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AP United States History Key Terms Explained

Welcome Juniors, Seniors, and College Students who are currently in enrolled in AP United States History (APUSH) along with anyone else looking to enlighten themselves with the history of America. As most of you are currently experiencing this, APUSH is a very intensive course filled with hours of work each week and more information to be learned than you ever thought possible. I know, I have taken this class and it was rough to say the least. So to save you from the same misery, I have collected over 100 key terms to know over the course of Units 1-3. If these helped you at all, pleased feel free to check out my new book “AP United States History Short-Answer Guide” containing answers for over 180 short-answer questions about key points over the course of 90 lessons. Enjoy!

Unit 1


Native Religion – animism; tribe-specific religions and beliefs


Native Population – some permanent; didn’t OWN land; no livestock


Gender Roles – matrilineal; men hunted; women farmed and did household duties


European Expansion – Found America while searching for an eastern trade route; Christopher Columbus


Columbian Exchange – Europe, Africa, America; plants, animals, diseases, culture, slaves, technology


Spanish Exploration – Treaty of Tordisllas; Christianize natives; Encomienda = Native American slaves; Repartimiendo = freed slaves; founded Florida; in search of gold


Pueblo Revolt – Popé led Pueblo warriors; killed400 men; forced the Spanish out of their capital


Dutch Expansion – freedom of press and religion; many fled to the Netherlands


French and Dutch Exploration – economic purposes; never had a large population


French Expansion – gold and northwest passage; made trade networks with the Indians


English Exploration – Sir Walter Raleigh sent colonists to Roanoke; everyone disappeared; Treaty of London ended war with Spanish; Virginia Company; Chesapeake Bay


French Colonization – Fur-trading Company; Quebec all-males; found Mississippi River


Dutch Colonization – Dutch East Indian Company; Fort Nassau; New Amsterdam=Dutch New World capital; most religiously tolerant


The English and the Indians – wanted land; displaced many Indians; Indians became dependent of English goods


English Colonization – granted charters for colonies in North America; England spread others religions


The Chesapeake – Jamestown; John Smith in charge; headright system = 50 acres; House of Burgesses = only landowners could vote; Virginia = first royal colony


Tobacco Boom – John Rolfe smuggled in tobacco; England profited; need for indentured servants


Indentured Servitude – sold 5-7 years of service for a passage to the New World; close to slaves


Indians at Jamestown – captured John Smith; saved by Pocahontas; Opechancanough killed 300 colonists; English retaliated


Bacon’s Rebellion – increased demands for slaves; consisted of former servant on the frontier


Maryland – proprietary colony; Lord Baltimore; Protestants and Christians could coexist


Puritanism – The Crucible


The Great Migration – Puritans emigrated to Massachusetts; Massachusetts was healthier; greater pop.


The Half-Way Covenant – permitted Great Migration emigrant’s grandchildren to be baptized and accept a lower church membership


New England Puritans – Pilgrims; Plymouth; Mayflower Compact; first Thanksgiving with Indians who helped them; self-governing


Religious Conflict in New England – Roger Williams=separation for church and state; Anne Hutchinson=God spoke to her, not through a minister; Fundamental Orders= first constitution


Indians in New England – savages; obstacle to land; feared people would leave to live in the Indians


The Salem Witch Trials – mass hysteria caused by young girls


Destroyed By Disease – Indians were wiped out; believed disease was the Indians punishment by God; lost natives as a source for slaves, turned to West Africa to import slaves


The Pequot War – killed an English fur-trader; soldiers wiped out the Pequot village killing 500 indians


King Philip’s War – war for land; Metacom=King Philip; Iroquois allies


Ecological Changes – imported European domestic animals and plants; dramatically shaped nature; Indians killed wandering animals


African Slavery – slavery existed before Europeans came; slave trading began in Spanish colonies


American Indian Views – believed Europeans to be insensitive to living nature and inexperienced in distinguishing helpful and harmful resources


