History 400

                                                            The American Revolution

                                                         Second Semester, 2004-2005

                                                                   Reed Browning


This course is designed to provide an opportunity to explore the events which, between 1763 and 1789, transformed a set of autonomous North American settlements, discrete outposts of the British Atlantic Empire, into the world’s largest republic.  We will take politics and constitutionalism as our central themes and ideological differences as the major source of conflict, and the readings and oral reports will direct attention to the richness of research – some old, some new – on the era.  Our weekly discussions will focus on common readings for the evening and on special book reviews that seminar members will deliver.  The goal of the seminar is to provide students with a good understanding of the age and circumstances that produced the United States of America.  If we are all active in sharing our questions, our doubts, our impressions, and our knowledge, we will mutually achieve that goal.


Every seminar member should purchase the following books:


Edmund Morgan, The Birth of the Republic

Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man

Pauline Maier, American Scripture

Forrest McDonald, Novus Ordo Seclorum

Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Theses, etc.


Every seminar member should purchase one of the following six books:


Colin Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country

Gregory E. Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity


Sylvia Frey, Water from the Rock

Gary Nash, Race and Revolution


Susan Juster, Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England

Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic



Jan. 17: Organizational Meeting


Jan. 24: When America had a King


All read: Morgan, 1-14.


Book reviews:


Edmund Morgan, American Slavery/American Freedom (1975)

David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (1989)

Patricia Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society and Politics in Colonial America (1986).


Jan. 31: The Shattering of Anglo-American Concurrence


All read: Bailyn


Book reviews:


Jack Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture (1988).

Gary Nash, The Urban Crucible: The Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution (1986).

Alison Gilbert Olson, Making the Empire Work: London and American Interest Groups (1992).


Feb. 7:              Resistance to Imperial Legislation


All read: Morgan, 15-76

  T. H. Breen, “Ideology and Nationalism on the Eve of the American Revolution:    Revisions Once More in Need of Revising,” Journal of American History, June    1997: 13-39 (on reserve).


Book reviews:


Edmund Morgan and Helen Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution (1953).

Peter D. G. Thomas, The Townshend Duties Crisis: The Second Phase of the American Revolution (1987).

Benjamin Woods Labaree, The Boston Tea Party (1964).


Feb. 14: The Declaration of Independence


All read: Maier, 3-170.


Book reviews:


Carl Becker, The Declaration of Independence (1922).                  

Gary Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (1978).

Jay Fliegelman, Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language & the Culture of Performance (1993).

Feb. 21: The War for Independence


All read: Morgan, 77-87


Book reviews:


Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character (1979).

John Shy, A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence (1976).

Clare Brandt, The Man in the Mirror: A Life of Benedict Arnold (1994).


Feb. 28:             George Washington


All read: Flexner, 3-182.


Book reviews:


George Athan Billias, ed.  George Washington’s Generals (1969).

David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (2004).

Don Higginbotham, George Washington and the American Military Tradition (1985).


Mar. 21:            The Revolution as Social Transformation


All read: Wood, 3-42, 95-243, 325-69.


Book reviews:


Ruth H. Bloch, Visionary Republic: Millenial Themes in American Thought                                                 (1985).

Jackson Turner Main, The Social Structure of Revolutionary America (1965).

Ann Fairfax Withington, Toward a More Perfect Union: Virtue and the Formation of the American Republics (1991).


Mar. 28:            The Forgotten Participants


Each student should purchase and read one of these six books.  The collective reports will come from teams of four or five students.


Colin Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country (1995).

Gregory Evans Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity (1992).


Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock (1991).

Gary Nash, Race and Revolution (1990).


Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic (1980).

Susan Juster, Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England (1994).


Apr. 4:              No class meeting - individual meetings to discuss research essays

Apr. 11: What Do We Make of the Revolution Today?


All read: Edward Countryman, Philip J. DeLoria, Sylvia R. Frey, and Michael Zuckerman, “Rethinking the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly 53 (1996): 341-86 (on reserve)


Apr. 18: The Experiment with Confederal Government


All read: Morgan, 88-128


Book reviews:


Jay Fliegelman, Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution Against Patriarchal Authority (1982).

Jackson Turner Main, The Anti-federalists: Critics of the Constitution, 1781-1788 (1961).

Joyce Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order (1984).


Apr. 25: Preserving the Revolution


All read: Morgan, 129-56

  McDonald, vii-xiii, 1-8, 185-293.


Book reviews:


Charles Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913).

Jack Greene, Peripheries and Center: Constitutional Development in the Extended Polities of the British Empire and the United States, 1607-1788 (1987).

Leonard Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights (1999).


APR.  29:         RESEARCH ESSAYS DUE!!!


May 2:              The Legacy of the Founding Era


Book reviews:


Drew McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (1980).

Michael Kammen, A Season of Youth: The American Revolution and the Historical Imagination (1978).

Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought since the Revolution (1955).




Please keep the following points in mind:                                                  


1.                  The research essay, on a subject of your choosing (but chosen in consultation with the instructor), is due on Friday, April 29.   I do not grant unpenalized extensions.


2.                  It is imperative for the success of the seminar that students be prepared to present their special reports on the evenings they are scheduled.


3.                  My regular office hours will be from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If those are not convenient, we can schedule a meeting for another time.  My office is Seitz 9, up on the second floor of Seitz House.  My office extension is 5642.  My home phone is 427-3155, and I do not mind being called at home (at reasonable hours).


4.                  My e-mail address is BROWNINR.  I frequently use e-mail to send messages to the class.  It is your responsibility to make sure your account is active. 


5.                  The course grade will be determined by the following formula: two book reviews, 30% (15% for each); informed participation in discussion, 35%; research essay, 35%.


6.                   Plagiarism is the representation of someone else's work as one's own.  It is the most serious offense that can be committed in an academic community.  We are obliged to acknowledge our debts to the labors of others, and recourse to notes is the most typical way of fulfilling that obligation.  Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, These and Dissertations gives wonderful advice on building notes and bibliographies. The Student Handbook contains a full discussion of plagiarism.  Please read it.  I will be glad to discuss any issues about plagiarism with any student.


5.         If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your ability to carry out assigned course work, I would urge that you contact the Office of Disability Services at 5453.  The Coordinator of Disability Services, Erin Salva (salvae@kenyon.edu), will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are appropriate.  All information and documentation of disability is confidential.


6.         I encourage the use of foreign languages in student research work.  I realize that few students will be proficient at reading Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or Swedish, and so I'll be pleased to make significant adjustments in expectations if anyone wants to try to do some of the reading for the research essay in a language other than English.  Please speak to me about the possibility if the prospect seems enticing.