Civil War DBQ Prep

American Civil War DBQ Prep
Create a TOT and Essay Frame on the following prompt:
“By 1860, the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of
sectional discord and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created.”
Using the documents and your knowledge of the period 1789-1860, assess the validity of this statement.
Document A:
Document B:
1856 Presidential Election Lithograph by John L. Magee, Library of Congress
Document C:
Opinion of Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857
“The language of the Declaration of Independence is equally conclusive . . . ‘We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights; that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these
rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’
The general words above quoted would seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were
used in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood. But it is too clear for dispute, that the
enslaved African race was not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed
and adopted this declaration.”
Document D:
Front page headline of The New York Times, November 7, 1860
Astounding Triumph of Republicans
Abraham Lincoln Probably Elected President
by a Majority of the Entire Popular Vote
Forty Thousand Majority for the Republican ticket in New York
One Hundred Thousand Majority in Pennsylvania
Corresponding Gains in the Western and North-Western States
Preponderance of John Bell and
Conservatism at the South
Results of the Contest upon Congressional and Local Tickets
Document E:
President James Buchanan, Fourth Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1860
“. . . All for which the slave States have ever contended, is to be let alone and permitted to manage their
domestic institutions in their own way. As sovereign States, they, and they alone, are responsible
before God and the world for the slavery existing among them . . .
The Question fairly stated is, has the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to coerce a State
into submission which is attempting to withdraw or has actually withdrawn from the Confederacy? If
answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principle that the power has been conferred upon
Congress to declare and to make war against a State. After much serious reflection I have arrived at the
conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress. . .
Congress can contribute much to avert (Southern withdrawal from the Union) by proposing and
recommending to the legislatures of the several States the remedy for existing evils which the
Constitution has itself provided for its own preservation . . . an ‘explanatory amendment’ of the
Constitution on the subject of slavery . . .
1. An express recognition of the right of property in slaves in the States it now exists or may
hereafter exist
2. The duty of protecting this right in all common Territories . . .
3. A like recognition of the right of the master to have his slave who has escaped from one
State to another restored . . .
In any event, (such an explanatory amendment) ought to be tried in a spirit of conciliation before any of
these States shall separate themselves from the Union.”
Document F:
Jefferson Davis, Message to the Confederate Congress, April 29, 1861
“It was by the delegates chosen by the several States . . . that the Constitution of the United States was
framed in 1787 and submitted to the several States for ratification . . . These States endeavored in every
possible form to exclude the idea that the separate and independent sovereignty of each state was
merged into one common government and nation, and . . . to impress on the Constitution its true
character—that of a compact between independent States.”
“. . . Amendments were added to the Constitution placing beyond any pretense of doubt the reservation
by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the
“Strange, indeed . . . the Constitution has proved unavailing to prevent the rise and growth in the
Northern States of a political school which has persistently claimed that the government thus formed
was not a compact between States, but was in effect a national government, set up above and over the
Document G:
Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
“. . . the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than
the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and
continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured and the faith of all in the
then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of
Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787 one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing
the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.”
But if the destruction of the Union by one, or by a part only, of the States, be lawfully possible, the
Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.
It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union,-that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or
States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to
I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the
extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws
of the Union be faithfully executed in all the Sates. . . I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but
only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.”
Document H:
A Constitutional View of the War Between the States, 1868, by Alexander Stephens, Vice President of
the Confederate States
“The conflict in principle arose from different and opposing ideas as to the nature of what is known as
the General Government. The contest was between those who held it to be strictly Federal in its
character, and those who maintained that it was thoroughly National. It was strife between the
principles of Federation, on the one side, and Centralism, or Consolidation, on the other.
Slavery, so called, was but the question on which these antagonistic principles, which had been in
conflict, from the beginning, on diverse other questions, were finally brought into actual and active
collision with each other on the field of battle.”
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