American Revolution

Note: This is a sample syllabus. Future courses may be subject to change.

Syllabus for HIST 602: American Revolution

Course Dates: 26 Jan-11 May
Meetings: Mon/Weds, 9-10:20 am
Instructor: Prof. J. Parr

Course Description: This course examines the causes and development of the American Revolution.  Beginning with an analysis of the political culture of the British North American Colonies and the imperial structure, it traces the strains which emerged between the imperial center and colonial peripheries.

Required Readings: There are five required books for this course, along with occasional supplementary readings posted on Blackboard. We will read all of these books. They are all available through the bookstore or third-party sources. Late receipt of books will not be grounds for a waiver of the late work policy. Please plan accordingly.

  • Colin G. Calloway, The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Carol Berkin, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution (Mariner Books, 2003).
  • Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Enlarged ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992)
  • Benjamin L. Carp, Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Woody Holton, Black Americans in the Revolutionary Era: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) (Paperback).
  • Alfred F. Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution (Paperback)


27 Jan Introduction
1 Feb Mid-Century American Society Monk, “A Brief Guide to the British Government,” Journal of the American Rev; Hofstadter, America at 1750; Wood, Radicalism of the American Revolution, Ch. 1; Taylor, American Colonies, Ch. 14 [Canvas]
3 Feb Refinement Gould, “An Empire of Manners,” Breen, “Baubles of Britain;” and Washington’s Rules of Civility [Canvas]
8 Feb 1763 Calloway, Chs. 1-4, 7
10 Feb The Stamp Act Dulaney, Considerations on the Propriety … (1765), excerpts; Soame Jenyns, Objections to the Taxation … (1765); “Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress” (1765); The Examination of Doctor Benjamin Franklin (1766) [Canvas]
Please also listen to Junto Cast Episode 18
15 Feb Presidents’ Day No Classes
17 Feb A Massacre? The Boston Massacre Trial Documents (UMKC) [Canvas]
22 Feb Colonial Elites Bailyn, Ideological Origins, Chs. 1-5; Holton, “The Ohio Indians and the Coming of American Revolution in Virginia,” Journal of Southern History, 60 [JStor]
24 Feb Town… Carp, Rebels Rising [entire]
29 Feb …and Country Breen, American Insurgents, Ch. 5 [Canvas]; Isaac, “Dramatizing the Ideology of the American Revolution,” WMQ (July 1976) [JStor]
2 March Religious Contours Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven, Ch. 5; Mayhew, “Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission…,” [Canvas]
7-11 March Spring Break No Classes
14 March Decision for Independence Skemp, The Making of a Patriot, Ch. 1; Maier, American Scripture, Ch. 2;  Paine, Common Sense (excerpts); Declaration of Independence [Canvas]
Please also listen to Junto Cast Episodes 8 &  11
16 March The British React Gould, “How Did the British Press Cover the American Revolution?,” Foreign Policy [MyCourses]
Please also listen to Junto Cast 19
21 March The War for Independence Rupert, “A Fast Ship From Salem,” (April 2015); Harrington, “British Soldiers, American War” (Feb 2013); Haigst, “Martin Hurley’s Last Charge” (All in the Journal of the American Revolution, links on MyCourses)
23 March The Franco-American Alliance Parr, “The Evolution of the Franco-American Alliance and France’s Military Contribution,” in Frentzos and Thompson, eds, The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History, Vol. 1. [MyCourses]
28 March The Home Front John K. Alexander, “The Fort Wilson Incident of 1779: A Case Study of the Revolutionary Crowd,” WMQ (Oct. 1974);

Barbara Clark Smith, “Food Rioters and the American Revolution,” WMQ (Jan. 1994); David Waldstreicher, “Rites of Rebellion, Rites of Assent: Celebrations, Print Culture, and the Origins of American Nationalism, “Journal of American History 82 (June 1995): 37-61 [JStor]

30 March Republican Motherhood Watching Mary Silliman’s War

Read Kerber, “The Republican Mother: Women and the Enlightenment-An American Perspective,” American Quarterly (Summer 1976) [MyCourses]

