The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History: The Bare Minimum on Discovering America, the Boston Tea Party, the California Gold Rush, and Lots of Other Stuff Dead White Guys Did

BOOK: The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History: The Bare Minimum on Discovering America, the Boston Tea Party, the California Gold Rush, and Lots of Other Stuff Dead White Guys Did
5.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Bare Minimum on Discovering America, 

the Boston Tea Party, the California Gold Rush, 

and Lost of Other Stuff Dead White Guys Did



Copyright © 2009 by Don Stewart and John Pfeiffer
All rights reserved.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any
form without permission from the publisher; exceptions are
made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.

Published by
Adams Media, a division of F+W Media, Inc.
57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 02322. U.S.A.

ISBN 10: 1-60550-346-0
ISBN 13: 978-1605503462 (paperback)
ISBN 13: 978-1440504396 (EPUB)

Printed in the United States of America.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
is available from the publisher.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. --
From a Declaration of Principles
jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their product are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this book and Adams Media was aware of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed with initial capital letters.

Don Stewart's Acknowledgments

A huge thank you goes out to my unbelievably supportive wife Erin. You have shown me time and time again what unconditional love is even when I have probably deserved love with a handful of conditions attached to it.

An equally huge thank you goes out to my two incredible kids, Emma and Joshua. Even though it will be years before you will be allowed to read this book, I want you to know how much I love the two of you.

To my parents Don and Dianne, thank you for the lifetime of love you have given me and the opportunities that you worked so hard to provide me with.

To my in-laws Bob and Blair, thank you for all of the times you have gone above and beyond to show your support to me. It is very much appreciated and will never be forgotten.

To Meredith O'Hayre of Adams Media, thanks for all of your hard work and enthusiasm for this project. John and I are fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you on this book.

To Steve Harris of CSG Literary Partners, LLC for representing this book. You took a chance on us and we are grateful that you did.

And finally, thank you to the rest of my family and friends. Your encouragement during the writing of this book was been invaluable.

Thanks again to everyone.

John Pfeiffer's Acknowledgements

Don and I have just wrapped on the final touches of writing
Slacker's Guide
. As I type the last word, I do the double chest pound with my fist and then point to the sky a la Deion Sanders. Don and I attempt to do the flying chestbump, but we barely achieve lift off, and both end up injured. While I am on the disabled list (out of shape, day-to-day), I wanted to take time to give thanks where it is due.

I want to thank and send love to my wife Alana, who had faith in me (and the project) when there was no reason to have any. A shout out goes to my three girls: Kaitlyn, Lindsay, and Zoey, who put up with me and my sense of humor on a daily basis. To our agent Steve Harris, who took a chance on us and our dirty history book. To Adams Media, for giving first-time authors a chance. Big ups to Meredith O'Hayre, for her guidance through the process and tact in reining us in when we needed it. HUGE thanks to Bonnie Hearn Hill, who taught us how to query and write a proposal, and mentally prepared us for the wave of rejection that was to follow. Props and love to the DAFL and WWL, for wasting my time when I should have been writing. Thanks to John Mueller, who was invaluable to me, and was there for me literally every step of the way. To my Mother, who I am sure is looking down at this project and hopefully chuckling. Thanks goes to Roy and Marie and Ken and Joan, for being so supportive in so many areas of my life. Special thanks to Bob and Melinda, Doug and Chantel, Wendy and Wayne, and Megan and Jeff for your all-purpose awesomeness and not laughing (at least to my face) when I told you Don and I were going to write a book. Peace and I'm out.



1492 Columbus Discovers America

1587 The Lost Colony of Roanoke

1619 Slavery Comes to America

1620 The Pilgrims Land on Plymouth Rock

1626 Purchase of Manhattan

1681 Pennsylvania and the Quakers

1692–1693 The Salem Witch Trials

1754-1763 The French and Indian War

1773 The Boston Tea Party

1775 Patrick Henry's Call to Arms

1775 Paul Revere's Midnight Ride

1775–1783 The Revolutionary War

1776 The Declaration of Independence

1787 The Constitution

1787 The Three-Fifths Compromise

1789 George Washington Elected First President of the United States

1789 The Bill of Rights

1803 The Louisiana Purchase

1804 Lewis and Clark

1812–1815 The War of 1812

1814 Francis Scott Key Writes “The Star-Spangled Banner”

1830 Indian Removal Act

1836 The Alamo

1846–1848 The Mexican War

1848–1855 The California Gold Rush

1857 Dred Scott Decision

1861–1865 The Civil War

1865 The Thirteenth Amendment

1865 Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

1867 Seward's Folly: The Alaskan Purchase

1867 The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

1869 The Golden Spike of the First Transcontinental Railroad

1876 The Battle of Little Bighorn

1881 Assassination of James Garfield

1890 The Death of Sitting Bull

1901 Assassination of William McKinley

1913 Income Tax Enacted

1914–1918 World War I

1914 The Panama Canal

1920 Women Get the Vote

1921–1933 Prohibition

1925 The Scopes Monkey Trial

1929–1944 The Great Depression

1938 The First Minimum Wage

1939–1945 World War II

1945–1991 The Cold War

1949 The Formation of NATO

1949–1954 McCarthyism

1950–1953 The Korean War

1955 Rosa Parks

1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

1960s Martin Luther King Jr.

