United States History - Prehistory to Reconstruction
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United States History - Prehistory to Reconstruction

Uncover the political and social roots of the U.S. with this comprehensive guide to Early American History
4.5 (39 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
234 students enrolled
Created by James Fester
Last updated 9/2014
Current price: $12 Original price: $20 Discount: 40% off
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  • 11 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion

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What Will I Learn?
  • 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.
View Curriculum
  • Internet-ready device with properly upgraded software for video playback.

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 US 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!

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.
Compare to Other U.S. History Courses
Curriculum For This Course
43 Lectures
Course Introduction
1 Lecture 02:04

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.

Preview 02:04
Arrival and Collision - Prehistory to 1650
3 Lectures 57:26

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

Preview 24:45

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.

European Exploration and Conquest - The Spanish

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.

European Exploration and Conquest - England, France, and the Netherlands

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

Native American and European Arrival Quiz
8 questions
English Dominion - 1600 to 1750
3 Lectures 55:36

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 Geography and Culture of the Thirteen Colonies

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

The Development of English Law

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

Life in the English Colonies

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

English Colonies Quiz
8 questions
The American Revolution - 1750 to 1780
6 Lectures 01:34:08

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 French and Indian War

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

Causes of the American Revolution

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.

War or Peace? The Second Continental Congress

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

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 Revolutionary War - New York to Saratoga

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

The Revolutionary War - Valley Forge to The Peace

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

American Revolution Quiz
6 questions
The Constitution - 1781 to 1790
3 Lectures 40:40

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

Are We To Be A Nation? - The Call for a Convention

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

A More Perfect Union - The Constitutional Convention

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.

The Bill of Rights and Ratification

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

The Constitution Quiz
7 questions
The Early Republic - 1790 to 1815
4 Lectures 59:58

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

The Presidency of George Washington

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

The Presidencies of Adams and Jefferson

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

Foreign Policy in the Early Republic

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

The War of 1812

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

Early Republic Quiz
7 questions
Nationhood and National Identity - 1815 to 1836
3 Lectures 01:00:20

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

Monroe and The Era of Good Feelings

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

The American Identity and Popular Culture

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

The Jacksonian Age

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

National Identity Quiz
7 questions
Manifest Destiny - 1804 to 1848
5 Lectures 01:15:05

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.

Louisiana and Florida

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 Texas War of Independence

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

The Oregon Trail

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

The Mexican-American War

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

The People of the West

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

Manifest Destiny Quiz
7 questions
An Era of Reform - 1820 to 1850
4 Lectures 01:01:21
The Second Great Awakening and Transcendentalism

Early Reform Movements in the U.S.

Seneca Falls and the Womens Rights Movement


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

Reform Era Quiz
7 questions
The Path to Civil War - 1850 to 1860
5 Lectures 01:07:11

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

Geography, Economy, and Culture of the North and South

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

Slavery - The Economics of Slavery

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

Slavery - Control, Resistance, and Defense

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

Causes of the Civil War I - Constitution to Compromise of 1850

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

Causes of the Civil War II - Kansas/Nebraska to Fort Sumter

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

Slavery and The Causes of the Civil War Quiz
7 questions
2 More Sections
About the Instructor
James Fester
4.4 Average rating
43 Reviews
265 Students
2 Courses
Educator and Historian

James Fester earned a B.A. in history from Cal State Long Beach and holds a teaching certificates in California. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has taught history to people of all ages for over 16 years. For the last 10 years he has taught U.S. History as a public school teacher. Currently, he works as a teacher coach helping teachers who are new to the profession begin their career successfully. In addition to teaching and developing blended-learning curriculum for K-12 schools, he has volunteered as an interpreter for both California State Parks, National Parks, and the County of San Diego.

In addition to his work in the classroom, he is a technology trainer and consultant who has presented to educators across the United States on topics ranging from Google Apps, Project-Based Learning, and many other topics. He is Google Certified, a Common Sense Media Digital Ambassador, an Apple Teacher, and is currently service as president of the NorthBay chapter of CUE.

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 and technology. Currently, he is developing a podcast on historic landmarks in California and across the U.S.