Economic Forces In American History

History teaches us that prosperous, advanced national economies like the U.S. share a common institutional framework conducive to creativity, production, and exchange.  That institutional framework of individual freedom, rule of law, clearly stated rights to private property, and open competitive markets shapes incentives to encourage material advance.

The multi-perspective approach to historical scholarship requires viewing events, trends, and developments through a variety of analytical lenses.  Often overlooked in traditional history curricula are the insights that the economic way of thinking adds to social, political, and geographic perspectives.  Emphasizing the role of institutions, Economic Forces In American History (EFIAH) looks at the impact of seven key forces in shaping the development of the United States.

Forces in American History

  1. A key to understanding people’s behavior is figuring out the incentives they face.
  2. Economic freedom, rule of law, and well defined property rights promote growth and prosperity.
  3. Inflation (deflation) happens when the money supply grows more quickly (slowly) than output.
  4. Wars harm economies and people.
  5. Entrepreneurship, business, and the pursuit of profit create opportunities and economic growth.
  6. Government is the arena of competition among interest groups.
  7. Worker mobility and competition among employers prevent exploitation of workers.

Lessons are designed to supplement high school history curricula.  Outlines provide background information, examples, and explanations for teachers to draw from in creating lessons or providing direct instruction to students, and applicable history and economics content standards are identified.  Interactive simulations and exercises are classroom-ready; files include step-by-step procedures, student materials, and teacher guides with suggested answers.  Lessons may be viewed and printed as web pages, or may be downloaded as editable documents from the links below.  All lessons are freely copyable and may be edited for classroom use.

Click here for information about EFIAH summer programs for teachers.

Lesson Outlines

Downloads (Word Docs)

Classroom Activities:

Downloads (Word Docs)

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