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Reconstruction DBQ. Due September 3rd. DBQ WRITING TIPS 8-Step Strategy: 1.   Read the question three times . Do not move on until you fully understand it. Identify to historical period being discussed (i.e. Reconstruction, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement)

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reconstruction dbq

Reconstruction DBQ

Due September 3rd


8-Step Strategy:

1.   Read the question three times. Do not move on until you fully understand it. Identify to historical period being discussed (i.e. Reconstruction, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement)

2.   Identify the task by circling the main words. (For example: assess the validity, compare and contrast, evaluate relative importance, analyze the significance, etc.)

3.   Ask yourself “what do I have to prove?” (e.g. Foreign policy is more important than domestic policy….Reconstruction was a failure at achieving civil rights for African Americans…The New Deal overstepped the boundaries of government involvement in daily lives.).

4.   Pay special attention to economic, political, social issues that need to be included.

5.    Make a list (outline) of outside information (what you already know). List all relevant issues, historical terms, names, events.

6.   Read andexamine the documents. Underline any key words or phrases that you may use later in the essay. In the margin make notes about the documents. Reread the question again after reading the first three documents.

7.   Constructa thesis that is well-developed and clear. Your thesis is your position on the key question. It shows what arguments you will make in the essay and what you intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful essay and a simple retelling of facts. If the thesis is a mystery to the writer, it will be a mystery to the reader! (see attached handout for sample theses)

8. Write your essay.

First Paragraph:

Write one clear sentence which states a thesis, what the essay will prove.

Specify three or four sub-topic to the thesis. (logical segments or divisions of the overall thesis).

You may elaborate on each of these sub-topics with simple defining sentences.

Second Paragraph:

Begin with a sentence which re-introduces one of the sub-topics.

Support that topic sentence with outside information from y our brainstorm list.

Support your outside information with a reference to one of more of the supplied primary sources.

Be sure you use and cite the documents properly.

Write a concluding sentence which relates the paragraph’s topic back to the thesis.

Write a transitional sentence introducing the next topic.

Subsequent Paragraphs:

Continue this procedure until you have exhausted your brainstorm list for possible subtopics. If you have outside information that is not supported by the primary documents, include that information anyway. Accurate student-supplied information will garner points, even without support from the documents; any use of the primary documents not supported with outside information will not garner points and should be avoided.

A conclusion is not necessary, but it will score you extra points if done properly. If you decide to write a concluding paragraph, be sure that what you write is more than just a restating of the thesis.

Historical Context:After the Civil War the nation had about four million newly freed slaves. The victorious Union was faced with the extraordinary task of protecting the new freedmen's rights of citizenship. First, the former Confederacy was divided into five military districts. Then amendments were passed to protect freed people's natural rights. Southern states were not pleased, and made compromises were in order to rid themselves of these "military dictatorships."By 1870, all of the former Confederate states had ratified these amendments and were readmitted into the Union. Reconstruction ended in 1877 with the removal of Union troops from Confederate territory. After Southern state governments were restored, the citizenship rights of the freedmen declined. Soon these former slaves were once again in servitude; this time through a system of state-enforced segregation and discrimination.
Key Question:

Reconstruction was a successful program in which the social, economic, physical, and political problems of the United States were resolved. Assess the validity of this statement. (In other words: Was Reconstruction successful in solving the nation’s social, economic, physical, and political problems?)

Part I:
  • Examine each document carefully and answer the question or questions that follow (NOTE: on future DBQs the questions will not appear. The questions are points that you should be asking yourself as you analyze the documents. I have included them on this DBQ to help you become acclimated to document analysis). Each document relates to Reconstructions impact on the social, political, and economic environment of the US. Using your answers and prior knowledge write a 1.5-3 page analytical response to the key question above. Be sure to use and cite the documents to justify your response. You are using the documents to support your answer. You are not explaining each document. Do not say “Document 1 says that the Thirteenth Amendment says that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…but it didn’t work well”. Instead you should write “After the Civil War the Thirteenth Amendment was created to ban slavery and formally break the ties of slave and master, however the former slaves quickly went back to a mirror situation with the advent of sharecropping. It would take much more action of Congress and acceptance by the public to secure freedom and equality for the former slaves” (Document 1)
Document 1: The Thirteenth Amendment Section 1. neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment of a crime wherof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 1. What does this Amendment guarantee and for whom? 2. What does Congress have the right to do in order to enforce this law?
Document 2: The Fourteenth AmendmentSection 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

1. What does this Amendment guarantee? 2. For whom?

Document 3: The Fifteenth AmendmentSection 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2 The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 1. Who is protected by this amendment?
Document 4: "The Freedman's Bureau" political cartoon


1. What is the aim of this political cartoon? Where do you think it was published?2. How do you think this message reflects the views of Southern Democrats in the South, and how might these attitudes affect the progress of Freedmen?

