United States History I – Certificate Course


This lifelong-learning course covers United States history through 1877, taking students from pre-Columbian events through the Civil War.  To earn a Certificate of Completion for this course, you must complete all of the content in the course lessons, as well as earn a passing grade of at least 80% on each of the 14 module quizzes.  This course is not eligible for college credit.  Click here if you are interested in our college credit course. 

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United States History I:  pre-Columbian through 1877


United States History I covers U.S. history through 1877, taking students from pre-Columbian events through the Civil War. The course introduces students to the major themes that have defined the United States as a nation and culture, and shows students how these times remain relevant in their everyday lives.

This is a self-paced online course. It contains 14 modules, each with multiple lessons that support varied approaches to help a student learn and engage with the topic, including readings, video, and a knowledge-check quiz.

To earn a Certificate of Completion for this course, you must compete all of the content in the course lessons, as well as earn a passing grade of at least 80% on each of the 14 module quizzes.

Course Outcomes

This course focuses on the following learning outcomes. By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Interpret timelines of key historical periods, events, people, and locations related to U.S. History from the pre-Columbian era through 1877.
  • Analyze the importance of context and point of view in historical interpretation; recognize that historians interpret the same events differently due to personal values and societal norms.
  • Identify, analyze, and understand elements of historical cause and effect; recognize and understand patterns of change and continuity in history.
  • Develop journal entries or other written evidence of learning that address open-ended historical questions that can be addressed through historical research and interpretation.
  • Apply terms relevant to the content appropriately and accurately.

Technology Requirements

This course is delivered fully online and you will be required to have access to a computer, laptop, or web-capable mobile device – along with consistent access to the internet – to access course material and complete assignments.

Review the information below to ensure your system meets the minimum requirements necessary to complete a course for credit.  

PC Requirements


  • Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD 64×2 Dual-Core) processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • 1024×768 resolution monitor
  • Soundcard with microphone and speakers
  • Built-in or external webcam
  • Broadband internet connection
  • Browser with pop-up blocker disabled


  • Windows 7 or above

Macintosh Requirements


  • Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD 64×2 Dual-Core) processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • 1024×768 resolution monitor
  • Soundcard with microphone and speakers
  • Built-in or external webcam
  • Broadband internet connection
  • Browser with pop-up blocker disabled


  • Mac OS 10.6 “Snow Leopard” or above

Tablet or Smartphone


  • 2 GHz process or faster
  • 1 GB RAM or greater
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • Microphone and speakers
  • Wireless internet connection

Course Outline


Module 1 – First Americans

Early American Civilizations “North America

  • Human Migratory Paths
  • North American tribes
  • The Three Agricultural Sisters
  • Matrilineal kinship
  • Aztecs
  • Mayas
  • Incas

European Crusades: A Desire for Trade “Luxuries

  • The Crusades
  • The Outcomes of the Crusades
  • The Renaissance
  • Humanism
  • The Silk Road
  • The appeal of exploration

European Trade and Exploration

  • Portuguese navigational advances
  • Portuguese Exploration
  • The Spice Trade
  • Spanish Reconquista
  • The African Kingdoms
  • Treaty of Tordesillas
  • African Slave Trade

Columbus in the Americas

  • Columbus Travels to “The New World”
  • Columbus’ Subsequent Trips
  • Spanish Conquest of Central and South America
  • The Exchange of Crops
  • The Exchange of Diseases
  • The Exchange of Animals

Module 2 – Colonization in North America

Spanish and Portuguese Plantation Colonies

  • Spanish colonies
  • Viceroyalties
  • Encomiendo systems
  • Portuguese settlements
  • Plantation-style economy
  • Plantation colonies in the Caribbean
  • Slave trade

Neo-European Influence in the Colonies

  • The French in the Americas
  • The Dutch in the Americas
  • Neo-European Colonies
  • Our Cultural DNA

English Settlements in North America

  • Jamestown
  • Roanoke
  • The Tobacco Colonies – Virginia and Maryland
  • The Myth and Reality of Pocahontas
  • Early Colonial Labor
  • Indentured servitude

