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

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Advanced Placement United States History – Period 2: 1607-1754

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


Development of the North American colonial society, including interaction with Native populations and competing European colonial powers.


17 days

Content Statement

1. Differences in imperial goals, cultures, and the North American environments that different empires confronted led Europeans to develop diverse patterns of colonization.

Learning Targets:

 I can explain how seventeenth-century Spanish, French, Dutch, and British colonizers embraced different social and economic goals, cultural assumptions, and folkways, resulting in varied models of colonization.

 I can analyze how the British-American system of slavery developed out of the economic, demographic, and geographic characteristics of the British-controlled regions of the New World.

I can understand how, along with other factors, environmental and geographical variations, including climate and natural resources, contributed to regional differences in what would become the British colonies.

2. European colonization efforts in North America stimulated intercultural contact and intensified conflict between the various groups of colonizers and native peoples.

Learning Targets:

 I can analyze how competition over resources between European rivals led to conflict within and between North American colonial possessions and American Indians.

 I can explain and understand how clashes between European and American Indian social and economic values caused changes in both cultures.
3. The increasing political, economic, and cultural exchanges within the “Atlantic World” had a profound impact on the development of colonial societies in North America.

Learning Targets:

 I can understand and analyze how “Atlantic World” commercial, religious, philosophical, and political interactions among Europeans, Africans, and American native peoples stimulated economic growth, expanded social networks, and reshaped labor systems.

 I can compare and contrast the efforts taken by Native peoples and Africans in the Americas in an effort to maintain their political and cultural autonomy in the face of European challenges to their independence and core beliefs.

 I can explain that Britain’s desire to maintain a viable North American empire in the face of growing internal challenges and external competition inspired efforts to strengthen its imperial control, stimulating increasing resistance from colonists who had grown accustomed to a large measure of autonomy.

Content Elaborations

1: A. Spain sought to establish tight control over the process of colonization in the Western Hemisphere and to convert and/or exploit the native population.

1: B. French and Dutch colonial efforts involved relatively few Europeans and used trade alliances and intermarriage with American Indians to acquire furs and other products for export to Europe.
1: C. Unlike their European competitors, the English eventually sought to establish colonies based on agriculture, sending relatively large numbers of men and women to acquire land and populate their settlements, while having relatively hostile relationships with American Indians.
1: D. Unlike Spanish, French, and Dutch colonies, which accepted intermarriage and cross-racial sexual unions with native peoples (and, in Spain’s case, with enslaved Africans), English colonies attracted both males and females who rarely intermarried with either native peoples or Africans, leading to the development of a rigid racial hierarchy.
1: E. The abundance of land, a shortage of indentured servants, the lack of an effective means to enslave native peoples, and the growing European demand for colonial goods led to the emergence of the Atlantic slave trade.
1: F. Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority, the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African gender and kinship relationships in the colonies, and was one factor that led the British colonists into violent confrontations with native peoples.
1: G. Africans developed both overt and covert means to resist the dehumanizing aspects of slavery.
1: H. The New England colonies, founded primarily by Puritans seeking to establish a community of like-minded religious believers, developed a close-knit, homogeneous society and — aided by favorable environmental conditions — a thriving mixed economy of agriculture and commerce.
1: I. The demographically, religiously, and ethnically diverse middle colonies supported a flourishing export economy based on cereal crops, while the Chesapeake colonies and North Carolina relied on the cultivation of tobacco, a labor-intensive product based on white indentured servants and African chattel.
1: J. The colonies along the southernmost Atlantic coast and the British islands in the West Indies took advantage of long growing seasons by using slave labor to develop economies based on staple crops; in some cases, enslaved Africans constituted the majority of the population.
2: A. Conflicts in Europe spread to North America, as French, Dutch, British, and Spanish colonies allied, traded with, and armed American Indian groups, leading to continuing political instability.
2: B. As European nations competed in North America, their colonies focused on gaining new sources of labor and on producing and acquiring commodities that were valued in Europe.
2: C. The goals and interests of European leaders at times diverged from those of colonial citizens, leading to growing mistrust on both sides of the Atlantic, as settlers, especially in the English colonies, expressed dissatisfaction over territorial settlements, frontier defense, and other issues.
2: D. Continuing contact with Europeans increased the flow of trade goods and diseases into and out of native communities, stimulating cultural and demographic changes.
2: E. Spanish colonizing efforts in North America, particularly after the Pueblo Revolt, saw an accommodation with some aspects of American Indian culture; by contrast, conflict with American Indians tended to reinforce English colonists’ worldviews on land and gender roles.
2: F. By supplying American Indian allies with deadlier weapons and alcohol, and by rewarding Indian military actions, Europeans helped increase the intensity and destructiveness of American Indian warfare.
3: A. The growth of an Atlantic economy throughout the 18th century created a shared labor market and a wide exchange of New World and European goods, as seen in the African slave trade and the shipment of products from the Americas.
3: B. Several factors promoted Anglicization in the British colonies: the growth of autonomous political communities based on English models, the development of commercial ties and legal structures, the emergence of a trans-Atlantic print culture, Protestant evangelism, religious toleration, and the spread of European Enlightenment ideas.
3: C. The presence of slavery and the impact of colonial wars stimulated the growth of ideas on race in this Atlantic system, leading to the emergence of racial stereotyping and the development of strict racial categories among British colonists, which contrasted with Spanish and French acceptance of racial gradations.
3: D. As regional distinctiveness among the British colonies diminished over time, they developed largely similar patterns of culture, laws, institutions, and governance within the context of the British imperial system.
3: E. Late 17th-century efforts to integrate Britain’s colonies into a coherent, hierarchical imperial structure and pursue mercantilist economic aims met with scant success due largely to varied forms of colonial resistance and conflicts with American Indian groups, and were followed by nearly a half-century of the British government’s relative indifference to colonial governance.
3: F. Resistance to imperial control in the British colonies drew on colonial experiences of self-government, evolving local ideas of liberty, the political thought of the Enlightenment, greater religious independence and diversity, and an ideology critical of perceived corruption in the imperial system.

Content Vocabulary

 rebellion  King Philip’s War

 sabotage  praying towns

 escape  Maryland Toleration Act of 1649

 Beaver Wars  Pennsylvania

 Chickasaw Wars  John Locke

 furs  casta system

 tobacco  mulatto

 Wool Act  Métis

 Molasses Act  Dominion of New England

 Catawba Nation  Navigation Acts

 Huron Confederacy  Great Awakening

 Wampanoag Tribe  republicanism

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

The Ecological Indian: Myth and History, by Shepard Krech III

Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa, by Paul Lovejoy

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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