

Clustered settlements would be more easily defended against external enemies and internal disorder, and the rapid development of churches, schools, courts, and other local institutions would facilitate the passage to self-government.1

Assuming this process of social development, the authors of the Northwest Ordinance provided for the gradual substitution of home rule for government by appointed officials.2

[...]Berkhofer agrees that the western ordinances reflect a policy consensus but is more influenced by the emerging "republican synthesis" in early American historiography in his reconstruction of their premises. Berkhofer's seminal essay on Jefferson and the 1784 ordinance delineates the western problem in now familiar republican terms, showing that concerns about sustaining public virtue... shaped the evolution of policy.3

[...]Peter Onuf concludes that "The resulting uncertainty jeopardized territorial rights... If boundaries were not fixed in advance, the other compact promises would be meaningless: Congress could change a territories boundaries whenever it threatened to grow large enough to claim membership in the Union."4 Confusion about State boundaries in the Northwest reflected the geographical ignorance of the Ordinance's authors. [...] Michigan's application for admission in 1835 was rejected because the new state claimed the Ordinance line for its southern boundary. Ohio, meanwhile, sought to establish its jurisdiction north of that line in the region around Toledo.5

Sample Footnotes (with Comments)

1Peter S. Onuf, Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance, (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987), 2-6. Single book, first citation, note at paragraph end.
2Ibid., 7-12.Same source, cited in the very next footnote.
3Robert F. Berkhofer, "Jefferson, the Ordinance of 1784, and the Origins of the American Territorial System," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., XXIX (1972), 231-62. A single journal article.
4Onuf, Statehood and Union, 108. Direct quote cited in middle of paragraph; also a subsequent but non- sequential reference to a previously-cited book, using a shortened version of the title.
5Todd B. Galloway, "The Ohio-Michigan Boundary Line Dispute," Ohio Archeological and Historical Quarterly IV (Spring 1895), 473-84; Carl Wittke, "The Ohio-Michigan Boundary Dispute Re-Examined, Ohio Historical Quarterly XLV (June 1936), 299-319; Onuf, Statehood and Union, 94-108. Multiple book and article references in a single citation, separated by semi-colons.
6Inventory of Smith Estate, Greenville County, Will Book A (1786-1833), 76. Reference to public document, including relevant dates and page numbers.

Note: The instructor reserves the right to change any provisions, due dates, grading percentages, and any other items without prior notice. This page was last modified on 9/11/2001

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