"As the nation expanded and its population grew, regional tensions, especially over slavery, led to a civil war - the course and aftermath of which transformed American society."
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Unit Overview:

Key Concepts:

  • 5.1 The United States became more connected with the world as it pursued an expansionist foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere and emerged as the destination for many migrants from other countries.
    • I. Enthusiasm for U.S. territorial expansion, fueled by economic and national security interest and supported by claims of racial and cultural superiority, resulted in war, opening new markets, acquisition of of new territory, and increased ideological conflicts.
    • II. Westward expansion, migration to and within the United States, and the end of slavery reshaped North American boundaries and caused conflicts over American cultural identities, citizenship, and the question of extending and protecting rights for various groups of U.S. inhabitants.
  • 5.2. Intensified by expansion and deepening regional divisions, debates over slavery and other economic, cultural, and political issues led the nation into civil war.
    • I. The institution of slavery and its attendant ideological debates, along with regional economic and demographic changes, territorial expansion in the 1840's and 1850's, and cultural differences between the North and the South, all intensified sectionalism.
    • II. Repeated attempts at political compromise failed to calm tensions over slavery and often made sectional tensions worse, breaking down trust between sectional leaders and culminating in the bitter election of 1860, followed by the secession of the southern states.
  • 5.3. The Union victory in the Civil War and the contested Reconstruction of the South settled the issues of slavery and secession, but left unresolved many questions about the power of the federal government and citizenship rights.
    • I. The North's great manpower and industrial resources, its leadership, and the decision for emancipation eventually led to the union victory over the Confederacy in the devastating Civil War.
    • II. The Civil War and Reconstruction altered power relationships between the states and the federal government and among the executive, legislative and judicial branches, ending slavery and the notion of a divisible union but leaving unresolved questions of relative power and largely unchanged social and economic patterns.
    • III. The constitutional changes of the Reconstruction period embodied a Northern idea of American identity and national purpose and led to conflicts over new definitions of citizenship, particularly regarding the rights of African Americans, women, and other minorities.


Introductory Lecture:










Activities and Exercises:


Supporting Links:

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