Unit 4: 1800 - 1848

Unit 4 Key Concepts

  • 4.1 The United States began to develop a modern democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation's democratic ideals and change their society and institutions to match them. 
  • 4.2 Innovations in technology, agriculture, and commerce powerfully accelerated the American economy, precipitating profound changes to U.S. society and to national and regional identities. 
  • 4.3 The U.S. interest in increasing foreign trade and expanding its national borders shaped the nation's foreign policy and spurred government and private initiatives. 
Unit 4 focuses on the time period from the election of 1800 to the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Period 4 is primarily a period of gradual change that lays the foundation for later periods. 

By this point in American history, the U.S. Constitution was firmly the law of the land. However, the new country needed to figure out the limits of the Constitution and work to shape itself into a modern democracy. One of the first steps was to establish the idea of judicial review as a way for the judicial branch to check the power of the legislative and executive branches. The American democracy also expanded its democratic participation to gradually include all [free] men.

Beginning in the early 1900s, Americans also began to think of themselves as Americans—not British, or colonists, or settlers in different communities. As part of this movement, artists began to use distinctively American styles to paint landscapes. Likewise, a distinctive American religious identity started to emerge in the Second Great Awakening.

Economically, the United States began to change from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy. There were several important inventions during this time that helped the transition, including the invention of the telegraph and textile machinery. Henry Clay’s American System ensured that goods and services could move quickly around the country. The North gradually became a major industrial center. The South maintained its agricultural character with large plantations fueled by slave labor. While the division between North and South started with these economic differences, the two areas gradually came to develop distinct cultural identities and worldviews.

Americans continued to expand westward. As a result of this, Native Americans were continually displaced and treated unfairly by the federal government. Many were forcibly relocated onto reservation lands in Oklahoma and the American southwest. The federal government purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 and doubled the size of the country overnight.

Unit 4 Review Resources

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Ms. Dickie's Review Video

Ms. Dickie discusses these units in a thematic way which will help best with the written response questions. This time period has more information so the videos are split into multiple parts: 

Unit 4 - Part 1: Jefferson's Administration, Causes and Impact of the War of 1812, Madison's Administration, Sectional Tensions, Rise of Democracy in America, & Jackson's Administration
Unit 4 - Part 2: Comparing the Great Awakenings, Reform Movements, Market Revolution, Nativism, Compare Political Parties

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Heimler's History

Steve Heimler covers the most important ideas from this unit in one video about 30 minutes long. 

If you would like to rewatch videos from this unit based on the key concepts, then view this playlist here: Unit 4 Playlist

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APUSH Review with Adam Norris

A review of this entire time period in a 10 minute video. These videos have notes on the screen which may be helpful when writing down key ideas. 

If you like these, here are some more from this time period focusing on specific topics: More Period 4 Videos 

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Khan Academy

This includes quick summaries of important topics in written and video form and short quizzes to test your understanding. Khan Academy is free to use and if you plan on using this often it might be helpful to create an account to keep track of your progress. View Unit 4 content here

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Gilder Lehrman

This video covers the growth and expansion of America and the American spirit. These videos include a summary of key ideas as well as a description of some documents you might see on the exam. 

Period 4 Timeline: Includes documents and key events. 

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Crash Course

John Green has a series of videos for each unit that are not specifically APUSH related but cover important topics you will see on the exam. He talks very fast but if you like these videos there are several for each time period. View the topics from this unit below: 

War of 1812
Market Revolution
Reform Movements
Women in the 19th Century

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Use the following to create your own flashcards: 

APUSH Review Flashcards PDF

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The United States 1800-1848

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