Apush ap united States History Syllabus introduction

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AP United States History Syllabus
The AP program in United States History is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in United States 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, their reliability, and their importance -- and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. In addition, students will use a primary source reader and other scholarly reference materials throughout the year. An AP United States 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 an essay format. Students are responsible for their own learning; they will write word-processed papers that follow proper style rules, take weekly quizzes on textbook chapter note-taking assignments, and take about one essay or document-based test a week.
A prescribed by the College Board, the course will include:

  • “Study of political institutions, social and cultural developments, diplomacy [and] economic trends.”

  • [the teaching of students] “to analyze evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship.”

  • “Extensive instruction in analysis and interpretation of a wide variety of primary sources, such as documentary material, maps, statistical tables, works of art and pictorial and graphic materials.”

  • “Frequent practice in writing analytical and interpretive essays such as document based questions (DBQ) and thematic essays.”

This course examines the evolution of the American Republic from the initial European incursions into North America to the present. The course is divided into periods of time and focuses on the themes in the AP Course Description, including national identity, economic transformation, and U.S. actions on the world stage. Moreover, the AP curriculum demands higher-order thinking skills within a rigorous academic context. Thus, students are frequently required to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate primary and secondary historical sources, in addition to comprehending, memorizing, and applying facts. Our investigation of the nature of American democracy includes methods, evidence, and scholarship from the areas of social, political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history.
Kennedy, David M., and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant: A History of the American People. Fifteenth ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-present. Originally Published: New York, 2005, Print/Electronic.
Bell, James H. Eyewitnesses and Others: Readings in American History. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1996. Print.
Bruun, Erik A., and Jay Crosby. The American Experience: The History and Culture of the United States through Speeches, Letters, Essays, Articles, Poems, Songs, and Stories. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2012. Print.
Yazawa, Melvin. Documents to Accompany America's History. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. Print.
Lamb, Brian. Booknotes: Stories from American History. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
Other supplemental materials will be provided throughout the year and we will use many different items in our analysis of the material examined in this class.
Grades are figured on a cumulative point basis. Each test, quiz, homework assignment, etc., is worth a given number of points according to the quality and level of completion of the work. At the end of a marking period, a grade average is determined by dividing the total points possible by points earned. Students will be examined through a means of chapter assessments as well as Free Response Questions for each chapter and major unit. (FYI – your effort in the class is what will determine your grade. I will not retroactively change your grade in August if you get a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam. What you work on all year to earn is what you will receive in the end. So, work hard and you will probably get the grade you desire.)
AP EXAM – MAY 14, 2014:
The culmination of this class will come in the form of the College Board AP Exam. This exam is a demonstration of the knowledge and skills that every student should acquire through the year. Completion of the Exam is not a requirement for successful completion of the class, however, it is greatly encouraged that all students who pass the class attempt the exam on May 14. The AP Exam is comprised of the following sections:

  • Total Time Frame:

  • Part A: Multiple Choice – 80 Questions in 55 minutes

  • Part B: Document Based Question – 1 essay in 60 minutes

  • Part C: Free Response Question (FRQ) – 2 essays in 70 minutes (35 minutes per FRQ)

Over the next 180 school days we will exam the following themes that will be analyzed, identified, critically thought about, written about, and discussed at length:

  • American Diversity

  • American Identity

  • Culture

  • Demographic Changes

  • Economic Transformations

  • Environment

  • Globalization

  • Politics and Citizenship

  • Reform

  • Religion

  • Slavery and Its Legacies in North America

  • War and Diplomacy


Unit One: (September 3-12)

Early North America: Thirty to forty thousand years before Christopher Columbus – or any Western European, for that matter – found his way to the New World, the continent had already been settled by migrants who had crossed a land bridge that once connected Alaska with Russia. Much later, in the early eleventh century, Viking ships entered the western hemisphere intent on establishing colonies in North America, but the Norse venture failed. In the latter stages of the Feudal Age, powerful Western European nations such as Spain and Portugal were emerging, and they too were bent on expanding their political and economic advantage through colonization. As Europe emerged from its feudal period around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, commerce and exploration increased in intensity, stimulated by new navigational developments such as the compass and better shipbuilding techniques, as well as non-maritime discoveries and advancements such as the printing press. With the rise of modern nation-states, powerful monarchs and wealthy merchants were willing to finance explorations of discovery. Colonization ultimately followed these explorations, and it was not long before France, Holland, and England set covetous eyes on the New World. In fact, the expansion of commerce was an essential element in this entire process. Leading the way was Spain and Portugal, but England, the latecomer, would gain the upper hand in North America and set the stage for the unfolding of the United States.

Themes: The evolution of Native American culture, the genesis of the American identity, demographic shifts and patterns of colonial development (Spain, France, England), evolution of regional patterns in colonial settlement in North America.

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 1 & 2

Zinn, “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress” pg. 1-22

Bell, “Columbus Discovers America” pgs. 2-7

“A Cherokee Legend: How the World Was Made” pg. 92-95

Yazawa, “The Role of Women in Huron Society” pg. 9-10

Bruun and Cosby, “Struggling to Settle Jamestown” pg. 38-41

Johnson, “Europeans Encounter the New World 1492-1600” pg. 12-33

DBQ: The Transformation of Colonial Virginia, 1606-1700

FRQ: Differences in Colonization of the New World
Unit Two: (September 15-26)

Colonial Life: By the 18th century the American colonies were on the way to developing their own unique cultures while maintaining the essence of their Old World customs. Some colonies were more theocratic and politically elitist than others; a few had some of the political rights found in a democracy – or anywhere in Europe, for that matter – such as freedom of religion and political expression. For their part, typical English colonists came to the New World in the hopes of improving their economic status or to seek greater political and religious autonomy. Once in North America, some sought to convert the Native American population to Christianity. Some arrived as indentured servants, others as refugees from persecution, some as slaves, and still others as castoffs because of previous offenses. Some found success and freedom in the New World; others found poverty and depression. As in Europe, the wealthy colonists were generally politically powerful, their interests and concerns not necessarily consistent with those of their less fortunate fellow colonists. Over time, the deeper economic, political, class, and racial divisions would emerge, but in the short term by the middle of the 18th century some American colonists began to envision a future for their colonies that would entail the rights to self-determination that could only come with independence.

Themes: The evolution of Native American culture, the genesis of the American identity, demographic shifts and patterns of colonial development.
Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 3, 4 & 5

Zinn, “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” pg. 39-58

Bell, “Publisher John Peter Zenger’s Trial in Colonial New York” pg. 60-65

Johnson, “The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century” pg. 34-54

“The Northern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century” pg. 55-74

FRQ: Religion and the settlement of the English colonies.
Unit Three: (September 29 – October 10)

Revolution!: When thinking about the causes of American colonial independence, many people often give little thought to factors other than the desire for liberty. All agree that the revolution began because the colonists wanted independence, but they do not always trace this desire back to the imperialistic foreign policy adopted by the British long before the struggle for independence began. There are essentially two types of revolution: anti-imperialist and social or domestic. The objective of the first is self-determination, or autonomy. Profound social change, as in democratization, is the goal of the second type. Ultimately, when the causes of the American Revolution are studied, you will need to interpret whether there were one or two revolutionary impulses. Finally, when the First Continental Congress’s appeal to King George III, the Declaration of Rights, reached Britain in 1774, it was, to put it mildly, poorly received. Massachusetts was now considered to be in open rebellion, and soon fresh troops began arriving to enforce British laws and policies that would invariably send the colonies and the Crown towards open hostilities.

Themes: Reevaluation of colonial relationship with Britain, the American Revolution as a conservative or liberal reaction to British colonial policies, the place of the American Revolution in world events

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 6, 7 & 8

Zinn, “Tyranny is Tyranny” pg. 59-75

Johnson, “The British Empire and the Colonial Crisis” pg. 97-114

Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers, pg. 3-19

Lamb, “Pauline Maier on Declaring Independence” pg. 9-13

Bell, “Patrick Henry Takes a Stand” pg. 103-107

“A Surgeon’s Diary of Valley Forge” pg.118-122

Bruun and Crosby, collection of readings, pgs. 109-116

“Common Sense” Thomas Paine pg. 123-127

FRQ: How did Americans Fight, Patriots or Profiteers?
Unit Four: (October 13-24)

The Early Republic: The Articles of Confederation were adopted by Congress in 1777 and by 1781 all the individual states had approved of the Union. But, by 1787 it was clear that the Articles were insufficient for the young nation. A convention charged with revising the Articles concluded that an entirely new structure was needed. The Constitution was the result. The ratification process would bring the nation’s first major political figures, Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, etc., to the forefront to devise a plan that would direct the growth and prosperity of the young nation. Once the Constitution had been ratified the remainder of the time between 1789 and 1800 saw the cornerstone set for the United States Congress convened in a timely manner, Washington established the precedent of a cabinet, two terms in office, and the stature of the executive. At the same time the Judiciary began to flex its arm and the checks and balance philosophy, over time, became principle. But the political disputes that shaped the constitutional ratification debate and the arguments that would come after would soon spill over into the federal government and ultimately lead to the rise of political parties, but eventually there would be the revolution of 1800 and the peaceful transition of power and the youthful nation would continue to leap forward into the future.

Themes: The peaceful exchange of power, changing party philosophies, territorial growth, the growth of nationalism.

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 9, 10 & 11

Zinn, “A Kind of Revolution” pg. 77-102

Lamb, “The Federalist Papers” pg. 22-27

“The Contested Election of 1800” pg. 32-40

“The Hamilton-Burr Duel” pg. 41-45

Josephy, Alvin M. Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes pg. 26-48

Johnson, “The New Nation Takes Form” pg. 161-181

“Republicans in Power” pg. 182-200

FRQ: Evaluation of the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson
Unit Five: (October 27 – October 31)

The War of 1812: As the United States entered the second decade of the 19th century, tensions with Britain were exacerbated by the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Both Britain and France had violated America’s neutral shipping and commercial rights. The British were no more or less at fault than the French, but Americans were already blaming them and British Canadians for inciting Native American uprisings in the west. (In truth, Americans, in their hunger for more land, incited the unrest.) Many of these conflicts between white expansionists and natives were blamed on the English and with the inability to find a peaceful resolution, American War Hawks persuaded Congress to declare war on the English in June of 1812 and so begun the “Second War of Independence.”
Themes: Expansionism, American Identity, Economic Transformation
Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapter 12

Bruun and Crosby, collected primary source readings, pg. 209-212

Bell, “Tecumseh Opposes White Settlement” pg. 180-182

“The British Burn Washington” pg. 183-187

Unit Six: (November 3-14)

Jackson and Mass Democracy: Paradoxically, at the same time the United States was acquiring land, often through conquest, it was engaged in democratizing its own institutions. This era, the 1820s to the 1850s, has been referred to as the age of reform. Some historians, however, choose to title the period after its most famous President, Andrew Jackson, and refer to it as Jacksonian Democracy. It is important to note, however, that this designation is challenged by historians who maintain that Jackson was actually indifferent, opposed to, or unaware of some of the reforms. Those critical of the term see obvious contradictory impulses present during this period: slavery, expansion, and imperialism, and the marginalization of blacks, women, Native Americans, and laborers. Yet over the years, the terms have come to mean the same thing – an unprecedented expansion of egalitarian ideas that transformed America socially, politically, and economically, if only for white men.

Themes: Development of two-party system, “triumph of the common man,” economic issues of the 1830s and 1840s, reform movements in U.S. history

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 13, 14 & 15

Zinn, “The Intimately Oppressed” pg. 103-124

Johnson, “The Expanding Republic” pg. 201-219

Lamb, “The First Generation of Americans” pg. 53-59

“Tocqueville’s Democracy in America” pg. 66-72

Meacham, Jon. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Pg. 222-237

Yazawa, “A Democratic Revolution” pg. 255-272

FRQ: The Revolution of 1800 and Mass Democracy

DBQ: Indian Removal

Unit Seven: (November 17-26)

Manifest Destiny: In the two centuries since the ratification of the Constitution, the size of the United States has more than quadrupled. As one of our most important historians, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has pointed out, “The drive across the continent does not call for complicated analysis. An energetic, acquisitive people were propelled by their traits and technologies to push relentlessly into contiguous spaces sparsely inhabited by wandering aborigines.” But there may be more to it than that. Even before independence was won, Americans lusted after the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains – so much so that the British imposed the Proclamation of 1763 to keep colonists closer to the eastern seaboard. Thanks to John L. O’Sullivan the idea of westward expansion took on new zest in the 1840s and 50s until the people of the United States reached from sea to shining sea.
Themes: Westward Expansion, Mexican-American conflict, foreign policy as a newcomer.
Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 16 & 17

Zinn, “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God” pg. 149-169

Johnson, “The New West and Free North” pg. 221-238

Bruun and Crosby, “Manifest destiny by John L. O’Sullivan” pg. 281-283

DBQ: Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansionism
Unit Eight: (December 1-5)

Sectionalism: As the United States went through its growing pains in the early 19th century it became keenly aware of the fact that there were major riffs and issues that America felt because of the different ways in which economies and societies developed in the locations that people lived. These people lived in different sections of a broader American nation and some of these sectional issues were too much for the states to agree upon. These ideas blazed a stove that would eventually erupt into the Civil War.

Themes: State governments, development of federal government and political parties, development of sectionalism (economic, political, and social), and the conflict between states’ rights and the federal government.

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 18 & 19

Zinn, “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom” pg.171-210

Lamb, “Buildup to the Civil War” pg. 73-79

“Women of the Slaveholding South” pg. 86-92

Bell, “On the Underground Railroad” pg. 335-240

“A Visit to Uncle Tom’s Cabin” pg. 347-350

“Frederick Douglas Describes the Songs of Slavery” pg. 351-354

Bruun and Crosby, “Dred Scott v. Sandford” pg. 321-325

“A House divided by itself cannot stand” pg. 326-330

“We denounce those threats of Disunion” pg. 335-337

FRQ: Nullification Crisis and Directing Towards War
Unit Nine: (December 8-12)

The American Civil War: To understand this nation’s history, one must understand the causes and effects of the American Civil War. One historian even referred to the Civil war as the “crossroads of our being.” A study of U.S History that minimizes the impact of this conflict would be similar to a study of human anatomy that downplays the role of the heart, making our knowledge of human anatomy, well, heartless. In the end this sectional conflict would be driven forward by regional economic differences, tensions over political theory, differing attitudes between the north and the south, and an inability of the central government to compromise to avert or remove the possibility of bloody conflict.

Themes: Social mores and stratification in the South, secession and war, Reconstruction issues and plans, economic development in the South, and social equality

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 20 & 21

Johnson, “The Crucible of War, 1861-1865” 275-296

Lamb, “Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy” pg.125-130

Bruun and Crosby, “Separate and equal among the nations” pg. 340-342

“Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural” pg. 343-347

“The Emancipation Proclamation” pg. 359-360

“The Gettysburg Address” pg. 366

“With Malice Towards None” pg. 376-377

Yazawa, “Two Societies at War” pg. 315-338

DBQ: Battles of the Civil War – Reasons for Success and Failure
Unit Ten: (December 15-19)

Reconstruction: A pivotal movement in recent U.S. history has been the struggle by blacks to achieve racial equality. Many remember or are at least aware of the leaders, organizations, and demonstrations that shaped the 1950s and 1960s over the question of the rights of African-Americans. But the plight of black Americans did not begin thirty or forty years ago. In fact, it can be said that this struggle is as old as the nation. Yet, two decades in the 19th century, the 1860s and 1870s, stand out as much as any, including the 1950s and 1960s, as essential to the goal of redefining race relations in the United States. Beginning in the middle of the Civil War and ending in the late 1870s, the Reconstruction era was in some ways a success and in others a failure. In fact, one historian has called it an “unfinished revolution,” while another has referred to it as a “splendid failure.” Whatever one’s view, it is important to understand that Reconstruction was more than a civil rights movement. It also redefined and re-created the South, expanded capitalism, and temporarily led to the rise and division of one political party, the breakdown of another, and set in motion forces that would have long-term consequences for the nation. What is more, it helped determine the nature of the American nation-state.
Themes: Demographic change, Culture, Politics and Citizenship, Slavery, and Religion
Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 22 & 23

Johnson, “Reconstruction” pg. 297-317

Yazawa, “Presidential, Radical, and the Undoing of Reconstruction” pg. 341-366

FRQ: Assessing the Ups and Downs of Reconstruction

Winter Break: Zinn, “The Other Civil War” pg. 211-251
Unit Eleven: (January 5-23)

The Gilded Age and Cities: When Reconstruction ended in 1877, the United States was still a mostly agricultural nation that contained some large commercial urban areas, such as New York and Philadelphia, yet also small towns, villages, and hamlets. In many places the economic landscape had been scarcely changed by the Civil War. After all, economic development never occurs evenly in a nation. Yet by the end of the century, new major metropolitan areas such as Chicago and Pittsburgh had sprung up where a few decades earlier there had been an “urban frontier.” By 1885 Chicago boasted a ten-story skyscraper. By 1900 America’s urban population was three times larger than it had been just thirty years earlier. By 1920 more Americans would live in cities than on farms or in small village towns. New wonders and architectural wonders would begin to dot the landscape of these new cities, but behind the technology, the architectural wonders, and the excitement of city life, many would recognize the darker side of modernization, industry, and urbanization: poverty, congestion, pollution, corruption, and crime. These problems smoothly sum up the successes and failures of life and politics in the Gilded Age.

Themes: Struggle for equality, Native American relations, role of government in economic growth and regulation, and the impact of industrialization socially, economically, and politically

Reading for this Unit: American Pageant, Chapters 23, 24 & 25

Zinn, “Robber Barons and Rebels” pg. 253-295

Lamb, “Frederick Law Olmstead and the Building of Central Park” pg. 133-138

“The First Transcontinental Railroad” pg. 139-145”

“The Events of the 1890s” pg. 151-156

Bruun and Crosby, “The New Colossus” pg. 432

“The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” pg. 434-437

“The Dives of New York are hot-beds of crime” pg. 441-443

“Forty Years of Hull House” pg. 450-452

“The True Gospel Concerning Wealth” pg. 452-457

“How the Other Half Lives” pg. 457

“The labor movement is a fixed fact” pg.458-460

Bell, “A View of the Political Machine” pg. 163-166

DBQ: American Business: Rich, Powerful, and Immoral
Unit Twelve: (January 26-30)

A New Kind of Imperialism: Prior to the Civil War, the United States embarked on a systematic policy of territorial expansion across the continental U.S. In the process, through wars, treaties, and conquests, it acquired land from Native Americans and Mexicans and settled territorial disputes with Britain and Spain. In the decades after the Civil War, the U.S. continued to expand across the continent, but by the late 19th century it turned its attention to noncontiguous territories – land beyond the continental U.S. If the United States did not emerge from the civil War with its sense of nationalism intact, it was nevertheless most certainly a rising power. By the end of the 19th century, the United States would be an economic giant and a military power with international colonial possessions. Less than two decades into the 20th century, it would emerge from WWI an even stronger economic and military power. One of the driving forces behind this development was the same both before and after the Civil War: territorial expansion. Industry, immigration, the enormous expansion of the economy, all played a role in making the United States a major participant on the international scene.

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