Ap united States History Course Description

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AP United States History
Course Description:

Advanced Placement U.S. History is a college-level course that surveys the history of the United States from the pre-colonial period to the present. The course is divided into periods of time and focuses on the themes in the AP Course Description. The themes to be covered will be American diversity, the development of a unique 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 the place of the United State in the global arena. Emphasis is placed on critical and evaluative thinking skills, essay writing, and interpretation of original documents. The course will prepare students for the AP United States History exam. A college level textbook is used.

Course Textbooks:

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas Bailey. The American Pageant. 13th ed. Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006.

Feder, Bernard. Viewpoints: USA. New York, NY. : American Book Company, 1967.
Teacher created materials:

Handouts, map activities, discussion group activities, book discussion questions, peer editing materials, worksheets to reinforce content material

Course organization:

  • The course is broken into nine units. Each unit will include textbook reading, primary source reading and analysis, secondary reading with discussion questions, and recent scholarship on the unit content.

  • To prepare for the AP United States History Exam there will be either a DBQ (document based question) essay or a free response essay due for each unit. Each essay is to be typed and double spaced. Each unit will conclude with at unit test which will be made up of multiple choice questions and essay questions. As much as possible, the essays and exam questions are selected from prior year AP United States History Exams.

  • Four practice exams will be given at the end of the course in preparation for the exam.

Course Outline:
Unit I Pre-colonial America to the Proclamation of 1763

American Pageant: Chapter 1, New World Beginnings 33,000 B.C.-A.D. 1769

  • Pre-Columbian Cultures

  • Early Exploration

  • Introduction of Slavery

  • Spanish and French Claims

  • The Rise of Mercantilism

American Pageant: Chapter 2, The Planting of English America

American Pageant: Chapter 3, Settling the Northern Colonies

  • New England and the Puritans

  • Religious Dissent

  • Colonial Politics and Conflict with British Authority

  • The Middle Colonies

American Pageant: Chapter 4, American Life in the Seventeenth Century 1607-1692

  • Tobacco and Rice Colonies

  • African-American Culture

  • Colonial Family Life

  • Dissent in New England and the Witch Trials

In class DBQ and DBQ tutorial: Chesapeake and New England colonies from The College Board Advanced Placement Exam 1993
Question: Although New England and the Chesapeake region were both settled largely by people of English origin, by 1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies. Why did this difference in development occur?
Teacher created map activity on colonial settlements
American Pageant: Chapter 5, Colonial Society on the Eve of Revolution 1700-1775

  • Immigration and Demographic Change

  • The Atlantic Economy

  • The Great Awakening

  • Education and Culture

  • Colonial Politics

American Pageant: Chapter 6, The Duel for North America 1608-1763

  • Colonial Involvement in British Imperial Wars

  • Consequences of the French and Indian War

  • The Proclamation of 1763

Unit I Test: Pre-colonial America to the Proclamation of 1763

Covering chapters 1-6 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit II: The Revolution to Ratification of the Constitution
American Pageant: Chapter 7, The Road to Revolution 1763-1775

  • Roots of Revolution

  • The Role of Mercantilism

  • End of Salutary Neglect

  • The First Continental Congress

  • Lexington and Concord

Primary Source Documents:

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson
American Pageant: Chapter 8, America Secedes from the Empire 1775-1783

  • American “Republicanism”

  • Patriots vs. Loyalists

  • The French Alliance, 1778

  • Yorktown, 1781

  • The Paris Peace Treaty, 1783

DBQ: Loyalists and the American Revolution using document set from historyteacher.net as referenced on the AP Central website
Question: The War of Independence has been called a civil war within a civil war.  Were the Patriots justified in abusing the Loyalists and expelling them?

American Pageant: Chapter 9, The Confederation and the Constitution 1776-1790

  • State Constitutions

  • Economic Differences Between States

  • The Articles of Confederation

  • The Northwest Ordinance, 1787

  • Problems under the Articles

  • Shays’ Rebellion

  • The Constitutional Convention

  • Ratification

Primary source documents:

The Articles of Confederation

The Constitution of the United States

Federalist 10 by James Madison
Secondary reading: Viewpoints: USA “How Critical Was the Critical Period?”
Unit II Test: The Revolution to Ratification of the Constitution

Covering chapters 7-9 in American Pageant and primary source documents

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit III: Building the New Nation 1776-1860

American Pageant: Chapter 10 Launching the New Ship of State 1789-1800

  • The First Administration 1789-1793

  • The Bill of Rights, 1791

  • National Politics and Economics

  • Diplomacy During the French Revolution

  • Alien and Sedition Acts, 1798

Primary source document:

