U.S. History I: The Revolution through Reconstruction, 1763-1877

Students examine the historical and intellectual origins of the United States during the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras. They learn about the important political and economic factors that contributed to the outbreak of the Revolution as well as the consequences of the Revolution, including the writing and key ideas of the U.S. Constitution. Students also study the basic framework of American democracy and the basic concepts of America government such as popular sovereignty, federalism, separation of powers, and individual rights. Students study America’s westward expansion, the establishment of political parties, and economic and social change. Finally, students will learn about the growth of sectional conflict, how sectional conflict led to the Civil War, and the consequences of the Civil War, including Reconstruction.

The Political and Intellectual Origins of the American Nation: the Revolution and the Constitution, 1763-1789

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USI.1 Explain the political and economic factors that contributed to the American Revolution.

A. the impact on the colonies of the French and Indian War, including how the war led to an overhaul of British imperial policy from 1763 to 1775
B. how freedom from European feudalism and aristocracy and the widespread ownership of property fostered individualism and contributed to the Revolution

USI.2 Explain the historical and intellectual influences on the American Revolution and the formation and framework of the American government.

A. the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome
B. the political theories of such European philosophers as Locke and Montesquieu

USI.3 Explain the influence and ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.

USI.4 Analyze how Americans resisted British policies before 1775 and analyze the reasons for the American victory and the British defeat during the Revolutionary war.

USI.5 Explain the role of Massachusetts in the revolution, including important events that took place in Massachusetts and important leaders from Massachusetts.

A. the Boston Massacre
B. the Boston Tea Party
C. the Battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill
D. Sam Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock

USI.6 Explain the reasons for the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, including why its drafters created a weak central government; analyze the shortcomings of the national government under the Articles; and describe the crucial events (e.g., Shays’s rebellion) leading to the Constitutional Convention.

USI.7 Explain the roles of various founders at the Constitutional Convention. Describe the major debates that occurred at the Convention and the “Great Compromise” that was reached.

A. Major Debates
- the distribution of political power
- the rights of individuals
- the rights of states
- slavery

B. Founders
- Benjamin Franklin
- Alexander Hamilton
- James Madison
- George Washington

USI.8 Describe the debate over the ratification of the Constitution between Federalists and Anti-Federalists and explain the key ideas contained in the Federalist Papers on federalism, factions, checks and balances, and the importance of an independent judiciary.

  • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: Federalist Paper Number 10
  • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: Federalist Papers numbers 1, 9, 39, 51, and 78

USI.9 Explain the reasons for the passage of the Bill of Rights.

A. the influence of the British concept of limited government
B. the particular ways in which the Bill of Rights protects basic freedoms, restricts government power, and ensures rights to persons accused of crimes

USI.10 On a map of North America, identify the first 13 states to ratify the Constitution.

The Formation and Framework of American Democracy


USI.11 Describe the purpose and functions of government.

USI.12 Explain and provide examples of different forms of government, including democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, and autocracy.

USI.13 Explain why the United States government is classified as a democratic government.

USI.14 Explain the characteristics of American democracy, including the concepts of popular sovereignty and constitutional government, which includes representative institutions, federalism, separation of powers, shared powers, checks and balances, and individual rights.

USI.15 Explain the varying roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in the United States.

USI.16 Describe the evolution of the role of the federal government, including public services, taxation, economic policy, foreign policy, and common defense.

USI.17 Explain the major components of Massachusetts’ state government, including the roles and functions of the governor, state legislature, and other constitutional officers.

USI.18 Explain the major components of local government in Massachusetts, including the roles and functions of school committees, town meetings, boards of selectmen, mayors, and city councils.

USI.19 Explain the rights and the responsibilities of citizenship and describe how a democracy provides opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process through elections, political parties, and interest groups.

USI.20 Explain the evolution and function of political parties, including their role in federal, state, and local elections.

USI.21 Describe how decisions are made in a democracy, including the role of legislatures, courts, executives, and the public.

Political Democratization, Westward Expansion, and Diplomatic Developments, 1790-1860


USI.22 Summarize the major policies and political developments that took place during the presidencies of George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), and Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809).

