Is US History the Same as American History?

Many people use the terms “US history” and “American history” interchangeably, assuming they refer to the same thing. However, there is a difference between the two. In this article, we’ll explore what makes US history unique and how it differs from American history.

What is US History?

US history refers to the events, people, and ideologies that have shaped the United States as a nation. It includes topics such as colonization, the American Revolution, westward expansion, Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, World War I and II, Cold War politics, civil rights movement, and contemporary issues.

What is American History?

American history encompasses not only the events that took place within the borders of present-day United States but also includes the broader context of North America. Its scope extends beyond just political and military events to include social and cultural developments such as art, literature, music, sports etc.

The Differences

The main difference between US history and American history is their scope. While US history focuses exclusively on events that occurred within the borders of present-day United States since its establishment as a country in 1776, American history encompasses both North America before 1776 (including indigenous peoples) and cultural developments outside of political events.

Another significant difference is that US history often emphasizes specific political ideologies or movements that shaped national identity. For instance – Manifest Destiny was central to westward expansion in 19th century America. There are no clear-cut ideological themes or movements in American history.


In summary – while there is overlap between US History and American History in terms of shared historical events or figures but they have distinct scopes. US History focuses on a narrower timeframe within present-day United States borders with an emphasis on political and ideological movements whereas American History places a broader emphasis on cultural developments both inside North America and outside of it.