Early Black History
In August 1619, "twenty and odd negars" were traded for food by the crew of a Dutch sailing vessel. That commercial transaction represented the first recorded incident of a permanent African presence in America. Over the next 146 years, this population of Africans would grow to create an African American population of over four million. The overwhelming majority of this population was enslaved. This course will be an examination of those enslaved millions and their free black fellows--who they were, how they lived, and how the nation was transformed by their presence and experience. Particular attention will be paid to the varieties of African American experience and how slavery and the presence of peoples of African descent shaped American social, political, intellectual, and economic systems. Students will be presented with a variety of primary and secondary source materials; timely and careful reading of these sources will prepare students for class discussions. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions for themselves. This course fulfills the premodern requirement for the major and minor.