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    Vassar College
  Nov 22, 2017
Catalogue 2017-2018
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HIST 275 - U.S. History’s Greatest Mystery: Revolutionary America, 1750-1830

1 unit(s)
In 1815 John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson: “Who shall write the history of the American Revolution? Who can write it? Who will ever be able to write it?” “Nobody,” Jefferson replied. As these two men knew, the American Revolution ranks high among history’s mysteries. Why did a prosperous people get so mad about a modest tax increase? How did a scattered, squabbling array of colonies, who felt closer to Great Britain than to one another, unite sufficiently to declare independence from the “mother country” in 1776? How did they then defeat the greatest military power of the age while also contending with dissension in their own ranks, rebellious slaves in their midst, and powerful Indian nations at their backs? How, having won independence, did the victors avoid tyranny, civil war, or re-colonization while other Americans—poor men, white women, Native peoples, the enslaved—busily tested the elasticity of the phrase “all men are created equal”? Exploring these questions, we will also keep in mind a historian’s recent observation that this era “bequeathed us many of the values and institutions…that are now sites of important political, social, and ideological conflicts.” James Merrell.

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

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