United states history outlines

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These outlines will make up the bulk of your work outside of the classroom. They are organized to cover the major issues of an era or a president’s terms. They take a significant amount of time to finish, but are usually the only assignment for a particular week. PROCRASTINATION WILL LEAD TO ALL-NIGHTERS THAT MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THE COURSE REQUIRES AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF WORK. Word to the wise, do a little each night.


1.The seemingly trivial identifications will help prepare you for the multiple-choice part of the AP exam, which constitutes 50 percent of the test.

2. The outlines will also strengthen your ability to analyze events, and hopefully see how they fit into larger issues throughout U.S. history.

3. In addition each outline will usually have an accompanying essay that will help improve your ability to synthesize information into logical and intelligent responses. These essays make up the other 50 percent of the exam.

4. While the outlines take a great deal of time they have proved very useful in preparing students for the AP exam in May.
Overall your job is to demonstrate understanding of the material, which differs from having the right facts. Telling the “story” only completes part of your job. You need to communicate an event’s significance, not just its details. The following tips’ section attempts to give you some ideas on how to present insightful entries.

READ THE TEXT: Since our textbook is designed for an AP course it remains the best source for finding the critical information that relates to these events. Reading the text provides you with a concise source for the questions, events and developments in the outlines, essays and in-class work. Ask top-flight students from years past and they will confirm this advice.
USE YOUR WORDS: To show you understand the material it is crucial that you summarize your sources, NOT MERELY COPY THEM. I have read the text numerous times, and I can spot INTERNET and ENCYCLOPEDIA sources, so please improve your skills by using your own language. Let us avoid any messy plagiarism incidents.
USING ACCURATE VOCABULARY: Students struggle in this area in 3 ways

  1. Weak word choices like “good”, “try” “popular” that do not fully convey the event’s significance.

  2. Inaccurate word choice either from not understanding the material and/or the word being used. It is nice to try out your English class’ vocabulary list, but make sure you apply the term properly.

  3. Overstatement (occasionally understatement): Students tend to inject a bit too much drama into their summaries. This desire to spice up their entries leads to inaccurate claims on events’ emotional or political significance. At times, however, students tend to blandly describe events, when their importance calls for stronger word choice. (i.e. if your summary of 9/11 or the Emancipation Proclamation reads like a grocery list then you have not captured the event’s powerful impact.)

AVOID THE PASSIVE TENSE: Ask your English teachers for an exact definition, but in general using the “to be” verb form (is/are; was/were), indicates the passive tense. Using it often means students cannot find the proper term to describe the situation. It leads to indirect phrasing, unspecific analysis and hard to comprehend statements. Using “was/were” and “by” indicates the passive tense, and a need to rewrite your sentence.
Which sentence is easier to understand?

  1. The lion was killed by the hunter.

  2. The hunter killed the lion.

USE THE PAST TENSE: This class involves history, so the present tense should not appear in your summaries.
LOGICAL SEQUENCES AND TRANSITIONS: These small phrases help show cause and effect, contrasting viewpoints and reactions. Proper use of them (i.e. but, while, however, in contrast, and, in addition, also) reveals true comprehension rather than repeating the text. Similarly, proper use of prepositions improves the accuracy of your summaries. Look at these errors below to see how they change the meaning of an event and points of view.
Example 1: George Washington had a great success in his Delaware Crossing, however he succeeded in uniting his troops at Valley Forge.

Example 2: Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, received support for the upper class.

You will need to consider these items when presenting the identification part of the outline. All of these suggestions will NOT be in every answer and there is no “right order”, but they provide a solid framework for your responses. Entries are usually worth two points with higher totals for larger entries.

Why the event occurred: Often background information is crucial to understanding why an event took place.
Detail the major issues debated: Include the ideas expressed, and if they fit into a particular philosophy (liberal; conservative; Republican; Jacksonian; anti-communist) note it.
Specifically address the question: many entries come in the form of the question. You need to pay attention to the question in order to properly tailor the text’s information. Once again just repeating random information related to the event will not be sufficient.
Identify people, ideas, nations or groups involved: A very brief explanation of whom they were or their views are particularly useful. Always put a person or group’s full name the first time you mention them. (Doing otherwise is often a sign of copying.)
Understanding of historical context: A very high-level skill where you demonstrate that certain ideas were normal for their times or were throwbacks to an earlier era or forerunners of future ideas. (i.e. views of the poor, minorities, women or the role of government.)
Impact: To measure impact, look at who benefited or lost during the event. What trends were continued or altered? Did it aid a particular group politically, financially or in terms of freedom?
Use the Topics: Each event is placed in a particular topic (the Roman numerals) to help you see how it fits into the larger scheme of events. Recognizing categories will be extremely helpful in organizing your essays. These topics should be the starting point for your essay brainstorming.

