AP World History Unit 5 Review (Years 1750-1900)

13 min readmay 15, 2022

Amanda DoAmaral

Amanda DoAmaral

AP World History: Modern 🌍

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Unit 5: Revolutions from 1750-1900

In AP® World History, unit 5 focuses on the revolutions from 1750 CE to 1900 CE and accounts for 12-15% of the material on the exam. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for the modern era, focus on the key concepts and use the essential questions to guide you. After studying on your own, invite some friends to a study with me online session to discuss the main points of the unit and review anything that you may be confused on. It is a great way to for everyone to feel supported while studying!
👉 Watch AP World teacher Patrick Lasseter give an overview of The Age of Revolutions

Context of Unit 5: What was going on?

  • Columbian Exchange increased movement of products, ideas, people, and diseases around the world → increased population
  • Industrialization came about as a result of increased wealth & demand
  • European states practiced Imperialism for more materials and access to markets
  • Political shifts occurred as a result, led by rebellions and revolts
  • More and more people migrated because of economic opportunity and political turmoil
  • Major causes and effects of economic strategies of different states and empires

AP World Unit 5 Dates to Know

STUDY TIP: You will never be asked specifically to identify a date, even for MCQs. However, knowing the order of events will help immensely with cause and effect. For this reason, we've identified the most important dates to know.
1762: Rousseau publishes the Social Contract
1765: James Watt invents steam engine
1776: American Revolution begins
1789: French Revolution begins
1801: Haitian Revolution
1815: Latin American Revolutions begin
1848: Seneca Falls Convention organized by feminists & abolitionists
1868: Meiji Restoration

Full Course Review for AP World History

Watch the AP World History 5-Hour Cram Finale for a comprehensive last minute cram session covering the entire WHAP curriculum including every unit, every time period, and every type of question you will come against during the exam.
Here is a breakdown of the review schedule and timeline:
  • 30 min - Overview: sorting by theme, region, and time periods
  • 1 hour - 1200-1450 CE
  • 1 hour = 1450-1750 CE
  • 1 hour = 1750-1900 CE
  • 1 hour = 1900-Present
  • 30 min = Final thoughts: time management, strategies, and pep talk!

Unit 5 Essential Questions

STUDY TIP: Use the following essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice LEQ questions! Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
  1. How did the enlightenment lead to revolutions?
  2. What were the causes and effects of the major revolutions?
  3. What factors led to the Industrial Revolution?
  4. What effect did industrialization have on traditional industries?
  5. How did new technology increase economic production?
  6. What methods did states use to industrialize?
  7. How did economic ideology change as a result of industrialization?
  8. How did industrialization spark reform?
  9. What effect did industrialization have on society?

Past Essay Questions from Unit 5 AP World

STUDY TIP: Content from the modern era has appeared on the DBQ, SAQ, and LEQ essays a whopping seventeen times, especially relating to the Industrial Revolution. Take a look at a few of these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. Then, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
**The AP World History exam was revised in 2017, so any questions from before then are not representative of the current exam format or rubric. You can still use prior questions to practice, however DBQs will have more than 7 documents, the LEQ prompts are worded differently, and the rubrics are completely different. Use questions from 2002-2016 with caution.
Need help with writing? Watch how to increase your score:

Unit 5 Key Concepts: Course Outline

*The following outline was adapted from the AP® World History Course Description as published by College Board in 2019 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.

5.1: The Enlightenment

Read: AP World History - The Enlightenment
  • New ideas emphasizing reason and individualism gained traction
  • Revolutions were ignited because of the tension between new ideas and old traditions
  • Key philosophers led the way with new ideas
    • Thomas Hobbes → social contract
    • John Locke → natural rights (life, liberty, & the pursuit of property), right to overthrow gov’t if rights are not protected
    • Baron Montesquieu → checks and balances, different branches of gov’t
    • Voltaire → religious freedom
    • Jean-Jacques Rousseau → expanded social contract, will of the people
    • Adam Smith → laissez-faire economics, free market, capitalism
    • Thomas Paine → advocated for US freedom from Britain, anti-church
  • Philosophers questioned religion, Deism embraced divinity and reason 
Enlightenment -ISMs
empiricismknowledge from observation and experiments, rather than religioussocialismthe public / the workers should own the means of productionclassical liberalismreflected enlightenment ideas pushing back on traditional politics, society, and economicsclassical conservatismnatural social order, belief in traditional monarchies & nobility, unapologetically elitistnationalismintense loyalty to others who speak your language and/or share your cultureutopian socialismideal societies designed to maximize harmony - shared ownership, positive workplaces, equal rightsfeminismbelief that women’s rights are human rightsabolitionismmovement to end slavery and extend rightszionismdesire for Jewish homeland in Middle Eastanti-semitismhostility toward Jews

