Ap united States History Course Guide Mercer Island High Scholl

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AP United States History

Course Guide

Mercer Island High Scholl
Advanced Placement United States History is a chronological and thematic survey course in United States History covering the time period from Colonial America (1492) to contemporary America (2000). The Advanced Placement program in United States History is designed to provide students with the analytic skill and factual knowledge to deal critically with the problems and issues in United States History. The course prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands equivalent to those made by full year introductory college courses. Students will learn to asses 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 course will emphasize key themes in United States history including: American diversity, identity and culture, demographic change, economic transformations, the environment, globalization, politics and political participation, reform, religion, slavery and its legacies in North America, and War and Diplomacy. This course is blocked with Honors American Literature in order to provide students with a richer, interdisciplinary context for understanding United States history and culture.
Course Objectives:

  • Student will acquire fundamental and advanced knowledge of United States political, social, economic, constitutional, cultural, and intellectual history.

  • Students will develop mastery of the process skills: analysis, synthesis, evaluation and critical reading necessary for the mastery of the content of United States History

  • Students will demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the concepts and themes unique to United States History.

  • Students will develop the ability to recognize the significance of change over time and cause and effect.

  • Students will be able to develop historically accurate interpretations of the events of United States history.

  • Students will develop the ability to think and reason analytically as demonstrated through writing of document based and free response essay questions as well as outside assignments such as article and book reviews and persuasive essays.

Course Materials:
Faragher, John Mack, et. al. Out of Many: A History of the American People (AP Edition). Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Fifth ed., 2007.
Bailey, Thomas & David Kennedy. American Spirit (vol. I & II). Stanford University. 1998.
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States 1492-present. Harper Perennial. New York, 2003.

Course Requirements:

  • Students will be required to express their ideas in a variety of formats, including verbal and visual presentations, role play activities and simulations, debates, class discussion, essays, short response papers, and written exams. Participation in all forms of assessment is required.

  • Exams will be given in a variety of formats to help assess the extent to which students have mastered the content of the units. These tests will also provide practice for students in the kind of assessments they will find on the actual AP exam. Examination format will include multiple choice questions, free response and document based essay questions.

  • Students will submit written responses and evaluations of primary and secondary sources to practices the skills of analysis, synthesis, and understanding of multiple points of view.

Course Outline/Units of Study

First Quarter

Unit I: Colonial America (1492-1754)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: Analyze the development of northern, middle and southern colonies in America during the period 1492-1750. How does where you live affect how you live?

American Diversity, Slavery and its legacies, Religion, Roots of American Identity


Native American cultures before European contact

European colonization of North America: France, Spain, Great Britain

Merging of Cultures: Native American, African, European

Religion in America



The Great Awakening

Society and Culture in Colonial America: Southern, Middle, Northern colonies

Economic systems (plantation economy, mercantilism & trade)

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 1-5
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters 1-3

A Different Mirror, Ron Takaki – Chapter 2

Lies my Teacher Told Me, James Loewen – Chapter 3

The American Record:

“The Indians’ New World”- James H. Merrell

“The Labor Problem at Jamestown”- Edmund S. Morgan

“Anne Marbury Hutchinson: This Great and Sore Affliction”- Willard S. Randall

Course Packet:

“The Mythic Puritan” – Carl M. Degler

“Those Misunderstood Puritans” – Samuel Elliott Morison

“Mary Dyer” – Ethical Issues in American History

“Times are Altered With Us Indians” – Colin G. Calloway

“A Wilderness Condition” – Roderick Nash

“The Problem With Wilderness” – William Cronon
Primary Source Document Selections:

The Mayflower Compact, 1620

A Model of Christian Charity (“City upon a Hill”)- John Winthrop

The Devastation of the Indies: A brief Account (excerpts) - Bartolome De Las Casas

An Indentured Servant Describes Life in Virginia- Richard Frethorne

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (excerpts) – Mary Rowlandson

Media Resource Selections:

Africans in America Part I (PBS)

In Search of History: The Salem Witch Trials (The History Channel)

500 Nations (Warner Bros. Productions)

The Crucible

Pocahontas (A&E)

Promised Land (PBS)

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible Free-Response Questions (FRQs):

  1. Why was it easier for Native Americans to get along with the French or Dutch than with the English? How did these conflicts influence the approach of Native Americans towards the different colonizing groups?

