3.13 Continuity and Change in Period 3 (1754-1800)

5 min readmarch 12, 2023

Riya Patel

Riya Patel

AP US History 🇺🇸

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Period 3, which spanned from 1754 to 1800, was a time of great change and continuity in American history. This era saw the beginning of the American Revolution, the establishment of the United States government, and the growth of a new nation. However, it also marked the continuation of slavery, the displacement of Native American populations, and ongoing conflicts with European powers.

Key Vocabulary

  • American Revolution: A political upheaval during the period 1765-1783, in which the thirteen American colonies rejected British monarchy and aristocracy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain, and founded the United States of America.
  • Federalism: A system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units, such as states.
  • Neutrality: A policy or stance of not taking sides in a conflict between other parties.
  • Slavery: A system in which people are treated as property and are forced to work without payment, often subjected to harsh conditions and restrictions on their freedom.
  • Native American: The indigenous people of North America, prior to European contact and colonization.
  • Displacement: The forced removal of people from their homes or lands, often as a result of conflict or economic development.
  • Bicameral: A legislative body consisting of two chambers or houses, such as the United States Congress.
  • Democracy: A system of government in which power is vested in the people and exercised through free and fair elections and representative institutions.
  • Napoleonic Wars: A series of conflicts fought between France and various European powers from 1803 to 1815, named after Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader who led France during much of the period.
  • Thirteenth Amendment: An amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.


One of the most significant changes during this period was the outbreak of the American Revolution. Tensions between the British colonies and the British government had been building for years, with the colonists resenting British attempts to impose taxes and control over their affairs. The Revolution officially began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which declared the thirteen American colonies independent from British rule. The Revolution was a major turning point in American history, leading to the establishment of the United States as an independent nation and paving the way for the development of democratic ideals.
Another significant change during this period was the establishment of the United States government. In 1787, delegates from the thirteen states gathered in Philadelphia to draft a new constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. The resulting document established a federal system of government with a strong executive branch, a bicameral legislature, and an independent judiciary. The Constitution was ratified in 1788, and George Washington was elected as the first president of the United States in 1789. This marked a new era of federalism and representative democracy in American history.


Despite these significant changes, there were also elements of continuity during this period. One of the most enduring institutions was slavery. Although some northern states had abolished slavery by the end of the Revolutionary War, the institution persisted in the South, where it was integral to the economy. Slavery remained legal in the United States until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, marking a long period of resistance to change.
Another area of continuity was the displacement and mistreatment of Native American populations. European settlers continued to push westward, encroaching on Native American lands and often engaging in violent conflicts. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, signed by President Andrew Jackson, authorized the forced removal of thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral lands and the relocation to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. This was a continuation of the long history of mistreatment and displacement of Native Americans that began with European colonization.
Finally, the United States continued to face conflicts with European powers during this period. The French and Indian War (1754-1763) had set the stage for ongoing tensions with Great Britain, culminating in the American Revolution. Even after the Revolution, the United States faced challenges from European powers, including France and Great Britain. In 1793, the United States issued the Proclamation of Neutrality, which declared the nation's intention to remain neutral in conflicts between other countries. However, the United States was drawn into the conflict between France and Great Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted from 1803 to 1815.


In conclusion, Period 3 was a time of great change and continuity in American history. The American Revolution marked a significant turning point in the nation's history, leading to the establishment of the United States as an independent nation and the development of democratic ideals. The establishment of the United States government created a new era of federalism and representative democracy. However, the persistence of slavery and mistreatment of Native American populations were elements of continuity that persisted into the future. The United States also continued to face challenges from European powers, highlighting the ongoing importance of foreign relations in American history. Understanding the complex interplay of continuity and change during Period 3 is essential to understanding the development of the United States as a nation.

Questions for Review

  • What were the main factors that contributed to the economic growth and expansion during Period 3 (1754-1800) in America?
  • How did slavery impact the development of the United States during this period?
  • What were the key ideas and values of the American Revolution, and how did they shape the formation of the United States?
  • How did Native Americans respond to the growing European presence in North America during this period, and what were the consequences of their interactions?
  • What was the role of women in American society during this period, and how did their struggle for equality progress over time?
  • How did the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates shape the development of the United States Constitution?
  • What was the impact of the Napoleonic Wars on the United States during this period?
  • How did the concept of neutrality influence American foreign policy during this period?
  • What were the major challenges and accomplishments of the United States government under the Articles of Confederation?
  • How did the Thirteenth Amendment impact the United States, and what were its long-term effects on American society and culture?
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🌽Unit 1 – Interactions North America, 1491-1607
🦃Unit 2 – Colonial Society, 1607-1754
🔫Unit 3 – Conflict & American Independence, 1754-1800
🐎Unit 4 – American Expansion, 1800-1848
💣Unit 5 – Civil War & Reconstruction, 1848-1877
🚂Unit 6 – Industrialization & the Gilded Age, 1865-1898
🌎Unit 7 – Conflict in the Early 20th Century, 1890-1945
🥶Unit 8 – The Postwar Period & Cold War, 1945-1980
📲Unit 9 – Entering Into the 21st Century, 1980-Present
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