Unit Six
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Expansion, Slavery and the Sectional Crisis
Unit Outline
Day One
The Rise of the Cotton Kingdom: Evolution of a Slave Society 

Divine, pages 12(on Portuguese involvement in the slave trade), 73-79(skip tan pages) and 374-384 
Supplement: Statistics on Slavery in the United States 
Be prepared to Discuss The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass 

How does the southern economy change after 1793?  How does the economic change brought about by the Cotton Gin alter southern society? 

Video: Excerpt of Amistad 

Upper South, Deep South, chattel, indentured servant, slave code, Gullah, creole, The Royal African Company, rice plantation, cotton production, short staple cotton, long staple cotton, King Cotton, class v. caste, gang labor, task labor, cult of chivalry, William Lloyd Garrison, Nat Turner, tobacco, interstate slave trade, Cotton Gin(1793), wage labor, paternalism, hegemony 

Homework Questions: 
1. Why might a Chesapeake planter have given little thought to the enslavement of Africans?  In what sense was slavery not invented in the United States?  In what sense was slavery in the United States a "peculiar institution?" 

2. Why did the expanding black population cause lawmakers to draw up strict slave codes? 

3.  How did the economies of the Upper and Lower South differ?  How did the slave experience of the Upper and Lower South differ? 

4.  Why did short staple cotton prove to be the ideal plantation crop?  Why was it especially advantageous for slave labor?  Why did cotton production allow the South to remain relatively undiversified economically? 

5.  What impact did the cotton gin and the rise of cotton have on slavery in the U.S.? 

6. Was slavery profitable?  What conflicting arguments exist concerning the profitability of slavery in the South?  Which do you think is most convincing?  Why? 

7. Describe the social structure of the white South.  Why did non-slaveholding white Southerners tolerate and support slavery?  Why could we classify the antebellum South as an underdeveloped region? 

8.  Why do historians label the antebellum South as a "slave society?"  What are the implications of this term? 

Day Two
Constructing a Picture of Slave Society in the Ante-Bellum South 

Be prepared to Discuss The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass 
Supplement:  Internet sites for group research 

Homework questions: 

Day Three
The Question of Agency: Revolt, Resistance, Runaways and Religion 

Divine, pp. 390-398 
Supplement:  Agency v. "Social Death" DBQ 
  Time line of laws re slavery CONSTRUCT AND ADD 

Be prepared to Discuss The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass 

To what degree and in what ways did slaves in the antebellum South have control over their lives?  Did they have "agency?" 

Gabriel Prosser, "Gabriel's Army," Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, "free Negroes,"  vagrancy and apprenticeship, Freedom's Journal, The North Star, David Walker, Appeal . . . .to the Colored Citizens of the World, underground railroad, 

Homework Questions: 
1.  How did slaves protest against the institution of slavery? 

2.  Why was the typical fugitive a young, unmarried male? 

3.  Why might the presence of "free Negroes" have threatened the institution of slavery?  How did the North and the South seek to control this population? 

4.  How might religion have served as a means of resistance?  In what sense was it a vehicle for strengthening the "slave community?" 

5.  How did slaves create a culture that permited them to survive the institution of slavery?  In what ways did slaves develop a culture independent of their masters? 

Day Four
Abolitionism and the Southern Defense of Slavery

Divine, pages 384-90
Supplement: Stowe, excerpts from Uncle Tom's Cabin 
  "Necessary Evil to Positive Good" ADD DBQ

Why did slaveholders begin to ardently defend the institution of slavery in the 1830s?  How did Southerners defend the institution of slavery against the abolitionist critique ?  Why did non-slaveholding white people of the South defend slavery? 

William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionism, yeoman, “necessary evil” justification, “positive good” justification, apologist, Hinton Helper, paternalism

Homework Questions:
1. What was the “necessary evil” justification for slavery?  What was the “positive good” justification?  Why might the “positive good” argument have become more popular during the 1830s and 1840s?

2. What steps did Southerners take in the 1840s and 50s to prevent anti-slavery ideas from being expressed in the South?

3.  Why is Uncle Tom's Cabin considered an abolitionist text?  How does Stowe appeal to the sentiments of her northern readership? 

