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APUSH Course


The AP U.S. History course is designed to provide students with the analytic skills and

factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S.

history. The program prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses

by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory

college courses. Students should learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to

a given interpretive problem, reliability, and importance—and to weigh the evidence

and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. An AP U.S. History course

should thus develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an

informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in

essay format.




American Diversity

The diversity of the American people and the relationships among different groups.

The roles of race, class, ethnicity, and gender in the history of the United States.

American Identity

Views of the American national character and ideas about American exceptionalism.

Recognizing regional differences within the context of what it means to be an



Diverse individual and collective expressions through literature, art, philosophy,

music, theater, and film throughout U.S. history. Popular culture and the dimensions

of cultural conflict within American society.

Demographic Changes

Changes in birth, marriage, and death rates; life expectancy and family patterns;

population size and density. The economic, social, and political effects of immigration,

internal migration, and migration networks.

Economic Transformations

Changes in trade, commerce, and technology across time. The effects of capitalist

development, labor and unions, and consumerism.


Ideas about the consumption and conservation of natural resources. The impact of

population growth, industrialization, pollution, and urban and suburban expansion.


Engagement with the rest of the world from the fifteenth century to the present:

colonialism, mercantilism, global hegemony, development of markets, imperialism,

and cultural exchange.

Politics and Citizenship

Colonial and revolutionary legacies, American political traditions, growth of democracy,

and the development of the modern state. Defining citizenship; struggles for

civil rights.


Diverse movements focusing on a broad range of issues, including anti-slavery,

education, labor, temperance, women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, war, public

health, and government.


The variety of religious beliefs and practices in America from prehistory to the twentyfirst

century; influence of religion on politics, economics, and society.




Slavery and Its Legacies in North America

Systems of slave labor and other forms of unfree labor (e.g., indentured servitude,

contract labor) in American Indian societies, the Atlantic World, and the American

South and West. The economics of slavery and its racial dimensions. Patterns of

resistance and the long-term economic, political, and social effects of slavery.

War and Diplomacy

Armed conflict from the precolonial period to the twenty-first century; impact of war

on American foreign policy and on politics, economy, and society.


Topic Outline


1. Pre-Columbian Societies

Early inhabitants of the Americas

American Indian empires in Mesoamerica, the Southwest, and the Mississippi Valley

American Indian cultures of North America at the time of European contact


2. Transatlantic Encounters and Colonial Beginnings, 1492–1690

First European contacts with American Indians

Spain’s empire in North America

French colonization of Canada

English settlement of New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, and the South

From servitude to slavery in the Chesapeake region

Religious diversity in the American colonies

Resistance to colonial authority: Bacon’s Rebellion, the Glorious Revolution, and the

