This past Fall I taught the first half of the United States & the World survey (1763-1914) for the first time. More so than most classes, the subject matter for this course tows a cartload of nationalist historical baggage. . . . [T]he challenge comes from the more deeply embedded assumption that the history of the United States is the history of a nation-state, and a powerful and exceptional nation-state at that. I knew that it would be a challenge to convince students that in global terms the early United States was a weak nation, a provincial backwater. And even students who are highly aware of the violent dispossession of Native Americans still have a hard time understanding that process not as national growth (“westward expansion”) but as empire (the conquest and rule of foreign peoples and nations).
For easy access to the rest of the series, follow the links:In teaching these topics, I found law—both domestic and international—to be an invaluable companion.