Document 5: Plessy v. FergusonMay 18, 1896For over 50 years, the states of the American South enforced a policy of separate accommodations for blacks and whites on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools. On May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in the Plessy v. Ferguson law case that separate-but-equal facilities on trains were constitutional. 1. What was the impact of Plessy v. Ferguson beyond its effects on train passengers?
Document 6: "Worse than Slavery"
  • Based on the image above, what was the purpose of the Ku Klux Klan?
  • 2. Were there any other groups like the KKK in the South? Explain.
  • 3. How did the Ku Klux Klan undermine Congressional efforts to protect freed peoples equal rights?
Document 7: W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America

"But the decisive influence was the systematic and overwhelming economic pressure. Negroes who wanted work must not dabble in politics. Negroes who wanted to increase their income must not agitate the Negro problem. . . in order to earn a living, the American Negro was compelled to give up his political power." -- Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America,

1. According to DuBois, why did freedmen stop voting?

Document 8: Sharecropping maps"Sharecropping was very distinctive to the South after the Civil War until the 1940s. As late as 1936, about 60 percent of plantations were organized into sharecropper units."--Ingolf Vogeler

1. Based on the documents above, what has changed on the plantation land since the Civil War? 2. Based on the document above and your knowledge of U.S. history, what was the real result of sharecropping?

Document 9: Susie Taylor King: Reminiscences of My Life

Living here in Boston where the black man is given equal justice, I must say a word on the general treatment of my race, both in the North and South, in this twentieth century. I wonder if our white fellow men realize the true sense or meaning of brotherhood? For two hundred years we had toiled for them; the war of 1861 came and was ended, and we thought our race was forever freed from bondage, and that the two races could live in unity with each other, but when we read almost every day of what is being done to my race by some whites in the South, I sometimes ask, "Was the war in vain? Has it brought freedom, in the full sense of the word, or has it not made our condition more hopeless?"In this "land of the free" we are burned, tortured, and denied a fair trial, murdered for any imaginary wrong conceived in the brain of the negro-hating white man. There is no redress for us from a government which promised to protect all under its flag. It seems a mystery to me. They say, "One flag, one nation, one country indivisible." Is this true? Can we say this truthfully, when one race is allowed to burn, hang, and inflict the most horrible torture weekly, monthly, on another? No, we cannot sing, "My country, 't is of thee, Sweet land of Liberty"! It is hollow mockery. The Southland laws are all on the side of the white, and they do just as they like to the negro, whether in the right or not. --Susie Taylor King

1. How does this excerpt from Susie Taylor King's memoir suggest that black Americans are still not free?

Document 10: The Election of 1876Election results:

Candidate (party)Popular vote(7 Nov 1876) Electoral vote(6 Dec 1876) Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican)4,034,311185Samuel J. Tilden (Democratic)4,288,546184Peter Cooper (Greenback)75,9730other14,27101. How was it possible that Hayes won the election of 1876? 2. How did this disputed election lead to the end of Reconstruction? Explain.

Some Key Points to Remember:
  • Start with outside information first & write it down; then read the documents; then construct a thesis.
  • Make your life easier by constructing a thesis that can reasonably include most/ all of the documents (even if you don’t really believe your thesis). It is better to be “practical” than “right.”
  • Use as many documents as you can as long as they fit your thesis.
  • Don’t explain documents -- that is not your task.! I have a list and a summary for each document. Use documents to reinforce your main points and outside information.
  • Don’t rewrite large portions of documents. Try to limit quotations to 1 sentence or less.
  • Reference author’s you are citing (e.g. …“In the letter by Abraham Lincoln”)
  • Cite every document used, e.g., (Doc. A), (Doc. F)
  • All fundamental writing principles you have learned regarding standard essays apply to DBQ essays.