Young Readers—United States

1883 to 1865
Washington President to Civil War

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Era Summary—United States

The United States History division of the Young Readers collection begins with stories of the founding fathers, the constitution, and the first presidents, and continues to the early 20th century. George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln are a few of the American Presidents of most interest to young readers, but many favorite stories of early American history have to do with adventure, exploration, and invention rather than politics.

The United States were founded during the heydays of the industrial revolution, and the spirit of invention was part of American culture from its earliest years. Many of the American histories featured in the Young Readers collection include stories of inventors such as Eli Whitney (cotton gin), Robert Fulton (steam ship), and Samuel Morse (telegraph). The age of invention continued throughout the 19th century, with the introduction of canals, cross country railroads, agricultural equipment, the telephone, and Thomas Edison's light bulb. By turn of the 20th century, the automobile had been invented, telephones were common, and airplanes were just around the corner.

Explorers and early settlers were just as important to the American experience as inventors, and their stories are just as exciting to young readers. Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, and Buffalo Bill, were only a few of hundreds of American pioneers. James' Otis' Colonial Children series is a wonderful introduction to American pioneer life and features the stories of children who settled western territories, as well as the original colonies.

In terms of conflicts, the American Civil War was by far the most important war in early American history and it involves many stories and characters of interest to younger students. Pratt's American History Stories—Volume IV, covers the civil war in age-appropriate detail, and a simplified version of Uncle Tom's Cabin is also available to help younger students understand the problems with slavery. Short stories from other conflicts, such as the War of 1812, the Texas War of Independence, and the Mexican American War are mentioned in several books intended for children, but none are covered in as much detail as the Civil War.

The Heritage Classical Curriculum, because it draws on history books written prior to 1923, only deals with American History until the close of World War I. This, however, is a suitable break point, since the progressive philosophy of government ushered in at that time fundamentally changed the nature of American government.

Most of the Young Reader Study Questions that relate to Early American history are taken from America First by Evans, the third and fourth volumes of the American History Stories series by Pratt, and selections from Baldwin's Famous Stories series.

Characters—United States

Character/Date Short Biography

Early Republic

Daniel Boone
Explored the Kentucky and Tennessee Valley. Opened a road for settlers through Cumberland Gap.
Thomas Jefferson
Third President. Author of the Declaration of Independence. Founder of Democrat-Republican Party.
Eli Whitney
Inventor of the Cotton Gin, and also interchangeable parts for rifles.
Andrew Jackson
Hero of the Battle of New Orleans, President of U.S., and founder of Democratic Party.
Merriwether Lewis
With William Clark, followed the Missouri river to its source, crossed the Rockies and followed the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.
William Clark
Led an expedition up the Missouri River, map-making, gathering information, and looking for a passage to the Pacific Ocean.
Davy Crockett
Tennessee Frontiersman and congressman. Involved with Texas independence. Died at the Alamo.
Sam Houston
Founder of the state of Texas, and first governor.
Shawnee Hero. Tried to unify tribes against the colonists. Fought for Britain during War of 1812.

Civil War and After

Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States during the American Civil War.
Robert E. Lee
General of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
Stonewall Jackson
Leading Confederate General of the American Civil War, especially notable at Bull Run. Died at Chancellorsville.
Ulysses Grant
Commander and Chief of the Union forces in the Civil War, and President of the United States.
William Sherman
American Civil War General. Marched "From Atlanta to the Sea."
Clara Barton
Civil War Nurse and Humanitarian. Founder of the American Red Cross.
Alexander Graham Bell
Inventor of the telephone, and also a founder of a school for the deaf.
Thomas Edison
Prolific inventor, responsible for improvements in the light bulb, movies, phonograph, and many others.
Booker T. Washington
Former slave who became an Important leader of newly freed negroes. Emphasised education, job training, clean-living, and self-help.
Theodore Roosevelt
Progressive Republican who served as the 26th President of the United States.
Wilber and Orville
Inventors of the first practical airplane. The Wright brothers were self-educated bicycle shop owners.

Timeline—United States

AD YearEvent
1783 States ratify the ConstitutionGeorge Washington elected first President.
1793 Eli Whitney invents the Cotton Gin
1804 Lewis and Clark explore the Louisiana Purchase.
1812-14 War of 1812—first major military conflict since Revolution.
1829 Andrew Jackson, and Indian fighter, becomes first "commoner" president.
1836 Battle of the Alamo, Texas wins its independence from Mexico.
1837 Samuel Morse invents the Telegraph.
1846 Mexican American War, Mexico cedes California, Arizona and New Mexico to U.S.
1849 Gold found in California, Westward expansion begins.
1861-65 American Civil War, Battle of Gettysburg, Emancipation Proclamation.
1869 First Transcontinental Railroad completed
1877 Last Major Indian battle, Chief Joseph surrenders to U.S. army.
1879 Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.
1898-99 Spanish American War—Spain looses Cuba and the Philippines to the U.S.
1917 United States becomes involved in World War I

Recommended Reading—United States

Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)
Eggleston - Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans   Daniel Boone and His Swing to The Author of "Little Women" (27)
Evans - America First   Nolichucky Jack to Sergeant York (50)
Eggleston - Stories of American Life and Adventure   The River Pirates to Adventures in Alaska (14)
Hamilton - Story of Abraham Lincoln    entire book
Pratt - American History Stories—Volume III.    entire book
Pratt - American History Stories—Volume IV    entire book
Marshall - Uncle Tom's Cabin Told to the Children    entire book
Otis Kaler - Seth of Colorado    entire book
Otis Kaler - Hannah of Kentucky    entire book
Otis Kaler - Philip of Texas    entire book
Otis Kaler - Benjamin of Ohio    entire book
Otis Kaler - Martha of California    entire book
Otis Kaler - Antoine of Oregon    entire book