Constructing the American Past, Volume I, 4th edition

  • Elliot J. Gorn
  • Randy J. Roberts
  • Terry D. Bilhartz

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This popular collection consists of a variety of primary sources, all grouped around central themes in American history to 1877. KEY TOPICS: Each chapter in this book focuses on a particular problem in American history to 1877, such as the making of the Constitution in 1787, providing the reader with several points of view from which to examine the historical evidence. MARKET: For anyone interested in American history to 1877.

Table of contents

Volume 1.

(Each Chapter begins with “Historical Context” and concludes with “Questions,” “Defining Terms,” “Probing the Sources,” “Interpreting the Sources,” and “Additional Reading.”)



1. Contact and Conquest: The Meeting of Old and New Worlds.

The Documents:

Privileges and Prerogatives Granted by Their Catholic Majesties to Christopher Columbus.

Journal of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage.

Bartolomé de Las Casas, From The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account.

The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest, Florentine Codex, as Collected by Bernadino de Sahagún.


2. Dying and Surviving in Virginia.

The Documents:

Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh.

Arthur Barlowe, “Narrative of the 1584 Voyage”.

Thomas Harriot, From A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.

John White, “Narrative of the 1590 Virginia Voyage”.

George Percy, “Discourse”.

John Smith, From Journal.

Powhatan's Speech to Captain John Smith.

From Nova Britannia, 1609.

From Laws Divine, Moral and Martial, 1611.

“The State of the Colony in Virginia,” 1622.

Richard Frethorne, An Indentured Servant Describes Life in Virginia in a Letter to His Parents.


3. The Puritan Experience in New England.

The Documents:

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”.

Excerpts from the Trial of Anne Hutchinson.

From The Apologia of Robert Keayne.

Education and Literacy.

Home and Family.

Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God.

Salem's Struggle with Satan.

4. Eighteenth Century American Voices.

The Documents:

The Diaries of William Byrd.

Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

The Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards.

Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Sarah Osborn.

The Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin.

5. What Kind of Revolution? Justifications for Rebellion.

The Documents:

Joseph Galloway, “Plan of Union”.

Samuel Seabury, “An Alarm to the Legislature”.

Benjamin Franklin on the Galloway Plan and the North Resolution.

Thomas Paine, From Common Sense.

John Wesley's Sermon.

Lord Dunmore's Proclamation and Responses.

Correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.

The Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson, From Notes on the State of Virginia.

Letter from Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson.

Reply of Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Banneker.

6. Forming a More Perfect Union: The Constitution of 1787 versus Friends, Foes and the Disfranchised.

The Documents:

Selections from the Constitution of 1787.

Selections from the Speeches of Patrick Henry in the Virginia State Ratifying Convention.

Mercy Otis Warren, Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and Conventions by a Columbian Patriot.

Selections from the Letters of George Washington.

Selections from The Federalist Papers.


7. Shouting for Glory: Camp Meeting Christianity Described, Decried, and Defended.

The Documents:

Fanny Lewis, “Glory! Glory! This Is the Happiest Day I Ever Saw”.

William Thatcher, “The Melting Power of God”.

Barton Stone, “The Smile of Heaven Shone”.

Martin J. Spalding, “A Fanaticism as Absurd as It Was Blasphemous”.

“Camp-Meetings, and Agricultural Fairs”.

From An Apology for Camp Meetings.

8. Living and Dying in Bondage: The Slave Conspiracy of 1822.

The Documents:

The Trials.

“Gracious Heaven When I Think What I Have Escaped”: Anna Hayes Johnson Letters to Her Cousin.

“The Conspiracy Had Spread Wider and Wider”: John Potter to Langdon Cheves.

“White Men, Too, Would Engender Plots”: Newspapers Report the Vesey Conspiracy.

David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World.


9. Remembering the Alamo.

The Documents:

Document Set 1. The Prelude.

Document Set 2. The Battle.

Document Set 3. The Aftermath.


10. Women in Antebellum America.

The Documents:

A. J. Graves, “Religious Women”.

Catharine Beecher, “The Peculiar Responsibilities of American Women”.

Sarah M. Grimké, “On the Condition of Women in the United States”.

Harriet Jacobs, From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Declaration of Sentiments.

Lucy Larcom, From A New England Girlhood.

Malenda Edwards and Mary Paul Letters.

11. A House Divided: Free Labor, Slave Labor.

The Documents:

George Fitzhugh, From Cannibals All!

Hinton Rowan Helper, From The Impending Crisis of the South.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, From Uncle Tom's Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly.

Frederick Douglass, Open Letter to Thomas Auld.

12. A War Within a War: The New York City Draft Riots

The Documents:

Enrollment Act of 1863.

Ellen Leonard, “Three Days of Terror”.

From The Diary of George Templeton Strong.

To The Laboring Men of New York.

Dearly Beloved!

“The Raging Riot— Its Character, and the True Attitude Toward It”.

A Letter from One of the Rioters.

The $300 Exemption.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural.

13. Reconstruction and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan

The Documents:

Initiation Oath of the Knights of White Camelia.

Testimony of Victims of the Ku Klux Klan.

Congressional Inquiry into Klan Activities.

Hon. Job E. Stevenson of Ohio, Speech to the House of Representatives.

Benjamin Bryant, From Experience of a Northern Man Among the Ku-Klux.

W.H. Gannon, “How to Extirpate Ku-Kluxism from the South”.



Published by Pearson Higher Education (September 21st 2001) - Copyright © 2002