War and American Society

Purpose of Course  showclose

This course will focus on the wars and military conflicts that have shaped the social, political, and economic development of the United States from the colonial era through the present.  You will learn how these conflicts have led to significant changes in America social and political life during this 300-year period.  The course will be structured chronologically.  Each unit will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching themes, such as how colonial conflicts in the 18th century shaped the political organization of the United States, how regional conflicts in the 19th century culminated in the Civil War, how America cemented its status as a major world power through participation in the First and Second World Wars, how Cold War conflicts destabilized American social and political life, and how modern conflicts continue to redefine American social and political values and ideals.  By the end of the course, you will understand how three centuries of warfare have reshaped America’s relationship with the world and altered American society in unexpected ways.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the impact of military conflicts on American society from the 18th century through the present.
  • Identify how the United States became involved in the First and Second World Wars and assess how these conflicts impacted American society.
  • Identify current military challenges faced by the United States and assess how these challenges will affect American society.
  • Analyze and interpret primary source documents from the 18th century through the present, using historical research methods.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:
√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Be competent in the English language.
√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Unit Outline show close

  • Unit 1: War and the Founding of the United States  

    European military conflicts throughout the 18th century contributed to the formation of the United States in the 1780s.  British, French, and Spanish forces fought incessantly throughout this period and American colonists were often caught in the middle of these global conflicts.  Great Britain’s costly victory in the French and Indian War in 1763 led to higher taxes on American colonists, which generated social and political turmoil throughout the colonies.  A decade later, frustrated American colonists challenged British political rule directly and eventually secured independence from the mother country after a lengthy military struggle.  In this unit, we will examine how the French and Indian War and the American Revolution forged unique social and political values in the early United States.  We will also look at how these conflicts shaped American cultural identities and redefined the relationship between civilian and military leaders in the New Republic.  

    Unit 1 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 1 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 1.1 18th-Century Warfare in Colonial North America  
  • 1.1.1 Extension of European Conflicts  
  • 1.1.2 American Colonial Participation  
  • 1.1.3 Local Versus Imperial Perspectives and Policies  
  • 1.2 The French and Indian War, 1754-1763  
  • 1.2.1 Global War  
  • 1.2.2 North America Impact  
  • 1.2.3 American Participation  
  • 1.2.4 Expansion of British Imperial Influence in North American Colonies  
  • 1.2.5 Consequences for American Colonists  
  • 1.3 The American Revolution, 1776-1783  
  • 1.3.1 Economic, Political, and Social Origins  
  • 1.3.2 Rebels Versus Loyalists  
    • Reading: Liberty Online’s version of Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis No. 1” (December 23, 1776)

       Link: Liberty Online’s version of Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis No. 1” (HTML)
      Also available in:
      Google Books
      Instructions: Please read Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis No. 1” in its entirety.  In this political pamphlet, English-born American patriot Thomas Paine argues that American colonists must overcome their fear of British military strength and unite to defeat the British.  He further asserts that no one can remain neutral in the conflict and Loyalists will be severely punished if they support British military efforts to destroy the colonial rebels.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 1.3.3 Civil War in the Colonies  
  • 1.3.4 Forging American Identities and Ideals—Remaking Colonial Society  
  • 1.3.5 Emergence of the United States  
  • 1.3.6 The Limits of Rebellion  
  • 1.3.7 Solidifying the Gains of the Revolution  
  • 1.3.8 Race, War, and Social Values  
  • 1.3.9 Professional Versus Amateur Military Forces  
  • 1.4 Rebellions in the Early Republic  
  • 1.4.1 Shays' Rebellion  
  • 1.4.2 The Whiskey Rebellion  
  • Unit 2: 1812 - The Second War for American Independence  