  2. How did differences between official British policy toward Native Americans and the inconsistent execution of those policies by American colonists exacerbate conflict on the frontier?

Possible Document Based Questions (DBQs):

  1. 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? (1993 AP U.S. History exam)

  2. To what extent was the religious movement called the Great Awakening of 1739-1745 the philosophical and intellectual cornerstone of the political thought that would justify the American Revolution?

  3. Although the thirteen American colonies were founded at different time sby people with different motives and with different forms of colonial charters and political organizations, by the Revolution the 13 colonies had become remarkably similar. Assess the validity of this statement.

Unit II: Revolutionary America (1754-1789)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: What were the social, political and economic factors that drove the American colonies to independence? How did the American Revolution influence/reflect American values and character?

American Identity, Politics and Citizenship, War and Diplomacy


Population growth and immigration

Transatlantic trade and mercantilism

The Enlightenment and its impacts on American political thought

The French and Indian War

Arguments for and against independence

The War for Independence

Role of Propaganda

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 6-7
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters 4, 5

The American Record:

“The Shoemaker and the Revolution” Alfred F. Young

Course Packet:

“The Radicalism of the American Revolution” – Gordon S. Wood

The American Revolution (introduction) – Gordon S. Wood

“Economic and Social Origins of the American Revolution” – Louis Hacker

“The Founding Sachems” – New York Times, 2005, Charles Mann

Primary Source Document Selections:

Navigation Acts, September 13, 1660

Stamp Act of 1765

Declaration of Independence

“Join or Die” Political Cartoon

“Common Sense”- Thomas Paine

“American Crisis” – Thomas Paine

“Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania”-John Dickinson

Give Me Liberty speech, Patrick Henry

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Media Resource Selections:

Liberty (PBS)

1776 (musical)
Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Analyze the extent to which the American Revolution represented a radical alteration in American political ideas and institutions between 1750-1781.

  2. Was the American Revolution motivated more by political concerns or economic concerns? How do you know?

Possible DBQs:

  1. To what extent had the colonists developed a sense of their identity and unity as Americans by the eve of the Revolution? (1999 DBQ)

  2. To what extent and in what ways was the year 1763 a turning point in American history?

  3. “The demand for no taxation without representation was the primary force motivating the American revolutionary movement and for many it became a symbol for democracy.” Assess the validity of this statement.

  4. “The achievements of diplomats are in the long run more decisive than generals.” Assess the validity of this statement for the period 1775-1815.

Unit III: Constitution, National Government, and Republican Values (1789- 1820)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: What challenges did the early federal government face in establishing a strong central government from 1789-1820? How were the conflicts between central and local power resolved? In what ways and to what extent did the new government and the Constitution balance concerns over liberty and order?

Economic transformations, Reform, Slavery and its legacy, Politics and Citizenship


Forming a national government: Confederation and Constitution

Washington, Adams, and the shaping of a national government

Emergence of political parties: Federalists and Republicans

Federalism: National power and States rights

Hamilton, Jefferson and the creation of the National Bank

Republican Motherhood and education for women

The Supreme Court in the Creation of American National government

The significance of Jefferson’s Presidency: The Revolution of 1800

The Louisiana Purchase

Expansion in to the trans-Appalachian West

Native American resistance

Growth of slavery and free Black communities

The War of 1812

John Marshall and the Supreme Court,

Judicial Review

Republican Virtue
Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 8-9
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters 6, 7

The American Record:

“The Hamiltonian Miracle”- John Steele

“The Framers and the People”- Alfred F. Young

Course Packet:

“The Alien and Sedition Acts” – Reasoning With Democratic Values, Lockwood & Harris

Primary Source Document Selections:

Federalist Papers (10, 39, 51, 74, 75)

The Articles of Confederation

Hamilton and Jefferson on the creation of the National Bank

Washington’s farewell address

Marbury v Madison

First Inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson

Alien and Sedition Acts

“Why we have a Bill of Rights” Leonard W. Levy

McCullough v Maryland

The Patriot Act

Media Resource Selections:

Liberty, Episode 6 (PBS)

Daughters of Free Men (American Social History Film Library)

Sins of Our Mothers (PBS American Experience Series)

“I’m Just a Bill” (Schoolhouse Rock)

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. The debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 revealed bitter controversies on a number of issues. Discuss the issues involved and explain why these controversies developed.

