Seminar in United States History
This course examines the experiences of free people of color in North America from the colonial era through the Civil War, a time during which most African Americans were enslaved. These people include Africans and African Americans who freed themselves from slavery, were freed by slaveholders or abolition laws, or were never enslaved. This is a research seminar and students will write a paper of approximately 25 pages, based largely on original research in primary sources, by the end of the semester. During the first six weeks, we will read articles and chapter excerpts on a variety of themes relating to free people of color, such as the development of black culture, opposition to slavery and prejudice, and black political involvement. These secondary sources are intended to provide background knowledge for the student's own research as well as models to follow, and we will discuss the authors' arguments, source base, and methodology. During the middle of the course, students will research an approved topic and meet individually with the professor. In the final weeks of the course, students will workshop their essay drafts in small groups and then present their finding to their classmates.