Preface

About U.S. History

U.S. History has been developed to meet the scope and sequence of most introductory U.S. History courses. At the same time, the book includes a number of innovative features designed to enhance student learning. Instructors can also customize the book, adapting it to the approach that works best in their classroom.

Coverage and Scope

To develop U.S. History, we solicited ideas from historians at all levels of higher education, from community colleges to Ph.D.-granting universities. They told us about their courses, students, challenges, resources, and how a textbook can best meet their and their students’ needs.

The result is a book that covers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and also provides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike. U.S. History explores the key forces and major developments that together form the American experience, with particular attention paid to considering issues of race, class, and gender.

The pedagogical choices, chapter arrangements, and learning objective fulfillment were developed and vetted with feedback from educators dedicated to the project. They thoroughly read the material and offered critical and detailed commentary. Reviewer feedback centered around achieving equilibrium between the various political, social, and cultural dynamics that permeate history. The outcome is a balanced approach to U.S. history, considering the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the United States from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, lived experience).

While the book is organized primarily chronologically, as needed, material treating different topics or regions over the same time period is spread over multiple chapters. For example, chapters 9, 11, and 12 look at economic, political, social, and cultural developments during the first half of the eighteenth century in the North, West, and South respectively, while chapters 18 to 20 closely examine industrialization, urbanization, and politics in the period after Reconstruction.

Chapter 1: The Americas, Europe, and Africa before 1492
Chapter 2: Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650
Chapter 3: Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700
Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763
Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763–1774
Chapter 6: America’s War for Independence, 1775–1783
Chapter 7: Creating Republican Governments, 1776–1790
Chapter 8: Growing Pains: The New Republic, 1790–1815
Chapter 9: Industrial Transformation in the North, 1800–1850
Chapter 10: Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840
Chapter 11: A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800–1850
Chapter 12: Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860
Chapter 13: Antebellum Idealism and Reform Impulses, 1820–1860
Chapter 14: Troubled Times: The Tumultuous 1850s
Chapter 15: The Civil War, 1860–1865
Chapter 16: The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877
Chapter 17: Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840–1900
Chapter 18: Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business, 1870–1900
Chapter 19: The Growing Pains of Urbanization, 1870–1900
Chapter 20: Politics in the Gilded Age, 1870–1900
Chapter 21: Leading the Way: The Progressive Movement, 1890–1920
Chapter 22: Age of Empire: Modern American Foreign Policy, 1890–1914
Chapter 23: Americans and the Great War, 1914–1919
Chapter 24: The Jazz Age: Redefining the Nation, 1919–1929
Chapter 25: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929–1932
Chapter 26: Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932–1941
Chapter 27: Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941–1945
Chapter 28: Postwar Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945–1960
Chapter 29: Contesting Futures: America in the 1960s
Chapter 30: Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968–1980
Chapter 31: From Cold War to Culture Wars, 1980–2000
Chapter 32: The Challenges of the Twenty-First Century
Appendix A: The Declaration of Independence
Appendix B: The Constitution of the United States
Appendix C: Presidents of the United States
Appendix D: United States Political Map
Appendix E: United States Topographical Map
Appendix F: United States Population Chart
Appendix G: Suggested Reading

Pedagogical Foundation

Throughout the OpenStax version of U.S. History, you will find featured material that engage the students in historical inquiry by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:

  • Americana: This feature explores the significance of artifacts from American pop culture and considers what values, views, and philosophies are reflected in these objects.
  • Defining “American”: This feature analyzes primary sources, including documents, speeches, and other writings, to consider important issues of the day and present varying points of view on them, while keeping a focus on the theme of what it means to be American.
  • My Story: This feature presents first-person accounts (diaries, interviews, letters) of significant or exceptional events from the American experience.
  • Link It Up: This feature is a very brief introduction to a website with an interactive experience, video, or primary sources that help improve student understanding of the material.

Questions for Each Level of Learning

The OpenStax version of U.S. History offers two types of end-of-module questions for students.

  • Review Questions are simple recall questions from each module in the chapter and are in either multiple-choice or open-response format. The answers can be looked up in the text.
  • Critical Thinking Questions are higher-level, conceptual questions that ask students to demonstrate their understanding by applying what they have learned in each module to the whole of the chapter. They ask for outside-the-box thinking, for reasoning about the concepts. They push the student to places they wouldn’t have thought of going themselves.