|AP United States History Syllabus
Rantoul Township High School
Instructor: Jared Lofrano
217-892-2151 ext. 1313
The AP United States History course at RTHS might best be described as “a college class in high school.” The AP program in U.S. History is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in United States history. This program prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. You will learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretive problem, their reliability, and their importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. The skills attained here should thus develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in verbal or written format. A majority of the work for this class will be completed outside of school, and much of the reading will be college level.
This class will cover the time period from discovery and settlement to the present. Since some of this material is covered at the sophomore level, the class will focus on history after 1860. Major themes of study, which will be interwoven in the curriculum, include: discussions of the diversity of American culture, the development of an American identity, the evolution of American culture, demographic changes over the course of America’s history, economic trends and transformations, environmental issues, the development of political institutions and the components of citizenship, social reform movements, the role of religion in the making of the United States and its impact in a multicultural society, the history of slavery and its legacies in this hemisphere, war and diplomacy, and finally, the place of the United States in an increasingly global arena.
While the course possesses many benefits, it is designed to prepare students for the AP U.S. History test that is given in May each year. Thus, students will be required to complete various readings and write numerous essays in order to acquire skills necessary to prepare for the AP test. If students do well on this test they can receive college credit. The AP exam is graded on a five-point scale, and most universities give credit to students who score a 3 or better on the test, although credit policies vary by university. The exam is 3 hours and 5 minutes in length and consists of two sections: a 55-minute multiple-choice section and a 130-minute free-response section. The free-response section begins with a mandatory 15-minute reading period, which allows students to read and analyze documents for a document-based essay question. The test is extremely challenging. Only students who are truly prepared will receive a grade of 3 or better. Therefore, registration for the official exam is optional. Students must have a C- average or better in order to register for the exam. Students who choose to take the AP exam in May will do so in lieu of a final exam. However, if a student’s grade is below a C- average at the time of the exam, the exemption is voided.
Grading/Class Work/Expectations: Grades in the course will be determined by the following factors:
Class Work: These will be major unit assignments, journals, activities and notes. 25-50 points per assignment.
Text Outlines: Class time will be devoted to highlighting and focusing on key issues. Thus, students will be responsible for covering content presented in the class text. Unit outlines will be worth 50 points and checked the class period preceding the exam. However, the expectation is the students stay current on the text reading in order to participate in a given day’s discussion/activities. All notes and outlines will be completed in Cornell Note format.
Projects: Group and individual projects will be worth 50 to 150 points.
Unit Tests: Each unit test is worth 150 points. Unit tests will simulate the type of questions you will see on the AP U.S. History Test. Each test will consist of a multiple choice section and an essay section. Both types of questions will be AP-style questions. In addition, unit tests will be scored on a composite scale similar to the AP test. While these questions are difficult, they will prepare you to perform well on the exam in May.
Presidents Tests: There will be 4 Presidents Tests through the course of the year – Nov. 1, Dec. 10, March 25, and May 2. On each quiz, you will be asked to list the Presidents, years served, political parties and major events of their presidencies. The tests will be progressive – the first test asking the first 11, the second asking the first 22 on so on. As such, they will be worth an increasing point value. There will be ample opportunity for extra credit on the quizzes. A Presidential Fact Table will be supplied to aid you in this.
Literature Projects: Each semester a major literary review project will be assigned. Each project is worth 125 points.
Document Based Questions (DBQs): A significant portion of the score on the AP U.S. History Exam is the Document Based Question, or DBQ. Through the course of the year, we will be developing the analytical and writing skills necessary to perform well on this type of question. The first DBQs will be assigned as homework and in-class projects in October and November. By February, DBQs will be an exam component.