  2. Hamilton and Jefferson had opposing visions for the economic future of America. What were those visions and how were they resolved in the early national period?

Possible DBQs:

  1. In what ways and to what extent did the Articles of Confederation provide the United States with an effective government from 1781-1789?

  2. “The political movement which led to the writing of the Constitution of 1787 represented an attempted conservative counter-revolution against the excesses of the democracy which threatened chaos under the liberal Articles of Confederation. The political battle over ratification which followed proposal of the new Constitution resulted in a governing document which compromised between two extremes of positions.” Assess the validity of this statement.

  3. Because the Anti-Federalists won their major points at the Philadelphia Convention, the majority of their leaders were able to support the new Constitution and avoid further dissention that could have led to the dissolution of the union.” Assess the validity of this statement.

Unit IV: Jacksonian Democracy (1820-1850)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: In what ways and to what extent did American democracy expand to include previously disenfranchised sections of society? What social, political, and economic forces facilitated these changes?

Elections of 1824 & 1828

Spoils System


“Era of the Common Man”

Populism vs. Elitism

Indian Removal & Trail of Tears

Egalitarianism and Jacksonian Democracy

The Second Party System

“Era of Good Feelings”

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 10-11
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters

Course Packet:

The Jacksonian Revolution: Myth and Reality – Robert V. Remini

The Egalitarian Myth and American Social Reality – Edward Pessen

The Legacy of Andrew Jackson – Robert V. Remini
Primary Source Document Selections:

Seneca Falls Declaration

Indian Removal Act, 1830

“Second Message to Congress” (On Indian Removal) – Andrew Jackson

“Democracy in America” – Alexis de Tocqueville

Political Cartoons (selections)

A Letter of Margaret Bayard Smith to Mrs. Kirkpatrick, 1829
Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Free Response Questions:

  1. Did the Jacksonian Era actually increase citizen participation in politics? To what extent was it a genuine increase?

  2. Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States. Certainly he saw himself as a hero, and many others saw him that way also. How do you see him and his impact on the United States?

Possible DBQ:

  1. Jacksonian Democrats viewed themselves as guardians of the United States Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and equality of economic opportunity. In light of the following documents and your knowledge of the 1820s and 1830s, to what extent do you agree with the Jacksonian view of themselves?

  2. To what extent was the decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1830s more of a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790s than a change in that policy?

  3. To what extent and in what ways did the Supreme Court influence the debate on State’s Rights during the period 1810-1850?

Second Quarter

Unit V: Sectional Conflict (1820-1860)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: In what ways and to what extent did the forces of growth and expansion both tie the United States together as a country and contribute to disunion?
Themes: Demographic Changes, Economic Transformations, Religion, Slavery and its legacies. Politics and citizenship

Industrialization, transportation, the creation of a national market economy

Changes in class structure

The economic and social system of the South

Factory System and “chattel slavery”

Slavery as a moral issue


Political compromises

Reform Movements

Ideals of domesticity

The Mexican War

John Brown

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 10, 12-15
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters 8-10

The American Record:

“Now Defend Yourself, You Damned Rascal”-Elbert B. Smith

“Civilizing the Machine”-John F. Kasson

“The Commitment to Immediate Emancipation”-James Brewer Stewart

“The Quest for Room”-William L. Barney
Primary Source Document Selections:

Gibbons v Ogden

“Ain’t I a Woman?”- Sojourner Truth

“On Manifest Destiny, 1839”- John L. O’Sullivan

“South Carolina Exposition and Protest”- John C. Calhoun

“The Liberator”- William Lloyd Garrison

“Defense of the American System”- Henry Clay

Dred Scott v Sanford

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass

What to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?, Frederick Douglass

On The Fugitive Slave Law, Emerson
Media Resources:

Slavery in American Part II (PBS)

The West (PBS)
Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Discuss the impact of territorial expansion on national unity between 1800 and 1850

  2. In what ways did developments in transportation bring about economic and social change in the United States in the period 1820-1860?

Possible DBQs:

  1. “Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals.” Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to the years 1820-1850

  2. “The Abolitionist Movement did not speed the end of slavery but simply made it impossible to end it without a destructive Civil War.” Assess the validity of this statement.