4 April Republican Motherhood Watching Mary Silliman’s War
6 April Slavery and Revolution Holton, Black Americans in the Revolutionary America [entire]; Douglas Egerton, Death or Liberty, Ch. 5 [MyCourses]
11 April Continental Congress “Interview: How Do You Define ‘Founding Fathers?,’” Journal of American Revolution [MyCourses]
13 April Framing the Federal Constitution Berkin, A Brilliant Solution, Ch. 1-7,
18 April Patriot’s Day No Classes
20 April The Struggle for Ratification Berkin, A Brilliant Solution, Ch. 8-10; Federal Constitution (1787); Letters From the Federal Farmer, # 1-3; Federalist Papers, # 6, 10, 39, 51, & 78; Patrick Henry, “Speech to the VA Ratifying Convention” (1788) [MyCourses]
25 April Federalism and Anti-Federalism Lance Banning, “Republican Ideology and the Triumph of the Constitution, 1789 to 1793,” WMQ (Apr. 1974); Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America; Ch. 6; and Joanne B. Freeman, “Slander, Poison, Whispers, and Fame: Jefferson’s ‘Anas’ and Political Gossip in the Early Republic,”Journal of the Early Republic 15 (Spring 1995) [MyCourses]
27 April An Empire of Liberty? Thomas Jefferson, “First Inaugural Address,” (1801); Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, Ch. 6; and Anthony F.C. Wallace, Jefferson and the Indians, Ch. 7 [MyCourses]
2 May Legacy Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party (entire)


Participation – 15%
Document Analysis – 15%
Midterm – 15%
Final Exam – 20%
Historiographical Essay – 25%
Twitter Project – 10%

Assignment Descriptions:

Participation: Classes are interactive and centered on discussion. You are expected to come prepared, with the reading done, and to participate in each class meeting, and to make at least a few meaningful contributions per course. Pleased bring the readings with you to class each day. Habitual tardiness, absence and/or disruptive behavior (including texting) will negatively affect this part of the grade.

Historiographical Paper: You will write a 2500 word historiographical essay, on a theme of your choosing. Themes can include slavery, religion, gender, republicanism, etc. Please discuss your theme with me in advance, either over email or during office hours. You must make use of at least 5 scholarly sources, only two of which may be materials assigned in class. Papers should include a clear thesis statement or argument, and avoid summarization or book reports. Deadlines appear in the topic and assignment schedule.

The papers should be double-spaced, using a standard 12-point font. (i.e. No comic sans) They should use specific examples from the reading to support your points. You may use APA, MLA, or Chicago formatting for this course, but citations must be applied correctly. Citation is required for any content that is quoted, paraphrased, or material that is not common knowledge. A general guideline for “common knowledge” is that it can be found in at least 3 other sources. You must use the assigned texts and only the assigned texts in  your response. No outside sources may be used.

Document Analysis: You will have one primary source analyses. You should find a primary source related to a topic we have covered in class, beyond those assigned and write a 500-word analysis that does the following: 1.) describes what the source is about, 2.) who the creator(s) is/are, and discusses (to the best of your ability what their motivation was for creating it 3.) How the source contributes to your understanding of the topic.  These analysis should follow the same formatting as papers.

On both the Primary Source Analyses and Response Papers, You should avoid using first person, or phrases like “I feel.” Focus on showing me your thought process.

Twitter Assignment: As part of this course, we will discuss the role of the press. Today, much of our information comes from social media feeds, like Twitter. How would you have reported the American Revolution? I will provide you with a list of events from the Imperial Crisis. You will need to come up with 3-4 Tweets that convey to your audience what has occurred. You may look at existing Twitter projects, like The Stamp Act at 250, or Lincoln’s Last Ride, but you may not use any of their Tweets. Note: you will need to do some research.

Class Expectations:

Please review the expectations and assignments carefully. Students are responsible for knowing and adhering to the conditions of the syllabus.

Academic Integrity: Students are expected to know and adhere with all university policies concerning academic honesty. You should submit only your own work. Work may not be recycled from other courses. Students who are uncertain about citation practices should seek assistance from the Writing Center or Library Staff. Not knowing will not be considered a valid excuse for improper citation.

