APUSH Document Based Question

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“The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on American Society.”

In your response you should do the following:

  • Respond to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis or claim that establishes a line of reasoning.
  • Describe a broader historical context relevant to the prompt.
  • Support an argument in response to the prompt using at least six documents.
  • Use at least one additional piece of specific historical evidence (beyond that found in the documents) relevant to an argument about the prompt.
  • For at least three documents, explain how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument.
  • Use evidence to corroborate, qualify, or modify an argument that addresses the prompt.



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

Document 1: Excerpt from a speech by a factory owner, 1885
“The Industrial Revolution has brought prosperity to our great nation. Our factories are producing goods at rates unimaginable just a few decades ago. This has led to the creation of countless jobs, putting food on the tables of many American families. Cities are growing, and with them, opportunities for all. The railroad has connected the East to the West, making us truly united. Critics may point to the smoke and grime, but these are merely signs of progress. We are at the forefront of a new age, and the future is bright.”
Document 2: Letter from a factory worker to his family, 1890
“Dear Family, life in the city is not what I imagined. The factory is a harsh place, with long hours and little pay. The air is thick with smoke, and many of my fellow workers cough constantly. Children, no older than our little Sarah, work beside me. The noise is deafening, and accidents are common. I’ve seen men lose fingers to the machines. I hope to save enough to return home soon.”
Document 3: Newspaper article on urban growth, 1900
“Cities across America are experiencing unprecedented growth. The influx of workers seeking employment in factories has led to the rapid expansion of urban areas. New buildings are erected daily, and businesses are thriving. However, this growth has also brought challenges. Overcrowding, poor sanitation, and a lack of adequate housing plague many city dwellers. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and tensions are rising.”
Document 4: Excerpt from a women’s rights activist’s diary, 1910
“The Industrial Revolution has brought about change not just in factories but in homes as well. Many women have found employment in textile mills, giving them a sense of independence. This newfound financial freedom has sparked discussions about women’s rights and roles in society. We are organizing, protesting, and demanding our right to vote. The times are changing, and women are at the forefront of this change.”
Document 5: Statement from a union leader, 1915
“Workers of America, unite! The Industrial Revolution has brought wealth to the few and misery to the many. We toil for hours, face dangerous conditions, and receive meager wages. It’s time for us to demand better working conditions, fair pay, and the right to organize. The factory owners have grown rich off our labor, and it’s time they recognize our worth.”
Document 6: Excerpt from a government report on child labor, 1920
“Across the nation, children as young as six are employed in factories, mines, and mills. They work long hours, often in hazardous conditions, and are denied the chance to attend school. The rise of the Industrial Revolution has exacerbated this issue, with many families relying on the income of their children to survive. Immediate action is required to address this grave injustice.”
Document 7: Opinion piece in a national newspaper, 1920
“The Industrial Revolution has transformed America in ways we could never have imagined. Our economy is booming, and our global influence is growing. However, this progress has come at a cost. The environment suffers, workers are exploited, and societal inequalities persist. As we move forward, we must find a balance between progress and preservation, ensuring that the benefits of industrialization are shared by all.”