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Grade 8 United States History and Civics Content Standards (redirected from Grade 8 Content Standards)

Page history last edited by Pam Merrill 1 year, 8 months ago


Engage in Democratic Processes 

Analyze and Address Authentic Civic Issues 

Acquire, Apply, and Evaluate Evidence 

Read Critically and Interpret Informational Sources 

Engage in Evidence-

Based Writing 

8th Grade Content Standards

8.1 The student will analyze the foundations of the United States by examining the causes, events, and ideologies which led to the American Revolution 


8.1.1   Describe the political climate in the British colonies prior to the French and Indian War including the policy of salutary neglect, mercantilism through the Navigation Acts and colonial reaction through the Albany Plan of Union; compare the Iroquois Confederacy to early attempts to unite the colonies.

8.1.2   Summarize the political and economic consequences of the French and Indian War including imperial policies of taxation, the Proclamation of 1763, and the migration of colonists into  American Indian sovereign territories.

8.1.3   Summarize British attempts to regulate the colonies and colonial responses including:

             A.  Sugar Act

             B.  Stamp Act Congress Resolves

             C.  Committees of Correspondence

             D.  legal principle of taxation and political representation

             E.  Townshend Act and boycotts of British goods

             F.  Quartering Act

             G. Boston Massacre

             H. Tea Act and Boston Tea Party

             I.  Coercive Acts (Intolerable Acts)

             J.  First Continental Congress

             K.  British raids on Lexington and Concord

8.1.4  Analyze the significance of the Second Continental Congress including:

A.  formation of the Continental Army

B.  establishment of currency

C.  Olive Branch Petition

D.  French alliance negotiated by Benjamin Franklin

E.  committee to draft a declaration of independence

8.1.5  Analyze the ideological and propaganda war between Great Britain and the colonies including:

A.  points of views of the Patriots and the Loyalists

B.  writings of Mercy Otis Warren and Phillis Wheatley

C.  use of Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre

D.  rejection of the Olive Branch Petition

E.  Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, speech attributed to Patrick Henry  

F.  Common Sense pamphlet by Thomas Paine

8.1.6  Examine the central ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and adopted July 4, 1776, and their intellectual origins including:

A.  John Locke’s theory on natural and unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

B.  the ideals of equality for all individuals, including the impact of the First Great Awakening.

C.  the purpose of government as a social contract requiring the consent of the governed

D.  economic and political grievances against British policies.

8.2 The student will examine key military and diplomatic events of the Revolutionary War that resulted in an independent nation.



8.2.1   Explain the purpose of the Articles of Confederation which established the first American national system of government to support and conduct a war against Britain.

8.2.2   Evaluate the motivations and points of view of various  populations to remain loyal to Britain, join the patriot cause, or choose neutrality, including:

A.  Patriots and Loyalists and their political, economic, and family interests

B.  American Indians and the preservation of their homelands, cultures, and trade

C.  women and their political status

D.  free and enslaved blacks and their petitions to colonial governments for a ban on slavery.

8.2.3   Identify and evaluate the contributions of individuals and significant groups toward winning independence from British rule.

8.2.4   Compare the advantages and disadvantages of the British and the American colonists including political and military leadership, military strength, population and resources, motivation, foreign alliances, financial and military support,  and the British recruitment of enslaved black men in exchange for freedom. 

8.2.5   Summarize the impact of key military and diplomatic events of the Revolutionary War including:

A.  military leadership of General George Washington

B.  victories at Boston, Trenton, and Saratoga

B.  publication of Thomas Paine’s The Crisis

D.  Valley Forge encampment

E.  French alliance, negotiated by Benjamin Franklin

F.  victory at Yorktown

G. Treaty of Paris, 1783 

8.3 The student will examine the formation of the American system of government following the Revolutionary War and the creation of the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of the land.



8.3.1   Examine the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, including:

A.  resolution of disputes over the western territories as resolved by the Northwest Ordinance

B.  organization and leadership necessary to win the war

C.  lack of a common national currency

D.  lack of a common defense

E.  lack of a national judiciary

F.  mismanagement of war debts due to an inability to tax

G.  unanimous vote required to amend the Articles of Confederation

H.  civil unrest as typified in Shays’ Rebellion.

8.3.2   Analyze the significance of the Constitutional Convention, contributions of the Framers, major debates and compromises including the Virginia and New Jersey Plans, Great Compromise, the leadership of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, and George Washington, President of the Convention.

