The Next Step: Building a Nation

Building a Nation 1785-1815


There are many different titles we could have chosen, but in broad strokes this period represents the creation of the American republic and its emergence on the world stage.  European history is booming, quite literally, during this period with the Napoleonic Wars.  Politics in early United States history are equally tumultuous.  The Articles of Confederation fail, and the new nation is called upon to draw up a new Constitution, put down a tax rebellion, decide what national defense is necessary, all while expanding trade and influence on the high seas.  We fight a ‘Quasi-War’ against our revolutionary ally, France, engage multiple Barbary States against piracy, and ultimately fight another war against Great Britain.

In November, we will leave the American Revolution behind and begin looking at the years that followed. First looking at how the Articles of Confederation failed and why the Constitutional convention became necessary.   We will take an in-depth look at the Bill of Rights and the protections they offer both then and now.  The next week we will spend some time focused on the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. We will dig into some of what was going on with various Native American tribes and then wrap up the month with the Carolina Gold Rush and an introduction to Lewis and Clark.

This is a time when borders and boundaries were changing frequently. The original 13 colonies become states, the nation adds two additional states and two huge territories (the Northwest and Louisiana purchase).  The changing borders and national expansion can be confusing and I recommend finding a map resource to help show those changes.  There are a variety of maps and programs that can be used. One program I like is Map Trek by Knowledge Quest. You can get a free sample here.

There are so many great art lessons in our American History Chalk Pastel Course to tie into this month that I am having trouble deciding which ones we want to cover. There is one specific to the war of 1812, The Constitution, Lewis and Clark, and several others that would tie in nicely. This is a great problem to have and knowing my kids they will want to do them all.  They enjoy them even when they are not ‘assigned work.’

There are many good books that we are looking at using with this block of history. My son loves the Rush Revere series and will also be reading the book Six Frigates which was written to an adult audience but has a great deal of good information about naval history and early American politics.  My daughter is going to start with Little House by Boston Bay to get an idea of life during the War of 1812 from the prospective of a young girl. She is much more interested in what was going on in people’s lives than the battles and details of the war.  We will probably use Sacagawea as our family read aloud this month.  In addition the children will use and I will read aloud parts of several books about the Constitution and the Bill of Right and we’ll review the primary source documents, but probably stop short of memorizing the preamble. We will continue studying selected chapters from America’s Story Volume 1 by Master Books.  Many more great books are included on the list of resources found in our free resource library. If you have not already done so, please sign up at the bottom of this post to get access to all of those resources.

We have a busy month with family events planned and preparing for the holiday season, so our field trips are going to be shorter and closer to home this month. We will visit the Stanley Home and New Bern Academy, connected with Tryon Palace and participate in a Native American webcast from the North Carolina Museum of History. We will also be looking back at pictures and memories from a trip a couple years ago to Washington D.C. where we saw many things that connect to the creation of this nation including visiting the archives and seeing the documents first hand. For those able to do more field trips this month there are many great ones listed in our resource list.

On the digital front, we will be watching a few more episodes of Liberty’s Kids and an old classic, Schoolhouse Rock which has some very catchy songs to help children remember information about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and How a Bill Becomes a Law among others.

I’ve found some recipes that look quite tasty from this time period and we are excited to try them. My son will be looking into the rations from the War of 1812 and comparing them to the Revolutionary War as well as comparing the rations of various armies during the war. This may become a recurring theme as we work our way up through history. After all, ‘An Army marches on it’s stomach’ (and so do many eleven year old boys).

A couple additional resources that may be of interest are the current sale on Discovery Education Streaming Plus at the Buyers co-op. This is a great collection of educational programming. They also have a sale on Jim Hodges Audio CDs right now. He has several different collections that would work well with early American history.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.


Don’t forget Tuesday 10/31 is the final day for this sale!  There are only a few more days left to take advantage of the great sale at Schoolhouse Teachers! With this sale you can have the curriculum you need for all of your children for  about $10 per month and you can try it for $5 for your first month.  They have everything from core classes, to art, music, and other great electives.

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