From Unity to Division: The Colonies to the Civil War

Recommended Ages: 11-17 (Class is offered in two levels)
Start Date: January 9. Class runs for 12 weeks. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete all work. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.
Fee: $150
Instructor: Dylan Monshaugen
Grading: Optional
This class will be focused primarily on early American history. It will be starting with the prehistoric beginnings of the continent and shifting quickly into some American Indian life. When the first two colonies are introduced, the class will begin to take off. We will be analyzing these starting settlements and the consequences of their differences and similarities. These colonies will be the focal point of the class as we study through the rest of early American history. The motivations, push-pull factors, successes, failures, and early dealings with the Native Americans will all be studied during the section on the colonies. All of these factors will lay the foundations for the early schisms between the North and the South and the Civil War itself.
From the early colonies we will jump off into American history. We will be moving through all of the aspects of early American history: from the dealings with the native population to the dealings with European and African nations on to the American Revolution, early government, and the Antebellum south. Each separate aspect we cover will be reverting back to the original colonies’ ideals and practices. These original colonies at Jamestown and Plymouth set the groundwork for much of American history, especially early on. Finally, the class will end on the Civil War. By the end of the class, the student will have a firm understanding of early American history up until the Civil War. They should also be able to connect the influence the original American colonies had on the history covered in the class. Finally, I may be asking the students to analyze events after the Civil War and how they may have been affected by the colonies. I hope to make this class an objective view of the history of the early United States from a culturally relative perspective.
Week-by-week Breakdown
Week 1
Prehistoric American History.
This section will cover aspects such as historical geography, how the native cultures moved into the Americas and their dissemination through the continents, and what the landscape was like shortly before European arrival.
Week 2
Early European Colonization
Week 2 will touch on the early European colonization in the Americas before English colonization in the present day United States. The focus will be primarily on the Spanish influence and characters such as Christopher Columbus and Coronado. Their interactions with the Native cultures will also be heavily discussed. These interactions would set the tones for further meetings between the natives and the Europeans. We will also discuss the somewhat mysterious disappearance of the first English colony in the Americas at Roanoke. These first two weeks will lay the necessary foundations to further dive into the real meat of the class.
Week 3
The Jamestown Colony and Virginia
This week will be the first step into the class and the history of the United States itself. The first successful British colony in the Americas set the stage for English expansion into the continent. The motivations and people behind Jamestown would set the stage for the South. The harsh geography would also shape the people and society in a way that would eventually become the South. As always, the colonists interactions with Native Americans will also be studied.
Week 4
Plymouth and the Massachusett’s Bay Colonies
These colonies differed from the Virginia colonies in that the colonists were seeking a new haven for their religion. As such, religious values and family units were valued above the lust for wealth of those in Virginia. The dealings with Native Americans are important in American history, and as with most sections will also be covered here. These differences and others will be the main area of study for this week of the class.
Week 5
Colonial America and the Seven Years’ War
While weeks 3 and 4 focus mainly on the early American colonies, this week will look at what colonial life was like up until the American Revolution. The struggles and hardships for both Europeans and Native Americans involved in expanding a few colonies into 13 state sized colonies will be the focal point. The unit will end with the first global war, the Seven Years’ War (often called the French-Indian War).
Week 6
The American Revolution
This unit will begin with the reasons for the American Revolution. The friction between the British and the British colonists in the Americas from the Seven Years’ War will be the main focus in the beginning. Then we will progress through the early battles at Lexington and Concord and into the American Revolution. This section will be mainly a focus on the battles and the effects of the victories and losses.
Week 7
The Early Governments of the United States
This week we will study the effects of the American Revolution. How did the government we have now work in its early stages? How did it come to be? We will cover both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. This section will also talk about the first few American presidents and what they did for the office of president. This will be a small run into American government.
Week 8
Westward Expansion
This week we will be studying western expansion pre-Civil War. The gold and silver rushes to the Rocky Mountains and California will be looked at. The Mexican-American War and the fights over Texas will also be a part of this unit. Native American relations will also play a critical role, as this is the time frame of reservations and the Trail of Tears.
Week 9
The Antebellum South
This section will be focusing on the pre Civil War South. The society, economy, infrastructure, and the dependency on slavery will all be covered. Jamestown’s direct lines to the South will also be studied extensively. This era is important to setting up the Civil War.
Week 10
The North
Similar to the previous week, this week will be an overview of the pre-Civil War North, also known as the “Free States.” Their economy, society, and infrastructure are all key to the Civil War and their eventual victory. Both Week 9 and 10 will help set the framework for the eventual Civil War.
Week 11
The Rumblings of War
While the two previous weeks set up the tensions, this week will provide the immediate set up for the Civil War. The many laws, court decisions, and elections that preceded the Civil War were key in igniting the powder keg. This week will come to a conclusion with the Southern secession and the government of the Confederacy. That will lead into the final week of the course: the Civil War.
Week 12
The Civil War and the Consequences
The final week of the class will end with the Civil War. The focus will be on the many battles, primarily in the South. It will also cover what the governments were working on and famous speeches and laws like the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. The surrender of General Lee to General Grant will wrap up the Civil War. The Reconstruction will be touched on a little, but the consequences of that would require another class itself!
This is an 12 week class that begins on January 9 and ends March 27. Students have 2 weeks after that date to complete all work.
I will post all lesson plans and homework assignments on Tuesdays by 5pm PST. Discussion occurs throughout the week, as students interact with the instructor and other students via our online message board. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.

Cost: The total fee for the 12 classes is $150
Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated for students who prefer to hear material read to them. There is no textbook for this course. Material is the same for both levels, it’s the depth of the assignments that are the main difference. Generally, there are a few hands on projects for the students to choose from, allowing them to truly engage with the material they have learned. Younger students 11-13 should usually be placed in Level 1. Students ages 14 and up, or younger students who are academically gifted, should be placed in Level 2. Level 2 students will have more rigorous homework. In general, expect 1-1.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).
When you enroll, you have the option of having your student graded or not. ALL students will have access to our online learning system where they can view their lesson plan and assignments, take optional quizzes, access our discussion board, submit assignments, and view instructor feedback on those assignments. Graded students will be required to take the weekly quiz and will receive a number grade for their work in addition to feedback. Please note: All quizzes and some homework assignments that require an online “quiz” like entry will receive a grade.
This is history, not math. There is not a right and wrong, black and white answer to everything! So much in history can be subjective and argued over endlessly. I’m presenting the facts the best I can from various sources I’ve researched. I don’t consider any history book to be 100% accurate. It’s impossible. And same with this course. I compiled my research and put together the most authentic story I could, considering I wasn’t personally privy to the goings on during this time period. 😉
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