  3. What were the key factors that convinced the South they could not obtain justice within the American Union?

Unit VI: The Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1877)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: Evaluate the degree to which the Civil War and Reconstruction forged a new sense of identity and nationhood for the American people. Include a focus on civil rights for African Americans.

American identity, Demographic Changes, War and Diplomacy, Politics and Citizenship, economic transformations, American diversity, Civil Rights and liberties


Two societies at war: mobilization, resources, and internal dissent

Military strategies and foreign diplomacy

Emancipation and the role of African Americans in the war

Social, political and economic effects of war in the North, South and West

Presidential and Radical Reconstruction

Southern state governments: aspirations, achievements, failures

African Americans in politics, education and the economy

“Corrupt Bargain” of 1877

Impacts of Reconstruction

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 16-17
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: 8-10

The American Record:

“Hayfoot, Strawfoot”-Bruce Catton

“Promised Land”-Elizabeth Rauh Bethel

Course Packet:

What They Fought For (selections), James McPherson

The Words That Remade America: Lincoln and the Myths of Gettysburg, Gary Wills

The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Ambrose Bierce

Primary Source Document Selections:

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“A former slave writes to his former master”

The Civil War Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Media Resources:

The Civil War Part I, Ken Burns (PBS)

The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge


Birth of a Nation

Ethnic Notions

The West (PBS)
Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Civil War Character Journal Project

Possible FRQs:

  1. Analyze the social, economic and political results of the Civil War

  2. Although generally considered to be a war over slavery or states’ rights, there are in fact many various reasons why Americans, both North and South, chose to fight in the Civil War. Discuss at least three motivating factors.

Possible DBQs:

  1. In what ways and to what extent did constitutional and social developments between 1860 and 1877 amount to a revolution? (1996 DBQ)

  2. Southerners maintained that secession was the ultimate expression of democracy, while Lincoln believed that secession was a rejection of democracy. Which position is correct?

  3. Throughout our history, the Supreme Court has acted as a partisan political body, rather than a neutral arbiter of constitutional principles. Assess the validity of this generalization for the period 1810-1860.

Unit VII: Growth, Expansion and Industry (1848-1900)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: Which political, social, and economic changes contributed the most to the industrial growth and expansion of the United States? How did these changes affect America’s character and economic system?

Post Civil War West:

Expansion of manufacturing and industrialization

Expansion and development of western railroads

Competitors for the West: miners, ranchers, homesteaders and Native Americans

Government policy towards Native Americans

Gender, race and ethnicity in the West

Environmental impacts of western settlement


Corporate consolidation of industry

Effects of technological developments on the worker and workplace

National politics and influence of corporate power

Migration and immigration: the changing face of the nation

Social Darwinism and the Social Gospel

Urbanization and the city: Machine politics; problems

Intellectual and cultural movements and popular entertainment

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 18-19
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapters 11,12

The American Record:

“Gunfire and Brickbats: The Great Railway Strikes of 1877-Gerald G. Eggert

“Black Soldiers and the White Man’s Burden”-Willard B. Greenwood

Course Packet:

Closing the Frontier and Opening Western History, Patricia Nelson Limerick

The Sense of Place, Wallace Stegner

Ten-Gallon Hero: The Myth of the Cowboy, David Byron Davis

A New History of the American West (selections), Richard White
Primary Source Document Selections:

Sherman Anti-trust Act

1892 Populist Party Platform

“Cross of Gold”-William Jennings Bryan

Thomas Nast Cartoons

Plessy v Ferguson, 1896

“Our Country”-Josiah Strong

“Of Mr. Booker T. Washington”-W.E.B. DuBois

“Atlanta Compromise”-Booker T. Washington

“The Significance of the Frontier in American History”-Frederick Jackson Turner

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Media Resources:

Andrew Carnegie: The Richest Man in the World-(The American Experience, PBS)

Crucible of Empire: The Spanish American War. (PBS)

The Prize (episode I)

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Although the economic growth of the U.S. between 1860-1900 has been attributed to the governmental policy of laissez-faire, it was in fact encouraged and sustained by direct governmental intervention.” Assess the validity of this statement.

