Course Info & Requirements



Info & Requirements
Unit Directory
Useful Resources
Final Paper

American History 621-Berkowitz

 Current Events & Political/Economic Literacy
 Absences and Lateness
 A Word about Plagiarism and Tutoring

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At its most rudimentary level, History 621 is a chronological survey course examining the history of the region we now call the United States.  By the time June comes along, each student will be expected to know the major events, figures, and social, cultural, economic, and political developments dating from the pre-Columbian era to the mid-20th century. To provide the necessary background, we will use a concise textbook, The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society (Concise Seventh Edition) [hereafter referred to as Nash]. I will also give background lectures.  At the same time, History 621 is also a course that asks each student to consider seriously what it means to be a historian. The most important materials that we will work with will be a rich variety of primary sources and scholarly writings.  The primary sources include everything from legislation, speeches, and broadsides to paintings, photos, and artifacts and even to music, movies, and radio broadcasts.  Like professional historians, we will closely examine these primary materials, make efforts to place them in their historical context, and use them to make historical arguments of our own. Our classroom work will also focus around the discussion of historical accounts and interpretations offered by a range of historians.  These “secondary” works, often in the form of scholarly articles from major historical journals, will serve a number of purposes.  The readings will show you how historians make arguments and reach conclusions.  They will introduce you to many of the major historical debates and controversies.  The readings will also introduce you to new or, at least, less conventional areas of historical study.

History 621
meets four times a week (one of the meetings is a double period).  You are expected to come to class on time, having done the readings, completed written assignments if requested, and ready to talk, discuss, and ask questions.  This is a discussion-based course; thus, everyone is expected to participate regularly and to contribute to class discussions.  Consistent lack of participation will affect your overall grade.  At the same time, you must listen to each other and make an effort to encourage your classmates to speak.

We will generally follow the chronology of your textbook; as such, the major themes that we will address are as follows:

Unit 1: Approaching History Unit 6: A House Dividing

Why Study History?

The 2nd Great Awakening

From History to Historiography

The Peculiar Institution

The Rise of the New Social History


Writing a History Essay

Manifest Destiny & Westward Expansion

            National History Standards

The Crisis of the 1850s


The Election of 1860 & Secession

Unit 2: Contact & Colonization

Strategy & Tactics

The Americas before Columbus


Native Americans & Contact

Why the North Won

European Settlement, 1492-1730


Early Colonial Society

  Unit 7: A Gilded Age

Political Dimension of Reconstruction

Unit 3: Paths to Revolution

Social Dimension of Reconstruction

The Great Awakening

The West

Imperial Wars


Prelude to the Revolution

Capital & Labor


Gilded Age Politics


Jim Crow & Segregation



Unit 4: Creating a Republic Unit 8: A Progressive Era/A New Deal?

The Revolution Within


Creating Republican Institutions


Shays Rebellion & the Constitution

World War I

Crisis of the 1790s

The Twenties


The Depression

Unit 5: A New Nation in Transformation

The New Deal

The Market & Industrial Revolutions


Democratic Expansion

Unit 9: World War II & Its Aftermath

Jacksonian Democracy

World War II

The Whig Worldview

The Cold War



Gary B. Nash, Julie Roy Jeffrey, et. al., Th
e American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, Vols. 1 & 2 (Concise Seventh  Edition) [Hereafter referred to as Nash.]
Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (Sixth Edition). [Referred to as PG.]

The course website, located at, should be the starting point for you each day. It is where all assignments, study questions, readings to be downloaded as well as ancillary materials such as maps, images, charts, optional readings, and web links can be found. You are expected to complete the readings and answer the study questions before each class meeting and will be called upon in class to discuss your homework. With the exception of Nash, you must bring all readings whether downloaded or in PG to class. Keeping up with assignments is the key to doing well in this class.  If you are having difficulty keeping up with your assignments, you should schedule a meeting with me to discuss study strategies.  On occasion, I will collect your homework assignments.  If you know an assignment will be collected, you must type it.

I do not require any particular kind of notebook for your note taking and for maintaining your handouts and printouts.  But no matter the system you employ, you are required to bring your notes, handouts, homework, quizzes, and documents for a particular unit to class. You should make every effort to include the date, the page numbers and a brief title on your notes and homework assignments.  The more organized your notebook, the easier it will be to prepare for tests, quizzes and essays.  If I feel the need, I will collect your notebook and assess it based on the above criteria.

If I find it necessary, you will have short (5 – 10 minute) quizzes to make sure that you have done the readings.  At the end of major units or after a significant number of assignments, you will have an in-class short-answer test or a take-home essay.  When you are assigned an essay, it must be typed with no grammatical or spelling errors. Unless otherwise noted, take-home essays are due by the end of Ad Hoc in the basket on my desk on the day that they are due.  Make sure that you have stapled your paper before handing it in.  Late papers will lose 1/3 a letter grade for each day that they are late. Be aware that each weekend and vacation day constitutes a full day.  If you think you will need an extension for a paper, you must ask at least two days before the due date though I generally do not give extensions since I give more than a week to write an essay. I do not accept essays via email. If you know that you will not be in school on the day an essay is due, you must have someone hand in your essay for you. This is the case even if you are sick on the day that it is due.

Current Events & Political/Economic Literacy
From time to time, generally, during the second half of the double-period meetings, we will discuss current events or other issues and content intended to help you develop your political and economic literacy.  I am open to suggestions as to topics to cover.

Absences and Lateness
If you are absent from a class, find out what you missed.  All information is provided on the website. Do NOT wait until class to find out what was due.  If you miss a test, you must make up the test the first day you are back.  Please review the section on attendance in the Upper School Handbook.  You should make every effort to come to class on time.  Repeated lateness will lower your participation grade.

Quizzes, collected assignments, unit tests, essays, and class participation will all together determine your grade.  There will also be an extended research paper during the second semester.  Grades are based on the criteria explained in the Upper School Handbook. Note: You must receive a passing grade on the final paper in order to pass the course.

A Word about Plagiarism and Tutoring
You must do your own work and you must not plagiarize!  Familiarize yourself with Trinity’s policy on academic integrity and plagiarism in the Upper School Handbook as well as the History Department’s policy on outside help.  If you are confused as to what “doing your own work” or plagiarism means or if you find yourself worried that you are in fact plagiarizing, come see me. Though help from a friend, parent, or tutor can be appropriate, excessive help is not. In fact, you must notify me if you have received any help from a tutor and what the nature of that help was. Ignorance or parental approval is no defense. Anyone caught not doing their own work or plagiarizing will receive a zero on the assignment and risk failing the course.  If you have received help on an assignment from a tutor, you must acknowledge that you have received such help in writing at the end of your assignment.


American History-Berkowitz