Shaping America: U.S. History to 1877
Interactive, Video-based Course
26 half-hour videos
Video Preview / Course DemonstrationShaping America : U.S. History to 1877
reveals to a present day audience another time in history, where native cultures, newly arriving cultures, ideas and habits formed a new nation that would one day be the most recognized in the world. Through their eyes, we explore these primitive beginnings, wonder at the accomplishments of early settlers despite incredible hardships, examine political leadership and economic growth, and after the sorrow of a bitter Civil War, we share in the hope for "shaping" a new America.
- Describe the major Indian cultures in North America prior to European settlement and analyze the effects of that settlement on the indigenous peoples of America.
- Compare and contrast the social, economic, and political development of the British colonies in the area that became the United States.
- Describe and explain the origins of racism and slavery in America and analyze the long-term effects of slavery on American society.
- Analyze the immediate and long-term effects of the Declaration of Independence.
- Discuss the factors shaping America during the early national period.
- Discuss the social, political, economic, diplomatic, and military aspects of the Civil War.
- Assess the significance of geography in the process of shaping America.
- Analyze the meaning of freedom, equality, and identity in America to 1877.
Design and Production Shaping America
- A World Apart - By describing Native American cultures in various regions of what eventually became the United States, we examine how indigenous peoples shaped their societies and what we can learn from enhancing our understanding of them.
- Worlds Transformed - Through the eyes of native peoples and conquistadores, we explore the collision of cultures emanating from the voyages of Columbus and other Europeans. We describe Spanish colonization in the Santa Fe area and assess the lasting impact of the Columbian exchange on the world.
- Settling the Southern Colonies - Failing at Roanoke, the British established permanent colonies at Jamestown and later in the Charleston area. We examine how the emergence of staple crops, forced labor, and a racial hierarchy shaped the society, economy and the politics of the region in the 17th century.
- Settling in New England - Religious motivations inspired British settlers at Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. We describe the challenges facing pilgrims, puritans, and native peoples in the region, and we assess the enduring effects of Puritanism in America.
- Diversifying British America - Ethnic and religious diversity in America took on even broader dimensions in the Middle Colonies. By examining the maturation of the northern colonies, we analyze the effects of diversity and growth on the shaping of America.
- A Distinctive Society - While northern colonies became more diverse in the early 18th century, the distinctive nature of a slave society began to characterize the southern colonies. We examine the slave trade, the conditions of slave labor, the emergence of an African American culture and the effects of slavery on southern society. In addition, we consider to what extent an "American" identity had emerged by 1760.
- Making a Revolution - Between 1754 and 1774, a series of events, decisions and choices moved the colonies toward a revolution. By considering the ingredients necessary to make a revolution and how the American experience fits into this framework, we examine how and why the Americans were near the breaking point by the mid-1770s.
- Declaring Independence - More than a year after the military engagement began at Lexington and Concord, American political leaders formalized the revolution against British authority. By analyzing the purpose and meaning of the Declaration of Independence, we consider why this document comes to be revered as the seminal statement of American ideals.
- Winning Independence - Declaring independence was one thing, actually winning it was another. We examine the military aspects of the American Revolution, how the war affected the American people, why the Americans won, and the enduring effects of that victory.
- Inventing a Nation - Having won independence, the American people now grappled with the process of nation-building. Among the challenges facing that generation was the persistent issue of distributing political power among individuals, states and the national government. We explore how and why they adopted the Constitution which still provides the legal framework for the nation.
- Searching for Stability - The state of the nation in 1789 begged for signs of stability. We examine how the political leadership of George Washington and the economic plan of Alexander Hamilton shaped the United States in the 1790s—and for generations afterwards.
- A Peaceful Transfer of Power - While Washington and Hamilton had laid foundations of stability, internal and external conflicts continued to disrupt the nation. We analyze how, out of this turmoil, important precedents became established, including the acceptance by the revolutionary generation of a peaceful transfer of power.
- Jefferson's Vision of America - Thomas Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801 represented a significant transfer of power as well as vision about the future of America. As Jefferson and the nation increasingly looked westward, we explore what this meant in terms of territorial expansion, relations with American Indians and the emerging conflicts between nationalism and sectionalism.
- The Market Revolution - Both Hamilton's and Jefferson's visions of America began to take shape in the north and west during the 1820s and 1830s. We examine how a market revolution, spurred on by new developments in transportation, manufacturing, and farming, set in motion changes which would affect the American people for generations to come.
- A White Man's Democracy - Andrew Jackson, the first president from west of the Appalachian Mountains, mirrored the changing American society and became a symbol of the times. We analyze the emergence of Jackson, his decisions regarding nullification, the national bank, and Indian removal and the limits of democracy during that era.
- The Slave South - While the north continued to diversify, the spread of slave system marked the south's expansion westward. We examine the changing nature of slavery, its effects on blacks and whites, how slaves coped, and how the institution of slavery challenged the future of the nation.
- Perfecting America - The idea was not new, but during the 1830s and 1840s a surge in religious enthusiasm compelled reformers to try to perfect America. By examining religious and social reform movements, including abolition and women's rights, we assess the effects of these developments on the shaping of America.
- Moving Westward - By the 1840s, the westward movement of the American people had brought them once again into territory claimed by other people and other nations. We analyze the "Manifest Destiny" of the United States, as the nation annexes Texas, acquires the Oregon territory and forces Mexico to cede California and the southwest as a result of war.
