This course surveys American political thought from the colonial era to the Civil War. Topics covered include the meaning and consequences of the first encounters between American Indians and Europeans; Puritan and Quaker concepts of mission, the individual, community, and liberty; the rise of the idea of the “self-made” man; the ideology of the American revolution; debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the Constitution; Jeffersonian republicanism and Jacksonian democracy; democratic culture; the conflict over slavery; the question of women’s equality; and the relationship between freedom, the rule of law, and popular sovereignty.
1. To obtain a basic knowledge of the history of American political thought from the seventeenth century to the Civil War, as well as a sense of the historical trajectory of American ideas about freedom, equality, and democracy.
2. To expand our ability to connect past to present, so that our political arguments are more historically informed.
3. To conduct political dialogue with sympathy, critical attention, passion, and respect.
4. To strengthen our command of English prose through careful writing.