5.2 Nationalism & Revolution

Its crucial to understand the roles played by nationalism and revolution during this period on a global scale. Additionally, make sure you have a solid grasp on the Atlantic Revolutions and making comparisons.
  • Enlightenment ideas sparked revolutions as people fought oppression
  • American Revolution
    • Seven Years’ War increased British debts, so they taxed colonies
    • At first, America just wanted representation in tax decisions
    • Unable to come to an agreement, America declared independence
    • Colonists got the W and established a new constitutional government
  • New Zealand Wars
    • Maori tribes occupied New Zealand from 1200s to 1840
    • Britain annexed New Zealand in 1840 and increased control
    • Maori tribes rebelled in spurts for 40 years, increasing Maori nationalism
    • By 1872, the British had won
  • French Revolution
    • France in economic ruin after Seven Years’ War & American Revolution
    • Three Estates (Clergy, Nobility, Commoners) met, but the common people were outvoted despite having 97% of the population
    • The Third Estate broke away and established the National Assembly
    • After storming the Bastille, the king was forced to accept the National Assembly as a new government
    • The new government was unstable because radicals continued to spiral, leading to the Reign of Terror, which had everyone accused of treason
    • Napoleon quelled the chaos and established himself as emperor
  • Haitian Revolution
    • Inspired by the revolutions in France and America, the slaves on the French colony of Haiti revolted against white masters in 1791
    • Maroon communities joined the revolt led by Toussaint L’Ouverture
    • The new Haiti established equality and citizenship for all and redistributed land for the formerly enslaved and free black people
    • Then the French betrayed L’Ouverture and doubled down on squashing the rebellion with near genocidal tactics
    • By 1803, pressure from Britain pulled Napoleon’s attention away from Haiti, leaving the French vulnerable
    • Haiti was declared independent, the first black led country in the west
  • Latin American Creole Revolutions
    • Social hierarchy based on race and ethnicity caused tensions as the creoles resented the Spanish Crown for favoring Peninsulares
    • Creoles wanted more political power, opposed Spanish mercantilism
    • Mestizos also wanted a share of power
    • Simon Bolivar led the independence movement and war through Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru
    • Creoles established new constitutional governments that abolished slavery, but continued to oppress Indigenous communities and women
  • Puerto Rico & Cuba
    • Led by Enlightened poet Lola Rodriguez de Tio
    • Last Spanish colonies, uprisings throughout the end of the 19th century
  • Italian Unification
    • Italy was divided between several small kingdoms and city states
    • Count di Cavour practiced realpolitik to manipulate the unification 
      • Realpolitik is the politics of reality, policy in pursuit of power
    • Aligned with Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi to get it done
  • German Unification
    • Established by Otto von Bismarck who also used realpolitik to engineer three wars in order to manipulate German unification
    • German Empire founded in 1871, nationalism continued to increase for decades eventually leading to the World Wars
  • Balkan Nationalism
    • The Ottoman Empire was in slow decline for most of the 19th century
    • Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania experienced waves of nationalism

5.3 Industrialization Begins

The Industrial Revolution had sweeping impacts on society, and tends to come up frequently on the exam, especially the LEQ and SAQ portions.
  • Agricultural Revolution in 1700s increased crop production
    • Crop rotation, seed drill, the potato
  • Preindustrial societies were mostly rural, family based, subsistence farms
    • Cottage industry arose because of cotton surplus, women worked at home
  • New tech and processes accelerated production 
    • Spinning jenny and water frame → reduced time to spin yarn and weave cloth → moved production out of home and into factories
    • Interchangeable parts → each part could be replaced without replacing the whole thing
    • Specialization of labor → each worker focuses on one thing, maximize production time and resources → assembly line
  • Why the Industrial Revolution started in Britain
    • Location = easily import raw materials and export finished goods
    • Abundance of coal, mining became dominant in the UK and early America
    • Expanded colonial empire gave Britain more markets & more materials
    • Lots of rivers made transport of materials easy throughout the land
    • Entrepreneurs had legal protection of property and business, less risk
    • Growing population of workers and movement to cities because of the enclosure act (restricted land ownership in rural areas)

5.4 Industrial Revolution Spreads

⚡ Read: AP World History - Spread of Industrialization
  • Industrialization spread throughout the world quickly as states innovated
    • France & Germany
      • France was delayed because of wars and less populated cities
      • Germany delayed until unification, then leader in coal & steel production
    • United States
      • Rapidly growing population through immigration
      • Leading industrial force by 1900
    • Russia
      • State-led industrialization
      • Focus on transportation, Trans-Siberian railroads
    • Japan
      • Modernization for defensive purposes to protect tradition 
  • Textile production replaced shipbuilding in India and Southeast Asia, which declined during this period
    • American Civil War led Britain to invest in other sources of cotton
    • ⚡️Read: Asia from 1200 - the Present for more context on economics and industry in India and Southeast Asia, including shipbuilding
  • Traditional manufacturing replaced by industrial manufacturing