The Forest: Can you recognize and present how an event (a tree) fits into a larger issue (the forest)?
AVOID the NUMBER CRAZE: You will not be asked to know how many votes a President received or how many men died in a battle, so do not clutter your responses with endless numbers It is doubtful that you will remember them, and usually they get in the way of more important details. They also indicate mindless copying instead of thoughtful editing.


Elections: Include the major candidates, their political party, major issues and why a candidate won or lost. Never include total number of votes, and try to use words, not numbers for electoral tally.
Amendments, Bills and Acts: Background that explains why they were created. Who promoted or blocked their passage? Why did they pass? Summarize the impact of the new laws.
Battles: Be very brief on the actual fighting and strategy. Put your emphasis on how the battle altered momentum of the war.
Court Cases: Briefly summarize the case, but more importantly explain the Court’s decision and its impact on a particular issue.
Include the date for all entries: D-Day (1944) or Specie Circular (1837)
This outline includes how you should divide the items up with your partner. Use this as a model for future outlines. An * indicates that the item needs to be researched using other sources. Otherwise all items can be found in the text. As the sample outline shows you should have all of the Roman numerals, letter, entries etc. even the ones you are not doing.


  1. Early Virginia (1600-25)

    1. Describe 2 key factors motivating emigration from England (Otis)

    2. The Virginia Company’s charter and goals (Bill)

    3. Jamestown (1607-25)

      1. Describe the conditions (Otis)

      2. John Smith and Pocahontas (Bill)

  2. Indian Relations

    1. Powhatan’s Confederacy (Otis)

    2. Lord De La Warr and the First Powhatan War (1610-14) (Bill)

    3. 2nd Powhatan War (1644-46) (Otis)

    4. Explain key reasons for the Chesapeake Indians demise (Bill)

  3. Economics: Tobacco Rules

    1. John Rolfe’s role (1616) (Otis)

    2. Slavery begins (1630s) (Bill)

    3. House of Burgesses (Otis)

  4. Maryland (1634)

    1. Lord Baltimore and Catholic motives (Bill)

    2. Act of Toleration (1649) (Otis)

  5. The West Indies, the Carolinas and Georgia

    1. Sugar and its power (1650s onward) (Bill)

    2. Sugar and slavery (Otis)

    3. Carolina’s settlement (1670s) (Bill)

    4. Rice’s role in the Carolinas (Otis)

    5. Indian relations in the Carolinas (early 1700s) (Bill)

    6. James Oglethorpe and the founding of Georgia (1733) (Otis)


Chapter: “Settling the Northern Colonies”

  1. Puritanism: Founding, Beliefs and Reception (1536-early 1600s)

    1. Summarize the main beliefs of Calvinism. Include how predestination and conversion shaped Puritans’ behavior?

    2. Puritans clash with the Church of England (late 1500s-early 1600s)

  2. Pilgrims at Plymouth (1620)

    1. Separatists’ motives for emigrating and/or immigrating

    2. Describe key aspects of Plymouth’s founding and early years, include the Mayflower Compact (1620)

  3. Massachusetts Bay Colony Government

    1. Describe two major differences between Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies (1630s)

    2. What were the Puritans’ goals for the colony? Include the ideas in John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” (1630s)

    3. In terms of government how was the Congregational Church both dominant and limited?

    4. Dissenters

      1. Anne Hutchinson (late 1630s)

      2. Roger Williams’ break from the Puritans and the founding of Rhode Island (1636)

  1. New England’s Growth and the Indians’ Demise

    1. Thomas Hooker and Connecticut (1635-1662)

    2. Summarize the reasons for conflict between Native Americans and settlers. What were the effects of the clashes? Include the Pequot War (1630s) and King Philip’s War (1675-76)

  2. Troubles With the Mother Country (1640s-1690s)

    1. New England Confederation (1643)

    2. Explain how Charles II’s Restoration impacted the colonies (1660s)

    3. Explain the Glorious Revolution’s impact on New England’s independence including Governor Edmund Andros and the Dominion of New England’s demise (1688-89)

  3. New York, New York and the Quaker State

    1. Describe the Dutch West India Company’s rule of New Amsterdam (1620s-1650s) including the rise and fall of Peter Stuyvesant

    2. Summarize key reasons for Pennsylvania’s founding

    3. Explain Pennsylvania’s unique characteristics and how they played a role in its success


Chapter: “American Life in the 17th Century”

