This course covers American history from the Great War for Empire (the French and Indian War) to the formation of a new national government under the Constitution. We focus primarily on the Revolution itself: its causes, its larger Atlantic context, the way it was fought, and its consequences for the many peoples of America. Students will get a chance to roll-play parts as witnesses at the Boston Massacre of 1770 and as delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. We will look at selected scenes from film versions of the events of this era: The Last of the Mohicans (for its depiction of the Fort William Henry massacre); Drums Along the Mohawk (that captures the terror on the New York frontier during the 1777 raid by British troops and their Iroquois allies); Mary Silliman's War (a recreation of the life of a Connecticut farm family during the war); The Crossing (both for Jeff Daniels' portrayal of George Washington and for what it tells us about the early days of the war); The Patriot (that reenacts the battle of Cowpens), and finally, Burn!, that will help us relate the American Revolution to the other monumental hemispheric revolution - that in Haiti. Reading will include a revolutionary war soldier's diary, the writings of Tom Paine, and a novel on the Haitian Revolution (All Souls Rising), as well as studies of the Fort William Henry massacre, the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765, occupied New York City during the Revolution, and the post-revolutionary Whiskey Rebellion. There will be a mid-term, a final, a paper, a film history journal, an optional extra credit paper, several short written assignments, and required discussion participation.Books to be Purchased:
Edmund Morgan and Helen
Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution (The
North Carolina Press, 1953, 1995, ISBN: 0807845132). Amazon.com price 19.95.
Thomas Slaughter, The
Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution (Oxford
University Press, 1986, ISBN: 0195051912). Amazon.com price $15.95.
Judith Van Buskirk, Generous
Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York
(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, ISBN: 0812218221) Amazon.com price: $18.95
OR Lawrence Babits, A
Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens (University of North
Carolina Press, 1998, ISBN: 080784926X) Amazon.com priceá $12.89.
2. Purchase the six required books above and one of the optional books. There is no text for the course, but you can expect to do about one hundred pages of reading each week. Except for Madison Smartt Bell, you will be assigned selections from all the books. Bell's novel will be read in its entirety and you will have a final exam question on the book. It is long, a little difficult to follow at first, and exceptionally disturbing at other times - you should start reading it early.3. Keep a journal throughout the semester in which you record your analysis of each film, answer questions about the film distributed before each viewing, and relate the film to the readings and lecture. The journal can be kept in a separate book or done on-line from notes, and it can be illustrated or annotated. All material, from books or the internet, must be cited. See statement about citations from the internet and about plagiarism. The journal will be collected several times during the semester and graded at least once. (20% of grade)..
4. You will write a
on your choice of one of the two books and a corresponding film (Generous
Enemies with the film, Mary Silliman's War ) OR
(Devil of a Whipping with the film, The Patriot).
Papers turned in one class late will be marked down one letter
grade; two classes late will receive an "F", and thereafter will
receive a "zero." (20% of the grade).
5. Most of you will have
opportunities to participate directly in group class discussions. We
will be recreating the debate over the Boston Massacre - as an
historical event, as a trial of
the British commanding officer, and as a subject of continuing
controversy. We will also recreate the debate that occurred at the
Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787 that occurred over the
nature and meaning of representation. In addition, specific students
will be asked to play a leading role in discussion of specific chapters
of the assigned readings.
6. There will be several short quizzes on the assigned readings. There will also be several short (one page) assignments given out about some of these readings. The readings will include both the selections from the books above and handouts distributed occasionally for the class. Not all collected papers and quizzes will be graded, but some of each paper or quiz will be. These graded papers and quizzes and your discussion participation count 20% of the grade.7. Attend Class. Attendance is expected and required. You will be asked to sign in every day and quizzes at the end of class will occasionally be used to assure students have remained in class. Signing in for another student is considered academic dishonesty and will result in college action. Please do not take this class if you do not expect to attend. You have three unexcused absences that will not count against you in any way. Excused absences are religious holidays AND, with written documentation, medical problems, university athletic participation, legal/court appearances, family deaths. Students who sign in and leave early, without notifying the professor they must do so, will receive three unexcused absences. Arriving late three times will result in an unexcused absence. If your have four unexcused absences your course grade is lowered one complete letter grade; if you have six unexcused absences, you fail the course. With ten absences, excused or unexcused, you can not get credit for the course. IF YOU HAVE NO UNEXCUSED ABSENCES (excluding those for religious holidays, documented illness, etc.) YOU WILL HAVE THREE POINTS ADDED TO YOUR SCORE ON THE FINAL EXAM (enough to raise, for example, a B- to a B).