    The American Revolution secured American political independence from Great Britain, and a generation later, the War of 1812 reaffirmed that the young nation would remain free from British imperial domination and continue to assert its rights as an independent country.  Americans objected to British mistreatment of American ships and sailors, as well as Britain’s continued economic and political support of militant Indian tribes throughout the Old Northwest.  The war was not universally popular in the United States; during the middle of the conflict, some New Englanders even threatened secession if the conflict continued.  The conflict tested America’s young military and highlighted the weaknesses of its volunteer militia forces.  It also demonstrated the importance of a strong navy, since Great Britain effectively blockaded much of the American coast during the war and used ship-borne troops to capture Washington, D.C. and threaten Baltimore.  The war ended in late 1814 with a negotiated peace treaty that maintained the status quo ante bellum, but Andrew Jackson’s surprising victory in early 1815 against British regulars at the Battle of New Orleans restored American pride in her military abilities and national strength.  In this unit, we will focus on the origins of the conflict and examine how each side pursued wartime objectives.  We will also examine the social impact of the War of 1812 on the American people and look at the lessons it offered American military leaders for generations to come.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 2 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 2.1 The European Context  
  • 2.1.1 French Revolution  
  • 2.1.2 Rise of Napoleon  
  • 2.1.3 British Efforts to Restrict Trade With Continental Europe  
  • 2.1.4 American Efforts to Remain Neutral  
  • 2.2 Great Britain and the United States in North America  
  • 2.2.1 Impressments of American Sailors  
  • 2.2.2 British Support of Native Americans in the Old Northwest  
  • 2.2.3 Chesapeake Affair  
  • 2.2.4 Diplomatic Disputes  
  • 2.3 American Offensives  
  • 2.3.1 Lack of American Military Preparation  
  • 2.3.2 Reliance on Civilian Militias  
  • 2.3.3 Regional Opposition to the War  
  • 2.3.4 American Invasion of Canada, 1812-1913  
  • 2.3.5 Privateering and Naval Actions  
  • 2.4 British Offensives  
  • 2.4.1 Preoccupied by War in Europe  
  • 2.4.2 Canadian Militias Bore Brunt of Action in Early Stages of Conflict  
  • 2.4.3 Blockade of American Ports  
  • 2.4.4 Battle of Lake Erie  
  • 2.5 America on the Defense  
  • 2.5.1 British Campaign in the Chesapeake  
  • 2.5.2 Assault on Washington, D.C.  
  • 2.5.3 Assault on Baltimore  
  • 2.5.4 Defeat of British in the Chesapeake  
  • 2.5.5 Hartford Convention—New England and Secession  
  • 2.6 Status Quo Ante Bellum  
  • 2.6.1 Negotiated Settlement  
  • 2.6.2 Did Not Resolve Conditions That Led to War  
  • 2.6.3 Battle of New Orleans, 1815  
  • 2.6.4 Final American Victory After War’s End  
  • 2.7 Importance of the War of 1812  
  • 2.7.1 Viewed as Second War for Independence  
  • 2.7.2 American Pride in Military Abilities  
  • 2.7.3 Support for Expansion of U.S. Navy  
  • 2.7.4 Recognition of Limitations of Volunteer Militias  
  • 2.7.5 Increasing Support for Development of Professional Army  
  • Unit 3: War and Westward Expansion  

    American settlers’ incessant westward expansion across the North American continent brought the United States into conflict with Native American inhabitants as well as the Mexican government during the first half of the 19th century.  Indian wars were as old as the American colonies themselves, but they took on a particular intensity in the 19th century as the American government attempted to open up large sections of land in the trans-Appalachian frontier for American settlement.  The American Army and volunteer militia forces relentlessly pursued Indian warriors and ruthlessly destroyed native villages and crops in an effort to wipe out all resistance.  By the 1850s, most native tribes east of the Mississippi had been relocated to small reservation sites. 

    American military forces also fought a controversial war against Mexico for control of southern Texas and the modern-day states of New Mexico, Arizona, and California.  The Mexican War resulted in a complete victory for American forces but also highlighted the weaknesses and lack of training of many of the volunteer units (as compared to professional army units) in the conflict.  It also engendered a vocal anti-war movement that made its presence known in the halls of Congress and the streets of American communities. 

    In this unit, we will examine how America’s wars of westward expansion reflected American social and political attitudes toward Native Americans and Mexican citizens.  We will also look at how these conflicts shaped the development of American military tactics and strategies and provided military leaders with wartime experience that they would draw on a decade later, during the American Civil War.