A. the origins of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties in the 1790s
B. the conflicting ideas of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton
C. the Alien and Sedition Acts
D. the Louisiana Purchase

USI.23 Analyze the rising levels of political participation and the expansion of suffrage in antebellum America.

  • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume I (1835) and Volume II (1839)

USI.24 Describe the election of 1828, the importance of Jacksonian democracy, and Jackson’s actions as President.

A. the spoils system
B. Jackson’s veto of the National Bank
C. Jackson’s policy of Indian Removal

USI.25 Trace the influence and ideas of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall and the importance of the doctrine of judicial review as manifested in Marbury v. Madison (1803).

USI.26 Describe the causes, course, and consequences of America’s westward expansion and its growing diplomatic assertiveness. Use a map of North America to trace America’s expansion to the Civil War, including the location of the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

A. the War of 1812
B. the purchase of Florida in 1819
C. the 1823 Monroe Doctrine
D. the Cherokees’ Trail of Tears
E. the annexation of Texas in 1845
F. the concept of Manifest Destiny and its relationship to westward expansion
G. the acquisition of the Oregon Territory in 1846
H. the territorial acquisitions resulting from the Mexican War
I. the search for gold in California
J. the Gadsden Purchase of 1854
K. Economic Growth in the North and South, 1800-1860

USI.27 Explain the importance of the Transportation Revolution of the 19th century (the building of canals, roads, bridges, turnpikes, steamboats, and railroads), including the stimulus it provided to the growth of a market economy.


USI.28 Explain the emergence and impact of the textile industry in New England and industrial growth generally throughout antebellum America.

A. the technological improvements and inventions that contributed to industrial growth
B. the causes and impact of the wave of immigration from Northern Europe to America in the 1840s and 1850s
C. the rise of a business class of merchants and manufacturers
D. the roles of women in New England textile factories

USI.29 Describe the rapid growth of slavery in the South after 1800 and analyze slave life and resistance on plantations and farms across the South, as well as the impact of the cotton gin on the economics of slavery and Southern agriculture.

Social, Political, and Religious Change, 1800-1860


USI.30 Summarize the growth of the American education system and Horace Mann’s campaign for free compulsory public education.

USI.31 Describe the formation of the abolitionist movement, the roles of various abolitionists, and the response of southerners and northerners to abolitionism.

USI.32 Describe important religious trends that shaped antebellum America.

USI.33 Analyze the goals and effect of the antebellum women’s suffrage movement.

USI.34 Analyze the emergence of the Transcendentalist movement through the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877


USI.35 Describe how the different economies and cultures of the North and South contributed to the growing importance of sectional politics in the early 19th century.

USI.36 Summarize the critical developments leading to the Civil War.

A. the Missouri Compromise (1820)
B. the South Carolina Nullification Crisis (1832-1833)
C. the Wilmot Proviso (1846)
D. the Compromise of 1850
E. the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851-1852)
F. the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854)
G. the Dred Scott Supreme Court case (1857)
H. the Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858)
I. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry (1859)
J. the election of Abraham Lincoln (1860)

USI.37 On a map of North America, identify Union and Confederate States at the outbreak of the war.

USI.38 Analyze Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), his views on slavery, and the political obstacles he encountered.

USI.39 Analyze the roles and policies of various Civil War leaders and describe the important Civil War battles and events.

USI.40 Provide examples of the various effects of the Civil War.

USI.41 Explain the policies and consequences of Reconstruction.


Image IDs from left to right:

1. The Declaration of Independence, from National Park Services website.
2. George Washington, from National Park Services website.
3. Benjamin Franklin, from the University of Texas at Austin's Portrait Gallery, "Benjamin Franklin".
4. The US Constitution, from National Park Service Constitution Wiki website.
5. map of the Louisiana Purchase, from the University of Texas at Austin's Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection, "Territorial Growth 1810".
6. Seattle Railroad, from Wikimedia Commons, "Seattle - Railroad Avenue - 1900".
7. Horace Mann, from the University of Texas at Austin's Portrait Gallery, "Horace Mann".
8. women marching for Suffrage, from Wikimedia Commons, "Suffrage parade - New York City - May 6 1912".
9. Civil War soldiers, from Wikimedia Commons, "Soldiers White Black 1861".
10. Elections of 1876 map from Wikimedia Commons, "1876 Electoral Map".