History of American Politics – HIUS 341

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

The course covers American national politics, including the development of the American party system, episodic political issues, and the influence of major politicians. Special emphasis is placed on critical U.S. presidential elections.




The American political tradition is unique in the history of the world. This course provides the student with the opportunity to study the key features and implications of that tradition and how they continue to shape our world. Because the course covers the entire span of U.S. history, it will augment other U.S. history courses in the degree program.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the major figures, trends, parties, and events in American politics.
  2. Detail the stages of party development from 1789 to the present.
  3. Explain the economic, ethnic, religious, and geographical factors in American political culture.
  4. Recognize and discuss the contributions of Christians in the American political process.
  5. Demonstrate competency in reading comprehension, documentary analysis, research, and historical writing.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings, websites, and presentations

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 (3)

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 at least 500 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to at least 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 300 words.

Primary Source Paper

The student will write a 3–5-page paper analyzing assigned primary sources on the size, scope, and power of the central government. The paper will focus on pertinent and assigned sections of Tocqueville and will be written in current Turabian format.

Book Review

The student will write a 700–800-word review, in current Turabian format, on a book he/she selects from the approved book list. All books can be found in the Jerry Falwell Library.

Chronicling America Assignment

Using a provided newspaper database, the student will examine a local or state political event from the state (or adjacent state) of the student’s current home (or birth/raising, if desired). This could be an election, controversy, political party dispute, debate, etc. The event must have occurred before 1931, and the student must find reference to it in a newspaper published before 1931. Once located, the student will write a 200–250-word description of the event and briefly analyze the political issues involved. Proper citation of the newspaper in current Turabian format is required.

Political Campaign Assignment

The student will research a specific presidential or congressional political campaign of his/her choosing from between 1920 and 1970. The focus of the research will be on the slogans and paraphernalia used in the campaign and what that reveals about the political culture of the period. The student will make a 6–8-minute narrated Adobe Spark presentation in which he/she analyzes the significance of 1 slogan and 1 piece of paraphernalia used by 1 candidate in the election. The student must provide a bibliography of at least 4 scholarly sources in current Turabian format.

Oral History Interview

The student will conduct an Oral History Interview with a family member, friend, co-worker, etc. of his/her choosing. The student must select the interviewee who can best discuss an opinion/perspective on a major political development/event/idea/controversy since 1960. This opinion need not be scholarly, but it must be informed in some way, either through professional interest/involvement (a politician), unique perspective (a pastor or activist), or personal interest. The student will create a set of at least 10 questions designed to elicit substantive information about the interviewee’s perspective, and will write a 300-word summary of the interview. The student will also write a 1–2-page analysis of the views expressed in the interview. In the analysis, the student will assess how those views reflect larger developments in American political culture and thinking, and how those views compare/contrast with traditional American understandings of politics and government. The student will also video record the interview and submit the recording with the written part of the assignment. The interview must be at least 10 minutes.

Exams (2)

The Mid-Term and the Final Exam will be essay Exams based on the Reading and Study materials from the first and second halves of the course, respectively. Each Exam will be open-book/open-notes, contain 5 short-answer questions, and have a 1-hour time limit.