Out of Many, One? A Re-Introduction to Early American History
Caitlin Fitz, Associate Professor, History
In this course we will explore the major themes of American history, from the earliest encounters between native people, Europeans, and Africans to the impassioned battles of the Civil War. Our challenge will be to track the variety of meanings that America had for the people who lived here: men and women, rich and poor, free and slave. We will examine the communities that past people built, the things they lived and died for, and the legacies they left behind. We will tell stories of growth and decay, of freedom and slavery, of conflict and collaboration. We will also tell a story about how thirteen disparate and unruly British colonies came to form a new kind of nation: a republic, dedicated (as Abraham Lincoln would later recall) to the proposition that all men were created equal.
From these many stories, we will seek a greater understanding of the American past. Is it possible to blend such different stories into a coherent whole—to create “out of many, one,” as the Great Seal of the United States would suggest? That question gets to the heart of this course, and to the heart of American society itself.