This option covers major developments in the region from around 1760 to 2000: independence movements; the challenges of nation-building; the emergence of the Americas in global affairs; the Great Depression; the Second World War and the Cold War, and their impact on the region, as well as the transition into the 21st century.
Within each section political, economic and social issues are considered and, when relevant, cultural aspects are included. The countries of the Americas form a region of great diversity but close historical links.
Only people and events named in the guide will be named in the examination questions. In some bullets, suitable examples are shown in brackets. These examples will not be named in the examination questions as any appropriate examples can be used.
The topics that we have chosen to study this year for Paper 3 are “Independence Movements”, “The Emergence of the Americas in Global Affairs” and “The Cold War”. The IB requirements for each are listed below.
This section focuses on the various forces that contributed to the rise of the independence movements, the similar and different paths that the movements followed and the immediate effects of independence in the region. It explores the political, intellectual and military contributions of their leaders and the sometimes contradictory views that shaped the emergence of the new nations.
Independence movements in the Americas: political, economic, social, intellectual and religious causes; the role of foreign intervention; conflicts and issues leading to war
Political and intellectual contributions of leaders to the process of independence: Washington, Bolivar (suitable choices could be Adams, Jefferson, San Martín, O’Higgins)
United States Declaration of Independence; processes leading to the declaration; influence of ideas; nature of the declaration; military campaigns and their impact on the outcome (suitable examples could be Saratoga and Yorktown)
Independence movements in Latin America: characteristics of the independence processes; reasons for the similarities and/or differences in two countries in the region; military campaigns and their impact on the outcome (suitable examples could be Chacabuco, Maipú, Ayacucho, Boyacá and Carabobo)
United States’ position towards Latin American independence; events and reasons for the emergence of the Monroe Doctrine
Impact of independence on the economies and societies of the Americas: economic and social issues; new perspectives on economic development; impact on different social groups: Native Americans, African Americans, Creoles
2The Emergence of the Americas in Global Affairs
This section focuses on modernization in the region, and its impact on foreign policy. It explores the involvement of the nations in the First World War. Modernization shaped the new nations and its effects created the basis for a major shift in the foreign policies of the region. By the end of the century, for example, the United States played a more active role in world affairs, and in the affairs of Latin America in particular, thus transforming inter-American relations. When the First World War broke out in Europe, several American countries were involved in the conflict. When the war ended, its impact was felt in the economic, social and foreign policies of the participating countries.
United States’ expansionist foreign policies: political, economic, social and ideological reasons • Spanish–American War: causes and effects (1898)
United States’ foreign policies: the Big Stick; Dollar Diplomacy; Moral Diplomacy; applications and impact on the region
United States and the First World War: from neutrality to involvement; reasons for US entry into the First World War; Wilson’s peace ideals and the struggle for ratification of the Versailles Treaty in the United States; significance of the war for the United States’ hemispheric status
Involvement and participation of either Canada or one Latin American country in the First World War: reasons for and/or against participation; nature of participation
Impact of the First World War on two countries of the Americas: economic, political, social, and foreign policies
3The Cold War and the Americas 1945-1981
This section focuses on the development and impact of the Cold War on the region. Most of the second half of the 20th century was dominated by the global conflict of the Cold War. Within the Americas, some countries were closely allied to the United States and some took sides reluctantly. Many remained neutral or sought to avoid involvement in Cold War struggles. A few, influenced by the Cuban Revolution, instituted socialist governments. No nation, however, escaped the pressures of the Cold War, which had a significant impact on the domestic and foreign policies of the countries of the region.
Truman: containment and its implications for the Americas; the rise of McCarthyism and its effects on domestic and foreign policies of the United States; the Cold War and its impact on society and culture
Korean War and the United States and the Americas: reasons for participation; military developments; diplomatic and political outcomes
Eisenhower and Dulles: New Look and its application; characteristics and reasons for the policy; repercussions for the region
United States’ involvement in Vietnam: the reasons for, and nature of, the involvement at different stages; domestic effects and the end of the war
United States’ foreign policies from Kennedy to Carter: the characteristics of, and reasons for, policies; implications for the region: Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress; Nixon’s covert operations and Chile; Carter’s quest for human rights and the Panama Canal Treaty
Cold War in either Canada or one Latin American country: reasons for foreign and domestic policies and their implementation
Below are the other topics for Paper 2 that you may have covered in AP US History. Unless you are fully prepared and have reviewed this material extensively, do not choose a topic from last year!
4Nation-Building and Its Challenges
This section focuses on the new challenges and problems that came with independence. It explores the ways in which, and the reasons why, the countries of the region attempted to build their nations. Independent and new nations emerged; the colonial empires, with few exceptions, were gone; new world links were forged yet the colonial legacy remained. Two of the problems that confronted the new nations were how to challenge it or how to build on it. The task of building new nations opened the doors to novel ways of political, social and economic thinking and to the redefining of concepts such as nation and state.
United States: Articles of Confederation; the Constitution of 1787: philosophical underpinnings; major compromises and changes in the US political system
War of 1812: causes and impact on British North America and the United States
Mexican–American War 1846-8: causes and effects on the region
Changes in the conditions of social groups such as Native Americans, mestizos, immigrants in the new
5United States Civil War: Causes, Course and Effects 1841-1877
This section focuses on the United States Civil War between the North and the South (1861-5), which is often perceived as the great watershed in the history of the United States. It transformed the country forever: slavery disappeared following Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Northern success marked a victory for the proponents of strong central power over the supporters of states’ rights. It marked the beginnings of further westward expansion and transformed United States’ society by accelerating industrialization and modernization in the North and largely destroying the plantation system in the South. The war left the country with a new set of problems: how would the South rebuild its society and economy and what would be the place in that society of 4 million freed African Americans? These changes were fundamental, leading some historians to see the war (and its results) as a “second American Revolution”.
