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Fall 2010
THE COURSE surveys the development of American political thought
from the age of revolution through the late twentieth century with an
emphasis on the moments of special significance for the evolution of
American political key concepts and institutions. All readings are selected
from primary materials - founding documents, speeches, platforms,
statements, essays, Supreme Court decisions, and letters - in an effort to
understand American political mind through the arguments of its most
prominent political actors.
REQUIREMENTS. Students will be required to make four oral in-class
presentations summarizing the readings, write two short papers, and
participate in class discussions of the materials. Grades will be determined
as follows: oral in-class presentations 80%, two short papers 20%.
OCTAVIAN ROSKE, Associate Professor, University of Bucharest.
Published Contemporary American Fiction, 1975-1985, 1989; American
Conservative Tradition, 1783-1860, 1998; Repressive Mechanisms in
Romania, 1945–1989. Biographical Dictionary, 2001- 2009.
WEEK 1: Introduction. Method. Sources. Requirements
WEEK 2: Challenging the British Empire: The Spirit of Revolution
Readings: Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress,
1774, in George B. de Huszar, Henry W. Littlefield, and Arthur W.
Littlefield, Basic American Documents, Ames, Iowa, Littlefield: Adams and
Co.,1956, pp.33-37. Charles Inglis, The True Interest of America Impartially
Stated, 1776.
WEEK 3: The Philosophy of Government: Constitution of the United
Readings: Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 15, December 1, 1787. Robert Yates, Brutus No. 11.
WEEK 4: The Doctrine of Frugal Government: The Jeffersonian Vision
Readings: Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789, in The
Annals of America, vol. III, 1784-1796: Organizing the New Nation,
Chicago, London, Toronto: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1976, pp. 389392. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799, in
Bernard E. Brown, ed., Great American Political Thinkers, vol. I: Creating
America: From Settlement to Mass Democracy, New York: Avon Books,
1983, vol I, pp. 336-338.
WEEK 5: Vox Populi: Jacksonian Democracy
Readings: Andrew Jackson, Veto of the Bank Renewal Bill, July 10, 1832,
in Richard D. Heffner, A Documentary History of the United States, 5th
edition, New York: A Mentor Book, 1991, pp. 94-99. Daniel Webster,
Reply to Andrew Jackson, July 11. 1832, in Annals vol. V, pp. 535-541.
WEEK 6: Saving the Union: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
Readings: Abraham Lincoln, Second Confiscation Act, July 17, 1862
Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, September 24, 1862
http://www. Abraham Lincoln, Letter to James
C. Conkling, August 26, 1863, in Annals vol. IX, pp. 436-439.
WEEK 7: The Farmers Resort to Political Action: The Populist Revolt
People’s Party Platform, 1896, in Melvin I. Urofsky, ed. Basic Readings in
U.S.Democracy, Washington D.C.: U.S.I.A., 1994, pp. 181–184.
WEEK 8: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal
Readings: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the New Deal, May 7,
Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the Reorganization of the Judiciary, March 9,
WEEK 9: McCarthyism and the Illusion of Consensus
Readings: Joseph R. McCarthy, Speech to the Senate, February 20, 1950,
in Robert Kelley, ed., The Sounds of Controversy. Crucial Arguments in the
American Past, vol. II, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1975,
pp.157-171. Joseph R. McCarthy, Reply to Edward R. Murrow, April 6,
WEEK 10: A Decade of Frustration: The Struggle for Civil Rights
Readings: Martin Luther King, Jr., Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, 1958, in
Richard N. Current, John A. Garraty, and Julius Weinberg, eds., Words That
Made American History. Since the Civil War, vol. II, Boston, Toronto:
Little, Brown and Company, 1978, pp. 147-152. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clairborne Carson,
New York: Intellectual Properties Management, Inc., 2005, pp. 63-82.
WEEK 11: Exploring the Roots of Oppression: The New Feminism
Readings: NOW Statement of Purpose, 1966, in Urofski, Basic Readings,
pp. 390-394. Roe v. Wade, 1973, in Heffner, Documentary History, pp. 391396.
WEEK 12: “We Want Freedom”: The Black Panther Party
Readings: Black Panther Party Platform, October 1966, in Deirdre Mullane,
ed., Crossing the Danger Water. Three Hundred Years of African-American
Writing, New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1993, pp. 680-685. Stokely
Carmichael, Black Power, November 19, 1966, in Joanne Grant, ed., Black
Protest. History, Documents, and Analyses. 1619 to the Present, New York:
St. Martin’s Press, 1970, pp. 459-466.
WEEK 13: The Conservative Mind: Ronald Reagan
Readings: Ronald Reagan, Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress
Reporting on the State of the Union, January 26, 1982, The Public Papers of
President Ronald W. Reagan. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Ronald
Reagan, Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation on a
Constitutional Amendment on Prayer in School, May 17, 1982.
WEEK 14: The Liberal Agenda: Barack Obama
Readings: Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union” Speech, March 18,
2008. Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February
24, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.go/the_press_office.