AP U.S. History Essay Guide for Unit IIISource: College Board AP US History Exam Website



7 DBQs, 29 FRQs = 36 Total
Main Topics: Jeffersonian Era / Jacksonian Era / Transportation / Immigration / Second Great Awakening / Antebellum Reform Movements / Compare and Contrast

Jeffersonian Era Questions (2 DBQ and 2 FRQs)

  1. 1998 Exam (DBQ): With respect to the federal Constitution, the Jeffersonian Republicans are usually characterized as strict constructionists who were opposed to the broad constructionism of the Federalists. To what extent was this characterization of the two parties accurate during the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison?
    • Discuss the issues involved and explain why these controversies developed (documents from this exam are not available).
  2. 2004 Exam B (Question 2): To what extent was the election of 1800 aptly named the "Revolution of 1800"? Respond with references to TWO of the following areas:
    • Economics
    • Foreign policy
    • Judiciary
    • Politics
  3. 1983 Exam (Question 3): "Early United States foreign policy was primarily a defensive reaction to perceived or actual threats from Europe."
    • Assess the validity of this generalization with reference to United States foreign policy on TWO major issues during the period from 1789 to 1825.
  4. 2002 Exam B (DBQ): Historians have traditionally labeled the period after the War of 1812 the "Era of Good Feelings." Evaluate the accuracy of this label, considering the emergence of nationalism and sectionalism.
    • Use the documents and your knowledge of the period 1815-1825 to construct your answer.


Jacksonian Era Questions (3 DBQs and 7 FRQs)

  1. 1971 Exam (Question 5): “Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828 was the consequence of the rise of democracy rather than the start of a new democratic age.” Assess the validity.
  2. 1975 Exam (Question 4): “The Era of Good Feeling (1816 – 1824) marked the appearance of issues that transformed American politics in the next twenty years.” Assess the validity.
  3. 1980 Exam (DBQ):“The decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to land west of the Mississippi River in the 1830’s was more a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790’s than a change in the policy.”
    • Assess the validity of this generalization with reference to the moral, political, constitutional, and practical concerns that shaped national Indian policy between 1789 and the mid 1830’s.
  4. 1984 Exam (Question 4): “Throughout our history, the Supreme Court has acted as a partisan political body rather than a neutral arbiter of constitutional principles.” Assess the validity of this generalization for the period of 1800 – 1860.
  5. 1990 Exam (DBQ): Jacksonian Democrats viewed themselves as the guardians of the United States Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and equality of economic opportunity. In light of the documents and your knowledge of the 1820’s and 1830’s, to what extent do you agree with the Jacksonians’ view of themselves?
  6. 1991 Exam (Question 3):Although historically represented as distinct parties, the Federalists and the Whigs in fact shared a common political ideology, represented many of the same interest groups, and proposed similar programs and policies. Assess the validity of the statement.
  7. 1999 Exam (Question 2):How did TWO of the following contribute to the reemergence of a two party system in the period 1820 to 1840?
    • Major political personalities
    • States' rights
    • Economic issues
  8. 2001 Exam (Question 3):The Jacksonian Period (1824-1848) has been celebrated as the era of the "common man." To what extent did the period live up to its characterization? Consider TWO of the following in your response.
    • Economic development
    • Politics
    • Reform movements
  9. 2009 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the social, political, and economic forces of the 1840s and early 1850s that led to the emergence of the Republican Party.
  10. 2011 Exam B (DBQ): Explain the ways that participation in political campaigns and elections in the United States changed between 1815 and 1840, and analyze forces and events that led to these changes. (Click for documents)
  11. 2014 Exam (Question 3): Compare and contrast the Jacksonian Democratic Party and the Whig Party of the 1830s and 1840s. Focus on TWO of the following.
    • The role of the federal government in the economy
    • Social reform
    • Westward expansion

Transportation Revolution Questions (4 FRQs)

  1. 1973 Exam (Question 7): Discuss the impact of the “transportation revolution,” 1820 – 1860, on the United States.
  2. 1980 Exam (Question 5):“In the period 1815 to 1860, improvements in transportation and increased inter-regional trade should have united Americans, but instead produced sectional division and finally disunion.”
    • Discuss with reference to the impact of improved transportation and increased inter-regional trade on the northeast (New England and Middle Atlantic States), the south and west.
  3. 1989 Exam (Question 3):“Developments in transportation, rather than in manufacturing and agriculture, sparked American economic growth in the first half of the 19th century.”
    • Assess the validity of this statement.
  4. 2003 Exam (Question 3): In what ways did developments in transportation bring about economic and social change in the United States in the period 1820 to 1860?


Immigration Questions (2 FRQs)

  1. 2007 Exam B (Question 3):Compare the experiences of TWO of the following groups of immigrants during the period 1830 to 1860.
    • English
    • Irish
    • German
  2. 2009 Exam B (Question 3): Analyze the political, economic, and religious tensions between immigrant Roman Catholics and native-born Protestants in the United States from the 1830s through the 1850s.


Second Great Awakening Questions (3 FRQs)

  1. 1974 Exam (Question 3): Account for the emergence of utopian communities from the mid 1820’s through the 1840’s, and evaluate their success or failure.
  2. 1986 Exam (Question 3):In the first half of the 19th century, the American cultural and intellectual community contributed to the development of a distinctive American national consciousness.
    • Assess the validity of this statement.
  3. 2007 Exam (Question 3):In what ways did the Second Great Awakening in the North influence TWO of the following?
    • Abolitionism
    • Temperance
    • The cult of domesticity
    • Utopian communities


Antebellum Reform Movement Questions (2 DBQs and 3 FRQs)

  1. 1979 Exam (Question 3):“American social reform movements from 1820 to 1860 were characterized by unveiling perfectionism, impatience with compromise, and distrust of established social institutions. These qualities explain the degree of success or failure of these movements in achieving their objectives.”
    • Discuss with reference to both antislavery and one other reform movement of the period of 1820 – 1860 (for example, temperance, women’s rights, communitarianism, prison reform, or educational reform).
  2. 1993 Exam (Question 2): In what ways did the early 19th century Reform Movements for abolition and women’s rights illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in the Early American republic?
  3. 2002 Exam (DBQ):"Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals." Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to the years 1825-1850.
    • Use the following documents and your knowledge of the period 1825-1850 in constructing your response.
  4. 2004 Exam B (Question 3):To what extent and in what ways did the roles of women change in American society between 1790 and 1860? Respond with reference to TWO of the following areas:
    • Domestic
    • Economic
    • Political
    • Social
  5. 2006 Exam (DBQ):Discuss the changing ideals of American womanhood between the American Revolution (1770's) and the outbreak of the Civil War. What factors fostered the emergence of "republican motherhood" and the "cult of domesticity"? Assess the extent to which these ideals influenced the lives of women during this period. In your answer be sure to consider issues of race and class.
    • Use the documents and your knowledge of the time period in constructing your response.



Compare-Contrast Questions (7 FRQs)

  1. 1981 Exam (Question 2): "At various times between 1789 and 1861, Americans charged their positions on the constitutional question of loose construction or strict construction as best suited their economic or political interest"
    • Discuss this statement with reference to any TWO individuals or groups who took positions on this constitutional question.
  2. 1993 Exam (Question 3): Compare the expansionist policies of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James K. Polk. To what extent did their policies strengthen the United States?
  3. 1994 Exam (Question 2): Analyze the ways in which two of the following influenced the development of American society:
    • Puritanism during the 17th century
    • The Great Awakening during the 18th century
    • The Second Great Awakening during the 19th century
  4. 1996 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the extent to which two of the following influenced the development of democracy between 1820 and 1840:
    • Jacksonian economic policy
    • Changes in electoral politics
    • The Second Great Awakening
    • Westward movement
  5. 2003 Exam B (Question 3): Although the power of the national government increase during the early republic, this development often faced serious opposition. Compare the motives and effectiveness of those opposed to the growing power of the national government in TWO of the following:
    • Whiskey Rebellion (1794)
    • Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798-1799)
    • Hartford Convention (1814-1815)
    • Nullification Crisis (1832-1833)
  6. 2008 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the impact of the market revolution (1815 - 1860) on the economies of TWO of the following regions.
    • The Northeast
    • The Midwest
    • The South
  7. 2011 Exam (Question 3): To what extent did political parties contribute to the development of national unity in the United States between 1790 and 1840?


Return to AP United States History Unit Guide / Return to the AP US Exam Page