HIST211: Introduction to United States History - Colonial Period to Reconstruction

Course Syllabus for "HIST211: Introduction to United States History - Colonial Period to Reconstruction"

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This course will introduce you to United States history from the colonial period to the Civil War and Reconstruction. You will learn about the major political, economic, and social changes that took place in America during this 250-year period. The course will be structured chronologically, with each unit focusing on a significant historical subject in early American history. The units will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes, such as the development of British America, the founding of the American republic, and the crisis of the federal union that led to the Civil War. By the end of the course, you will understand how the American federal union was founded, expanded, and tested from 1776 to its collapse in 1861.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • analyze the first encounters between the Native inhabitants of North America with Spanish, French, and English colonizers and determine the effect of European colonization on Native Americans;
  • describe and assess the creation of English/British America;
  • interpret the main social, political, and economic development of colonies in British North America, including the emergence of a slave economy;
  • analyze how and why an independent United States was created in 1776 by interpreting the ideological, political, and economic roots of American independence developed through the Seven Years’ War, the Imperial Crisis, and the American Revolution;
  • analyze the myriad political and economic crises that plagued the Early American Republic in the 1780s and 1790s and identify and describe the expansion of slavery, partisan politics, economic innovation, westward expansion, and the outbreak of the War of 1812;
  • interpret the main developments of the Age of Jackson: the Indian Removal Act, the Nullification Crisis, the rise of the Whig Party, and the Bank War;
  • explore the definition of democracy in 1820s and 1830s America;
  • analyze the era of reform in antebellum America and identify and describe the emergence of new religious groups – Shakers, Mormons, evangelicals – as well as moral reformers who sought to curb alcoholism, improve the prison system, increase women’s rights, end slavery, or modify the American education system;
  • analyze antebellum America and the emergence of sectionalism and identify and describe how Northerners’ and Southerners’ apparently opposing viewpoints about labor systems, political economy, and race often obscured many similarities batween the two;
  • analyze the impact of the ideology of Manifest Destiny on the development of the American West as it affected Native Americans and white settlers;
  • identify and describe the West, the California Gold Rush, the Mexican War, and the contested boundary in the Pacific Northwest;
  • interpret how the question of slavery’s expansion affected American political parties and law and created sectional conflict – both political and ideological – between 1820 and the 1850s;
  • analyze the American Civil War and identify and describe how and why the federal union that was created in 1776 collapsed in 1861;
  • assess the major facets of the American Civil War, including military engagements, the home fronts, Lincoln’s presidency, and the question of slavery; and
  • identify the objectives of presidential and congressional Reconstruction following the Civil War and assess the impact of Reconstruction on Caucasian and African American residents of the American South.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (Adobe Reader, Flash, etc.);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed all courses listed in the Core Program of the History discipline. This requirement only applies to those students who are seeking the equivalency of a full History degree.

Course Information

Welcome to HIST211: Introduction to United States History: Colonial Period to Reconstruction. Some general information about this course and its requirements can be found below.
Course Designer: Angela Bowie & Dr. David Toye

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced material presented in the later units. In order to pass this course, you will need to complete the final exam and earn 70% or higher. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you finish it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for it, you will need to work through the assignments and all the reading material in the course.

Time Commitment: Completing this course should take you a total of 162.75 hours. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These advisories should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at the time advisories, determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then set goals for yourself. 

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.