HIS 317L • RACE AND REVOLUTION
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
This class will examine one of the great paradoxes in the history of the United States: that the era of the American Revolution, the era during which the new nation formally dedicated itself to the proposition that "all men are created equal" and formulated a sense of citizenship based on choice and consent rather than heredity and blood, was also the great era of race formation in the United States. To study this paradox we will attend to two of the signal injustices of the American Revolution - the maintenance of chattel slavery and the moves toward "removal" of Native Americans in the new republic - but not simply to chart those injustices. Instead we will try to understand how and why senses of racial identity emerged among people of European descent, people of African descent, and Native Americans during this era. In order to do this, we will begin by discussing the first sixty years of the Eighteenth Century when ethnic/national divisions among Europeans, among Africans, and among Indians remained important counterweights to latent notions of racial difference separating the three "racial" groups. We will then turn to the Revolutionary Era itself and sketch out the basic causes of the movement for American independence as well as the political narrative of the foundation of the new nation, paying attention to the roles of blacks and Indians as well as the effects of the movement and war for independence upon them. During the final third of the class we will turn toward a more detailed analysis of the emergence of white, red and black racial identities during the era of the new republic. The central challenge of this final section of the class will be to make sense of the internal dynamics through which many members of each "racial" group came to see themselves as racially distinct, while also seeking to understand the broader social, cultural, economic and political forces that help explain why the three senses of racial identity developed at roughly the same time. Class format: This class will be run as a modified lecture class; most class time will be devoted to lectures, but we will spend some time each week discussing the assigned reading.
Grading policy: Grades will be based on three take-home exams (each will count 30% of final grade) and attendance (10%). Students will receive credit for rewriting essays on the first two exams.
Gordon Wood, The American Revolution Betty Wood, Slavery in Colonial American Daniel Richter, Looking East from Indian Country Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom Other readings listed on the syllabus will be made available either through a course packet or Blackboard.