HISTORY 315 - American Constitutional History

Approval Status


Date Reviewed

January 2020

From the early origins of popular sovereignty to today’s struggles over equality and over the separation of powers, this course investigates constitutional thought and activity in the United States. Beginning with the Revolution and the Constitutional Convention and ratification, and continuing through the period of slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow, we explore the interactions between social movements and legal change. Reaching the twentieth century, we turn to upheavals around territorial expansion, executive power, the New Deal, American Indian status, African American civil rights, wartime civil liberties, women's rights, LGBT Rights, and immigrants’ rights. We examine constitutional amendments, Supreme Court cases, and political battles over citizenship and voting rights that have affected how “the people” are constituted. The course puts a particular emphasis on students’ own interpretation of primary sources, from testimony before the 1871 Congressional hearings on the Ku Klux Klan, to contests reaching the federal courts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Course Type

Lower Division