American History Homework Five Answers - Model

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Lecture - Questions - Student Answers

1. Imagine that someone by the name of Joe Biden lived in 1858. Imagine also that he belonged to the "Know Nothing Party." The following would be true about Mr. Biden EXCEPT:

Spanking politician.jpg

(a) He knew nothing about airplanes and automobiles.
(b) He welcomed immigrants into the United States.
(c) He belonged to a relatively new political party.
(d) He was probably not a member of the Republican Party.
(e) He could have lived in the State of California

(b) He welcomed immigrants into the United States is a false statement. (Sean R.)

2. Identify at least two key positions of the Whig Party.

They wanted a national bank and they did not want to annex Texas. Basically everything the Democrats were against, the Whigs wanted. (Steve M.)
The Whigs were opposed to the Mexican War and annexation of Texas, and they were more generally opposed to slavery. (Addision DM)
The Whigs "were similar to the Federalists." (Jonathan R.)
The Whigs supported a government dominated by Congress. The Northern Whigs were against slavery and the Southern Whigs were for it. (Kara L.)

3. What caused and what ended the Mexican War?

The Mexican War was a result of the Manifest Destiny sentiment in America (the belief of many Americans that it was God’s will for the nation to expand), and the sequential border dispute between the US and Mexico. It is uncertain to this day which nation actually instigated the violence.
The war ended when the US army took over Mexico City, and the chief clerk of the Department of State, Nicholas Trist, came to negotiate the peace terms. Trist was a true peacemaker and displeased the president with his rather generous terms. Still, he did successfully end the war. (Rachel N.)
The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, signed by Trist, resulted in the United States receiving 525,000 square miles. Polk was not happy with the Peace Treaty because it did not give the USA as much land as he would like. (Veronika F.)

4. Who do you think was the most important person in the period 1840-1860, and why?

I think Stephen Douglas ranks in on the top list of most important people of that time era. But for a different reason. He has reverse importance, for he was the one who passed an Act which historians believe could be one of the greatest faults for starting the Civil War. Without the Civil War, there would have been much less bloodshed, but it is one of the key factors in setting slaves free.
There's also a wild card of importance that I think should be played. Harriet Beecher Stowe was an author who wrote the book Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that portrays the life of a slave to such an extent that the south criticized and banned the book altogether. Today it is criticized for its stereotyping, but it still somehow made a huge impact in the English speaking world. (Kara H.)
I believe the most significant, if not the most important, person was Franklin Pierce. He signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which is considered to be the biggest single step leading to the Civil War. The Act divided the States within themselves, causing violence and numerous fatalities as each side fought for dominance. Though the Act perhaps wouldn’t have ever passed the House and the Senate without Douglas’ pushing it through, it would’ve been stopped cold if it was vetoed, a power Pierce possessed and didn’t exercise. (Katie B.)
James K. Polk was one of the most influential people from 1840 to 1860. He not only initiated the Mexican War but he also ended it. He annexed Texas into the United States and admitted Iowa as a free state. He also settled a disagreement with Britain by establishing the northwest boundary in the Oregon Treaty. On top of achieving the greatest territorial expansion of the United States, he reduced tariffs and reestablished an independent Treasury. Unlike most politicians, Polk said what we was going to do, and then did it. He also saw every person who visited the White House while he was president. Polk was truly a remarkable man. (Jenna N.)
Henry Clay. He created ... The Compromise of 1850." (Jonathan R.)

5. Explain what "Bleeding Kansas" was.

Bleeding Kansas was the term used to describe the bloodshed in Kansas. Popular sovereignty was pushed into law by Douglas in the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Almost immediately after this, civil war broke out in Kansas between the free and slave forces. A lot of the people did not like that each new territory made its own decision by a popular vote. Many turned to violence to end their arguments and get what they wanted. (Natalie D.)
"Bleeding Kansas" is the name for a violent conflict in Kansas in the 1850's. After the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Kansas broke into a civil war between pro-slavery and anti-slavery colonists. The "Free State Hotel" was burned down, John Brown killed five pro-slavery colonists, and Senator Charles Sumner was beaten senseless with a cane during the civil war. (Sarah W.)
‘Popular Sovereignty’ was the idea that every new territory should decide for themselves whether they’d be free or slave. Although it was meant for peace, it led to more disputes and bloodshed. It also led to a civil war within Kansas because citizens who were for slavery hated those who were against it and vice versa. ‘Bleeding Kansas’ refers to all the blood that was shed during this time. (Danielle R.)
... The term "Bleeding Kansas" came from a news reporter, Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune. (Matt N.)
The Kansas-Nebraska Act ... became a law on May 30, 1854. Nebraska, being so far north, had no issues with this law. However, Kansas, being next to the slave state of Missouri, became a battleground over the slavery question. People on both sides of the slavery question became more and more angry. Violence escalated. Approximately 55 people died. This period of time [in Kansas] became known as "Bleeding Kansas." (Nick D.)

6. Explain the cartoon, and what you think the cartoonist's view was. The woman's quote begins, "You have been a bad boy, Steve, ever since you had anything to do with that Nebraska Bill ...."