4.  You are a plantation owner and your northern friend, a factory owner is visiting.  How might you defend your labor system to him?  In what ways is your slave system superior to his free labor system?

Day Five
Manifest Destiny and the Mexican War

Divine, pages 342-348, 350-359
Supplement: O'Sullivan, "The Great Nation of Futurity" 
Supplement: Viewpoints on the Mexican War 

In what sense is Manifest Destiny an extension of ideals long held by Americans?  In what sense is it a departure?  How did the Mexican War reflect ideas of Manifest Destiny?  How did it aggravate sectional tensions?

Webster-Ashburton Treaty, Oregon Country, Stephen Austin, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Texas Revolution, Texas Republic (Lone Star Republic), “remember the Alamo”, Sam Houston, John Tyler, Texas Annexation, James Polk, John L. O’Sullivan, Manifest Destiny, James Polk, Oregon Country, “54? 40’ or fight”, 49? parallel, Nueces River, Rio Grande River, Mexican War, Zachary Taylor, Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Gadsden Purchase, Wilmot Proviso

Homework Questions:
1. What are the goals of “Young Americans” and other ardent nationalists of the 1840s?  How did they hope to promote “progress” and increase the prestige of the United States?

2. What attracted American settlers to Texas during the 1820s?  What was the relationship between the settlers of Texas and the Mexican government?

3. What were the causes of the Texas Revolution? What is the significance of the battle of the Alamo?

4. Why did many citizens of the Texas Republic expect the United States to annex Texas after the War for Texas Independence?  Why didn’t the United States annex Texas immediately? 

5. According to John O’Sullivan what is the United States’ destiny?  What does this indicate about the way Americans of the 1840s see themselves and their role in the world? 

6. Why did the U.S. almost go to war with Britain over Oregon during the 1840s?  How did the U.S. avoid war?  What were the terms of the settlement?

7. What were the causes of the U.S. war with Mexico? What were the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo? What did the U.S. gain from the war? Why didn’t the U.S. annex all of Mexico?

8. Why did some Americans (especially Whigs) oppose war with Mexico? 

Day Six
Expansion and the Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Western Territories

Divine, pages 280 (on Missouri Compromise) and 402-413
Write out answers to homework questions 2, 4, and 5 (last names A-M)
Write out answers to homework questions 8 and 9 (last names N-Z)
Map Assignment #3: Territorial Acquisitions of the U.S. 1776-1860 due

How did the acquisition of new territories in the 1840’s bring the issue of slavery to the forefront of the American consciousness?

Missouri Compromise, Charles Sumner, Preston Brooks, Wilmot Proviso, free soil movement, popular (squatter) sovereignty, Stephen Douglas, fugitive slave law, Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Ostend Manifesto, nativism, Know-Nothing Party (American Party), Republican Party

Homework Questions:
1. What was the Missouri Compromise?  What impact did it have on sectional relations?

2. What does the caning of Senator Sumner by Preston Brooks and the American reaction to it indicate about sectional relations in 1856?

3.  Why does the debate over slavery in the 1850’s largely center around the status of slavery in the territories? How the results of the Mexican War aggravate this debate?

4. What was the Wilmot Proviso? In what sense did it uphold the principles of the Free-Soil Movement? What impact did the Wilmot Proviso have on the structure of the second party system? What was the fate of the Wilmot Proviso? What might this tell us about the nature of the debate over slavery at that time?

5. What is “popular (squatter)  sovereignty”? Why would some Democrats consider this 
a basis for compromise between North and South?

6. What were the provisions of the Compromise of 1850 as devised by Henry Clay? Was it truly a compromise? What impact did the Compromise have on sectional relations?

7. What were Stephen Douglas’ reasons for wanting to organize the Kansas-Nebraska territories in 1854? 

8. What was the Kansas-Nebraska Act? What was the Northern response to it? Why?
What impact did it have on sectional relations? On the second party system? 

9.  What led to the emergence of the Know-Nothing party in the 1850s? What led to its popularity? Why did the Know-Nothings fail to become a permanent, national party?

