United States History - Prehistory to Reconstruction

Uncover the political and social roots of the U.S. with this comprehensive guide to Early American History
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Instructed by James Fester Academics / Humanities
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  • Lectures 43
  • Length 11 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 9/2014 English

Course Description

James Joyce once said, "History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

Many people, both living in the United States and around the world, are interested in the history of America. A knowledge of history helps answer questions about how our country ended up where it is today, reveals the source of our diversity, and clarifies our current role and place in this vast world. Ultimately, someone who understands American history understands America, and by extension themselves.

This general survey course is intended to give participants a broad understanding of United States History from the arrival of native peoples to the end of the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War.

The course is divided into 11 thematic sections that are chronologically ordered. Each covers the people, places, ideas, and events that were most influential to our nations development. Each of these sections includes;

  • Multiple course lectures which combine carefully organized and outlined notes, images, and music to give you a broad overview of the topic.
  • A selection of carefully selected historic documents that provide the opportunity to read more about important events first-hand through the words of people who were there.
  • Each unit concludes with a quiz that tests your overall knowledge of the entire thematic unit.

This course is comparable to a full semester of college-level U.S. History, but is simplified to ensure it remains relevant to the widest audience possible. It can also be completed at your own pace, so you can breeze through it in a few weeks, or carefully analyze it over a few months.

Amateur historians, AP students looking for review material, people getting ready for vacation, and anyone else with a genuine interest in the presidents, military conflicts, social movements, locations, and everything else that is a part of our nation's story will find this course to be especially rewarding.

If you've ever wished you had a better understanding of our nation's origins, but don't want to suffer through a dry, boring textbook, this is the course for you!

What are the requirements?

  • Internet-ready device with properly upgraded software for video playback.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn about the various political, social, and economic developments that have shaped and continue to shape the United States.
  • Gain a better understanding of how compromise led to the formation of our national government.
  • Understand the role of military conflict in shaping the nation's borders and character.
  • Focus on the men and woman who's important contributions made a lasting impression on our nation and its culture.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course was originally constructed to help parents better support their student outside of the classroom.
  • It has also been enjoyed by candidates for citizenship, amature historians, and AP students looking for review material.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.



Welcome to United States History: Prehistory to Reconstruction. Check out our introductory video to get all sorts of information including course content, focus, and teaching style.

Section 1: Arrival and Collision - Prehistory to 1650

This presentation discusses the arrival of people in North America and the factors that led to the formation of eight distinct cultural regions.


In this lecture you will learn how the New World was "discovered" by Spain and their efforts to both conquor and explore what will become the United States.


The early colonization efforts of England, France, and the Netherlands are at the forefront of this lecture. We will look at the challeneges each of these nations faced in carving our their own New World Empires.

8 questions

This brief assessment will test your knowledge of Section one topics.

Section 2: English Dominion - 1600 to 1750

New England, the Middle Colonies, and the Southern Colonies. All three of these regions had unique environments, economies, people, and cultures. This lecture will explore all three to help you better understand colonial America's cultural landscape.


The roots of America's great democratic tradition, beginning with the Magna Carta of 1215, are traced by this breif lecture.


Work, Food, Social Class, Family, and Education. Learn about what all of them were like in the 1700's.

8 questions

The assessment will test your knowledge of life in the English colonies.

Section 3: The American Revolution - 1750 to 1780

The French and Indian War seemingly gave Britain control of North America, but actually set up the circumstances which eventually robbed them of their American empire.


The lectures outlines the major causes of the American Revolution and looks at them from both an American and British point of view.


What happened between the Battle of Lexington and the invasion of New York City by the British? This presentations clarifies the period of time where there was a lull in the fighting.


Learn all about the importance and deeper meaning of the Declaration of Independence.


This two-part lecture on the Revolutionary War follows the major events of the war up to the Battle of Saratoga.


The second part of our Revolutionary War lectures chronicles the conclusion of the war and the peace that followed.

6 questions

This short quiz covers the causes and course of the Revolutionary War.

