Exam preparation materials

Section II: Essay Questions

Part A

(Suggested writing time—45 minutes)

Directions: Write an essay based on your analysis of Documents A-I as well as your knowledge of the period covered by the question. It is important for you to include information on the topic not provided for by the documents.

1. During the period of the American Revolution and the early years of the Republic, political expediency rather than principle determined the fate of slavery as a national institution. Do you agree or disagree with this statement. Support your position.

Document A

Slavery in the States according the First Federal Census


Number of Slaves

Number of Slaveholding Families





8, 887

















New Hampshire



New Jersey



New York



North Carolina






Rhode Island



South Carolina









Source: Cenus of 1790;

Document B

Governor Randolf. [W]here is the part that has a tendency to the abolition of slavery?

Is it the clause which says, that “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing, shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by congress prior to the year 1808?” This is an exception from the power regulating commerce, and the restriction is only to continue till 1808. Then congress can, by the exercise of that power, prevent future importations; but does it affect the existing state of slavery? Were it right to here mention what passed in convention on occasion, I might tell you that the southern states, even South Carolina herself, conceived this property to be secure by these words. I believe, whatever we may think here, that there was not a member of the Virginia delegation who had the smallest suspicion of the abolition of slavery.

Source: Debate on the Ratification of the Constitution at the Virginia Convention, June 21 1788.

Document C

Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by the representatives of the freeman of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that all persons, as well as Negroes and Mulattos as others, who shall be born within this state from and after the passing of this act, shall not be deemed and considered as servants for life, or slaves, and that all servitude for life, or slavery of children, in consequence of the slavery of their mothers, in the case of all children born within this state, from and after the passing of this act as aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is utterly taken away, extinguished, and for ever abolished.

Source: Pennsylvania Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, March 1, 1780.

Document D

We will neither ourselves import, nor purchase any slave, or slaves imported by any person, after the first day of November next, either from the West Indies or from any other place.

Source: Virginia Non-Importation Agreement, August 1, 1774.

Document E

Resolved, That after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the states described in the resolve of Congress of the 23rd day of April, 1784 [Report of the Government for the Western Territory], otherwise than in punishment for crimes whereof the party shall have been personally guilty. And that this regulation shall be an article of compact, and remain a fundamental principle of the constitutions between the thirteen original states, and each of the states described in said resolve of Congress of the

Document F

Under the present confederation, the States may admit the importation of slaves as long as they please; but by this article, after the year 1808, the Congress will have power to prohibit such importation, notwithstanding the disposition of any State to the contrary. I consider this as laying the foundation for banishing slavery out of this country; and though the period is more distant than I could wish, yet it will produce the same kind, gradual change which was pursued in Pennsylvania. ... It was all that could be obtained.

I am sorry it was no more; but from this I think there is reason to hope that yet a few years, and it will be prohibited altogether.

Source: Statement by James Wilson at the Pennyslvania Convention to Ratify the Constitution, December 3, 1787.

Document G

I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery], but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, that that is by Legislative authority ... But when slaves who are happy and contented with their present masters, are tampered with and seduced to leave them; when masters are taken unawares by these practices; when a conduct of this sort begets discontent on one side and resentment on the other ... it introduces more evil than it can cure.

Source: Letter from George Washington to Robert Moms, April 12, 1786.

Document H

Without enquiring into the practicability or the most proper means of establishing a Settlement of freed blacks on the Coast of Africa, it may be remarked as one motive to the benevolent experiment that if such as asylum was provided, it might prove a great encouragement to manumission in the Southern parts of the U.S. and even afford the best hope yet presented of putting an end to the slavery in which not less that 600,000 unhappy negroes are now involved.

Source: James Madison, Memorandum on a Colony in Africa for Manumitted Slaves, October 20, 1789.

Document I

It ought to be considered as a great point gained in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy; that within that period, it will receive a considerable discouragement from the federal government, and may be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory example which has been given by so great a majority of the Union.

Happy would it be for the unfortunate Africans, if an equal prospect lay before them of being redeemed from the oppressions of their European brethren!

Source: James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 42,

January 22, 1788.

Part B

(Suggested writing time—35 minutes, including a 5-minute planing period)

Directions: Choose ONE question from this part. Cite relevant historical evidence in support of your generalizations and present your arguments clearly and logically.

2. Discuss the impact of THREE of the following on American foreign policy at the end of the 18th century:

Citizen Genet

Jay’s Treaty

Pickney’s Treaty

Washington’s Farewell Address

3. After his visit to the United States in 1831-1832, the Frenchmen Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that there was "... no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”

Assess the validity of this statement.

Part C

(Suggested writing time—35 minutes, including a 5-minute planing period)

Directions: Choose ONE question from this part. Cite relevant historical evidence in support of your generalizations and present your arguments clearly and logically.

4. Compare Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism and Wilson’s New Freedom. Did Wilson effectively implement the New Freedom as president?

5. 1954, 1965, 1968, and 1970 were critical turning points in American involvement in South East Asia. Explain why THREE of these years were significant.


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