AQA GCSE History: America, 1840–1895: Expansion and consolidation

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AA America, 1840–1895: Expansion and consolidation

In this module, the focus is on the development of the United States of America during the second half of the turbulent 19th century. It was a time of significant change and upheaval on account of expansion to the west and consolidation of territories and as a nation.

Students will study the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of these two developments and the role ideas played in bringing about change as well as the roles and impact of key individuals in effecting change. This module consists of three parts detailed below:

Part one: Expansion: opportunities and challenges

Themes explored include:

  • The geography of North America: attitudes to the Great American Desert and the belief in ‘Manifest Destiny’.
    Why the early settlers went west and the challenges they faced: Brigham Young and the
    Mormons; the pioneer migrant farmers, the journey west; the miners.
  • Dealing with a different culture: the Plains Indians’ way of life; early American Government policy towards the Plains Indians; the Permanent Indian Frontier; a changing relationship with the Plains Indians.

Part two: Conflict across America

Themes explored include:

  • Increasing conflict on the Plains: the Fort Laramie Treaty (1851) and the failure of the policy of concentration; the Indian Wars (1862–1867): reasons for and consequences of the Wars; Sand Creek Massacre; Fetterman's Trap.
  • The background to the American Civil War: differences between North and South, issues of slavery, westward expansion and free states abolitionism; breakdown of the Missouri Compromise, John Brown, the roles of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; the social and economic impact of the American Civil War on civilian populations.
  • Coming to terms with the Mormons: the Mountain Meadow Massacre and its aftermath.

Part three: Consolidation: forging the nation

Themes explored include:

  • The aftermath of the American Civil War: the 13th Amendment; Civil Rights Act; reconstruction in the South, 1866–1877; carpetbaggers; the balance of Federal and State powers.
  • The continued settlement of the west: the Homesteaders, reasons for going west; government actions and laws; land and railroads; farming problems and solutions.
  • The resolution of ‘the Indian problem’ after 1865: the small reservations policy; attitudes to the native Americans; Battle of the Little Big Horn; The Dawes Act; Battle of Wounded Knee; the closing of the frontier and its impact on native Americans.

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