US History essay help?

I have a FRQ in class this week for my AP US History class. A free response question(FRQ) is basically an essay. My teacher gave me a list of three topics that she is going to choose from to give us.

1. Successes and Limitations of Progressivism

2. Ways in which farmers/laborers responded to the Gilded Age (address political, social, and economic responses)

3. Sectional Crisis leading up to the Civil War

I'm not quite sure what to write about for each. So far, I've only come up with general ideas to write about, nothing too specific.

The Progressive era is around 1900-1920. I think I will address Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson's policies. The trust busting. Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". Women's Sufferage. African- American rights. Organizations like the NAACP. And people like Booker T. Washington. Child Labor laws.

For The Gilded Age, I don't have much. Mostly that farmers and laborers were still working long hours and receiving low wages. Politicians were corrupt, so there was little representation

For the Sectional Crisis, I think that the Civil War was inevitable. Events such as the Compromise of 1850, the Wilmot Proviso, Kansas- Nebraska act, etc. There were too many disputes about slavery and it's expansion and containment.

For each of these topics, what should I add or elaborate on? What are the most important ideas for each time period? I need to prepare to write about any of these essays.


1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    When talking about progressivism, and limits, it is important to highlight that although it did much to eliminate machine politics on a national level, they still existed in a regional form. And while corruption was a focus, housecleaning was only done where the spotlight was directed by the muckrakers. After a short period of time, new corruption often bloomed where the old had been cleaned out. Also, while child labor laws were put in place, there was no national authority to enforce them, so for all practical purposes, children still worked in mills and factories. Another issue to focus on for progressivism were the purity crusaders, those who advocated prohibition, those who sought to prevent obscene materials from being sold, those who "educated" young men and women about strictly religious views on sex, etc.These crusaders believed that their work would lead to a better society with fewer social problems.

    For the Gilded Age, the railroads, new factories, and increases in mining led to the creation of new jobs nationwide. More and more people abandoned the rural life and migrated to areas with these new jobs. In the South, still economically devastated, northern industrialists started slowly investing money in new manufacturing concerns. Those who stuck with agriculture were either sharecroppers and tenant farmers, who lived in perpetual debt to the landlord, or small farmers who at worst just survived and at best made enough to plant crops next year and keep food on the table. Also, despite the corruption, people had faith in the political bosses and regularly turned out at the polls. Because patronage was rife, there was a "you vote for me, I'll take care of you" attitude by the machines, and they mostly delivered, at least on a small scale.

    For the sectional crisis, don't forget to talk about the Jay-hawkers and Border Ruffians in Kansas, as well as John Brown and the outright warfare between abolitionists and the pro-slavery faction

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