Prof. Ben P. Meredith 
Porterville College 
American West I

Course Description 
A second-year examination of the European "discovery",   "exploration", and invasion of North America between 1492 - 1790 with particular focus on the cultural interactions and ethnohistory on the first North American frontiers. 

Course Format 
The class will examine the European invasions of North American and the subsequent cultural interactions that took place on the frontier between 1492-1790. This examination is broken into five major segments: early European understandings of the world, New Spain in North America, New England and New Amsterdam, New France, and continental rivalries. These segments are presented in text readings, lecture and class discussion format. Readings or lecture alone will not insure students a good grade in this course. Rather, students will need to combine both, since the instructor's lectures and the assigned readings will often not address the same issues in history, but will address complimentary issues.  

Course Workload 
Over the length of the course the students must complete the following assignments successfully in order to pass the course: 

1) Read text assignments (753 pages total) 

2) Complete three 1300-1500 word take-home essays 

3) Complete one comprehensive, in-class, essay final examination. 

Course Text 
Required AMERICA AS SEEN BY ITS FIRST EXPLORERS: The Eyes of Discovery, John Bakeless, (New York: Dover Publications), 1989 (re-publication of the 1961 edition)
Required Revealing America: Image and Imagination in the Exploration of North America, James P. Ronda, (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath and Company), 1996.
Required Red, White & Black: The Peoples of Early North America, 3rd Edition, Gary B. Nash, (Englewoods, N.J.:Prentice Hall), 1992.
Required Selected Readings from The Frontier in American History, Fredrick Jackson Turner, (New York:Henry Holt and Company), 1921, as reprinted on ©and given as handouts.
Required Selected handouts
Optional A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, Mary Lynn Rampolla,  (New York: Bedford Books of St.Martin's Press), 1995. 
Optional Online! A Reference Guide to using Internet Sources, Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger, (New York: St. Martin's Press), 1997.

Course Schedule 
Session 1 
21 Jan
Administration and Introduction  
Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" (Handout) (13 pages) 
Ronda, pp. xxi-xxvi (6 pages) 
Nash, pp. 1-5 (5 pages)
Session 2 
28 Jan
Is the Earth Flat? and Other Early Travel Questions 
Ronda, Chapter 1 (24 pages)
Session 3 
4 Feb
Enter the Spanish 
Bakeless, Chapters 1-3 (45 pages) 
Ronda, pp 47-55 (8 pages) 
Nash, pp 7-31 & pp 111-116 (30 pages)
Session 4 
11 Feb 
Session 5 
18 Feb
Spain's North American Tours 
Bakeless, Chapters 4-6 & 21 (81 pages) 
Ronda, pp 40-47 & pp 72-77 (12 pages)
Session 6 
25 Feb
The Mission - Film& Discussion
Sesssion 7 
4 Mar 
Session 8 
11 Mar
4 March - Paper #1 Due 
North American Rivalry Begins 
Bakeless, Chapters 11-12 (49 pages) 
Ronda, pp 67-85 (18 pages) 
Nash, pp 31-41 & Chapter 3 (23 pages)
Session 9 
18 Mar 
Session 10 
25 Mar
English Growth and Tension 
Turner, "The First Official Frontier of the Massachusetts Bay" (Handout) (10 pages) 
Bakeless, Chapter 13 (13 pages) 
Nash, Chapters 4 & 6, and pp 87-95 (55 pages) 
25 March - Paper #2 Due
27 Mar - 4 Apr Spring Break 1999
Session 11 
8 Apr
New France 
Bakeless, Chapters 7-8 (35 pages) 
Ronda, pp 85-95 (10 pages) 
Nash, pp 104-111 (7 pages)
Session 12 
15 Apr 
Session 13 
22 Apr
Black Robes and Red Hearts 
Bakeless, Chapters 9-10 (39 pages) 
James Axtell, "Agents of Change: Jesuits in the Post-Columbian World" (Handout) (18 pages) 
Ronda, pp. 106-113 (7 pages)
Session 14 
29 Apr
The Black Robe - Film 
Paper #3 Due
Session 15 
6 May
Continental Rivalries 
Nash, Chapter 9 (25 pages) 
Turner, "The Old West" (Handout) (21 pages)
Session 16 
13 May
The Contest for North America 
Bakeless, Chapter 14-19 (142 pages) 
Ronda, pp 122-132 (10 pages) 
Nash, Chapter 10 & pp 251-273 (47 pages)
Session 17 
20 May
The Last of the Mohicans - Film
28 May Final Examination, 8:00-10:00

Course Prerequisites 
Although there are no prerequisites for this course, students should have taken English P101 or at least be able to read and write at a comprehension level II. Students who are unable to read or write at this level will hamper their potential success in this course. WRITING IS A GRADED ACTIVITY IN THIS COURSE AND POOR WRITING WILL HINDER YOUR GRADE.  

