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Gateway to Early American History


(ISBN 978-0-9976835-1-6)

This new book covers all of Florida’s middle school standards for early American History (1450-1877). This resource is especially designed for districts that have decided to exchange their courses for Grades 6 and 8 courses, as Miami-Dade and Pinellas have already done.

What are the Advantages of such a Swap?

The advantages of making this change are relatively clear. Sixth graders obtain an early exposure to many of the concepts tested by the Grade 7 civics EOC.  These students will also have a better background for understanding the processes of American government and civic participation when they study them in Grade 7.

The content covered in Grades 8 and 9 also works very well when this change is implemented. Students learn about early world history in Grade 8 and later world history in Grade 9.

What are the Disadvantages of this Swap?

There are two potential drawbacks to making this change. The first is that high school students learning about U.S. history since 1850 will not have studied early American history for five years. Most high school teachers agree, however, that eleventh graders usually do not have a strong recollection of these topics even when they are taught in Grade 8. High school teachers therefore must provide a review of earlier American history of regardless whether the subject has been taught in Grade 6 or 8.

The second possible disadvantage is that sixth grade students may have difficulty mastering the content of a course originally designed for eighth graders. We believe that our new book should allay this concern. It manages to present all of the major concepts and facts of early American history in a way that sixth grade students should be able to easily grasp. At the same time, it does not “dummy down” this information. The reading level, student activities, use of visuals, and engaging narrative make this content easily accessible to sixth graders. In fact, this book may provide the best argument for switching the content of sixth and eighth grade courses in Florida. You will have to judge for yourself by examining the sample chapter.

Special Features of the Book

Gateway to Early American History follows the structure of our other Gateway books to facilitate student learning. The book appeals to a variety of learning styles from struggling readers to the gifted and talented. Each chapter begins with a list of relevant Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, followed by a word wall (Terms and Names You Should Know) and a one-page chapter overview/summary (Florida “Keys” to learning). This in turn is followed by a student-friendly text “chunked” into sections with useful subheadings, a plethora of illustrations, and Historian’s Apprentice student activities. Each chapter ends with a concept map, chapter review cards, and multiple-choice questions modeled after the questions released in the civics EOC item specifications guide. Each question is also identified by the standard it assesses.

In addition to the standard Gateway features noted above, this book has been published in full color. The list of standards at the beginning of each chapter includes a list of related standards from Grade 7 civics, in order to make teachers and students more aware of links between the two courses. Content found in both courses (middle school American history and civics) is highlighted in yellow throughout the chapter, and special pop-ups draw connections between key historical events and principles of American government. Finally, the text has been written with an emphasis on American government, including excerpts from key historical documents such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Topics such as types of law, the obligations of citizenship and the differences between a unitary state, federation and confederation are also introduced. Separate chapters are devoted to the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution, the administration of President George Washington, and America under the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.

All in all, sixth graders who use this book should develop a firm grasp of early American history, increase their enjoyment of social studies, and improve their scores on the Grade 7 civics EOC.

The First Edition Now Offered at a Discounted Price

The first edition of this book is now available. Some minor errors have occurred in our first printing. A list of these errors is attached below. For this reason, we are currently offering the current first edition at a slightly discounted price of $149.50 for a set of ten, including shipping.

The price of the second edition, which will correct these errors, will be $189.50 plus 10% shipping for a set of ten. We are currently working on the second edition, which should be available by the end of this calendar year.

So here is an opportunity to obtain a superb book at a discounted price!

A Brief Summary of the Book

Chapter 1. Two Worlds Collide: Europe and the Americas

Students learn how the voyages of Christopher Columbus and other European explorers brought two worlds together—the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Then they learn how religious conflicts spurred Western European rulers to make claims to parts of North America and how Spain, France and the Netherlands established their own colonies there.

Chapter 2: Strangers in a Strange Land: How the English Colonies Began

Students learn how England established its first colonies in North America and the impact of colonial settlement on Native Americans.

Chapter 3. Life in the British Colonies

Students compare conditions between the New England, Middle and Southern colonies.  They explore forms of colonial government, the role of English traditions, religious toleration, and the role of key groups like Africans, children and women.