5.5 Technology in the Industrial Age

Read: AP World History - Technology in the Industrial Age
  • New technologies created faster and safer forms of transportation
    • Energy harnessed from steam was used to power boats and trains
      • Transportation was no longer dependent on winds/weather
    • Production of iron created stronger ships
  • Second Industrial Revolution involved chemicals, steel, and electronics
    • Oil & petroleum used for energy & eventually gasoline for automobiles
    • Electricity introduced in 1880s
  • Communication dramatically improved through telephone, telegraph, and radio
  • Construction of railroads and improved communications increased migrations

5.6 Industrialization: Government’s Role

Watch: AP World History - 🎥 Railroads and Empire Building (DBQ Practice)
  • Each country that industrialized in the 18th and 19th century used different economic strategies
  • Ottoman Empire
    • Tough 19th century for the Ottomans (overexpansion, weakened empire)
    • In Egypt, Muhammad Ali led the Mamluks to modernize education systems, taxes, and the textile industry
  • Japan and the Meiji Restoration
    • Industrialized the fastest of any country (half a century)
    • Japan was isolated from foreign affairs between 1600-1854, but everyone wanted in on Japanese markets
    • US Commodore Matthew Perry sailed to Japan and demanded trading privileges, the Japanese complied
    • Japan decided to modernize defenses in order to protect themselves from future threats in what was called the Meiji Restoration
    • Japanese officials traveled to Western Europe to study and adopt:
      • End of feudalism
      • Constitutional monarchy with emperor
      • Equality before the law
      • Reorganized military and instituted conscription
      • Expanded opportunities for education
      • Built railroads and roads
      • Subsidized industrialization for tea, silk, shipbuilding, and sake

5.7 Economic Developments and Innovations

Read: AP World History - Economic Effects of Industrialization
  • Mercantilist policy had gov’ts regulating the economy by promoting exports and limiting imports. Laissez-faire economics encouraged free trade.
  • Innovations in business 
    • Corporations developed as legal entities with ownership by stockholders
      • Stock market later formed to buy and sell stocks
      • Stockholders not personally liable, decreased risk increased investment
    • Corporations that gobbled up entire markets became monopolies
    • Transnational companies operated in more than one country
      • HSBC bank
      • Unilever
    • Insurance industry established, number of banks increased
  • Effects on Mass Culture
    • Consumerism developed as middle class had more money to spend
    • Biking and boating became popular things to do for fun
    • Athletics and professional sports came about - soccer, baseball, tennis
    • Construction of music halls and parks brought people together across class line

5.8 Reactions to the Industrial Economy

Read: AP World History - Responses to Industrialization
  • Industrialization sparked heated debates about labor and economic policy
  • Workers in harsh conditions organized for better pay and hours
    • Labor unions provided collective power and protections
    • Suffrage expanded as organized groups advocated for voting rights
    • Child labor was banned and replaced with public education systems
  • Capitalism was criticized as inhumane, which triggered economic debates
    • John Stuart Mill = Utilitarianism, “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”
    • Karl Marx advocated that capitalism would always lead to class warfare
      • Bourgeoise (upper class) owned the means of production
      • Capitalism incentives them to exploit proletariat (working class) for profit gains
      • Proletariat always overthrows bourgeoise, eventually leading to communism where no class distinctions exist
  • Ottomans reformed to meet the needs of an industrial economy
    • Sultan Mahmud II reformed the military and tax collections, built roads, and created a postal service
    • Tanzimat reforms after Mahmud included:
      • Decreased government corruption
      • Secular education system
      • Codified laws made it easier for international business
      • Updated legal system with equality before the law
    • Women not included in most reforms
    • Sultan Abdulhamid ended period of reforms and exiled advocates, Young Turks
      • Also massacred hundreds of thousands Armenians and Assyrian Christians
  • China also went through a period of internal reforms
    • Self-strengthening movement was a set of policies to modernize
    • Hundred Days of Reform abolished civil service exam, eliminated corruption, and reforms in medicine
    • Some felt modernization was a threat to traditional culture and opposed foreign influence → Boxer Rebellion
    • By 1911, China chose to become a republic
  • Japan’s reforms affected traditional customs
    • Samurai were dissolved and carrying a sword was outlawed
    • Some defended their right to wear traditional clothing
    • Japan quickly adopted democratic traits like public education, free press, labor unions, and individual liberties

