Digital History online textbook


This chapter corrects many of the mythic images that cloud our understanding of Native American history. It examines the rich and diverse cultures of the first Americans and the far-reaching consequences of their encounter with Europeans.

Correcting Myths and Misconceptions


Prehistoric Patterns of Change

The Cultures of Prehistoric America

Native America on the Eve of Contact

Kinship and Religion


The encounter that began in 1492 among the peoples of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres was one of the truly epochal events in world history. This cultural collision not only produced an extraordinary transformation of the natural environment and human cultures in the New World, it also initiated far-reaching changes in the Old World as well.

The Significance of 1492

European Commercial and Financial Expansion

Slavery and Spanish Colonization

The Meaning of America

The Black Legend

17th Century

The economic, religious, and social developments that led Europeans to colonize new lands; the differences between Spanish, French, and English colonization; and the difficulties they encountered as a result of the varied climates and topographies.

European Colonization North of Mexico

Spanish Colonization

English Colonization Begins

Life in Early Virginia

Slavery Takes Root in Colonial Virginia

Founding New England

The Puritans

The Puritan Idea of the Covenant

Regional Contrasts

Dimensions of Change in Colonial New England

The Salem Witch Scare

Slavery in the Colonial North

Struggles for Power in Colonial America

Diversity in Colonial America

The Middle Colonies: New York

Slave Revolts

The Middle Colonies: William Penn’s Holy Commonwealth

The Southernmost Colonies: The Carolinas and Georgia

18th Century

England's efforts to create an empire based on mercantilist principles and the conflicts that these efforts to assert control produce. You will also learn about the forces that transformed colonial life, including an expanding population, economic stratification, the Enlightenment, and the Great Awakening.

The Emergence of New Ideas about Personal Liberties and Constitutional Rights

The Great Awakening

The Seven Years’ War

The Rise of Antislavery Sentiment

The Fate of Native Americans

The Road to Revolution



This chapter examines the series of events that ruptured relations between Britain and the American colonies, and the long and bitter war that the colonists waged in order to gain independence.


Why should we care about the American Revolution?

Why did the American Revolution take place?

The Road to Revolution

The Revolution Begins

Why did the colonists rebel and the British resist?

Declaring Independence

Was the Revolution justified?

The Revolutionary War

How were the colonies able to win independence?

Who were the loyalists?

How revolutionary was the American Revolution?

Creating New State Governments




Having won the Revolutionary war and having negotiated a favorable peace settlement, the Americans still had to establish stable governments. Between 1776 and 1789 a variety of efforts were made to realize the nation's republican ideals. New state governments were established in most states, expanding voting and officeholding rights. Lawmakers let citizens decide which churches to support with their tax monies. Several states adopted bills of rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, as well as trial by jury. Western lands were opened to settlement. Educational opportunities for women increased. Most northern states either abolished slavery or adopted a gradual emancipation plan, while some southern states made it easier for slave owners to manumit individual slaves. Concern for the new nation's political stability led leading revolutionary leaders to draft a new Constitution in 1787, which worked out compromises between large and small states and between northern and southern states.


Articles of Confederation

The Threat of a Military Coup

Economic and Foreign Policy problems

The Tyranny of the Majority

Shays' Rebelliion


Between 1776 and 1789 a variety of efforts were made to realize the nation's republican ideals. New state governments were established in most states, expanding voting and office holding rights. Lawmakers let citizens decide which churches to support with their tax monies. Several states adopted bills of rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, as well as trial by jury. Western lands were opened to settlement. Educational opportunities for women increased. Most northern states either abolished slavery or adopted a gradual emancipation plan, while some southern states made it easier for slave owners to manumit individual slaves.
Concern for the new nation's political stability led leading revolutionary leaders to draft a new Constitution in 1787, which worked out compromises between large and small states and between northern and southern states. The federal system balanced power between the national government and the state governments; within the national government, power was divided among three separate branches in a system of checks and balances.
In addition to listing the powers of the national government-which include the power to collect taxes, regulate trade, and declare war-the Constitution enumerates the powers forbidden to the states and to Congress; and the procedures for electing and appointing government officials as well as procedures for amending the document.
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, was ratified in 1791. These amendments, which were originally intended to protect individual liberties from the power of the central government, guarantee freedom of speech, the press, religion, petition, and assembly; and specify the rights of the accused in criminal and civil cases.