  2. Describe and account for the rise of Nativism in American society from 1900 to 1930.

Possible DBQs:

  1. The Industrial Revolution began in England in the middle of the 18th Century and by 1860, Great Britain was the primary manufacturing nation in the world. By 1900, in a little over a generation the United States had taken over first place and was producing almost twice as much as second place Britain. What were the key factors that sparked this rapid change?

  2. The rise of Corporations transformed the United States in the late nineteenth century. Discuss the changes and determine if the transformations were for the better or for the worse?

  3. The greatest damage done to Native Americans in the late 19th century was by those who believed they had the best interests of Native Americans at heart. Assess the validity of this statement.

Unit VIII: Reaction, Reform, and Rudyard (1880-1920)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: In what ways and to what extent did industrialization and expansion affect American citizens’ civil rights, access to resources, and sense of place in the world. How did these changes impact America’s role in the world?

Reform, Labor, Popular Participation and Politics, Imperialism


Labor and Unions


Agrarian Discontent:


The Grange


Social Darwinism


Spanish American War, Philippines, Panama Canal, “Banana Republics”

Theodore Roosevelt


Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 20-21
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapter 12

Course Packet:

The River Ran Red, author unknown

“Life on the Lower East Side”, Maury Klein

The Strike for Three Loaves, Maria Fleming
Primary Source Document Selections:

Senate Debate on Annexation of the Philippines

White Man’s Burden, Kipling

Acres of Diamonds, Russell Conwell

How the Other Half Lives-Jacob Riis

“The Gospel of Wealth”, Andrew Carnegie

What Social Classes Owe To Each Other, William Graham Sumner
Media Resource Selections:

Making of the Panama Canal (documentary)

The Great War (PBS)

A Job at Ford’s (PBS)

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. To what extent did the United States achieve the objectives that led it to enter the First World War?

  2. Analyze the reasons for the emergence of the Progressive movement in the early 20th Century.

Possible DBQs:

  1. How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in this time period? Analyze the factors that contributed the level of success achieved (2000 DBQ)

  2. Between 1800-1896 farmers and workers claimed that the government and the courts overwhelmingly favored big business and the rich? To what extent were they correct in their judgment of this situation?

  3. To what extent was late nineteenth century and early twentieth century United States expansionism a continuation of past United States expansionism and to what extent was it a departure?

Third Quarter

Unit IX: Boom and Bust (1920-1940)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: What new features of American culture emerged in the 1920s? How were the seeds of the Great Depression sown during the boom of the 1920s? How did the nation deal with the crisis and what is the legacy of the political and policy changes that resulted? What was responsible for ending the Great Depression?

1920s Consumerism

“Roaring 20s”

Jazz Age

Harlem Renaissance

Flappers and women in the 1920s


Black Tuesday

The New Deal

Alphabet Administrations

Social Security

The Wagner Act

The Dust Bowl


The Lost Generation

The Welfare State

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapters 23-24
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapter 15

Course Packet:

Dust Bowl, by Donald Worster (selections)

The Worst Hard Times, Timothy Egan (selections)

Freedom From Fear, David M. Kennedy (selections)

Primary Source Document Selections:

Hard Times, Studs Terkel

“Fireside Chats”, Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address

Dorthea Lange Photographs

Langston Hughes Poetry
Media Resource Selections:

The Plow That Broke The Plains

The Wizard of Oz

Cinderella Man

Grapes of Wrath

The Great Gatsby

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Historians have generally described the 1920s and early 1930s as a period of isolationism. Assess the validity of this generalization.

  2. In what ways is the term “roaring twenties” an accurate description of the decade?

Possible DBQs:

  1. The 1920’s were a period of tension between new and changing attitudes on the one hand and traditional values and nostalgia on the other. What led to the tension between old and new and in what ways was the tension manifested? (1986)

  2. Analyze the responses of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to the problems of the Great Depression. How effective were these responses? How did they change the role of the federal government? (2003)

  3. “The New Deal accomplished a basic alteration in the terms of the social compact in the United States, creating a new set of relationships between workers and employers, rich and poor, small businessmen and bankers, the government and those it governed. The break with the past was seismic. America would never be the same.” Assess the validity of this statement using the documents and your knowledge of U S History.