8.3.3   Describe how the framers of the Constitution addressed the issue of slavery including the Three-Fifth Compromise which maintained the institution of slavery in both northern and southern states, the Fugitive Slave Clause, and the delayed ban on the slave trade.

8.3.4   Explain the significance of the Commerce Clause in establishing a constitutional relationship between Indian tribes and the United States government.

8.3.5   Examine the concept of self-government, the purpose, and the responsibilities of government as expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. 

8.3.6   Analyze the key principles of government established by the Constitution of the United States including:

A. federalism (reserved and concurrent powers)

B. separation of powers among three branches of government (legislative, executive, judicial)

C. a system of checks and balances among the three branches

D. popular sovereignty and consent of the governed

E. judicial review

F. rule of law

8.3.7   Examine the Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments for and against the ratification of the Constitution as expressed in the Federalist Papers authored by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay and the writings of Anti-Federalists, such as George Mason, including concerns over a strong central government and the omission of a bill of rights. 

8.3.8   Explain how the Constitution of the United States was amended to include the Bill of Rights; identify and analyze the guarantees of individual rights and liberties as expressed in each of the ten amendments. 

8.3.9  Identify the structure and responsibilities of the elected and appointed officials of the three branches of government in relationship to the legislative process, including the role of Congress and the President, as well as the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review. 

8.3.10   Describe the responsibilities of United States citizens such as:

A. registering and voting in public elections

B. engaging in informed civil discourse

C. serving on a jury

D. paying taxes

E. obeying laws

F. registering for military service 


8.4 The student will examine the political and economic changes that occurred during the Early Federal Period.


8.4.1   Analyze the impact of the Whiskey Rebellion and enforcement of the government’s right to tax.

8.4.2   Describe President Washington’s attempt to develop a cohesive Indian policy, which included respectful interactions with American Indian leaders, treaties to delineate tribal lands, and precedent-setting practices of assimilation.

8.4.3   Describe the advice in President Washington’s Farewell Address and its impact. 

8.4.4   Evaluate the impact of the Alien and Sedition Acts on individual rights during the Adams Administration, including the responses of the Democratic-Republicans in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

8.5 The student will analyze the political and geographic changes that occurred during the Jeffersonian Era.


8.5.1   Explain the impact of the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another, as exhibited by the presidential election of 1800.

8.5.2   Analyze the impact of the Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief John Marshall and the Marbury v. Madison decision which confirmed the principle of judicial review.

8.5.3   Analyze the acquisition of the Louisiana territory, the contributions of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition, and the eventual establishment of the Indian Territory. 

8.6 The student will examine the political, economic and social transformations during the “Era of Good Feelings”.



8.6.1   Explain how the War of 1812 confirmed American independence and fueled a spirit of nationalism, reflected in the lyrics of our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key. 

8.6.2   Examine the Monroe Doctrine as a policy of isolationism which was designed to protect American interests in the Western Hemisphere. 

8.6.3   Analyze the impact of McCulloch v. Maryland which established federal supremacy concerning taxation. 

8.6.4   Examine the increased tension between Southern sectionalist and Northern nationalist perspectives. 

8.6.5   Summarize the impact of the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery into new western territories. 

8.7 The student will examine the political, economic and  social transformations of the Jacksonian Era.

8.7.1   Describe the factors that led to the election of Andrew Jackson including the “Corrupt Bargain” election of 1824, the expansion of voting rights, and Jackson’s political success by identifying with the “common man”.

8.7.2   Analyze the impact of the Nullification Crisis on the development of the states’ rights debate. 

8.7.3   Analyze the impact of Jackson’s policies and decisions concerning American Indian nations and their tribal sovereignty as a nation’s inherent right to self-govern, including:

A. non-adherence to federal treaties

B. disregard for the Worcester v. Georgia decision

C. forced removals of American Indians

8.8 The student will examine the political, economic, social, and geographic changes that occurred during the period of westward expansion. 

8.8.1   Examine the concept and opposing perspectives toward Manifest Destiny as a motivation and justification for westward expansion.

