History of the United States,

Fall 2008
History 206-015
Univ. of Delaware
David Suisman

Office: Munroe 118 - Tel. (302) 831-2386
Email: dsuisman at udel.edu
Office hours: Mondays 2.30-3.30, Wednesdays 12-1,
and by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Nate Wiewora
Email: wiewora at udel.edu
Munroe 128
Office hours: Fridays 10-12

William Eggleston photo
(Photo by William Eggleston)

For easy reference, BOOKMARK this webpage

Course Description
Graded Assignments & Requirements
Policies: Email, Attendance, Grading and Plagiarism
Required Readings
Film Screenings
Schedule: September - October - November - December

Updated: Dec. 5, 2008
The URL for this webpage is: www.udel.edu/History/suisman/206_08-Fall/syllabus.html
Photo credits for this web page: here

*New* - A memo about the IDs that will be on exam and the slight change in format - here

- Study tips on getting the most out of the reading

Course Description

President Bush has said repeatedly that terrorists hate the United States because "they hate our freedom." It is not clear, however, exactly what that means, because there is no one single definition of freedom. In the course of the nation's history no concept has been so central--and so contested--as freedom. There have been many ideas and definitions of freedom in the United States, some of which have been directly at odds with each other. We will explore how ideas of freedom have changed over time and will seek to gain greater perspective on what freedom means in the present.

The primary tool we will employ in this study is critical thinking. A great deal of our work will involve analysis and interpretation of historical sources. You will not simply be reading history; you yourselves will become historians  when you read letters, advertisements, speeches and other documents from the past and learn to make inferences and draw significant historical conclusions. Interpreting evidence is the basic work that historians do, and it is the key to understanding how the past was both like and unlike the world we know today.

Graded assignments

* Dates quiz - 5% of final grade - in lecture, Monday, Sep. 8, in class

* Paper 1 - 15% - due Monday, Sep. 22, in lecture -
  Description of the assignment here

* Midterm exam - 20% - due Monday, Oct. 20

* Paper 2 - 20% - due Monday, Dec. 8
  Description of the assignment here

* Final exam - 30% - Friday, Dec. 12

* Attendance and active participation in section and lecture - 10%


A word about participation: Learning is an active process, not a passive one. If you don't understand something in lecture or discussion, ask! It is expected that every student will engage with the course materials and will participate intelligently in discussion sections. On a much cruder level, talking, text-messaging, and falling asleep, in class will NOT be tolerated; it is rude and distracting to those around you.


All papers must be handed in at the beginning of class on the day they are due. Late papers will be penalized one whole letter grade the first day they are late and one third of a letter grade for every day after that. No papers will be accepted more than two weeks after the due date. All papers must be handed in on paper, unless you have made special arrangements with your instructor or TA to accept a version as an email attachment. Under no circumstances will a paper be accepted if it is pasted into the body of an email.

The First Vote
Alfred R. Waud. "The First Vote."
From Harper's Weekly,
November 16, 1867

Policies: Email, Grading, and Plagiarism


A word about email etiquette. When you email your friends, you can be as informal as you like. When you email a professor or a TA, however, it is a good idea to be polite and to present yourself well. "Hey" might be fine in the subject line to a friend; it's not in the subject line to a professor. Your friends might not care if you don't capitalize when you write them, but to your TA, it might look like you just don't care enough to write properly or don't know better.

I may communicate with the class--occasionally--via email. You will be responsible for reading and responding accordingly to these emails. If you have questions about them (or any other aspect of the course) it is your responsibility to ask.

(Some of you may prefer to use outside email accounts--hotmail or whatever--instead of your UD address. However, because I will be emailing the class only through the UD email addresses, you will need to insure that your UD email is forwarded to whatever account you use. Instructions for email forwarding can be found here.)


Attendance is required in both lecture and discussion section. If you miss class, you are responsible for you miss. I will not provide notes or Power Point slides to those who are absent.

The main purpose of the sections is to give you the opportunity to engage with the course material more actively and directly than is possible in lecture. This is an essential part of the class, which depends on you--your mind as well as your body--coming to section and being ready to participate. If you are forced to miss section because of illness or other short-term emergency, please contact your section leader (either me or your TA) before the section meets. For longer term absences, you will have to get documentation from the Assistant Dean's Office.


Grades will be awarded according to the following scale.

