General Information

Prof. Hank Edmondson

Fall 2018
American Pol Thought I 4120
Monday, 5:30-8:15
A&S 342
Office Hours: Mon: 12-2, Tue 11-1 Wed: 11-1, or by appointment. 

706 421 2671 (Please try text or email first. If you text, please identify yourself. If you call, and there is no answer, be sure to leave message, Sometimes I don’t answer calls I don’t recognize.)
office hours: Mon 12-2, Tue: 11-1, Wed 11-1

Course Objectives:
In this course we will be studying the important ideas and thinkers who have shaped American Government—both politics and practice—from the Colonial period up until the Civil War. After this course a student should understand the principles that shaped American Government in this period, and to be able to recognize those principles at play in contemporary affairs, as well as other forms of culture such as fiction and film. The student moreover will be intimately acquainted with the principle writings of this formative period in American political history, including, but not limited to, a majority of the 85 essays that comprise The Federalist, Anti-Federalist thought, the principle addresses of Presidents Georgia Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Alex de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Douglass, and the U.S. Constitution.

This course is also tied together by certain important themes which run through many if not all of the course readings. A list of these themes runs long, but here are a few: revolution; individual and minority rights; human nature; the nature of power; ambition; self-interest; "manners" and government; individual, civilian and martial virtues; leadership; equality and inequality; the strengths and weakness of democracy; the role of factions in government; and the nature of justice.

take home exam 1: 1/4
take home exam 2: 1/4 (will also include Federalist Papers)
comprehensive final exam: 1/4
Research Paper: 1/4

Your essays will be graded on the basis of…

…substance, that is, how well you cover the important material and ideas
…clarity,  that is, how well you cover those ideas
…organization, that is, how well you arrange your material
…relevance, that is, how well you can explain why these ideas are meaningful today. 

For more discussion of the criteria by which exams will be graded, see the "Grading Rubric."

Requests for Modifications:
Any student requiring instructional modifications due to a documented disability should make an appointment to meet with the instructor as soon as possible. An official letter from GC&SU documenting the disability will be required to receive accommodation.  

Fire Alarms:
In the event of a fire alarm signal students should exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit.  First and second floor classes should exit through ground level exits; third floor classes through nearest stairwell to a ground level exit. Do not use elevator.  Third floor stairwells are areas where disabled people may communicate with rescue workers.  Be familiar with the floor plan and exits of this building.

Class Participation:
Class discussion, including questions, comments, and disagreements, is welcome, but in order to contribute well to discussions, you need to read the material before hand. Since this class only meets once a week, missing two classes is the same as missing two weeks of class. For that reason, if you should miss more than two class meetings, it will be impossible to make an "A" in the class. If you miss more than four classes, it will be impossible to make a "B.” If you miss more than 6 classes, it will be impossible to make a “C.” In some cases, make-up work might be offered to make up for an absence, but that will be at the discretion of the instructor and only in extreme cases.

In cases of borderline grades, those who have contributed well to class participation may receive additional credit. Intelligent participation in a class like this means that you must keep up with current affairs and be prepared to discuss them in light of the principles we are studying. You’ll also be expected to include discussion of current affairs on your exams. You are, moreover, required to read the articles in the reserve reading section of the on-line version of this syllabus and be prepared to discuss those articles in class and on exams.  

Please note that messages and last minute assignments--and even a class cancellation--will be periodically posted at the top of this syllabus. Please check it daily. You may receive no other notice. 

NOTE: Please bring your text to class every day, that is, the text we happen to be dealing with at the time as best you can anticipate it. Since this is a text-based class, our principle discussion each class will focus intensely on the assigned text. 

Furthermore, there is a great deal of material to cover in this class so that the class period will be fast-moving. Please do your best to keep up because there is no time to review the material before the exams.

Also, much of the material is available free to you on this website. Please print this material off, organized in some fashion--such as a notebook--and bring it to class with you.

Finally, and to reiterate, this class is heavily dependent on class discussion. Inevitably however, we will occasinally fall behind in our schedule, but the schedule is designed in such a way to enable us to play "catch-up ball." For that reason, you should always keep up with the readings as scheduled and be prepared to discuss material, even if it was originally scheduled, for example, for a week or two prior to a particular class meeting.

Optional Resources:

The Founders Constitution
You might find this site interesting and helpful. It is organized around the U.S. Constitution and offers many of the documents that were antecedent to  the Constitution itself.

“The Tudors,” (Showtime, Jonathon Rhys Meyers). This series is extremely helpful in understanding the many abuses that the American Founders sought to remedy as they debated and wrote the U.S. Constitution. The series however, is quite graphic, both in respect to gruesome violence and also graphic sexuality: Caveat Emptor.

“John Adams” (2008, HBO, Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney) Superb series on Adams brilliant played by Giamatti and Linney. There is nothing like this on any of the other Founders.

Research Paper:
The research paper should be at least 12 double-spaced, 12 pt font, pages in length and should employ either footnotes or endnotes. Guidelines for formatting are available in the GC&SU library or from Turabian’s Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style. This paper requires you to take some element of the political thought we have studied in this class and to apply that thought to a contemporary national situation. All topics must be approved by the instructor. If you submit your paper to the GC&SU Writing Center, respond to their suggestions, and show evidence that you have done so, your research paper grade will be increased by one half letter grade; e.g. A to A+ or C+ to B, D+ to C-, etc. You can contact the Writing Center at:

Cheating will not be tolerated. It comes in a variety of forms, including plagiarism. If you are unfamiliar with the offense of plagiarism, please familiarize yourself. Also, please note that no work done in other classes will be accepted to fulfill requirements in this class.




© Hank Edmondson 2012