APUSH Essay Prep Unit X: Late 1900s

Due to it being the last unit of the year, our teacher gave us a choice on which prompts we have to prepare for so here are the three I chose to do.

(1) In what ways did the Great Society resemble the New Deal in its origins, goals and social and political legacy. Use specific programs and policies to support your argument.

Synthesis: The Affordable Care Act

Contextualisation: Civil Rights Movement


  • Origins and Goals
    • Both were passed in a situation where Congress would be hard-pressed to fail them
    • Helped the poor and unfortunate.
    • New Deal
      • Response to Great Depression
      • Expanded federal power dramatically (usually not something appreciated)
        • supported by the fact that Hoover did nothing about the situation
      • Provided jobs, made farming somewhat profitable again, stabilised prices
      • Advocated for by Roosevelt in his Fireside chats
      • The promise of it was so popular that FDR carried all but 6 states
    • Great Society
      • “War on Poverty” and also racial inequality (with the various 1960s movements in full swing, especially civil rights)
      • LBJ used Kennedy’s name to provide sympathy for his cause
      • LBJ’s insider status in Congress
      • Democratic majorities in both chambers
    • Both were made when their president was insanely popular, the national situation wasn’t so good and their presidents were really good at manipulating the public in favor of their programs.
  • Social Legacies
    • FDR and New Deal
      • 1st female cabinet member, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins as well as more than 100 women in other federal positions
      • FDR’s Black Cabinet
      • As a result of ND, by 1935, 25% of blacks were provided assistance
      • By 1936, 90% of black voters were voting Democrat, opposite from before
      • Indian Reorganisation Act(‘34)- collective land ownership for Indian tribes
      • TVA-targeted poor areas for improvement
    • LBJ and Great Society
      • Apps Development Act- like TVA
      • Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966
        • Similar to TVA except for urban areas
      • Medicare (‘65) for the elderly
      • Economic Opportunities Act (‘64)- to provide education and eliminate poverty by giving people the opportunity to get better jobs
      • Although not really part of the GS, the Civil Rights Act (‘64 and ‘68) and the Voting Rights Act (‘65) both expanded civilian rights for minorities
    • Both tried to improve the lives of minorities and the poor
    • LBJ actively wanted to leave the GS as his legacy and wanted to mirror FDR’s ND, becoming the next FDR
  • Political Legacies
    • In both, the federal gov’t expanded its power over the economy considerably
      • Both FDR and LBJ ran up the deficit by their spending on new programs
      • GS expanded on and continued ND’s healthcare legacy (not very successful as both the Wagner National Health Act of 1939 and the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill died in committee) with Medicaid and Medicare, making the GS one of the only successes in US history in getting healthcare legislation passed (does SS count? It’s not exclusively reserved for medical purposes so…)
    • The failure of either of them to keep their influence is an ever continuing fight even to today between progressivism, war and conservatism
      • Like I said with the Wagner healthcare legislations I mentioned above)
      • Conservative Supreme Court vs New Deal
      • Vietnam eating into Great Society
    • Even through the failures, though, both expanded what the gov’t is capable of and could provide the precedent for future attempts and social and economic reforms like Obamacare 

(2) Describe and account for changes in the American Presidency between 1960 and 1975, as symbolized by Kennedy’s “Camelot”, Johnson’s “Great Society” and Nixon’s “Imperial Presidency”. Address powers of the presidency and the role of the media in your answer.

Synthesis: Jefferson and Hamilton’s view of what America should be like. As widespread media wasn’t available back then, what people heard were only local news and both sides depending on their geographical location would be convinced that the other side would betray the nation’s foundation

Contextualization: TV was becoming more popular in the meantime and its importance could be seen in the Kennedy v Nixon debate. Fun fact: Was probably what convinced politicians to start getting body language coaching.