Schedule of Lectures, Films, and Reading Assignments:Jan. 21 (W) Introduction -- Films: The Flag and The Patriot
Jan. 26 (M) George Washington's America, c. 1759
Revolution, Map, "Pattern of Settlement," p. xix, and
Part I, pp. 3-34.
Steele, Betrayals, Chapters, 1-2
Steele, Betrayals, Chapters 4-5
Quiz No 1: Betrayals (In class and open book)
Revolution, Part II, pp. 24-44.
Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, Chapters, 1-3.
Morgan, Stamp Act Crisiás, Chapters, 5, 8, 11Feb. 11 (W) Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
Revolution, Part III, pp. 47-62
Morgan, Stamp Act Crisis, Chapters, 16, 17
Massacre Home Page
Paine, "Common Sense" - selection
Revolution, Part IV, pp. 65-88.
"Declaration of Independence" - handout
Mar. 4 (W) War: New York to Trenton (1776-1777)
Revolution, Maps, pp. xx-xxii, and Chronology, pp.
Martin, Private Yankee Doodle, 1777 & 1778
Yankee Doodle, 1780 & 1781
SPRING RECESS --- Extra Credit Assignment: Visit a Revolutionary/Constitutional Era ParkMar. 23 (M) Film: Drums Along the Mohawk
Mar. 25 (W)
April 6 (M): Mary Silliman's War
(Film - first 45 minutes) - Note: students doing paper on this
film should have read Van Buskirk, Generous Enemies. Journal
Assignment: write at least a page explaining how you would have handled
the problem Mary faced – her feelings about the war, about her loyalist
neighbors, and saving her husband. Where her choices
appropriate? morally defensible?
Lectrure: The American Revolution in the Lands of Native Americans - Part 2
April 8 (W): Mary Silliman's War (Film - second 45 minutes)
Lecture: Freedom for Whom: African Americans, Slavery, and Emancipation
Wood, American Revolution, Part V, VI, VII, pp. 91-166.
April 13 (M): War:
Charles Town, Camden, Cowpens, and Guilford Court House (1780-1781)
- selections from the film The Patriot -
Note: students doing paper on this film should have read Babits, A Devil of a Whipping
Everyone reads: Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls' Rising, Prologue and Part I
April 15 (W): Forming a New Government - Background to the Constitutional Convention
Smartt Bell, All Souls' Rising,
Slaughter, The Whiskey Rebellion, Introduction and Part One (Chapters 1-5)
April 20 (M) The Constitutional Convention:
1. Reading assignment
2. Delegate assignment:
Document Source (1) Clemens Webpage on Constitutional
(2) Teaching American History Page : http://teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/introduction.html
April 22 (W) - Flim: Burn!
Thomas Paine, The Thomas Paine Reader,
Chapter 11, "The Rights of Man"
Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls' Rising, Part III
Slaughter, Whiskey Rebellion, Part Two (Chapters 6-10)
Paper Due on Generous Enemies or Devil of a Whipping
April 27 (M): The Haitian Revolution
Slaughter, Whiskey Rebellion, Part III (Chapters11-13) and
April 29 (W): Film: Burn! (Conclusion).
Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls' Rising, Part IV and Envoi
May 4 (M): catch up day!
The Last of The
Mohicans (1920) Directed by Maurice Tourneur/Clarence
Brown. 75 Minutes. This silent adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's
novel is set in colonial America during the French and Indian Wars, and
pits the fierce warrior Magua (Wallace Beery) against Hawkeye and his
adopted brothers, Uncas and Chingachgook. With Barbara Bedford, Albert
Roscoe, James Gordon and Boris Karloff. From the New York Times review
of January 3, 1921:
Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" has been made into a
motion picture by Maurice Tourneur, with the assistance of Clarence L.