The Growing African Slave Trade

  • The Transition to Slavery
  • The Growth of Slavery
  • The Middle Passage
  • Chattel Slavery
  • Slave Roles
  • Slave Life on the Farm and in the Town

Module 3 – A Clash of Cultures: Conflicts with the Native Americans

Interactions with the Native Americans

  • The Anglo-Powhatan Wars
  • Puritan Relationships with Native Peoples
  • Early Conflicts
  • Missionaries
  • Metacom’s War

English Colonies: Politically and Economically

  • Politically Differentiated Colonies
  • New England
  • The Middle Colonies
  • The Southern Colonies
  • Restoration Colonies
  • Tobacco Colonies
  • Slavery’s Eccentricities

Mercantilism and Imperial Dominion

  • Trade Barriers
  • Regulations
  • Tariffs
  • Subsidies
  • The Navigation Acts
  • The Dominion of New England
  • Restoration of Charles II

The Glorious Revolution

  • James II
  • The Glorious Revolution
  • The Social Contract
  • English Liberty
  • Colonists’ Response to the Glorious Revolution
  • British Bill of Rights
  • Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
  • Aftermath of the Glorious Revolution
  • The Province of Massachusetts Bay

Module 4 – The Colonies: A New People and a New Identity

The First Great Awakening and the Enlightenment

  • Spiritual Revival
  • New Political Beliefs
  • The Enlightenment
  • Religion in America

Northern Colonies Culture and Climate

  • The Upper Class
  • The Middle Class
  • The Lower Class
  • Massachusetts Bay
  • Connecticut

Middle Colonies Culture and Climate

  • Population and Economic Growth
  • Labor Patterns
  • The Church of England
  • The Wesley Brothers
  • George Whitefield
  • The Great Awakening
  • Jonathan Edwards

Southern Colonies Culture and Climate

  • Life in the Plantation South
  • Plantation Owners
  • The Middle Class
  • The Lower Class
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Carolinas

Pre-Revolution Slave Ecology

  • The Triangle Slave Trade
  • Molasses to Slaves
  • Rum
  • A Slave Ecology
  • Royal African Company
  • The Stono Rebellion

Women’s Roles and Women’s Rights

  • Rights and Roles Across the Colonies
  • The Role of Housewife
  • Real Women in the Colonial World
  • The Beginning of the Hysteria

Module 5 – A Growing Competition: England and France

The Seven Years’ War

  • Conflict Between Empires
  • The Seven Years War
  • Treaty of Paris
  • George Washington

British Efforts at Peace with Native Americans

  • Great Britians War Strategies
  • Pontiac’s Rebellion
  • The Paxton Boys
  • The Royal Proclamation of 1763

Change in Great Britain’s National Finances

  • The British National Debt
  • Imperial Reforms
  • The Currency Act
  • The Sugar Act
  • The British Constitution
  • The Problems
  • “Virtual Representation”
  • Newton’s Third Law

British Control and Colonial Resistance

  • The Quartering Act of 1765
  • Resistance to the Act
  • The Quartering Act of 1774
  • The Third Amendment
  • The Stamp Act of 1765
  • The Townshend Acts

Boston Rebels and the British Response

  • The Boston Massacre
  • The Massacre
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • The Coercive Acts
  • The Quebec Act

British Coercion and the Continental Congress

  • First Continental Congress
  • Declaration of Rights
  • Lexington
  • Concord
  • Benedict Arnold
  • Second Continental Congress
  • The Declaration of Independence

Module 6 – The American Revolution

The Early War in New England and the Mid-Atlantic

  • Battle of Bunker/Breed’s Hill
  • Quebec
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • British Blockade
  • The Revolution on the Home Front
  • The Economic Consequences of the War

Women and the Revolution

  • Colonial Women
  • The Homespun Movement
  • The Republican Motherhood
  • Women’s Organizations
  • Women in the Army
  • Benefits of Republican Motherhood
  • Native American Women
  • African American Women

