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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 342
Course Title: American Civil War
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of the American Civil War during the nineteenth century. The course assesses the causes and the consequences of the sectional conflict between the North and the South. In particular, it examines the politics of chattel slavery, the crisis of the federal Constitution, the campaigns of the Union and Confederate forces, and the plans for postwar reconstruction. Furthermore, significant themes of politics, gender, warfare and labor are considered.  Prerequisite: HIST 121.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 121.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered odd Spring.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

- Choose a primary source collection from either Text 1 or Text 2 below.
- In addition, choose a minimum of two recommended texts from Texts 3-10 below.
Additional primary and secondary sources may be assigned as well. Other appropriate scholarly monographs may be assigned.

Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction
By Michael Perman and Amy Turrell Taylor, ed. (Cengage)
Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Reader
By Harrold, Stanley ed. (Wiley-Blackwell)
Civil War and Reconstruction
By Donald, David et. al. (Norton)
The American Civil War
By Jones, Terry L. (McGraw Hill)
Ordeal by Fire
By McPherson, James & James Hogue (McGraw-Hill)
For Cause and Comrades
By McPherson, James (Oxford)
Gender Matters: Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Making of the New South
By Whites, LeeAnn (Palgrave)
What this Cruel War was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War
By Manning, Chandra (Vintage)
This Great Struggle: America's Civil War
By Steven E. Woodworth (Rowman & Littlefield)
Course Objectives

  • To recognize the main currents of U.S. history during the Civil War and Reconstruction era.
  • To explore the interrelationships between black chattel slavery and the federal constitutional crisis.
  • To compare and contrast various historiographical perspectives on the American Civil War.

    Measurable Learning

  • Describe the significant people, places and events of the American Civil War.
  • Analyze the political doctrines influencing the rise of sectionalism and secession.
  • Explain the changing gender roles of men and women during wartime.
  • Differentiate the major objectives, campaigns and criticism of Abraham Lincoln as president.
  • Describe the diplomatic initiatives of the Union and the Confederacy in regard to European involvement in the war.
  • Study the Emancipation Proclamation and its impact on the outcome of the war.
  • Analyze the comparative advantages of Northern and Southern military forces during wartime.
  • Examine the controversies over reconstruction policies leading to the Compromise of 1877.
  • Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and trends in the historiography of the American Civil War.

    Topical Outline:

    Because the course represents an upper level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). It must demand a minimum of 1,000 pages of required text reading, 1,000 words of type-written work, and a consideration of the range and variance of historical scholarship. Finally, it must develop student skills and abilities for researching diverse sources of knowledge and organizing findings through synthesis.

  • The North and the South
  • Sectional politics
  • The winter of secession
  • Fighting the war
  • Abraham Lincoln and presidential leadership
  • Field commanders on the front
  • The inner Civil War
  • Southern honor and disorder
  • Women in wartime
  • Wartime diplomacy
  • Emancipation
  • Total warfare
  • Fall of the Confederacy
  • Political and economic change in the Reconstruction South
  • Problems of postwar Reconstruction
  • The legacies of the sectional conflict

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Brad Lookingbill Date: January 1, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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