U.S. The Young Republic (512:302) Fall 2017

Prof. Tom Jeffrey

website: http://rci.rutgers.edu/~tjeffrey

e-mail: tomjeffrey2001@yahoo.com

Campus phone: 848-445-2710

Office: 208 Van Dyck Hall

Office Hours: MTh, 7:30-8:00a.m., 9:30-10a.m. or by appointment


This course is a comprehensive examination of political, economic, and social developments in the United States from the end of the American Revolution (1783) through the Mexican War (1846-1848). Major themes during the first half of the semester include the growth of Republican ideology in the aftermath of the Revolution, the writing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the developmSent of political parties, the decline of the Federalist party and the advent of Jeffersonian Democracy, and efforts by the nation's leaders (ultimately unsuccessful) to avoid being drawn into the European war. Major themes during the second half of the semester include the causes of the War of 1812, the growth of sectionalism and the debate over slavery, the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, the development of a distinct American identity, the reform movements of the 1830s and 1840s, "Manifest Destiny" and the Mexican War, and the coming of the Civil War.


I. Required Readings


Risjord, Norman. Jefferson's America (2nd edition or 3rd edition)

The Constitution of the United States, National Archives (YR)

Kaminski, John, & Leffler, Richard. Federalists and Antifederalists (2nd edition)

Hickey, Donald. War of 1812 (CP) pages 5-28 (Chapter 1); pages 39-51 (part of Chapter 2); pages 300-309 (conclusion)

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of Frederick Douglass, ed. by Benjamin Quarles

Singleton, Maura. “Anatomy of a Mystery: The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy in the Post-DNA Era.” University of Virginia Magazine, Fall 2007 (YR)

Curtis, James C. Andrew Jackson and the Search for Vincidation

Coffin Handbills (YR)

Haynes, Sam W. James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse (CP) 1st edition: pages 104-116 (part of Chapter 7), 123-133 (Chapter 8); 3rd edition: pages 115-128, 137-148.

Hietala, Thomas. Manifest Design (CP) 132-134, 152-166, 194-195, 204-208, 243-253 (parts of various chapters)

Merk, Frederick. "Dissent in the Mexican War" (CP) in Samuel Eliot Morison, ed, Dissent in Three American Wars, pages 35-63.


CP = Selections from these books are in the course packet available at the Rutgers bookstore.

YR = This reading can be downloaded from the Lecture Outlines page of the Young Republic website.


II. Examinations, Papers, and Grades


There will be two in-class examinations (October 23 and November 30). The second exam will not be comprehensive but will be based on the lectures and assigned readings for the period after the first exam. Study questions for each examination will be available on the Young Republic website approximately one week in advance of the exam. The two exams will be weighted equally in determining your final grade. There will be no in-class final exam.


In addition to the exams, there will be two writing assignments due on October 16 and December 18.


(1) A summary (1-2 double-spaced pages) of Donald Hickey's War of 1812 (in course packet) will be due on October 16. This assignment will be graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e., if you turn in the assignment on time and you haven't plagiarized, you pass).


(2) A final assignment, due on December 18, in which students will be given a choice of (a) writing a theme paper of 8-10 pages (see below for topic) or (b) submitting summaries of the three readings from the course packet relating to the Mexican War (Haynes, Hietala, Merk). These choices will be explained in greater detail on December 4, in the class that follows the second exam.


The course packet summaries will be graded on a pass/fail basis and will not affect your final course grade based on the average of your two exams. The theme paper may improve your course grade depending on the quality of the product (however, there is no guarantee that it will do so; the only guarantee is that it will not lower your course grade).


Class participation and attendance will also be taken into consideration in determining your final grade. Attendance at ALL class meetings is expected. It is also in your own interest to attend class on a regular basis, since I test heavily on my lectures. No "A" grade will be assigned to any student with more than two unexcused absences regardless of how well they perform on the exams and final assignment.


III. The Announcements page on the Young Republic website should be checked on a regular basis for course-related information, including any cancellations due to bad weather.


IV. Classroom Etiquette


Students should be in their seats by the time the lecture begins at 8:10a.m. Please do not begin packing your books or otherwise preparing to leave class until I have completed the lecture. Such behavior is distracting both to me and to other students. Laptop computers are permitted for the purpose of taking notes. However, all other electronic devices (for example, cell phones and iPads) should be put away when the lecture begins. Thank you for your cooperation.


V. Topics and Assignments


Outlines for each topic are posted on the Young Republic website. I strongly recommend that you print out the relevant outline, look it over before the lecture, and then bring it to class to better enable you to follow the lecture.