The South: Diplomatic and Military Alliances

  • Valley Forge
  • Treaty of Alliance
  • French and Spanish Join the War
  • British Southern Strategy
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Battle of Pensacola
  • Battle of Charleston
  • Battle of Camden
  • Battle of Guilford Courthouse

Yorktown and an American Victory

  • The Siege of Yorktown
  • The Treaty of Paris
  • Keys to the Colonial Victory


Module 7 – A New Nation and a New Government

The Impact of the Revolution

  • The Loyalists
  • The Slaves
  • The Women
  • The Native Americans
  • Replacing the Charters
  • State Constitutions

The Articles of Confederation

  • The Articles of Confederation
  • A Partial Solution to Inflation
  • Bank of North America
  • The Economic Crisis of the 1780s
  • Shay’s Rebellion

The Constitutional Convention

  • Constitutional Convention
  • Virginia Plan
  • New Jersey Plan
  • The Great (Connecticut) Compromise
  • The Three-Fifths Slavery Compromise
  • The Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise
  • A Constitution of Compromises

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

  • The Federalists
  • The Anti-Federalists
  • The Effect of the Constitution


Module 8 – A New Nation: Growing Pains and Internal Changes

The First Election and the Federalist Government

  • President George Washington
  • The First Congress
  • The Bill of Rights
  • Ten Amendments
  • Rights and Protections Guaranteed in the Bill of Rights

Divided Government

  • Jefferson vs. Hamilton’s Fiscal Policies
  • Bank of the United States
  • Whiskey Rebellion
  • Federalist vs. Anti-federalist
  • The Election of 1796

The Birth of Political Parties

  • Two Party System
  • Federalist Party
  • Democractic – Republican Party
  • The Quasi War
  • The XYZ Affair
  • Alien and Sedition Acts
  • Adams and Jefferson

The Adams Years

  • The Whiskey Rebellion
  • Washington’s Response
  • The Western Confederacy
  • The French Revolution
  • The Citizen Genêt Affair
  • The British Response
  • Jay’s Treaty

Anti-Federalists and Expansionism

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Era of Good Feelings
  • Washington, D.C.


Module 9 – Madison, Monroe, and JQA: The Triumph of Personalities

Conflict with Europe: The War of 1812

  • The “Left-Handed Slapdash” War of 1812
  • The Hartford Convention
  • The Embargo Act of 1807
  • Dolley Madison
  • British Burn DC
  • Treaty of Ghent
  • Battle of New Orleans

Republicanism: Social Consciousness

  • Expanding Voting Rights
  • Republicanism
  • Egalitarianism
  • New Roles for Women
  • The Domestic Slave Trade
  • The Slave Experience

Westward Growth

  • Westward Expansion
  • Tallmadge Amendment
  • The Missouri Compromise
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act
  • Denmark Vesey
  • King Cotton

Industrial and Transportation Revolutions

  • American Textile Industry
  • Factory Systems
  • Boston Associates
  • Lowell Girls
  • Market Revolution
  • Transportation Infrastructure


Module 10 – A Jacksonian Democracy and Political Expansion

The Election of 1824

  • “The Era of Good Feelings”
  • President John Quincy Adams

Rise of Federal and Party Politics

  • Jacksonian Democracy
  • The Jackson Kitchen Cabinet
  • The Adultery Allegation
  • The Spoils System
  • Pendelton Act
  • Second Party System
  • Whig Party
  • The Petticoat Affair

The Tariff Wars and the Nullification Crisis

  • Tariffs
  • Nullification Proclamation
  • Compromise Tariff of 1833
  • The Great Schism

The Darkside of Jackson’s Impact

  • The 1830 Indian Removal Act
  • Trail of Tears
  • Black Hawk’s War
  • Chief Justice Taney’s Supreme Court
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

Southern Traditions and Slavery

  • Life in Antebellum South
  • Southern Code
  • Southern Economies and Hierarchy
  • Slave Uprisings
  • Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey
  • Slave Codes
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Southerner’s Defense of Slavery

