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


7 DBQs, 22 FRQs = 29 Total
Main Topics: Populism and Farming / Government and the Economy / Labor / Capitalism / Western Expansion / Social / Compare and Contrast

Populism and Farming (2 DBQs and 2 FRQs)

  1. 1983 Exam (DBQ): Documents A-H reveal some of the problems that many farmers in the late nineteenth century (1880 - 1900) saw as threats to their way of life. Using the documents and your knowledge of the period, (a) explain the reasons for agrarian discontent AND (b) evaluate the validity of the farmers' complaints. (Documents not available)
  2. 1989 Exam (Question 4): In what ways were the late-nineteenth-century Populists the heirs of the Jacksonian Democrats with respect to overall objectives AND specific proposals for reform?
  3. 1995 Exam (Question 4): Analyze the reasons for the emergence of the Populist movement in the late nineteenth century.
  4. 2007 Exam (DBQ): Analyze the ways in which technology, government policy, and economic conditions changed American agriculture in the period 1865-1900.
    • Use the documents and your knowledge of the period from 1875 to 1900 to construct your response.

Government and the Economy (1 DBQ and 2 FRQs)

  1. 1979 Exam (DBQ): To what extent and for what reasons did the policies of the federal government from 1865 to 1900 violate the principles of laissez faire, which advocated minimal governmental intervention in the economy? Consider with specific reference to the following three areas of policy:
    • Railroad land grants
    • Control of interstate commerce
    • Antitrust activities.
  2. 1988 Exam (Question 5): "Although the economic growth of the United States between 1860 and 1900 has been attributed to a governmental policy of laissez-faire, it was in fact encouraged and sustained by direct governmental intervention."
    • Assess the validity of this statement.
  3. 1991 Exam (Question 5): Although the economic development of the Trans-Mississippi West is popularly associated with hardy individualism, it was in fact largely dependent on the federal government.
    • Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to western economic activities in the nineteenth century.

Labor (1 DBQ and 2 FRQ)

  1. 2000 Exam (DBQ): How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875 to 1900? Analyze the factors that contributed to the level of success achieved.
    • Use the documents and your knowledge of the period from 1875 to 1900 to construct your response.
  2. 2009 Exam (Question 4): Choose TWO of the following organizations and explain their strategies for advancing the interests of workers. To what extent were these organizations successful in achieving their objectives? Confine your answer to the period from 1875 to 1925.
    • Knights of Labor
    • American Federation of Labor
    • Socialist Party of America
    • Industrial Workers of the World
  3. 2013 Exam (Question 4): Analyze the impact of technological innovations on the lives of TWO of the following groups. Confine your answer to the period 1865–1920.
    • Factory Workers
    • Middle-class urban residents
    • Midwestern farmers

Capitalism (1 DBQ and 4 FRQs)

  1. 1980 Exam (Question 6):"Although the United States is widely regarded as the home of free enterprise, business values, and materialism, American fiction since 1865 has generally been critical of business behavior and values."
    • Assess the validity of this generalization with reference to the work of at least TWO writers who have treated the behavior and values of businessmen in their fiction since 1865.
  2. 1982 Exam (Question 4):"Despite often brutal clashes between labor and capital in the United States during the period 1865-1940, collective working-class protest did not constitute a basic attack on the capitalist system."
    • Assess the validity of this statement.
  3. 1986 Exam (Question 5):Andrew Carnegie has been viewed by some historians as the "prime representative of the industrial age" and by others as "an industrial leader atypical of the period."
    • Assess the validity of each of these views.
  4. 1990 Exam (Question 4):"The reorganization and consolidation of business structures was more responsible for late 19th-century American industrialization than was the development of new technologies."
    • Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to business structures and technology between 1865 and 1900.
  5. 2012 Exam (DBQ): In the post–Civil War United States, corporations grew significantly in number, size, and influence. Analyze the impact of big business on the economy and politics and the responses of Americans to these changes. Confine your answer to the period 1870 to 1900. (Click for documents)

Western Expansion (1 DBQ and 4 FRQs)

  1. 1982 Exam (Question 3): Americans have been a highly mobile people. Describe and account for the dominant population movements between 1820 and 1900.
  2. 1992 Exam (DBQ): To what extent did the natural environment shape the development of the West beyond the Mississippi and the lives of those who lived and settled there? How important were other factors? Use your knowledge of the period from the 1840's through the 1890's to compose your answer.
  3. 1999 Exam (Question 3): How were the lives of the Plains Indians in the second half of the nineteenth century affected by technological developments and government actions?
  4. 2001 Exam (Question 4): How and why did transportation developments spark economic growth during the period from 1860 to 1900 in the United States?
  5. 2006 Exam B (Question 4): For whom and to what extent was the American West a land of opportunity from 1865 to 1890?

Social Evolution (1 DBQ and 5 FRQs)

  1. 1987 Exam (Question 3):"Throughout its history, the United States has been a land of refuge and opportunity for immigrants." Assess the validity of this statement using the experiences of TWO of the following.
    • The Scotch-Irish on the 18th century Appalachian frontier
    • The Irish in the 19th century urban Northeast
    • The Chinese in the 19th century West
  2. 1987 Exam (Question 4):"Popular fascination with the cowboy, the pioneer, and the stories of Horatio Alger in the period 1870 to 1915 reflected Americans' uneasiness over the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society."
    • Assess the validity of this statement
  3. 1989 Exam (DBQ):Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois offered different strategies for dealing with the problems of poverty and discrimination faced by Black Americans at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.
    • Using the documents and your knowledge of the period 1877-1915, assess the appropriateness of each of these strategies in the historical context in which each was developed. (Documents not available)
  4. 1991 Exam (Question 4):From the 1840's through the 1890's, women's activities in the intellectual, social, economic, and political spheres effectively challenged traditional attitudes about women's place in society.
    • Assess the validity of this statement
  5. 1994 Exam (Question 4):Compare and contrast the attitudes of THREE of the following toward the wealth that was created in the United States during the late nineteenth century.
    • Andrew Carnegie
    • Eugene V. Debs
    • Horatio Alger
    • Booker T. Washington
    • Ida M. Tarbell.
  6. 2002 Exam B (Question 3): Identify and analyze the factors that changed the American city in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Compare and Contrast (3 FRQs)

  1. 1985 Exam (Question 2):Most major religious movements reflect significant shifts in religious beliefs and produce important social changes. Apply this generalization to TWO of the following.
    • 17th century Puritanism
    • The First Great Awakening
    • The Second Great Awakening
    • The Social Gospel movement
  2. 2003 Exam B (Question 4): Analyze the ways in which farmers and industrial workers responded to industrialization in the Gilded Age (1865-1900).
  3. 2008 Exam (Question 4): Following Reconstruction, many southern leaders promoted the idea of a “New South.” To what extent was this “New South” a reality by the time of the First World War? In your answer be sure to address TWO of the following.
    • Economic development
    • Politics
    • Race relations


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