Guide to AP® US History

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1491 to 1607

Uncover how early interactions between Native Americans, Europeans, and West Africans laid the foundations for a New World.

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Pre-Columbian Native LifeFree

Explore the evolution of complex Native American societies from the Inca to the Iroquois, particularly the various ways native populations shaped, and were shaped by, their environment.
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Columbian Exchange

Investigate the demographic and social changes wrought by European expansion into the Western hemisphere, including the long and short term consequences of contact between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans.
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European imperial competition

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Atlantic world demographic changes

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European v. Native American worldviews

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1607 to 1754

In turbulent colonial North America, struggles for power between Euro-Americans and native peoples shaped the social fabric of both colonizers and colonized.

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Patterns of Colonization

Examine how distinct European cultures, imperial motives, and North American environments lead to differences between British, French, Dutch, and Spanish patterns of colonization.
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Spanish/French/Dutch/British patterns

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Early British colonies

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Competition over resources

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Impact of Political, Cultural, and Economic Exchange

Explore how economic, cultural, and political exchange between Great Britain and its colonies both strengthened imperial ties and fostered a nascent communal identity among colonists.
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Atlantic world interactions

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The English colonies and slavery

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1754 to 1800

Witness the birth of the early American Republic by analyzing how conflict between Britain and its colonies gave rise to a new national identity.

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Colonial Independence and Revolution

Delve into the underlying causes and enduring effects of the colonial independence movement and the Revolutionary War.
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Competition leads to Seven-Years War

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Colonial Independence Movement

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New Democratic and Republican Ideals

Investigate the impact of revolutionary ideals both at home and abroad, including how republicanism reshaped gender roles, nurtured a burgeoning abolition movement, and inspired future independence movements in France, Latin America, and Haiti.
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Revolution inspired by new beliefs

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The Constitution and the Bill of Rights

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New forms of culture and politics

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Migration, Competition, and Conflict in the early US

Explore how westward expansion and migration fueled competition and conflict with American Indians and European powers.
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Competition and cultural blending

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Early US challenges

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1800 to 1848

What did revolutionary ideals such as "liberty" and "freedom" mean in practice? Examine how demographic changes, early industrialization, and chattel slavery shaped and challenged the values of the new nation.

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Defining Democratic Ideals and Reforming Institutions

Examine efforts to achieve the democratic ideals of the Revolution, including the extension of the vote to all males, as well as the impact of emergent intellectual, social, and religious movements that operated outside the realm of formal politics.
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Transformation to a participatory democracy

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Development of national and group cultures

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Political institutions and culture

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Developments in Technology, Agriculture, and Commerce

Trace the initial stages of the nation’s transformation from an agrarian to a capitalist, industrial economy, including how it was facilitated by innovations in communication and transportation technologies.
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New transportation and technology

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Impact of the Market Revolution

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Economic development and regionalism

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Foreign Trade, Expansion, and Neutrality

Explore how U.S. policies championing the acquisition of territories throughout the Western Hemisphere engendered conflict over the future of Native Americans and the expansion of slavery into the West.
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Creating an independent global presence

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Expansion of slavery

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1844 to 1877

How did sectional tensions erupt in civil war? Investigate the causes and reverberating effects of this conflict, including its role in shaping long-term struggles over citizenship and civil rights.

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Territorial Expansion

Delve into the economic, political, and social ramifications of an expansionist foreign policy and the emergence of the U.S. as a destination for migrants throughout the world.
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Growth and continued westward migration

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Questions of rights and status

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An Ongoing Slavery Debate

Analyze the ideological and economic fault lines of the deepening sectional crisis that led the nation into Civil War.
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Bitter debates lead to secession

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Failure of compromise

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Union win Ends Slavery

Explore the conflicts waged during this devastating war, both on the battlefield and in the halls of Washington and Richmond, as well as the issues left unresolved by Union victory.
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Union advatages lead to victory

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The Civil War and Reconstruction

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1865 to 1898

Explore how the transition from an agricultural to industrial-capitalist economy transformed the nation's social, political, and cultural landscape.

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The Rise of Industrial Capitalism

Investigate the rise of large scale industrial production and its attendant effects — wealth concentration, pro-growth government policies, and dramatic conflicts between labor and management.
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Economic development and business consolidation

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Panics and downturns lead to different perspectives

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Responses from farmers

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Social and Cultural Changes

Chart the rise of urbanization and a growing middle-class, facilitated by large-scale immigration from Europe and African-American migration from the South.
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Immigration and migration

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Westward migration provokes conflicts

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Culture and Debate During the Gilded Age

Examine this formative period, dubbed the “Gilded Age” by Mark Twain, which saw the transition from an agrarian economy of small producers to an industrial economy dominated by large-scale corporations.
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Gilded Age social order

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Social changes and political debates

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1890 to 1945

How did rising immigration, increasing involvement in international affairs, and the emergence of mass culture affect the U.S. both at home and abroad? How did the economic and social problems introduced by rapid industrialization influence enduring debates over the proper role of government?

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Effects of Industrialization and Urbanization

Explore the diverse efforts of Progressive reformers to address the social problems caused by this period of expanded corporate power, accelerating urbanization, and corruption in government.
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Continuing transition to urban industrial economies

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Progressive reformers

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Social transformation under the New Deal

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Innovations and the rise of mass culture

Investigate how mass culture, made possible by the advent of radio and cinema, contributed to the rise of national culture while also increasing public awareness of regional subcultures and ethnic identities.
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Rise of and debates over national culture

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Internal and External Migration

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Global conflicts and domestic debates

Examine how participation in two world wars revived domestic debates over foreign policy, notably the U.S. position on isolationism and imperialism.
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Imperialism and debate

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World War I and its aftermath

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World War II

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1945 to 1980

The U.S. emerged from World War II profoundly changed. How did postwar economic change, America's new role as a global superpower, and the era's social and cultural revolutions shake the status quo?

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Post World War II

Delve into the domestic and international consequences of World War II, particularly attempts to root out communism at home and abroad, and secure American post-war dominance and access to foreign trade.
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US Cold War and global influence

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Liberty and order

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Liberalism and Civil Rights

Explore efforts by liberal reformers and activists to expand the social contract to women and minorities, and the broad range of political and cultural movements that arose in response.
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Civil rights

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Identity and social justice

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Attacks on liberalism

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Postwar Society

Investigate the dramatic post-war demographic and social developments fostered by rapid suburbanization, the abolishment of a quota-based immigration system, and the rise of the defense and energy industries in the “Sunbelt” region of the U.S.
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Postwar optimism

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Political and moral division

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1980 - Present

As the 20th century came to a close, the U.S. experienced dramatic economic and social change. Examine how deindustrialization, globalization, and the rise of the Conservative movement shaped new social and economic policies and revived long-standing cultural and ideological debates.

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Conservative Resurgence

Witness the ascendancy of the conservative movement led by Ronald Reagan, and explore how the perceived excesses of the 1960s and 70s buttressed right-wing arguments about the need for small government and a return to traditional values.
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End of the Cold War

Analyze the challenges brought by the end of the “American century,” including the global realignments that emerged at the end of the Cold War, U.S. efforts to combat terrorism, and economic and foreign policy challenges to the nation’s status as an international superpower.
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