The American Revolution & Establishment of Democracy (1754-1800)
In AP U.S. History, time period 3 spans from 1754 to 1800 CE. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for the Revolutionary war, focus on the key concepts and use the essential questions to guide you.
Period 3 Dates to Know
1754–1763 – Seven Years’ War
1763 – Proclamation of 1763
1765 – Stamp Act
1770 – Boston Massacre
1773 – Boston Tea Party
1775 – Lexington & Concord
1776 – Dec. of Independence
1777 – Battle of Saratoga
1781 – Battle of Yorktown
1783 – Treaty of Paris
1787 – Constitutional Convention
1788 – Washington’s Election
1798 – XYZ Affair
1798 – Alien & Sedition Acts
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You will never be asked specifically to identify a date. However, knowing the order of events will help immensely with cause and effect. For this reason, we have identified the most important dates to know.
Period 3 Essential Questions
What were the causes and consequences of the American Revolution?
How did leading Americans address regional differences to develop a federal government?
In what ways did migrations across North America intensify conflicts?
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Use these essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice essay questions. Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
Past Essay Questions From Period 3
The APUSH exam was significantly revised in 2015, so any questions from before then are not representative of the current exam format. You can still use prior questions to practice, however DBQs will have more than 7 documents, the LEQ prompts are worded differently, and the rubrics are completely different. Use questions from 2002-2014 with caution. Essays from 1973-1999 available here
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Content from the Revolutionary era has appeared on the essays seventeen times since 2000. Take a look at these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. Then, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
Take the APUSH Period 3: American Revolution Quiz
Period 3 Key Concepts - Course Outline
*The following outline was adapted from the AP® United States History Course Description as published by College Board in 2019 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.
Key Concept 3.1. The American Revolution
The Seven Years’ War, also known as the French and Indian War, led to the British defeat of France and allied Native Americans.
Colonial rivalry between Britain and France intensified.
Britain’s North American territory expanded, but it was costly and required raising taxes, like the Stamp act
British officials attempted to prevent colonists from moving westward.
The Proclamation of 1763 intensified colonial discontent
Colonial independence movement formed as salutary neglect ended.
Colonists united because the British were taxing them without representation.
Colonial leaders called for representation to reflect Enlightenment ideas.
Popular movements for independence were energized by activists.
People across the American colonies mobilized finances and materials for the Patriot movement.
The Patriots beat the British because of strong leadership, ideological commitment, and assistance by European allies.
Key Concept 3.2. New American Government
New ideas about politics, religion, and society continued through the revolution.
Enlightenment ideas inspired American thinkers and promoted social mobility.
Republican ideals were reflected through Common Sense by Thomas Paine & the Dec. of Independence.
Some groups called for abolition of slavery in the new state & national governments.
Women’s role highlighted in “Republican motherhood” – to teach American values.
American Revolution inspired similar revolts in Haiti and Latin America.
State and federal constitutions sought to protect liberties while limiting central power.
Power was given to legislative branches and voting rights were limited.
Articles of Confederation
unified the states, but limited central power, which made things difficult for the federal government to handle trade, finances, and unrest.
The Constitutional Convention was held with state representatives to negotiate a new federal government that would embody federalism and separation of powers. The leaders pitched new experiments in self-government.
The issue of slavery was at the forefront of constitutional compromises.
Anti-federalists opposed the constitution while Federalists promoted ratification by promising a Bill of Rights that would focus on individual freedoms.
American national culture & political institutions developed despite of regional differences.
George Washington and John Adams created political precedents.
Political parties formed as leaders differed in their positions of issues. (Jefferson vs. Hamilton)
Slavery continued to divide Americans as it expanded in the south & west.
National identity was reflected in works of art, literature, and architecture.
Key Concept 3.3. Migrations within North America intensified conflicts
After independence, increased interactions between groups resulted in competition, alliances, and cultural blending.
Native tribes fluctuated in alliances with Europeans and other tribes.
More people moved westward, which fueled social, political, and ethnic tensions.
The Northwest Ordinance was developed to admit new states.
Treaties with Native Americans were often violated.
Spanish mission settlements expanded in California.
The US had to protect its borders amidst European powers throughout North America.
Diplomatic initiatives sought to protect settlers from the British and Spanish.
The French Revolution and war between France and Britain posed new foreign policy challenges to the US.
Washington’s Farewell Address discouraged political parties and warned of alliances.
Period 3 Vocabulary & Concepts
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These are the concepts and vocabulary from period 3 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
Albany Plan of Union
Alien & Sedition Acts
Articles of Confederation
Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Yorktown
Bill of Rights
Committees of Correspondence
Declaration of Independence
First Continental Congress
Hamilton’s Financial Plan
Lexington & Concord
Peace of Paris
Proclamation of 1763
Revolution of 1800
Second Continental Congress
Seven Years’ War
Sons & Daughters of Liberty
Treaty of Paris
Writs of Assistance