APUSH Unit V Essay Prep: The Civil War to the Early 1900s

The 1860 Political Party

I have just three for this unit that are complete. The other three weren’t finished and I only got synthesis points for them so I’m not going to put them on here.

(1) Analyse the social, political, and economic forces of the 1840s and early 1850s that led to the emergence of the Republican Party.

Synthesis: Any other political party system could be this although I went for the Federalist party.

Contextualization: Dred Scott case


  • Social:
    • ” wave of consciousness” by which I mean the realisation that black people are actually people (gasp)
      • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Frederick Douglas’s efforts (including his book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas)
    • Slave Power conspiracy- that an unproportionately small number of wealthy slaveholders has control of state gov’ts and is trying to take over the fed. gov’t
    • North’s feeling of superiority over South (lower rate of illiteracy, more developed industry and tech. etc) equals proof of the evils of slavery->argued for by Helper’s The Impending Crisis of the South but the rhetoric was purely in self-interest
    • Abolitionistic (and more moralistic) sentiments from the Second Great Awakening
    • Result: Turned Northerners from slavery and the South, naturally aligned with the Republicans’ views, Repubs also took in the fallout after the K-N Act killed the Whig party, taking on their values
  • Political:
    • Repeal of Missouri Compromise through the Nebraska-Kansas Act (one of the main catalysts to the formation of the Republican Party and it’s what undid the Whig parties)
      • Led to the disagreeable Lecompton Constitution in Kansas, Bleeding Kansas (“border ruffians, Missouri savages), encouraged by John Brown at Harpers Ferry
    • Also the Compromise of 1850 (Northerners especially tried to hinder attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, should be mentioned before the Kansas-Nebraska Act)
    • Whigs made way for the party because of divisions between Conscience Whigs and Cotton Whigs cause downfall of said party (can also be used for contextualization)
    • Result: Made slavery possible in territories and made Southern influences known in the North (Dred Scott and Fugitive Slave Act)->North resented it->slave power conspiracy->support for Republican Party
  • Economic:
  • Republican economic ideology fit Northern standards->free labor, slavery degraded honest labor, social mobility, equal opportunities for all etc etc
  • Republican platform of internal improvements and protective tariffs naturally appealed to Northern economic interest (you can include the National Banking Act here but make it clear that it occurred in the 1860s)
  • Republican promise to offer cheap land (led to the Homestead Act but you have to include the fact that it’s after the 1850s, 1862)
  • Mildly anti-immigrant (partially from the absorbed Know-Nothings) which matched northern sentiments at the time
  • Result: Republican Party had a very northern economic turn to it and that attracted a lot of followers (which is all-important because the North contained the winning number of electoral votes). Including how a lot of these policies are similar to what the Whigs were pushing is also a good idea.

(2) Analyze the effectiveness of political compromise in reducing sectional tensions in the period 1820-1861.

I recommend saying that while the earlier compromises were pretty effective, but as time went on, the later compromises became less and less effective.

Synthesis: 3/5th Compromise

Contextualization: You can us what inflamed the sectional tensions in the first place, Western expansion. You can expand on what made people want to move West and what policies made Western expansion possible etc etc.


  • Missouri Compromise (1820)
    • Maintains balance of slave and free states (Missouri as slave, Maine as free)
    • Drew the 36 30 line prohibiting slavery above it
    • Kept relative peace for 30 years
  • Compromise Tariff of 1833
    • Gov’t’s answer to the nullification crisis (South Carolina) over the Tariff of Abominations (1828)
    • Southern states extremely unhappy because the tariff favoured North and made things more expensive for the South
    • The new Tariff would reduce tariffs gradually to 1816 levels
    • Ended the Crisis
  • Compromise of 1850
    • Failed as the Omnibus Bill
    • Stephen Douglas passes through individual parts-2 relevant points:
      • Admitted California as free state(tipped the balance of free vs slave states)
      • Fugitive Slave Act(unpopular among Northerners, often ignored)
    • Was effective in the immediate timeframe, however, it introduced the concept of popular sovereignty which = disaster->N-K Act & Bleeding Kansas and the main objection of the Republican Party->President Lincoln->Civil War
  • Nebraska-Kansas Act (1854)
    • Was designed to appeal to both North and South in giving a terr.’s residents to choose if they become pro or anti slavery (& opened a railroad route to West)
    • Repealed Missouri Compromise-Northerners, specifically Republicans (<ree soilers) hated it
    • Major catalyst in the formation of Republican party (party formed same year)
    • Compromise was dead
  • Then, you have Crittenden which just failed… miserably.

(3) Evaluate the extent to which the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) marked a turning point in the debate over slavery in the United States, analysing what changed and what stayed the same from the period before the war to the period after it.

Synthesis: Missouri Compromise of 1829

Contextualization: The belief in Manifest Destiny and how that played into the War


  • Before:
    • Manifest Destiny as being the main cause for the M-A War (Prez Polk)
    • Missouri Compromise having solved the slavery question
      • Maintain balance of free vs slave states
      • Clearly marked out slave and non-slave land
    • Manifest Destiny and the Missouri Compromise kept tensions in check. Say also that since slavery was legal, abolitionists had only moral arguments. After the war, a new target emerged: slavery in the territories (which, of course, renewed the debate over slavery).
    • Gag rule effectively kept Congress from acting on the slavery question (1836)
    • Fred Douglas and Garrison’s Liberator gave renewed vigor to abolitionists to no result
  • During and After:
    • Whigs start dividing over the War (northern Whigs opposed it)
    • More persistent anti-slavery efforts (broke gag rule)
      • Wilmot Proviso (1846-48)
      • Popular Sovereignty (a break from Missouri Compromise after 30 years)
        • Compromise of 1850
          • Permanently tipped the balance to free states
          • Slavery question had a visible, “provoking” effect with the Fugitive Slave Act
          • Lead to K-N Act->Formation of Republican Party (1854)
    • slavery question further confronted by Dred Scott case (1857)

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