Pueblo Revolt


3. Colonial North America, 1690–1754

Population growth and immigration

Transatlantic trade and the growth of seaports

The eighteenth-century back country

Growth of plantation economies and slave societies

The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening

Colonial governments and imperial policy in British North America


4. The American Revolutionary Era, 1754–1789

The French and Indian War

The Imperial Crisis and resistance to Britain

The War for Independence

State constitutions and the Articles of Confederation

The federal Constitution


5. The Early Republic, 1789–1815

Washington, Hamilton, and shaping of the national government

Emergence of political parties: Federalists and Republicans

Republican Motherhood and education for women

Beginnings of the Second Great Awakening

Significance of Jefferson’s presidency

Expansion into the trans-Appalachian West; American Indian resistance

Growth of slavery and free Black communities

The War of 1812 and its consequences




6. Transformation of the Economy and Society in Antebellum America

The transportation revolution and creation of a national market economy

Beginnings of industrialization and changes in social and class structures

Immigration and nativist reaction

Planters, yeoman farmers, and slaves in the cotton South


7. The Transformation of Politics in Antebellum America

Emergence of the second party system

Federal authority and its opponents: judicial federalism, the Bank War, tariff

controversy, and states’ rights debates

Jacksonian democracy and its successes and limitations


8. Religion, Reform, and Renaissance in Antebellum America

Evangelical Protestant revivalism

Social reforms

Ideals of domesticity

Transcendentalism and utopian communities

American Renaissance: literary and artistic expressions


9. Territorial Expansion and Manifest Destiny

Forced removal of American Indians to the trans-Mississippi West

Western migration and cultural interactions

Territorial acquisitions

Early U.S. imperialism: the Mexican War


10. The Crisis of the Union

Pro- and antislavery arguments and conflicts

Compromise of 1850 and popular sovereignty

The Kansas–Nebraska Act and the emergence of the Republican Party

Abraham Lincoln, the election of 1860, and secession


11. Civil War

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


12. Reconstruction

Presidential and Radical Reconstruction

Southern state governments: aspirations, achievements, failures

Role of African Americans in politics, education, and the economy

Compromise of 1877

Impact of Reconstruction


13. The Origins of the New South

Reconfiguration of southern agriculture: sharecropping and crop-lien system

Expansion of manufacturing and industrialization

The politics of segregation: Jim Crow and disfranchisement





14. Development of the West in the Late Nineteenth Century

Expansion and development of western railroads

Competitors for the West: miners, ranchers, homesteaders, and American Indians

Government policy toward American Indians

Gender, race, and ethnicity in the far West

Environmental impacts of western settlement


15. Industrial America in the Late Nineteenth Century

Corporate consolidation of industry

Effects of technological development on the worker and workplace

Labor and unions

National politics and influence of corporate power

Migration and immigration: the changing face of the nation

Proponents and opponents of the new order, e.g., Social Darwinism and Social Gospel


16. Urban Society in the Late Nineteenth Century

Urbanization and the lure of the city

City problems and machine politics

Intellectual and cultural movements and popular entertainment


17. Populism and Progressivism

Agrarian discontent and political issues of the late nineteenth century

Origins of Progressive reform: municipal, state, and national

Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson as Progressive presidents

Women’s roles: family, workplace, education, politics, and reform

Black America: urban migration and civil rights initiatives


18. The Emergence of America as a World Power

American imperialism: political and economic expansion

War in Europe and American neutrality

The First World War at home and abroad

Treaty of Versailles

Society and economy in the postwar years


19. The New Era: 1920s

The business of America and the consumer economy

Republican politics: Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover

The culture of Modernism: science, the arts, and entertainment

Responses to Modernism: religious fundamentalism, nativism, and Prohibition

The ongoing struggle for equality: African Americans and women


20. The Great Depression and the New Deal

Causes of the Great Depression

The Hoover administration’s response

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal

Labor and union recognition

The New Deal coalition and its critics from the Right and the Left

Surviving hard times: American society during the Great Depression


21. The Second World War

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

Prelude to war: policy of neutrality

The attack on Pearl Harbor and United States declaration of war

Fighting a multifront war

Diplomacy, war aims, and wartime conferences

The United States as a global power in the Atomic Age


22. The Home Front During the War

Wartime mobilization of the economy

Urban migration and demographic changes

Women, work, and family during the war

Civil liberties and civil rights during wartime

War and regional development

Expansion of government power


23. The United States and the Early Cold War

Origins of the Cold War

Truman and containment

The Cold War in Asia: China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan

Diplomatic strategies and policies of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations

The Red Scare and McCarthyism

Impact of the Cold War on American society


24. The 1950s

Emergence of the modern civil rights movement

The affluent society and “the other America”

Consensus and conformity: suburbia and middle-class America

Social critics, nonconformists, and cultural rebels

Impact of changes in science, technology, and medicine


25. The Turbulent 1960s

From the New Frontier to the Great Society

Expanding movements for civil rights

Cold War confrontations: Asia, Latin America, and Europe

Beginning of Détente

The antiwar movement and the counterculture


26. Politics and Economics at the End of the Twentieth Century

The election of 1968 and the “Silent Majority”

