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Best Quizlet Decks for AP US History

8 min readmay 17, 2021

Sander Owens


Studying for APUSH can be challenging because there is a lot of content to cover, but there's a very helpful resource that can help you remember all of that pesky vocab: Quizlet.
📣Quizlet offers a variety of different methods to study for a test or a quiz, based on key terms of people, places, and events. Not only does it simplify studying, but it’s also available “on the go,” a perfect option for busy students. Whether you're in the car on the way to practice or have a break in between club meetings, Quizlet is always available for quick and effective studying! Want the best Quizlet decks right away without having to Google a million searches? Here you go!

🌽Period 1: 1491 - 1607 (4-6% of exam):

Key Ideas:

Period 1 focuses on the Columbian Exchange, uniting the Americas with Asia, Africa, and the European nations through trade, disease, and culture. The Native Americans dealt with westward expanding Europeans, foreshadowing treaties and conflict within North America. In South America, racial mixing through marriage and alliances with slaves and natives led to the formation of caste systems, ultimately resulting in social stratification.

Key Terms:

  • Columbian Exchange🔺: An exchange of goods, ideas, diseases, and skills from the Old World (Europe, Asia, And Africa) to the New World (the Americas) in the early 1500s. The Columbian Exchange linked the continents through trade and promoted cultural interaction.
  • Atlantic Slave Trade 🚢Trade between Africa and the Americas for African American slaves who worked primarily on cotton and sugar plantations to produce profit during the 16th-19th century.
  • Protestant Reformation 🙏: 16th-century European movement that aimed to reform the Roman Catholic Church and its practices. Powerful leaders having too much control over the Church.

⛵Period 2: 1607 - 1754 (6-8%):

Key Ideas:

Period 2 discusses The Atlantic Slave Trade, which introduced slavery as a form of cheap labor and intertwined the American colonial economies with the Europeans based on mercantilism. The formation of British colonies led to colonial divisions between the North and South based on differences in geography, culture, and economies. This impacted how the southern colonies interacted with the northern colonies & who had more access to commodities + sea trade.

Key Terms:

  • Indentured servitude ⛏️System where people gained passage to the New World in exchange for providing labor for a certain amount of years.
  • Jamestown, VA 🏘️The first English colony in America. Economic success based on the tobacco cash crop. Not a stable economy compared to the northern colonies.
  • Salutary Neglect 👩‍⚖️Initially, the British believed in lax enforcement of their parliamentary laws which gave the American colonies a degree of autonomy.

🔫Period 3: 1754 - 1800 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

Period 3 focuses on the shift of power from the British monarchy to the American colonists due to the emergence of individual and nationalistic beliefs during the Enlightenment Era. The American Revolution was a successful war that set the foundation for future American politics through the declaration of Independence and the ratification of the US Constitution debate.

Key Terms:

  • Natural Rights ➡️: Philosophy advocated for by John Locke that entailed the American’s rights to life, liberty, and property. The Americans had the right to overthrow the government if they deemed it unjust.
  • Stamp Act ✉️: 1765 tax that Britain imposed on the American colonies to pay off the debt from the French and Indian War. It taxed the colonists without representation (🗣"No taxation without representation") and challenged Parliament’s power over the Americans.
  • Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions 📜: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison covertly wrote those documents to argue that states had the right to nullify (invalidate) the Federal Government’s legislation if it was unconstitutional.

🐎Period 4: 1800 - 1848 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

Period 4 highlights a change in politics when American parties emerged, democratic ideals expanded, and there were peaceful transitions of power to each president. Sectionalism between the Northern and Southern states increased, including the debate over whether slavery should be outlawed and how much power the federal government. Despite political disputes, the War of 1812 and conflicts with Native Americans were important because they showed how warfare continued on the basis of nationalism, land, and wealth motives.

Key Terms:

  • The Embargo Act of 1807 🐢Thomas Jefferson chose to forbid foreign trade with France and Britain during the Napoleonic Wars in efforts to preserve the American economy. The British broke the Neutrality Policy of America by attacking American merchants and cargo ships so this was a diplomatic retaliation.
  • American System 🚂: Henry Clay proposed protective tariffs for American industries, a strong federal bank to serve as a national depository, and stood for internal developments.
  • Battle of New Orleans ⚔️: General Andrew Jackson became known as a war hero and gained public support because he won the battle, although the War of 1812 had already ended two weeks ago, but he didn't know.

💣Period 5: 1848 - 1877 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

Period 5 reflects armed American conflict during the Civil War between Northern and Southern states in the US over slavery’s acceptance. The wars during this time promoted unity among the different sides and led to American politics growing as the US learned how to deal with conflicts (diplomacy vs war). Overall, this period focused on slavery and how influential leaders such as Harriet Tubman emerged to support abolition.

