Guide for Advanced Placement United States History Coverage



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1 Guide for Advanced Placement United States History Coverage
NOTE: This outline follows the College Board’s suggested “content to be covered” in an A.P. U.S. History course. Most of the information comes from your text. DO NOT use this in place of reading the chapter but DO use it to review for quizzes and Topic Tests.
TOPIC 1. COLONIAL AMERICA
1. Discovery and Settlement of the New World, 1492-1650

A. Europe in the sixteenth century

1. Crusaders attempting to wrest the Holy Land from Moslem influence between 11-14th century failed, but in their efforts introduced Europeans to goods highly valued but expensive. e.g. spices to preserve and flavor food, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, silks (which were easier to wear), Damascus steel, drugs to relieve some discomforts, Persian rugs, perfumes to disguise body odors, Chinese porcelain, glass, draperies to decorate drab castles

a. land, land-water routes were slow

b. middlemen, such as Moslem traders, Italian merchants

2. Marco Polo returns to Europe in 1295 with stories of the wonders of China, which contributes to interest in Asia

3. spirit of Renaissance, 14th century, brought with it a new acceptance of things secular such as curiosity about the world, optimism, which in turn led to

4. new technologies such as printing press (1450), better maps, mariners compass, astrolabe, gunpowder

5. ambition of European monarchs as system of feudalism gives way to modern nation-state

a. this new type of government was best able to provide resources for voyages of discovery, conquest, and colonization

b. first nations to unite were first to build colonies -Portugal, Spain, England, France, Netherlands (Germany and Italy unite much later and their drive for empire in part helps cause World Wars I and II)


B. Spanish, English, and French Exploration

1. Spanish Exploration

a. background

1. Spain was united in late 15th century through the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella and from the expulsion of Moslem Moors

2. Spain was eager to compete with her Portuguese rivals for the Indies trade (who ends up establishing very profitable trading outposts in India, Africa, China and the East Indies and breaking the Italian monopoly on trade).

b. reasons for exploration

1. Spain backs Columbus in voyage west to get to east (he is convinced world is round and therefore can sail West to get to the East, not fully aware that massive continent lays between).

a. October 12, 1492 Columbus lands in Bahamas, sure they were the famous “Indies”, a great disappointment to Spain but leads to:

b. Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) gives Spain most of the New World (Portugal gets Brazil, ten in Africa and Asia) therefore Spain is dominant colonizing power in New World, motivated by

1) zeal to christianize natives

2) desire for gold (gets more attention in next book).

2. important early explorations of Spanish Conquistadores

a) Balboa, 1513- Pacific Ocean

b) deLeon, 1513- Florida

c) Magellan, 1519 - 1522- circumnavigated globe

d) Cortes, 1519 - 1521- Mexico and Aztecs, Montezuma

e) Pizarro, 1531 - 1533- Peru, Incas

f) deSoto, 1539 - 1542- exploration crossed Mississippi River.

g) Coronado, 1540 - 42- America Southwest, Grand Canyon, and Buffalo herds (Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas).

c. effects of Spanish colonization

1. spurred English and others to colonization because of massive deposits of gold and other minerals found in central and South America.

2. Spanish empire in New World characterized by great cities, majestic cathedrals, distinguished universities - all before English colonizing era and maintained control after England forced out.

3. Spain becomes dominating exploring and colonizing power in 1500s

2. English Exploration

a. background

1. England and Spain were allies in early 1500s, therefore little interest in colonies

2. this changes after 1558 with reign of Protestant Queen Elizabeth (Henry VIII and Reformation first led to split with Roman Catholic church)

b. reasons for exploration

1. Protestant Reformation (especially Catholics, Separatists and Reformers within the Anglican Church) i.e. religious freedom

2. Defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 led to safety on seas but also confidence of English people in a victory over Catholicism and development of patriotism and faith in the role England was to play in the world, (e.g. golden age of literature)

3. International rivalry for power and influence (lure of Spanish gold e.g. Francis Drake knighted for piracy)

4. Political turmoil (after Glorious Revolution and ascendancy of Parliament, and Puritan Revolution)

5. Enclosure movement freed laborers from land, so population “surplus” available to colonize

6. Primogeniture forced “second sons” to seek fortunes elsewhere

7. New business forms arise, e.g. joint-stock company

8. Curiosity, adventure, etc.

9. Attitude toward colonization which permitted a mix of peoples to leave (compared to Spanish and French who screened for the “religious and political orthodox”

10. Growth of commercial capitalism, which is to say the availability of capital to invest, need for raw materials and markets in manufacturing, etc.

