History 471

U.S. Constitutional and Legal History

Spring 2011
Prof. Waldrep

Office Hours:
Science 225: 8:30-9:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment. E-mail cwaldrep@sfsu.edu or phone 338-2982.  Http://bss.sfsu.edu/waldrep

Texts: Urofsky and Finkelman, A March of Liberty. In addition, we have two documents readers: Waldrep and Curry, The Constitution and the Nation: The Regulatory State and Waldrep and Curry, The Constitution and the Nation: A Revolution in Rights. Always bring Constitution and Nation to class. We will read Nancy MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough.

History 471 uses the lecture and discussion format to develop students’ ability to assess and think critically about historical issues and how to interpret those issues.  Students should gain a basic factual knowledge of American constitutionalism.  This means being prepared to discuss cases and key documents.  Students will develop skills in analyzing historical data and reaching informed conclusions about those data.  This class covers the second half of American history.  The first half will be covered in history 470, offered in the Fall.

To pass the course, students must:

  1. Attend class. Attendance is of the utmost importance.
  2. Study the readings for each week before we talk about them in class.
  3. Take the examinations.  You must know the names of cases and documents and be prepared to summarize their significance on tests. If you do not have the time for the preparation necessary to do this work, you should drop this class immediately. You will also need to carefully read Nancy MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough and be prepared to take quizzes over that reading.
  4. Complete essay assignments.



    We will have three essay exams.  These exams will all be document-based. Our goal is to learn how to construct historical arguments using primary source documents. You have to use the documents we study in class to make an argument about what you have learned in class.  Use only documents discussed in class and taken from our book or the handouts.  Each test will consist of ten paragraphs covering eight documents of your choosing.  These are timed tests.  You must be selective in choosing information for the exams: remember that you will have only 75 minutes to write your first two essays.  You will not have time to tell all you know about the documents. Choose the most important facts. In a court case, this means summarizing the judges’ arguments, not getting bogged down in detailed background information. Figure out how to summarize the constitutional argument in each document in just three to four sentences.  Remember, history is never about telling all you know about the past, it’s about choosing the most important information.  In this class, the most important information is about our evolving federal system, how the locus of power shifts.  Keep you eye on where the power is at particular historical moments.

Quizzes: The quizzes are designed to get students to do a good, close reading of Nancy MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough. I’m sure you won’t remember everything you read, but you should develop critical abilities as you read. This ability to read critically is the most important skill you will learn in college.  In this case we will be testing MacLean’s narrative of history against primary source documents produced by Sandra Drew’s lawsuit against the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company for gender discrimination.

Final grade:
            Tests:               50% [3 exams]
            Essays:            20% [2 papers]
            Quizzes:          20% [3 quizzes]
            Discussion:      10%
            Class participation is an important part of your grade.  Obviously, you must come to class and participate knowledgeably, you must read the assignments before discussions.

All dates and deadlines are tentative. Be alert to in-class announcements.

Research Papers

We will have two essay assignments in this class. I expect them to be done correctly. That means correct footnoting. If you do not know how to write a footnote, that is a problem you will need to resolve. Check Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers. It is your responsibility to figure out how to write footnotes--correct footnotes. I will return papers that are not footnoted and not footnoted correctly.

Schedule of Classes


January 25: Introduction to the course: principle themes and terms.

January 27 and February 1:  The court and civil rights.
            Readings: Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 22. Go to website for documents.

        Slaughterhouse Cases.  (1873)

            Strauder v. West Virginia.  (1880)

            Ex Parte Virginia.  (1880)

            Neal v. Delaware. (1881)

            Plessy Argument (1895)

            Plessy v. Ferguson.   (1896)

           Williams v. Mississippi.  (1898)


February 3: Regulation of commerce
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 24; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 1.

February 8 and 10: Police power
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 25; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 2.

February 15 and 17: Progressive Era
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 26; Waldrep and Curry, 50-77.

Exam: February 22.


February 24, March 1 and 3: World War I and liberty
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapters 27 and 28; Waldrep and Curry, 77-106.

March 8 and 10:  New Deal
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 30; Waldrep and Curry, 107-120.

March 15:  Crisis and Resolution. No class March 17.
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 31; Waldrep and Curry, 120-128.

March 22: World War II
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapters 32 and 33; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 5.

On March 24 we will have our first book quiz, covering part 1 of MacLean, Freedom is Not Enough.

March 29 and 31: Spring Break.

April 5 and 7: Civil rights.
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapters 35 and 36; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 1.

April 12: Second book quiz: part 2 of MacLean.

April 14 and 19: Warren Court and the Bill of Rights
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 37; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 2.

Exam April 21.


April 26: Vietnam
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 38; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 3.

April 28: first essay due (five pages):

How does Sandra Drew’s case against Liberty Mutual change or reinforce what you learned in MacLean?

April 28 and May 3: Nixon and Watergate
            Urofsky and Finkelman, chapter 39; Waldrep and Curry, chapter 4.
May 5: Burger Court
Urofsky and Finkelman, chapters 40 and 41; Waldrep and Curry, 186-196.

May 10 and 12: Rehnquist Court.
Urofsky and Finkelman, chapters 43 and 44; Waldrep and Curry, 196-235.

May 12: Third McLean quiz.

Second essay due on final exam day. This will be a revised and expanded version of the first paper.


Final exam will be at the scheduled time during final exam week.


12:35 TTH

Thursday May 19