Day Seven Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Rise of the Republican Party 

Divine, pages 413-415, and bottom of 417-421 (skip tan pages) 
Supplement: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates  
Supplement: DBQ: Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men  

What was the ideological basis of the new Republican Party? 

Republican Party, free soil, wage (free) labor, "slave power," James Buchanan,   Election of 1856, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, Lincoln-Douglas Debates,   Freeport Doctrine 

  Homework Questions: 
  1. What events led to the growth of the Republican Party? What types of people were attracted to it? 

  2. What was its stance on slavery? 

  3. How was the Republican Party viewed in the North? In the South? 

  4. What is Douglas' depiction of Lincolnís stance on slavery in the Lincoln-Douglas debates? To what degree is it accurate? 

  5. What is Lincoln's stance on slavery as articulated in the Lincoln-Douglas debates?   What arguments does he use to defend his position? What is Lincolnís critique of Douglas and Douglasí stance on slavery? 

  6. What impact do these debates have on Lincolnís stature as a politician?  What impact did it have on the stature of the Republican Party?

Day Eight
Slaveholder Conspiracy: the Dred Scott Case and Bleeding Kansas 

Divine, pages 413-414 (on Kansas), 416-417 (bottom) and 418-419 
Supplement: Dred Scott v. Sanford 
Write out answer to homework question 1 
What impact did the Dred Scott decision have on sectional relations? Why might the Dred Scott case and events in Kansas have led some northerner to conclude that the national government was being dominated by a slave power? 

Bleeding Kansas, sack of Lawrence, James Buchanan, Dred Scott v. Sanford, Roger Taney, Taney Court, property rights, Lecompton Controversy, 

  Homework Questions: 
  1. What impact did the war between Free soilers and slave owners in Kansas (known as "Bleeding Kansas") have on sectional relations?  What impact did it have on the   popularity of the Republican Party? 

  2. What are the essential facts of the Dred Scott case (be brief)?  What were the main conclusions of the Supreme Courtís decision? 

  3. How was the decision interpreted by Republicans and other Northerners?  Why?  What impact did the decision have on sectional relations? 

  4. What led to the controversy over the Lecompton Constitution in Kansas?  Why did it provoke such an uproar in the U.S. Congress? 

  5. What impact did the Lecompton controversy have on sectional relations?  On the Democratic Party?  On the Republican Party?

Day Nine
The House Divided: The Election of 1860 and Secession  
Divine, 421-28 and 439-41 
Why did the victory of Republican Abraham Lincoln in the Election of 1860 result in the secession of South Carolina and, subsequently the states of the Deep South? 

John Brownís raid on Harpers Ferry, Hinton Helper, Helperism, Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tomís Cabin", Election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln, Northern Democrat, Southern Democrat, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union   Party, John Bell, secession, Confederate States of America 

  Homework Questions: 
  1. What impact did  John Brownís raid on Harpers Ferry and Hinton Helper's book,   "Impending Crisis of the South" have on sectional relations in 1859-60.  Discuss how   each was interpreted by the North and by the South, and the impact each had on   sectional tensions. 

  2. Why did the Presidential election of 1860 result in the secession of the states of the Deep South? 

  3. To what extent was the crisis between North and South one dominated by the issue of Southern slavery. In what sense was the crisis a clash between two cultures?  Why did the conflict come to the forefront during the 1850s?  Was the conflict inevitable?  Was it   irreconcilable? 

  4. What was the constitutional theory behind secession?  How did South Carolina and the states of the Deep South justify secession in 1860-61? 

  5. In what sense was secession a conservative revolution?

Fieldston News Network- NEWS ALERT: The Impending Crisis

The period before the Civil War was one of the most crucial and colorful in American history.  Through "The Year in Review", one of the most popular television programs on FNN (the Fieldston News Network), we are going to relive that era.  For your next project, I am going to divide you into news teams and have each group produce one episode (about 6-8 minutes) on a given year.  On TUESDAY, JANUARY 13 and WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14  your group will have the chance to coordinate and rehearse your program. The next day your group will present the story, so that the other teams can view your efforts and you can view theirs.

