Definitions — Be able to define and explain the significance of the following (from lectures, video notes, in-class readings, Morgan):

John Winthrop
Jamestown Settlement
Virginia Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Puritans
British monarchs and their colonial policy
French and Indian War (Seven Years War)
Proclamation of 1763
The Stamp Act
Declaratory Act
Townshend Acts and the colonial response
The actions of British customs officials and the colonists’ treatment of them
The Boston Massacre
The Tea Act
The Boston Tea Party
Intolerable/Coercive Acts
Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” (what, when, main ideas?)
Virtual Representation (British and American Perspectives)
First Continental Congress (three decisions — Morgan 5)
Second Continental Congress (three decisions — Morgan 5)
The Olive Branch Petition, response
James Madison
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
Declaration of Independence
Battle of Lexington and Concord
Battle of Bunker Hill
George Washington’s army
Battle of Long Island
Battle of Trenton
Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Yorktown
Shays’ Rebellion
Articles of Confederation
Constitutional Convention (including competing plans, Morgan 10)
Federalists and Anti-Federalists
Features of the Constitution
Six Basic Principles of the Constitution
Checks each branch has on others
Original 13 states

Be able to answer each question thoroughly:

1. What problems were caused by the extreme individualism in Virginia

2. Describe the family structure/roles in Massachusetts (men, women and children)

3. What motivated people from Britain to come to America?

4. How/why were the Americans able to defeat the largest military in the world in the Revolutionary War?

5. What was the overall military strategy of Americans and British during the Revolutionary War?

6. What were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, including specific limitations and events?

7. Describe the debate between the big and small states at the Constitutional Convention. Include specific information on the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. What was the result of the debate?

8. Role of the French in the War (Morgan, Chapter 6)

9. How did the colonial population divide over support for the war? (Morgan, Chapter 6)

11 What are the main arguments in Federalist 10? (James Madison)

12. What are the main arguments in Brutus I? (Robert Yates)

13. Explain the system of “checks and balances” in the US Constitution. Name the three branches of government. Show how each branch has the power to check other branches, providing at least one example of how each can do this.

14. Features of the original Constitution that Robert Dahl identifies as 'undemocratic'?

15. Bill of Rights (why it was written? Know roughly what each one says)

16. Describe the debate over slavery at the Constitutional Convention. What was the result? (In what ways does the Constitution touch upon the issue of slavery?)

17. Understand the Amendment Process

Essay — Please do not write out your answers in paragraph form. Instead, use an outline.

After the French and Indian War, the American colonists were prouder than ever to be subjects of Great Britain. However, fifteen years later, this would not be the case. What happened?!?

In your essay, make an opening argument (thesis statement) that takes a stand on this topic: Were the Americans justified in their rebellion against Great Britain? Discuss what you believe to be the 3 most important arguments that were used to justify America’s revolt against Great Britain and take a stand on each. Were they valid or invalid? Use at least one detailed and specific historical example for each argument. Make sure that your detailed and specific evidence clearly supports your thesis.

Example Outline:

Thesis Statement

  1. Argument 1 (Representation, taxes, treatment, specific laws, etc.)
    1. Specific evidence (what actually happened, why it was fair, unfair, names, dates, events, etc.)
  2. Argument 2
    1. Specific Evidence
  3. Argument 3
    1. Specific Evidence

Course Description:

American Studies is a team-taught, two-hour, year long course that includes a study of American literature and American history in the larger context of the American culture. It is a two-credit graduation requirement that includes an option to apply for an honors credit.

Course Philosophy:

American Studies is a course designed to acquaint students with American literature, history, and culture, to better understand their past, in order to prepare them to participate in their society.

Course Objectives:

· Examine the correlation between historical events and personalities and the literature they inspired.

· Be able to describe the main concepts, key persons and events that make up American culture.

· Understand the major movements in American literature and how these pieces reflect the outlook of the author and time period.

· Investigate alternative interpretations of events and personalities in American history.

· Understand how the basic concepts of equality and freedom have evolved throughout American history.

· Develop the ability to think critically.

· Learn the process for writing essays and conducting research.

· Improve basic composition skills such as vocabulary building, sentence construction, paragraph structure, and spelling.

· Learn to create and defend a thesis both orally and in writing.