It is Steven Douglas getting a beating because he pushed through a passage of the Act. Historians consider this ill-advised law to be the greatest single step towards the Civil War. (Benjamin H.)
The person being spanked is Stephen Douglas because he introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed for popular sovereignty. The woman represented America and was against the Bill. (Steve H.)
The woman ... is spanking Sen. Stephen Douglas, who was responsible for the [Kansas-Nebraska] Act, with what appears to be the torch of liberty. I have no ideas about the guy in the back, probably a founding father. (Cole N.)

7. Do you think it was possible to avoid the Civil War? Explain.

No, The Civil War was absolutely unavoidable. Slavery was an extremely important issue to many people, whether they were for or against it. Nearly each individual had their own opinion and was ready defend that opinion. The American population was almost evenly split over the slavery issue - a country cannot survive divided, because if a country is divided, they are weak and susceptible to war from other stronger countries. So, war took place - no agreement could be reached to satisfy both sides of the issue. The only way to settle this dispute was through war. The Civil War lasted 4 years; but its monumental impact on America lasts even today. (Bethany S.)
No, I believe that some form of war was inevitable. here are some of my reasons:
  1. Slavery was an issue that was of monumental proportions, and people felt very strongly about it. In fact, people felt so strongly that all compromises would only be temporary halts towards the final decision of whether or not slavery was right.
  2. There was a difference in thought between the North and the South. The South was unable to approach this issue form a moral perspective, the North unable to see it from the financial perspective of the South.
  3. The Devil wasn't going to let go of such pain and suffering without a war of some kind. (Cole N.)

Honors Questions

These questions require answers that are a bit longer than the answers above. Answer three out of the following questions (in addition to the questions above):

H1. Discuss any of the debate issues or mysteries relating to 1840-1860.

The South could not have won the Civil War. They won numerous battles, but ultimately lost the war because there were too many odds stacked against them. To begin with, they had a significantly smaller population than the North- 22 million to 9 million. Also, their slaves began to revolt and run away, which caused a decrease in the export of cotton, causing the South to lose profits. (Olivia F.)
The South had no chance, ever, of winning the Civil War. It depended on the North for much of its food. Although the South had a good deal of growing land, those broad acres were dedicated to growing cotton and tobacco, neither of which fed any of the South’s soldiers. The North had twice the population of the South’s 9 million people, 3.5 million of which were slaves. Northern factories and factory workers outnumbered Southern ones five to one and ten to one, respectively; they also controlled more than eighty percent of the railroads. The Union controlled most of the Navy and naval bases. The grim mathematics of time and lives meant that the South eventually had to lose. (Duncan B.)

H2. Explain the Compromise of 1850.

The Compromise of 1850 was a very important piece of legislation. It was passed as a series of separate laws. It was designed to reconcile some of the differences between the anti-slavery and pro-slavery movements. It enacted strong fugitive slave laws and guaranteed the enforcement of these laws. It enabled the South to bring slaves into the territories. Slavery would still be permitted in the District of Columbia, but slave trade was no longer permitted. California was admitted as a free state. The U.S. gave Texas ten million dollars to pay off its debts provided Texas agreed to give up its claims to New Mexico and some other territory that eventually became other states. (Mark D.)

H3. Explain how "Freeport Doctrine" cost Douglas support in the presidential election of 1860.

Lincoln was clever. He made Douglas define his ideas, including Popular Sovereignty. Douglas had to specify that if a state voted to abolish slavery, they could abolish it, even a slave state. At that point the slave holders began to think that the Missouri Compromise was not such a bad idea after all. At least with that, they were guaranteed to be able to own slaves below the 34 30' line. With the Freeport Doctrine there was no sure thing, every state was different. (Steve M.)
The Freeport Doctrine was articulated by Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln tried to force Douglas to choose between the principle of popular sovereignty and the United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, which stated that slavery could not legally be excluded from the territories, because slaves were property. Instead of making a direct choice, Douglas' response stated that despite the court's ruling, slavery could be prevented from any territory by the refusal of the people living in that territory to pass laws favorable to slavery. ... (Natalie D.)
The "Freeport Doctrine" was told at a debate in Freeport, Illinois, between Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen Douglas. How it came about was this: Lincoln asked Douglas that if a certain region wanted to outlaw slavery, much as certain regions could say slavery was okay, would the region who wanted to outlaw it be able to do that? Douglas responded by saying that if a certain region created law that would make slavery impossible, then slavery would be outlawed. This caused the South to turn against Douglas because that would mean slaves could be set free if a majority voted for it. (Kara H.)

H4. Do you think John Brown helped his cause?

If he did, I believe it was of little importance. Most of what he did was terrorism. I don't think many people would run to his side because of what he did. I mean how many of us like or would join sides with) a terrorist. (Kara L.)

H5. Explain how the Dred Scott decision was similar to judicial activism today, such as Roe v. Wade.

In the Dred Scott v. Sanford case, the job of the judges was merely to decide whether or not Dred Scott was free or not. Instead, they handed down an aggressive decision which was not within their rights at all. According to their decision, slaves could not even sue in court and were mere property. All they were supposed to do was decide if he was free or not. (Duncan B.)
In both the Dred Scott decision and Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court essentially took the place of God and stated that some people - unborn babies or slaves - were somehow less than human and therefore had no rights. (Jess S.)