Unit X: World War II (1938-1945)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: In what ways did World War Two change American domestic politics and culture? In what ways did World War Two lay a foundation for the Cold War? Why has World War II been considered “the good war?”
Themes: Culture, American identity, War and Diplomacy

The rise of fascism and militarism in Japan, Italy and Germany

The United States policy of Neutrality

Pearl Harbor and the U.S. declaration of war

Diplomacy, war aims, wartime conferences

The Home front during WW II

Urban migration and demographic changes

Women, work and family during the war

Expansion of government power

Civil liberties and civil rights: Japanese internment

Atomic Power and is implications
Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapter 25
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapter 16

Course Packet:

Freedom From Fear, David M. Kennedy

The Good War, Studs Terkel

Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose

The Pacific, Mark Helprin

Hiroshima, John Hersey

Primary Source Document Selections:

Hiroshima Documents

“So You Want To Employ Women” (U.S. Government Publications)

United States Declaration of War

“Day that will live in infamy” FDR

US Government Posters (Rosie the Riveter, Etc.)

Executive Order 9066, Roosevelt
Media Resource Selections:

Saving Private Ryan

The Prize (episode 4)
Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. The Atlantic and Pacific theaters were both viewed differently and fought differently by Americans—discuss these differences and the reasons for their existence.

  2. World War II is often referred to as the “good war.” What is meant by this and to what extent is it a fair description?

Possible DBQs:

  1. The United States decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a diplomatic measure calculated to intimidate the Soviet Union in the post-Second-World War era rather than a strictly military measure designed to force Japan’s unconditional surrender. Evaluate the validity of this statement. (1988)

  2. What impact did WWII have on the status within American society of minorities and women? Assess and describe both short and long range changes that may have occurred.

  3. To what extent was Woodrow Wilson's neutrality policy [1914-17] different than Franklin D. Roosevelt's neutrality policy 1935-40?

Unit XI- Cold War and Vietnam (1945-1975)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: How did Atomic Power shape the development of the Cold War? To what extent were cold war fears grounded in reality? What was the contribution of government propaganda to American attitudes about the cold war? How did conflicts in the cold war reflect the major doctrines of the time, such as containment, domino theory, etc.

War and Diplomacy, globalization, American identity, politics and citizenship


Origins of the Cold War

Truman and Containment

The Cold War in Asia: China, Korea, Vietnam

The Cold War in Europe, Latin America

The Red Scare and McCarthyism

Diplomatic strategies and policies of Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.

The military-industrial complex

Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War

Domino Theory

NSC 68



Spheres of Influence/Satellite Nations

Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapter 26-27, 29
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapter 17

Lies My Teacher Told Me, Chapter 9, James Loewen

Course Packet:

Grand Expectations (selections), James T. Patterson

Rise to Globalism (selections), Stephen Ambrose

‘With One Hand Tied Behind Their Back’…and Other Myths of the Vietnam War, Robert Ruzzano

The Vietnam War and the Tragedy of Containment, Michael O’Malley

Voice from the Wall, Jan Scruggs (editor)

The Things they Carried-Tim O’Brien
Primary Source Document Selections:

NSC 68

“The Containment Doctrine”-Harry S. Truman

“The Marshall Plan”-George Marshall

“The Long Telegram”-George F. Kennan

“The Wheeling West Virginia Speech”-Joseph McCarthy

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Media Resource Selections:

Atomic Café


Letters Home

Vietnam 1954-1968 (CNN)

Fog of War

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Analyze the successes and failures of the United States Cold War policy of containment as it developed in TWO of the following regions of the world during the period 1945-1975: Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa

  2. Americans developed an increasingly negative view of the Vietnam war, especially after 1968. Discuss the various factors that contributed to this trend, including the role of the TV, the nature of the military campaign and strategies, anti-war demonstrators, and the policies of the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Possible DBQs:

  1. What were the Cold War fears of the American people in the aftermath of the Second World War? How successfully did the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower address these fears? (2001)

  2. To what extent were the Soviet Union and the United States equally responsible for bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962?

  3. To what extent did the foreign policy of the United States in Southeast Asia, cause Americans both young and old, to question traditional social institutions and political practices of  America.

