Survey of American History

Course Description

This course provides a general introduction to major themes and events in the history of North America and the United States beginning with early European-indigenous encounters and continuing through the present day. Students are expected to attend weekly lectures, complete assigned readings, and demonstrate acquired knowledge through exams and an essay assignment. Students are also expected to think critically about the complicated, and possibly controversial, nature of our nation’s shared pasts.

Contact Information

Office: 154 S Murray Hall

Office Hours: Wednesday 12-3PM, or by appt.

Phone: 405-744-5679 (Main Office)


You do not need an appointment to attend office hours.

What to expect

Expect to attend both physically and mentally on a regular basis. Even though we are meeting right after lunch and you may be in a food coma (or desperate for food), regular attendance is both mandatory and a critical part of the learning process. You will not pass this class with poor attendance.

Expect to do reading and writing. History, as with the other humanities, is primarily a reading based discipline. In addition to regular short readings throughout the semester, you will read one full length book and complete a connected short essay paper. This workload is managable if you set aside time outside of class to complete the work. Simply attending lectures will not lead to a good grade in this class. I will provide some suggestions on writing your papers and managing your time, but keeping up on the readings and assignments is primarily your responsibility.

Expect a greatest hits of American history. Due to the amount of material we have to cover in a semester I cannot provide information on every facet of American history, or even cover all of the significant events. Your textbook will supplement lectures and provide far more detail than I will be able to during our weekly meetings. Just because I do not cover something in lecture does not exclude it from being on the tests. Additionally, I encourage anyone wanting more information on topics not covered to come see me during office hours, I am always happy to talk about history.

Expect to pass, if you do the work. This class is very hard to fail but it will not be easy. If you put in the work (regular reading, studying, etc.) you will more than likely get a decent grade in this class. That being said, earning an A in the class means demonstrating exemplary work on a consistent basis.

Required Materials

Your main textbook, Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty is included on the course’s online classroom as part of the fees attached to this course. The Foner textbook is required for the course, you will receive an email about opting out, this is meant for people who already have access to the textbook through another means and do not want to be charged again. In other words, a vast majority of students can simply ignore this email. Opting out is permanent and cannot be undone. Failing to have access to the textbook is not a justified reason for extensions on assignments or not completing them.

Students are also required to purchase access to Globalyceum, an online platform that will supplement the textbook. Access codes are available for purchase at the OSU Student Union Bookstore.


Primary Source Responses

Four, two question responses to assigned readings in the Eric Foner textbook. Additional information and the prompts for each of these assignments is available at the back of the syllabus. You will turn in a digital copy to the assigned BrightSpace dropbox prior to class on the dates listed in the course schedule. Assignments are graded in increments of 5 (e.g. 50, 45, 40, etc.)

Globalyceum Responses

Ten responses that you will complete on the Globalyceum website, Sections will include videos and primary sources documents that will supplement the class lectures. Each week have a corresponding Globalyceum section, you can choose which weeks you complete to arrive at your required ten. Assignments need to be completed by 5PM on Friday of the appropriate week and late work will not be accepted for these. Like the primary source responses, Globalyceum assignments are graded in increments of 5 points.


Two, fifty minute exams, taken in class on the date listed in the course schedule. The exams will be comprised of five short identifications and one essay question.

Final Exam

Hour and fifty minute exam that will have the same structure as the midterm with the addition of a cumulative essay covering how specific themes influenced United States history.

Attendance/Class Conduct

I will take attendance 10 times throughout the semester. Students who show up more than 20 minutes late to class or leave early without prior approval will not earn attendance points. I also reserve the right to withhold attendance points if you are on your phone, sleeping, or anything else that prevents you from being both physically and mentally present during lecture. Students who receive more than two class conduct violations will lose 25 points for each subsequent violation and be disqualified from earning extra credit.


