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Edward T. O'Donnell - Turning Points in American History Course No.8580 Professor Edward T. O'Donnell College of the Holy Cross Ph.D., Columbia University http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=8580 COURSE DESCRIPTION 1777: The colonial victory over British troops at the Battle of Saratoga persuades France to provide financial and military support that will prove vital to the success of the American Revolution. 1862: The Homestead Act makes more than 600 million acres of land available to be settled, sparking the largest migration of Americans in the nation's history. 1933: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal launches a series of unprecedented laws and programs that will relieve the stress of the Great Depression and reshape American society. 2001: The 9/11 terrorist attacks spark a complex and controversial war against terrorism both domestically and internationally. These are just four of the many turning points in the relatively short history of the United StatesΓÇölandmark movements that irrevocably altered the direction of the nation and signaled the dramatic start of a new historical reality. Whether they took the form of ΓÇó groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts, ΓÇó dramatic military victories and defeats, ΓÇó nationwide social and religious movements, or ΓÇó technological and scientific innovations, these and other turning points are the veritable backbone of the American experience. They forever changed the character of America politically, socially, culturally, and economically. Sometimes the changes brought about by these events were obvious; sometimes they were more subtle. Sometimes the effects of these turning points were immediate; other times, their aftershocks reverberated for decades. Regardless, these great historical turning points demand to be understood. Knowing what these events are, how they came about, and their dramatic effects is essential to grasping the full story of this great world power. It may even offer you vital clues as to where America is headed in the coming years and decades. Turning Points in American History is your chance to relive the most powerful and groundbreaking moments in the fascinating story of the United States of America. These 48 lectures, delivered by masterful historian and dynamic Professor Edward T. O'Donnell of College of the Holy Cross, offer you a different perspective on the sweeping narrative of U. S. history. Spanning the arrival of the first English colonists to the chaos of the Civil War to the birth of the computer age and beyond, this course is a captivating and comprehensive tour of those particular moments in the story of America, after which the nation would never be the same again. Encounter Recurring Themes in American History Professor O'Donnell has selected these specific historical turning points based on his expansive knowledge of American history and his decades of experience as a professor and lecturer to a wide variety of audiences. What makes these specific events turning points, regardless of the form they take, is the fact that they signal times when American society made a break with its past and entered a new phase of development. "Turning points mark decisive 'before and after' moments in history," he says at the start of his course. "Before Shays's Rebellion, for example, Americans lived under the Articles of Confederation. After Shays's Rebellion and the constitutional convention it inspired, Americans lived under a new federal government and enjoyed the protections articulated in the Bill of Rights. Put another way, America became a very different place after this event." Throughout Turning Points in American History, you'll encounter a series of recurring themes that will put your understanding of U. S. historyΓÇöand even history itselfΓÇöinto a larger, more informed context. Some of these themes are these: ΓÇó Surprises: Few people in any historical era are prepared for what's coming, whether it's a war, an epidemic, a revolution, or an invention. Who, 20 years ago, could have expected the astonishing impact of the personal computer on everyday life in America? ΓÇó Agency: History is often made by towering figures like George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. But it's also made by many nameless and faceless peopleΓÇöslaves, workers, farmers, suffragistsΓÇöwho take matters into their own hands and achieve historical change. ΓÇó Crisis: Historical crises are, more often than not, opportunities for great change. American history is filled with moments when a terrible crisisΓÇösuch as the Civil War or the Great DepressionΓÇöled to a sudden and radical change for the better.
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