High School Level-Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners

Course No. 132
Professor Linwood Thompson, M.A.
Bellflower High School, Los Angeles, California
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4.4 out of 5
44 Reviews
63% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 132
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Course Overview

Make American history come alive for your student with this excellent 30- lecture course by nationally recognized educator Linwood Thompson. Covering the first half of America's fascinating history from the settlement of the continent by Native Americans through to the California Gold Rush of 1849, this course is taught with unusual creativity and innovation.

Every lesson in the course is "taught" by a particular character. Professor Thompson has an arsenal of costumes, as well as a firm grasp on the personae of great historical figures. He dresses, talks, and acts like them. He actually becomes them!

Lin Thompson appears only briefly at the start of this course. He then "becomes" Bjarni Herjolfsson, Viking explorer and incomparable expert on who really discovered America. From that moment, students will know they are in for a fascinating trip as Bjarni gives way to Christopher Columbus, revolutionary war foot soldiers, a French trapper, and a host of other characters who provide a first-person perspective on early American history.

A New Look for American History

Professor Thompson’s characters will inspire students to look at history from a new perspective. Professor Thompson’s guides, while entertaining, will also teach the student to better understand American history. Students will learn:

  • To differentiate between Southwest and Eastern Woodland Native Americans
  • What led Europeans such as Columbus to the New World
  • The roles European powers—Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands—played in their colonies and how those colonies interacted
  • The roles of religious groups in American history, such as the Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, and Mormons
  • The economic and civil injustices that planted the seeds of revolution in the colonists' minds
  • The struggles and farsightedness of Founding Fathers Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and others in the creation of this new nation
  • The challenges in foreign policy that beleaguered the young nation: the French Revolution, the XYZ Affair, and subsequent Alien and Sedition Acts
  • How canals and railroads accelerated the expansion West.

He's such an entertaining presenter that students learn without effort. Every lecture is delivered in costume and in character. They just sit back, relax, and learn.

Here is Professor Thompson's description of the course:

"America's history begins with an overview of Pre-Columbian Native Americans and the impact of subsequent European discovery. Our study explores the exciting eras of colonization, independence, and the forging of a young nation. We end with the settling of the American frontier as an emerging nation stretches from sea to shining sea.

"Many of the characters I portray in these lectures are actual historical figures. Other composite characters can be distinguished by the use of my name, i.e., 'USA Thompson,' 'Hickory Thompson,' etc. Remember that the lecturers from each period will share certain attitudes and biases while sharing the story of their day. It is important that you gain a truly historical perspective by reading and studying these same incidents as recorded and analyzed in various articles and books.

"To assist you in this part of your studies, I have provided a large list of books at the end of the course outline. In each lesson, I have listed books that will help you dig a little deeper and understand a lot more about the topic that I portray on the tape. Some are called 'essential,' which means that you should try to get a copy and read the chapters noted to get the most out of the lecture.

"Others are 'strongly recommended' or 'suggested.' This means that they would be valuable to check out but are not necessary for a basic understanding of the topic, if you have looked at the essential book(s). They might focus on just one particular part of the lecture, or maybe they're a little bit more advanced than the 'essential' book.

"By referring to as many of the recommended books as possible, you will challenge yourself to develop your skills as a reader and researcher, which are good skills to have as you advance through your schooling toward college.

"American history is a rich story of the events that have shaped modern American society. Allow the stories to transport you back in time to the initial shaping of a nation with diverse cultural roots. I love American history! I hope you will love it too."

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30 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Pre-Columbian America
  • 2
    Discovery and Exploration of America
  • 3
    The Virginia Colony
  • 4
    Pilgrims and Puritans
  • 5
    Other European Colonies
  • 6
    Witches, Quakers, and Catholics
  • 7
    Life in Colonial America
  • 8
    Swashbucklers, Smugglers, and Slavers
  • 9
    The Great Awakening and Enlightenment
  • 10
    Wars with France
  • 11
    Seeds of Revolution and War
  • 12
    Men of the Revolution
  • 13
    Declaration of Independence
  • 14
    Revolutionary War—On Land and Sea
  • 15
    The National Government and the War's End
  • 16
    Stretching the Western Boundaries
  • 17
    The Constitution
  • 18
    Washington and the New Government
  • 19
    French and American Revolutions
  • 20
    Dividing of Patriots—The Two Party System
  • 21
    Era of Jefferson
  • 22
    War Hawks, Indians, and the War of 1812
  • 23
    Industrial Revolution
  • 24
    Cities and the Transportation Revolution
  • 25
    Era of Jackson
  • 26
  • 27
    The Trails West
  • 28
    Colonizing the West—The Mormons
  • 29
    Mexican Territories and War
  • 30
    West to California