- Crisis and Compromise - Perceptive observers were wary of the state of the union after the war with Mexico. What John C. Calhoun called "forbidden fruit" was referred to as "poison" by essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. We examine the issues provoking a national crisis, the process of dealing with the crisis, and the meaning of the compromise reached in 1850.
- Irrepressible Conflicts - The persistence of slavery dashed any hopes that the Compromise of 1850 might settle sectional differences between the north and south. As the abolitionists and the slave catchers dramatized the moral issue involved, we analyze how the Fugitive Slave Act, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott decision led to irrepressible conflicts.
- The Union Collapses - Even though the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property and could be taken anywhere, those opposed to this view continued to press their case. We examine the emergence of Abraham Lincoln, the raid on Harper's Ferry, the election of 1860 and the decision for secession. Was the Civil War inevitable?
- And the War Came - When Confederate troops made war by firing upon Fort Sumter, the very survival of the United States was at stake. We examine why each side was fighting and assess their relative strengths and weaknesses. We describe the major military developments in 1861-62 and analyze what this indicated about the nature of the conflict.
- Home Fronts - By 1862, it was clear that the effects of Civil War reached far beyond the battlefields. Using the Shenandoah Valley as a setting, we describe what life was like on the northern and southern home fronts. We also analyze how Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation changed the nature of the war.
- Union Preserved, Freedom Secured - Beginning with the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, we describe and analyze the major military operations of the final two years of the Civil War. We assess the reasons for the Union's victory, the place of Abraham Lincoln in U.S. history, and how the Civil War shaped America.
- Reconstructing the Nation - When the Civil War ended, there was hope that this "second American Revolution" would provide a new birth of freedom for the American people. As we assess the successes and failures of Reconstruction, we consider why the Reconstruction era ended with a revolution only half-accomplished.
- Looking Backward, Looking Forward - Using the U.S. Centennial as an occasion for reflection, we assess the state of the nation in 1876 and discuss the themes that we have tracked throughout this course: freedom and equality, race and identity, gender and ethnicity. Finally, our distinguished experts share with us what they believe we should learn from our study of American history.
was developed by veteran distance learning professionals, in concert with a content specialist and members of local and national advisory committees. Educators, producers, videographers, video and print editors, a musicologist, production assistants, scriptwriters and an instructional designer comprise the production team for the series.Content Specialist
- Ken Alfers is a teacher, writer and historian. He has been active in faculty leadership in the Dallas County Community College District since 1972 and received the District's Outstanding Teacher Award in 1983. He served as the Content Specialist on the award-winning telecourse "America: The Second Century" and on the acclaimed Dallas telecourse "America in Perspective." Since its release in 1992, he has served as coordinator and instructor for this course. Ken received his BA and MA degrees from Creighton University, and his PhD from George Washington University.Project Director
- Craig Mayes, an award-winning film and television director, brings with him more than 30 years of production experience and 10 years of experience as a freelance editor. He was part of the production management team for the PBS series, "Wishbone," winner of the George Foster Peabody Award of Excellence in Broadcasting and the Television Critics' Award: Best Children's Program two years straight. Mayes has also created, designed and produced the award-winning audio book series "Personal Courier," a unique concept in travel media for independent travelers.Producer
- Julia Dyer has worked in film and television for thirteen years, producing and directing in the educational, commercial and entertainment sectors. Her work includes an award-winning motivational film series for the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; Aurora Film Festival winner "Voices in Democracy" (a 26-part telecourse in US government); and HBO feature film "Late Bloomers" which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996. Julia holds a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was named the Jesse H. Jones Communications Scholar; her minor was in US History.Instructional Designer
- Janice Christophel brings 13 years' experience in education and training to the project. She has been involved in various projects for Dallas TeleLearning, including the instructional design of telecourses, Telecourse PLUS and online courses for education and business. Janice received her BA degree from Miami University and her MS degree in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. Research Specialist
- Andrea Boardman provides great expertise in both US and Mexican history with an extensive resume in research, writing and production of historical documentaries and public television in Portland, Seattle and Dallas. She was both writer and producer on the Emmy-winning PBS series "The U.S.-Mexican War: 1846-1848," later developing a school curriculum package based on this documentary. Andrea has a BA in Spanish Literature and Social Studies from Wheaton College and an MA in History from SMU.Production Assistant
- Angie Meyer's background in film and television includes production for Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films and various television commercial projects. With a Business degree from the University of Southern California, she has done post-production work on the feature film "Late Bloomers," as well as various industrial, educational and independent film projects.Executive in Charge
- Pam Quinn, DCCCD Assistant Chancellor with the LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, has over 25 years of experience in education and television, in teaching, public broadcasting and administration. With a BS from the University of Kansas and an MS from Texas A&M University-Commerce, she has served as a board member and consultant for numerous national organizations promoting educational telecommunications.National Advisory Committee
- Linda J. Cross, Tyler Junior College
- Mark A. Panuthos, St. Petersburg Junior College
- William. F. Mugleston, Floyd College
- David C. Bartlett, South Suburban College
- Javier R. Aguirre, Palo Alto College
- R. David Edmunds, University of Texas at Dallas
- Edward Countryman, Southern Methodist University
Local Advisory Committee
- Mary Jo Henry, Brookhaven College
- Curtis Thomas, Brookhaven College
- Cal Christman, Cedar Valley College
- Wanda Jones, El Centro College
- Richard Cinclair, Eastfield College
- Charlotte Rike, Northlake College
- John Trickel, Richland College