Class Participation: Due to the discussion-based nature of this course, 10% of the semester grade will be based on classroom participation. Preparation for class will also be factored in the participation grade. Students are expected to have completed assigned readings and be prepared to participate in the activities of the day. For each unit, a series of key discussion topics are listed. These serve as a guideline for the topics and themes that will be highlighted in class activities. Much of the time in class will be devoted to analysis and interpretation of assigned documents. Therefore, having thoroughly read the assignments is critical.
Final Exam: Per RTHS policy, each semester will be culminated with a cumulative exam that is worth 20% of the final semester grade. Both exams will be in a similar format to the AP U.S. History exam. See the course calendar for a further description
Post AP Test Research Projects: After the AP test in May, the remainder of the year will be spent viewing historically themed films and completing accompanying research projects. There will be time for at least two such projects.
The course’s basic text is America: Past and Present, 7th Edition, written by Robert A. Divine, et al.
The course will also make heavy use of The American Spirit (Volumes I and II), a primary and secondary source reader, edited by David M. Kennedy an Thomas A. Bailey
In addition to American Spirit, the course will also utilize other primary and secondary source readings. The following is a complete list of these sources – listed by author and title - which will referred to in abbreviated form later in the syllabus. This list is subject to change.
William J. Vanden Heuvel, American Holocaust
Paula A. Treckel, “The Empire of My Heart”: The Marriage of William Byrd II and Lucy Parke Byrd
Benjamin Rush, Madness and the Revolution
Carl N. Degler, A New Kind of Revolution
Brian McGinty, Sunrise at Philadelphia
Douglas L. Wilson, Thomas Jefferson and the Meanings of Liberty
Dee Brown, The Trail of Tears
Kenneth M. Stampp, A Troublesome Property
Stephen B. Oates, The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner’s Fierce Rebellion
Ken Chowder, The Father of American Terrorism
David Herbert Donald, Why the War Came: The Sectional Struggle over Slavery in the Territories
Stephen B. Oates, The Ravages of War
Bruce Cattion, Soldiering in the Civil War
Various, Was Reconstruction a Failure?
Alfred Thayer Mahan, Strategic Reasons for American Expansion: The “Big Navy” Argument
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Causes of the Great Crash
T.H. Watkins, Under Hoover, the Shame and Misery Deepened
Various, Was it Necessary to Drop the Atomic Bomb to End World War II?
Larry L. King, Trapped: Lyndon Johnson and the Nightmare of Vietnam
Nicholas Lemann, How The Seventies Changed America
Unit 1: Discovery, Exploration, and Colonization (1492-1763): Aug. 20–Aug. 30; Test Aug. 31
Chapters 1-4 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 1 selected readings
Ch. 2 sec. A; 3 sec. A&B
Ch. 6 sec. B1 & C1,3
American Holocaust; “The Empire of My Heart”
Key Discussion Topics: European interactions with Native Americans; Historical interpretations of Christopher Columbus; Motivations for exploration and colonization; Early colonial life; The impact of the Seven Years’ War on the North American continent
Unit 2: Forming a New Nation (1763–1788): Sept. 1–Sept. 21; Test Sept. 22
Chapter 5 & 6 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 8 sec. D
Ch. 9 Sec. D & E
A New Kind of Revolution; Sunrise at Philadelphia
Key Discussion Topics: The origins of resistance; the British response; the decision for independence; the military course of the war; and peace negotiations; the structure of the government under the Articles of Confederation; weaknesses and accomplishments of the Articles’ government; foreign affairs in the Confederation period; the nationalist critique and the role of Hamilton and Madison; the Constitutional Convention; the debate over ratification; The new government’s structure; and an overview of the Constitution of 1787.
Unit 3: E Pluribus Unum (1788-1824): Sept. 24–Oct 12; Test Oct. 13
Chapter 7- 9 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 10 sec. E & G.