What Americans Don't Know About the Constitution

The Oldest Written National Framework of Government

Was the Constitutional Convention legal?

The Delegates

Philadelphia in 1787

The Convention


Drafting the Constitution


Completing a Final Draft

The U.S. Constitution and the Organization of the National Government

The Constitution and Slavery

Ratifying the Constitution

The Bill of Rights

Amending the Constitution

Why has the Constitution survived? How has the constitutional system changed?

Constitutional Quiz


In 1789, it was an open question whether the Constitution was a workable plan of government. It was unclear whether the new nation could establish a strong national government, a vigorous economy, or win the respect of foreign nations. For a decade, the new nation battled threats to its existence, including serious disagreements over domestic and foreign policy and foreign interference with American shipping and commerce.

During the first 12 years under the new Constitution, the Federalists established a strong and vigorous national government. Alexander Hamilton’s economic program attracted foreign investment and stimulated economic growth. The creation of political parties was an unexpected development that involved the voting population in politics. Presidents George Washington and John Adams succeeded in keeping the nation free from foreign entanglements during the nation’s first crucial years. Despite bitter party battles, threats of secession, and foreign interference with American shipping and commerce, the new nation had overcome every obstacle it had faced.

James Thomson Callender, Scandalmonger

The Formative Decade

The First National Census

Challenges Facing the Nation

Defining the Presidency

Alexander Hamilton's Financial Program

The Birth of Political Parties

Years of Crisis

The Election of 1796

The Presidency of John Adams

The Revolution of 1800



As president, Thomas Jefferson sought to implement his Republican principles, including a frugal, limited government; respect for states' rights, and encouragement for agriculture. He cut military expenditures, paid off the public debt, and repealed many taxes. His most important act was the purchase of Louisiana Territory, which nearly doubled the size of the nation.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court established the principle of judicial review, which enables the courts to review the constitutionality of federal laws and invalidate acts of Congress when they conflict with the Constitution.

The Jeffersonian era was marked by severe foreign policy challenges, including harassment of American shipping by North African pirates and by the British and French. In an attempt to stave off war with Britain and France, the United States attempted various forms of economic coercion. But in 1812--to protect American shipping and seamen, clear westerns lands of Indians, and preserve national honor—the county once again waged war with Britain, fighting the world's strongest power to a stalemate.

An Affair of Honor

Jefferson in Power

War on the Judiciary

The Louisiana Purchase


The Eagle, the Tiger, and the Shark

The Embargo of 1807

A Second War of Independence

The War of 1812

The War’s Significance


The Era of Good Feelings was a period of dramatic growth and intense nationalism. The spirit of nationalism was apparent in Supreme Court decisions that established the supremacy of the federal government and expanded the powers of Congress. American interest and power in foreign policy was especially apparent in the Monroe Doctrine. Industrial development enhanced national self-sufficiency and united the nation with improved roads, canals, and river transportation.
Forces for division were also at work. The financial Panic of 1819 led to the emergence of new political parties. The Missouri Crisis contributed to a growing sectional split between North and South.

The Growth of American Nationalism

Shifting Political Values

Strengthening American Finances

Protecting American Industry

Judicial Nationalism

Conquering Space

Defending American Interests in Foreign Affairs

The Growth of Political Factionalism and Sectionalism



The period from 1820 to 1840 was a time of important political developments. Property qualifications for voting and office-holding were repealed; voting by voice was eliminated. Direct methods of selecting presidential electors, county officials, state judges, and governors replaced indirect methods. Voter participation increased. A new two-party system was replaced by the politics of deference to elites. The dominant political figure of this era was Andrew Jackson, who opened millions of acres of Indian lands to white settlement, destroyed the Second Bank of the United States, and denied the right of a state to nullify the federal tariff.

Rise of Democratic Politics

Emergence of a New Party System

The Presidency of John Quincy Adams

The Presidency of Andrew Jackson

Indian Removal


The Celebrated Bank War

The Whigs


After the War of 1812, the American economy grew at an astounding rate. The development of the steamboat by Robert Fulton revolutionized water travel, as did the building of canals. The construction of the Erie Canal stimulated an economic revolution that bound the grain basket of the West to the eastern and southern markets. It also unleashed a spurt of canal building. Eastern cities experimented with railroads which quickly became the chief method of moving freight. The emerging transportation revolution greatly reduced the cost of bringing goods to market, stimulating both agriculture and industry. The telegraph also stimulated development by improving communication. Eli Whitney pioneered the method of production using interchangeable parts that became the foundation of the American System of manufacture. Transportation improvements combined with market demands stimulated cash crop cultivation. Agricultural production was also transformed by the iron plow and later the mechanical thresher. Economic development contributed to the rapid growth of cities. Between 1820 and 1840, the urban population of the nation increased by 60 percent each decade.

The Roots of American Economic Growth

The Growth of the American Economy

Accelerating Transportation

Speeding Communications

Transforming American Law

Resistance to Technological Innovation

Early Industrialization

The Growth of Cities

The Eve of the Industrial Revolution

The Transformation of the Rural Countryside

The Disruption of the Artisan System of Labor

The Introduction of the Factory System

Labor Protests

The Movement for a Ten-Hour Day

The Laboring Poor

Immigration Begins

Social Mobility in the North


Two currents in religious thought--religious liberalism and evangelical revivalism--had enormous impact on the early republic. Religious liberalism was an emerging form of humanitarianism that rejected the harsh Calvinist doctrines of original sin and predestination. Its preachers stressed the basic goodness of human nature and each individual's capacity to follow the example of Christ. At the same time, enthusiastic religious revivals swept the nation in the early nineteenth century. The revivals inspired a widespread sense that the nation was standing close to the millennium, a thousand years of peace and brotherhood when sin, war, and tyranny would vanish from the earth. In addition, the growth of other religions--African American Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism,the Mormon Church--reshaped America's religious landscape.


Religious Liberalism

Simple Truth in the Open Air

Evangelical Revivalism

Enslaved African Americans and Religious Revivalism

Religious Ferment

The Mormons

American Catholics

American Jews

African American Churches

Religious Freedom and the Founders

Religion and the U.S. Constitution


During the first half of the nineteenth century, reformers launched unprecedented campaigns to reduce drinking, establish prisons, create public schools, educate the deaf and the blind, abolish slavery, and extend equal rights to women. Increasing poverty, lawlessness, violence, and vice encouraged efforts to reform American society. So, too, did the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, and liberal and evangelical religion. Reform evolved through three phases. The first phase sought to persuade Americans to lead more godly daily lives. Moral reformers battled profanity and Sabbath breaking, attacked prostitution, distributed religious tracts, and attempted to curb the use of hard liquor. Social reformers sought to solve the problems of crime and illiteracy by creating prisons, public schools, and asylums for the deaf, the blind, and the mentally ill. Radical reformers sought to abolish slavery and eliminate racial and gender discrimination and create ideal communities as models for a better world.


Moral Reform

Social Reform and the Problem of Crime in a Free Society

The Struggle for Public Schools

Assisting the Disabled

Radical Reform and Antislavery

Antislavery Timeline

Women's Rights

Utopian Socialism


At the end of the 18th century, the United States had few professional writers or artists and lacked a class of patrons to subsidize the arts. But during the decades before the Civil War, distinctively American art and literature emerged. In the 1850s, novels appeared by African-American and Native American writers. Mexican-Americans and Irish immigrants also contributed works on their experiences. Beginning with historical paintings of the Americana Revolution, artists attracted a large audience. Landscape painting also proved popular. An indigenous popular culture also emerged between 1800 and 1860, consisting of penny newspapers, dime novels, and minstrel shows.


Creating a Distinctly American Culture

American Transcendentalism

The American Renaissance

American Ethnic Literature

The Artist in American Society

The Birth of American Popular Culture


Until 1821, Spain ruled the area that now includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. The Mexican war for independence opened the region to American economic penetration. Government explorers, traders, and trappers helped to open the West to white settlement. In the 1820s, thousands of Americans moved into Texas, and during the 1840s, thousands of pioneers headed westward toward Oregon and California , seeking land and inspired by manifest destiny, the idea that America had a special destiny to stretch across the continent. Between 1844 and 1848 the United States expanded its boundaries into Texas, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest . It acquired Texas by annexation; Oregon and Washington by negotiation with Britain; and Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming as a result of war with Mexico.