5.9 Society and the Industrial Age

Read: AP World History - Social Effects of Industrialization
  • Everyday life changed dramatically for everyone because of industrialization
  • Cities grew quickly as economic centers shifted from farms to factories
    • Conditions for poor families were terrible - overcrowded apartments, polluted water supplies, rampant diseases
    • Growing number of wealthy families experienced better conditions, more leisure
  • Class structure became more rigid as the wealth gap increased
    • Working class at the bottom included factory workers, low-skilled jobs
    • Middle class of managers, business owners, skilled jobs
    • Super wealthy at the top, the 1%, the owners of large corporations
  • Family life was affected by industrialization
    • Unlike farming, factory work split the family up during the workday
    • Long hours and exhaustion led to injuries and death, straining families
  • Children worked in factories and coal mines with oppressive conditions
  • Effects for Women
    • Working class women faced hardships in factories with less pay
    • Middle class women were spared from the breakbacking work, but also had to stay home and had limited opportunities
      • Cult of domesticity advocated for women managing the home
    • Feminism spread as women organized and advocated for equal rights
  • Industrialization was terrible for the environment
    • Air pollution increased as coal burning became more standard
    • Water pollution led to the spread of cholera and typhoid
    • Fossil fuels were burned at record rates, increasing CO2 emissions
  • Mass production of goods made things cheaper and more easily accessible

Unit 5 Major Trends

  • Industrialization → consumer goods more affordable and available
  • Railroads increased circulation of goods, people, and ideas
  • States could industrialize through private investment (Britain, US) or state investment (Russia, Japan)
  • Demand for raw materials increased, new sources acquired by steamship
  • Capitalism prevailed in Western Europe, but made life hard for many
  • Harsh working conditions led to labor unions for collective power
  • The rich got richer and the poor got poorer
  • Women gained economic power with opportunities in factories
  • People organized movements to advocate for government protections
  • Voting rights expanded as a result of organized progressive movements

List of Unit 5 Concepts & Vocabulary

Watch: AP World History - 🎥 Q&A Study Session on Unit 5
STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from unit 5 that most commonly appear on the exam. Make sure they are in your study packet and create a Quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
  • American Revolution
  • assembly line
  • balance of power
  • Berlin Conference
  • Boer Wars
  • bourgeoisie
  • Boxer Rebellion
  • capitalism
  • cash crops
  • Cecil Rhodes
  • Charles Darwin
  • Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang)
  • classical liberalism
  • communism
  • Congress of Vienna
  • conservatism
  • consumerism
  • corvee laborers
  • cult of domesticity
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man / Rights of Woman
  • Deism/Deists
  • Empress Cixi
  • enclosure movement
  • export economies
  • extraterritoriality
  • factory system
  • fossil fuel
  • French Revolution
  • Great Game
  • imperialism
  • indentured servants
  • Indian National Congress
  • industrialization
  • interchangeable parts
  • Karl Marx
  • King Leopold II
  • labor unions
  • laissez-faire
  • Maori
  • Maroons
  • means of production
  • Meiji Restoration
  • millenarian movement
  • monopoly
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • nationalism
  • Open Door Policy
  • Opium War
  • Otto von Bismarck
  • Pan-Africanism
  • penal colony
  • Qing Dynasty
  • raw materials
  • realpolitik
  • romanticism
  • Roosevelt Corollary
  • salons
  • Scramble for Africa
  • Self-Strengthening Movement
  • separation of powers
  • sepoy mutiny
  • Simon Bolivar
  • Sino-Japanese War
  • Social Darwinism
  • socialism
  • Suez Canal
  • Sun Yat-sen
  • Taiping Rebellion
  • Tanzimat
  • tenement
  • Toussaint L’Ouverture
  • Trans-Siberian Railroad
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Treaty of Nanking
  • Treaty of Portsmouth
  • urbanization
  • utilitarianism
  • utopia
  • Wahhabis
  • White Australia Policy
  • white-collar
  • working class
  • Xhosa Cattle Killing Movement
  • Young Turks
  • Zionism
  • Zulu Kingdom

Browse Study Guides By Unit
🐎Unit 1 – The Global Tapestry, 1200-1450
🐫Unit 2 – Networks of Exchange, 1200-1450
🕌Unit 3 – Land-Based Empires, 1450-1750
🍕Unit 4 – Transoceanic Interactions, 1450-1750
✊🏽Unit 5 – Revolutions, 1750-1900
🚂Unit 6 – Consequences of Industrialization, 1750-1900
💣Unit 7 – Global Conflict, 1900-Present
🥶Unit 8 – Cold War & Decolonization, 1900-Present
✈️Unit 9 – Globalization, 1900-Present
✏️Frequently Asked Questions
🤔Exam Skills
👉🏼Subject Guides
📝AMSCO Notes

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