  1. Slavery Becomes Entrenched

    1. Bacon’s Rebellion (1676)

    2. Describe two reasons for the growth of slavery (1680s onward)

    3. Summarize key aspects of the Slave Trade including Triangle Trade and the Middle Passage

II. Social Revolution in the Colonies (1660s-1770s)

  1. Why did the Puritans’ influence fade in the late 1600s-early 1700s?

  2. How did Puritan leadership react to the faith’s loss of importance? Include the jeremiads and the Half-Way Covenant (1660s)

  3. Salem Witch Trials (1692)

Chapter: “Colonial Society on the Eve of the Revolution”

C. 18th century settler Michel-Guillaume de Crevecoeur saw America as a “Strange mixture of blood which you will find in no other country”. Summarize Americans’ religious diversity in the 1700s to support Crevecoeur’s words.

D. 18th century settler Michel-Guillaume de Crevecoeur saw America as a “Strange mixture of blood which you will find in no other country”. Summarize Americans’ ethnic and racial diversity in the 1700s to support Crevecoeur’s words.

E. The Great Awakening (1730s-1740s)

1. Summarize the causes of the Great Awakening.

2. Detail 2 major ideas in the Great Awakening that key leaders stressed.

2. Summarize the effects of the Great Awakening

Chapter: “The Duel for America”

III. French Indian War-1754-63

  1. Define and describe the period of Benign or Salutary Neglect (first half of 1700s)

  2. Provide 2 major causes for the French-Indian War (1754)

  3. Albany Congress (1754)

  4. Summarize examples and reasons for Britain’s early struggles and eventual success in the French and Indian War (1754-63)

  5. Describe 2 major terms in the Treaty of Paris (1763).

  6. Explain the relationship between Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763) and the Proclamation of 1763. Include the colonists’ reaction

ESSAY: To what extent did the French-Indian War alter American colonists’ attitudes towards Great Britain? OR

Cartoon: Provide a cartoon that shows an aspect of early 18th century colonial culture. Have a caption that summarizes the activity emphasizing what it revealed about colonists’ values or daily life. i.e. belief in education or Enlightenment; emphasis on religion or community.


Chapter: “The Road to Revolution”

  1. British Actions and Rule (1765-1770)

    1. Mercantilism

1. Define the mercantilist system. Describe two positive aspects of mercantilism for the colonies

2. Define the mercantilist system. Describe two restrictions mercantilism placed on the colonies

B. The Stamp Tax (1765)

1. Causes for George Grenville instituting it

2. Colonial reactions and its impact on the Stamp Act

C. Townshend Acts (1767)

D. Boston Massacre (1770)

II. Organized Colonial Rebellion Begins (1770-75)

  1. the Seditious Committees of Correspondence (1772)

  2. Boston Tea Party (1773)

  3. The Intolerable Acts (1774)

  4. First Continental Congress (1774)

Chapter: “America Secedes From the Empire”

III. The Revolution Begins (1775-76)

  1. In 1775-76, prior to the Declaration of Independence, describe two events and/or developments that turned the colonial rebellion into a war for independence.

  2. Second Continental Congress (1775)

  3. Common Sense (1776): Key ideas and impact

  4. The Declaration of Independence (Hmm? What year could it be?)

      1. Major causes and purposes of the Declaration

      2. Key ideas and omissions in the Declaration

  1. The War

    1. Loyalists in America: Explain motives and demographics

    2. Analyze the importance of George Washington as a leader early in the Revolution (1775-1777) include the crossing of the Delaware and Valley Forge

    3. Saratoga (1777)

    4. The importance of France

    5. Yorktown (1781)

  1. The Treaty of Paris (1783)

A. Explain France’s, Great Britain’s and the Americans negotiating stances. How did American diplomats emerge “victorious” in the negotiations?

B. three key terms of the treaty

Essay: Analyze the political, diplomatic, and military reasons for the United States victory in the Revolutionary War. Confine your answer to the period 1775–1783.