Section 4: The Constitution - 1781 to 1790

Why was the Constitutional Convention called for? Learn about the catalysts that created our national government in this lecture.


The discussions, compromises, and debates that occurred during the Constitutional Convention come alive in this lecture.


How did the Bill of Rights help ensure the ratification of the Constitution? This lecture tells all about the events which led to the adoption of the Constitution.

7 questions

The convention, ratification, and Bill of Rights take center stage in this assessment.

Section 5: The Early Republic - 1790 to 1815

The beginning years of our government are outlined in this lecture. It also descibes the differences between America's first two political parties.


The contest between Federalists and Republicans is the subject of this lecture.


This lecture discusses the events that occured outside of the United States during the Washington and Adams administration and how they were dealt with.


This lecture discusses the causes, course, and conclusion of the War of 1812.

7 questions

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison star in this short quiz on our Early Republic section.

Section 6: Nationhood and National Identity - 1815 to 1836

How did the economic and judicial reforms of the Era of Good Feelings help solidify our national identy? This lecture explains just that!


How did art, literature, symbols, and music all help contribute to an American identity?


Andrew Jackson was both a heroic and villious figure. Learn how this president helped guide the country forward with a style all his own.

7 questions

Test your knowledge of Monroe, Jackson, and the emerging American identity with this quiz.

Section 7: Manifest Destiny - 1804 to 1848

America doubles in size in a few short years thanks to the aquisition of two territories. Find out how we got them both in this lecture.


Texas was the only independent republic to be willingly annexed by the U.S. The story of how it gained its independence and joined our nation is outlined in this lesson.


The challeneges of settling Oregon take center stage in this lecture.


The battle for control of California and the war that determined the future of the west is the subject of this this presentation.


Who were the people who traveled west to settle it? Find out by watching this lecture.

7 questions

The growth of the U.S. takes center stage in this quiz.

Section 8: An Era of Reform - 1820 to 1850
The Second Great Awakening and Transcendentalism
Early Reform Movements in the U.S.
Seneca Falls and the Womens Rights Movement
7 questions

Abolition, Temperence, Asylums, and Transcendentalism are all focuses of this quiz.

Section 9: The Path to Civil War - 1850 to 1860

The factors which set the North and South worlds apart is the subject of this lecture.


Exploring the evolution and economics of slavery is what this lecture does.


How did slave masters control their slaves? How did slaves fight back against impossible odd? Find out in this presentation.


What caused the Union to fall to pieces? This presentation explores this topic up to the year 1852.


How did the Civil War begin? In this lecture we will trace the origins of the war right up to its explosive beginnings.

7 questions

This quiz is an excellent way to test your knowledge of slavery and other causes of the American Civil War.

Section 10: The American Civil War - 1861 to 1865

Industry, military power, population. What strengths did each side have at the outset of the Civil War?


The first two climactic clashes of the Civil War, Bull Run and Antietam, take focus in this lecture.


This presentation focuses on the results of the Civil Wars most crucial turning points; Gettysburg and Vicksburg.


America's bloodiest conflict comes to an end in this final presentation.

7 questions

How much did you learn about the War between the States? Take this quiz and find out!

Section 11: The Reconstruction Era - 1865 to 1876
Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction
Reversing Reconstruction in the Jim Crow South
6 questions

Your final quiz challeneges your knowledge of the Reconstruciton period.

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Instructor Biography

James Fester, Educator, Historian, and Nat'l Park Guide

James Fester earned a B.A. in history from Cal State Long Beach and holds Social Studies teaching certificates in two states. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has taught history to people of all ages for over 15 years. For the last 8 years he has taught U.S. History as a public school teacher. In addition to teaching and developing technology-based, blended-learning curriculum for K-12 schools, he has volunteered as an interpreter for both California State Parks and the County of San Diego.

When he's not in the classroom, James works as a guide for a company specializing in using our nation's national parks as science classrooms. He's led students from multiple states into parks like Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Grand Teton.

He also writes on a number of topics relating to history. Currently, he is developing a podcast on historic landmarks in California and across the U.S.

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