11. Overcrowded

c. significance

1. colonies of Spain, France, Holland and Portugal were important in development of New World but policies of England had greater significance for United States

3. French exploration

a. background

1. France a late-comer in colonization efforts, just like England, mostly because of both domestic strife and foreign wars e.g. fighting between Catholics and Huguenots

b. reasons for exploration

1. 1598 Edict of Nantes, which granted limited toleration to French Protestants, therefore domestic tranquility

2. series of strong leaders led France to become one of strongest and most feared nations in Europe, therefore interest in overseas empire, especially to thwart growing English dominance

3. Interest in New World further enhanced by Jesuit missionaries interested in Christianizing Indians, lucrative fur trade, search for “Northwest Passage”

c. significance

1. pockets of influence remain in areas of United States, Quebec, and several islands but primarily cultural


C. First English Settlements

1. Jamestown, Virginia, 1606, Southern Chesapeake colony

a. motivation

1. gold

2. Christianize Indians



3. search for passage (Northwest) through Americas to India

b. sponsors

1. Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company receives charter from James I (later revoked, 1624, and colony becomes a royal colony)

c. economy

1. very poor start on banks of mosquito-infested James River, searched for gold instead of planted food and constructed shelters but saved in 1608 by John Smith with help of Pocahontas and later John Rolfe who introduces tobacco planting (and marries Pocahontas)

d. significance

1. important precedent set with Jamestown charter since colonists guaranteed same rights as Englishmen, therefore serves as cornerstone of American liberty

2. promoted plantation system where large acreage devoted, therefore requiring large number of laborers, devoted to cash crop

3. first Africans sold (by Dutch) to colonists, possibly as servants

4. representative self-government born in 1619 when Virginia Company authorized House of Burgesses



2. Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620, New England colony

a. motivation

1. refuge for Separatists, Pilgrims (extreme Puritans who anted to separate from Church of England, which they felt was still too “Catholic”)(tried Holland but feared children would be de-Anglicized)

b. sponsor

1. Virginia Company granted Separatists right to settle within their jurisdiction

c. economy

1. Mayflower missed its destination and landed in Massachusetts where land was not suitable for farming, therefore furs, fishing, lumber (Beaver and Bible) became mainstays

2. William Bradford was an able leader but colony never really grew to be influential and by 1691 still without a legal charter so Plymouth merges with the Massachusetts Bay Colony

d. significance

1. Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact which was an agreement to form a “body politic” in which all would agree to the will of the majority, therefore a significant step toward self-government, especially via town meetings

2. Compact becomes important precedent for developing written constitutions

3. First Thanksgiving 1621


D. Spanish and French settlements and long-term influence

1. Spanish

a. settlements

1. Spain built presidios and missions to establish control over what is today American southwest and Florida but eventually lost control to the growing United States

2. Spanish control in Central and South America and the Caribbean remained until 1820s when most nations were able to achieve independence (i.e. before and after English control of North American colonies)

b. long-term influence

1. many Indian cultures lost but not entirely; tremendous influence considering language, religion, social customs

2. French

a. settlements

1. French empire in the New World covered vast amounts of territory in North America

2. government was autocratic and centralized, which seemed like a strength but proved to be a weakness

3. French in North America concentrated on fur trade rather than large permanent settlements like the English

4. rivalries with England and Spain eventually caused France to lose (and sell) her New World Empire, therefore, today only pockets in United States and islands (New Orleans, Martinique, Haiti); Quebec, Acadians) remain

b. long-term influence

1. Jesuits who came to Christianize Indians were valuable explorers and geographers and helped map North America

2. Fur trade extinguished beaver population, changed Indians’ way of life

3. primarily cultural influence in the areas listed above
E. American Indians

1. Bering Strait theory on how Siberians crossed what was then a land bridge and over thousands of years filtered down into North and South American continents

2. As centuries passed, migrants split into hundreds of tribes, some of which developed highly advanced civilizations, especially in Central and South America

a. Indians lived as subject peoples in three great empires - Aztecs, Incas, Mayans

3. Settlements in North America were mostly small, scattered and impermanent and tribes lived off the land farming, hunting, and fishing depending on the environment

a. Iroquois Confederation an example of a powerful union of tribes who banded together to end war among tribes

4. In the Indian/European exchange that took place after 1492

a. Indian population decimated by 90% within a hundred years, primarily due to diseases they didn’t have immunity against, though also through conquest

b. important North American crops include tobacco, corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, which revolutionized international economy and fed peoples of Europe

c. Indians’ lives change with introduction of horse, domesticated animals, attractiveness of fur trade

5. Conflict between Indians and Europeans

a. Eurocentrism

b. struggle for land

c. beliefs about nature and role of man











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