Assignment 1000 points Breakdown
Primary Source Responses 200 points 50 points each
Globalyceum Responses 200 points 20 points each
Exam 1 150 points 50 points for IDs, 100 points for essay
Exam 2 150 points Same as above
Attendance 100 points  
Final Exam 200 points IDs/non-cumulative essay: 50 points each; cumulative essay: 100 points

The following key will determine your letter grade:

Grade Percentage
A 90% and above
B 80%-89%
C 70%-79%
D 60-69%
F 59% and below

Grade Disputes

Students wishing to dispute their grades (outside of obvious mathematical errors or clarification of comments) are required to wait 24 hours after the assignment has been handed back and then need to attend office hours (or schedule a meeting) with the person who graded their work to formally discuss the grade they received. Be prepared to come to the meeting with specific points you feel were not taken into account by your grader. If I did not grade your assignment I will only meet with you after you have talked to the TA. We reserve the right to raise or lower your grade at these meetings.

Due to the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we do not answer any emails related to grades. Students unsure about where they stand in class need to come see us in person.


Important deadlines for dropping the class are:

  • August 27: 100% refund for dropped class
  • August 31: Partial refund for dropped class
  • October 3: Six week grades
  • November 9: Withdraw deadline

Incomplete Grades

University policy requires that students complete at least 50% of the assigned coursework to receive an “incomplete” grade. While I will only give incompletes in extremely rare situations, be advised you will need to finish the coursework within a year to remove the incomplete, otherwise you will receive an “I” paired with the grade you earned at that time (e.g. I/B, I/C). Incompletes are not automatic, you need to meet with me in person to arrange an incomplete.

Additional Policies

Late Work

You may only turn in work for 48 hours after the assignment is due (excluding Globalyceum), with a 10% grade reduction per day. Any work submitted after this point will not be accepted. Extensions will only be granted at my discretion and will only happen in extremely rare circumstances (i.e. serious illness, family emergency). In these circumstances you need to notify me as soon as you know, TAs cannot approve extensions. Accommodations will not be given if you fail to give me proper notice or do not provide adequate documentation.

Class conduct

  • Laptops may not be used for the first three weeks of class. After week three students are welcome to utilize laptops for class-related note taking. Using computers for non-class activities will result in loss of laptop privileges. In the event laptops become enough of a distraction, they will be banned from use.
  • Cellphones should be on silent and in your backpack not on your lap or desk.
  • Do not pack up prior to the end of class. I lecture for the full fifty minutes, and some of the most important points in lectures come at the end as I’m wrapping up. Packing up early is not only disrespectful but causes too much noise for others to properly hear the lecture.
  • Taking photographs, videos, or audio recordings of the lectures or PowerPoint slides without my permission is prohibited.
  • You are expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner. History has a number of controversial events and we will address some of these. Please respect the views of your classmates and treat everyone with decency. You will be asked to leave/lose attendance points if you are not able to conduct yourself in a professional manner.

Disability Services

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, each student with a disability is responsible for notifying the University of his/her disability and requesting accommodations. If you think you have a qualified disability and need special accommodations, you should notify the instructor and request verification of eligibility for accommodations from Student Disability Services, 315 Student Union, 405-744-7116. Please advise the instructor of such disability and desired accommodations at some point before, during, or immediately after the first scheduled class period. Faculty members are obligated to respond when they receive official notice of a disability, but are under no obligation to provide retroactive accommodations. To receive services, you must submit appropriate documentation and complete an intake process during which the existence of a qualified disability is verified and reasonable accommodations are identified. Go to for additional information.

NOTE: Students with SDS accomodations need to either attend office hours or schedule an appointment to discuss the accomodations before the end of the second week of classes.

Academic Integrity

Intentional cheating of any kind on any assignment will result in formal academic integrity violation proceedings including referral to the Office of Student Conduct, and may result in a failing grade for the entire course and/or receiving a permanent notation of a violation of academic integrity on your transcript (F!) All students should be familiar with university academic integrity guidelines and procedures, including the right to appeal charges. For more information you may contact the Office of Academic Affairs, 101 Whitehurst, 405-744-5627, or visit

Class Schedule

Week 1 (8/21 and 8/23): A New World?

