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Vermont History
The University of Vermont T&TH, 8:30-12
HST 184/VS 184 Summer 2009

Course homepage:

Phone: 656-3180

Description: HST 184 is intended to introduce students to the

major historical themes and questions that have shaped the state
of Vermont over time. Our goal is to better understand Vermont
as a physical entity, as an idea, and as an identity that is
both shared and contested. Our course is about not only
interactions between people, but also the interactions of people
with their landscape, and with their ideological inheritance and
traditions. The course is intended to provide students with a
personal, usable appreciation of Vermont’s past that intimately
informs the present.

Required Reading:

Potash, et al, Freedom and Unity is our basic text. It is

available in the bookstore and on reserve in the Bailey-Howe

In addition, supplementary reserve reading may be assigned. I

might put them on Voyager, or just post them on the course
website. We’ll see.

Documents for town meetings will be posted on the course web

site at”. See below for more
information about town meetings.

Requirements and Grading:

Three “assessment” papers: 33% each

Three town meeting papers: +/- 1, or 0, final grade points

The three assessment papers each should be 2-4 pages. You have
five opportunities to write the three papers. They are intended
to be analytic exercises drawing strong conclusions about the
evolution of Vermont both physically and conceptually. Each
paper should possess a strong thesis statement that reflects
disciplined, critical thinking, supported well by factual
information, which needs to be cited (preferably in footnotes).
The exact nature of these papers will be described in class.

Grades on papers are determined by performance in three areas:

form, structure, and content. Your paper must be as
grammatically correct as possible. It must have a strong, clear
thesis statement in its introduction (which is reiterated in the
conclusion), and follow a coherent line of reasoning through
logically-structured paragraphs.

There will be five town meetings interspersed throughout the

semester. These will usually, but not always, occupy the second
half of that class session. Town meetings will combine both
small-group discussion and class-wide debate. Three times during
the semester, students must turn in a 1-to-2 page paper in a
class containing a town meeting. These will be short responses
to at least two of the primary documents assigned for that town
meeting. Further directions, and primary document assignments,
will be given in class. These are intended not only to stimulate
discussion, but also to force students to think critically about
what they have learned in lectures and reading, and not simply
take a passive approach to their work. When writing these
papers, students will be asked to put themselves in the minds of
past Vermonters; you might well be asked to write a paper
sympathetic to a position with which you don’t necessarily
agree. These papers will receive grades indicating whether a
point has been added to your final course grade. To gain a “+1”,
papers should not be random speculation, but instead opinions
well informed by cited course material, such as our textbook.
Also, make them entertaining. I’ll give you details in class.

In class sessions when both assessment papers and town meeting

papers may be submitted, students may submit one of each at the
same time.

Course Policies:

I expect students to complete all of the reading and to attend

every class, and will teach the course under that assumption.

All assignments must be completed to receive a passing grade.

All papers must be submitted in the class specified, in person.
Do not put them in my mailbox or mail them to me. Do not have
your friends hand them in for you. No late papers will be
accepted, unless there are documented circumstances of an
extreme nature. Please refer to the Cat’s Tale for guidelines on
what is proper documentation, and how to obtain it.

Under no circumstances will cheating or plagiarizing of any kind

be tolerated in this course.

Email policy: if you write me email, I will always get back to

you within 48 hours, weekends excluded.

This syllabus is a social contract, not a legal document. I

reserve the right to make changes to it as the semester
progresses. These changes might include, but are not confined
to, the assignment of replacement or extra readings, and
altering the form or dates of exams. Almost always, whenever
possible, these changes will come after consultation with the
class. The idea of keeping the syllabus a little flexible is to
make the course as productive for you as it can be.

Lecture Topics and Text Reading Assignments:

Part I: Freedom and Unity on the Frontier (up to 1800)

May 19 & 21

Reading: Potash, 1-143

Part II: Vermont in the Age of Capitalist Transformation (1800

to 1840s)

May 26 & 28

Reading: Potash, 143-211

May 28: first town meeting

first assessment paper chance

Part III: The Struggle Over Vermont’s Meaning (1840s-1880s)

June 2 & 4
Reading: Potash, 213-330

June 2: second assessment paper chance (one must be submitted by

June 4: second town meeting

Part IV: Vermont in transition (1880s to 1920s)

June 9 & 11

Reading: Potash, 330-432

June 9: third assessment paper chance

June 11: third town meeting

Part V: The Foundation for Contemporary Vermont (1920s to 1960s)

June 16 & 18

Reading: 433-515

June 16: fourth paper chance

June 18: fourth town meeting

Part VI: Coming to Terms with the Interstate Age (1960s to


June 23 & 25

Reading: Potash, 515-623

June 25: Fifth town meeting and paper chance