Zorro: Ficton and Fact

Spanish America

Impact of the Mexican Revolution

The Donner Party

Opening the West


Mountain Men



"Go West … and grow up with the country"

Life on the Trail

Manifest Destiny

The Texas Revolution

The Texas Question in American Politics

The U.S.-Canadian Border

The Pacific Northwest

The Mexican War

The Face of Battle

War Fever and Antiwar Protests


The War's Significance

The Political Crisis of the 1840s

The Gold Rush


In the decades before the Civil War, northern and southern development followed increasingly different paths. By 1860, the North contained 50 percent more people than the South. It was more urbanized and attracted many more European immigrants. The northern economy was more diversified into agricultural, commercial, manufacturing, financial, and transportation sectors. In contrast, the South had smaller and fewer cities and a third of its population lived in slavery. In the South, slavery impeded the development of industry and cities and discouraged technological innovation. Nevertheless, the South was was wealthy and its economy was rapidly growing. The southern economy largely financed the Industrial Revolution in the United States, and stimulated the development of industries in the North to service southern agriculture.


The Old South: Images and Realities

The South's Economy

Southern Nationalism

Southern Radicalism


For forty years, attempts were made to resolve conflicts between North and South. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the northern half of the Louisiana Purchase. The acquisition of vast new territories during the 1840s reignited the question of slavery in the western territories. The Compromise of 1850 was an attempt to solve this problem by admitting California as a free state but allowing slavery in the rest of the Southwest. But the compromise included a fugitive slave law opposed by many Northerners. The Kansas-Nebraska Act proposed to solve the problem of status there by popular sovereignty. But this led to violent conflict in Kansas and the rise of the Republican party. The Dred Scott decision eliminated possible compromise solutions to the sectional conflict and John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry convinced many Southerners that a majority of Northerners wanted to free the slaves and incite race war.

The Slave Power Conspiracy

The Crisis of 1850

Slavery in a Capitalist World

The Compromise of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Law

The Breakdown of the Party System

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

The Revival of the Slavery Issue

"Bleeding Kansas" and "Bleeding Sumner"

The Election of 1856

The Dred Scott Decision

The Gathering Storm

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Harper's Ferry





The Slave Trade's Significance

The Atlantic Slave Trade

Toward Slavery

The Experience of Liberation

The Aftermath of Slavery


This chapter places American slavery in global, comparative perspective. It looks at slavery’s origins; definitions of slavery and how it differs from other forms of subordination and exploitation; how American slavery differed from slavery in classical antiquity, African society, medieval Europe, and Islamic societies; the evolution of American slavery in the colonial, revolutionary, early national, and antebellum eras; and slavery’s impact on American culture, economics, and politics.

The Impact of the Slave Trade on West and Central Africa

Slavery in Historical Perspective

Defining Slavery

Slavery in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Worlds

The Newness of New World Slavery

Justifications of Slavery

Slavery in Africa

Why Africa?


The Middle Passage

The Origins of New World Slavery

Slavery in Colonial North America

Slavery’s Evolution

The American Revolution and Slavery

Antebellum Slavery

What was Life Like Under Slavery

Slave Labor

Slave Family Life

Slave Culture

American Slavery in Comparative Perspective

Slave Resistance and Revolts

The Economics of Slavery



This chapter examines the growth of antislavery thought, the colonization movement, the emergence of immediatist abolition, and political antislavery.


The Rise of Antislavery Thoughts

Was the Revolution a missed opportunity to end slavery?

The Impact of the Revolution on Slavery

The Decline of Antislavery Sentiment in the South


A Dead-End on Slavery

Immediate Abolition

Anti-Abolitionist Violence

Who Were the Abolitionists?

Division in the Antislavery Movement

Black Abolitionists

The Underground Railroad

Abolitionists and Violence



This chapter examines the election of 1860, the secession crisis, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Union and the Confederacy, the military history of the war, as well as the economic and social changes the war produced.