    Unit 3 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 3 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 3.1 Indian Conflicts  
  • 3.1.1 Northwest Frontier  
  • 3.1.2 Southeast Frontier  
  • 3.1.3 Indian Removal and the U.S. Army  
  • 3.1.4 War in the trans-Mississippi West  
  • 3.1.5 Expansionism, Manifest Destiny, and Cultural Genocide  
  • 3.2 The Mexican War, 1846-1848  
    • Reading: PBS: “The US-Mexican War”

      Link: PBS: “US-Mexican War” (HTML)
      Instructions: Please read the sections labeled “Prelude to War,” “War (1846-1848),” and “Aftermath.”   You can navigate back and forth using the toggle bar on the left hand side of the webpage.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Lecture: C-SPAN, American Presidents: “Life Portrait of James K. Polk”

      Link: C-SPAN, American Presidents: Life Portrait of James K. Polk (Adobe Flash)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 1 ½ hour debate to better understand James K. Polk’s policies regarding American expansion and the Mexican-American War.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 3.2.1 Texas Independence  
  • 3.2.2 American Expansionism  
  • 3.2.3 Border Conflict in Texas  
  • 3.2.4 Declaration of War  
  • 3.2.5 Opposition to the War  
  • 3.2.6 Mexico Campaign  
  • 3.2.7 California Campaign  
  • 3.2.8 Conclusion of the Conflict  
  • 3.2.9 Military Lessons from War  
  • 3.2.10 Criticisms of the War  
  • 3.2.11 Mixed Social Attitudes Towards War for National Expansion  
  • 3.3 The Border War and Sectional Tensions, 1854-1858  
  • 3.3.1 Popular Sovereignty in Kansas  
  • 3.3.2 Pro-Slavery Versus Anti-Slavery Forces  
  • 3.3.3 Guerilla Conflict  
  • 3.3.4 John Brown and the Expansion of the Struggle to a Nationwide Stage  
  • Unit 4: Brother Against Brother - The American Civil War  

    In 1861, social and political tensions that had been growing since the founding of the American Republic finally boiled over.  Southern leaders feared that the federal government would attempt to regulate slave owning as a precursor to an outright ban on the practice.  Advocates of states’ rights used Republican Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election as grounds for secession from the Union.  Just as secession tore the nation apart, it also splintered America’s military forces.  Many southern-born officers returned to their home states to organize military units to defend the new Confederacy against invasion from the North.  The Civil War was a total war that took a heavy toll on civilian populations, particularly in the South.  The war also highlighted the obsolescence of traditional battlefield tactics in the face of modern firearms and artillery.  The northern victory restored the Union, but the post-war occupation of the South raised serious questions about the role of the military as a political tool of the federal government.  In this unit, we will examine the origins of the Civil War and look at the military strategies of the North and South.  We will also examine the consequences of the war for civilian populations in the North and the South, and look at why the war marked an important turning point in the history of the United States.

    Unit 4 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 4 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 4.1 The Politics of War  
  • 4.1.1 States' Rights  
  • 4.1.2 The Secession Struggle  
  • 4.1.3 A Nation Divided  
  • 4.1.4 Social Divisions  
  • 4.2 An Army Divided  
  • 4.2.1 Many U.S. Army Officers Return to the South  
  • 4.2.2 Recruiting Efforts on Both Sides  
  • 4.2.3 Military Challenges  
  • 4.3 Northern Strategies  
  • 4.3.1 The Anaconda Plan  
  • 4.3.2 Isolate South Economically and Politically  
  • 4.3.3 Defeat Southern Armies  
  • 4.4 Southern Strategies  
    • Web Media: PBS, American Experience “Robert E. Lee”

