History 8-2, Assignment Nine, The Build Up to the Civil War




Assignment Nine
The Build Up to the Civil War

Deadline, May 9, 80 Points

Click here to go back to the web site for History 8-1.




How did national political developments contribute to the Civil War?



In addition to the growth of the nation, the market reforms, and transportation improvements sweeping America in the decades prior to the Civil War, naitonal movements in the areas of religion, rights for enslaved people, expanded rights for women, literature, philosophy, and the arts were all making and re-making America.

In this unit we will look closely at how these shaped America at the time and how they still influence America today.


Students will identify and describe key events and trends in religion, reform and the changes in the arts that swept through America in the decades prior to the Civil War.

Essential questions

  1. How was the Second Great Awakening connected to the reform movements of the time?
  2. How did the Second Great Awakening come to involve so many Americans?
  3. Why did so many reformers take on the cause of abolition?
  4. What happened to the abolition movement?
  5. How were calles for religious reform and rights for women connected?

Special instructions

For this assignment, you will create simple, well constructed answers to questions 1 - 14, and you will choose one topic from the list of suggestions for 3 to 4 paragraph essay. Remember, essay rules apply.

Besides the questions - One of my favorite things about this time period is the music. That's probably because some of them have such strong bass lines. I hope you choose to take a little time to listen / watch through some of the music links I put on the right side of this page.

Try this for help with this unit ...

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My Antebellum Quick Verbal Notes


These links are where you can hear my melodius and quick notes about the material in this unit.

Short Answer Questions
Complete each of the following questions with two or three well written, accurate, and contextual sentences.

NOTE >> Please answer the actual questions. Don't just put in a generic answer.

  1. How was democracy connected to the Second Great Awakening? (begin p. 6, but keep reading)
  2. Describe some of the changes that were taking place in America around the time of the Second Great Awakening. (begin p. 6)
  3. What motivated Joseph Smith to establish a new religion? (begin p. 9)
  4. Even though their practices varied, the utopian communities shared some of the same basic ideas. What were they? (begin p. 11)
  5. What are some examples of the work of Christian reformers to push for societal reforms? (begin, p. 13)
  6. Look at the quote by William Lloyd Garrison on p. 14. He is talking about slavery, and he compares his outspoken objection to slavery to several emergency situations. Explain his comparisons. What makes them so strong? By association, to what or whom is he comparing slaveholders?
  7. What tactics did abolitionists use to spread their messages and convince people to join their cause? (begin p. 13)
  8. What caused the eventual loss of momentum for abolitionism?
  9. How were rights for women viewed at the time? What did the reformers do to expand them? (begin p. 16)
  10. What did Horace Mann want to change about education? How did he propose to do it? (begin p. 18)
  11. How did transcendentalism tend to view the world? (begin p. 20)
  12. How was music connected to the lives of the enslaved? (begin p. 22) You may want to listen to some of the music linked at the right side of this page.
  13. With what Biblical stories did the enslaved people connect most strongly? Why? (begin . 22)
  14. In what ways did antebellum visual artists begin to change their interpretation of the American experience? (begin p. 25)

Short Essay Topics
Select ONE of the following topics and complete a three or four paragraph essay that deals with the question(s) in a well written, contextually relevant way. All the essay rules apply.

Topic One >> Read through the selections from the speech by Frederick Douglass, 'What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?'

  1. What is he saying about the difference between American independence from Britain and the conditions of the lives of slaves?

Topic Two >>Read the primary source by Brigham Young to Thomas Kane. The letter begins with some references to contemporary events which may not have meaning for you, but keep reading.

  1. What is Brigham Young saying about the quality of life in the West?
  2. What benefits does he see? Be specific.
  3. To what specifically do you believe he his referring when he uses the word 'despotism'?


Printed files

Click here to view a printed copy of the assignment.

Media files

Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation about Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Free Soiler.

Click here to see the enlarged version of the cartoon about the 1860 election entitled 'The National Game'.