Key Terms:

  • Texas Annexation 🔫: In 1845, the US Gov. annexed (took) Texas with Congress' support and later divided the land into other parts of new states. The US refrained from doing so in 1837 to avoid a war with Mexico when Texas wasn’t a free republic.
  • Dred Scott Decision ⚖️: Dred Scott was a black slave who resided in the Louisiana territory for four years and argued that he was a free man based on the Missouri Compromise. The Supreme Court decided that he couldn’t sue the state because he was property.
  • Sojourner Truth 👵🏿: An American feminist and abolitionist who believed in women’s and black rights. She was a former slave who was freed in 1827.

🚂Period 6: 1865 - 1898 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

Period 6 emphasizes industrial development and modernity as rural and urban regions transformed. This was a time of cultural change, intellectual discovery, and public debates which is also known as the Gilded Age. Political debates over economic and social issues were prevalent in this time period.

Key Terms:

  • Andrew Carnegie 💰: led the expansion of the American steel industry and become one of the wealthiest Americans. He paved the way for the economic boom by the late 19th century.
  • Great Railroad Strike (1877) 🚂: workers' wages were cut by 10% which led to the first nationwide strike within the Union. This was caused because of the large railroad companies that were profiting and the laborers weren’t doing well in terms of job layoffs and lack of pay.
  • Great Sioux War 🐴the US government wanted the Black Hills territory for its gold so they fought and negotiated with the Native Americans (Sioux, Lakota, and Northern Cheyenne) in South Carolina.

🌎Period 7: 1890 - 1945 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

Period 7 focuses on American growth but economic instability made it difficult to boost industrial output. New communication and advanced transportation systems closed the gap between the Americas and European nations in terms of national expansion. However, America was held accountable in its role during the international affairs it took part in especially as the European powers imperialized.

Key Terms:

  • New Deal 📉: series of public improvement and relief plans introduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt to fix the economy after the Great Depression after it took away jobs, decreased monetary circulation, and depleted the banks. FDR’s plan highlights the significance of federal spending during an economic crisis such as an economic recession and depression.
  • Red Scare 🔴: Hysteria over the communist ideas spreading to America and corrupting the American people. This intensified during the 1950s because of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, where the Soviet Union was a communist nation and the US favored democracy.
  • Manhattan Project 💣: Name of the project that oversaw the development of the atomic bomb used by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WW2 on Japan. The atomic bomb’s development foreshadowed nuclear conflict as seen with the Cold War during Period 8.

🥶Period 8: 1945 - 1980 (10-17%):

Key Ideas:

In Period 8, the US became a powerful nation, getting involved in foreign affairs and dealing with the aftermath of the World Wars. Cultural and political expansion occurred as there were movements for liberal and civil rights throughout America. Though the US was capable of getting involved in international issues, the repercussions of alliances and conflict would impact the economy and people.

Key Terms:

  • Clean Air Act 🌄: Result of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring in the 1970s. It highlights America’s move towards improving the health of people and raising the quality of air by regulating air emissions. The Americans focused on an environmentally safe society.
  • OPEC🛢️: Formed in 1960 to represent the major oil-producing nations who had the power to create a monopoly over the oil prices based on supply and demand.
  • The Vietnam War 🔫:  This was a war between the North Vietnamese, a Communist nation, and the South Vietnamese. The USA supported the South to prevent the spread of Communism.

🎮Period 9: 1980 - Present (4-6%):

Key Ideas:

Period 9 covers the most recent events in history when America was expanding in the technology, industrial, and agricultural sectors. America’s foreign and domestic policies were influenced by the Cold War, Great Depression, and the World Wars from prior decades. The goal of these efforts was to avoid destructive disputes with other nations. Migrations to America remained but the immigration policies of America continued to adapt as the US worked on creating policies in the interest of Americans.

Key Terms:

  • Mikhail Gorbachev 🇷🇺: Introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic reconstruction) to the Soviet Union in efforts to liberalize the nation and fix damaged relations with the Western nations.
  • Department of Homeland Security 🤺Formed after the 9/11 attacks to gather all intel and resources for national security. The goal was to prevent terrorist attacks and catch perceived threats.
  • North American Free Trade Agreement 🤝1993 economic agreement between the USA, Canada, and Mexico to protect free trade or trade without tariffs as a domestic policy that would maximize profits.
Studying for APUSH can be a difficult task, but if you’ve got the best Quizlet decks available to you in a few clicks, why not take advantage of that? Remember, don’t stress out! You're already putting in the work, just focus on your end goal, — whether it's that amazing grade or a feeling of accomplishment. You’ve got this!
Some portions of this guide adapted from a previous Fiveable guide by Kanya Shah

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Unit 1: Early Contact with the New World (1491-1607)
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Unit 3: Conflict and American Independence (1754-1800)
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Unit 4: Beginnings of Modern American Democracy (1800-1848)
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Unit 5: Toward the Civil War and Reconstruction (1844-1877)
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Unit 6: The Industrial Revolution (1865-1898)
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Unit 7: The Early 20th Century (1890-1945)
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Unit 8: The Postwar Period and Cold War (1945-1980)
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Unit 9: Entering into the 21st Century (1980-Present)
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