      Link: PBS, American Experience, Robert E. Lee (Adobe Flash)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 70-minute documentary to better understand the Civil War by experiencing it through the eyes of the Confederacy’s most important general, Robert E. Lee.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 4.4.1 Obtain International Recognition  
  • 4.4.2 Defend Homeland  
  • 4.4.3 Fight a Defensive War  
  • 4.4.4 Use Invasions as a Tool to Strike at North  
  • 4.5 Carnage on the Battlefield  
  • 4.5.1 Traditional Tactics  
  • 4.5.2 Modern Weapons  
  • 4.5.3 Mass Casualties  
  • 4.5.4 Innovations  
  • 4.6 Total War  
  • 4.6.1 Involvement of Civilian Populations  
  • 4.6.2 Destruction of Local Economies  
  • 4.6.3 The Politics of War  
  • 4.6.4 The Draft  
  • 4.7 The War’s Aftermath  
  • 4.7.1 Social Divisions  
  • 4.7.2 Political Divisions  
  • 4.7.3 U.S. Army as a Political Tool  
  • 4.7.4 Posse Comitatus Act—Restricting the Reach of the Military  
  • Unit 5: War and American Imperialism  

    Following the Civil War, the United States became more involved in international affairs, particularly in Latin and South America.  American naval forces traveled across the globe, securing and protecting American trading rights in Japan, China, and other parts of Asia.  In 1898, the United States took on the aging Spanish Empire and seized control of the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.  With these acquisitions, America obtained strategic bases from which it could extend its military influence across the Caribbean and the Pacific.  Some Americans objected to this growing imperial power.  Following the Spanish-American War, numerous anti-imperialist groups organized protest campaigns.  While these campaigns had little impact on American military and political affairs, they reflected deep-seated tensions within American society about America’s founding principles and global mission. 

    In this unit, we will examine the ways in which American economic and military imperialism reshaped the United States’ relationship with the developed and developing world.  We will also look at American attitudes towards race, class, and economic development and see how these social attitudes were reflected in American military actions in the late-19th and early 20th centuries.

    Unit 5 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 5 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 5.1 Gunboat Diplomacy  
  • 5.1.1 Military Force as a Diplomatic Tool  
  • 5.1.2 Expeditions in Latin America  
  • 5.1.3 Expeditions in the Pacific  
  • 5.2 American Expansionism  
  • 5.2.1 Growing American Involvement in World Affairs  
  • 5.2.2 Dollar Diplomacy in Latin America  
    • Web Media: PBS: The American Experience: “Panama Canal”

      Link: PBS: The American Experience: Panama Canal (Adobe Flash)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 90 minute documentary to better understand U.S. interventions in Latin America as exemplified by the building of the Panama Canal.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 5.2.3 Economic Links with Europe and Asia  
  • 5.2.4 Growing Need for Global Military Reach  
  • 5.3 The War With Spain  
  • 5.3.1 The Cuban Crisis  
  • 5.3.2 Invasion of Cuba and Puerto Rico  
  • 5.3.3 Battle of Manila Bay  
  • 5.3.4 Guerilla War in Philippines  
  • 5.3.5 America as an Imperial Power  
  • 5.4 Anti-Imperialism  
  • 5.4.1 Resistance to War  
  • 5.4.2 Opposition to Racist Attitudes Towards Developing World  
  • 5.4.3 Concerns About America Losing its Founding Principles  
  • Unit 6: The First World War  

    Despite America’s growing involvement in world affairs in the early 20thcentury, the American people continued to be wary of political or economic alliances with European nations.  These concerns were justified by the outbreak of World War I in 1914.  Separated from Europe by three thousand miles of ocean, Americans hoped to remain isolated from the deadly conflict.  American President Woodrow Wilson supported American neutrality, but eventually changed his mind in 1917, following German attacks on American passenger and cargo vessels.  Wilson then argued that American military forces could turn the tide of the struggle, which would allow the United States to play an important role in the post-war settlement.  Many Americans supported the war effort, but a vocal minority objected to the conflict for various reasons.  Wilson used the coercive power of the federal government to arrest and imprison numerous protestors.
    In this unit, we will examine how American forces fought on the Western Front and the lessons they learned from bloody struggle.  We will also focus on the American home front during the war and study the ways in which the conflict led to new economic and social opportunities for women and minorities.  Finally, we will examine how the war led to American disenchantment with military affairs and a period of renewed isolation from world politics.