The Election of 1860

South Carolina Leaves the Union


Establishing the Confederacy

Last-Ditch Efforts at Compromise

Fort Sumter

Lincoln Responds to Secession

War Begins

Prospects for Victory

Why the Civil War Was So Lethal

Bull Run

A War for Union

The Anaconda Plan

Pressure for Emancipation

War in the West

A Will to Destroy

The Eastern Theater

Native Americans and the Civil War

War Within a War


The Significance of Names

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation

The Home Front

The Death Toll

The Second American Revolution

The Confederacy Begins to Collapse

The New York City Draft Riots

Blacks in Blue

Fort Wagner

The Battle Against Discrimination

Towards Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg


Was Lincoln a Racist?

The Thirteenth Amendment

Total War

Slaves' Role in Their Own Liberation

The 1864 Presidential Election

Grant Takes Command

A Stillness at Appomattox

'The President is murdered'

The War's Costs



Here you will learn about President Lincoln’s and President Johnson’s plans to readmit the Confederate states to the Union; the more stringent Congressional plan; the struggle between President Johnson and Congress, including the impeachment vote; the Reconstruction era’s contributions to civil rights; the reasons for Reconstruction’s demise; and the emergence of sharecropping.
Reuniting the Union: A Chronology

Birth of a Nation

A New Birth of Freedom: The Day of Jubilee

Emancipation in Comparative Perspective


The Politics of Reconstruction

Presidential Reconstruction

Congressional Reconstruction

The Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson

Republican Governments in the South

Carpetbaggers and Scalawags


The End of Reconstruction

The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876

The Significance of Reconstruction




In 1860, most Americans considered the Great Plains the “Great American Desert.” Settlement west of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Lousiana averaged just 1 person per square mile. The only parts of the Far West that were highly settled were California and Texas. Between 1865 and the 1890s, however, Americans settled 430 million acres in the Far West--more land than during the preceding 250 years of American history.By 1893, the Census Bureau was able to claim that the entire western frontier was now occupied.

The discovery of gold, silver, and other precious minerals in California in 1849, in Nevada and Colorado in the 1850s, in Idaho and Montana in 1860s, and South Dakota in the 1870s sparked an influx of prospectors and miners. The expansion of railroads and the invention of barbed wire and improvements in windmills and pumps attracted ranchers and farmers to the Great Plains in the 1860s and 1870s. This chapter examines the forces that drove Americans westward; the kinds of lives they established in the Far West; and the rise of the "West of the imagination," the popular myths that continue to exert a powerful hold on mass culture.

Building the Transcontinental Railroad

The Great American Desert

The Comstock Lode and the Mining Frontier

The Cattle Frontier

The Farming Frontier

Water and the West

Black Gold: The Oil Frontier

Closing the American Frontier

The West of the Imagination



The 250,000 Native Americans who lived on the Great Plains were confined onto reservations through renegotiation of treaties and 30 years of war. This chapter examines the consequences of America's westward movement for Native Americans.

A Thirty Years War

The Sand Creek Massacre

The Battle of the Little Big Horn

Nez Perce

Wounded Knee I

Wounded Knee II

Kill the Indian and Save the Man

Native Americans at the Turn of the Century


The 1880s and 1890s were years of unprecedented technological innovation, mass immigration, and intense political partisanship, including disputes over currency, tariffs, political corruption and patronage, and railroads and business trusts.

A Distant Mirror: The Late Nineteenth Century

The Gilded Age

Government Retrenchment and Government Corruption

Politics During the Gilded Age

Civil Service Reform

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

The Election of 1884

The Tariff Question


Grover Cleveland


The late 19th century saw the advent of new communication technologies, including the phonograph, the telephone, and radio; the rise of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines; the growth of commercialized entertainment, as well as new sports, including basketball, bicycling, and football, and appearance of new transportation technologies, such as the automobile, electric trains and trolleys.

The Wizard of Menlo Park

An Age of Innovation

The Birth of Modern Culture

The Revolt Against Victorianism

The Rise of Mass Communication

Commercialized Leisure

The University


This chapter examines the impact of and responses to industrialization among American workers, including the attempt to form labor unions despite strong opposition from many industrialists and the courts.