A - Superb work: ideas and opinions are supported by thorough and persuasive use of evidence - lucid, polished writing (well-organized, with clear transitions, free of grammatical, syntactical and typographic errors) - thoughtful, original thinking - sophisticated appreciation of complexities and ambiguities in evidence and analysis - no factual errors

B - Good work: clear ideas, supported by appropriate evidence - solid writing skills, with few grammatical, syntactical or typographical errors - generally accurate command of factual material - reasonable analysis and interpretation - competent grasp of historical context and conceptual frameworks

C - Acceptable but undistinguished work: writing contains significant factual errors and/or lacks a clear argument - weak or shallow grasp of historical context and/or conceptual frameworks - written work reflects superficial or spotty reading - ideas are unclear, contradictory, inaccurate, obvious - arguments
inadequately supported by evidence - weak writing skills (including poor organization, awkward or nonexistent transitions, serious or recurring errors in grammar, syntax, or spelling)

D / F - Unacceptable work: fails to fulfill the assignment in significant ways - total absence of evidence to support arguments - major and/or recurring factual errors - insufficient grasp of historical context and/or conceptual frameworks - serious reading problems or comprehension of sources - too short - poor organization of writing - no transitions between ideas - severe problems with language skills (syntax, grammar, spelling) - sloppy, overrun with typographical errors


Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else's work as your own. It is a form of dishonesty--a form of cheating, in fact--and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Plagiarism is not limited to using another person's exact words; using someone else's ideas without attribution is also a form of plagiarism. The amount you plagiarize doesn't matter: cheating is cheating. The good news about plagiarism is that it is easily avoided by clearly citing your sources. If you do, you can safely sidestep even the hint of improper usage of someone else's work. Any student found to have plagiarized on any assignment will not be permitted to pass the course. If you have any questions about plagiarism, do not hesitate to ask.


The following books have been ordered at the UD bookstore:

  • Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History, 2e, Vol. 2 (W. W. Norton)
  • Steven Stoll, U.S. Environmentalism since 1945: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin's)
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (Vintage, 1995) - N.B.: Many editions of this text are available and any will do.
You will also be asked to read a number of documents online, which are linked below. You should print these out and bring them to section. It is expected that you will read not only the document itself but also any accompanying introduction or "headnote."

* Some study tips on getting the most out of the reading: here

Film Screenings

There will be two required film screenings. Please mark your calendars.

Mon., Oct. 13, 7pm  - The Devil and Miss Jones (dir. Sam Wood, 1941) - Purnell 233B

Mon., Nov. 17, 7pm -
Hearts and Minds (dir. Peter Davis, 1974) - TBA

Course schedule

Week of Sep. 3

Week of Sep. 8
Capital and Labor


1. Foner, ch. 16
  1. Cartoon: "The American Frankenstein" - here
  2. Horatio Alger, The World Before Him (1880, excerpt) - here
  3. Mark Twain Lampoons the Horatio Alger Myth  - here
  4. William Graham Sumner: "What the Social Classes Owe to Each Other" (1883, excerpt) - here
  5. Ode to the Odious: A Poet Ridicules Laissez-Faire (1878) - here
  6. Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888, excerpt) - here
  7. Advertisement: "Tramps' Terror" - here
William Graham Sumner: "Fruits of Evolution" (1893, excerpt) - here
William Graham Sumner Prescribes Laissez-Faire for Depression Woes (Congressional testimony, 1878) - here

In lecture, Sep. 8: DATES QUIZ

Horatio Alger book cover: From Farm Boy to Senator
Horatio Alger, Jr.,
From Farm Boy to Senator:
Being the History of the Boyhood
and Manhood of Daniel Webster


Week of Sep. 15
Freedom's Borders


1. Foner, ch. 17

  1. “Kill the Indian, and Save the Man”: Capt. Richard H. Pratt on the Education of Native Americans - here
  2. A Clear and Present Danger: The Chinese Exclusion Act - here
  3. Killing the Messenger: Ida Wells-Barnett Protests a Postmaster’s Murder in 1898 - here
  4. “Their Own Hotheadedness”: Senator Benjamin R.“Pitchfork Ben” Tillman Justifies Violence Against Southern Blacks - here
  5. “The White Man’s Burden”: Kipling’s Hymn to U.S. Imperialism - here
  6. Manifest Destiny, Continued: McKinley Defends U.S. Expansionism - here
  7. American Soldiers in the Philippines Write Home about the War - here

  8. Optional:
    Booker T. Washington Delivers the 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech - here
    The Fighte Begins at Home: Jewett Defends Asian Immigrants - here

Sheet music cover
Sheet music cover: Charles Coleman,
"The Charge of the Roosevelt Rough Riders"
click here for more sheet music
from the Spanish-American War

Week of Sep. 22
Progressivism and the Managerial Revolution

Paper 1 due in lecture, Monday, Sep. 22


1. Foner, ch. 18
  1. Christine Frederick Teaches Women How to Wash the Dishes (from the Ladies Home Journal, 1912) - here
  2. Science of Repetition (cyclegraph) - here
  3. Upton Sinclair Hits His Readers in the Stomach - here
  4. “The Poisonous Occupations in Illinois”: Physician Alice Hamilton Explores the “Dangerous Trades” at the Turn of the Century - here
  5. Advertisement: "The Shame of America" - here 
Solving the Servant Problem (excerpt from Christine Frederick's The New Housekeeping, 1926) - here
Scientific Management at Home (excerpt from Christine Frederick, The New Housekeeping, 1926) - here

