Grade 7 Social Studies — US History

Units 1-2: Historical Development of the Constitution

  • 7.4 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. (Standards: 1, 5; Themes: GOV, CIV)
  • 7.4a Throughout the American Revolution, the colonies struggled to address their differing social, political, and economic interests and to establish unity. The Articles of Confederation created a form of government that loosely united the states, but allowed states to maintain a large degree of sovereignty.
  • 7.4b The lack of a strong central government under the Articles of Confederation presented numerous challenges. A convention was held to revise the Articles, the result of which was the Constitution. The Constitution established a democratic republic with a stronger central government.
  • 7.4c Advocates for and against a strong central government were divided on issues of States rights, role/limits of federal power, and guarantees of individual freedoms. Compromises were needed between the states in order to ratify the Constitution.
  • 7.5 The Constitution in Progress: 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.
  • 7.5a The Constitution outlined a federalist system of government that shares powers between the federal, state, and local governments.
  • 7.5b The Constitution established three branches of government as well as a system of checks and balances that guides the relationship between the branches. Individual rights of citizens are addressed in the Bill of Rights.
  • 7.5c While the Constitution provides a formal process for change through amendments, the Constitution can respond to change in other ways. The New York State Constitution changed over time, with changes in the early 19th century that made it more democratic. Students will examine the process for amending the constitution.

Units 3-4: New Nation: The Constitution in Practice

  • 7.5 The Constitution on 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.
  • 7.5c While the Constitution provides a formal process for change through amendments, the Constitution can respond to change in other ways. The New York State Constitution changed over time, with changes in the early 19th century that made it more democratic. Students will examine the process for amending the constitution.
  • 7.5d Foreign and domestic disputes tested the strength of the Constitution, particularly the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and the issue of States rights. The United States sought to implement isolationism while protecting the Western Hemisphere from European interference.

Units 5-6: Civil War/A Nation Divided

  • 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. (Standards: 1, 3, 4; Themes: TCC, GEO, GOV, ECO)
  • 7.8a Early United States industrialization affected different parts of the country in different ways. Regional economic differences and values, as well as different conceptions of the Constitution, laid the basis for tensions between states’ rights advocates and supporters of a strong federal government. Students will examine regional economic differences as they related to industrialization.
  • 7.8b As the nation expanded geographically, the question of slavery in new territories and states led to increased sectional tensions. Attempts at compromise ended in failure. Students will examine attempts at resolving conflicts over whether new territories would permit slavery, including the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Students will examine growing sectional tensions, including the decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) and the founding of the Republican Party.
  • 7.8c Perspectives on the causes of the Civil War varied based on geographic region, but the election of a Republican president was one of the immediate causes for the secession of the Southern states. Students will examine both long- and short-term causes of the Civil War. Students will identify which states seceded to form the Confederate States of America and will explore the reasons presented for secession. Students will also identify the states that remained in the Union. Students will examine the role of New York State in the Civil War, including its contributions to the war effort and the controversy over the draft.
  • 7.8d The course and outcome of the Civil War were influenced by strategic leaders from both the North and South, decisive battles, and military strategy and technology that utilized the region’s geography. Students will compare the advantages and disadvantages of the North and the South at the outset of the Civil War. Students will examine the goals and content of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Students will examine how the use of various technologies affected the conduct and outcome of the Civil War. Students will examine the enlistment of freed slaves and how this helped to change the course of the Civil War. Students will examine the topography and geographic conditions at Gettysburg and Antietam, and analyze the military strategies employed by the North and the South at Gettysburg or Antietam.
  • 7.8e The Civil War affected human lives, physical infrastructure, economic capacity, and governance of the United States. Students will examine the roles of women, civilians, and free African Americans during the Civil War. Students will examine the aftermath of the war in terms of destruction, effect on population, and economic capacity by comparing effects of the war on New York State and Georgia. Students will explain how events of the Civil War led to the establishment of federal supremacy.