Advanced Placement United States History – Period 1: 1491-1607

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Advanced Placement United States History – Period 4: 1800-1848

Theme This course examines the history of America from 1491 to present day. Throughout the course, students will learn about the political, religious, social, economic, and diplomatic events that have shaped United States history through the critical analysis of primary and secondary materials. The course is designed to encourage students to become historians and researchers who are able to use historical facts and evidence with the goal of creating deeper conceptual understandings of critical developments in U.S. history. Students will learn to weigh evidence and interpretations as they build their factual knowledge of U.S. history and apply those facts analytically to draw conclusions about the issues that shaped and continue to shape this country.

Strand History


The new republic struggled to define and extend democratic ideals in the face of rapid economic, territorial, and demographic changes.


17 days

Content Statement

1. The United States developed the world’s first modern mass democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation’s democratic ideals and to reform its institutions to match them.

Learning Targets:

 I can analyze how the nation’s transformation to a more participatory democracy was accompanied by continued debates over federal power, the relationship between the federal government and the states, the authority of different branches of the federal government, and the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens.

 I can explain how that concurrent with an increasing international exchange of goods and ideas, larger numbers of Americans began struggling with how to match democratic political ideals to political institutions and social realities.

 I can understand that while Americans celebrated their nation’s progress toward a unified new national culture that blended Old World forms with New World ideas, various groups of the nation’s inhabitants developed distinctive cultures of their own.

2. Developments in technology, agriculture, and commerce precipitated profound changes in U.S. settlement patterns, regional identities, gender and family relations, political power, and distribution of consumer goods.

Learning Targets:

 I can explain how a global market and communications revolution, influencing and influenced by technological innovations, led to dramatic shifts in the nature of agriculture and manufacturing.

 I can understand that regional economic specialization, especially the demands of cultivating southern cotton, shaped settlement patterns and the national and international economy.

 I can illustrate the economic changes caused by the market revolution had significant effects on migration patterns, gender and family relations, and the distribution of political power.

3. U.S. interest in increasing foreign trade, expanding its national borders, and isolating itself from European conflicts shaped the nation’s foreign policy and spurred government and private initiatives.

Learning Targets:

 I can show that while struggling to create an independent global presence, U.S. policymakers sought to dominate the North American continent and to promote its foreign trade.

 I can describe how various American groups and individuals initiated, championed, and/or resisted the expansion of territory and/or government powers.

 I can explain how the American acquisition of lands in the West gave rise to a contest over the extension of slavery into the western territories as well as a series of attempts at national compromise.

Content Elaborations

1. A. As various constituencies and interest groups coalesced and defined their agendas, various political parties, most significantly the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans in the 1790s and the Democrats and Whigs in the 1830s, were created or transformed to reflect and/or promote those agendas.

1. B. Supreme Court decisions sought to assert federal power over state laws and the primacy of the judiciary in determining the meaning of the Constitution.
1. C. With the acceleration of a national and international market economy, Americans debated the scope of government’s role in the economy, while diverging economic systems meant that regional political and economic loyalties often continued to overshadow national concerns.
1. D. Many white Americans in the South asserted their regional identity through pride in the institution of slavery, insisting that the federal government should defend that institution.
1. E. The Second Great Awakening, liberal social ideas from abroad, and Romantic beliefs in human perfectibility fostered the rise of voluntary organizations to promote religious and secular reforms, including abolition and women’s rights.
1. F. Despite the outlawing of the international slave trade, the rise in the number of free African Americans in both the North and the South, and widespread discussion of various emancipation plans, the U.S. and many state governments continued to restrict African Americans’ citizenship possibilities.
1. G. Resistance to initiatives for democracy and inclusion included proslavery arguments, rising xenophobia, anti-black sentiments in political and popular culture, and restrictive anti-Indian policies.
1. H. A new national culture emerged, with various Americans creating art, architecture, and literature that combined European forms with local and regional cultural sensibilities.
1. I. Various groups of American Indians, women, and religious followers developed cultures reflecting their interests and experiences, as did regional groups and an emerging urban middle class.
1. J. Enslaved and free African Americans, isolated at the bottom of the social hierarchy, created communities and strategies to protect their dignity and their family structures, even as some launched abolitionist and reform movements aimed at changing their status.
2. A. Innovations including textile machinery, steam engines, interchangeable parts, canals, railroads, and the telegraph, as well as agricultural inventions, both extended markets and brought efficiency to production for those markets.
2. B. Increasing numbers of Americans, especially women in factories and low-skilled male workers, no longer relied on semi-subsistence agriculture but made their livelihoods producing goods for distant markets, even as some urban entrepreneurs went into finance rather than manufacturing.
2. C. Southern cotton furnished the raw material for manufacturing in the Northeast, while the growth in cotton production and trade promoted the development of national economic ties, shaped the international economy, and fueled the internal slave trade.
2. D. Despite some governmental and private efforts to create a unified national economy, most notably the American System, the shift to market production linked the North and the Midwest more closely than either was linked to the South.
2. E. Efforts to exploit the nation’s natural resources led to government efforts to promote free and forced migration of various American peoples across the continent, as well as to competing ideas about defining and managing labor systems, geographical boundaries, and natural resources.
2. F. With the opening of canals and new roads into the western territories, native-born white citizens relocated westward, relying on new community systems to replace their old family and local relationships.
2. G. Migrants from Europe increased the population in the East and the Midwest, forging strong bonds of interdependence between the Northeast and the Old Northwest.
2. H. The South remained politically, culturally, and ideologically distinct from the other sections, while continuing to rely on its exports to Europe for economic growth.
2. I. The market revolution helped to widen a gap between rich and poor, shaped emerging middle and working classes, and caused an increasing separation between home and workplace, which led to dramatic transformations in gender and in family roles and expectations.
2. J. Regional interests continued to trump national concerns as the basis for many political leaders’ positions on economic issues including slavery, the national bank, tariffs, and internal improvements.
3. A. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the drive to acquire, survey, and open up new lands and markets led Americans into numerous economic, diplomatic, and military initiatives in the Western Hemisphere and Asia.
3. B. The U.S. sought dominance over the North American continent through a variety of means, including military actions, judicial decisions, and diplomatic efforts.
3. C. With expanding borders came public debates about whether to expand and how to define and use the new territories.
3. D. Federal government attempts to assert authority over the states brought resistance from state governments in the North and the South at different times.
3. E. The 1820 Missouri Compromise created a truce over the issue of slavery that gradually broke down as confrontations over slavery became increasingly bitter.
3. F. As over-cultivation depleted arable land in the Southeast, slaveholders relocated their agricultural enterprises to the new Southwest, increasing sectional tensions over the institution of slavery and sparking a broad scale debate about how to set national goals, priorities, and strategies.