European Views – primitive; savages; illiterate and below them; no sense of freedom


The Navigation Acts – Mercantilism= national power comes from money; sold only to England


Political Changes in England – Glorious Revolution overthrew James II; William and Mary now in charge; Parliament continued to restrict self-government


Leisler’s Rebellion – Leisler took control of New York; separated colonists based on status; tyrant


The English in New York – Charter of Liberties and Privieges=reinforced traditional English liberties


The Carolinas – blocked Spanish expansion; eight landholders


Pennsylvania – William Penn; freedom of religion; stemmed from Quakers; peace


The Middle Passage – Triangular trade between Europe, Africa, and Americas; slave trade


West Indies Slavery – imported slaves to work in sugar plantations; strenuous crop


Chesapeake Slavery – first Africans (1619) could eventually gain their freedom; 1660s it was referred to as slavery


The Stono Rebellion – slave uprising; South Carolina; killed any whites they encountered; temporarily decreased slave imports


More Conflict in New England – Massachusetts became a royal colony; land ownership, not church membership, was needed to vote


Georgia – Protect South Carolina; consisted of those who had been imprisoned in England

Characteristics of Colonial Societies – stratification=defined rich and poor; middle colonies=diversity and acceptance; more children; women had few rights


Colonial Economics – raw materials for Britain; South=tobacco; Middle=rice and indigo

Religion and the Great Awakening – Edwards started Great Awakening; New Lights; people could understand the Bible on their own; all colonies shared this experience


The French and Indian War – Britain tried to drive the French out of North America; Ben Franklin= Albany Plan of Union


Removing the French from North America – Pitt became Prime Minister; conquered Quebec; Peace of Paris (1763) removed France from North America; British was a dominate power in the New World; colonists dislike the treatment they received


Pontiac’s Rebellion – the Ottawa people attacked Britain colonists in 1763; British forces were sent to protect the colonists; this ended the idea of salutary neglect


Proclamation of 1763 – line of demarcation= settlers couldn’t go west of the Appalachian Mountains; most colonists ignored this line and settle west


Unit 2


Religious Revival – Second Great Awakening; emotion; Methodist/Baptists grew


British Raise Revenue – Currency, Sugar, and Quartering Act – Stamp Act crossed the line


Colonial Reaction – Stamp Act Congress (only colonies could tax colonists); Grenville pointed out virtual representation


Colonial Boycott – Sons and Daughters of Liberty; Sam Adams; repealed Stamp Act


Townshend Act – glass, paper, and tea; writs of assistance; boycotts led to repeal


Boston Responds to taxes – Quartering Act angered colonists and led to the Boston Massacre; Committees of Correspondence; Daughters of Liberty; Boston Tea Party; Intolerable Acts


First Continental Congress – Declaration of Rights and Grievances, denied by king


The Fight Begins – Lexington; Bunker Hill; French joined after the Battle of Saratoga


Second Continental Congress – Olive Branch Petition denied; Common Sense rallied colonists; Thomas Jefferson rights the Declaration of Independence


Independence, Not Dependence – Patriots, Loyalists, and unaffected; Treaty of Paris recognized the U.S. as a country


Indians and the Revolution – Treaty of Greenville ceded Ohio and Indiana; annuity given to Indians


Shay’s Rebellion – farmers angered by taxes; led to the Constitutional Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation


Impact of Enlightenment – John Locke = natural rights; reason over emotion


Articles of Confederation – Ratified in 1781; wage war, make treaties, and borrow money; couldn’t tax


Constitutional Convention (terms below)


Postwar Problems – economic depression; Barbary pirates raided merchant ships


Secret Meeting – young wealthy men; none from Rhode Island or radicals; kept convention a secret

Madison Takes Charge – advocated for a central government; Separation of powers; Articles would be thrown out