8.8.2   Explain the territorial growth of the United States including the annexation of Texas, Mexican Cession, and the Gadsden Purchase; describe the need to maintain a balance of “free” and “slave” states.

8.8.3   Identify push and pull factors of mass migration and the settlement of western territories including the California Gold Rush, settlement of Oregon, and the Mormon migration.

8.8.4   Analyze the consequences of westward expansion, including the impact on the culture of American Indians and their homelands, and the growing sectional tensions regarding the expansion of slavery.

8.9 The student will analyze the social and economic transformations of the early nineteenth century. 

8.9.1   Explain the impact of the Industrial Revolution in the North including the concentration of population, manufacturing, and transportation. 

8.9.2   Describe the plantation system and its reliance on a slave labor system in the South, including how Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin increased the profitability of the crop and led to the expansion of slavery. 

8.9.3   Compare perspectives and experiences of both free and enslaved blacks including the

   A. everyday life of free African Americans

   B. everyday acts of resistance to slavery

   C. efforts of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

   D. Nat Turner’s Rebellion

   E. legal restrictions and Slave Codes

8.9.4   Summarize the impact of the Abolitionist Movement including the writings and work of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. 

8.9.5   Identify the ideals, significance, and key leaders of the Second Great Awakening and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, including the Declaration of Sentiments and the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. 

8.10 The student will analyze major political, economic, and social events that resulted in the Civil War. 

8.10.1   Summarize the importance of slavery as the principal cause of increased sectional polarization leading to the Civil War. 

8.10.2   Evaluate the goals of the Compromise of 1850 regarding the issue of slavery. 

8.10.3   Evaluate the impact of the publication Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, on anti-slavery sentiments. 

8.10.4   Analyze the impact of the Kansas-Nebraska Act on the issue of popular sovereignty in new territories regarding the institution of slavery, repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and factional feuds in Bleeding Kansas.

8.10.5   Summarize the Dred Scott v. Sandford case which declared slaves as property and motivated John Brown’s Raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. 

8.11 The student will analyze the course and consequences of the Civil War. 

8.11.1   Analyze the immediate impact of the presidential election of 1860 including

A. secession of southern states who declared slavery as the central factor for seceding

B. Lincoln’s goal to preserve the Union

C. formation of the Confederate States of America

D. Confederate attack on Fort Sumter

E. tensions over strategic border states.

8.11.2   Compare the advantages and disadvantages of the Union and the Confederacy including natural resources, population, industrialization, and the military leadership of Ulysses S Grant and Robert E. Lee. 

8.11.3   Evaluate the impact and contributions of specific groups in the Civil War including free and enslaved African Americans, American Indians, women, and immigrants. 

8.11.4   Discuss the key strategies utilized during the war, such as the Anaconda Plan, Total War, and the southern defense strategy. 

8.11.5   Summarize the significance of the key battles of the war, including Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. 

8.11.6   Analyze the Emancipation Proclamation, including its role in expanding the goals of the war and its impact on slavery; identify the significance of Juneteenth in relationship to emancipation. 

8.11.7   Explain how the Gettysburg Address clarified the Union’s motivation for winning the war. 

8.11.8   Evaluate the impact of Lincoln’s assassination, loss of his leadership, and plans for reconciliation as expressed in his Second Inaugural Address. 

8.12  The student will analyze the political, social, and economic transformations during the Reconstruction Era to 1877.

8.12.1   Compare the major plans and policies proposed for Reconstruction. 

8.12.2   Analyze the impact of state and federal legislation following the Civil War including

A. 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

B. Black Codes and Jim Crow laws

C. establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau

8.12.3   Compare the emerging social structure of the South including the

A. influx of carpetbaggers and scalawags

B. rise of the Ku Klux Klan and its acts of intimidation and violence

C. election of blacks to government positions

D. expansion of the tenant and sharecropper systems

E. migration of former slaves.

8.12.4   Assess the impact of the presidential election of 1876 as an end to reconstruction in the South, including decline of black leadership, loss of enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments, and the development of segregated societies. 

8.12.5   Evaluate the impact of federal policies including:

             A. Homestead Act of 1862 and the resulting movement westward to free land '

             B. impact of continued displacement of American Indians

             C. President Grant’s Peace Policy on Indian affairs

             D. the development of the Transcontinental Railroad

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