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United States History: Beginnings to 1877

Welcome to 8th grade American History! During our time together we will study the history of our nation from early colonizaion, to the Civil War and Reconstruction. We will be examining history, sociology, geography, and the economy of early America. We’ll come to understand the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and investigate the nearly impossible victory of the Revolutionary War. We’ll discover what influenced the writing of the Constitution and how it created the foundations of our government today. We’ll explore how our country unified and steadily grew; then faced issues that nearly tore it apart. 

Why do we study American history? History is a window into the past; understanding the past is the key to understanding the present. It keeps us informed on current events as they unfold. It helps us to appreciate multiple perspectives and interpretations. Analyzing history strengthens our critical thinking skills. It trains us to gather evidence, and to find patterns and trends. You can apply information from the past to analyze and solve problems in the present. It gives us an understanding of other people and cultures throughout time. It challenges us to think outside the box, and to be creative. We will learn to look at what caused certain events in history, what was done to remedy certain problems, and how we can learn from these to prevent them from happening in the future. ("Our history is not a story of perfection. It's a story of imperfect people working toward great ideals.") History gives us the excitement of discovery, and the reward of solving some of today’s real-world problems. Besides, studying History is fun!

Major Units of Study

Early Colonization

  • Roanoke
  • Jamestown
  • Plymouth

Colonial America

  • British Northern Colonies
  • British Southern Colonies
  • Other European Colonization

Road to Revolution

  • French and Indian War
  • Causes of the Revolutionary War
  • Declaration of Independence

The Revolutionary War

  • Key events and results of the Revolutionary War

Creating a Nation

  • Major debates during the forming of the Constitution
  • Main powers of government and the Bill of Rights

U.S. Constitution

  • 3 branches of government
  • Principles of the Constitution

Civic Mindedness

  • Fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights
  • Law-making process and how the Constitution provides opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to influence government

Washington & Adams

Jefferson, Madison, & Monroe

Westward Expansion

  • Nationalism and the Monroe Doctrine
  • Manifest Destiny, the annexation of Texas, and the Mexican American war

Reform Movements in America

  • Economic and political factors involved in building a network of roads, canals, and railroads
  • Immigration from Northern Europe to the US
  • Women’s suffrage movement

Causes of the Civil War

  • Conflict between the North and South over the issue of slavery
  • The impact of the election of 1860

Civil War

  • Reasons for secession
  • Comparative advantages of the Union and Confederacy
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Major battles and the impacts of the Civil War


  • Radical Republicans, Andrew Johnson, and Black Codes.
  • Freedmen's Bureau and “Jim Crow” laws
  • Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution


  • Key people and their contributions to industrializing America
  • Impacts of industrialization on children, immigrants, women, etc.
  • The labor movement