Labor in the Age of Industrialization

American Labor in Comparative Perspective

Sources of Worker Unrest

The Drive for Unionization

The Great Railroad Strike

The Molly Maguires

The Origins of American Trade Unionism

Haymarket Square

Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor



Labor Day

The Murder of Former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg

Socialist and Radical Alternatives



Around the turn of the twentieth century, mass immigration from eastern and southern Europe dramatically altered the population's ethnic and religious composition. Unlike earlier immigrants, who had come from Britain, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Scandinavia, the “new immigrants” came increasingly from Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Russia. The newcomers were often Catholic or Jewish and two-thirds of them settled in cities. In this chapter you will learn about the new immigrants and the anti-immigrant reaction.

The Statue of Liberty

Emma Lazarus

The New Immigrants

Birds of Passage

Chinese Exclusion Act

Angel Island

Japanese Immigration

Contract Labor

Immigration Restriction

Migration and Disease

The United States's Changing Face

Migration Today

Evaluating the Economic Costs and Benefits of Immigration

Migration as a Key Theme in U.S. and World History

Kinds of Migrants

The Stages of Migration

The Language of Cultural Mixture and Persistence

Music and Migration

Why Do People Migrate?

Who Migrates?

The Human Meaning of Migration

Language and Migration

Movies and Migration

Statue of Liberty Quiz


Between the Civil War and World War I, the modern American economy emerged. A national transportation and communication network was created, the corporation became the dominant form of business organization, and a managerial revolution transformed business operations. By the beginning of the twentieth century, per capita income and industrial production in the United States exceeded that of any other country except Britain.

Unlike the pre-Civil War economy, this new one was dependent on raw materials from around the world and it sold goods in global markets. Business organization expanded in size and scale. There was an unparalleled increase in factory production, mechanization, and business consolidation. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the major sectors of the nation's economy--banking, manufacturing, meat packing, oil refining, railroads, and steel--were dominated by a small number of giant corporations.

J.P. Morgan

The Rise of Big Business

The Corporate Revolution

Why Business Grew

Corporations and the Law

The Debate Over Big Business

The Gospel of Wealth

Social Darwinism

Controlling the Shop Floor

Jay Gould


This chapter traces the changing nature of the American city in the late 19th century, the expansion of cities horizontally and vertically, the problems caused by urban growth, the depiction of cities in art and literature, and the emergence of new forms of urban entertainment.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871

The Rise of the Modern City

The Skyscraper


Boss Tweed


The 1880s and 1890s were years of turbulence. Disputes erupted over labor relations, currency, tariffs, patronage, and railroads. The most momentous political conflict of the late 19th century was the farmers' revolt. Drought, plagues of grasshoppers, boll weevils, rising costs, falling prices, and high interest rates made it increasingly difficult to make a living as a farmer. Many farmers blamed railroad owners, grain elevator operators, land monopolists, commodity futures dealers, mortgage companies, merchants, bankers, and manufacturers of farm equipment for their plight. Farmers responded by organizing Granges, Farmers' Alliances, and the Populist Party. In the election of 1896, the Populists and the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan for president. Bryan's decisive defeat inaugurated a period of Republican ascendancy, in which Republicans controlled the presidency for 24 of the next 32 years.

Panacea's for the Nation's Ills

Henry George

Looking Backward

William Hope Harvey

The Depression of the Mid-1890s

The Farmers' Plight


The Election of 1896

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Populist Crusade and Restrictions on African Americans



This chapter examines the reasons why the United States adopted a more aggressive foreign policy at the end of the 19th century; the causes, military history, and consequences of the Spanish American War; and early 20th century U.S. involvement in China, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

"A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama"

The United States Becomes a World Power

The Annexation of Hawaii

The Spanish American War

The Philippines

Policing the Caribbean and Central America

Intervention in Haiti



An overview of the far-reaching economic and social changes that transformed American society in the 20th century, including innovations in science and technology, economic productivity, mass communication and mass entertainment, health and living standards, the role of government, gender roles, and conceptions of freedom.