Great Compromise – Virginia = proportional; New Jersey = equal rep; Great Compromise = house of rep and senate


Executive Decision – Electoral College; president was commander in chief, diplomat, veto laws


Three-Fifths Compromise – Northwest Ordinance; end importation of slaves in 1808; slaves counted for 3/5 of a person


New Set of Laws – Land Ordinance = pay off national debt with land; Northwest Ordinance = guidelines for attaining statehood; slavery banned north of the Ohio River


Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists – Federalists = constitution; Anti = strong states; Promised Bill of Rights; The Federalists Papers


Structuring the New Republic – Jefferson as secretary; Hamilton as treasurer; Knox as war; Randolph as attorney general; known as cabinet members; Judiciary Act of 1789


Internal Issues – Indian uprisings as America expanded West; Whiskey Rebellion; Public Land Act = clear procedures for settlement


Hamilton Fixes Finances – debt repayment, stable currency, and banking system; pay all debts plus interest


Disagreement over Bank – Jefferson opposed bank; elastic clause; Anti-Federalists became Democratic-Republicans


Foreign Policy – Neutrality Proclamation for the French Revolution; led to impressing sailors; Jay’s Treaty removed British forts in the West


XYZ Affair and Avoiding War – delegates arrived in France and were confronted by 3 agents demanding money; Convention of 1800 ended Franco-American Alliance

Alien and Sedition Acts – Alien Acts = 14 years to become a citizen; Sedition Act = illegal to criticize the president


Revolution of 1800 – Jefferson and Burr tied in election; Hamilton swayed vote towards Jefferson; peaceful transfer from Federalists to Democratic-Republicans


Jefferson’s Challenges – Yazoo Land Controversy (Mississippi) saw it as a bribe


Louisiana Purchase – brought from Napoleon for $15 million and doubled the size of America; Lewis and Clark explored and documented the West


Marshall Court – Adams appointed “midnight judges;” established Judicial Review; Jefferson tried to impeach Federalist judges but failed


Battles with Aaron Burr – Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel and killed him; Burr Conspiracy = take Mexico from Spain


Jefferson and Troubles Abroad – Tripolitan War = fought pirates for 4 years; France and Britain confiscated merchant ships; Embargo Act = prohibited foreign trade – repealed in 2 years


The War of 1812 – Second war of Independence; Battle of New Orleans fought after war was over Treaty of Ghent = pre-war boundaries; started the industrial revolution


Ideology Divides the U.S. – Split between New England and the rest of the nation; Hartford Convention


Era of Good Feelings – James Monroe as president; very patriotic time


Missouri Compromise – Tallmadge Amendment = emancipation of slaves at 25 and no new slaves brought in; Henry Clay created the Missouri Compromise which admitted Maine as a free state; 36° 30’ line


Temperance and America’s Health – American Temperance Society tried to end drinking; Maine Law = prohibited alcoholic beverages in the state; Dorothea Dix = instituted programs that taught prisoners job skills and increased access to religious services


Unit 3


Transportation Advances – Turnpikes connected towns; Erie Canal linked Great Lakes with the Hudson River; Steamboat in 1807; railroad before 1860; geographic division between North and South


Religious Revival – Second Great Awakening; Calvinist had a gentler approach than the Puritans; Charles Finney appealed to emotions; fire and brimstone; tent revivals; Methodists and Baptists


Immigrants/Social Structure – Irish competed for American jobs; Germans moved to frontier; nativists were against the foreign blood; led to the Know-Nothing Party


Second Party System – new democratic spirit after the Panic of 1819


Change in Electoral Process – “The Rise of the Common Man”; lower classes had political influence; eliminate property-owning requirement; citizens had more power than leaders; Anti-Masons challenged the two-party system


Mudslinging Election of 1824 – 4 Republican Party candidates; Henry Clay made John Quincy Adams president; Democrats supported Jackson; Whigs supported Henry Clay; two-party system reborn


