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United States Era 3

Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

Standard 1: The causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory  

Standard 2: The impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society  

Standard 3: The institutions and practices of government created during the Revolution and how they were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights 

The American Revolution is of single importance in the study of American history. First, it severed the colonial relationship with England  and legally created the United States. Second, the revolutionary generation formulated the political philosophy and laid the institutional foundations for the system of government under which we live. Third, the Revolution was inspired by ideas concerning natural rights and political authority that were transatlantic in reach, and its successful completion affected people and governments over a large part of the globe for many generations. Lastly, it called into question long-established social and political relationships--between master and slave, man and woman, upper class and lower class, officeholder and constituent, and even parent and child--and thus demarcated an agenda for reform that would preoccupy Americans down to the present day.

In thinking about the causes and course of the Revolution, it is important to study the fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence; the causes for the outbreak of the war; the main stages of the Revolutionary War and the reasons for the American victory; and the role of wartime leaders, from all strata of society, both on the battlefield and on the homefront.

In assessing the outcomes of the American Revolution, students need to confront the central issue of how revolutionary the Revolution actually was. In order to reach judgments about this, they necessarily will have to see the Revolution through different sets of eyes--enslaved and free African Americans, Native Americans, white men and women of different social classes, religions, ideological dispositions, regions, and occupations. Students should also be able to see pre- and post-Revolutionary American society in relation to reigning political institutions and practices in the rest of the world.

Students can appreciate how agendas for redefining American society in the postwar era differed by exploring how the Constitution was created and how it was ratified after a dramatic ideological debate in virtually every locale in 1787-88. The Constitution of 1787 and the Bill of Rights should be broached as the culmination of the most creative era of constitutionalism in American history. In addition, students should ponder why the Constitutional Convention sidetracked the movement to abolish slavery that had taken rise in the revolutionary era. Nor should they think that ratification of the Constitution ended debate on governmental power or how to create "a more perfect union." Economic, regional, social, ideological, religious, and political tensions would spawn continuing debates over the meaning of the Constitution for generations.

In studying the post-Revolutionary generation, students can understand how the embryo of the American two-party system took shape, how political turmoil arose as Americans debated the French Revolution, and how the Supreme Court rose to a place of prominence. Politics, political leadership, and political institutions have always bulked large in the study of this era, but students will also need to understand other less noticed topics: the beginnings of a national economy, the exuberant push westward, the military campaigns against Native American nations; the emergence of free black communities; and the democratization of religion. The American Revolution is of single importance in the study of American history. First, it severed the colonial relationship with England  and legally created the United States. Second, the revolutionary generation formulated the political philosophy and laid the institutional foundations for the system of government under which we live. Third, the Revolution was inspired by ideas concerning natural rights and political authority that were transatlantic in reach, and its successful completion affected people and governments over a large part of the globe for many generations. Lastly, it called into question long-established social and political relationships--between master and slave, man and woman, upper class and lower class, officeholder and constituent, and even parent and child--and thus demarcated an agenda for reform that would preoccupy Americans down to the present day.

Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below.

Standard 1

The causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in forging the revolutionary movement, and the reasons for the American victory.

Standard 1A

The student understands the causes of the American Revolution.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the consequences of the Seven Years War and the overhaul of English imperial policy following the Treaty of Paris in 1763. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
 5-12 Compare the arguments advanced by defenders and opponents of the new imperial policy on the traditional rights of English people and the legitimacy of asking the colonies to pay a share of the costs of empire. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 5-12 Reconstruct the chronology of the critical events leading to the outbreak of armed conflict between the American colonies and England. [Establish temporal order]
 7-12 Analyze political, ideological, religious, and economic origins of the Revolution. [Analyze multiple causation]
 9-12 Reconstruct the arguments among patriots and loyalists about independence and draw conclusions about how the decision to declare independence was reached. [Consider multiple perspectives]

Standard 1B

The student understands the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the major ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and their intellectual origins. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
 7-12 Demonstrate the fundamental contradictions between the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the realities of chattel slavery. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 9-12 Draw upon the principles in the Declaration of Independence to construct a sound historical argument regarding whether it justified American independence. [Interrogate historical data]
 5-12 Explain how key principles in the Declaration of Independence grew in importance to become unifying ideas of American democracy. [Evaluate the influence of ideas]
 9-12 Compare the Declaration of Independence with the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and construct an argument evaluating their importance to the spread of constitutional democracies in the 19th and 20th centuries. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas

Standard 1C

The student understands the factors affecting the course of the war and contributing to the American victory.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Appraise George Washington's military and political leadership in conducting the Revolutionary War. [Assess the importance of the individual]
 5-12 Compare and explain the different roles and perspectives in the war of men and women, including white settlers, free and enslaved African Americans, and Native Americans. [Evaluate the influence of ideas]
 9-12 Analyze the problems of financing the war and dealing with wartime inflation, hoarding, and profiteering. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
 7-12 Explain how the Americans won the war against superior British resources. [Analyze multiple causation]
 5-12 Analyze United States relationships with France, Holland, and Spain during the Revolution and the contributions of each European power to the American victory. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12
Analyze the terms of the Treaty of Paris and how they affected U.S. relations with Native Americans and with European powers that held territories in North America. [Consider multiple perspectives

Standard 2

The impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society.

Standard 2A

The student understands revolutionary government-making at national and state levels.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the arguments over the Articles of Confederation. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Compare several state constitutions and explain why they differed. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Assess the accomplishments and failures of the Continental Congress. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
7-12 Assess the importance of the Northwest Ordinance. [Interrogate historical data]

Standard 2B

The student understands the economic issues arising out of the Revolution. 

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Evaluate how the states and the Continental Congress dealt with the revolutionary war debt. [Utilize quantitative data]
5-12 Analyze the factors that led to Shay's Rebellion. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Explain the dispute over the western lands and evaluate how it was resolved. [Draw upon data in historical maps]
9-12 Explain how the Continental Congress and the states attempted to rebuild the economy by addressing issues of foreign and internal trade, banking, and taxation. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue

Standard 2C

The student understands the Revolution's effects on different social groups.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Compare the reasons why many white men and women and most African American and Native Americans remained loyal to the British. [Consider multiple perspectives]
5-12 Compare the revolutionary goals of different groups—for example, rural farmers and urban craftsmen, northern merchants and southern planters—and how the Revolution altered social, political, and economic relations among them. [Compare and contrast differing values, behaviors, and institutions]
5-12 Explain the revolutionary hopes of enslaved and free African Americans and the gradual abolition of slavery in the northern states. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Analyze the ideas put forth arguing for new women’s roles and rights and explain the customs of the 18th century that limited women’s aspirations and achievements. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Explain how African American leaders and African American institutions shaped free black communities in the North. [Assess the importance of the individual]

Standard 3

The institutions and practices of government created during the Revolution and how they were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Standard 3A

The student understands the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the new government it established. 

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the factors involved in calling the Constitutional Convention. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Analyze the alternative plans considered by the delegates and the major compromises agreed upon to secure approval of the Constitution. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Analyze the fundamental ideas behind the distribution of powers and the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution. [Examine the influence of ideas]
5-12 Analyze the features of the Constitution which have made this the most enduring and widely imitated written constitution in world history. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Compare the arguments of Federalists and Anti-Federalists during the ratification debates and assess their relevance in late 20th-century politics. [Hypothesize the influence of the past]

Standard 3B

The student understands the guarantees of the Bill of Rights and its continuing significance.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Evaluate the arguments over the necessity of a Bill of Rights and explain Madison’s role in securing its adoption by the First Congress. [Assess the importance of the individual]
5-12 Analyze the significance of the Bill of Rights and its specific guarantees. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Analyze whether the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 threatened First Amendment rights and the issues the Alien and Sedition Acts posed in the absence of judicial review of acts of Congress. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
9-12 Analyze issues addressed in recent court cases involving the Bill of Rights to assess their continuing significance today. [Identify relevant historical antecedents

Standard 3C

The student understands the development of the Supreme Court's power and its significance from 1789 to 1820.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Appraise how John Marshall's precedent-setting decisions interpreted the Constitution and established the Supreme Court as an independent and equal branch of the government. [Assess the importance of the individual]
9-12 Trace the evolution of the Supreme Court's powers during the 1790s and early 19th century and analyze its influence today. [Explain historical continuity and change

Standard 3D

The student understands the development of the first American party system.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Explain the principles and issues that prompted Thomas Jefferson to organize an opposition party. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Compare the leaders and social and economic composition of each party. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
7-12 Compare the opposing views of the two parties on the main economic and foreign policy issues of the 1790s. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
7-12 Assess the influence of the French Revolution on American politics. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
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