    Unit 6 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 6 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 6.1 Complex Alliances  
  • 6.1.1 European Origins of the War  
  • 6.1.2 America’s Relationship to Combatants  
  • 6.1.3 Social Attitudes in the United States  
  • 6.2 American Resistance to War  
  • 6.2.1 A Divided Population  
  • 6.2.2 Neutrality  
  • 6.2.3 Challenges to American Neutrality  
  • 6.3 Wilson’s Objectives  
  • 6.3.1 Progressive Critique of War  
  • 6.3.2 Concern About Post-War Settlement  
  • 6.3.3 Desire to Develop League of Nations  
  • 6.3.4 Concern About America’s Place in Global Society  
  • 6.4 America Enters the War  
  • 6.4.1 Wilson Sells the War  
  • 6.4.2 American Opposition to War  
  • 6.4.3 Political Repression and War Resistors  
  • 6.4.4 Mobilizing the Home Front  
  • 6.4.5 Building a New Army  
  • 6.5 American Combat in Europe  
  • 6.5.1 The Horrors of Modern Combat  
  • 6.5.2 American Control Over Military Forces  
  • 6.5.3 Wartime Experiences  
  • 6.5.4 American Weaknesses and Strengths  
  • 6.5.5 Turning the Tide  
  • 6.5.6 Lessons  
  • 6.6 World War I and American Society  
  • 6.6.1 Pride in Victory  
  • 6.6.2 Neutrality  
  • 6.6.3 Negative Attitudes Towards War  
  • 6.6.4 Disengagement from World Affairs  
  • 6.6.5 Downsizing of Military Forces  
  • Unit 7: The Second World War  

    As war broke out in Europe at the end of the 1930s, America once again attempted to remain neutral.  Unofficially, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to support Great Britain against Nazi Germany, but public sentiment was against American involvement in the conflict.  Instead, Roosevelt used indirect means to support Britain, lending the nation badly-needed naval destroyers in exchange for American access to British bases in the Atlantic.  America finally entered the war in late 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Over the next four years, the nation sustained combat operations in both the Pacific and European theatres of conflict.  This required a massive civilian and industrial commitment on the home front.  In this unit, we will examine the major strategies that the U.S. employed in World War II and take a look at how the conflict affected Americans at home.  We will also examine the cultural legacy of the war and discuss why, in hindsight, many Americans viewed the conflict as the “Good War."

    Unit 7 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 7 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 7.1 The Gathering Storm  
  • 7.1.1 Political Opposition to American Military Preparedness  
  • 7.1.2 Lend-Lease and Covert Support of Western Powers  
  • 7.1.3 Economic and Political Efforts to Avert Crisis  
  • 7.2 Rearming America  
  • 7.2.1 Expanding and Rebuilding America’s Military-Industrial Capacity  
  • 7.2.2 Civilian Preparedness  
  • 7.2.3 Political Opposition to War  
  • 7.2.4 Pearl Harbor  
  • 7.2.5 America Enters the War  
  • 7.2.6 Two Front Strategy  
  • 7.3 The Conflict in Europe  
  • 7.3.1 Peripheral Strategy  
  • 7.3.2 Preparing for Invasion  
  • 7.3.3 The Ground War in Europe  
  • 7.3.4 Victory  
  • 7.4 The War in the Pacific  
  • 7.4.1 Strategic Challenges  
  • 7.4.2 Island Hopping  
  • 7.4.3 The Atomic Bomb  
  • 7.4.4 Total Victory  
  • 7.5 The Home Front  
  • 7.5.1 Mobilizing the Civilian Population  
  • 7.5.2 Limits on Opposition to War  
  • 7.5.3 Internment and Civil Rights  
  • 7.5.4 Gender and Race in War  
  • 7.6 The “Good War”  
  • 7.6.1 Popular Support of War  
  • 7.6.2 Definitive Victory  
  • 7.6.3 Rapid Demobilization and a Return to Peace and Prosperity  
  • Unit 8: The Cold War  