  • Kennedy
    • Power of president increased under Kennedy
      • Cold War required a strong leader (Castro in Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam)
      • Increased size of federal gov’t (continuation of prior legislation like New Deal as well as his own New Frontier)
      • Democratic majorities in Congress allowed for easier passage of laws
    • Media strengthened Kennedy’s image
      • Appeared youthful, energetic and “glamorous” on TV (can be seen in the post-debate polls in 1960)
      • The image of the “perfect Kennedy family”
      • His death was used to cement his legacy by the media (and Johnson)
  • Johnson
    • Presidential power peaked but then declined
      • Good at “twisting arms” in Congress to get what he wants passed
      • Continuation of Cold War, again, strong leader needed
      • However, backlash came from people who didn’t like his policies (civil rights, GS, Vietnam etc) and his power declined after that
    • LBJ less successful than Kennedy in maintaining his public image
      • Not as good-looking on TV
      • Loss of trust due to credibility gap between his report of Vietnam War vs what the media reported
      • Bad atmosphere (riots and domestic disturbances) in the 60s and extensive coverage of it showed Johnson as someone ineffectual and out-of-touch
  • Nixon
    • Contrary to his “Imperial Presidency”, presidential power actually decreased
      • Democratic control of Congress made it hard for him to fulfill his agenda
      • Slow to disengage from Vietnam when anti-war sentiments were high
      • Used executive action against his enemies, real or perceived (his enemy list)
      • Watergate… Oh, Watergate. Pretty much all of it was propagated by the media (Woodward and Bernstein) and “…I am not a crook.”
      • Increased Congressional oversight of president through the investigation of Watergate
    • Media and Nixon administration hostile towards each other
      • His appeal to the “silent majority” saw his 50% approval rating go up to the 80s
      • Vietnam (invasion of Cambodia, 1970) and unrest at home (Kent State, also 1970) covered by media, bad for Nixon
      • His paranoia about his enemies put the media on the list when they started digging into Watergate and only made suspicions worse

(3) Explain the causes and consequences of immigration and ONE of the following population movements to the United States in the United States during the period 1945–1985 (2011).

Suburbanization    The growth of the Sun Belt

Synthesis: 1916 Great Migration

Contextualization: Sun Belt– jobs, good climate, cheaper land, lots of people moved here, increased pop.



  • Causes:
    • Lifting of restrictive immigration laws pre-WWII
    • Refugees from the War, Korean, Vietnam, Cuba etc
    • Immigration Act (‘65)- opened immigration quotas to non-Europeans
    • Post-war prosperity
    • BRACERO program
    • Influx of immigrants led to:
    • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (McCarran–Walter Immigration Act)
      • Reestablished national origins quotas
      • Repealed Chinese Exclusion Act
      • Barred LGBT and other “subversive persons” from entering the country
    • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
      • Abolished national origins quotas
      • Preferred immigration of professionals and skilled workers
    • Refugees Act of 1980- limit of 270K immigrants
    • Decreases in the cost of travel also contributed to the increase in immigration
  • Consequences:
    • Before the 60s, mostly white immigration– by 80s, more than three-quarters were from Latin America or Asia
    • Post-WWII immigrants include more women and skilled workers
    • Steady increase of immigrants since 45
    • Public concern about amount of immigrants (the classic stuff)
      • Anti-Immigrant sentiments build, especially against Latinos because of illegal immigration
      • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Simpson–Rodino):
        • Granted amnesty to illegal immigrants arriving before 1982.
        • Penalised employers for hiring illegal immigrants.   
    • Added to cultural diversity of US


  • Causes:
    • 1944: GI Bill (loans for houses to veterans)
      • Also the need to build houses to house returning veterans
    • Demographic Trends: Marriage, Childbirth, ”the perfect family” (TV shows)
    • Levittown!!
    • Riots due to racial tensions increased white exodus from the cities
      • An unintended consequence of Brown v Board
    • Housing Acts of ‘49 and ’54
    • Federal Highway Act of 1956 boosted suburban growth
    • 1965: Department of Housing and Urban Development created.
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage loans
  • Consequences:
    • FHA policies led to discrimination against racially and economically mixed communities
    • A majority of middle-class Americans moved to suburbs within a generation
    • Loss of population in cities led to loss of business and public institutions
      • Due to lower tax base -> cities became poorer
    • Federal Highway Act of 1956 accelerated the decline of mass transit in older cities
    • Suburbs encouraged individual car use leading to things like drive-in theaters and drive-throughs
    • Gentrification of old urban parts by remaining high-income families (outed the poor)
    • Post-WWII conformity
      • People wanted to have the perfect family as shown in TV shows
      • focus on middle-class ideals
      • Reinvigoration of religion
    • More mobility=more house-moving
    • New Infrastructure like malls, parks, new schools etc for suburbs

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).

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)

APUSH Unit III Essay Prep: Articles of Confederation to War of 1812 (circa 1770s-1800s)


So this is the first of the APUSH posts. I don’t have Unit I or II up because at the time, I didn’t do a lot of preparation for the first couple of units and what I did have was not sufficient for any sort of studying. Because of that, I’ll start with Unit III. I should also say that I won’t give you everything you need for each of these prompts because that’ll be no fun and it defeats the purpose of being an AP student. I’ll only give you the basic points and the synthesis and contextualization. Oh and any events I list may or may not be in chronological order, so be careful of that as well.

I was given these prompts, you might have gotten something different for Unit 3:

(1) “Our prevailing passions are ambition and interest; and it will be the duty of a wise government to avail itself of those passions, in order to make them subservient to the public good.” -Alexander Hamilton, 1787

How was this viewpoint manifested in Hamilton’s financial program as Secretary of the Treasury?

  • Synthesis: Second Bank of America (chartered in 1816 after the War of 1812 because they recognised the need to have a national banking system as well as a consistent national currency which is what they had trouble with during the War)
  • Contextualization: They needed to have the American people be loyal to the federal gov’t (and by extension, to the Constitution) as opposed to their local and state gov’ts and through the various aspects of Hamilton’s Financial Plan, tried to encourage nationalistic sentiments especially among the wealthy and affluent.
  • Points:
    • National Bank- Bank was made to be a corporation whose stocks could be purchased by third parties (turning private financial interest into national economic interest)
    • Funding Plan- plan to “fund” the national debt by a cycle of continuing to sell and pay off bonds
    • Assumption Plan- the federal gov’t would assume all state debts in exchange for moving the capital from the North to the Potomac
    • Basic Idea: If the citizens are personally invested in the country’s success, then these people will have more of an inclination to do things in the interest of the whole country as opposed to for themselves or for their state.

(2) Evaluate the relative importance of domestic and foreign affairs in shaping American politics in the 1790’s.

For this prompt, you need to state whether domestic or foreign affairs was more important in shaping American politics in the 1790s. I’ve listed what was happening in both categories. And depending on which one you thought was more important, the synthesis point I used may have to be tweaked.

  • Synthesis: Cold War- how foreign diplomatic failures overshadowed the later half of the 1900s after WWII, which should have been a relatively peaceful time, y’know, because all the major powers in the world needed to rebuild themselves economically, politically and especially in Germany, literally. Some relevant points would be McCarthyism and the Marshall Plan.
  • Contextualization: There’s a lot of things you can use here. For example, the French Revolution could count if you do it correctly.
  • Points:
    • Foreign Affairs:
      • French Revolution, Jay Treaty, US’s neutrality in foreign wars (GW’s Farewell Address), X, Y, Z Affair and the Convention of 1800 (end of Quasi-War with France)
    • Domestic:
      • Everything with Alex Hamilton and his Plan, strict v loose construction (Federalists vs Republicans), Whiskey Rebellion, Alien and Sedition Acts
    •  Politics:
      • George Washington(once again, his stance on US neutrality), Hamilton v Jefferson, Two Party System, Election of 1796 and the “Revolution”  of 1800

(3) To what extent was the election of 1800, sometimes known as the “Revolution of 1800”, a turning point in U.S. History?

  • Synthesis: Election of 1860, another election that had a monumental impact on US history otherwise known as when Lincoln became POTUS and when the Civil War starts
  • Contextualization: You could bring out how Jefferson’s ideas differed from the Federalists’ ideas and how this disagreement was a source of contention in the past.
  • Points:
    • Jefferson was the founder of the original Republican party (historians now call them Democratic-Republicans, but I’ll just keep it simple) and was the chief advocate for Republican ideals, in contrast to the first two presidents of the US who were Federalist (although GW wasn’t officially a Federalist, his tendency to agree with Hamilton meant that technically, he was one)
      • this obviously means that this is the first time there was a Republican president
      • this shift to Republican ideals means that the focus of the country was no longer at the national level but at the individual and state level
    • confirmed (in a way) the existence and legitimacy of a two-party system
    • the beginning of the downfall of the Federalist party
      • Judiciary Acts of 1801- changed courts with the intent to weaken Fed. party
    • reduced military budget and debt of the country
    • General Idea: How power transferred from the Federalists to the Republicans and what happened as the result

(4) Compare and contrast the contributions of two U.S. Presidents between 1788-1810 in helping to establish a stable government after the adoption of the Constitution. (GW, Adams, Jefferson)

