Evaluate the extent to which the Civil War was a turning point in the history of the United States in the period from 1800 to 1877.
Questions that you should think about to guide your essay response:
- What were the major events leading up to the Civil War?
- How did the Civil War change political, economic, and social structures in the U.S.?
- What were the immediate and long-term consequences of the Civil War?
- Were there any other significant turning points during this period? How do they compare to the Civil War?
- How did the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War further shape the nation?
Sample Perfect Essay:
How the Essay Earns a Perfect Score:
The APUSH (Advanced Placement U.S. History) exam has specific standards and criteria for grading the Long Essay Question (LEQ). Let’s break down why the provided essay meets these standards perfectly:
- Thesis/Claim (1 point): The APUSH exam requires students to present a clear, precise, and defensible thesis in their essay. In the sample essay, the thesis is evident in the statement, “The Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865, stands as a monumental turning point in the history of the United States.” This thesis directly addresses the prompt and sets the stage for the arguments that follow.
- Contextualization (1 point): To earn this point, students must describe a broader historical context relevant to the prompt. The essay does this by outlining the tensions between the North and the South, mentioning key events like the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850. This provides readers with a clear backdrop against which the main arguments of the essay are set.
- Evidence (2 points): The APUSH standards require students to support their thesis with specific evidence. In the sample essay, there’s a plethora of evidence cited, such as the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Homestead Act, and the Reconstruction Amendments. Each piece of evidence is directly related to the thesis and supports the argument that the Civil War was a significant turning point.
- Analysis and Reasoning (2 points): This is where students must demonstrate a deeper understanding of the topic. The essay does this in two ways. First, it analyzes the significance of each piece of evidence, explaining, for example, how the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment changed the lives of African Americans. Second, it shows a complex understanding by comparing the impact of the Civil War to other events of the period, such as the Market Revolution and the Second Great Awakening. This comparison not only reinforces the thesis but also provides a nuanced view of the period.
When you are done reviewing this APUSH LEQ example, you can use the buttons below to proceed to our Long Essay example 3 or return to the Practice Exam main menu.