The American Founding – HIUS 313
CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020
An overview and analysis of the origins of the United States Constitution, its ratification, and initial implementation.
The purpose of the course is to provide the student with a rich understanding of the Constitution. In particular, the student will learn the deep, historical roots of the Constitution, the importance of state constitutions and ratification conventions, the importance of federalism, and how Anti-federalists were also founders of the United States.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Describe the deep, historical roots of the U.S. Constitution.
- Explain how the American colonial experience influenced the framing of the Constitution.
- Describe the importance of the original state constitutions and the ratification process.
- Explain the importance of the concept of federalism and the ratification process.
- Discuss the importance of Anti-Federalists and the Founding.
Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes
Course Requirements Checklist
After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.
Discussion Board Forums (2)
Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 250–300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 150–200 words.
Sources of Liberty Assignment
This comparison assignment will take the student through the main British constitutional documents from the McClellan text (Magna Carta in 1215, Petition of Right in 1628, and the English Bill of Rights in 1689) and compares them to what is found in early state charters and constitutions (see below for a list). The goal is to acquaint the historian with the key rights and liberties that British North Americans insisted on having transferred to and improved in the New World and fought to preserve during the Revolution. The student must locate a total of 20 English rights and liberties to compare; however, 10 must be the same. Five should be similar, but an extension rather than a direct copy. The final 5 must be new rights or liberties or different from the English tradition. The comparisons will be presented as annotations, and each annotation must be 2–3 complete sentences explaining the significance of each right. There is no need to provide a bibliography or footnotes for this assignment. See the assignment instructions for the proper, columnar format of the submission.
Colonial documents and constitutions include those found in the McClellan text (Part 2 “Suggested Reading” Appendices A–F, H) and any of the constitutional documents located in Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, which is freely available through the Online Library of Liberty (Liberty Fund, Inc.) and found here.
Public Interest Assignment I: Philadelphia Convention
The student will write a 500-word public interest piece related to 1 day, person, action, or issue involving the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The student will use the Teaching American History website as a resource with specific attention to primary sources such as James Madison’s Notes on the Convention. The purpose of the assignment is practice relating the significance of historical figures and events from the Philadelphia Convention to present-day issues. The student must: a) identify the key person, event, idea, action, etc. from the Convention; b) provide a brief historical narrative of the identified material; c) explain the significance of said material; and d) connect its significance to a present-day issue. The student must cite at least 12 primary or scholarly sources. All primary and scholarly information must be cited using current Turabian footnotes and a bibliography. The footnotes and the bibliography are not included in the 500-word requirement.
State Ratification Project
For this assignment, the student will use primary source documents located in the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution which are available online through the Jerry Falwell Library. Using the source documents, the student will write a 3–5-page research-based paper in current Turabian format. The paper must be a well-written narrative analyzing the following 3 things for one state convention: a) the initial position of the Federalists in the chosen state, b) the fears of the Antifederalists and c) the Federalist promises made to allay those fears. The narrative must include brief biographical material of the people involved based on scholarly sources. A minimum of 15 primary source documents (including letters, speeches, diaries, etc.) must be used. Each speech in a convention should be treated as a separate source. The paper must include footnotes and a bibliography for primary and secondary sources.
Public Interest Assignment II: Annals of Congress
The student will write a 500-word public interest piece related to 1 day, person, action, or issue involving the United States Congress during the 1790s. The student will use the Century of Lawmaking website as a resource with specific attention to primary source of congressional debates entitled Annals of Congress. The purpose of this assignment is to practice relating the significance of historical figures and events from the early sessions of Congress to present-day issues. The student must: a) identify the key person, event, idea, action, etc. from Congressional debates; b) provide a brief historical narrative of the identified material; c) explain the significance of said material; and d) connect its significance to a present-day issue. The student must cite at least 12 primary or scholarly sources. All primary and scholarly information must be cited using current Turabian footnotes and a bibliography. The footnotes and the bibliography are not included in the 500-word requirement.
Each module/week, the student will take a quiz on the course readings and presentations from the current module/week. Quiz questions will include 1–11 multiple-choice, true/false, and short essay questions and have a 30-minute time limit.