Topics from the Course Description

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Ch 13 Past Essay Topics

Unit 10. The Crisis of the Union

Topics from the Course Description

a. Pro- and antislavery arguments and conflict

b. Compromise of 1850 and popular sovereignty.

c. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the emergence of the Republican Party.

d. Abraham Lincoln, the election of 1860, and secession.


Document Based Questions:

1. “By the 1850s the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord and tension and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created.”


Using the documents and your knowledge of the period 1850-1861, assess the validity of this statement.

(See: 1990 DBQ)


2. “The debate over the relationship between the states and federal government and over the principles of interposition and nullification began with the struggle to ratify the Constitution and continued to the end of the Civil War.”


Evaluate this statement using the documents and your knowledge of constitutional history from 1789 to 1865.


Free Response Questions:

1. “Slavery was the dominating reality of all Southern life.”


Assess the validity of this generalization for TWO of the following aspects of Southern life from approximately 1840 to 19860:

- Political

- Social

- Economic

- Intellectual life

(See:  1984, #4)


2. “The sectional compromises of the first half of the 19th century were not in fact compromises but rather ‘sectional sellouts’ in which the North gave in to the insistent demands of the slave holding South.” 


Assess    the validity of this statement in the time period 1820 through 1860.

(See: 1993, #2)


3. Discuss the impact of territorial expansion on national unity between 1800 and 1850.

(See: 1997, #3)


4. To what extent did the debates about the Mexican War and its aftermath reflect the sectional  interests of New Englanders, westerners, and southerners in the period from 1845 to 1855?

(See: 2005, #3)


5. Analyze the ways in which the controversy over the extension to savery into western territories contributed to the coming of the Civil War. Confine your answer to the time period 1845-1861.

(2010 #3)

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