1963 The JFK Assassination

1964 The Civil Rights Act

1925–1965 Malcolm X

1959–1975 The Vietnam War

1969 Moon Landing

1973 OPEC Oil Embargo

1972–1973 Watergate

1979 Three Mile Island

1981–1989 Ronald Reagan's Presidency

1991 The Gulf War-Operation Desert Storm

1995 Oklahoma City Bombing

2000 2000 Presidential Election

2001 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

2003- Second Gulf War/Iraq War

2008 Mortgage and Credit Crisis

2008 The 2008 Election

The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History Final Exam


The following passage is for illustrative purposes only. It is in no way a reflection of the authors' philosophy on American history. In fact, the purpose of this paragraph is to emphasize what is wrong with the current crop of books published about U.S. history. If for any reason while reading this illustrative paragraph, you suffer from shortness of breath, sweaty palms, or an overwhelming desire to seek out the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle, calmly stop reading and proceed to the next paragraph. Please note: The following paragraph has been borrowed in its entirety from Edward Channing. Mr. Channing is a Harvard history professor and the author of
A Short History of the United States
. What follows is from the first paragraph of the preface of his book. Again, proceed with caution!

“The study of the history of one's own country is a serious matter, and should be entered upon by the text-book writer, by the teacher, and by the pupil in a serious spirit, even to a greater extent than the study of language or of arithmetic. … It is a text-book pure and simple, and should be used as a text-book, to be studied diligently by the pupil and expounded carefully by the teacher.”


Wow. Is it any wonder no one is getting a hard-on for history at Harvard?

Unfortunately, this is the type of philosophy that is embedded in nearly every book ever published about American history. As a result, it is not only the students of Harvard who can't seem to get it stiff for history, but also the rest of the country. People who write about history tend to take the subject matter and themselves way too seriously.

The stuffy history professor with a half dozen initials after his name who is popping double stacks of Viagra between lectures is not qualified to write a book like this. The slacker generation has been tuning out these talking heads for years. They have sat in lecture halls with their fellow collegiate comrades trying to decide whether it's Dr. Talking Head, MLS soccer, or a preseason WNBA game that has the greater power to suck your soul dry. Unfortunately, for most, the conclusion was Dr. Talking Head.


Please read through the following syllabus at your convenience. There is no need to rush through the material, as this course is not designed for overachievers. There will be no extra credit for students who exceed expectations. The performance expectations for this course have been set very low. Please make no effort to impress us with high test scores and well-written essays. Any student who is willing to screw up the bell curve for the rest of the class by scoring outrageously high marks will be promptly dismissed from this course, as this behavior is considered unacceptable.

Course Objectives:
The purpose of this course is to prove that American history is flat-out funny when it is retold by us. We don't care if you're eight or eighty, blind, crippled or crazy, we want to tell
our version of U.S. history.

A pulse, a sense of humor, and $12.95 to purchase your course book,
The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History
. Literacy is optional.

Course Description:
This course will cover the most significant events in U.S. history. Lesser events have been ignored in order to give us the opportunity to explore the important subtopics of presidential infidelity, allnight benders, gambling, and adult dancers. Please check any preconceived notions that history is boring at the door.

Course Expectations:
By the end of this course, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  2. If you and a friend were left for dead in the middle of the Cherokee National Forest, would you want that friend to be Meriwether Lewis, Jennifer Aniston, or Trapper John MD?

  3. If in December 1917 Congress had voted to hand out “Just Say No to Booze” buttons in high schools throughout the country instead of passing Prohibition legislation, would Americans drink less booze today?

  4. Has Al Gore gone Hollywood?

  5. If you had to choose between the following sets of past and present political leaders to anchor your U.S. Political Rotisserie team, who would you choose: Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Condoleezza Rice; Woodrow Wilson, Gerald Ford, and Colin Powell; or Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, and Hillary Clinton?

  6. As it is currently constructed, does the Republican Party qualify as a cult?



There will be three exams, each consisting of easy multiple-choice questions along with the always-popular fifty-fifty-chance true/false questions. If any one test score is less than desirable, we allow for one mulligan, so use it wisely. Under no circumstances is a student to prepare for a test by studying previously covered material. Studying is tantamount to cheating. Cramming your ass off the night before does not accurately reflect what you have learned. Taking an exam without studying is a true indication of what you know on the day of the exam and what you will know three months later. Any student caught studying will automatically receive a failing grade, no exceptions.

All grading will be based on pass/fail. We find this helps to contain and frustrate overachievers.

Closing Thought

Upon successful completion of the course material, you will immediately go buy another copy of
The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History
and give it to somebody who hates you. The goodwill that is spread along with the laughter will eventually bring about world peace, or at the very least, end the border skirmishes we are experiencing with Canada and Mexico.

BOOK: The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History: The Bare Minimum on Discovering America, the Boston Tea Party, the California Gold Rush, and Lots of Other Stuff Dead White Guys Did
5.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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