The United States in 1900

Twentieth Century Revolutions


Progressivism is an umbrella label for a wide range of economic, political, social, and moral reforms. These included efforts to outlaw the sale of alcohol; regulate child labor and sweatshops; scientifically manage natural resources; insure pure and wholesome water and milk; Americanize immigrants or restrict immigration altogether; and bust or regulate trusts. Drawing support from the urban, college-educated middle class, Progressive reformers sought to eliminate corruption in government, regulate business practices, address health hazards, improve working conditions, and give the public more direct control over government through direct primaries to nominate candidates for public office, direct election of Senators, the initiative, referendum, and recall, and women's suffrage.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, muckraking journalists were calling attention to the exploitation of child labor, corruption in city governments, the horror of lynching, and the ruthless business practices employed by businessmen like John D. Rockefeller. At the local level, many Progressives sought to suppress red-light districts, expand high schools, construct playgrounds, and replace corrupt urban political machines with more efficient system of municipal government. At the state level, Progressives enacted minimum wage laws for women workers, instituted industrial accident insurance, restricted child labor, and improved factory regulation.

At the national level, Congress passed laws establishing federal regulation of the meat-packing, drug, and railroad industries, and strengthened anti-trust laws. It also lowered the tariff, established federal control over the banking system, and enacted legislation to improve working condition. Four constitutional amendments were adopted during the Progressive era, which authorized an income tax, provided for the direct election of senators, extended the vote to women, and prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.

Jane Addams: Champion for the Working Poor


A New Era

The Roots of Progressivism

Herbert Croly and //The Promise of American Life//


Municipal Progressivism

State Progressivism

National Progressivism

Theodore Roosevelt


Government Regulation



Income Tax



The period late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries represented the nadir of American race relations. Nine-tenths of African Americans lived in the South, and most supported themselves as tenant farmers or sharecroppers. Most southern and border states instituted a legal system of segregation, relegating African Americans to separate schools and other public accommodations. Under the Mississippi Plan, involving the use of poll taxes and literacy tests, African Americans were deprived of the vote. The Supreme Court stripped the 14th and 15th Amendments of their meaning, especially in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which declared that “separate but equal” facilities were permissible under the 14th Amendment. Each year approximately a hundred African Americans were lynched.

The State of African Americans in the South


Convict Lease System

Jim Crow and the Courts

Plessy v. Ferguson

Segregation and Disfranchisement

Booker T. Washington and the Politics of Accommodation


"Failure is Impossible"

72 Years

The Drive for the Vote Begins

The Movement Splits

The First Breakthroughs

New Arguments and New Constituencies

Opponents of Suffrage

The Final Push

Did the Vote Make a Difference?

Political Firsts

Birth Control



This chapter examines the war’s causes, the reasons why the United States intervened in the conflict, how American industry was mobilized for war, wartime propaganda and political repression, and the social changes and unrest produced by the war.

Sgt. York

World War I

The Road to War

The Guns of August

The Lusitania

The United States Enters the War:

Over There: American Doughboys Go to War

Over Here: World War I on the Home Front

The Espionage and Sedition Acts


THE 1920S

The 1920s was a decade of major cultural conflicts as well as a period when many features of a modern consumer culture took root. In this chapter, you will learn about the clashes over alcohol, evolution, foreign immigration, and race, and also about the growth of cities, the rise of a consumer culture, and the revolution in morals and manners.
The 1920s - An Overview

The Postwar Red Scare

Postwar Labor Tensions



The Great Migration

The Ku Klux Klan

Sacco and Vanzetti

Immigration Restriction

Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism

The Scopes Trial

Leopold and Loeb

Politics During the 1920s

The Democratic Convention of 1924

The Election of 1928

Herbert Hoover

The Consumer Economy and Mass Entertainment

The Formation of Modern American Mass Culture

Low Brow and Middle Brow Culture

The Avant-Garde

The New Woman


THE 1930S

This section examines why the seemingly boundless prosperity of the 1920s ended so suddenly and why the Depression lasted as long as it did. It assesses the human toll and the policies adopted to combat the crisis of the Great Depression. It devotes particular attention to the impact on African Americans, the elderly, Mexican Americans, labor, and women. In addition to assessing the ideas that informed the New Deal policies, this section examines the critics and evaluates the impact of the New Deal.

Charles Ponzi

The Market Crashes

Why It Happened

The Great Depression in Global Perspective

The Human Toll

The Dispossessed

President Hoover

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Bonus Army

The First 100 Days

The New Dealers

The Farmers' Plight

The National Recovery Administration

Jobs Programs

Roosevelt's Critics

The Wagner Act

Social Security

African Americans and the New Deal

Mexican Americans

Native Americans

The New Deal in Decline

The Depression of 1937

Popular Culture During the Great Depression

Hollywood during the Great Depression

Legacy of the New Deal



In this chapter, you will learn about the war’s causes, the Holocaust, the military history of the war, the impact of the war on women and racial and ethnic minorities, the internment of Japanese Americans, and the dawn of the atomic age.