Week of Sep. 29
World War I


1. Foner, ch. 19
2. Documents:
  1. "Close Ranks" and "Returning Soldiers": editorials by W. E. B. Du Bois in The Crisis, July 1918 and May 1919 - here
  2. U.S. Army Directives on the Unequal Treatment of Black Soldiers, Reprinted in The Crisis in 1919 - here
  3. "If We Must Die": Claude McKay Limns the "New Negro" - here
  4. "The Eruption of Tulsa": An NAACP Official Investigates Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 - here
  5. How Do You Spell Strike? - here

Week of Oct. 6
American Modernity


1. Foner, ch. 20
2. Documents:
  1. “One Country! One Language! One Flag!” The Invention of an American Tradition - here
  2. “I Glanced Up—The Statue of Liberty!”: Emma Goldman Describes Her Deportation in the Era of the Red Scare - here
  3. After the Execution - here
  4. White sheets in Washington, D.C. - here
  5. An “Un-American Bill”: A Congressman Denounces Immigration Quotas - here
  6. Frustration versus Fantasy: How the Movies Made Some People Restless - here
  7. Automobiles and milady’s mood - here
  8. “Smoked continuously from Trepassey to Wales" - here
  9. “Picturesque America” - here

Lt. James Reese Europe
with the 369th Regiment
Military Band
(the "Harlem Hellfighters")
Paris, 1917
James Reese Europe with 369th Regiment Military Band

Week of Oct. 13
The Great Depression


1. Foner, ch. 21
(Because of the film screening, there are no additional documents to read this week.)

Film Screening:

Mon., Oct. 13, 7pm  - The Devil and Miss Jones (dir. Sam Wood, 1941) - TBA

Painting the American insignia on airplane wings is a job that Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker, does with precision and patriotic zeal; Hollem, Howard R., photographer.
A 1942 photo by the Office of War Information, which gave it this caption: "Painting the American insignia on airplane wings is a job that Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker, does with precision and patriotic zeal." (Photographer: Howard Hollem)

Week of Oct. 20
World War II


1. Foner, ch. 22
Because of the exam, there are no additional documents to read this week.)

Midterm exam, Monday, Oct. 20

Week of Oct. 27
The Cold War
Danny Lyon, Two SNCC Workers, Selma, 1963
Danny Lyon, Two SNCC Workers, Selma, 1963

1. Foner, ch. 23
2. Documents:
  1. Leon Sverdlove On the Taft-Hartley Act - here
  2. “Public Responsibilities . . . Public Wrongs”: Union Officials Blame the Taft-Hartley Act for Mob Antiunion Violence -here
  3. “Enemies from Within”: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s Accusations of Disloyalty - here
  4. “Have You No Sense of Decency”: The Army-McCarthy Hearings - here
  5. “A Damaging Impression of Hollywood Has Spread”: Movie “Czar” Eric Johnston Testifies before HUAC - here
  6. “I Have Sung in Hobo Jungles, and I Have Sung for the Rockefellers”: Pete Seeger Refuses to “Sing” for HUAC - here

Week of Nov. 3
The Anxiety of Affluence

1. Foner, ch. 24
2. Documents:
  1. Welcome Back - here
  2. (Video) Word to the Wives - here
  3. “Stalking the Stork”: An Expose of Espionage in the Baby Clothes Industry - here
  4. “Every Effort Was Made to Control the Shows”: A Television Producer Details and Defends Deceptive Quiz Show Practices - here
  5. “Violent Death in Every Form Imaginable”: A Senate Committee Report Assesses “Crime and Horror” Comic Books - here

Week of Nov. 10
Freedom When?

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time - all

To listen to James Baldwin interviewed by Studs Terkel, a well known radio disc jockey, in 1961, click here

Week of Nov. 17
The Sixties: Freedom's Insurgencies
land of freedom
1. Foner, ch. 25
(Because of the film screening, there are no additional documents to read this week.)

Film screening:
Mon., Nov. 17, 7pm - Hearts and Minds (dir. Peter Davis, 1974) - Purnell 233B

Week of Nov. 24
Running out of gas? Deindustrialization, the energy crisis, and the environment

Steven Stoll, U.S. Environmentalism since 1945 - page numbers TBA

Note: Discussion sections will not meet this week

Week of Dec. 1
The Resurgent Right, from Goldwater to Reagan

1. Foner, ch 26
2. Documents: here

Week of Dec. 8
Globalization and Its Discontents

Foner, ch. 27
Paper 2 due in lecture, Monday, Dec. 8

A memo about the IDs that will be on exam and the slight change in format - here

Thurs., Dec. 11
There will be a review session: 1:30pm in  KRB 005


Friday, Dec. 12, 1-3pm - in PRN 233B