The Bill of Rights

Washington’s Farewell Address
American Pageant: Chapter 11, Triumphs and Travails of Jeffersonian Democracy 1800-1812

  • The “Revolution of 1800”

  • John Marshall and the Supreme Court

  • The Louisiana Purchase and Western Expansion

Primary source documents:

Marbury v. Madison 1803

McCullough v. Maryland 18919

“Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions”

DBQ: DBQ 3 from American Pageant pgs. A108-A109
Question: After his election in 1801, Jefferson often vigorously exercised the power of the national government and of the presidency in particular. Determine to what extent Jefferson, after entering the White House, maintained or altered his earlier philosophy of government. Use the documents and your knowledge of the period from 1790-1809 to compose your answer.
American Pageant: Chapter 12, The Second War for Independence and the Upsurge of Nationalism 1812-1824

  • The War of 1812

  • “The American System”

  • The Era of Good Feelings

  • The Missouri Compromise

  • The Monroe Doctrine

Primary source documents:

Treaty of Ghent

The Missouri Compromise

The Monroe Doctrine
Secondary reading: Viewpoints: USA “How Did the Monroe Doctrine DefineOur Foreign Policy?”
American Pageant: Chapter 13, The Rise of Mass Democracy 1824-1840

  • Jacksonian Democracy and the Whigs

  • The Nullification Crisis

  • National Policy Toward American Indians

  • Jackson and the Bank of the United States

  • The Texas Revolution

  • Slavery and Sectionalism

Primary source documents:

Jackson’s Message to Congress “On Indian Removal”

Worchester v. Georgia 1832
Recent Scholarship: “What was Jacksonian Democracy?” American Pageant pg. 285
American Pageant: Chapter 14, Forging the National Economy 1790-1860

  • The Rise of the Market Economy

  • Immigration and the Increase in Nativism

  • Women in the Workplace

  • The Factory System

  • The Transportation Revolution

  • Westward Expansion

Primary source documents:

Gibbons v. Ogden 1824
American Pageant: Chapter 15, The Ferment of Reform and Culture 1790-1860

  • The Second Great Awakening

  • Women’s Roles in Reform Movements

  • Creation of a National Culture

  • Advances in Education and the Sciences

Primary source documents:

Seneca Falls Declaration

Unit III Test: Building the New Nation 1776-1860

Covering chapters 10-15 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit IV: The Civil War and Reconstruction 1860-1877

American Pageant: Chapter 16, The South and the Slavery Controversy

  • The Economy of the South

  • Southern Social Structure

  • Life Under Slavery

  • The Abolitionist Movement

Secondary reading:

Viewpoints: USA , What Were he Causes of the Civil War?

section 1 “Did the Abolitionists help or hinder their cause?”

American Pageant: Chapter 17, Manifest Destiny and its Legacy

  • Manifest Destiny

  • The Annexation of Texas

  • War with Mexico

Primary source documents:

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

American Pageant: Chapter 18, Renewing the Sectional Struggle

  • The Underground Railroad

  • The Compromise of 1850

  • The Fugitive Slave Law

  • The Kansas Nebraska Act

Primary source documents:

The Compromise of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Law

The Kansas Nebraska Act

Teacher created map activity on the Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, and Kansas-Nebraska Act
Secondary readings:

Viewpoints: USA , What Were the Causes of the Civil War?

Section 2 “Was States’ Rights the Real Issue?”

Section 3 “Were Economic Differences the Determining Factor?”
American Pageant: Chapter 19, Drifting Toward Disunion

  • Abolition in the 1850s

  • The Impact of Dred Scott

  • Financial Panic of 1857

  • Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1858

  • John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry, 1859

  • The Election of 1860

  • Secession

Primary sources:

Dred Scott v. Sanford 1857
Secondary reading:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
American Pageant: Chapter 20, Girding for War: The North and the South 1861-1865

  • Fort Sumter

  • The Border States

  • European Intervention?