Brown, and is at the Strand this week. Those who go to see it from a
bothersome sense of duty -
in themselves or in their parents - expecting to be rather wearied by
the rehashing of an old story that must necessarily be dull because it
is called an "American classic" and is read in the public schools, are
in for an agreeable surprise. They will see a regular melodrama as
exciting as any they are likely to encounter in any number of screen
tours, and if it is at the same time a costume story with early
American settings, they won't mind that much. If they don't watch out,
they may even find themselves enjoying the background as well as the
action. For Mr. Tourneur has used the magic of his camera to
give Cooper's story the quality of life on the screen. One who must
confess that he read the original so long ago - it was taught in his
elementary school - that he has forgotten the details of its narrative
cannot say how closely the picture follows it, but that Mr. Tourneur
has made a suspensive melodrama in an interesting setting suggestive of
frontier life is an evident fact. It seems authentic, too, except when
some of the"Indians" get too close to the camera. Why did Mr. Tourneur
try to make an Indian out of Wallace Beery? He is the bad man of the
story and is certainly sufficiently evil looking. But Indian! And
Albert Roscoe, the noble red man, the last of the Mohicans? If so, the
Mohicans must have intermarried with other races extensively before
they died out and lost their traits and barbaric dignity as well as
their racial characteristics. And many of the "Indians" in the "crowd
scenes" look much more like African than American aborigines. This
miscasting has seriously weakened the picture. Nevertheless, there is
much by way of compensation. The story itself is full of the kind of
action that holds the interest because it means something, and its
proceeds directly to its logically tragic ending. Also Mr. Tourneur did
not just photograph his scenery and people literally; He composed his
pictures. With lights and shadows skillfully arranged, objects
artistically placed, distances effectively measured, he put into his
film more than any one would have observed in the reality before his
camera. A great may of the thrills on the screen would have been lost
by merely literal photography. There are too many subtitles, some of
them needless and others that could have been made so, but there are
also many things in the picture themselves that are a pure delight. A
number of the scenes are the kind that stick in the memory. There is no
fault to find with the casting of the white characters. Barbara Bedford
as Cora Munro, Henry Woodward as Major Heyward, George Hackathorne as
Captain Randolph and Nelson McDowell as David Gamut are especially
good.Mr. Tourneur has made an extraordinary picture, seriously marred
in one particular.
The Last of the
Mohicans (1936). Directed by George B. Seitz. 91 Minutes.
From All Movie Guide: From All Movie Guide Randolph Scott has one of
his best roles as Hawkeye in this exciting film adaptation of James
Fenimore Cooper's often filmed novel.
During the brutal French and Indian War, Hawkeye is prevailed upon to
Major Duncan Heyward (Henry Wilcoxon), and the two daughters of Fort
Henry commander Colonel Munro (Hugh Buckler) -- Alice (Binnie Barnes)
Cora (Heather Angel) -- to safety through enemy lines. Hawkeye is
by his Indian friend Chingachgook (Robert Barrat), and Uncas (Philip
Reed), Chingachgook's son; the two are the last survivors of the
Mohican tribe. During
their travels to the fort, Alice falls in love with Hawkeye, while Cora
in love with Uncas. But along the way, the band is continually harassed
the demonic Huron Indian Magua (Bruce Cabot). Magua causes the deaths
Cora and Uncas, while the British are attacked by the Hurons and the
and forced to flee Fort William Henry. Hawkeye is taken prisoner by the
Hurons and Maj. Heyward must organize a band to rescue Hawkeye before
is tortured to death.
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939). Directed by John Ford. 103 Minutes. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda are featured in this story of Colonial life in upstate New York during the Revolutionary War. DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK shows how the depredations of Indian warriors, guided by British tacticians, tempered ragged backwoods militia into a tough able army, united behind Washington and the new American flag. To find suitable Mohawk Valley scenery, director Ford took his company to a timbered Utah plateau. Morman farmers were happily recruited as extras and mild Navaho and Piute Indians were transmuted into fierce Iroquois tribesmen. To heighten the drama, historical sidelights are deleted from the novel by Walter D. Edmonds and Colbert is given more sophistication than the original Lana possessed. The popularity of Claudette Colbert (since her 1934 performance in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) rested largely on her charm and aptitude for deft, bubbling comedy roles. To an interviewer, she once mentioned that out of every six pictures, she would like to play four comedies, one drama and one spectacle. In DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, Claudette has her chance at drama with a good many spectacular overtones. As Lana Martin, the city bred wife of a New York frontiersman, she enacts a difficult emotional part with extraordinary skill and sensitivity. Fine battle scenes, handsome Technicolor (Colbert's dresses are always lovely and clean and the Indian's blanket is as spotless as a cardinal's robe!) and superior performances by Miss Colbert, Henry Fonda and Edna May Oliver place this film in the category of classic U.S. historical films. (Taken from Amazon.com web site).The Crossing (1999). Directed by Robert Harmon. 100 Minutes. From All Movie Guide: Adapted by screenwriter Howard Fast from his own fact-based novel, this historical drama tells the story of one of the most unexpected triumphs of the American Revolutionary War. In December 1776, the armies of General George Washington (Jeff Daniels) are near the point of collapse; short on money and supplies, ravaged by disease, their numbers thinned by desertion, and freezing in summer uniforms in the midst of a brutal winter, it seems all but impossible that the Colonial Army can hold out much longer against the British Army and their allied German Hessian forces. With imminent defeat a clear possibility, Washington and his troops organize for an audacious surprise attack against the British soldiers on Christmas Day, hinging on the crossing of the freezing Delaware River in the middle of a storm. Co-starring Roger Rees, The Crossing was produced for broadcast by the Arts and Entertainment cable television network.