Team One:  1845-1847.  Major Events: Texas annexed, Oregon, Mexican War, Wilmot Proviso, Congressional elections.
 Northern Commentator: 
 Interview subject (Wilmot? Taylor? Scott? Lincoln?):

Team Two:  1849-1852.  Major Events: Gold Rush, Compromise of 1850, Congressional elections, Uncle Tom's Cabin
 Northern Commentator: 
 Interview subject (Clay? Calhoun? Webster? Stowe?): 

Team Three:  1854-1856.  Major Events: Kansas-Nebraska Act, Brooks-Sumner incident, "Bleeding Kansas."
 Northern Commentator:
 Interview subject (Douglas? Brooks? Sumner? John Brown?): 

Team Four:  1856-1857.  Major Events:  the Presidential Election, Dred Scott case, Lecompton Controversy
 Northern Commentator:
 Interview subject ( Buchanan/ Fremont/ Fillmore?Taney?):

Team Five:  1858-1860.  Major Events: Lincoln-Douglas debates, Harpers Ferry, Pres. Election, Crittendon Plan
 Northern Commentator:
 Interview subject (Douglas? Brown? Lincoln? Crittendon? ):

1  Thanks to Mr. Michael Flamm for the concept for this simulation. The title refers to an outstanding book on the 1850s by David Potter.  I recommend you use it, along with the other books on reserve in the library.


1.  The anchor will introduce the year and provide an overview of the major events of the year. (1 minute)

2.  He/she will then switch to the reporter, who will provide a feature story on one of the major events,including an interview with an important historical figure who is "on the scene." (2-3 minutes)

3.  The reporter will send the program back to the anchor, who will switch to the commentator for some commentary (analysis, opinions, etc.) on one of the year's major stories. (2 minutes)

4.  When the commentator finishes, the anchor will retake control, wrap up the program with an item or two (humorous? tragic?), and then sign off. (1 minute)



1.  Each student must submit their "story", including dialogue,  in writing on the date assigned (no last-minute ad-libbing please).

2.  Each story must include some proof of research.  You should use at least one serious source other than the textbook or encyclopedias.

3.  Be prepared to present your material clearly and convincingly

4.  Remember to save your notes to study from for the Unit Test/Midterm


I am looking for accuracy, creativity, wit, and style in these presentations.  Anything that you use (props, costumes, graphics, visuals, etc.) to enhance your presentations will be held in your favor.  Here are some sources you might use:

Graebner, Norm.  Empire on the Pacific
Schroeder, John. Mr. Polk's War: American Opposition and Dissent.
Potter, David.  The Impending Crisis 1848-1861.
Holt, Michael.  The Political Crisis of the 1850s.
McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom.
McPherson, James, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
Gienapp, William. The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856.
Foner, Eric.  Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men.
Johannsen, Robert.  Stephen Douglas.
Fehrenbacher, Don.  Prelude to Greatness: Lincoln in the 1850s.
Oates, Stephen.  To Purge This Land with Blood. (John Brown).

There are many more, so please see the librarian or me if you need assistance.  There are  many books on reserve.



   Poor                     Excellent

Clarity:                              1       2      3      4      5
Poise:                                1       2      3      4      5
Organization:                1       2      3      4      5
Preparation:                     1       2      3      4      5
Eye Contact:                     1       2      3      4      5

Clarity:                              1       2      3      4      5
Poise:                                1       2      3      4      5
Organization:                  1       2      3      4      5
Preparation:                    1       2      3      4      5
Eye Contact:                   1       2      3      4      5


Clarity:                              1       2      3      4      5
Poise:                                1       2      3      4      5
Organization:              1       2      3      4      5
Preparation:                      1       2      3      4      5
Eye Contact:                   1       2      3      4      5


Clarity:                              1       2      3      4      5
Poise:                                1       2      3      4      5
Organization:                 1       2      3      4      5
Preparation:                     1       2      3      4      5
Eye Contact:                     1       2      3      4      5

Creativity points:

 2The evaluation sheet was designed by Ms. Rebecca Reimers.