  • Civil Liberties During Wartime

  • The Fate of The South

Primary sources:

Telegram announcing the surrender of Fort Sumter

American Pageant: Chapter 21, The Furnace of the Civil War 1861-1865

  • Bull Run

  • The Peninsula Campaign

  • The War at Sea

  • Antietam

  • The Emancipation Proclamation

  • Gettysburg

  • Sherman’s March

  • Gettysburg Address

  • Appomattox

  • The Assassination of Lincoln

Primary sources:

The Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

Articles of Agreement Relating to the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia
Free Response Essay: From 2000 AP United States History Free-Response Questions

Question: Assess the moral arguments and political actions of those opposed to the spread of slavery in the context of TWO of the following:
Missouri Compromise

Mexican War

Compromise of 1850

Kansas-Nebraska Act

American Pageant: Chapter 22 The Ordeal of Reconstruction

  • The Politics and Economics of Reconstruction

  • Experiences of Freedmen

  • The Rise of the Bourbon South

  • Impeachment

  • Seward’s Folly

Primary source documents:

Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution 1865

Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution 1868

Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution 1870

Secondary source documents:

Viewpoints USA: “Was Reconstruction as Evil as it Has Been Painted?”
Unit IV Test : The Civil War and Reconstruction 1860-1877

Covering chapters 16-22 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit V: Industrialization, Imperialism, and Progressivism
American Pageant: Chapter 23 Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age

  • The Rise of Big Business and the Role of Business in Politics

  • Class and Ethnic Conflict

  • The Rise of Jim Crow

  • The Populists

Recent scholarship: “The Populists: Radicals or Reactionaries?” American Pageant pg. 529
American Pageant: Chapter 24 Industry Comes of Age

  • The Railroads

  • Speculators

  • Barons of Industry

  • Early Government Regulation

  • The Gospel of Wealth

  • The Rise of Trade Unions

American Pageant: Chapter 25 America Moves to the City

  • Urbanization

  • New waves of Immigration

  • Renewed Instances of Nativism

  • Cultural Life in the Cities

  • The “New Woman”

  • Life for African-Americans

Primary source documents:

Lochner v. New York 1905

Secondary reading: excerpts from

Shame of the Cities by Jacob Riis
Teacher created map activity on urban growth in the U.S. from 1870-1920
American Pageant: Chapter 26 The Great West and the Agricultural Revolution

  • The Industrialization of Agriculture

  • Bryan vs. McKinley

DBQ: From the 2000 AP United States History Exam

Question: How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875-1900? Analyze the factors that contributed to the level of success achieved. Use the documents and your knowledge of the period from 1875 to 1900 to construct your response.
American Pageant: Chapter 27 Empire and Expansion

  • The Annexation of Hawaii

  • Spanish-American War

  • Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines

  • The Filipino Insurrection

  • Open Door Policy

  • The Foreign Policy of Theodore Roosevelt

Primary source documents:

De Lome Letter

Platt Amendment

Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine

American Pageant: Chapter 28 Progressivism and the Republican Roosevelt

  • The Muckrakers

  • Women vs. the Saloon

  • Roosevelt as “Trust Buster”

  • Consumer Protection

  • Conservation

  • William Howard Taft

  • “Dollar Diplomacy”

Recent scholarship: “The Environmentalists” American Pageant pg. 670
Secondary reading: excerpts from

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Bitter Cry of the Children by John Spargo
Unit V Test : Industrialization, Imperialism, and Progressivism

Covering chapters 23-28 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit VI: World War I and the Roaring Twenties
American Pageant: Chapter 29 Wilsonian Progressivism and Home and Abroad

The Election of 1912

The New Freedom

War in Europe and American Neutrality

Secondary reading:

The Good Years: From 1900 to 1914 by Walter Lord
American Pageant: Chapter 30 The War to End War

  • America enters WWI

  • Wilson and the Fourteen Points

  • How Workers, African-Americans, and Women Changed the American Economy at Home

  • The Paris Peace Conference

  • America Rejects the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations

Primary source documents:

The Zimmerman Note

Wilson’s War message to Congress

President Wilson’s Fourteen Points

Schneck v. United States 1919
Free Response Essay: From the 2000 AP United States History Exam

Question: To what extent did the US achieve the objectives that led it to enter the First World War?
American Pageant: Chapter 31 American Life in the “Roaring Twenties”

  • The “Red Scare”

  • Immigration Restrictions

  • The Jazz Age

  • The Harlem Renaissance

  • Traditionalism vs. Modernism

Secondary reading:

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920’s by Frederick Lewis Allen
American Pageant: Chapter 32 The Politics of Boom and Bust

  • Isolationism in the 1920s

  • Foreign Debt and Diplomacy

  • The Great Crash, 1929

  • Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression

Unit VI Test : World War I and the Roaring Twenties

Covering chapters 29-32 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions

Unit VII: The Great Depression, the New Deal, American diplomacy and the build up to WWII
American Pageant: Chapter 33 The Great Depression and the New Deal

