Fall, 1999

It was a violent country, with a booming, expansive economy. Its people had an insatiable desire for more land, and when the Indians got in the way, they were removed, one way or another. It produced extraordinary leaders like Jackson--an angry, talented man, whose courtly manners barely concealed his crude background--and a hoard of "confidence men" who blurred the line between respectability and deception.

The most inclusive democracy in the world, it nevertheless shaped its politics around white supremacy. The Democratic Party rallied at the minstrel show, where whites in blackface made grotesque jokes at the slave's expense, and the Party showed mostly contempt for the women who attacked legal inequality.

The "market revolution" transformed American life in radical ways, including the development of urban slums. Frustrated citizens developed dozens of new religions to help make sense of the changes.

You can explore these changes through the six sites listed on the syllabus. We will not follow a chronological path; instead, this course is thematic. It has been organized into six "places" we will use as sites to explore.

The course makes heavy use of the internet. If you are uncomfortable with computers, then you might not want to take this course.

Required Readings
(at the GMU bookstore or online at Amazon)
John William Ward, Andrew Jackson, Symbol for an Age

Harriet Jacobs (Linda Brent), Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz, The Kingdom of Matthias

David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness

William Holmes McGuffey, McGuffey's Third Eclectic Reader

George Foster, New York by Gaslight

Perdue and Green eds., The Cherokee Removal


Two 3-5 Page Papers

Final 8-10 Page Paper

Class Participation






the Syllabus