  • Recommended textbook supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 1

Week 2 (8/28 and 8/30): Spanish Conquest

Week 3 (9/4 and 9/6): British Colonies

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapters 2-4
  • DUE TUESDAY: Primary Source Response #1
  • DUE BY THURSDAY: Three large version blank blue books

Week 4 (9/11 and 9/13): Rebellion and Revolution

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapters 5, 6

Week 5 (9/18 and 9/20): New Republic

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapters 7, 8

Week 6 (9/25 and 9/27): Indian Removals

  • TUESDAY - Exam One

Week 7 (10/2 and 10/4): Slavery and Westward Expansion

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 11

Week 8 (10/9 and 10/11): Road to Disunion and Civil War

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapters 13, 14
  • DUE TUESDAY: Primary Source Response #2

Week 9 (10/16): Reconstruction

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapter 15

Week 10 (10/23 and 10/25): Gilded Age and Progressive Era

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapters 16-18

Week 11 (10/30 and 11/1): World War I

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 19
  • TUESDAY - Exam Two

Week 12 (11/6 and 11/8): Roaring ’20s and the Depression

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapters 20, 21
  • DUE TUESDAY: Primary Source Response #3

Week 13 (11/13 and 11/15): World War II and Cold War

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 22, 23

Week 14 (11/20): Civil Rights

  • Recommended supplement to lecture: Foner, Chapter 25

Week 15 (11/27 and 11/29): The Counterculture and 1968

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 25

Week 16 (12/4 and 12/6): The Rise of Conservatism and the New Millenium

  • Recommended supplement to lectures: Foner, Chapter 26-28
  • DUE TUESDAY: Primary Source Response #4

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 11th, 8:00AM-9:50AM (Same room as lecture)

Primary Source Responses

Directions: read the assigned documents, found within the “Readings from The Norton Mix” section of the textbook. After reading all of the documents, respond with at least one direct quote from the document and utilize relevant passages of Give Me Liberty! for each response.

Do not worry about the study questions included in your book – you should only respond to the two questions here. There are no make-ups, ensure you answer the appropriate questions below.

Note: an exceptional primary source response will utilize material found in the corresponding main sections of the textbook. Consult the course schedule or the table of contents for relevant material. No outside sources are allowed

Students need to cite relevant page numbers from the textbook as necessary (e.g. when using quotes or citing non-common knowledge)

Submissions are to be submitted to the appropriate Dropbox prior to the start of class on the date listed.

Assignment #1 – due September 4th

  • Richard Frethorne, “An Indentured Servant’s Letter to His Parents (1623)”
  • Ottobah Cugoano, “Narrative of the Enslavement of a Native of Africa (1787)”

  • Q1: Describe the different experiences Frethorne and Cugoano had in their journeys to the British Colonies.
  • Q2: Indentured servitude and forced slavery made up the majority of the arrivals in the American colonies. How do the experiences of both Frethorne and Cugoano complicate our understanding of the colonies as a land of opportunities and advancement? How could we adequately describe the colonies so that we take into account not only opportunity but also the frustrations, fear, and danger many arrivals experienced?

Assignment #2 – due October 9th

  • George Fitzhugh, “A Defense of Slavery (1854)”
  • Frederick Douglass, “Fourth of July Speech (1852)”

  • Q1: What is Fitzhugh’s rationale for supporting slavery? How does he see it compared to northern wage labor? How does his positive assessment of slavery contrast to the evidence you’ve read so far this semester? Consider in particular Cugoano’s narrative, Douglass’s speech and relevant material from the textbook.
  • Q2: What is Douglass’s feelings on the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence? How does Douglass’s tone change over the course of the speech? How do you receptive do you think the audience of 600 abolitionists was to the speech?

Assignment #3 – due November 6th

  • “The Scopes Trial (1925)”
  • “Inventions Re-Making Leisure (1929)”

  • Q1: What was the main issue in the Scopes Trial? How does Darrow’s line of questioning fit in to the issue of the trial and why would Darrow seek to cross-examine Bryan in this manner?
  • Q2: Muncie, Indiana (or “Middletown”) like Dayton, Tennessee experienced numerous changes over the course of the 1920s that redefined how its residents functioned and experienced the world. What were some of these changes? Who do the authors not discuss in their report and how does our understanding of the 1920s change when we incorporate this group?

Assignment #4 – due December 4th

  • “Dear America, Letters Home from Vietnam (1966 – 1969)”

  • Q1: Based on your reading of these letters, how did views of American engagement in Vietnam change over time? How is the tone of the letters written earlier different from those written toward the end of the war?
  • Q2: How do the writers of these letters view the Vietnamese? How are their views of Vietnamese people different than their views of Vietnamese soldiers?