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 30 lectures on 5 DVDs
  • 64-page printed course workbook

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 64-page printed course workbook
  • Suggested readings
  • Bibliography

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Your professor

Linwood Thompson

About Your Professor

Linwood Thompson, M.A.
Bellflower High School, Los Angeles, California
Linwood Thompson teaches history at Bellflower High School in suburban Los Angeles, where his program has attracted international attention for its creativity and innovation. Professor Thompson received his M.A. at Brigham Young University. The California State Senate honored him for Outstanding Achievement in Education. In 1997-1998, he received the State Superintendent of Public Instruction California Teachers of the...
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High School Level-Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 44.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not quite there. Too much lecture, not enough visual props. Prof in dress-up is fine but there is too much of the silly voices and not enough historical information (and really lacking in visual reinforcement). This seems to be sections of lecture to follow-up on previously completed reading assignments that the video student has not completed...
Date published: 2017-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Professor is a hoot! I bought this to supplement our homeschool work, and I'm so glad I did! We are all enjoying these lectures, and we are learning a lot. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nothing I hoped. The course was poorly made and poorly presented. I am disappointed.
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course I'm really enjoying this course. This is a high school course, but I have learned things I didn't know and I'm well past high school. Professor Thompson's presentations are so enjoyable and really make history come alive.
Date published: 2017-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from While I have not yet completed the course, about 2/3 done, I find it very well done and very easy to understand. I like the way the instructor suits himself up in the various period costumes. It would have been helpful to have shown period maps of the period he was teaching, e.g. location of French/Indian War, or location of landing of Columbus. Nevertheless, the presentation was excellent.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A treasure Linwood Thompson, time traveler, is brilliant. How often I've gotten so engrossed in his lecture-plays that I forgot I'm actually watching someone acting. Aside from the fact that his portrayals are compelling, he focuses more on the lives and experiences of people of the times and less on political events than conventional history courses. I get from him much more of a sense of who these people were, what motivated them, what it would have been like living in their times, and why history took the paths it did. I also get a better appreciation of the nature and extent of the cultural changes across generations and why those changes took place. We think times are changing now, but Linwood's little lecture-plays make clear that big change is nothing new. Pedagogically, Linwood's approach seems perfect. People think and remember in stories, particularly stories with emotional content. Linwood conveys facts in a coherent narrative that is easy to remember. And he not only obviously understands and loves history deeply, it's obvious he loves people. His warmth, even through the camera, is palpable. These videos are not only educational, they are uplifting and just plain fun.
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from American history The videos are great. The only problem is the workbook included was for world history, not American history.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining way of teaching US History Professor Thompson utilizes his acting talents to make history enjoyable. We used this to supplement home-school US History course and we loved it.
Date published: 2013-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review of Early American History I am usually not an American history fan but Linwood Thompson has produced a marvel. These lectures are a combination of soliloquy, acting, historical story telling, and brilliant expository. The course is only available in DVD, in part because of the costume props, but more importantly to watch the character portrayals. There are no slides or video, as they would distract. This course is like a good book where mental images invigorate your mind. Thompson uses a device more important than props that needs to be understood. He starts each course by adopting a character that is NOT the central character of the lecture. This allows Thompson to use that character's eyes to tell you all about the world that character sees in a gossipy yet deeply involved manner. You feel that you are there. The character's point of view, his heroes and villains become yours. You read the papers with him, you smell the smells, and you feel the pain. By then adopting a different character in the next lecture, you get a different point of view on the same period. Both points of view are shown to have merit and so the complexity of the issues becomes obvious. An example of the brilliance of this technique is lessons 11/12. First a British soldier gives his point of view about the horrendous behavior of the ungrateful American pre-Revolutionary war colonists. It is hilariously accurate portrayal of our bad behavior as seen from "the other side". Then Thompson portrays the American. Such juxtaposition is portrayed many times, including French vs British