Welcome to U.S. History, an OpenStax resource. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.
U.S. History is designed for a two-semester American history sequence. It is traditional in coverage, following a roughly chronological outline, and using a balanced approach that includes political, economic, social, and cultural developments. At the same time, the book includes a number of innovative and interactive features designed to enhance student learning. Instructors can also customize the book, adapting it to the approach that works best in their classroom.
About U.S. History
U.S. History is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of most introductory courses. The text provides 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). U.S. History covers key forces that form the American experience, with particular attention to issues of race, class, and gender.
Coverage and scope
To develop U.S. History, we solicited ideas from historians at all levels of higher education, from community colleges to PhD-granting universities. They told us about their courses, students, challenges, resources, and how a textbook can best meet the needs of them and their students.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.
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.
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
U.S. History features material that takes topics one step further to engage students in historical inquiry. 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 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
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 and reasoning about the concepts pushing students to places they wouldn't have thought of going themselves.
About the Authors
Senior Contributing Authors
P. Scott Corbett, Ventura College
Dr. Corbett's major fields of study are recent American history and American diplomatic history. He teaches a variety of courses at Ventura College, and he serves as an instructor at California State University's Channel Islands campus. A passionate educator, Scott has also taught history to university students in Singapore and China.
Volker Janssen, California State University–Fullerton
Born and raised in Germany, Dr. Janssen received his BA from the University of Hamburg and his MA and PhD from the University of California, San Diego. He is a former Fulbright scholar and an active member of Germany's advanced studies foundation "Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes." Volker currently serves as Associate Professor at California State University's Fullerton campus, where he specializes in the social, economic, and institutional history of California, and more recently, the history of technology.
John M. Lund, Keene State College
Dr. Lund's primary research focuses on early American history, with a special interest in oaths, Colonial New England, and Atlantic legal cultures. John has over 20 years of teaching experience. In addition to working with students at Keene State College, he lectures at Franklin Pierce University, and serves the online learning community at Southern New Hampshire University.
Todd Pfannestiel, Clarion University
Dr. Pfannestiel is a Professor in the history department of Clarion University in Pennsylvania, where he also holds the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Todd has a strong history of service to his institution, its students, and the community that surrounds it.
Paul Vickery, Oral Roberts University
Educating others is one of Dr. Vickery's delights, whether in the classroom, through authoring books and articles, or via informal teaching during his travels. He is currently Professor of History at Oral Roberts University, where his emphasis is on the history of ideas, ethics, and the role of the church and theology in national development. Paul reads Portuguese, Italian, French, and Hebrew, and has taught on five continents.
Sylvie Waskiewicz, Lead Editor
Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. With over 10 years of teaching experience in English and French history and language, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spent the last eight years editing college textbooks and academic journals.
Amy Bix, Iowa State University
Edward Bond, Alabama A&M University Tammy Byron, Dalton State College Benjamin Carp, Brooklyn College, CUNY Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College Gene Fein, Fordham University
Joel Franks, San Jose State University Raymond Frey, Centenary College
Richard Gianni, Indiana University Northwest
Larry Gragg, Missouri University of Science and Technology Laura Graves, South Plains College
Elisa Guernsey, Monroe Community College Thomas Chase Hagood, University of Georgia Charlotte Haller, Worcester State University David Head, Spring Hill College
Tamora Hoskisson, Salt Lake Community College Jean Keller, Palomar College
Kathleen Kennedy, Missouri State University Mark Klobas, Scottsdale Community College Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University
Stephanie Laffer, Miami International University of Art and Design Jennifer Lang, Delgado Community College
Jennifer Lawrence, Tarrant County College Wendy Maier-Sarti, Oakton Community College Jim McIntyre, Moraine Valley Community College
Marianne McKnight, Salt Lake Community College Brandon Morgan, Central New Mexico Community College Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio
Michelle Novak, Houston Community College Lisa Ossian, Des Moines Area Community College Paul Ringel, High Point University
Jason Ripper, Everett Community College Silvana Siddali, Saint Louis University Brooks Simpson, Arizona State University
Steven Smith, California State University, Fullerton David Trowbridge, Marshall University
Eugene Van Sickle, University of North Georgia Hubert van Tuyll, Augusta State University