History 743.4
U.S. Constitutional History
KC Johnson

Wednesday evenings, at 6.20pm

This course will examine U.S. constitutional history from the Revolutionary Era until the present day. Topics include the origins of the Constitution; the Marshall and Lincoln Courts; civil rights and affirmative action; and the current court in historical context.

The following books, which are required, can be purchased at Shakespeare; or online at amazon.com by following the links below:



August 31: Introduction

September 7: Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
study questions

September 14: Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution
study questions (Ken, Sevi, Moshe)

This week we'll be exploring the debate over the Constitution. The four documents pair specific Federalist Papers with Brutus over two contentious constitutional issues (the military, the Senate).

September 21: Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation  Pages 1-20; 282-524
study questions (Josh, Allan, Justin)

Documents: Marshall decisions:

        Marbury (Joshua)

        McCulloch (Karia)

        Cherokee Nation (Sandy)

September 28: Farber, Lincoln's Constitution
study questions (David, Daniel G., Laura)


        Ex parte Milligan (David G.)

        Gettysburg Address (1863) (Adi)

        Emancipation Proclamation (1863) (Gimel)

October 5: No class: college holiday

October 12: No class: college holiday

October 19: Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction
study questions (Raymond, Thomas, Kaiqwon)


        Cruikshank v US (Madison, Mark)

        1866 Civil Rights Act (Ava)

October 26: Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality
study questions (Rosemary, Christine)

November 2: Gillman, The Constitution Besieged: The Rise and Demise of Lochner Era Police Powers Jurisprudence
study questions (Michael W., Michael L., Patty)

Documents: Harlan dissents

        EC Knight (Carline)

        Plessy (Derrick)

        Downes (Ronald)

November 9: Cushman, Rethinking the New Deal Court: The Structure of a Constitutional Revolution
study questions (Joshua, Karia, Sandy)

Document: Erie RR (Neela, Michelle)

November 16: Ferren, Salt of the Earth, Conscience of the Court: The Story of Justice Wiley Rutledge
study questions (David G., Adi, Gimel)

Documents: national security cases

        Korematsu (Amanda)

        Youngstown (Antonia)

        Rosenbergs (Ian)

November 23: Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
study questions (Madison, Mark, Ava)

Documents: school busing cases

        Swann (Sevi, Moshe)

        Milliken (Ken)

November 30: Abrams, Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment
study questions (Carline, Derrick, Ronald)

Documents: 1980s cases

        Sony (Josh, Allan)

        Morrison (Justin)

December 7: Zelnick, Swing Dance: Sandra Day O'Connor and the Michigan Muddle
study questions (Neela, Michelle, Antonia)

Documents: Gratz (David, Daniel G., Laura)

December 14: Tushnet, A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law
study questions (Amanda, Ian)


        Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (Christine)

        Lawrence v. Texas (2003): majority opinion (Kennedy: Kaiqwon, Rosemary); dissent (Scalia: Raymond, Thomas)