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HIS 248: The American Constitution in Historical Perspective

Course Description

This course will focus on the origins and unfolding of the American Constitutional System in its written and unwritten practices from the American Revolution through the twentieth century. Learners will examine constitutional developments, both within their historical contexts and against the backdrop of powerful forces that have influenced American society.

This course is an approved survey course in United States History for teacher certification in Connecticut.

Prerequisite

  • None

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the dynamics by which the American constitutional system functions in theory and in practice
  2. Demonstrate the relationships between the written Constitution and the unwritten practices and institutions which permit it to remain an effective instrument
  3. Analyze the social, political, economic and behavioral experience which provide the historical context for constitutional change
  4. Interpret consistently the significant constitutional issues over the period of time covered by the course
  5. Adopt positions on public issues in American constitutional history and support those positions with a combination of factual historical evidence and argumentation.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading

Assignments
Points
Weight

Participation in Discussion/Exchange with Other Learners through Focused Queries

200

20%

Weekly Open Book Quizzes (13 @ 40 points each*)

400

40%

Term Project

200

20%

Final Examination Week 15

200

20%

Total

1000

100%

*Note: The instructor will drop the three lowest submitted grades.

Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak's online bookstore

  • Urofsky, Melvin. A March of Liberty: Constitutional History of the United States Volume 1. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN-10: 0-19-538273-0 or ISBN-13: 978-0-19-538273-0
  • Urofsky, Melvin. A March of Liberty: Constitutional History of the United States Volume 2. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN-10: 0-19-538274-9 or ISBN-13: 978-0-19-538274-7
  • Gerber, Richard (2009). The System: The American Constitution in Historical Perspective 1763-1929. Cengage, 2009. ISBN-10: 1-4240-6836-3 or ISBN-13: 978-1-4240-6836-4

Additional Resources

From time to time reading materials may be posted by Professor Gerber under Course Documents. These will also become required reading.

Course Schedule

Week

SLOs

Readings and Exercises

Assignments

1

1,2

Topic: Introduction to the American Constitutional System
  • Gerber, System, Ch. “Thoughts Before”
  • American Constitutional System
  • The Written Constitution and the Unwritten
  • Read assigned chapter
  • Respond to Focus Queries

2

3,5

Topic: Invention of the American Republic – Part 1
  • Imperial Reform and the Rights of Englishmen
  • The American Revolution and Constitutional Legitimacy
  • The First American System
  • Gerber: Chapters 1 & 2
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 3, 4 & 5
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries
3

1-5

Topic: Invention of the American Republic - Part II
  • The Constitutional Convention – Major Issues
  • Revolution By Ratification
  • Gerber: Chapters 4 & 5
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapter 6
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

4

1-5

Topic: Constitutional Consolidation and American Nationalism – Part I
  • Launching the New Government
  • The Washington Administration
  • Gerber: Chapter 6
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 7 & 8
  • Read assigned chapter and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

5

1-5

Topic: Constitutional Consolidation and American Nationalism – Part II
  • The “Revolution of 1800”
  • Jefferson’s Attack on the Judiciary
  • The War of 1812
  • Postwar American Nationalism Gerber: Chapters 7 & 8
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 9, 10 & 13
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries
  • Term Projects begin –  selection of topics

6

1-5

Topic: Constitutional Consolidation and American Nationalism – Part III
  • The Marshall Court and Judicial Nationalism
  • Jacksonian Democracy and the Constitution
  • Gerber: Chapters 9 & 10
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 11, 12, 14 & 15
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

7

1-5

Topic: The Emergence of Sectional Conflict
  • John C. Calhoun and the Institution of Slavery
  • The Whigs Discover America
  • James K. Polk and American Manifest Destiny
  • Gerber:  Chapters 11 & 12
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 16 & 17
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

8

1-5

Topic: System Failure, System Repair – Part I

  • The Slavery Extension Controversy: 1848-1860
  • The System Collapses: Onset of the Civil War
  • Gerber: Chapter 14
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 18 & 19
  • Read assigned chapter and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

9

1-5

Topic: System Failure, System Repair – Part II

  • Rigidity and Adaptation – Versions of Survival
  • Constitutional Interpretation During the Civil War
  • Gerber: Chapters 15 &16
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: no assignment
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

10

1-5

Learning Unit 10: System Failure, System Repair – Part III

  • The Enactment of Reconstruction:  Restoration and Revision
  • Reconstruction Winds Down
  • Gerber: Chapters 17 & 18
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapter 20
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

11

1-5

Topic: The System Responds to Industrialism – Part I

  • The Rise of Consolidated Enterprise
  • Institutional Responses to Industrialism
  • Gerber:  Chapters 19 & 20
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 21 & 22
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

12

1-5

Topic: The System Responds to Industrialism Part II

  • The System Cracks
  • The “Due Process” Revolution
  • Gerber: Chapters 21 & 22
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapter 23
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries
  • Submit Term Project

13

1-5

Topic: The Transformation of Constitutional Culture

  • Imperialism and Reform
  • Political and Constitutional Consequences of Progressivism
  • Gerber: Chapters 23 and 24
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 24, 25 & 26
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

14

1-5

Topic: The Constitution and Modern War

  • American Participation in World War I
  • The Peace Settlement After World War I
  • The Nineteen Twenties
  • Gerber: Chapters 25, 26, and 27
  • Urofsky and Finkleman: Chapters 27, 28 & 29
  • Read assigned chapters and documents
  • Take open-book quiz
  • Respond to Focus Queries

15

1-5

Topic: Dynamics and the Constitutional Capacity to Adapt to Changing Conditions

  • Review of Constitutional Dynamics “Rights for Order” – Analysis
  • Internalizing Conflict
  • Submit Final Exam
  • Complete Course Evaluation
Final Exam
SLO's-All

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Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.