Chapter 4. The Road to Revolution

Students learn about the French and Indian War and how British attempts to tax the colonists in the aftermath of the war led to increasing disagreements.  They are also introduced to John Locke’s views of the social contract and other Enlightenment ideas.

Chapter 5. “The Times That Try Men’s Souls”: The Story of the American Revolution

Students learn how armed conflict between the British and the colonists broke out in Massachusetts in 1775, how the Second Continental Congress formed an army and appointed George Washington as its commander, how the colonists won the Revolutionary War, and how the colonists declared their independence.

Chapter 6. The Critical Period: America under the Articles of Confederation

Students learn how states drafted their own state constitutions and how the Second Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation, creating our first form of national government. Students also learn how difficulties quickly arose because our first national government was too weak.

Chapter 7. “Miracle at Philadelphia”: The Story of the Constitution

Students learn how delegates from the different states met in Philadelphia met to revise the Articles of Confederation but wrote a whole new Constitution instead. They learn about the compromises at the Constitutional Convention, the structure of the new federal government, three of the core principles of our Constitution (separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism), the debate over ratification, and the Bill of Rights.

Chapter 8. Launching the Ship of State: The Presidency of George Washington

Students learn about the administration of our first President, George Washington, and how his actions created precedents for later Presidents. They learn about the first Cabinet, Hamilton’s financial plan, the rise of the first political parties, the impact of the French Revolution on American political parties, and President Washington’s “Farewell Address.”

Chapter 9. The Young Republic: America under Presidents Adams and Jefferson

Students learn about the disagreements between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans during the Presidencies of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—including the “XYZ” Affair, the “Quasi-War,” the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, the “Revolution of 1800,” the Louisiana Purchase, the Supreme Court decision of Marbury v. Madison, and the Embargo of 1807.

Chapter 10. The War of 1812 and the “Era of Good Feelings”

Students learn about the causes, course and consequences of the War of 1812. Then they learn about the collapse of the Federalist Party and the subsequent “Era of Good Feelings,” including the Tariff of 1816, the chartering of the Second Bank of the United States, Henry Clay’s “American System,” the annexation of Florida, the Missouri Compromise and the Monroe Doctrine.

Chapter 11. Andrew Jackson and the Age of Reform

Students learn about the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, including the election of 1828 and the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the Indian Removal Act, Jackson’s “War” on the Bank, and the Nullification Crisis. They also learn about the Second Great Awakening and “Age of Reform,” including the rise of the abolitionist and temperance movements, the push for prison and educational reform, and the demand for women’s rights.

Chapter 12. An Expanding America: Manifest Destiny and the West

Students learn about the settlement of parts of Texas by Anglo-American settlers, the Texas Revolution, Manifest Destiny and the election of James Polk as President, the settlement of the Oregon controversy, and the Mexican-American War and the Mexican Cession. They also learn about Florida during the territorial period, including the Seminole Wars, the movement of Florida’s capital city to Tallahassee, the drafting of the state constitution, and Florida’s admission to statehood.

Chapter 13. The Industrial Revolution and its Consequences: North and South

Students learn about the Industrial Revolution in Britain and how Samuel Slater and Francis Cabot Lowell established textile mills in New England. They also learn about the “Transportation Revolution,” including turnpikes, canals, steamboats, trains and the telegraph.  Finally they learn how Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin and the demand for raw cotton by British and American factories led to an extension of the system of slavery in the South.

Chapter 14. A House Divided: The Story of the Civil War

Students consider how slavery, sectionalism, states’ rights and the struggle over the balance of power in the U.S. Senate eventually led to the outbreak of the Civil War once Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Then they learn about the advantages held by the North and South at the beginning of the war, military strategies, key battles, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Northern victory and the immediate consequences of the war.

Chapter 15. The Reconstruction Era

Students learn about the struggles over the reconstruction of the South after the Civil War, and how rights extended to African Americans during the Reconstruction Era were quickly taken away when Reconstruction ended in 1877.  They also learn about the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and how different groups of Americans, including women, later won their voting rights by Constitutional amendment.


To see a sample chapter of Gateway to Early American History, click below:

To see the Errata Sheet for First Printing of Gateway to Early American History, click below: