APUSH Unit VI Essay Prep: Civil War, Reconstruction and Beyond (1860s-1900s)

Sorry for the late post guys, but here’s the next round of essay prep.

(1) Compare and contrast the attitudes of TWO of the following toward the wealth that was created in the United States during the late nineteenth century.

I chose Andrew Carnegie and Eugene V. Debs. If you chose other people, you have to look elsewhere for question 1.

Andrew Carnegie   Eugene V. Debs   Horatio Alger      Edward Bellamy

Synthesis: Andrew Jackson, his view towards wealth and the wealthy and his Jacksonian Democracy

Contextualisation: You can use the other two that you didn’t use. For example, Horatio Alger was a writer at the time and he wrote a lot of rags-to-riches type of narratives where he emphasised hard work and believed that perseverance was the key to success.


  • Carnegie-
    • Came from a poor immigrant background and rose rather quickly through the ranks to become the richest man in the world at a young age
    • “Gospel of Wealth”-believed strongly in philanthropy but through the lens of a “superior intellect.
    • Thought that people who were less economically gifted were less intelligent and has little knowledge in how to invest money and has little chance of improving (Social Darwinism)
    • Gave his right-hand man, Henry Clay Frick the approval to “anything you do” that resulted in the Homestead Strike in the summer of 1892 (10 people dead).
    • Said to be a friend of the working man, but by today’s standards, he would be guilty of ethics and conduct violations
      • The reason for the Homestead Strike which was because of a 30% reduction of wages despite hard working hours and dangerous conditions
      • Steelwork accidents were responsible for 20% of men’s’ deaths during the 1880s in Pittsburgh
    • Believed in helping the community at large (same as Debs) but also believed in things like predestination except it’s for wealth and not salvation
  • Eugene V. Debs-
    • Organised the Pullman Strike elicited federal response (should have gone over that in class in great detail)
    • After the failure of the Pullman Strike, he turned to socialism which meant:
      • He became the father of American socialism
      • Was a strong believer in the communist model of economy
    • His Pullman Strike was a response to several measures the Pullman company had implemented in order to lower expenses to the company, including lowering wages while maintaining the same prices for goods
    • Instead of funding public institutions like Carnegie, he believed in directly giving benefits to the working people
    • Came from a modest background too
    • Believed that the concentration of wealth in the top few was unfair and ill-gained and wanted the gov’t to take control and redistribute wealth
    • Fun fact: was so popular that he ran for prez from a jail cell during WWI and got a little less than a million votes

(2) Evaluate the relative importance and impact of any TWO of the following on the American industrial worker between 1865 and 1900.
Government Actions   Labor Unions   Immigration   Technological Changes

Synthesis: Immigration (Irish and German) to the US in the 1840’s

Contextualization: Gov’t actions in response to labor strikes (e.g. Pullman Strike was put down by US federal troops)

I said that immigration was more impactful so keep that in mind when reading my points. Remember to address relative importance in your own essay.


  • Immigration
    • They were a form of cheap labor- factory owners turned to the unskilled immigrant workers for their muscle needed in factories, mills, railroads and places where heavy-construction was needed.
    • New groups of immigrants came from East Europe as well as Asia, fanning hostilities towards these immigrants because they were thought to be stealing jobs from “Americans” (a lot of them were second-generation migrants) and also friction because of differences in culture and cultural values (
      • The Chinese by the 1850s
      • Italians, Croats, Slovaks, Greeks, and Poles came by the 1880s
    • Although they worked long hours, only to be able to save little money, it was more than they would have earned at home.
    • Women were unskilled laborers in textile mills but mill jobs gave them a degree of independence
    • The influx of immigrants meant that negotiating for conditions and wages with their employers were difficult because there was always a fresh supply of laborers who were willing to work for less favourable working conditions
    • Employers asserted that the workers did not deserve the same pay as native-born American.
    • Native-born Americans feared the loss of privileges and status that were associated with their white skin color and began to stigmatise immigrants as racially different and inferior even when they were of the same race (e.g. incoming Western Europeans)
    • blamed Chinese migrants for undercutting prevailing wage levels
    • Conclusion: Immigration was part of the reason why the economy after the 1850s (at least, in the North and the Midwest) grew and this set the stage for the upcoming Industrial Revolution so immigration was good for the country overall. However, for the individual unskilled industrial worker, immigration was detrimental to their campaign for higher wages and better working conditions.
  • Technological Changes
    • Sewing Machine- made the textile industry viable for industrialisation
    • 1879-Edison’s light bulb, as well as the advent of electricity, meant that indoor places could be lit and introduced the concept of night shifts and lengthened work hours
    • The conversion to a more industrial-based economy who used more efficient methods to make products also meant that consumer goods would become cheaper and mass-produced.
    • On the other hand, innovations like the Bessemer process that makes things cheaper to produce and need less skill to produce means that skilled labor no was no longer in high demand and that opened up the room for lower wages for unskilled laborers.
      • This helped the facilitation of women and child workers into factories.

(3) Analyze the economic consequences of the Civil War with respect to any TWO of the following in the United States between 1865 and 1900.

Agriculture   Transportation   Industrialization    Labor

I added a bit about the Panic of 1893 in my essay. You don’t have to but if you’re looking for long-term economic impact, the Panic will do quite nicely.

Synthesis: Columbian Exchange and Native American conflicts in the colonial period

Contextualisation: You can use one of the other two choices for context. For me, I used industrialisation.


  • Agriculture-
    • New inventions- self-binding harvesters, better irrigation systems,
      • Simplified farming, needed less human labor, brought prices down
      • Fewer people were in agriculture and many went to urban areas to find jobs
    • Helped supply the growing number of people in cities and people moving to cities in search of work
    • 1864-Dept of Agric. made to control land use, gave info to farmers about getting the best yields etc in the 1880s
    • Made food much cheaper but also lessened the profits, meaning the rise of the idea of the silver standard(part of what caused the Panic) and hostility against the railroad monopolists who thought were “fixing” the prices of their produce
    • Cheaper prices made farmers more dependent on cash crops like wheat, which had dire consequences when wheat crops failed and their prices crashed in 1893 and were partially responsible for the Panic of the same year.
  • Transportation-
    • Were taken advantage of by the Union to gain the upper hand over the less developed South
    • Transcontinental RR Act of 1862- “An Act to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean, and to secure to the government the use of the same for postal, military, and other purposes.”
    • Made rapid expansion into the West possible(railways), urged on by propaganda, many people went West to take advantage of the Homestead Act(1862), especially immigrants from European countries
    • The availability of jobs working for railroad companies attract many Chinese immigrants
    • The Chinese often worked the land to make it fit for railroads (read: exploding things and sometimes themselves) and were ideal workers b/c they didn’t complain and didn’t drink
    • This rapid expansion west meant people needed a source of livelihood and since many specialised in only one crop to make money, this put them at the mercy of railroads and international market fluctuations (once again, the Panic of 1893)
    • efficiency of transportation -> farmers can compete in the international market, power to the rail lords and efficiency of farming tools-> more produce, less labor, more influence from international market->overproducing and lack of jobs for farm hands->economic downturn for farmers ->Sherman Silver Purchase Act(undermined the value of American gold and caused withdrawal of economic investment from foreign nations) and wheat failure->Panic of 1893

(4)  For whom and to what extent was the American West a land of opportunity from 1865 to 1900?

Synthesis: Jeffersonian Gov’t and the Louisiana Purchase opened up many opportunities to many demographics

Contextualisation: Land of opportunities? Not for the Native Americans!


  • The railroads were awarded millions of acres of land (profited a lot during this time period)
    • This helped transport many immigrants and Americans
    • Had a positive effect on cattle dealers and agriculture
    • Railroads used land sales in hopes of attracting people to the West, so this made land available to single women and they were able to establish farms
    • The railroad helped both farmers and cattle dealers compete in the market. They profited well in times of high demand (farmers benefited to a certain extent-b/c railroads did charge them more at times for transporting their goods)
  •  In Wyoming, single women made up more than 18% of the claimants
    • New state governments also supported women’s suffrage
  •  Immigrants became laborers for the railroads or started farming, and were able to claim land (Homestead Act)
    • Many immigrants formed communities
  •  For immigrants and Americans looking for financial gain, opportunities were plentiful as America expanded its frontiers and the people began to look for ways to colonise the rest of the continent in hopes of making an independent living away from the cities and farms of the East.

(5) Following Reconstruction, many southern leaders promoted the idea of a “New South.” To what extent was this “New South” a reality by the time of the First World War? In your answer be sure to address TWO of the following.

Economic development   Politics   Race relations

Synthesis: The South’s efforts to resist the fruits of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Contextualisation: I used the remaining option above, which was economic development. The fact that the South was still largely agricultural and was still way behind the North in terms of production and technological advancement meant that the New South wasn’t happening.


  • Race Relations-
    • New South was obviously a euphemism for the reestablishment of white supremacy
      • Henry Grady’s “New South” foresaw a South that would shed its agricultural trappings in favor of industrialisation for a more diversified economy as well as the reestablishment of white conservatives to power and everything else that entails.
    • Blacks were expected to be deferential to whites
    • The freedmen were making the most out of their situation and a lot of them were successful and saw many of them join the professional middle class
      • That, in turn, made the whites resent them and they feared that the black community would grow to be more powerful and gain an important role in politics
    • Most labor unions excluded black people
    • Civil Rights Cases(1883) declared Civil Rights Act(1875), which prohibited segregation in public places, unconstitutional
    • Jim Crow laws passed by southern states (the 1880s and 1890s)
    • Other Court Cases
      • Plessy vs Ferguson(1896)-”separate but equal”
      • Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education (1899)-segregated schools
    • Black schools were not as well-funded as white schools, and many other institutions under “separate but equal” was definitely not equal
    • For comparison and context: 90% of the US’s black population lived in the South in 1900
    • White peoples’ lament over the “Old South” and the idea of “happy slaves” came up again and legitimised everything they were doing to undo Lincoln’s work
  • Politics-
    • Once again, very solidly Democratic white voters
    • Because of ^, the local gov’t was controlled by Democrats and the South soon saw the effects:
    • The rise of redeemer gov’ts that put power back into racist white hands
    • Reduced spending on public institutions but especially ones that benefitted the black community
    • Blacks still voted from 1877 to 1914 but saw many restrictions placed on their voting rights
      • Poll taxes that prevented the poorer minority from voting
      • Older generation former slaves often could not read and they made literacy tests mandatory in order to vote
      • State gov’t passed plenty of laws to disenfranchise black voters like the Grandfather Clause(1898) (if your grandfather could vote before 1967, then you could skip the poll and taxes, giving poor illiterate white men the ability to vote–1867 was the year that black people were guaranteed suffrage, was overturned in 1915)
      • 1900: Senate “vetoed” Lodge Bill that would have allowed the national gov’t to preside over elections, which the South obviously did not want
    •  Saw the rise of a lot of black organisations but a lot of times, white people tried to stop them from achieving their goals (ie Colored Farmers’ National Alliance’s attempt at a strike in 1891 but was “circumvented” by white landowners and local authorities). This sort of brick wall against civil rights helped contribute to the Great Migration during WWI.

(6) Evaluate the impact of the Civil War on political and economic developments in TWO of the following regions.

North   South   West

Didn’t finish this one so I only have the synthesis and the contextualisation.

Synthesis: Impact of the Revolutionary War on the North vs the South

Contextualisation: Western expansion after the Civil War offered chances for more opportunities (see Question 4) and this brought the West back to national attention politically. The gov’t issued legislation that helped to develop the West (economic) and also handed down decisions to deal with problems of trade and private business (political).

Here’s a link to the AP Central page for this question (scroll down to page 12).

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