Jefferson and the Meanings of Liberty
Key Discussion Topics:; Hamilton versus Jefferson; the rise of political parties; foreign affairs with Great Britain, France, and Spain; the “Revolution of 1800”; Jefferson’s imprint; causes and results of the “strange” War of 1812; nationalism versus sectionalism; the demise of the Federalists and the rise of the two-party system
Unit 4: The Era of the Common Man (1824–1840): Oct. 15–Oct.26; Test Oct. 27
Chapters 10 – 12 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 15. sec. B1-3, C1 & D 2-4
The Trail of Tears; A Troublesome Property; The Fires of Jubilee
Key Discussion Topics: Mass democracy; Jackson versus Calhoun; the Bank War; the Indian removal; the rise of the working class; the Whig alternative; The “peculiar institution” and its impact on the South; The Second Great Awakening: Evangelicalism and Revivalism; Transcendentalism; The Women’s Movement; Reform for Education; Abolitionism
Unit 5: Reforming, Expanding, and Dividing (1840-1860): Oct. 29–Nov. 9;
President’s Test I Nov. 1; Test Nov. 10
Chapters 13 and 14 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 17 sec. B.3 & C
Father of American Terrorism; Why the War Came
Key Discussion Topics: O’Sullivan’s phrase, Manifest Destiny, the lure of the West (1820–1840); Polk and war with Mexico; abolitionism and North–South relations; the turbulent 1850s; “Free Soil” Republicanism; Lincoln; and secession.
Unit 6: The Civil War, Reconstruction, and The Frontier (1861–1877): Nov. 12–Nov.30; Test Dec. 1
Chapters 15-17 in Divine
American Spirit V. I: Ch. 20 sec. E1-2, F1-2
Ch. 21 C1,3
A.S. 26 A.3,4,6; C.1,2,4
The Ravages of War; Soldiering in the Civil War; Was Reconstruction a Failure?
Key Discussion Topics: The South’s chance of victory; a question of leadership; Lincoln versus Davis; emancipation; the military course of the war in brief; Reconstruction; the sharecropping system; the “crime” of ’76; and the Compromise of 1877; the West: a question of exploitation.
Unit 7: The New Industrial Age (1865-1900): Dec. 3-Dec. 8; Presidents Quiz II Dec. 10; Test Dec. 13
Chapters 18- 20 in Divine
Key Discussion Topics: Laissez faire and social Darwinism; the rise of the industrialists; labor’s response; urbanization; immigration and “Tweedism”; the “Social Gospel”; the politics of the 1890s: big government Republicans and the Populists.
First Semester Literature Analysis due Dec. 15
First Semester Exam – Dec. 16
The first semester exam will be a comprehensive exam of the material from first semester. This exam is academic as well as a valuable practice and skills assessment for the AP Exam. The format is highly similar to the May exam, except for the time frame covered. It will comprise a take-home DBQ, 4 FRQs (choose two), and 80 multiple choice questions. The time needed for this format will require the DBQ to be completed at home on the honor system, while the multiple choice section and the FRQs will be on the exam day. Because this exam is important in preparation for May, and since many will be exempt from second semester exams, no exemptions will be granted for the first semester.
Unit 8: Progressivism & Imperialism (1900-1920): Jan 5–Jan 18; Test Jan. 19
Chapters 21- 23 in Divine
American Spirit V. II: Ch. 27 sec. A1, B1, D3; Ch. 28 C1; Ch. 29 C3, E3
Strategic Reasons for American Expansion: The “Big Navy” Argument
Key Discussion Topics: Progressivism: the “muckrakers”; trust-busting”; the “Social Justice” movement; the “Purity” crusade; state and local reforms; women’s suffrage; the progressive presidents — Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson; the “Square Deal” and the “New Freedom;” the imperialist arguments; war with Spain; Teddy Roosevelt; the corollary and Panama; “Dollar Diplomacy”; and moral diplomacy;
Unit 9: From Word War to The Roaring ’20s and The Great Depression (1914-1940): Jan 21–Feb.8; Test Feb. 9
Chapter 24-26 in Divine
Causes of the Great Crash; Under Hoover, the Shame and Misery Deepened
Key Discussion Topics: Neutrality (1914-1917); “Over There”; “Over Here”; the treaty controversy. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover: normalcy; the “Red Scare”; immigration legislation; the “new” Ku Klux Klan; the Harlem Renaissance; the crash of the stock market and the onset of the Great Depression; the origins and effects of the Great Depression; Hoover’s “Voluntarism” approach; Franklin Roosevelt and the “Hundred Days”; relief, recovery, and reform; critics of the New Deal — the “Economic Royalists” on the right and Long, Townsend, and Coughlin; the Supreme Court fight and the end of the New Deal.
