Exploring America, Part 1 (Columbus to Reconstruction)
By: Ray Notgrass
This curriculum will guide you through the story of our country from the first European explorers to the present. We place great emphasis on original documents and speeches because these allow the participants in history to tell the story from their own perspective. This curriculum also introduces some of the great literature that Americans have produced: novels, short stories, autobiographies, memoirs, essays, poems, hymns, and other kinds of writing. The written and spoken word has a profound ability to move hearts and minds.
This course also explores the significance of faith with regard to history. Faith is connected with history in two ways. First, people have often been motivated to act because of their faith in God. For instance, faith motivated the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to seek a new land in which to live. Faith caused people to oppose slavery. Faith has been expressed often in the speeches and documents that Americans have produced. We recognize and highlight the importance of faith throughout the American story.
A second way that faith should be connected to history is by looking at the overall story of American history through the eyes of faith. We encourage students to think about the faith lessons that they can learn from people and events in history. For instance, many God-fearing Americans owned slaves and had a strong prejudice against blacks. We need to understand what caused those Christian people to be blinded by their culture and how they missed the example of Jesus and the teaching of Scripture about this issue (see John 4:7-9, Galatians 3:28, and Ephesians 2:19). This might help us realize cultural blindnesses we suffer today. A study of history can inform, challenge, and strengthen our own faith.