Class Discussion Leader 
Discussion will be an integral part of our classroom activities, therefore it is imperative that you come prepared having read the assigned texts. Each week one student or a group of students will be responsible for leading the class discussion. On the first night of class, we will designate through random selection each student's week of class discussion leader responsibility. As the discussion leader, the designated student is responsible for  

1) presenting the details of the assigned readings 
2) giving a synopsis of the major events 
3) being prepared to address specifics of what events took place 
4) presenting an analysis of the factors that influenced the events and of what we learn from the events
Although each session will have a discussion leader, each student is expected to participate in the class discussion. This is not a case of "it-isn't -my-turn-so-I'll-just-sit-here". Students are expected to freely discuss the readings during class, and are expected to participate. If you are unprepared, it will show immediately. 

Take-Home Essays 
Students will complete three, 1300-1500 word, take-home essays during the course (see Course Schedule for due dates). One week prior to the due date, I will give students two questions from which to select one to answer. In proper format (see below), students will answer the question of their choice. There is no "book answer" to these questions; nor are there incorrect answers. However, poorly argued theses are possible. Students should use all of the information they have covered in their readings, the information we have covered in lectures and discussion, and their own analysis to address the questions fully. The better students use the available class information to make their argument, generally the better the students will do on the papers; but not always. 

Papers will be graded for argument structure, logic, use of information, analysis depth, format, grammar, punctuation, and academic difficulty. Students who do not apply good academic rigor to their work jeopardize their success in the course. 

Essay Format 
All essays will be presented in proper academic format as the presentation of the essays will contribute to a student's grade on the essay. Since these essays are a representation of you to the instructor, it is in your best interest to have pride in your work. 

All essays will be typed or word processed. The essays will be double spaced; margins should be 1 inch on the top, left and right, with a half inch along the bottom. If a student decides to use a computer or word processor, the font should not be excessive.  

Students may use footnotes, in-line notes or end notes so long as they are consistent throughout their work. Students must use the Chicago manual of style in formatting the essay. If a student uses the formatting contained in A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, they will meet this requirement. For more information on this format, consult the reference section of the library or the following link. 

MLA and Chicago Style Links

The essays will have a cover page with the student's name, course name, instructor's name and due date typed on it. The text will begin 3 inches from the top on the first page only and 1 inch from the top on all others. All pages will be numbered.  

Essays will be stapled together; do not put a purchased cover on the essays. 

Content, correctness in presentation, spelling, punctuation and syntax will affect the grade. Students are encouraged to pay close attention to these elements.  

Final Exam 
Two weeks prior to the comprehensive final examination, I will give students six essay questions: three long answer questions and three short answer questions. On the day of the final, students will answer one long and one short essay question of their choice from this list. Students will bring at least two, UNMARKED blue books on the day of the test in which to write their answers. They will have 2 hours to answer the questions they chose in full. They may not use notes. I will not graded students on which questions they choose to answer, but on the accuracy and completeness of their answers.  

Class Attendance 
You are all adults and you know if you need to be in class. I will not take attendance. However, I encourage you to attend every class. Attendance will not affect your grade directly, but attendance will affect it indirectly. In class we will cover certain aspects of the subject in much more depth than the book. The depth of these discussions will directly improve your ability to answer the essay and final examination questions.  

Instructor's Views on Learning History 
1. Analyze, don't merely memorize! Too often students can get through a class with the simple adage of "Memorize, Regurgitate and Graduate!" That philosophy will not work in this class. Memorizing names, dates and terms alone does not always give you information you can use. Information you cannot use is useless information! Don't allow yourself to waste time on useless information, but rather turn that information into something you can use. Think about what we discuss and what you read. Place this information into a context in world events and justify the ideas to yourself. 

2. Taking #1 a step further, SAPERE AUDE! When it comes to learning, I firmly believe in, and will work you toward, what Immanuel Kant described as Enlightenment. In "What is Enlightenment?", Kant wrote: 

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere Aude! (Have the courage to use your own understanding!) 

"Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large proportion of men, even when nature has long emancipated them from parental guidance, nevertheless gladly remain immature for life. ... It is so convenient to be immature! If I have a book to understand for me, a spiritual advisor to have a conscience for me, a doctor to judge my diet for me, and so on, I need not make any efforts at all. I need not think, so long as I can pay; others will soon enough take that tiresome job over for me. ...Thus only a few, by cultivating their own minds, have succeeded in freeing themselves from immaturity and in continuing boldly on their way."