Nixon’s challenges: Vietnam, China, and Watergate

Changes in the American economy: the energy crisis, deindustrialization, and the

service economy

The New Right and the Reagan revolution

End of the Cold War


27. Society and Culture at the End of the Twentieth Century

Demographic changes: surge of immigration after 1965, Sunbelt migration, and the

graying of America

Revolutions in biotechnology, mass communication, and computers

Politics in a multicultural society


28. The United States in the Post–Cold War World

Globalization and the American economy

Unilateralism vs. multilateralism in foreign policy

Domestic and foreign terrorism

Environmental issues in a global context

Period Covered Approximate Percentage of Test

(Multiple-choice section only)

Pre-Columbian to 1789 20%

1790 to 1914 45%

1915 to the present 35%

Whereas the multiple-choice section may include a few questions from the period

since 1980, neither the DBQ nor any of the four essay questions in Parts B and C

will deal exclusively with this period.

Together, the multiple-choice and free-response sections cover political

institutions, behavior, and public policy; social change, and cultural and intellectual

developments; diplomacy and international relations; and economic



Material Covered Approximate Percentage of Test

(Multiple-choice section only)

Political institutions, behavior, and

public policy 35%

Social change, and cultural and intellectual

developments 40%

Diplomacy and international relations 15%

Economic developments 10%

The U.S. History Development Committee’s note on social and cultural history:

Much recent scholarship in U.S. history merges social and cultural history.

Based on college curriculum survey data, the Development Committee decided

to combine these two categories into one called social change, and cultural and

intellectual developments.

A substantial number of social, cultural, and economic history questions deal

with such traditional topics as the impact of legislation on social groups and the

economy or the pressure brought to bear on political processes by social,

economic, and cultural developments. Because historical inquiry is not neatly

divided into categories, many questions pertain to more than one area.


Answers to standard essay questions will be judged on the strength of the thesis

developed, the quality of the historical argument, and the evidence offered in

support of the argument, rather than on the factual information per se. Unless a

question asks otherwise, students will not be penalized for omitting one or another

specific illustration.


The DBQ will typically require students to relate the documents to a historical

period or theme and, thus, to focus on major periods and issues. For this reason,

outside knowledge is very important and must be incorporated into the student’s essay if

the highest scores are to be earned. It should be noted that the emphasis of the DBQ

will be on analysis and synthesis, not historical narrative.


Scores earned on the multiple-choice and free-response sections each account for

one-half of the student’s exam grade. Within the free-response section, the DBQ

counts for 45 percent; the two standard essays count for 55 percent.






Covers the 500-year scope of U.S. history—from North America’s pre-Columbian beginnings to the


Integrates a number of important themes that recur throughout American history

Includes analysis of primary-source documents

Helps students develop analytic ways of thinking, such as recognizing cause and effect, drawing

inferences, dealing with conflicting viewpoints, and tracing the evolution of themes throughout


Requires that students write often and insightfully

Equips students to weigh different interpretations of history and introduces them to historical


Integrates social, cultural, political, diplomatic, economic, and intellectual history into the narrative

of the American experience

Requires students to form and express thoughtful opinions that they share with others



For example, as you plan your first major unit, colonial America, consider three key themes that

emerged in this era: i.e, American identity, politics and citizenship, and religion. As you work through this unit, be sure to take time to introduce and define these themes and investigate how they evolved in colonial America.


The questions below might help students consider these three themes.

To what extent did English colonists identify themselves as “Americans” by 1750?

What factors contributed to the emergence of this American identity?

How did this identification differ from region to region? Why?

What American political institutions emerged in colonial America? What factors promoted this?

To what extent were these institutions uniquely American?

In what ways did religious beliefs shape the lives of colonial Americans?

Analyze the impact of the Great Awakening in promoting an American identity.

Analyze the tensions between religious conformity and religious tolerance in colonial America.

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