Benedict Arnold: A
Question of Honor (2002). Directed by Mikael
Salomon. 100 Minutes. From All Movie Guide: If one is to believe this
made-for-cable biopic, America's most notorious turncoat Benedict
Arnold sold out his country primarily for the love of a woman.
Acknowledged as a hero of the Revolutionary War by his commanding
officer, General George Washington (Kelsey Grammer), after bringing
about the British surrender at Saratoga in 1776, Benedict Arnold (Aidan
Quinn) is robbed of public acclaim by a glory-grabbing fellow officer
and by the ceaseless politicking of the Continental Congress. Making
matters worse, Arnold
has lost what little money he has through misfortune and bad
investments. At the urging of his Philadelphia-born fiancé (and
future second wife), the pro-British Peggy Shippen (Flora Montgomery),
Arnold decides to cast his
lot with the Redcoats, ultimately entering into a plot to assassinate
former comrade-in-arms, Washington. Filmed in Ireland under the title
Eagle: Benedict Arnold, Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor made its
TV debut over the A&E cable network on January 13, 2003, and within
month it had been released on VHS and DVD. Note: film will not be shown but an
extra-credit assignment is available to students who wish to view and
respond to the film.
Mary Silliman's War
(1994). Mary Silliman's War is a unique, award-winning film on the
American Revolution. Shot on location in Nova Scotia, the film relates
the true story of a remarkable woman, whose husband, a patriot leader,
was kidnapped from their home by a band of tories -- Americans loyal to
the King of England. Left to fend for herself and their children as she
sought her husband's release, Mary Silliman's story presents the War
for Independence in a way that is fresh
and engaging to a modern audience. Mary Silliman's War was produced by
Films, under the auspices of The Institute for Early American History
Colonial Williamsburg, VA. It is based on the biography by Richard and
Day Buel, The Way of Duty (Norton, 1984).
(2000). Directed by Roland Emmerich. 165 Minutes. From All Movie Guide:
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the director/producer team responsible
such sci-fi blockbusters as Independence Day, Stargate, and Godzilla,
a step back in time with this drama set during the American Revolution.
Farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) was born and raised in South
and fought bravely during the French-Indian wars. But since the death
his wife, Benjamin has renounced violence and quietly tends his crops,
his seven children alone. In 1776, over Benjamin's objections, his
son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) joins the fight against the British. Gabriel
from battle seriously wounded, with Lord General Cornwallis (Tom
calling for his arrest. A skirmish breaks out on Benjamin's plantation,
one of his children is killed as Gabriel is captured by Col. Tavington
Isaacs) and sentenced to hang. Benjamin sets aside his vow of pacifism
rescues Gabriel; with the help of his former comrade-in-arms Harry
(Chris Cooper), the father and son form a regiment of Carolina patriots
cunning and ruthlessness make them heroes among the colonists -- and
men by British troops. Loosely adapted from the true story of Francis
and filmed on location in South Carolina, The Patriot was the first
film made with the cooperation of the Smithsonian Institute, who
the producers on historical accuracy. Joely Richardson also stars as
Benjamin's sister-in-law who helps him care for the children.
Burn! a.k.a. Queimada! (1969). 112 Minutes. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. From All Movie Guide: Sir William Walker (Marlon Brando) is the aristocratic secret agent sent by Britain to secure a profitable Portuguese sugar cane plantation for the Crown. When he arrives, he befriends the black dockworker Jose (Evaristo Marquez) and plants revolutionary ideas in his head. Walker talks Jose into robbing a bank and builds him up as a national hero in the process. Teddy Sanchez (Renato Salvatori) is the hotel desk clerk with political aspirations who falls under Walker's spell. The blacks revolt on the night of a festival parade that allows them to be disguised and move around without suspicion. Jose turns his troops over to Teddy, who assumes control of the island. Walker returns to Britain but is summoned ten years later to stop a revolution led by Jose against the now corrupt government headed by Teddy. British troops attack the island and hundreds are killed including Teddy who is executed for treason. The sugar cane crops perish in flames when Jose mounts an attack against the British. When William offers him freedom, Jose refuses by stating "freedom is something you take for yourself." Jose is assassinated and becomes yet another martyr for the cause against colonialism. A drunk and despondent William prepares to leave the island realizing he is just as much a pawn as the men he initially incited to revolt.