interests, the Spanish vs Texas, etc. It allows a better understanding of the results of conflict and the best methods of conflict resolution. Thompson is a master of finding the great stories that bring history alive. There are dozens of stories within each lesson. Don't miss the stories like John Colter's hair-raising escape, Mexican mules, the Ice King, pirates, War Hawks, bear attacks, and the burning of Washington. The difference between the Spanish treatment of the Indians via missions and that of the U.S. military is thought provoking. Towards the end of the course, you realize that Thompson interweaves his stories so that characters seen much earlier in the course pop up again... through a different character's eyes. This is very helpful memory device. Hint: since Thompson starts each lecture with a character (ex: Aaron Burr telling the story of Jefferson), write the name of that character down on the outline page so that when Thompson finally shows you why he is starting from that character, you will grasp the continuity. Cons: Unlike Cardulla's HS Chemistry, this course has no guidebook. It does have an excellent study workbook with an outline and Q&S. I found myself furiously filling in the outline because the workbook approach doesn't allow cohesiveness upon subject review. Additionally, this course is NOT available in download so after watching once, you can't take it with you on the treadmill. An audio file for second play through would be great. I truly am in awe of this course, which appears to have come out in '96. As the Teaching Company occasionally retires courses [this one has not been converted to download, which is worrisome], consider purchasing it soon. If you read the reviews, adults liked this course at least as much as their kids. Avoid the wound to your pride of the HS label by buying it for your kids. Then watch it. Boys in particular (including the grown up ones), will love its many tales of adventure.
Date published: 2013-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable for any level of history student This is such a fun course, I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in history. *It's accessible and educational for anyone, high school to history buff! *Convincing. Prof Thompson's approach is to act out the roles of many people in history. It completely drew me in. I felt like I listening to the actual character, rather than to a prof. *Great story-telling. While Prof J Rufus Fears' story-telling abilities are well-praised by reviewers, Prof Thompson has Prof Fears beat in this regard. He's got lots of detailed stories. He also keeps his own opinions out of the story telling; Prof Fears was unabashed about letting his opinions leak through. (Despite these comparisons, I have become a convert to Prof Fears in the last year. Sadly, he passed away in October. I'm glad he left us all such a rich legacy of courses.) *In depth! Can you believe he's got 36 lectures on pre-1850s America? I thought I knew a lot of American history. But I learned so much more. *Compared to "World History." This course has received much higher ratings than his World History course, 4.7-ish vs. 4.0-ish. It's not clear why, because they are both good. For me, they are 4.7 versus 4.4. Anyway, if you like this course, I think you'll like "World History," too. Downsides: *At times unclear. In his passion for *being* a particular person, he sometimes lost me. For example, if he's talking about two different people, and only uses "he", it becomes confusing as to which "he" he's talking about. *Facts: A few times I wasn't sure he had all of his facts straight. However, the strength of his course is the big picture, so this wasn't a big deal. *My only real frustration: This course lacks graphics, and it needs them. Maps, portraits, drawings, etc. I feel this detracted from the value of the course. Because of this, I think it's a bit overpriced. All that said: Wait for a coupon or special deal on this course. Then snatch it up and watch it with your family!
Date published: 2012-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ENTERTAINING COURSE FROM 1996 Definitely a valuable aid for high schools or for youngsters at home; this is not a standalone course. I was not surprised to note the series was recorded 16 years ago. Today I believe a somewhat different approach would and should be taken in teaching high school age students via this acting technique. The costumes were bright and always interesting, and Professor Thompson was able to vary his accent very well. The studio background, however, was distracting. Different lighting could have overcome this problem, by concentrating on the teacher and greatly toning down illumination on the set itself. Also, the introduction of some graphics & pictures would have been most welcome. Similarly some props (so many come to mind) would have added tremendously to the lectures. Overall, I'm happy to recommend this course as a very valuable and FUN teaching aid.
Date published: 2012-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun and informative I bought this course as an introductory history class for my children, ages 4 and 5. They thoroughly enjoyed this class, as did I. The professor is very engaging in his presentations, and his costumes were fun to see each time. There are a few times he forgets which perpective he presenting, but overall, this is a great way to make history seem real, and come alive. I consider this a great overview class to "get the gist" of early American history. It is not heavy on exact dates and places, nor does it go into exhaustive detail on each time period, which most of us don't remember from high school history anyway. So,if you want a "rigorous" history class, perhaps this would not be for you. However, this has been an excellent addition to and unifying class to our historical-based home reading curriculum, of reading biographies of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Helen Keller. A great addition to this class would be maps, as has been mentioned by other reviewers. I also appreciated he did not "sugar coat" our early history, as was done in my own experience of early American History. He presents it "warts and all", and it was truly eye-opening to me to see our history is not just "the good old days", but has some serious issues with crime, ballot rigging, and the likes, from the beginning. A bit of a bubble popped for me, but I guess it's more realistic. We bought his class on World History, and plan to start it soon.