Unit 10: Foreign Relations and the Path to World War (1921–1945): Feb. 11–March 1; Test March 2
Chapter 27 in Divine
Was it Necessary to Drop the Atomic Bomb; America and the Holocaust
Key Discussion Topics: Isolationism, pacifism, and neutrality and their ramifications for U.S. policy in Europe, Latin America, and Asia during the 1920s and early 1930s; neutrality legislation of the 1930s; undeclared war in Europe and the course of U.S.–Japanese relations in the late 1930s; Pearl Harbor; halting the German blitz; turning the tide in the Pacific and the decision to drop the A-bomb; the war on the home front; wartime diplomacy.
Unit 11: Truman, Ike, and JFK: The Cold Warriors (1945–1963): March 4–March 15; Test March 16
Chapters 28 and 30 (Read Through Kennedy) in Divine
American Spirit V. II: Ch. 37 Sec. C 1,4
Key Discussion Topics: Cold War in Europe; the beginning of atomic diplomacy; containment (Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATO); crisis in Berlin; the Cold War expands: the loss of China and the Korean War; the Cold War at home: McCarthyism; Ike, Dulles, and the Cold War in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America; JFK and “flexible response”: the Second Berlin Crisis; the Cuban missile crisis.
Unit 12: Reform in the Fifties and Sixties: From the Fair Deal to the New Frontier: Reform (1945–1963): Mach 18–March22; Test March 23; President’s Quiz III March 25
Chapter 29 in Divine
Key Discussion Topics: The postwar economic boom and the rise of the suburbs; did the 1950s represent the true “good life”?; the civil rights struggle; the New Frontier; the Warren court; and.
Unit 13: The Tumultuous Sixties: Vietnam and Watergate (1963-1974): April 4–April 12; Test April 13
Chapters 30 (From Kennedy) and 31 in Divine
Key Discussion Topics: Involvement and escalation in Vietnam; Vietnam dilemma and stalemate; the student revolt; Black Power and Women’s Lib; the Great Society’s War on Poverty; the election of 1968; Nixon, Kissinger — ending the Vietnam War; the election of 1972; and Watergate.
Unit 14: Have A Nice Decade? The Economics of Ford and Carter in the Seventies (1974-1980): April 15–April19
Chapter 31 in Divine
How the Seventies Changed America
Key Discussion Topics: OPEC and the oil shock; inflation and the new economy; the start of affirmative action; setbacks and gains for women; the election of 1976; Carter; Sadat; Khomeini; disillusionment and the renewed Cold War.
Unit 15: Recap of the Last Quarter Century (1980-present): April 20–April 26; Presidents IV May 2
Chapter 32 and 33 in Divine
Key Discussion Topics: Republican Resurgence; Neo-conservatism; “Reganomics;” Moral majority; Strategic Defense Initiative; Iran-Contra; increase and decrease in Cold War tensions; the War on Drugs; end of Cold war/collapse of Communism; The Boom of the Nineties; changing population trends of the Nineties; NAFTA; Contract w/ America; Clinton and foreign policy; Clinton impeachment; the 2000 election; September 11th; Afghanistan and Iraq
Unit 16: AP U.S. History Exam Prep/Review: May 3-4; AP U.S. History Test Friday, May 6 8:00-11:30
Second Semester Literature Analysis Due May 19