History 357

Race, Region, and the Rise of the Right

Fall 2005

Tuesdays and Fridays, 1:10 – 2:25

Prof. Karen Merrill Office hours: Tues. 10:30-11:30

Stetson h17 (and Kellogg House) Wed. 11:00-12:00 and

x2527 by appointment


It may be hard to imagine the American political landscape today without conservatism, and yet like its counterpart – liberalism – conservatism is a creature with a complicated history. While drawing on European ideas that were emerging in reaction to fascism and communism, conservatism also had its American origins in a backlash against the New Deal, particularly in the South and the West, and particularly to liberals’ growing belief that the federal government should expand its powers to protect the rights of African Americans and working-class Americans. While the Reagan presidency signified to many “the end of the New Deal order,” it remains unclear in the post-9/11 world what precise legacy of conservatism his administration established. This course will explore the issues that conservatives have embraced in different periods since the New Deal; what issues have created conflict among conservative ranks; and how conservatives have mobilized political power at different historical junctures.

Requirements: I will expect you to complete and be ready to discuss the reading for each class by the time we meet. In addition, each week, for either Monday’s or Thursday’s discussions, you must e-mail me a paragraph of questions and thoughts about the reading; please be sure that I receive them by noon the day of the class. A 1000-1250 word book review on either Kari Frederickson’s The Dixiecrat Revolt or Robert Goldberg’s Barry Goldwater will be due on October 6th. The analytical essay will be due Wednesday, November 8th, and your 12-15 page research paper will be due on Tuesday, December 13th . The schedule for taking the 24-hour take-home final exam will be announced in class.

In addition to the course packet, which you can purchase from Mrs. Swift in the History Department office, the following texts are available at Water Street Books, and most of them are on reserve at the library:

William F. Buckley, God and Man at Yale

James Carroll, An American Requiem

Dan Carter, The Politics of Rage

Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South

Robert Goldberg, Barry Goldwater

Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis


Participation: 15%

Book Review: 15%

Analytical essay: 25%

Research paper: 30%

Final Exam (1 hour): 15%

Course Schedule

F. 9/9: Introduction – How do we think historically about the political rise of modern conservatives?

Week 1: The Contours of New Deal Politics

T. 9/13: Henry Ford, “Self-Help Is the Best Response to Unemployment”; Charles R. Walker, “Self-Help Is Not Enough”; Stuart Chase, “The Federal Government Should Act to End the Depression”; Ray Vance, “Government Actions Cannot End the Depression”; Franklin D. Roosevelt, “America Needs a New Deal”; Herbert Hoover, “Roosevelt’s New Deal Would Harm America”; Rexford Tugwell, “The New Deal Mars a New Era of Economic Planning”; H. L. Mencken, “The New Deal Is a Fraud”; Huey P. Long, “Redistributing Wealth Can Help Americans Out of the Depression”; David Lawrence, “Redistributing Wealth Would Not Help Americans Out of the Depression” ALSO: Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt, pp. 11-27

F. 9/16: Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The New Deal Must Be Extended”; Robert A. Taft, “The New Deal Must Be Limited”; Frederickson, Dixiecrat Revolt, pp. 28-66; Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, pp. 3-14

Week 2: Race and the Dissolution of the Solid South (and your research paper)

T. 9/20: Discussion of paper and library resources with Lori DuBois, BUT be sure to read Frederickson, Dixiecrat Revolt, pp. 67-117

F. 9/23: Frederickson, Dixiecrat Revolt, pp. 118-216

Week 3: Anti-Government, Anti-Union: Goldwater and the Changing U.S. Economy

T. 9/27: Goldberg, Barry Goldwater, pp. 67-117

F. 9/30: Goldberg, Barry Goldwater, pp. 118-148, Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, skim pp. 91-123, but read pp. 125-177.

Week 4: Intellectual and Religious Roots of the Right

T. 10/4: George Nash, “The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America”; William F. Buckley, God and Man at Yale, chapter two (“Individualism at Yale”)

**Book Review due Thursday, October 6th, by 3:00, under my office door or in my mailbox.

F. 10/7: William F. Buckley, God and Man at Yale, chapter one (“Religion at Yale”); Darren Dochuk, “‘They Locked God Outside the Iron Curtain’: The Politics of Anti-Communism and the Ascendancy of Plain-Folk Evangelicalism in the Postwar West,” (handout)

Week 5: Housing and the Postwar Industrial North

T. 10/11: No Class – Reading Period

F. 10/14: Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, pp. 15-88; 181-229

Week 6: The “Communist Menace” and Goldwaterism

T. 10/18: “Testimony of Edgar Hoover Before HUAC”


ALSO Robert Goldberg, Barry Goldwater, pp. 149-237; Robert Welch, “The Politician”; Lisa McGirr, “The Grassroots Goldwater Campaign” (from Suburban Warriors)

F. 10/21: David Farber and Jeff Roche, “Introduction” to The Conservative Sixties; Michelle Nickerson, “Moral Mothers and Goldwater Girls” (in The Conservative Sixties); “Report on John Birch Society, 1966”

Week 7: Interpreting the “Conservative Sixties”

T. 10/24: cp: Richard Hofstadter, “Goldwater and Pseudo-Conservative Politics” (from The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and Other Essays); Lisa McGirr, “The Birth of Populist Conservatism” (from Suburban Warriors)

**Prospectus due for research paper

F. 10/28: Carroll, An American Requiem, pp. 1-123

Week 8: Revolt and Reaction

T. 10/31: Carroll, An American Requiem, pp. 124-279

F. 11/4: Make-up Day for Loose Ends due to Mountain Day

Week 9: The 1968 Election

T. 11/7: Carter, The Politics of Rage, pp. 200-370; cp: Michael Kazin, “Stand Up for the Working Man: George Wallace and the Making of the New Right” (from The Populist Persuasion)

**Analytical essay due Wednesday, November 8th, by 3:00, under my office door or in my mailbox.

F. 11/11: cp: Garry Wills, “Nixon Agonistes,” pp. 15-42, 181-256; Kevin Phillips, Introduction to The Emerging Republican Majority

Week 10: Conservative Political Identities in the Sixties and Seventies

T. 11/15: Michael Kazin, “The Conservative Capture: From Nixon to Reagan” (from The Populist Persuasion); Donald Critchlow, “Conservatism Reconsidered: Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism” (in The Conservative Sixties); Kristin Luker, “The Emergence of the Right-to-Life Movement,” in Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood.

F. 11/18: Irving Kristol, “An Autobiographical Memoir” and “About Equality”

**Detailed outline for research paper due by Tuesday, November 22nd

NO CLASS this week: Thanksgiving break

Week 11: The Reagan Revolution

T. 11/29: cp: Garry Wills, “Introduction” and “Part Seven” from Reagan’s America; Frances Fitzgerald, “Liberty Baptist” (from Cities on a Hill)

F. 12/1: Paul Boyer, Reagan as President (all excerpts); Susan Faludi, “The Politics of Resentment,” in Backlash

Week 12: Twenty-First-Century Conservatism

T. 12/6: Bill Keller, “The Radical Presidency of George W. Bush: Reagan’s Son,” New York Times Magazine, January 26, 2003; Anne Norton, excerpts from Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire; http://www.newamericancentury.org/

F. 12/9: TBA

**Research Paper due Tuesday, December 13th, by 3:00 p.m., under my office door or in my mailbox.