Content Vocabulary

McCulloch v. Maryland  Samuel Slater

Worcester v. Georgia  Lowell system

 Embargo Act  Baldwin Locomotive Works

 Charles G. Finney  anthracite coal mining

 Seneca Falls Convention  Cult of Domesticity

 Utopian communities  Lydia Maria Child

 American Colonization Society  Monroe Doctrine

 Frederick Douglass  Webster-Ashburton Treaty

 The Hudson River School  Hartford Convention

 John James Audobon  Nullification Crisis

 Richard allen  War Hawks

 David Walker  Indian Removal Act

 steel plow  Seminole Wars

 mechanical reaper

Academic Vocabulary

 analyze  evaluate

 compare  examine

 contrast  explain

 define  synthesize

 describe  understand

Formative Assessments

Students will be required to produce written synopses of the chapters to help them establish their basic conceptual knowledge of the concepts of the unit that is being studied. Any lack of understanding will be dealt with throughout the teaching of the unit. Daily feedback will be given in class as part of the ongoing assessment of students’ abilities and comprehension. All summative assessments will be utilized in a formative manner as well as a summative manner.

Summative Assessments

Students will be required to produce evidence of mastery of content materials through a variety of methods. They will take multiple choice exams, complete document based questions, and answer short response/essay prompts. These evaluations are patterned after the type of exam they will complete for the College Board in mid-May. These assessments will provide students definitive feedback in how well they are mastering the material and what work they need to do to be prepared for the Advanced Placement Exam.


America Past and Present, by Divine. (At the time of this writing, we are going through the textbook adoption process and this is likely to change.)

 Various primary source excerpts and documents

A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson

A Patriot’s History of the United States, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

From Colony to Superpower, by George Herring

What Hath God Wrought, by Daniel Walker Howe

Enrichment Strategies

The nature of the course is already enriched as the expectation is that the content and materials are equivalent to a college freshmen survey course. Some strategies for enriching the course further would be to read any of the books on the resources list, obtain full length versions of excerpted primary sources, or explore the Miller Centers website which contains a series of academic essays on each president and covers more details than the College Board requires.


Depending on the unit, a variety of integrations will be utilized. Definitive links will be made with the English department in terms of coordination of writing as well as passages, texts, short reads, and novels that are being utilized in the English classroom. Math will be used in analyzing statistics most often pertaining to elections but not solely. Scientific discoveries and developments will be integrated throughout the discussion of the process of creating modern America. STEM will be incorporated specifically in discussion on industrialization and wartime production. Geography will be a constant as we use maps to illustrate the geographic changes to America and the changing electoral process as well as utilizing world maps for understanding America’s growth as a super power. Visual arts will be used consistently throughout the course in the nature of how art reflects American ideals as well as the importance of political cartoons as a political tool.

Intervention Strategies

Students struggling to succeed in Advanced Placement United States History must first determine if the coursework is too difficult for their abilities. Many students struggle with the volume and level of reading required for success in this course. In those cases it is suggested that a student consider purchasing a study guide book for the Advanced Placement Exam to help them with their reading comprehension. These books outline key concepts in a simple form which helps the student when reading the textbook to focus on main ideas. Students struggling with writing should set up an appointment to meet with the teacher to discuss writing strategies and should also consider meeting with the English and History academic assistants. Students who are struggling with multiple choice exams should make an appointment to come in to go over old exams to get a better idea how to take the multiple choice exam and guide their studying for future tests. Visiting the College Board website for the Advanced Placement United States History exam will provide the student with an additional resource if they are struggling.

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