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  • The First Hundred Days

  • The First New Deal

  • The Dust Bowl

  • The Second New Deal

  • The “Court Packing” Scheme

Recent scholarship:

How Radical Was the New Deal” American Pageant pg. 799

Primary source documents;

Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States 1935

United States v. Butler 1936
Secondary sources: Viewpoints: USA “Hoover vs. Roosevelt: Rugged Individualism or Government Intervention?”
American Pageant: Chapter 34 Franklin D Roosevelt and the Shadow of War

  • German and Japanese Aggression

  • The Neutrality Acts 1935-1939

  • Isolation and Appeasement

  • The Economics of the Pre-War Years

  • Lend-Lease and the Atlantic Charter

  • The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Primary source documents:

President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress leading to a Declaration of War against Japan

Secondary source documents: Viewpoints: USA “Why were we caught off guard at Pearl Harbor?”
DBQ: DBQ 10 in American Pageant pgs. A124-A126

Question: To what extent did the goals of American foreign policy change in the year 1930-1941? For what reasons did these goals change? Use the documents and your knowledge of the period 1930-1941 to compose your answer.

Unit VII Test : The Great Depression, the New Deal, American diplomacy and the build up to WWII

Covering chapters 33 and 34 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit VIII: World War II, The Beginning of the Cold War, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Vietnam
American Pageant: Chapter 35 America in World War II 1941-1945

  • The War in Europe and the Far East

  • the Home Front and Changes for Women and Minorities

  • The Manhattan Project

  • Victory in Europe

  • Harry S Truman and Diplomacy

  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Primary source documents:

Korematsu v. United States 1944
American Pageant: Chapter 36 The Cold War Begins

  • Postwar Prosperity

  • Communism and Containment

  • Diplomacy and the Marshall Plan

  • The Korean War

American Pageant: Chapter 37 The Eisenhower Era

  • The Consumer Culture of the 1950s

  • McCarthyism

  • Desegregation

  • The Space Race

  • The Arms Race

  • Postwar Literature and Culture

Teacher created map activities on communism and containment

Primary sources:

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas
Secondary reading:

The Crucial Decade-And After by Eric F. Goldman
American Pageant: Chapter 38 The Stormy Sixties

  • Vietnam

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis

  • The Civil Rights Movement

  • Assassination of John F. Kennedy

  • L.B.J. and the “Great Society”

  • Cultural Upheavals of the 1960s

Primary sources:

Gideon v. Wainwright 1963

Miranda v. Arizona 1966
Free response essay: from the 2000 AP United States History Exam

Question: Discuss, with respect to TWO of the following, the view that the 1960’s represented a period of profound cultural change.


Gender roles


Race relations
Unit VIII Test : World War II, The Beginning of the Cold War, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Vietnam

Covering chapters 35 to 38 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Unit IX: The Seventies to the War on Terrorism
American Pageant: Chapter 39 The Stormy Seventies

  • Economic Stagnation

  • Nixon and Vietnam

  • Nixon and China

  • Watergate

  • Feminism

  • Affirmative action

  • The Energy Crisis

Primary source reading:

New York Times Co. v. United States 1971

United States v. Nixon 1974

Roe v. Wade 1973
Secondary reading:

The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Dispatches by Michael Herr
American Pageant: Chapter 40 The Resurgence of Conservatism

  • The conservative movement

  • Reaganomics

  • Reagan and the Soviets

  • The Iran-Contra scandal

  • The Religious Right

  • The End of the Cold War

  • The Persian Gulf War

American Pageant: Chapter 41 America Confronts the Post-Cold War Era

  • The Clinton administration

  • Impeachment

  • Foreign policy after the Cold War

  • Terrorism

  • The Election of 2000

  • The Attacks of 9/11

  • War in Iraq

DBQ: DBQ 12 from American Pageant pgs. A130-A133

Question: In the years 1964-2000 what factors contributed to the resurgence of conservatism in American politics and government?

Use the documents and your knowledge of the period 1964-2000 to compose your answer.

American Pageant: Chapter 42 The American People Face a New Century

  • The High Tech Economy

  • Globalization

  • The Changing American Family

  • Diversity in America

Unit IX Test : The Seventies to the War on Terrorism

Covering chapters 39 to 42 in American Pageant

Multiple choice and essay questions
Review AP Exam I

Go over Review Exam I

Review Exam II

Go over Review Exam II

Review Exam III

Go over Review Exam III

Review Exam IV

Go over Review Exam IV

AP United States History Exam

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