Joe Louis

The Holocaust

World War II


The Coming of World War II

Conflict in the Pacific



War Begins

A Collision Course in the Pacific

Pearl Harbor

Mobilizing for War

Molding Public Opinion

Social Changes During the War

Italians, Germans, Japanese Aliens and European Jewry

Japanese-American Internment

The Military Conflict

The War in the Pacific

Controversy Continues



The chapter examines the origins of the Cold War; the implementation of the Containment policy; the Korean War; and fear of Communist subversion at home. It also traces the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement; the emergence of youth culture; and postwar cultural critics, including the Beats.

The Cold War

The Truman Doctrine

The Containment Policy

The Chinese Revolution

Soviet Atomic Bomb

Korean War

The Death of Stalin and the Cold War

The Cold War in Developing Countries

The Military-Industrial Complex

Cuba and the Bay of Pigs Invasion

Cuban Missile Crisis

Tail-Gunner Joe

The Second Red Scare

Alger Hiss

Anti-Communism During the Early 1950s

Domestic Communism

The Rosenberg Case

Margaret Chase Smith: The Conscience of the Senate

McCarthy Condemned

Paranoid Style

Kefauver Committee

Emmett Till

Hearts and Minds

The Integration of Professional Sports

The Peace Corps

The Space Race


The Rise of the Sunbelt

The Interstate Highway System



This chapter examines the Civil Rights struggle against segregation and racial inequality; the feminist fight for equal educational and employment opportunity; the Mexican American battle against discrimination in voting, education, and employment; the Native American campaign for tribal sovereignty and land rights; the gay and lesbian drive to end discrimination based on sexual preference; and the environmentalist campaign to reduce pollution and promote conservation.

Thurgood Marshall

Simple Justice

The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement

Eisenhower and Civil Rights

Little Rock

The State of Black America in 1960

Freedom Now

To the Heart of Dixie


Kennedy Finally Acts

The March on Washington

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Voting Rights

Black Nationalism and Black Power

The Civil Rights Movement Moves North

The Great Society and the Drive for Black Equality

White Backlash

The Struggle Continues

The Youth Revolt

The New Left

The Making and Unmaking of a Counterculture

Women's Liberation

Sources of Discontent

Feminism Reborn

Radical Feminism

The Growth of Feminist Ideology

The Supreme Court and Sex Discrimination

The Equal Rights Amendment

Impact of the Women's Liberation Movement

Viva La Raza!

The Native American Power Movement

Gay and Lesbian Liberation

The Earth First

Ralph Nader and the Consumer Movement



This chapter discusses how American became involved in southeast Asia; the escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam war; reactions to the war on the homefront; President Nixon’s strategies for ending the war; and cultural reactions to the war.

The Vietnam War

The Meaning of the Vietnam War

Ho Chi Minh

Before the American War

Into the Quagmire

John Kennedy and Vietnam


Why Vietnam?

The Tet Offensive

Nixon and Vietnam

The War at Home

The Final Collapse

The Vietnam War and American Culture

The War's Costs

The War's Consequences




This chapter examines the impact of the collapse of Communism on international stability; the resurgence of the American economy during the 1990s; and the presidencies of Ronald Regan, George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Crisis of Political Leadership

Restraining the Imperial Presidency

New Style Presidents

Wrenching Economic Transformations

The Age of Inflation

Oil Embargo

Foreign Competition

Whipping Stagflation

A New American Role in the World


Foreign Policy Triumphs

No Islands of Stability

The Reagan Revolution

The Gipper


The Celebration of Wealth

The Reagan Doctrine

A Remarkable Ideological Turnaround

The Reagan Revolution in Perspective

The First Bush Presidency

Collapse of Communism

The Persian Gulf War

The Clinton Presidency

Entering a New Century



This chapter examines the disputed election of 2000; the presidency of George W. Bush; and the American responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The Disputed Election of 2000

The Presidency of George W. Bush

September 11, 2001