The Early Republic and the American Civil War
The adoption of the Constitution in 1787 established a strong federal government for the United States and codified the principles of a country that balanced the interests of divergent political, social, religious, and economic groups. The logistical necessities of organizing these interests on a federal level contributed to the establishment of national political parties during George Washington’s first term in office. Though President Washington warned of the dangers of factionalism in his farewell address, the advantages these organizations possessed for achieving their policy goals made parties an integral part of the political system. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the United States experienced a period of tremendous territorial expansion. The challenges resulting from the spread of political and social institutions—most notably, slavery—across the continent deepened sectional divisions into a national crisis by the 1850s. The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American history, and the war and its aftermath profoundly altered the political, social, and economic characteristics of the United States.
In this assessment, you will explain the characteristics of the First Party System in the United States and its legislative consequences. You will also examine the growth of the sectional divisions in the United States during the nineteenth century leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Your submission must be your original work. No more than a combined total of 30% of the submission and no more than a 10% match to any one individual source can be directly quoted or closely paraphrased from sources, even if cited correctly. An originality report is provided when you submit your task that can be used as a guide.
You must use the rubric to direct the creation of your submission because it provides detailed criteria that will be used to evaluate your work. Each requirement below may be evaluated by more than one rubric aspect. The rubric aspect titles may contain hyperlinks to relevant portions of the course.
A. Explain (suggested length of 2–3 paragraphs) the reasons for the rise of partisan politics in the Early Republic (i.e., major conflicts and concerns, development of the First Party System).
B. Discuss the development of the Second Party System (suggested length of 2–3 paragraphs) by doing the following:
1. Compare the platforms of the Whig and Democratic parties.
Note: You may include both similarities and differences of the two parties.
2. Describe the leaders and constituents that defined each party.
3. Explain how the Second Party System contributed to increased democratization of American politics.
C. Discuss the major movements and events that led to the Civil War (suggested length of 2–3 paragraphs) by doing the following:
1. Explain the pro-slavery and abolitionist arguments of the antebellum period.
2. Describe the role of westward expansion in increasing sectional tensions.
3. Evaluate how three major events (e.g., significant legislation, territorial conflicts, court cases, political debates) contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War.
D. Provide acknowledgement of source information, using in-text citations and references, for quoted, paraphrased, or summarized content.
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