Once you have answered our APUSH Document-Based Question, scroll down to read a sample response. This APUSH DBQ example will give you a good sense of what it takes to earn a perfect score on this portion of the exam. We have also included a detailed breakdown of the scoring.

Analyze the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution on American society between 1870 and 1920.

Sample Perfect Essay:
The Industrial Revolution, spanning from the late 19th to the early 20th century, marked a transformative period in American history. As the nation transitioned from an agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse, the effects on American society were both positive and negative. This period brought about significant economic growth, urbanization, and opportunities for many; however, it also exposed stark inequalities, exploitation of workers, and environmental challenges.

Economic prosperity was one of the most evident positive effects of the Industrial Revolution. As mentioned in Document 1, factories produced goods at unprecedented rates, leading to the creation of countless jobs. This economic boom was further facilitated by the expansion of the railroad, which connected the East to the West, fostering trade and commerce. The growth of cities, as highlighted in Document 3, was a testament to this prosperity, with businesses thriving and new buildings erected daily.

However, the rapid urbanization brought about its own set of challenges. The same Document 3 that praised the growth of cities also pointed out the issues of overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate housing. The widening gap between the rich and the poor became more pronounced, leading to rising tensions in urban areas.

The plight of the workers, especially in factories, was one of the most significant negative effects of the Industrial Revolution. Document 2, a letter from a factory worker, paints a grim picture of the working conditions in factories. Long hours, low pay, and hazardous conditions were the norm. This sentiment is echoed in Document 5, where a union leader calls for better working conditions and the right to organize. The exploitation was not limited to adults; children were equally, if not more, affected. Document 6 highlights the grave issue of child labor, with children as young as six being employed in dangerous conditions, depriving them of education.

Yet, the Industrial Revolution was not without its silver linings. For women, it marked the beginning of a journey towards independence and equal rights. Document 4, an excerpt from a women’s rights activist’s diary, speaks of the financial freedom women experienced by working in textile mills. This economic independence played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement, with women demanding their right to vote.

In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution was a double-edged sword. While it propelled America into a new age of prosperity and global influence, as mentioned in Document 7, it also brought to the forefront deep-rooted societal issues. Balancing progress with preservation became the challenge of the era, a challenge that America continues to grapple with even today.

How the Essay Earns a Perfect Score:

The APUSH (Advanced Placement U.S. History) exam has specific standards and criteria for grading the Document-Based Question (DBQ). Let’s analyze how the provided essay meets these standards impeccably:

  1. Thesis/Claim (1 point): The essay begins with a clear thesis that addresses both the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution on American society.
  1. Contextualization (1 point): The introduction provides a brief overview of the Industrial Revolution, setting the stage for the subsequent analysis.
  1. Evidence from the Documents (3 points):

    Use of Six or Seven Documents (2 points): The essay incorporates evidence from all seven documents to support the argument.

    Supports the Argument with Evidence (1 point): Each piece of evidence from the documents is directly tied to the essay’s argument, demonstrating a deep understanding of the sources.
  1. Analysis and Reasoning (2 points):

    Explains the Significance of the Evidence (1 point): The essay not only cites evidence from the documents but also explains its significance in the context of the argument.

    Demonstrates a Complex Understanding (1 point): The essay acknowledges the nuanced nature of the Industrial Revolution, recognizing both its benefits and drawbacks.
  1. Outside Evidence (1 point): The essay brings in the broader context of the women’s suffrage movement, which, while alluded to in Document 4, is expanded upon to demonstrate the broader societal implications of the Industrial Revolution.
  1. Sourcing (1 point): The essay considers the source and context of each document, such as recognizing the bias of a factory owner in Document 1 or the personal experience of a factory worker in Document 2.

In conclusion, this sample essay would earn a total of 9 points based on the APUSH DBQ scoring rubric. It meets all the criteria by presenting a clear thesis, providing relevant historical context, supporting arguments with specific evidence, and demonstrating a deep and complex understanding of the topic.

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