Jackson’s Government – spoils system = supporters gained political positions; kitchen cabinet = Jackson’s unofficial cabinet; fresh opinions by rotating officials; male-only suffrage


Jackson vs. Native Americans – forced natives out of their homeland to expand west; Trail of Tears = all Cherokees removed from Georgia; 4,000 die on journey to Oklahoma


South and Tariffs – New Englanders supported Tariff of 1828; South declared it unconstitutional; South Carolina nullified Tariff of 1832 and threatened to secede; Jackson passed the Force Bill which allowed him to use military force to collect tariffs; new tariff in 1833 that slowly reduced the tariff


Bank of the U.S. – Panic of 1819 threatened Era of Good Feelings; Second Bank of U.S. tried to reduce inflation by demanding payment from state banks in hard specie; Western “wildcat” banks could pay and had to foreclose on farmers who failed to pay back their debt; led to landless farmers


Death of U.S. Bank – Jackson considered the bank a monopoly and vowed to end it; funds were removed from the U.S. bank and placed in “pet banks”; Specie Circular required all federal land to be purchased in hard specie; bank notes lost value and led to the Panic of 1837


Federal Authority Challenged – Marshall increased power of the federal government; declared that the federal government could establish the bank in McCulloch v. Maryland; declared New York could not issue a monopoly to a steamboat company in Gibbons v. Ogden


Jackson Exercises Veto Power – Jackson believed in states’ rights; Jackson vetoed more bills and refused to fund the Maysville Road Bill which only lay in one state; sought to expand democracy when it served his interests


Birth of American Culture – Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged unique American identity; Hudson River School of painting characterized American art in the early 1800s; Knickerbockers developed “American” fiction; Hawthorne sparked questions of morality with the Scarlet Letter; Express pride in their Republic by incorporating Greek columns and Roman domes


Transcendentalists, Shakers, and Oneidas – Romanticism led to transcendentalists; Thoreau wrote Walden in which he lived in the woods for 2 years; Brook Farm, a utopian community meant to practice transcendentalism, collapsed because of debt; Shakers led by “Mother” Ann Lee discouraged sex; Oneida Commune shared everything


Mormonism – Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church after translate the sacred text; Brigham Young took over after Smith was murdered; outsiders because of their differing beliefs of polygamy; Utah became a state after they dropped this practice


Abolition Movement – William Garrison founded the American Anti-Slavery Society; Liberty Party accepted women; Underground Railroad helped free many slaves; Nat Turner had a violent approach when he killed 55 white men, women, and children


Cult of Domesticity – women were define as homemakers and mothers; women’s rights movement combated the “cult”; discussed the issues at Seneca Falls; led to the Declaration of Sentiments which stated that “all men and women are created equal”


King Cotton and the Agrarian South – Cotton gin made cotton a cash crop; caused slavery to rapidly grow; Black Codes and Slave Codes were meant to oppress enslaved Africans and prevent slave revolts; plantation owners focused on driving the spirit of rebellion out of their slaves; worked as field hands, craftspeople, or house servants; Southerners who didn’t own slaves were ranked just above African-Americans


AP United States History Key Terms Explained

Welcome Juniors, Seniors, and College Students who are currently in enrolled in AP United States History (APUSH) along with anyone else looking to enlighten themselves with the history of America. As most of you are currently experiencing this, APUSH is a very intensive course filled with hours of work each week and more information to be learned than you ever thought possible. I know, I have taken this class and it was rough to say the least. So to save you from the same misery, I have collected over 100 key terms to know over the course of Units 1-3. If these helped you at all, pleased feel free to check out my new book “AP United States History Short-Answer Guide” containing answers for over 180 short-answer questions about key points over the course of 90 lessons. Enjoy!

  • Author: Ethan Koch
  • Published: 2015-12-10 03:20:07
  • Words: 2474
AP United States History Key Terms Explained AP United States History Key Terms Explained