Key Topics–Period 5: 1750 to 1900 C.E.
Remember that the AP World History exam tests you on the depth of your knowledge, not just your ability to recall facts. While we have provided brief definitions here, you will need to know these terms in even more depth for the AP World History exam, including how terms connect to broader historical themes and understandings.
Revolutions and Independence Movements
- Enlightenment: Post-Renaissance period in European history devoted to the study and exploration of new ideas in science, politics, the arts, and philosophy.
- American Revolution: After American colonists served alongside the British in the French and Indian War, the Crown issued a series of taxes to recover the war debt. The colonists, angered that they were being taxed without representation, protested the taxes and began fighting for independence. Although the Revolutionary War itself lasted from 1775–1781, the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was significant in that it laid the foundations for the first large-scale democracy since Ancient Greece.
- French Revolution: Inspired by America’s victory in its own revolution, the “commoners” of eighteenth-century France sought to create a new political and social order free from royal control. The Third Estate, who vastly outnumbered the First and Second Estates (clergy and nobility, respectively), created the National Assembly and issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. In response, the French faced war with the other European powers, in which they emerged victorious thanks to the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Maroon: Term for a nineteenth-century escaped slave in the Americas who settled in his or her own settlement away from plantations. They caused tensions with the colonial authorities. This term can also be used to describe their present-day descendants.
- Haitian Revolution: Led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, this slave revolt lasted from 1791–1804, after which the former French colony of Saint-Domingue became the independent nation of Haiti, the second independent nation in the Western Hemisphere and the world’s first black republic.
- Latin American independence movements: Inspired by the success of the Haitian Revolution, these movements against Spanish colonial rule in Central and South America in the 1810s and 1820s led to the independence of every nation in those areas. Key leaders were Simon Bolívar, José de San Martín, and Bernardo O’Higgins.