Please note: Some readings and assignments will be due during winter break, prior to arriving on campus for Winter Session. Please visit the Winter Session website for the full syllabus -- http://www.wesleyan.edu/wintersession.
In 1787, the ratification of the Constitution established the United States of America as a republic in which power rested with the people. But the slim document left many fundamental questions unanswered. Would the overwhelmingly agricultural country be one of small yeoman farmers or large-scale plantations? Would the new nation limit western expansion to honor treaties with American Indian nations? Would the growing ranks of wage laborers in the nation's burgeoning cities have the same political rights as property owners? Would a nation founded on the shores of the Atlantic World pursue closer integration into global trade or protect its craftsmen and nascent industrial manufacturers? Could women make a claim to civic participation in a nation whose liberty they had helped win? Would a nation dedicated to freedom be able to reconcile the bondage of one-fifth of its population?
The Long 19th Century explores the history of the United States from the Early Republic to the Progressive Era (1787 to 1913), as an array of different groups and competing interests attempted answers to those questions. The period witnessed an incredible expansion of the United States from one of several imperial claimants in North America to the dominant power on the continent. Simultaneous to this expansion in geographic scope, the 19th century saw a shift in the scale of governance from a limited government to a powerful federal state that abolished property rights in slavery and intervened in struggles between labor and capital. In following that expansion and shift, this course explains the evolution of the modern United States.