Unit Topics:
Semester I

The Birth of a Nation

The Constitution: E Pluribus Unum

The Land: Conquest and Development

Civil War and Reconstruction: Testing the Constitution

Semester II

America Divided: “Haves and Have-nots”

America and the World: Might vs. Right

Modern American Issues: Conflict and Compromise

Primary texts: Social Studies

Birth of a Republic, Edmund Morgan

Narrative of Frederick Douglas

Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn

Reasoning with Democratic Values, Vol I & II

Unfinished Nation, Alan Brinkley

The Way We Lived, Essays and Documents, Vol. I and II

Primary texts: English

Black Voices, Abraham Chapman

Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Huck Finn, Mark Twain.

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson

In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway

The Crucible, Arthur Miller

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Selections of poetry from Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Anne Bradstreet, and others.

Short works by Sherman Alexie, John Smith, William Bradford, Jonathan Edwards, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others.

Sensitive Materials:

One of the goals of American Studies is to expose students to a variety of perspectives and cultures within American society. Thus, it is possible that students may read something that they find objectionable. We encourage students to discuss individually with us about what they find objectionable; in extreme cases alternative assignments may be assigned. There are times in the course of Social Studies classes where sensitive materials will be shown to students. If this is the case, students will be notified ahead of time about the content of such materials. These materials may include nudity (indigenous people, famous works of art, war), violence (war, social strife, protests, etc), extreme poverty, and some written/video material with language considerations. At times in this course, rated R films may be shown. These films are always shown with a purpose to add to the learning goals of the course. It is your right to not view these materials if you are sensitive to them. You will be given different materials to incorporate the same information.


Include unit exams, quizzes, tutorials, oral presentations, individual and group projects and a comprehensive semester exam.


American Studies is considered one course and you will receive one grade. The grading scale is based on percentages: A=100–93%, A-=92–90%, B+=89–88%, B=87–83%, B-=82–80% and so on. Grades may be adjusted (up and down) to take class participation into account. We value differing opinions and ideas in discussion and in writing. Therefore, we will grade essays on how well you articulate your position and support it with evidence from the texts, not whether it is “right or wrong.”

*Note: In order to pass American Studies, students must have a combined average grade of at least 60% and no less than 55% in one of the two classes—English and History.

Each student will be evaluated according to individual mastery of the material and adherence to the above expectations. Each student’s performance will be measured by the following criteria:

Quality of out-of-class written assignments.

Demonstrated knowledge of unit materials based on examination and quiz scores.

Oral presentations and discussion of unit questions.

Participation in class activities.

Class Expectations:

You must treat every person with courtesy and respect. Be thoughtful and sensitive when you listen and respond to each others’ discussion, comments, and work.

Students will maintain a notebook of class handouts and notes in an orderly fashion. All handouts will be collected at the end of each semester.

Students will be prepared for class and participate in all activities. All students will be expected to have relevant materials and equipment when class begins.

Students will be prompt and responsible regarding attendance and assignments. Missing assignments, absenteeism and tardiness will have an adverse effect on grades.

Late work is not accepted in American Studies unless approved by one of the teachers before the due date. In the case of illness, make up all work according to school guidelines as outlined in the Student Handbook.

Expectations for written assignments

Assignments must be typed and formatted according to the both the “Style sheet” and writing guidelines provided on the assignment sheets and in class.

You must do your own work. Plagiarism and cheating are serious infractions of the school’s standards. Please see your “BHS Writing Style sheet” if you have any questions.

Those who attempt to pass off the work as their own will receive no credit for that assignment, and may incur more severe disciplinary action depending on the circumstances.

Academic Honesty

Honesty is a compelling principle by which we operate all aspects of student and school life. Academic honesty is highly valued at BHS. Students should not cheat, nor should they tolerate such among fellow students. Therefore, students do not receive credit for work that is not their own. Disciplinary sanctions will be administered for cheating on any school assignment or plagiarism, or the use of material produced by someone else without acknowledging its source. Cheating is defined as an attempt to earn credit or receive a grade for coursework in a manner other than defined as acceptable by the teacher. Because of the serious nature of academic honesty, violations of this code will result in loss of credit for assignment with a recorded failing grade. It may also entail loss of credit for the course with a recorded failing grade, removal from the course with a failing grade, and/ or additional appropriate disciplinary action.


An honors designation is available for American Studies each semester. We will hand out a letter describing honors designation later this term.


Extra credit is not offered in American Studies; however, students will have the opportunity to improve their grades by participating in assignments related to out-of-class good-will activities. The three broad categories in which one can do good-will work are: films and readings, museum visits, and attendance at readings, lectures etc. We will give you specific examples of these and keep you updated on good-will work that can be done.

Finally, American Studies is a challenging course that demands full participation. All students will be expected to devote at least one hour a day to homework. We are looking forward to this year in American Studies and we are pleased that all of you are with us.