Introduction (September 7)


The U.S. during the 1780s  (September 11, 14)

READ: Jefferson's America, 2nd edition: pp. 1-70, 124-34, 147-51, 167-92; 3rd edition: pp. 1-70, 126-36, 149-53, 169-94


The "Critical Period" and the Debate over the U.S. Constitution (September 18, 21)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapters 8-9

READ: U.S. Constitution [on Young Republic website]

READ and DISCUSS (September 21): Federalists & Antifederalists, all introductions + pp. 4-13, 21-32, 42-45, 58-66, 70-74, 76-83, 86-92, 106-17, 121-26, 136-42, 159-64, 168-72, 183-93, 200-205, 215-19


Party Building and Nation Building (September 25, 28)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapters 10-11


"Entangling Alliances": The Debate Over Foreign Policy (October 2, 5)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapters 12-13


"The Revolution of 1800" and the Advent of Jeffersonian Democracy (October 9, 12)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapters 14-15


"Free Trade and Sailors Rights": The Controversy over Neutral Rights (October 16)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapter 16; READ and DISCUSS: War of 1812  [from course packet]

Course packet summary (Hickey, "War of 1812") due.


The War of 1812 (October 19)

READ: Jefferson's America, Chapter 17 ; READ and DISCUSS: War of 1812  [from course packet]


FIRST IN-CLASS EXAM: Monday, October 23


Aftermath of War: The "Era of Good Feelings" (October 26, 30)


The Supreme Court in the Early Republic (October 30)


Tocqueville's America: The U.S. during the 1830s (November 2)


Frederick Douglass's America : Slavery and the Old South (November 6, 9)

READ and DISCUSS: (1) Narrative of Frederick Douglass; (2) “The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy in the post-DNA Era” [on Young Republic website]


"The Age of Reform": Persuasion and Coercion (November 13)


The Abolitionist Movement and the Growth of Political Antislavery (November 16)


Andrew Jackson and the Revival of Political Parties (November 16, 20)

READ and DISCUSS (November 20): Andrew Jackson and Coffin Handbills [on Young Republic website].


Parties and Politics during the "Age of Jackson" (November 21 [Tuesday class], November 27)




Andrew Jackson’s “Indian Policy” (December 4)


The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler (December 4)


“Don’t Mess with Texas”: The Texas Issue and Presidency of James K. Polk (December 7)

LISTEN AND ENJOY: "James K. Polk: Napoleon of the Stump" [on Young Republic website].


The Bitter Fruit of "Manifest Destiny”: The Coming of the Civil War (December 11)

READ and DISCUSS (December 8): (1) Haynes, James K. Polk; (2) Hietala, Manifest Design; (3) Merk, Dissent in the Mexican War [readings from course packet]




No theme papers will be accepted prior to December 13.  Course packet summaries may be submitted any time between December 11 and December 18. Additional information about submitting papers will be posted at the appropriate time on the Announcements page of the Young Republic website.




V. Theme Paper (8-10 pp.)


Topic: Throughout the early years of the Young Republic, the United States was in constant danger of being drawn into war. (1) Why was the country able to avoid war during the 1790s? (2) Why did the nation go to war in 1812 and in 1846? (3) Were the War of 1812 and the Mexican War "just wars"?


Themes: The first two sections of your paper should take into consideration (1) the major foreign-policy crises of the period (including the "war scares" of 1794 and 1798); (2) the attitude of the political parties toward foreign affairs; (3) the economic, political, diplomatic, ideological, and strategic issues involved; and (4) the role of presidential leadership. Section 2 should also take into consideration the alternatives to war available in 1812 and 1846.


Section 3 should take into consideration following criteria for a "just war": (1) it must be undertaken by lawful authority; (2) it must be waged for the purpose of vindicating an undoubted right that has been infringed; (3) it must be a last resort, after all peaceful measures have been exhausted; (4) the good sought must outweigh the evils that war inevitably produces; and (5) the methods of war must be legitimate and proportionate.


Sources: The sources used for your paper should include the assigned readings and the relevant lectures. All direct quotations from the readings should appear in quotation marks with reference in parentheses to the author's last name and the page on which the quotation appears [example: (Hickey, p. 50)]. Since the purpose of this paper is to measure your analytical abilities and comprehension of the material presented in this course, you are not encouraged to use outside sources. If you do use outside sources, all quotations AND FACTS derived from those sources should be fully documented in your paper. [Example: 1,721 Americans were killed in battle during the Mexican War (Samuel Eliot Morison, Oxford History of the American People (1965), p. 565).]