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The extension, restriction, and reorganization of political democracy after 1800

A.  The student understands the changing character of American political life in "the age of the common man"

B.  The student understands how the debates over slavery influenced politics and sectionalism


Abolitionism and Antislavery
Resource Type: E-Seminar

Relevant pages:
The Expansion Issue: Slavery in New Territories?
The Expansion Issue: The compromise of 1850
The Expansion Issue: The Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Expansion Issue: Political Polarization
The Road To War: The Dred Scott Decision
The Road To War: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates.
The Road To War: John Brown's Raid
The Road To War: The 1860 Election

The Five Points Slum
Resource Type: Primary Source
Five Points, the great slum of antebellum New York, was located at the convergence of Worth, Baxter, and Park Streets in present-day lower Manhattan. Its residents suffered terribly during the cholera epidemic of 1832.

Compromise Between the North and South
Resource Type: Classroom Simulation
In this dramatic simulation students will explore the possibility of an eleventh-hour compromise between the North and the South on the eve of the Civil War (1861–65). Students will understand how mounting tensions in the 1850s eventually led to the outbreak of war.

Decisions of Slaves to Leave the Plantation: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Resource Type: Classroom Simulation
In this simulation students will examine the very complex decision that slaves faced regarding whether to leave the plantations in the early years of the Civil War and whether to join the Union forces. Students will understand how a single decision gravely affected the lives of slaves, their families, the outcome of the war, and even the period of Reconstruction.

The Five Points Slum
Resource Type: Primary Source
Five Points, the great slum of antebellum New York, was located at the convergence of Worth, Baxter, and Park Streets in present-day lower Manhattan. Its residents suffered terribly during the cholera epidemic of 1832.

Petition to Have the Five Points Opened
Resource Type: Primary Source
Merchants owning property along the periphery of Five Points petitioned the municipal government in 1829 to demolish the heart of the slum by widening and extending Anthony and Cross Streets.

Urban Society: Central Park and Social Reform
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
This microhistory of Central Park in New York City provides students with a laboratory for learning how social reformers attempted to clean the city of its slums and promote the well-being of its residents. These tools can be applied to the study of any large city.

The Secession Crisis
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
This selection of primary sources allows students to interpret the Civil War as an ideological battle, pitting abolitionists against slavery's apologists, and Northerners against Southerners. Students will understand why most of the Southern states chose secession over union.

Slavery a Positive Good
Resource Type: Primary Source
John C. Calhoun was vice president of the United States (1825-32) and U.S. senator from South Carolina for most of the period from 1832 to 1850.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Resource Type: Primary Source
By 1858, the former slave Harriet Jacobs had finished her autobiography, which was later edited by the famous abolitionist, Lydia Maria Child.

Illustrations of the Pro-Slavery Argument
Resource Type: Primary Source
These illustrations support the institution of slavery. Why?

Conditions of Slaves vs. Free Laborers
Resource Type: Primary Source
Historians consider George Fitzhugh (1806–81) as one of the most eloquent, influential, and popular spokespersons for slavery.

Capitalism, Slavery, and Free Labor
Resource Type: Primary Source
Apologists for slavery, like George Fitzhugh, often argued that the investment in slaves positively influenced the way slaveowners treated them.

Lincoln on Striking Shoemakers
Resource Type: Primary Source
During the presidential campaign in 1860, Abraham Lincoln traveled to New England and gave the following speech related to the famous strike of shoemakers in Lynn, Massachusetts. The newspaper that reprinted the speech indicated the audience's reaction in the bracketed information, provided in the excerpt below.

Calhoun on the Compromise of 1850
Resource Type: Primary Source
John C. Calhoun became the South's most powerful advocate as senator from South Carolina for most of the period from 1832 to 1850.

Republican Party Platform of 1856
Resource Type: Primary Source
While the Democrats endorsed popular sovereignty to decide the issue of slavery in the Territories, the Republicans took the stand put forth here.

Bleeding Kansas
Resource Type: Primary Source
In the summer of 1856, advocates of Free States flocked to Kansas in anticipation of the popular sovereignty vote.

A House Divided
Resource Type: Primary Source
Abraham Lincoln accepts the Republican Party's nomination for U.S. senator from Illinois. Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas, the proponent of popular sovereignty.

National Democratic Party Platform of 1860
Resource Type: Primary Source
In 1860, the Democratic Party split along sectional lines, leaving the Southern Democrats as the dominant party of the South. In the 1860 presidential election, the Southern Democrats won every state of the Deep South, the first states to secede.

Crittenden's Proposed Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
Abraham Lincoln has been elected President and the threat of secession hangs over the Union. What is Crittenden's plan?

Response to the Crittenden Amendment
Resource Type: Primary Source
This editorial responds to Crittenden's proposal to amend the Constitution.

Mississippi's Declaration of Secession
Resource Type: Primary Source
The first state to secede was South Carolina, doing so on December 20, 1860. Before the end of February, all the states of the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) had seceded.

Southern Society: Religion and Slavery
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
Using this DBQ, students will examine the paradoxical role of religion in the lives of slaves in the antebellum South. Different kinds of religion are explored as students confront the ways in which religion served to liberate or to oppress slaves.

Stringfellow's Biblical Justification for Slavery
Resource Type: Primary Source
In his 1860 book, Thornton Stringfellow explains what he sees as the biblical justification for slavery.

The Master-Slave Relationship
Resource Type: Document-Based Question
The recent scholarship on slavery explores the complex relationship between master and slave and re-examines the historical agency of slaves. In reading the slave narratives provided in this DBQ, students can assess how slaves tried to retain their dignity in the worst of circumstances.

Dred Scott Decision
Resource Type: Primary Source
The following excerpt is from the majority decision in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, it addresses the question of African American citizenship and slavery in the territories.

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