History | Era of American Revolution
A300 | 3113 | Laughlin-Schultz


Above section open to undergraduates only

The image above depicts the so-called “Boston Tea Party,” when, three
years prior to the Declaration of Independence, a group of colonists
dumped chests of tea into the Boston harbor to protest taxes passed
by the British Parliament. What angered the colonists? How did this
act of protest lead to the American Revolution? How was a new nation
established after independence was won? How are events of this era
remembered today?

This course offers a broad history of the era of the American
Revolution, roughly spanning the forty-year period from 1763 until
1803, and it is arranged around the theme of imagination. Colonists—
and then Americans—had a new world to imagine, first in declaring
independence, then in fighting one of the most powerful militaries in
the world, and finally in creating and enacting a new, free
government. What did colonists and Americans imagine when they saw
the world? What did freedom mean to them, first as colonists and then
as citizens of a new nation? How was ‘a nation’ created out of many
different colonies? How did different groups imagine freedom, and
what conflicts resulted? We will answer these questions in four
chronological units: 1) Colonial Discussion and Resistance, 1763–
1775; 2) Enacting Revolution, 1776–1783; 3) “Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness”: Outlining a Government; and 4) Making a Free
Nation: The Early Republic, 1789–1803.

There are three main goals of this class: that you learn more about
the era of the Revolution, that you learn how to better read and
analyze historical documents, and that you acquire a sense of how the
past lives on in the American present (and in historical memory).
Readings include Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (a pamphlet published
and widely read throughout the colonies in 1776), Linda Kerber’s
Women of the Republic, Alfred Young’s The Shoemaker and the Tea
Party: Memory and the American Revolution, and a variety of short
primary and secondary excerpts from Major Problems in the Era of the
American Revolution. Assignments will include daily readings, a
midterm, a final exam, and short writing assignments.