    At the end of the Second World War, the democratic United States and the Communist Soviet Union emerged as the world’s major economic, political, and military superpowers.  Both nations felt threatened by the existence of the other and attempted to secure military alliances across the globe.  The U.S.’s and, later, the Soviet Union’s acquisition of nuclear weapons made the conflict even more threatening.  Since neither side could attack the other directly, both pursued their political agendas through proxy wars.  The Cold War had a profound impact on American society as well.  Fears of Communist infiltration led to Communist “purges” in the American government and academia.  Political dissent was viewed as disloyalty.  The constant need for new and advanced weapons and defense systems led to a powerful relationship between the military, American industry, and the American university system.  This military-industrial-academic complex held considerable influence over elected officials and played a dominant role in shaping the post-war economy.

    In this unit, we will examine the origins of the Cold War and examine how the United States engaged in wars and policing actions across the globe in an attempt to limit the spread of Communism.  We will also study the domestic impact of the Cold War and look at how the 50-year conflict shaped American political, economic, and social life.

    Unit 8 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 8 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 8.1 Origins of the Cold War  
  • 8.1.1 Ideological Tensions  
  • 8.1.2 International Alliances  
  • 8.1.3 Nuclear Arms Race  
  • 8.1.4 Remobilizing American Military Forces  
  • 8.1.5 A Peacetime State of War  
  • 8.1.6 Social Consequences  
  • 8.2 The Korean Conflict  
  • 8.2.1 American Involvement  

    Note: This topic is covered in the video under subunit 8.2.

  • 8.2.2 The United Nations  

    Note: This topic is covered in the video under subunit 8.2.

  • 8.2.3 The Cold War Context  

    Note: This topic is covered in the video under subunit 8.2.

  • 8.2.4 The Unending War  

    Note: This topic is covered in the video under subunit 8.2.

  • 8.3 The Cuban Missile Crisis  
    • Web Media: YouTube: Media Rich Learning’s The Cold War: “Kennedy and Crises”

      Link: YouTube: Media Rich Learning’s The Cold War: “Kennedy and Crises” (YouTube)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 9-minute lecture to better understand the Cuban Missile Crisis in the “Third World.”  This video, hosted on YouTube, is part of an entire series of documentaries about the Cold War created by Media Rich Learning.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

      The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

      Submit Materials

    • Reading: Wikipedia: “Cuban Missile Crisis”

      Link: Wikipedia:Cuban Missile Crisis” (PDF)
      Instructions: Please read the entirety of the website in order to get a sense of the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
      Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikipedia version of this article here (HTML).

    • Web Media: Khan Academy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis”

      Link: Khan Academy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis” (YouTube)
      Instructions: Please watch the above video (approx. 19 minutes), which discusses the 13-day confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the United States off the shores of Cuba in 1962.  This was one of the major confrontations of the Cold War and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict. Note that this video will also cover subunits 8.3.4–8.3.7. 

      Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
      Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.  It is attributed to the Khan Academy.

  • 8.3.1 Communism and the Monroe Doctrine  
  • 8.3.2 The Cuban Revolution  
  • 8.3.3 The Bay of Pigs  
  • 8.3.4 The Crisis Begins  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 8.3.

  • 8.3.5 Going Toe-to-Toe with the Soviet Union  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 8.3.

  • 8.3.6 Backdoor Negotiations  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 8.3.

  • 8.3.7 Crisis Averted  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 8.3.

  • 8.3.8 What We Now Know  
    • Lecture: YouTube: Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University: Theodore C. Sorensen, Stanley N. Katz, Sheldon M. Stern, and Julian E. Zelizer’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis in Retrospect”