Date published: 2012-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making history fun! You don't have to be a high school student to love this class. I'm sixty-something and enjoyed every minute of it. Professor Thompson makes learning so much fun and interesting that you forget you are actually listening to a lecture. I loved his funny accents and costumes. If I had had a history teacher like him in school I might have developed a taste for further study. For me, history was just a matter of memorizing dates and names just to pass a test and much of it fell out of my head when I walked out the door. Not so with Professor Thompson. However, If you are looking for a seriously in depth U S history course this one might not be right for you. I have passed these DVDs on to my friends and they all happily agree with me. Thank you Professor Thompson for providing such an enjoyable learning experience!
Date published: 2011-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Using it for high school history spine I am using this course for the spine of our American history this year for a 9th and a 7th grader. They laugh at how he often looks at the beginning of a new class but they listen. His outlines and study questions make it easy to extend the class to cover the information more thoroughly. At this point I will definitely be using his early history course for the next couple of years to make a spin through history before the 9th grader's graduation.
Date published: 2011-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History Comes Alive! Being a history buff, I have always wanted to instill the idea in my children that history is an amazing story of connections and cause and effect. I purchased this course to serve as a supplement to our American History lessons. WOW! It is more than that. My students are 6th and 10th grade. They are always anxious to see "Who" will be talking today. The professor does what all history teachers should do- "Tell the story". Great presentation! Also, the outline and worksheets help me in creating quizzes or tests.
Date published: 2010-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History Like It Ought to be Taught I own a bookshelf-full of Teaching Company courses. This is the first for which I am writing a review. My family has watched this entire course three times through, and we still enjoy going back to selected lectures again and again, as current events make certain lectures relevant. Lecturer Linwood Thompson's historical characters hold the viewer's interest until the lecture's end, to discover what role each character played in the unfolding of history within the particular time frame. My family loves how Mr. Thompson expounds upon a relatively minor historical character's life within the context of greater events. Linwood Thompson is particularly strong in his presentation of early America as Europeans begin their exploitations of the continent. He also gives a respectable account of how the indigenous Americans were courted, deceived, demonized, decimated, disempowered, disowned, relocated, dispersed, and dismissed as part of the unfolding European-American subjugation of the continent. Thompson's weaknesses show through in his reticence to touch on the brutal and inhumane treatment of Native Americans by the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries who worked together to subjugate the Southwestern American natives. He fails to mention the forced slavery to which native tribesmen and women were forced to submit once they entered the Spanish missions. He fails to mention the military coercion ("recruitment") practiced by the Spanish troops to force the tribes to convert to Christianity and live as slaves within the walls of Spanish Missions. He also fails to mention the role of Russia in early American history, including not only claims to territory and sales to Washington, but also actual forts being built and exploration of the Western region of the USA. Nevertheless, Mr. Thompson's failings are few compared to his triumphs. My son frequently asks to watch one of Linwood Thompson's lectures in preference to literally dozens of other documentary and professionally-published educational choices. He even prefers Mr. Thompson's lectures over Disney and BBC productions and Simpsons episodes! I highly recommend purchasing this lecture series if you desire to learn more about early American history (pre-Civil-War-era) and want to experience this period through the eyes of lesser-known personalities living at the time. I would love to see Mr. Thompson tackle the era from the Civil War through the Great Depression. Such a course does not yet exist. Fans of Linwood Thompson, add your voices and perhaps it could become reality.
