HST696: Jacksonian America, 1828-1846
15 credits (semester 2)
Dr. Andrew Heath
The period between the 1820s and the 1840s has been labelled the 'era of the common man'. The end of property restrictions on the franchise enfranchised thousands of new voters and spurred the creation of the world´s first mass based political parties. Journeymen and labourers challenged the authority of master and merchant while abolitionists demanded an end to slavery in the South. Yet even as white working-men won the vote, propertied women and African-Americans lost the minimal political rights they enjoyed. This module will ask why, in the midst of an extraordinary wave of democratic reform, was America becoming less equal?
This module will focus on the social, economic, and political upheavals of this tumultuous era, examining US history between Andrew Jackson´s election in 1828 and the Mexican War of 1846. Students will undertake a structured programme of reading, presentation and discussion in order to explore the central paradoxes around reform, liberty, and democratic freedoms. They will be expected to understand a range of contemporary perspectives and to grasp the ambiguities of political discourse at this time when the rights of some were being extended even as those of others were curtailed. Issues of race, gender, and class will be considered, as will the ruthless policy of continental conquest that displaced Indians and Mexicans. Where appropriate the course draws on sources and methods from political thought, practical politics and social and cultural history. This will enable students to apply insights across methodological boundaries.
The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. The first will provide a broad overview of Jacksonian America, considering the merits of various historiographical approaches to the period. Subsequent classes will focus on a particular theme for discussion such as class formation, sectionalism, politics, and continental expansion. Classes will enable students to research and present their ideas, share knowledge, debate controversial issues and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment. Students will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader in order to discuss their written work for this module.
Students will prepare a 3,000-word paper relating to at least one of the key themes of the module.
- Glenn C. Altschuler and Stuart Blumin, Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, 2000)
- David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (New York, 1999)
- Michael Paul Rogin, Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian, rev. ed. (New York, 1991)
- Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Age of Jackson (London, 1953)
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (London 2006)
- Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class (Oxford, 1984)
|Intended Learning Outcomes|
By the end of the module, a candidate will be able to demonstrate:
- A broad understanding of US history between 1828 and 1846.
- An understanding of enfranchisement in Jacksonian America and how this has been interpreted by historians.
- A knowledge of selected bodies of evidence relevant to the study of these issues, and of the problems of their interpretation.
- The ability to assess conflicting historiographical arguments and to reach considered and independent conclusions in relation to such arguments.
- A capacity for informed and critical historical analysis
- An ability to elaborate and defend an intellectual position and to present scholarly arguments and historiographical debates both orally and in writing.