The Mexican-American War and the West

  • Texas
  • The Compromise Oregon
  • Manifest Destiny
  • President Polk
  • Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo
  • California Gold Rush

Compromise of 1850 and Kansas-Nebraska

  • The Compromise of 1850
  • Sectionalism
  • Popular Sovereignty
  • Wilmot Proviso
  • Free Soil Party
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
  • Bloody Kansas


Module 11 – Alterations to the American Psyche

The Changing Role of Women

  • Seneca Falls Convention
  • The Temperance Movement
  • Abolition Movement
  • Women’s Suffrage
  • The Grimké Sisters
  • The Declaration of Rights And Sentiments
  • Feminism

Utopianism and Transcendentalism

  • Religious Utopian Communities
  • Rappites
  • Shakers
  • Oneida Community
  • Secular Utopian Societies
  • Brook Farm
  • Owenites
  • Fourierists
  • Transcendentalism

Reforms for the Body and the Soul

  • The Second Great Awakening
  • Abolitionism
  • Sylvester Graham
  • William Lloyd Garrison
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Phrenology

Immigration, Economic Classes, and Entertainment

  • The Economic Elite
  • The Middle Class
  • The Working Class
  • The Great Famine
  • The First Wave of Immigration
  • Entertainment in America

Module 12 – The Irreconcilable Divide: Causes/Issues and Secession

Sectionalism and the Fugitive Slave Act

  • The Fugitive Slave
  • Slave Power
  • Sectionalism
  • Slavery-related violence

Abolitionists and Politics: Lincoln-Douglas Debates

  • The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
  • The Freeport Doctrine
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford
  • Know-Nothing Party

The Election of 1860

  • The Election of 1860
  • Constitutional Union Party
  • Democratic Party
  • The Lincoln Myth
  • John Brown’s Raid

The South Secedes

  • Crittenden Compromise
  • The Corwin Amendment
  • Lincoln’s Inauguration
  • Southern States Secede
  • Border States
  • Fort Sumter


Module 13 – The War Between the States

Military Conflict: North vs. South

  • The First Battle Of Bull Run/Manassas
  • Stonewall Jackson
  • Major General McClellan
  • Confederate Advantages
  • Union Advantages

Total War at Home and on the Battlefield

  • Total War
  • Confederate Mobilization
  • Union Mobilization
  • Women’s Mobilization
  • The Confederates
  • The Union

From Confederate Success to Union Momentum

  • Military Stalemate in the East
  • The Battle of Antietam
  • Union Success in the West
  • Vicksburg
  • Gettysburg
  • Emancipation Proclamation

Final Battles: Climax and Conclusion

  • It’s the End of the War
  • Anaconda Plan
  • Appotmattox Courthouse
  • The Emancipation Proclamation

Module 14 – Rebuilding the New South

Reconstruction: The Beginning

  • Lincoln’s Ten Precent Plan
  • Radical Republicans
  • Ironclad Oath
  • The 13th Amendment
  • Lincoln’s Assassination
  • President Johnson
  • Freedman’s Bureau
  • Black Codes
  • 1866 Civil Rights Act

Reconstruction: A Constitution Amended and a President Impeached

  • The Reconstruction Acts
  • The 15th Amendment
  • The 14th Amendment
  • The Impeachment of President Johnson

Reconstruction: African American Successes

  • Union Leagues
  • African American Political Achievements
  • Indian Wars in 1876
  • Women’s Suffrage

Reconstruction: The KKK and the End of Reconstruction

  • The Ku Klux Klan
  • The Enforcement Acts
  • Redeemers
  • President Grant
  • The End Of Reconstruction
  • The Rise of Sharecropping


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      The grade for these courses is based upon:

      • Participation and completion of each lesson = 10% of the final grade
      • Graded module quizzes = 15% of the final grade
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      • Complete each lesson, including the Check Your Knowledge activity.
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