Date published: 2010-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved, LoVeD, LOVED it! I got this a few years ago and went through it with my two sons. They really enjoyed it. Last year my daughter came to me, excited that she was old enough to go through the "lectures". She wasn't disappointed. She LOVED the course and said she'd go through ANY course by Professor Thompsen! Not only did they all love it, but they learned so much from it, and looked forward to learning more! I recommend this course highly, especially for visual, hands-on type learners! Professor Linwood Thompsen makes history come alive! It rates an A+ in my (and may kids) book!
Date published: 2010-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You die on us, naughty naughty*Tisk, tisk* "We give you nice things, feed you, clothe you, and what do you do? You die on us, naughty naughty*Tisk, tisk*" says Thompson as he portrays Barbadian pirate Stede Bonnet. (in reference to enslaving the local indians) Thompson's unique if not outlandish teaching style is well composed and presented. In almost every lecture Thompson adorns himself with clothing and a character with it's own unique personality; a warning, if you would like to go through life avoiding absolutely wretched French accents, forego this course. While this may seem childish at first; it is a very effective teaching strategy. Thompson's background in theater provides his unique approach with a punch not often seen in any kind of teaching. This course attaches personality to situations and periods in time; that would otherwise be lost and uninteresting in a standard course. I have personally watched this with many relatives young and old and all enjoyed it equally; the course is not only entertaining but informative. You could say that this course lacks on content, but that would be a misunderstanding of its purpose. The workbook provided with the course gives the student comprehension and essay questions; which cements much of the knowledge and facts provided in the lectures. Thompson emphasizes independent student research and willingness to learn, and this is something that in my opinion is very hard to "teach" a student. The course is extremely enjoyable to watch for edutainment, or for a student who cannot quite grip the "joy" of history. The content in the course does give extremely important points of a High School Early-American history course, but to replace such a course(Homeschooling) one would have to make good use of the recommended texts in addition to being diligent in writing essays and doing independent research projects. If you have a particularly advanced and busy student; I would recommend the college-level American History from the Teaching Company instead. Hilarious, genuine, and informative; I highly recommend this course for anybody from your 5-year old, to your high-school student, to your grandmother.
Date published: 2010-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Course! My middle-school level son loves this course and looks forward to each lecture. The information is interesting and Professor Thompson presents it in an entertaining way. We highly recommend this course!!
Date published: 2009-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing way of teaching the way that this course is taught is remarkable once you watch a lesson it will be stuck in your head . but if Mr. Thompson would do a next part it would be really amazing.
Date published: 2009-10-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from it didn't work with my kids! given the other reviews, we're obviously in the minority. my kids didn't respond well at all. the "character approach" simply didn't work in catching their attention. i asked them to tell me what they would have preferred. they came back with: a) make history interactive through multi-media, or b) have a more compelling (charismatic, my word) teacher.
Date published: 2009-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling An intial reaction is tosnicker at an adult wearing a costume, but very quickly you are absorbed into the drama of history. The Prof. makes history come alive by presenting the people who made history in real and accessible ways. The costumes are not a gimmick, but rather a way for students to connect emotionally with the material and make it seem more real and relevant. The information presented is more at the High School level rather than college but that is exactly what it is advertised as. Most students will love this series of lectures (although they probably won't admit it!).
Date published: 2008-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I'm 89 and I believe everyday I don't learn something new is a lost day and I'v ehad a lot of days.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your courses stimulate me intellectually and are extremely well done. I'm able to enjoy learning without worring about learning to pass an exam. I can learn for the sale of learning which is extremely satisfying for me.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I have placed phone orders for many years and Eva at TTC gave the best customer service I have ever received.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was a fantastic course that my son has thoroughly enjoyed.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Teaching Co has done its home work & consistantly produces quality work products. A+
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressive, we are using this DVD to learn american history in our homeschool. our entire family watches including mom & dad.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For history, would have been helpful to show a map with specific locations marked, when mentioned. on website would be helfup to list additional books to purchase.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As home schoolers we find that your courses are a huge benefit to your education. Its all right there and delivered in such a palettable manner!
Date published: 2008-10-17
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