Fourth Quarter
Unit XII: Post War Affluence and the Struggle for Civil Rights (1946-1968)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: Examine the impact of individuals and organized groups in bringing about change in society and government policy during the Civil Rights era? What role did larger social forces play in helping or hurting these efforts?
Themes: American Diversity, American Identity, Culture, Demographic Changes, Economic Transformations, Politics and Citizenship, Environment

The Civil Rights Movement:

Brown v Board of Education.

The Lynching of Emmett Till.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Martin Luther King and Gandhian non-violence

Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and The Black Power Movement

Television and the Civil Rights Movement

Kennedy and Johnson and the Civil Rights Movement

Consensus and Conformity in America

Suburbia and middle class America, Levittown

The impact of television on Cold War and Civil Rights

War on Poverty: The Great Society

The impact of science and technology on American Life

Postwar Economic expansion

The Counter-culture

The Feminine Mystique
Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapter 27, 28
Secondary Source Selections:

A People’s History: Chapter 17

Course Packet:

Grand Expectations, James T. Patterson

My Soul is Rested (selections), Howell Raines
Primary Source Document Selections:

Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK

I Have a Dream, MLK
What we want, Stokely Carmichael

Negroes are not moving too fast, MLK

The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcolm X

“Vietnam Veterans against the War” (1971) - John Kerry

Media Resource Selections:

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (PBS)

Mississippi Burning

Malcolm X

Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. To what extent did the decade of the 1950’s deserve its reputation as an age of social and cultural conformity?

  2. “1968 was a turning point for the United States.” To what extent is an accurate assessment? In your answer discuss TWO of the following: National politics, Vietnam War, Civil Rights

Possible DBQs:

  1. Analyze the changes that occurred during the 1960’s in the goals, strategies and support of the movement for African American civil rights. (1995)

  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience in undermining the culture of “Jim Crow” and segregation in the South. What outside elements may have contributed to the success of the Civil Rights Movement?

  3. To what extent and in what ways did contemporary music and popular culture impact American society 1950s and 60s?

Unit XIII: That 70s’ and 80s’ Show (1970-1989)
Central Focus/Essential Questions: To what extent do the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s represent a retreat from the idealism, optimism, and high expectations of the post world war two era? What cultural and policy changes accompanied from the United State’s loss of economic ascendancy from the 1970s onward?


Gold Standard

Industrial Union Jobs, Pensions, etc.

The Evil Empire

Sagebrush Rebellion

The “Me” Generation

Nixon’s challenges: Vietnam, China, Watergate

Jimmy Carter the Washington outsider

The New Right and the Reagan revolution

End of the Cold War
Themes: Culture, Economic Transformations, Religion, Politics and Citizenship, Reform
Reading Assignments:


Out of Many: Chapter 30
Secondary Source Selections:

People’s History: Chapter 21

The American Record:

“Culture Wars”-James Davison Hunter

“Reckoning with Reagan”-Michael Schaller

Course Packet:

Grand Expectations, James T. Patterson

Primary Source Document Selections:

“Reflections of a Neoconservative…”-Irving Kirstol

“The Equal Rights Amendment”

“Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals”-Ronald Reagan

“Hate, Rape and Rap”-Tipper Gore

“2 Live Crew, Decoded”- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Media Resource Selections:

News Clips

The Big Chill


Methods of Assessment:

Multiple Choice

Possible FRQs:

  1. Analyze the extent to which TWO of the following transformed American society in the 1970’s and 1980’s: The Environmental Movement, The New Right, the Women’s Movement, Reaction to Watergate and Vietnam.

  2. One of the most famous expressions of the economic mindset of the 1980s is from the Oliver Stone movie Wallstreet in which investing mogul Gordon Gekko famously proclaims that “Greed Works.!” To what extend is it fair to view the 1980s as a period of runaway capitalism and greed?

Possible DBQs:

  1. The 1970s and 1980s was a period of economic, political, and social change within both US Domestic and Foreign Policy. Evaluate the relative successes and failures of Presidents Carter and Regan in both policy areas.

  2. The Nixon Presidency was not the abysmal failure it has been described as being. In the not too distant future, the Nixon Presidency will be viewed by historians as the most successful presidency in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Assess the validity of this statement.

  3. How did President Reagan’s administration reflect the basic ideas and principles of the Neoconservative movement? What were some of the criticisms of his and their view of governing?

*AP Exam Early May!

Note: The year will finish up with an exploration of the post-cold war world, current issues, and American government, including Model Congress.

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