Defining a New Nation:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m. (EST)

The Apotheosis of Washington, 19th century, artist unknown


Scott Casper

Professor of History
University of Nevada, Reno
National Humanities Center Fellow

About the Seminar

In the three decades after the American Revolution, the identity of the new nation remained far from settled. American writers and politicians asserted that the United States differed from Europe, but they disagreed about how. Did the American people possess a new “national character,” based on shared experience or a new environment? What policies and practices would best ensure the survival of the republican experiment? And how would a nation founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” address the contradictions of its own inequalities? With selected primary sources from the new republic — in words and pictures — the seminar will explore these questions.

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Assigned Readings

To incorporate seminar texts into your teaching, we offer the National Humanities Center's Primary Document Application Form.
  1. Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
  2. Daniel Webster, Oration on the Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, 1802
  3. Dr. Samuel Jennings, The Married Ladies Companion, 1808
  4. A Lady, “The Female Advocate,” 1801
  5. Frances Wright, Views of Society and Manners in America, 1821
  6. Forging a National Identity: Six Patriotic Pieces (Images)
  7. Color version of The Apotheosis of Washington, image


PowerPoint: 1.95 MB

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