Chapter: “The Confederation and the Constitution”

  1. The Articles of Confederation (1777-87)

A. Summarize the amount of social change during the Articles period (Consider slavery, women and church power in your answer)

B. Land Ordinance of 1785

C. What problems did the Northwest Ordinance solve? Explain how (1787)

D. How did the Confederation’s constitution handicap the new government? (Provide 2 examples)

E. How did the Confederation’s constitution reflect ideals from the Revolution? (Provide 2 examples)

F. How did the Articles government struggle in its foreign policy? (Give 2 examples)

II. The Constitution (1787-91)

  1. How did the calling for a Constitutional Convention reflect the fears of the upper class during the Articles era? Include Shay’s Rebellion (1786) in your answer

  2. The Great Compromise (1787)

C. The 3/5ths Compromise (1787)

    1. Anti-Federalists’ key complaints

    2. The Federalist Papers’ (Hamilton’s, Madison’s and Jay’s) key arguments

Chapter: “Launching the New Ship of State”

III. Organizing the Government and the Debate over Government Power

A. How did Washington’s administration help organize the federal government? Include the Judiciary Act of 1789

B. Bill of Rights added (1791)

C. Alexander Hamilton’s Financial Plan (1791)

1. The Debt: Need both sides’ logic and the outcome

2. First Bank of the United States chartered (the B.U.S.)

D. Whiskey Rebellion (1794)

IV. Foreign Affairs

    1. Outbreak of the French Revolution and its wars: Explain the French Revolution’s impact on American politics (1789-93)

    2. Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality (1793)

    3. Genet Affair (1793)

    4. Jay Treaty (1794)

    5. Pinckney Treaty (1795)

    6. 2 major warnings in Washington’s Farewell Address (1797) (one was heeded, the other ignored; one is in our book; the other needs to be researched)

V. Foreign Affairs Increase Political Disputes: John Adams Era

    1. Election of 1796

    2. XYZ Affair (1797)

    3. Undeclared naval war (1798) and Navy Department created (1798)

VI. Wars of the French Revolution’s Impact on Domestic Affairs

  1. Alien and Sedition Act and Naturalization Acts (1798)

B. Describe the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions; how did they affect future debates about government power? (1798)

C. Convention of 1800

ESSAY: To what extent was George Washington’s presidency dominated by foreign affairs?


Jefferson (1800-1808): Madison (1808-1816); Monroe (1816-24)

Chapter: The Triumphs and Travails of Jeffersonian Democracy 1800-12

I. Federalist and Jeffersonian Political Disputes: Jefferson Era

A. Election of 1800

B. Judiciary Act of 1801

C. Marbury vs. Madison (1803)

II. Foreign Relations: Jefferson Tries to Avoid Conflict with France and England

A. Louisiana Purchase (1803) (Keep in mind that this item could also fit in expansion or political debate.)

    1. Explain the impact of France’ situation at the time on the Purchase, plus America’s negotiations with the French

    2. Describe how Jefferson’s core beliefs argued for and against the Purchase

    3. Describe 2 key effects of the Purchase: Consider politics, economics, government power, sectionalism and transportation

    4. Lewis and Clark’s Expedition (1804) and Zebulon Pike explore the west (1807)

  1. Non-Importation Act (1806), Embargo Act (1808) and Non-Intercourse Act (1809)

      1. Summarize the logic behind Jefferson’s policy

      2. Overall how did the policy impact the U.S.

III. The War of 1812 Final Causes

A. Macon’s Bill No. 2 (1810)

B. What were the War Hawks’ desires and motives? Explain which one was their real focus (1811-12)

C. Explain how issues involving Native Americans impacted the start of the War of 1812. Include Tecumseh’s Indian Unity Efforts, plus the Battles of Tippecanoe (1811)

Chapter: The Second War for Independence and the Upsurge of Nationalism (1812-24)

IV. The War of 1812 and the Growth of Nationalism

A. Detail two turning point battles in the war (except Battle Of New Orleans)

B. Hartford Convention (1814)

C. Summarize and explain Americans’ reaction to the Treaty of Ghent (1814)

D. the Battle of New Orleans (1815)

E. Tariff of 1816 and Second Bank of the United States chartered (1816)

F. What was the American System (1816-24)? What/Whose earlier political and economic ideas did it reflect?

G. What Constitutional battles appeared in debates over the Bonus Bill? (internal improvements during Madison presidency)

H. Panic of 1819

1. causes of the Panic

2. economic and political effects

V. The Marshall Court:

A. Fletcher vs. Peck (1809)

B. McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819)

C. Dartmouth vs. Woodward (1819)

D. Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824)

V. Post-War Foreign Affairs: An Emerging America Expands

A. How did Secretary of State John Quincy Adams help mend remaining tensions with Great Britain? Include the Treaty of 1818 and Rush-Bagot Agreement (1817) *

B. Describe General Andrew Jackson’s and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams’ roles in acquiring Florida. Include the First Seminole War (1817) and the Florida Purchase Treaty a.k.a Adams-Onis Treaty (1819)

D. Monroe Doctrine (1823):

        1. Detail the causes of the doctrine

        2. Briefly summarize the message and long term impact of the Doctrine

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