      Link: YouTube: Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University: Theodore C. Sorensen, Stanley N. Katz, Sheldon M. Stern, and Julian E. Zelizer’s “The Cuban Missile Crisis in Retrospect” (YouTube)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 90-minute lecture to better understand the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This video, hosted on YouTube, is part of an entire series of lectures produced by the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  This panel discussion took place on October 10, 2007.  The panel discussion keynote is given by Theodore C. Sorensen, lawyer and former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy.  The discussion is moderated by Stanley N. Katz, professor at Princeton and Director of the Center of Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.  Historian and author, Sheldon M. Stern, and Professor of History and Public Affairs, Julian E. Zelizer, are the discussion panelists.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 8.4 The Cold War in the Developing World  
  • 8.4.1 The CIA and Regime Change  
  • 8.4.2 Military and Political Support  
  • 8.4.3 Guerilla Wars  
  • 8.4.4 Economic Weapons  
  • 8.5 The Politics of Engagement and Disengagement  
  • 8.5.1 Strategic Arms Treaties  
  • 8.5.2 Boycotts  
  • 8.5.3 Crisis Management  
  • 8.5.4 Covert Wars  
  • 8.6 Military-Industrial Complexes  
  • 8.6.1 Growing Power of Industry  
  • 8.6.2 Science and Academia During the Cold War  
  • 8.6.3 Integrating American Defense and Offense  
  • 8.7 The Cold War and American Society  
  • 8.7.1 Anti-Nuclear Activism  
  • 8.7.2 Dissent and Support  
  • 8.7.3 The Baby Boomer Generation—Coming of Age in the Cold War  
  • Unit 9: Vietnam  

    The Vietnam conflict grew out of America’s Cold War commitment to limiting the global spread of Communism.  After Vietnamese national liberation forces defeated French colonial troops in the mid-1950s, the state was partitioned into Communist and democratic regions.  After Communist guerilla forces in South Vietnam began to threaten the government in the early 1960s, the United States sent military advisors to the region to help South Vietnamese forces defeat the Communists.  This initial commitment of ground troops expanded into a full-scale military campaign by 1964.  Over the next seven years, United States military forces fought battle after battle against South Vietnamese guerillas and North Vietnamese regular army troops.  Public opinion in the United States initially favored American involvement, but a vocal anti-war movement gradually swung opinion against the war by the late 1960s.  American forces were eventually withdrawn from Vietnam, but not before the war took a heavy toll on U.S. military strength and American confidence. 
    In this unit, we will examine how the United States became involved in Vietnam and look at how American strategy changed over the course of the conflict.  We will also explore how the fringe anti-war movement gradually gained social acceptance and political influence during the conflict.  Finally, we will look at how the Vietnam conflict had a lasting impact on American politics and military strategy.

    Unit 9 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 9 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 9.1 America in South Vietnam  
  • 9.1.1 Decolonization and National Liberation  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.1.2 The French Experience  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.1.3 The Domino Effect  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.1.4 American Advisors  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.1.5 Regime Change  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.1.6 Growing American Support  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.2 The War Intensifies  
  • 9.2.1 Tonkin Gulf  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.2.2 Full American Military Involvement  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.2.3 Taking the War to the North  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.2.4 Guerilla Warfare  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.2.5 Jungle Warfare  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.3 The Tet Offensive  
  • 9.3.1 The Limits of American Military Support  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.3.2 Expanding the Conflict  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.3.3 Weakening Support at Home  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.3.4 Nixon’s Vietnam Strategy  

    Note: This topic is covered by the video under subunit 9.1.

  • 9.4 The Anti-War Movement  
  • 9.4.1 Origins of the Movement  
  • 9.4.2 Growing Support  
  • 9.4.3 Social Relevance  
  • 9.4.4 Impact on American Society and Politics  
  • 9.4.5 The Movement Goes Mainstream  
  • 9.5 The Lost War  
  • 9.5.1 Social Consequences  
  • 9.5.2 “Vietnam Syndrome” and the U.S. Military  
  • 9.5.3 The New Volunteer Army  
  • 9.5.4 A Decade of Limited Expectations  
  • Unit 10: The End of the Cold War  