Cotton economy and slavery; conditions of enslavement; adaptation and resistance such as the Underground Railroad
Origins of the Civil War: political issues, states’ rights, modernization, sectionalism, the nullification crisis, economic differences between North and South
Abolitionist debate: ideologies and arguments for and against slavery and their impact
Reasons for, and effects of, westward expansion and the sectional debates; the crisis of the 1850s; the Kansas–Nebraska problem; the Ostend Manifesto; the Lincoln–Douglas debates; the impact of the election of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation; Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy
Union versus Confederate: strengths and weaknesses; economic resources; significance of leaders during the US Civil War (suitable examples could be Grant and Lee, Sherman and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson)
Major battles of the Civil War and their impact on the conflict: Antietam and Gettysburg; the role of foreign powers
Reconstruction: economic, social and political successes and failures; economic expansion
African Americans in the Civil War and in the New South: legal issues; the Black Codes; Jim Crow Laws
6The Development of Modern Nations 1865-1929
This section, covering the period between the late 19th century and the early 20th century, saw forces that transformed the countries of the region. These forces are generally seen as part of “modernization”, a process that involved the progressive transformation of the economic, political and social structures of the countries of the region. With respect to the first four bullets, a case study approach should be adopted, using two countries from the region as examples. The chosen countries should be identified in the introduction to the examination answers.
Causes and consequences of railroad construction; industrial growth and economic modernization; the development of international and inter-American trade; neocolonialism and dependency
Causes and consequences of immigration; emigration and internal migration, including the impact upon, and experience of, indigenous peoples
Development and impact of ideological currents including Progressivism, Manifest Destiny, liberalism, nationalism, positivism, Social Darwinism, “indigenismo” and nativism
Social and cultural changes: the arts; the role of women
Influence of leaders in the transition to the modern era: political and economic aims; assessment of the successes and failures of Theodore Roosevelt, Wilfrid Laurier and a Latin American leader of the student’s choice
Social, economic and legal conditions of African Americans between 1865 and 1929; the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance; the search for civil rights and the ideas, aims and tactics of Booker T Washington, WEB Dubois and Marcus Garvey
7The Great Depression and the Americas 1929-1939
This section focuses on the nature of the Depression as well as the different solutions adopted by governments in the region and the impact on these societies. The Great Depression produced the most serious economic collapse in the history of the Americas. It affected every country in the region and brought about the need to rethink economic and political systems. The alternatives that were offered and the adaptations that took place marked a watershed in political and economic development in many countries in the region. With respect to the last two bullets, a case study approach should be adopted, using one country from the region as an example. The chosen country should be identified in the introduction to the examination answers.
The Great Depression: political and economic causes in the Americas
Nature and efficacy of solutions in the United States: Hoover; Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal; critics of the New Deal
Impact of the Great Depression on society: African Americans, women, minorities
The Great Depression and the arts: photography, the movie industry, the radio, literary current
8The Second World War and the Americas
As the world order deteriorated in the late 1930s, resulting in the outbreak of war in Europe, the countries of the region reacted in different ways to the challenges presented. This section focuses on the changing policies of the countries in the region as a result of growing political and diplomatic tensions preceding and during the Second World War. It also examines the impact of the war upon the Americas.
Hemispheric reactions to the events in Europe: inter-American diplomacy; cooperation and neutrality; Franklin D Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy, its application and effects
The diplomatic and/or military role of two countries in the Second World War
Social impact of the Second World War on: African Americans, Native Americans, women and minorities; conscription
Treatment of Japanese Americans
Reaction to the Holocaust in the Americas
Impact of technological developments and the beginning of the atomic age
Economic and diplomatic effects of the Second World War in one country of the Americas
9Political Developments in the Americas After the Second World War 1945-1979
This section focuses on domestic concerns and political developments after 1945. The majority of states in the Americas experienced social, economic and political changes and challenges. Political responses to these forces varied from country to country: from the continuation of democracy to multi-class “populist” alliances to outright conflict, revolution and the establishment of authoritarian regimes in the 1960s and 1970s. Areas of study include: conditions for the rise to power of new leaders; economic and social policies; treatment of minorities
United States: domestic policies of Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy
Johnson and “the Great Society”; Nixon’s domestic reforms
Causes and effects of the Silent (or Quiet) Revolution
The Cuban Revolution: political, social, economic causes; impact on the region
Rule of Fidel Castro: political, economic, social and cultural policies; treatment of minorities; successes and failures
10Civil Rights and Social Movements in the Americas
This section focuses on the origins, nature, challenges and achievements of civil rights movements after 1945. Movements represented the attempts to achieve equality for groups that were not recognized or accepted as full members of society. The groups challenged established authority and entrenched attitudes.
Native Americans and civil rights: Latin America, the United States and Canada
African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement: origins, tactics and organizations; the US Supreme court and legal challenges to segregation in education; ending of the segregation in the South (1955-65)
Role of Dr Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement; the rise of radical African American activism (1965-8): Black Panthers; Black Muslims; Black Power and Malcolm X
Role of governments in civil rights movements in the Americas
Youth culture and protests of the 1960s and 1970s: characteristics and manifestation of a counterculture