Checking email: You should get in the habit of  checking your email regularly, and ensuring that your Blackboard profile is linked to an email account you use. I sent announcements, assignments, and other course materials via email. Students are responsible for knowing the contents of those emails. Please note that due to federal privacy laws and institutional policies, I cannot discuss grades over email.

MyCourses: Please make sure that you access MyCourses regularly, to check for announcements.

Attendance: Attendance is required for this course. In the event you are unavoidably absent, it is your responsibility to get the notes from a classmate, then follow up with me if you have specific questions. Absent students are still responsible for timely submission of the work they missed. Absence will not be grounds for an automatic excusal of the late policy. Habitual absence and/or unpreparedness will negatively affect your grade.

Technology Use: Phone calls, texting, and web surfing are disruptive and disrespectful to your professors and fellow students, and are not permitted in class. Studies have also shown that students who use laptops in class tend to be distracted, miss important material, and earn lower grades. As such, I only permit the use of laptops and tablets for students who have a college-sanctioned accommodation, or who are serving as an official note taker. Phones should remain off and away during class, except in extenuating circumstances. If you are an emergency first responder or caretaker, you may have your cell on vibrate, but you must sit near the door and step outside to take the call. Students who violate this policy will lose credit for the day’s participation, and the instructor reserves the right to dock the final grades of repeated offenders by a half grade. Due to privacy concerns, no audio or video recordings can be made of the class. No exceptions.

Late Assignment Policy: Students are responsible for making sure they understand all expectations and keep track of deadlines. Each student is eligible for a one-time 24-hour, no questions asked grace period on one written assignment. You need to email me before the assignment is due to indicate that you are using your 1 late pass. After that, assignments will be accepted up to three days (including weekends) after the original due date for a 1/2 grade penalty for each day late. Waivers of the late penalty are only considered under extenuating circumstances, such as a hospitalization. I reserve the right to ask for documentation.

Incompletes: Incompletes are awarded only for extenuating circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. I reserve the right to ask for documentation.

Classroom Citizenship: The classroom is a professional environment. Uncivil conduct towards other students or the professor is a violation of the student code of conduct and will not be tolerated. Please refrain from texting, side conversations, and any other behaviors that may detract from the learning environment for your classmates. As a courtesy to all, please do your utmost to arrive to class on time. Repeated violation of this expectation will negatively affect your participation grade. 

Communication: Email is the fastest way to reach me. I respond to all messages within 24 hours of receipt, Monday through Friday. I check email occasionally on weekends, but may not respond quite as quickly. Please allow sufficient time for me to respond before emailing again. When emailing me, kindly use a subject heading that indicates which class you are email me about, and a salutation (i.e. Dear Professor Parr, not Hey). Emails should maintain a professional tone. If you’re feeling upset, or anxious, it’s often a good idea to hold off on email until you’re feeling better.

Grades: Most assignments will be graded within two weeks. As a general rule, grades are only changed in the event of a mathematical error. When graded assignments are returned, please take the time to read your feedback before coming to me with questions or concerns about grades. If you still have concerns about your grade after reading your feedback, please write me a memo, which includes a paragraph-length response that directly addresses each of your concerns raised by your feedback, using the assignment guidelines, and explaining why it merits a re-grade. I will take your concerns seriously, but there are no guarantees that your grade will be changed, and all decisions are final. Please note: I can only assign grades based on the quality of the final product, and cannot take effort, life circumstances or other factors into consideration. If you are unclear on the expectations for an assignment, it is your responsibility to ask for clarification in advance of the assignment’s deadline. You should bring any concerns about your grade to my attention within a week of receiving the graded paper back. Queries made thereafter will not be entertained.

Disability Support Services Statement: the University provides appropriate, reasonable accommodations to students who have documented learning, physical, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet class requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to meet with the course instructor. All such conversations are confidential. To receive accommodations, students must contact Disability Services. Please note that only students with faculty letters from the Disability Services are eligible to receive accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive.