American History - Part 1 (Discovery Through Reconstruction)
This course traces American history from its founding through 1877, the end of Reconstruction. It incorporates the “Four Pillars” of American exceptionalism—a Christian, mostly Protestant religious foundation; common law; private property with written titles and deeds; and a free market economy—as they shape the early United States.
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- Full Length Videos of Professor Larry Teaching!
- Learning Objectives
- Prescribed Lessons with maps, links, activities
- Teaching Guides for the parent or instructor
- Study Guides for the student
- Tests and Quizzes to reinforce learning
Included in the lessons are discussions of the nature and character of the American colonies; the shaping of “American-ness” in language, habits, and culture; the points of conflict with England that led to the American Revolution; the course of fighting in the War for Independence; the creation of a “nation of law” with the Articles and the Constitution; the key administrations of George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson in putting the United States on the road to stability; and full maturity under James Madison and the War of 1812.
Then, starting with with the 1820s, the course explains the rise of the “second American party system” as designed by Martin Van Buren, which resulted in a political party dedicated to protecting and preserving slavery.
This, in turn, put the nation on a path to a civil war as a rising population in free states was inevitably going to demand a free nation. From the Mexican War through the 1850s, the slavery issue was kept under control until the system Van Buren created elected a northern president in Abraham Lincoln determined to end the spread of slavery.
A bloody four year war ensued, followed by a bitter and divisive period of Reconstruction accompanied by the expansion of the nation into the Far West.
Lesson 1 – City on a Hill (1480-1707)
America’s distinct character rose from a combination of what we call “pillars of exceptionalism.” In this lesson, students will learn what caused Europeans to seek out the new world and how each exploration was different from next. You’ll discover how the pillars of exceptionalism came to be and why they are foundational to the America we know today. Get set for your first wild ride!
Lesson 2 – Colonial Adolescence (1707-1763)
Discover how a unique “Americanness” came to be, as the last of the thirteen original colonies were settled. Find out how this independent spirit in terms of politics, speech and manners became the hallmark of America which along with the French and Indian War set us up for a conflict with England known as the American Revolution. Wild times ahead…
Lesson 3 – Colonies No More (1763-1783)
What looked like a war over unfair regulations and taxes was really much deeper than that. Students will learn that in fact, Americans were no longer truly English even though they claimed rights as Englishmen. Discover how the Declaration of Independence, truly a first in human history, stated that people created and controlled government, not the other way around. Independence didn’t come easy.
Lesson 4 – A Nation of Law (1776-1789)
The Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution embody the pillar known as common law. What’s common law? For starters students will learn that common laws are created by the people. They elect representatives to carry them out. Students will discover the evolution of the articles and how the Constitution is the first document in the world to put in writing the restraint of government power. A truly bold move.
Lesson 5.1 – Small Republic, Big Shoulders (1789-1796)
Exceptional presidents and their efforts working from the foundation known as the Constitution, led the United States overcoming many internal challenges. Even being dragged into a European war. But students will see how the pillars served us well, when in 1812 war became inevitable. We were ready…
Lesson 5.2 – Small Republic, Big Shoulders (1796 - 1809)
After George Washington and his administration helped America to survive the early days after the Revolutionary War, America enters an age of stability with Jefferson and Adams presidencies.
Lesson 5.3 – Small Republic, Big Shoulders (1809-1815)
America enters an age of maturity with James Madison. Federalists have one more push in them as they try to avoid another war. But what happens might surprise you...
TEST on Lessons 1 - 5
Test understanding of lessons 1 - 5 using these questions. Remember that these tests are important for the learning process as they create opportunities to practice recall of information. This practice helps to make information stick!
Lesson 6 – The Promise and Perils of Jacksonian America (1815-1836)
Jacksonian America witnessed the rise of the first genuine two-party system. Why? To somehow deal with the increasingly divisive issue of slavery. Students will learn what got us to this point and how the first big compromise over slavery led to a radical democratization of American politics. The beginnings of a radical split…
Lesson 7 – Red Foxes and Bear Flags (1836-1848)
Our nation grew, it changed in culture and religious makeup. New denominations and sects came into being. The American culture appeared and so did a lot more territory including Texas. Students will discover the wild adventures that made this possible including the Mexican War and its impact on our nation. Who said history was dull?
Lesson 8 – A House Dividing (1848 – 1860)
For decades American leaders avoided dealing with the divisive issue of slavery, choosing compromise instead. Students will learn that while sometimes compromise can work, in this case it made things worse by prolonging the inevitable. They’ll learn the concept under Martin Van Buren’s party of “northern man northern principles” and how he posed a genuine threat to slavery. Was this a defining moment?
TEST on Lessons 6 - 8
Test understanding of lessons 6 - 8 using these questions. Remember that these tests are important for the learning process as they create opportunities to practice recall of information. This practice helps to make information stick!
Lesson 9 – The Crisis of the Union (1860-1865)
The American Civil was the first true Constitutional Crisis. People differed on the definition of property and about the definition of the Union. Students will see perhaps for the first time citizens questioning how the Republic was formed. Was it by the people as Lincoln insisted, or was it by the states as the southern Confederates charged. Solution was not going to be easy…
Lesson 10 – Ideals and Realities of Reconstruction (1865-1876)
Reconstruction was a massive effort to change almost 200 years’ worth of culture, economic and political tradition in the U.S. Voting rights, students will learn, was just one part of the overall social change so needed in our young country. Wow! It is difficult for the government to mandate social change.
TEST on Lessons 9 - 10
Test understanding of lessons 9 & 10 using these questions. Remember that these tests are important for the learning process as they create opportunities to practice recall of information. This practice helps to make information stick!