King's College History Department

CORE 130
American Civilization
Learning Objectives

FALL 1998

Dr. Curran
Hafey-Marian 308
Tel: (717) 208-5900, ext. # 5749
e-mail: djcurran@gw02.kings.edu

I. BACKDROP OF DISCOVERY AND CIVILIZATION

  1. To know that Columbus was a Johnny-Come-Lately; that he rediscovered an America already peopled by millions of humans.
  2. To understand how European disease paved the way for conquest because of native immunities to the white man's viruses.
  3. To realize the biological slump that occurred to the New World and its people as a result of European invasions.
  4. To comprehend the impulses in the preceding centuries that contributed to the great voyages of discovery and explorations.
  5. To understand the unique character of English colonization.

II. ENGLISH PLANTATIONS

1. To ascertain the role of geography and climate in the creation of three distinctive regions in Colonial America.

2. To know that the Continental Shield, which left in New England poor soils but rich forests, compelled adoption of an economic system dependent upon ship building, trading and fishing.

3. To know that the rich soils of the Middle Colonies allowed for rapidly rising wheat production which brought both wealth and a pluralistic society.

4. To realize that climate, soil, rainfall, and an abundance of rivers that penetrated into the Piedmont produced a plantation single crop economic system heavily dependent upon slave labor.

5. To understand that the American sense of mission-messianism -- came with the Puritan concept of a "city on a hill."

6. To understand the role of the tritium, "God, Gold and Glory," in the establishment of most of these plantations.


III. AMERICAN THOUGHT AND CULTURE

1. To learn how the towering presence of Sir Isaac Newton profoundly affected man's conception of nature, God and mankind. Science revolutionized both man's thinking and fixed ideas.

2. To comprehend the seminal and lasting influences of the Great Awakening.

3. To note the growing development of a distinct American political theory as implemented in the many colonial governments.

4. To realize that flexible social stratification in America allowed "a nobody to become a somebody."

5. To understand the complex nature of colonial society and the growing differences between it and the mother country.


IV. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

1. To know the important events and their influences in the years 1763-1776 that led to revolt.

2. To understand the ideological dimensions of the conflict, especially the American "passion for minding their own affairs."

3. To grasp the factors of revenge, passion and irrationality in the conduct of decision makers. To realize that the rational model actor of decision making did not operate in this dispute.

4. To note the skill and subtly of patriotic propaganda in manipulating many of the undecided to embrace the Patriot cause.

5. To decide whether American is still a revolutionary nation committed to the values of justice, decency and freedom.

6. To consider the Y factor in history, and to ponder the future course of America had the controversy been settled within the framework of the empire.

7. To understand the enduring significance of the Declaration of Independence and what it means to mankind.

8. To know that victory depended upon not only fighting a different kind of war but the active involvement of France.


V. FORMING A NEW NATION

1. To know the basic structural weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation.

2. To understand why -- American fear of centralized power.

3. To note the critical unsolved problems after 1783 which demanded a more powerful and workable government.

4. To know the diverse forces and interests that were active in America and contributed to the formation and ratification of the Constitution.

5. To confront the question whether or not the Constitution is still a living and viable force or obsolete, for a post-technological society.


VI. THE YOUNG NATION: FROM WASHINGTON TO POLK

1. To know that the Federalists established many of the precedents for government that guide us today.

2. To understand how and why political parties emerged and the roles they played throughout our history.

3. To evaluate the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and what he means to America.

4. To understand that foreign policy is shaped by many domestic pressures as well as many foreign forces.

5. To ascertain the reasons why American fought another war with Great Britain.

6. To know that economic egalitarianism in Jacksonianism democracy was largely myth but that it did popularize the concept of the common man.


VII. ANTEBELLUM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

1. To understand the multiple factors responsible for the changing direction of the American economy and the "take off" of industrialization.

2. To form generalizations and judgements about the costs and consequences of industrialization.

3. To consider whether the expression "public enterprise for private profit" is an apt description of business during this period.

4. To assess the role of government in this vital transformation.

5. To identify the major characteristics of the period-immigration, technology, invention, factory system, urbanization.

6. To note the effect of a market economy on American institutions, thought and society, especially in undermining the role of women.


VIII. SLAVERY AND SOUTHERN CULTURE

1. To know that slavery existed as an economic and social phenomenon despite the professed belief of Americans in equality, liberty and justice.

2. To learn how the slave adjusted to the conditions of his bondage.

3. To understand that the chief beneficiaries of this noxious system were the planters and their hirelings.

4. To judge the accuracy and validity of the arguments presented in defense of "the peculiar institution."

5. To evaluate the contribution of slavery to sectional animosities.

6. To understand how slavery shaped American race attitudes and values until well into the twentieth century.


IX. REFORM, POLITICS, AND EXPANSIONISM, 1824-60

1. To perceive how and why American purchased Florida and the Louisiana territory.

2. To know the roots of American expansionism.

3. To understand how the quarrel over the boundary of Oregon was resolved.

4. To consider how war with Mexico could have been avoided.

5. To understand that cultural and political forces dictated the impatience America displayed toward Mexico.

6. To grasp the racial contempt that the "gringo" had for the "greaser" and its contribution to the war psychology.

7. To realize that the war aggravated sectional tensions.

8. To discern the long term consequences of the Mexican War.


X. SHATTERING THE UNION: THE MADNESS OF CIVIL WAR

1. To know the moral implications involved in the issue of slavery.

2. To identify the roots of the Civil War, especially the absence of leadership in the violent decade of the 1850's.

3. To understand the stubborn refusal of the abolitionist movement to accept compensated emancipation.

4. To recognize the growth of centralization as a world-wide phenomenon.

5. To ponder the future cause of America had the South triumphed in its decentralization attempt.

6. To evaluate the long term costs of the war on both sections.

7. To grasp the enormous impetus given to industrialization by the demands of war.

8. To know the dominating part played by America's greatest President (Abraham Lincoln) in the attainment of victory.


XI. EMERGENCE OF MODERN AMERICA, 1865-1915

1. To know that this period is one of great change.

2. To comprehend why cities grew and the problems created by unplanned helter-skelter expansion.

3. To grasp the fact that the essence of American industrialization lies not so much in what was invented as in the effects of these inventions on the fabric of American life.

4. To assess why most Americans believed that industry could develop without limitation and that the economy could expand indefinitely.

5. To know that the great issues of the country were settled by a cabal of industrialists and financiers.

6. To understand that the political foundations of the present, like the economic foundations, were laid in the late nineteenth century.

7. To understand that the vast influx of new immigrants who entered America during the years 1880-1914 created a reaction among Americans to limit the quality and quantity of new entrants to America.

8. To know the vast strides made during the Progressive Movement 1900-1915 in political, social and economic democracy.

 


XII. AMERICA'S QUEST FOR EMPIRE, 1865-1914

1. To know that overseas expansion was merely a continuation of what had preceded -- Manifest Destiny.

2. To understand the ideological motivations behind the Spanish American War and the desire for overseas territory.

3. To comprehend the causes and consequences of the Spanish American War, especially American involvement in Far Eastern politics.

4. To ask whether creation of an American empire was beneficial and to whom?

5. To know the meaning of Big Stick Diplomacy and Dollar Diplomacy and how and why the United States acquired the Panama Canal.


Last Revision: 1998 March 24
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