Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Jean Richardson, Ph.D.

Department Home page

First Reader

Jean Richardson, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Kenneth Mernitz, Ph.D.


The main objective of this thesis is to identify and examine the trends throughout American history regarding how the government has responded to internal conflicts. From the Revolution to the post-9/11 years, the United States government has dealt with numerous instances of tension and conflict with its citizens, often resulting in restrictive legislation or other measures suppressing liberty.

The primary methods used in exploring this subject include comparison and evaluation of the public and government responses to such conflicts. Previous historical analysis of events and laws, public commentary, and firsthand accounts of individual experiences are drawn upon to illustrate the varying instances of opposition between the United States government and the people who supported policies or ideologies at odds with the status quo.

In conclusion, the United States has repeatedly resorted to an ‘us vs. them’ outlook, thereby placing even peaceful opposition in the role of a threatening enemy. Anti-Federalists, pacifists, Southerners, suffragists, communists, and many others suffered the effects of this treatment over the course of American history. America’s cherished tenets of individual liberty and protection of unpopular speech have been consistently subordinated to national security. Improvements in education, increased cooperation between citizens and their representatives, a better understanding of the economics of a global community, and increased transparency in government are the primary recommendations to combat the overly nationalistic outlook which has fueled the ‘us vs. them’ policies which have stifled societal development.