Department of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences

Choate Rosemary Hall

Wallingford, Connecticut

History 115

contemporary issues

Mr. Ned Gallagher

Hypertext Course Syllabus

Fall 2004 term

Goals of the Course
Course Policies and Grading
Texts and Course Materials
Key Dates
Program and Workload
Schedule of Meetings and Assignments
Contact Information
Memorial House #114, 697-2340
Johnson Athletic Center #105, 697-2418
preferred e-mail:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.
Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has."

- Margaret Mead

Goals of History 115

This course explores the relationship between the past and the present by focusing on three different aspects of history:

(Incidentally, the latter two topics will prepare students for the material covered in the two major courses that comprise the departmental requirements: World History and U. S. History.) Students will be encouraged to make connections to a pair of specific contemporary issues we will study:

In addition there will be considerable instruction in the skills needed by historians, and indeed citizens in a republic: how to read thoughtfully and analyze carefully, and how to express one's self effectively. Specifically, we hope to develop the general intellectual skills of:

The course is designed with these aims in mind to be a coöperative learning experience in appreciating and understanding the rich tapestry of American political life. Needless to say, no such understanding can be taught by someone else; it can only be learned for oneself.

Course Policies and Grading

A summary of course policies and grading standards can be found online by clicking here.

Texts and Course Materials

This text for the course--available at the school bookstore--should be purchased by all students immediately:

You will need to read ample supplementary materials for the course, as well--most of it available online.


This course will be orthodox in its presentation: in general, you'll read something before each meeting, and in class we'll discuss what you've read--what I call "Socratic discussion." You'll be expected to write short yet demanding papers, take quizzes, period tests, and a final examination, and participate regularly in class. A heavy emphasis will be placed on public speaking skills and you will have regular opportunities to flex your rhetorical muscles.

The few papers you write must follow the "empirical essay" format and use the APEC method of argument. If the syllabus doesn't say something to the contrary, then the paper is to be two pages long. That means one sheet written on both sides if you handwrite, or two fronts if you type or word process. If you use notes or bibliography, they may go on a separate sheet. In fact, you may always write as many pages as you want, but the first two will be read and graded.

Key Dates

Please note these other important dates in the 2004 presidential election campaign:

Schedule of Meetings and Assignments

What follows is what we'll try to cover during the term. It may be adjusted from time to time for any number of reasons. The homework for the next class is always the next assignment unless you are told differently. You'll find each entry on the schedule below contains some instructive questions and ideas you should consider in preparing for class; get into the habit reading the syllabus carefully each night as you begin your homework.

1. Introduction.

In class, we'll meet each other, discuss the expectations of the course, and distribute materials you'll need.

2. Skills.

Read these three documents so that you understand them thoroughly: The Pink Sheet, The Green Sheet, and The Gold Sheet.

3. More Skills.

Point your browser here and read through the presentation carefully to be sure that you understand the basic principles of "SPATE." Then prepare a two-minute speech, to be delivered in class, that informs the listener of something important you have done in the past six months. (This is the first of a series of oral presentations you will make in class; in addition to this informative speech, you will make a dramatic, an instructive, a creative, an impromptu, and a persuasive speech.)

4. The British Empire and the American Colonies.

Read Morgan, pp. 5-14. When reading the first chapter in the Morgan text, try to understand the mixed feelings the American colonists had about their relationship with the Britain. What were the advantages of the relationship? Disadvantages? Also, pay attention to some of the important terms and concepts introduced, such as the Navigation Acts.

5. Mercantilism.

Read Morgan, pp. 15-28. Read especially closely the discussion on property on pp. 16-17. Also, what does Thomas Whately mean by "virtual representation" on page 19? Can you explain why the Stamp Act generated so much hostility on the part of the American colonists? Why did Parliament initiate the legislation in the first place? Before you come to class, look up the word "mercantilism" in a good dictionary. When you arrive in class, ask me for your "number." Each student will be designated a "1," a "2," a "3," or a "4" for several future assignments. Keep track of the number by recording it somewhere you won't lose it.

6. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #1, to be distributed.

7. Mounting Tensions I.

Read Morgan, pp. 29-42. Be sure you understand the essential data—the who, what, where, and when—about the controversial legislation so you can frame an analysis—the how, why, and so what—of what happened between Britain and her colonies across the Atlantic; for best results, use a matrix chart to keep track of the major issues and events of the period: the Quartering Act, the Boston Massacre, the Tea Act, the Gaspee Commission, the Boston Tea Party, the Coercive (or Intolerable) Acts, and the Québec Act. Interesting question: if you were in charge of imperial policy in the 1760s, what would you have done differently to prevent the American Revolution? Would the colonists have accepted your policy? Would the English?

8. Mounting Tensions II.

Read Morgan, pp. 43-60.

