APUSH Long Essay Question Example 2

Once you have answered Question 2 from our APUSH Long Essay Questions, scroll down to read a sample response. Our APUSH LEQ example essay will show you exactly what a high-scoring US History essay looks like. We have also included some questions that helped guide our response as well as a detailed breakdown of its score.

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:

  1. What were the major events leading up to the Civil War?

  2. How did the Civil War change political, economic, and social structures in the U.S.?

  3. What were the immediate and long-term consequences of the Civil War?

  4. Were there any other significant turning points during this period? How do they compare to the Civil War?

  5. How did the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War further shape the nation?

Sample Perfect Essay:
The Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865, stands as a monumental turning point in the history of the United States. From the early 1800s, tensions between the North and the South over issues like slavery, economic interests, and states’ rights had been escalating. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850 were both attempts to address these tensions, but they were merely temporary solutions. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a known opponent of the expansion of slavery, was the final straw for many Southern states, leading to their secession and the onset of the Civil War.

The war itself brought about significant political changes. The power of the federal government was solidified over the states, as seen with Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and the introduction of the first income tax. Economically, the war accelerated the decline of the agrarian South and the rise of the industrial North. The Homestead Act of 1862 and the Pacific Railway Acts were both passed during the war, promoting western expansion and the growth of the national economy.

Socially, the war had profound effects. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the subsequent 13th Amendment in 1865 abolished slavery, forever changing the lives of millions of African Americans. However, the end of the war did not mean the end of racial tensions. The Reconstruction era that followed, from 1865 to 1877, saw efforts to integrate freed slaves into society and politics. The 14th and 15th Amendments granted citizenship and voting rights to African Americans, but the end of Reconstruction also saw the rise of Jim Crow laws and the solidification of racial segregation in the South.

While there were other significant events during this period, such as the Market Revolution or the Second Great Awakening, none had a more profound and lasting impact then the Civil War. It not only resolved the issue of slavery but also redefined the nature of American federalism and set the stage for future civil rights movements.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.
In conclusion, the sample essay is a perfect representation of what the APUSH exam requires of an LEQ. It presents a clear thesis, provides relevant historical context, supports its arguments with specific evidence, and demonstrates a deep and complex understanding of the topic. By meeting all these criteria, the essay would undoubtedly earn a perfect score based on APUSH standards.

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.