Grades 7 and 8: History of the United States and New York State

In Grades 7 and 8, students will examine the United States and New York State through a historical lens. The two-year sequence is arranged chronologically, beginning with the settlement of North America by Native Americans∗ and ending with an examination of the United States in the 21st century. Although the courses emphasize the skill of chronological reasoning and causation, the courses also integrate the skills and content from geography, politics, economy, and culture into the study of history. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate local features of state history in the course, such as the Dutch in the Hudson Valley, the Germans in the Schoharie Valley, the French in the Champlain Valley, Fort Niagara, the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the Seneca Falls Convention, Underground Railroad locations, war memorials, and other features in their community.

7.1 NATIVE AMERICANS∗ : The physical environment and natural resources of North America influenced the development of the first human settlements and the culture of Native Americans. Native American societies varied across North America.

7.2 COLONIAL DEVELOPMENTS: European exploration of the New World resulted in various interactions with Native Americans and in colonization. The American colonies were established for a variety of reasons and developed differently based on economic, social, and geographic factors. Colonial America had a variety of social structures under which not all people were treated equally.

7.3 AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE: Growing tensions over political power and economic issues sparked a movement for independence from Great Britain. New York played a critical role in the course and outcome of the American Revolution.

7.4 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION: The newly independent states faced political and economic struggles under the Articles of Confederation. These challenges resulted in a Constitutional Convention, a debate over ratification, and the eventual adoption of the Bill of Rights.

7.5 THE CONSTITUTION IN PRACTICE: The United States Constitution serves as the foundation of the United States government and outlines the rights of citizens. The Constitution is considered a living document that can respond to political and social changes. The New York State Constitution also has been changed over time.

7.6 WESTWARD EXPANSION: Driven by political and economic motives, the United States expanded its physical boundaries to the Pacific Ocean between 1800 and 1860. This settlement displaced Native Americans as the frontier was pushed westward.

7.7 REFORM MOVEMENTS: Social, political, and economic inequalities sparked various reform movements and resistance efforts. Influenced by the Second Great Awakening, New York State played a key role in major reform efforts.

7.8 A NATION DIVIDED: Westward expansion, the industrialization of the North, and the increase of slavery in the South contributed to the growth of sectionalism. Constitutional conflicts between advocates of states’ rights and supporters of federal power increased tensions in the nation; attempts to compromise ultimately failed to keep the nation together, leading to the Civil War.

Taken from the New York State Social Studies Framework K-8, pp. 92-98