  • Synthesis: You can use Lincoln again because he was the first Republican president(the third party system-> Democrats vs Republicans) and he obviously drastically changed the country and helped stabilise the country by, y’know, winning the Civil War
  • Contextualization: There were three presidents during that time; you need to compare and contrast two in your essay. Whichever one is left, you can use for contextualization. I chose to use Adams as contextualization and how he continued Washington’s policies etc etc.
  • Points: 
    • George Washington:
      • highly respected and people followed his example (he had a calming effect during the turbulent times, so to speak)
      • helped America stay neutral with Proc. of Neutrality and Jay Treaty
      • put down Whiskey Rebellion partially through his reputation alone
      • set precedents for future presidents (it rhymes!-almost)
        • had an ideologically diverse cabinet
        • showed the people that having presidents doesn’t necessarily mean having to live under tyranny
      • exerted his presidential powers underneath the Constitution
        • for example, by passing the Judiciary Act of 1789 (that made the judiciary system and the Supreme Court)
      • supported Hamilton’s plans and thus put the US on good financial footing
        • included assumption plan and the moving of the capital, shifting loyalties more towards the country as a whole
    • Thomas Jefferson:
      • Louisiana Purchase-encouraged an agrarian economy
        • guaranteed the people’s independence as per Jefferson’s Republican ideals
        • Lewis and Clark Expedition- encouraged western expansion
      • a more minor thing- he decentralised power by disestablishing state churches
      • showed that a peaceful transfer of power was possible and didn’t try to stamp out Federalist influences in the gov’t
      • accepted opposition against him (John Marshall), confirming checks and balances
      • another more minor thing- had success dealing with the Barbary pirates which expanded trade in the Mediterranean

(5) Analyse the impact of the American Revolution on both slavery and the status of women in the period 1775-1800.

  • Synthesis: Since the Civil War has been mentioned multiple times already, the next most obvious choice would be th 19th Amendments: when women got the right to vote
  • Contextualization: The First Great Awakening
  • Points:
    • Slaves:
      • anti-slavery sentiments were present before (for example, Quaker societies in 1775) but by 1792, even heavily pro-slavery places had anti-slavery sentiments like Virginia
        • side note: GW made it so that upon his wife’s death, all of his slaves were to be freed. Martha Washington set them free early.
      •  Lord Dunmore’s Proc (encouraging slaves to join British forces in return for freedom) caused slaves to rise against their masters, prompts Americans to offer freedom as well, tens of thousands later fled with the British
      • set ban date for the importation of slaves (1808)
      • NW Ordinance 1787 prohibits some territory from becoming slave states
      • BUT 3/5th Compromise, Fugitive Slave Clause and the fact that twenty years was allowed for the importation of slaves to stop
    • Women:
      • increased respect for their competence and rationality in managing family’s’ farms and businesses while men were away at war (Revolutionary War)
      • only legal gain-divorce was easier in some courts (to negligible effect)
      • social changes-wives were treated as more of a companion rather than as being treated as inferiors, some more freedom in choosing spouses, spinstership didn’t seem to be so bad anymore, women began to push for education (for example, Philadelphia’s Young Ladies Academy in 1787)
      • some female activists became famous for speaking out against the patriarchy; Abigail Adams and Judith Murray
      • Republican Mother, mothers seen as the passers of liberty and virtue onto their sons
      • BUT no real (tangible) progress in political power of females, traditional belief that women are subservient and weaker are still strongly held on to

(6) Evaluate the extent to which there was continuity in the conduct of United States foreign policy between 1789 and 1823.

  • Synthesis: US’s initial neutrality during WWI.
  • Context: Highlight what wars and foreign conflicts there were that could have affected America’s foreign policy and in particular, public opinion and by extension, the two-party system and the rise and fall of parties (like how the Federalist party lost favour because of the Hartford Convention).
  • Points:
    • George Washington remained neutral during his presidency (Proc of Neutrality and Farewell Address, later during the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolution)
      • Madison, Adams,  and Jefferson tried to remain neutral as well, but America ended up waging war with the British (War of 1812)
    • Attempts to use trade as a diplomatic weapon( not trading with either France or Britain). SPOILER: it doesn’t work.
    • GW renounced French-American Treaty and even had a Quasi-War with France (a break from previous good relationship with France, also seen with XYZ Affair and the aforementioned Quasi-War)
    • continued expansion (land grab) through Louisiana Purchase, Pinkney Treaty, Adams-Onis Treaty, Convention of 1818 (joint claim with Britain to Oregon Territory)
    • Continued limiting British influence (Jay’s Treaty, limited effects, Rush-Bagot Treaty) 
    • Continuity: War Hawks and how they wanted war with Britain, continued to use US commerce as diplomatic weapon (Macon’s Bill #2, Non-Intercourse Act, Embargo Act), Treaty of Ghent restored pre-war relationship with the British)
    • Monroe Doctrine (by Monroe and John Quincy Adams) warning against foreign intervention in the Western Hemisphere