    Following a decade of détente and diplomatic engagement with the Soviet Union, the United States assumed a more confrontational attitude towards the Communist regime in the 1980s.  This new attitude came in response to Soviet military aggression in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.  The U.S. began a large rearmament program centered on the Strategic Defense Initiative, or “Star Wars,” a space-based system of satellites that could destroy nuclear missiles and prevent Soviet attacks on the U.S.  While many of these advanced military systems never moved beyond the testing stage, Soviet efforts to counter new American military technologies eventually bankrupted the regime and hastened its fall at the end of the 1980s.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. had to realign its national defense objectives.  During the 1990s, the nation began to downsize its regular military forces while increasing its commitments to peacekeeping missions across the world. 
    In this unit, we will examine how the end of the Cold War changed American political and social expectations about the role that the American military should play in international affairs.  We will also look at the regional conflicts in which U.S. military forces engaged in the 1990s, including the Gulf War and peacekeeping missions in Somalia and the former Yugoslavian republics, exploring the ways in which these wars affected American society and politics.

    Unit 10 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 10 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 10.1 Reagan and the New Strategy of Global Engagement Against Communism  
    • Web Media: PBS Video: The American Presidents: “Ronald Reagan”

      Link: PBS Video: The American Presidents: Ronald Reagan     (Adobe Flash)
      Instructions: Please watch the entire 3 hour documentary to better understand Ronald Reagan as president and commander in chief.  This documentary addresses subunits 10.1 and 10.2.
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 10.1.1 Support of Anti-Communist Forces in Latin America  
  • 10.1.2 American Military Build-Up in Europe  
  • 10.1.3 “Star Wars” and Global Nuclear Defense  
  • 10.1.4 Support of Mujahideen Forces in Afghanistan  
  • 10.1.5 The New Brinkmanship  
  • 10.1.6 Social Consequences  
  • 10.2 Collapse of the Soviet Union  
  • 10.3 Post-Cold War Military Conflict: The Persian Gulf War  
  • 10.3.1 Support of War  
  • 10.3.2 Opposition to War  
  • 10.3.3 New Military Strategies  
  • 10.3.4 Modern Warfare  
  • 10.3.5 Curing the Vietnam Syndrome  
  • 10.3.6 Consequences  
  • 10.4 Peacekeeping  
  • 10.4.1 Somalia  
  • 10.4.2 Bosnia  
  • 10.4.3 The Politics of Peacekeeping  
  • 10.4.4 American Society and War  
  • Unit 11: The Global War on Terror and the New World Order  

    During the first decade of the 21st century, the threat of militant Islamic terrorist organizations across the globe has largely dictated America’s military commitments.  Following the 9-11 attacks, American military forces engaged in two major conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Iraq invasion came as part of President George W. Bush’s doctrine of preemptive war, designed to eliminate threats to American national security.  While American forces enjoyed great success in their military objectives, they encountered great difficulties maintaining the post-war peace and rebuilding local and national infrastructures in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These wars also generated serious doubt as to whether America can combat terrorism without compromising her fundamental political and social values.  In this final unit, we will examine the challenges currently facing American military forces and look at how a decade of conflict has reshaped American social and political expectations regarding the role that the military should play in international affairs.  Finally, we will look beyond the first decade of the 21st century and consider future challenges that the American military may face and how these challenges will affect American society.

    Unit 11 Time Advisory   show close
    Unit 11 Learning Outcomes   show close
  • 11.1 The War on Terror  
  • 11.1.1 Portents of Danger  
  • 11.1.2 Anti-American Ideologies  
  • 11.1.3 Terrorism in the 1990s  
  • 11.1.4 Al Qaeda’s Growing Reach  
  • 11.1.5 9-11 and the New Global Conflict  
  • 11.2 The War in Afghanistan  
  • 11.3 The Iraq War  
  • 11.3.1 The Bush Doctrine—Preemptive War  
  • 11.3.2 Regime Change  
  • 11.3.3 The Limits of American Military Power  
  • 11.3.4 Phased Withdrawal  
  • 11.3.5 Military Lessons from the War  
  • 11.3.6 Social Consequences  
  • 11.4 American Society in a New Age of War  
  • 11.4.1 Rights and Freedoms  
  • 11.4.2 Defeating Terrorism?  
  • 11.4.3 American Values:  The Case of Torture and Enemy Combatants  
  • Final Exam