Making a Nation: The United States and Its People

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9780130744906: Making a Nation: The United States and Its People

Political Economy framework. Role of the individual. Global approach. Making a Nation, Portfolio Edition focuses on the relationships that shape and define human identity--culture, race, gender, class and sectional relations. The text shows that politics and the economy do not simply shape, but in turn are shaped by, the lives and cultural values of ordinary men and women. Automatically includes U.S. History Document CD-ROM with 300 primary source documents. Text-format is 2-color, smaller trim size and costs 60%less than comprehensive texts.

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About the Author:

Jeanne Boydston is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early American Republic, coauthor of The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women's Rights and Woman's Sphere, coeditor of The Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women (second edition), as well as author of articles on the labor history of women in the early republic. Professor Boydston teaches in the areas of early republic and antebellum United States history and United States women's history to 1870. Her BA and MA are from the University of Tennessee, and her PhD is from Yale University.

Nick Cullather is Associate Professor at Indiana University, where he teaches courses on the history of United States foreign relations. He is on the editorial boards of Diplomatic History and the Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, and is the author of Illusions of Influence (1994), a study of the political economy of United States-Philippines relations, and Secret History (1999), which describes a CIA covert operation against the government of Guatemala in 1954. He received his AB from Indiana University and his MA and PhD from the University of Virginia.

Jan Ellen Lewis is Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program at Rutgers University, Newark. She also teaches in the history PhD program at Rutgers, New Brunswick and was a Visiting Professor at Princeton University. A specialist in colonial and early national history, she is the author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Family and Values in Jefferson's Virginia (1983), and co-editor of An Emotional History of the United States (1998) and Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture (1999). She is currently completing an examination of the way the Founding generation grappled with the challenge presented to an egalitarian society by women and slaves and a second volume of the Penguin History of the United States. She received her AB from Bryn Mawr College, and MAs and PhD from the University of Michigan.

Michael McGerr is Associate Professor of History and Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington. He is the author of The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928 (1986). With the aid of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he is currently writing a book on the rise and fall of Progressive America. Professor McGerr teaches a wide range of courses on modern American history, including the Vietnam War, race and gender in American business, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, and the politics of American popular music. He received his BA, MA, and PhD degrees from Yale University.

James Oakes is Graduate School Humanities Professor and Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has taught at Purdue, Princeton, and Northwestern. He is author of The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (1982) and Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (1990). In addition to a year-long research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1989-90. His areas of specialization are slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the history of American political thought. He received his PhD from The University of California at Berkeley.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Every human life is shaped by a variety of different relationships. Cultural relations, diplomatic relations, race, gender, and class relations, all contribute to how an individual interacts with the larger global community. This was the theme of the full-length version of Making a Nation. For this concise edition, the authors have worked hard to retain the theme while reducing some of the illustrious material. This allows us to retain our emphasis on the relationships that have historically shaped and defined the identities of the American people. So, for example, to disentangle the identity of a Mexican American woman working in a factory in Los Angeles in the year 2000 is to confront the multiple and overlapping "identities" that define a single American life. There are many ways to explore these and similar relationships. Making a Nation views them through the lens of political economy.

In March of 1776, a few months before American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain, Adam Smith published his masterpiece, The Wealth of Nations. Smith had delayed publication of his work for a year so that he could perfect a lengthy chapter on Anglo-American relations. Thus The Wealth of Nations, one of the most important documents in a new branch of knowledge known as political economy, was written with a close eye to events in the British colonies of North America, the colonies that were soon to become the United States.

What did Smith and his many American followers mean by political economy? They meant, firstly, that the economy itself is much broader than the gross national product, the unemployment rate, or the twists and turns of the stock market. They understood that economies are tightly bound to politics, that they are therefore the products of history rather than nature or accident. And just as men and women make history, so too do they make economies—in the way they work and organize their families as much as in their fiscal policies and tax structures.

Political economy is a way of thinking that is deeply embedded in American history. To this day we casually assume that different government policies create different "incentives" shaping everything from the way capital gains are invested to how parents raise their children, from how unmarried mothers on welfare can escape from poverty, to how automobile manufacturers design cars for fuel efficiency and pollution control. Political economy is the art and science that traces these connections between government, the economy, and the relationships that shape the daily lives of ordinary men and women. But that connection points in different directions. Politics and the economy do not simply shape, but are in turn shaped by, the lives and cultural values of ordinary men and women.

Put differently, political economy establishes a context that allows students to see the links between the particular and the general, between large and seemingly abstract forces such as "globalization" and the struggles of working parents who find they need two incomes to provide for their children. Making a Nation shows that such relationships were as important in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as they are today.

In a sense, globalization has been a theme in American history from its earliest beginnings. As the opening chapters demonstrate, Europe, Africa and the Americas were linked to each other in an Atlantic world across which everything was exchanged, deadly diseases along with diplomatic formalities, political structures and cultural assumptions, African slaves and Europeans servants, colonists and commodities.

In subsequent chapters Making a Nation traces the development of the newly formed United States by once again stressing the link between the lives of ordinary men and women to the grand political struggles of the day. Should the federal government create a centralized bank? Should it promote economic development by sponsoring the construction of railroads, turnpikes and canals? At one level, such questions exposed competing ideas about what American capitalism should look like and what the implications of those ideas were for American democracy. But a closer look suggests that those same political quarrels were propelled by the concerns that farmers, workers, and businessmen were expressing about the pace and direction of economic change.

Similarly, the great sectional struggle over slavery and freedom is told as the story of dramatic political maneuvers and courageous military exploits, as well as the story of women who created the modern profession of nursing by caring for civil war soldiers and of runaway slaves who helped push the United States government into a policy of emancipation. The insights of political economy likewise frame the way Making a Nation presents the transition from slave to free labor in the South after the Civil War. In the twentieth century, as America became a global power, the demands of the new political economy of urban and industrial America inform our examination of both U.S. diplomacy and domestic affairs. It was no accident, for example, that the civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph took advantage of the crisis of the Second World War to threaten Franklin Roosevelt's administration with a march on Washington. For Randolph, the demand for racial equality was inseparable from the struggle for a more equitable distribution of the rewards of a capitalist economy.

The United States victory in World War II, coupled with the extraordinary burst of prosperity in the war's aftermath, gave rise to fantasies of omnipotence that were tested and shattered by the American experience in Vietnam. Presidents, generals, and ordinary soldiers alike shared in the illusion of invulnerability. America's was the greatest democracy and the most powerful economy on earth. Thus did Americans in Southeast Asia in the late twentieth century find themselves in much the same place that Christopher Columbus had found himself centuries before: halfway around the world, face to face with a people whose culture he did not fully understand. And even today, the unparalleled military might and economic power of the Unites States have not proved enough to make ordinary Americans feel secure from recession at home and deadly attack from abroad. History cannot provide lessons on how to navigate this paradox, but a fuller understanding of the present begins with a better understanding of the past. We trust that this concise edition of Making a Nation will help make that possible.


Because Making a Nation was written from the very beginning with an organizing theme in mind, we have been able to incorporate many topics relatively smoothly within the larger narrative. For example, this textbook includes some of the most extensive coverage of Indian and western history available, but because our coverage is integrated into the larger narrative, there is no need to provide a separate chapter on either topic. At the same time, the theme of political economy allows us to cover subjects that are often missed in standard texts. For example, Making a Nation includes more than the usual coverage of environmental history, as well as more complete coverage of the social and cultural history of the late twentieth century than is available elsewhere. And in every case the politics of globalization and environmentalism, of capitalist development and democratic reform, of family values and social inequality are never far from view. Making a Nation also provides full coverage of the most recent American history, from the end of the Cold War to the rise of a new information economy and on to the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001. Here, again, the organizing theme of political economy provides a strong but supple interpretive framework that helps students understand developments that are making a nation in a new century.


To assist students in their appreciation of this history, we have added several distinctive features and pedagogical aids.

Chapter-Opening Vignettes
The vignettes that open each chapter are intended to give specificity as well as humanity to the themes that follow. From the witchcraft trials in Salem to the Trumps' American dream, students are drawn into each chapter with compelling stories that illustrate the organizing factor of political economy.

Found at the end of each chapter, chronologies organize key events into sequential order for quick review.

Further Readings
An annotated list of helpful books related to the key topics of each chapter is located at the end of each chapter.

U.S. History Documents CD-ROM
Bound in every new copy of Making a Nation, Portfolio Edition, and organized according to the main periods in American history, the U.S. History Documents CDROM contains over 300 primary-sources in an easily-navigable PDF file. Each document is accompanied by essay questions that allow students to read important sources in U.S. history via the CD-ROM and respond online.

In addition to providing several key documents in United States history, the Appendix presents demographic data reflecting the 2000 census. An extensive Bibliography offers an expanded compilation of literature, arranged by chapter.


Making a Nation comes with an extensive package of supplementary print and multimedia materials for both instructors and students.

Instructor's Resource Manual and Test-Item File
The Instructor's Resource Manual contains chapter outlines, detailed chapter overviews, discussion questions, lecture strategies, essay topics, and tips on incorporating Penguin titles in American history into lectures. The Test-Item File includes over 1000 multiple-choice, true-false, essay, and map questi...

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Boydston, Jeanne
Published by Prentice Hall College Div
ISBN 10: 0130744905 ISBN 13: 9780130744906
Used Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Second City Books
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Book Description Prentice Hall College Div. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Dust Cover Missing. Bookseller Inventory # G0130744905I5N01

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