Reconstruction dbq notes

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Reconstruction DBQ Notes

Note from Mr. O:

Remember that when you are writing a DBQ the essay should read the same as a regular essay and the document usage should not disrupt the flow of your argument. Make sure that your thesis and your argument clearly focuses only on the task at hand: to answer the question or prompt, to have a clear direct argument with a clearly defined position, and utilize as many documents and as much outside information as evidence to support your position. Your evidence, whether from the documents or outside information, needs to be presented in the context of the question (in this case as evidence of constitutional or social change or lack thereof) with analysis conveying its significance. Any evidence not framed in the context of the question is irrelevant and will not help your score.

The strongest essays argued that while Constitutional changes were clearly revolution pointing to the 13th-15th Amendments as the clearest example as well as the expanding and contracting role of the president, and general victory of federal power over states’ rights; social changes, while forming either a temporary revolution or one in theory, ultimately were not significant enough to be considered revolutionary when considering the backlash that occurred by the end of the period (or some argued that despite the backlash it was still revolutionary which is fine too if done effectively).
Common Problems:

1. Failure to clearly understand what the question is asking – “Revolution” as in drastic change – or failure discuss if change was truly revolutionary

2. Focusing on if changes were good or bad rather than drastic.

3. Southern “secession” or “seceded” not “succession” or “succeeded”!!!!!

4. Lack of enough specific outside information to support argument

5. Using historical narrative (telling the story of the era) instead of creating an argument

6. Weak topic sentences – should either introduce social or constitutional change

7. Thesis statements that don’t clearly answer question or don’t take a strong stand – i.e. “sort of a revolution” “kind of a revolution” = boo – it’s revolutionary or it is not – take a stand


9. Verb tense issues – shifts – stay in past tense & don’t use if 1st or 2nd person – including “we”

10. Staying within 1860-1877 date parameters (esp. Jim Crow & Plessy v Ferguson 1893)
Doc A: (Const.)

- South Carolina justified right to secede 10th Amendment - States’ Rights

- strict constructionism – State power over national

Doc. B: (Const.)

- Republicans (Sen. John Sherman) 1863 States’ Rights have been a detriment to the good of country

- federal over states’ rights is patriotic and better for the good and national currency and financial systems

Doc. C: (Const. & Social)

- African American arguing for the right to vote since fighting for the Union

Doc. D: (Const.)

- Fed gov. hasn’t right to force black suffrage on states, just to end slavery

Doc. E: (Social)

- Freedman’s Bureau wanted land for freedmen and equal rights

- homestead = land not a reference to the Homestead Act out West

Doc. F: (Const. & Social)

- Civil Rights Act of 1866 result of war, end of slavery - thus yes a revolution

Doc 6: (Social & Const.)

- KKK Act of 1871 increases power of federal government

- civil rights as a novelty (it will wear off)

8. Doc. H (Const. & Social)

- cartoon Freedman voting for 1st time

9. Doc. I (Social)

- Cartoon – despite changes KKK and White League were keeping African Americans in a situation “worse than slavery” – education, lynching


- 13th, 14th*, & 15th Amendments – 14th is the first ever definition of citizenship

- Civil War as a victory of Federal power over state power/ States’ Rights (as secession defeated)

- Loose vs. Strict Constructionism (expansion of federal power) National Banking system etc.

- Bill of Rights – 10th Amendment

- Emancipation Proclamation – Confiscation Acts – “contrababnd”

- Radical Republican Reconstruction – Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner

- Rising Nationalism

- Expansion of presidential powers: Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, no formal declaration of war, military tribunals for civilians

- ignoring Ex parte Merryman, Ex parte Milligan

- Military Reconstruction Act – military occupation of the South

- Weakening of the Presidency – Overriding veto, Tenure of Office Act - Edwin T. Stanton - Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

- economic nationalism – national banking system – greenback issue

- Panic of 1873

- Ulysses S. Grant Administration scandals (Credit Mobilier, Whiskey Ring, Indian Ring)

- Election of 1876 – Rutherford B. Hayes

- Compromise of 1877 (Corrupt Bargain II– Wormley Hotel)


- Election of black congressmen & senators (Hiram Revels, Blanche Bruce)

- Myth of black misrule

- Freedmen’s Bureau – “Carpetbaggers”

- “Forty Acres and a Mule”

- Education reform – expansion of public education (African Americans, poor & women – especially in South), establishment of black colleges

- Sharecropping – Tennant Farmers & Crop-Lien System

- Debt peonage & convict-lease system

- KKK (Nathan Bedford Forrest) The White League, The White Cornelia

- Lynching, violence and intimidation of most prominent black citizens

- Dorothea Dix and the U.S. Sanitary Commission (expanded roles of women)

- Women still treated as 2nd class citizens and no vote (Susan B. Anthony’s frustration)

- Withdrawal of federal troops from the south

- Redeemers (Bourbon Rule) “Lost Cause”

IN CONCLUSION (Okay to bring up info for next era post date range):

- Jim Crow Laws – Plessy vs. Ferguson – “separate but equal” & segregation

- Poll Taxes, grandfather clause, literacy tests

- increased lynching

- no new push for civil rights for 90 years

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