9. Period Test #1.

Covering all the material studied since the beginning of the term. There is advice online here about test-taking.

10. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #2, to be distributed.

11. Philadelphia Freedom.

Read Morgan, pp. 61-76. Odd numbers prepare to debate in favor of this resolution: The British colonial policy from 1763 to 1775 was unreasonable, repressive, and seems almost to have been designed to unify the colonists in revolt. Even numbers prepare to debate against. Mass debate rules will prevail. Pay attention to the mismatching of British military power and British political wisdom. Don't blow off the reading as you prepare for the debate; indeed, you should finish it before you meet with your group so that you have more material from which to construct your arguments.

12. Lexington Green I: Two Mysteries.

Read Bennett, pp. 4 –21. Here we pause to examine this one event in considerable depth, not because it was so important but because from it we can learn important things about how historians work. They are something like detectives: they research in primary materials, test for plausibility, and record what seems to them the truth, absolving and charging as they think credible. You do the same in reading this book: be like a detective. What did happen on Lexington Green? Remember: as an historian, your responsibility is to tell what happened.

13. Lexington Green II: Historiography.

Read Bennett, pp. 22–33. Notice the wide range of views. Historiography is the study of what has been written about history. Its first law is found near the very beginning of this document. What does Turner mean? Relate your answer to these readings. A matrix chart highlighting the renditions presented by each historian will be helpful.

14. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #3, to be distributed.

15. Lexington Green III: The Historian At Work.

Read Bennett, pp. 46–56. Notice the differing ways in which history can be presented. Which do you find the most pleasant? The most believable? The most useful? Don’t just rush through the assignment; study the writings to see which has truth in them. How does Plato’s allegory of the cave help us deal with the dilemma of the historian?

16. Lexington Green IV: Paper #1.

Now you, the historian, get into the act. Write a two-page empirical essay arguing something significant of your choice about our study of Lexington Green. Here’s the deal: if you rehash your teacher’s interpretation of who fired the first shot, the highest grade you can receive is a “B-”; if you offer a persuasive alternative to that version of the events of April 1775, the highest grade you can get is a “B+”; if, however, you make an important point about the way historians work—basing your argument on your study of the Lexington Green case—you can earn up to an “A+.” Here is an opportunity for you to do something of your own design; take advantage of it.

17. Winning Independence.

Read Morgan, pp. 77-87. (No news packet this week; this assignment falls due on a Monday.) The British Empire represented the most powerful military force the world had ever known until that point in time; how, then, was a ragtag organization of colonial militiamen eventually able to claim victory at the Treaty of Paris in 1783? What do you think of Washington's leadership during the fighting? How competent was the Continental Congress? How could the British have quelled the rebellion after 1775? What role did the French play in the war? Can you identify turning points in the Revolution? Can you find more examples of the mismatch between military might and political wisdom?

18. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #4, to be distributed.

19. Research.

NG away at NEPSAC Executive Board meeting. Research orientation in the Andrew Mellon Library for school history project.

20. Revolution or Rebellion?

Read the “Declaration of Independence,” in the appendix of the Morgan text.

21. Nation Building.

Read Morgan, pp. 113-128. You may disagree with me over the history of the period, so do the reading especially well. Was the Confederation government compatible with the goals of the 1776 patriots? Compare the content of the Declaration with the characteristics of the Articles. What did the Confederation do well? What did it do poorly? Would you have liked to live under the Confederation? Why or why not? Think carefully.

22. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #5, to be distributed.

23. Founding Fathers.

Read Morgan, pp. 129-144. Were the Founding Fathers "conservative" or "radical"? What do you mean by the terms? Look up the word "reactionary" in a dictionary before coming to class. To what extent was the adoption of the Constitution a rejection of the principles of 1776?

24. Period Test #2.

25. Worlds Collide.

Read Lewis, pp. xv-xxxii

26. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #6, to be distributed.

27. Defining Islam.

Read Lewis, pp. 3-28.

28. Jihad.

Read Lewis, pp. 29-46.

29. Crusades.

Read Lewis, pp. 47-63.

30. America and Islam.

Read Lewis, pp. 64-81.

31. The Cold War and the Islamic World.

Read Lewis, pp. 82-102.

32. Islam vs. the West?

Read Lewis, pp. 103-119.

33. Contemporary Issues.

Read news packet #7, to be distributed.

34. Period Test #3.

35. Saudi Arabia.

Read Lewis, pp. 120-136.

36. Modern Terrorism I.

Read Lewis, pp. 137-151

37. Modern Terrorism II.

Read Lewis, pp. 151-164

38. Wrap Up.

You will complete end-of-term evaluations in class, so think about any ideas you want to convey to your teacher about the class, the quality of instruction, and your own performance this term. Sadness will begin.

39. Final Examination.

'Nuff said.

The course is ended; go in peace.