The list below are only suggestions that would cover the parameters—US History from 1800 to 1860. Do not use the question as written. Forming your own research thesis question is part of the requirement on the MYP Rubric.
What basis did Thomas Jefferson have for believing that American trade could be used as a diplomatic tool? Would you judge his economic coercion policy a failure or a success? Why or why not?
Assess the validity of Jefferson's claim that the election of 1800 “was a revolution comparable to that of 1776.” Do you consider that revolution to be a real revolution or a more moderate renovation in American political history? Support your answer.
List at least three key principles of government advanced by Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican party before 1800. Describe how these ideals fared during Jefferson's administration. Were they translated into public policy? Explain how or, if not, why not.
Suppose you were a faithful Democratic-Republican party adviser to President Jefferson in 1803. What arguments would you present in favor of the Louisiana Purchase? What arguments opposing the purchase would you have to counter?
Set the following statement in its historical context, “The day France takes possession of New Orleans we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation.” Why was Thomas Jefferson so alarmed?
Assess the Jeffersonian presidency. What do you think were his three most important legacies? Explain your choices.
Set the historical context of the following quote, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. . . . “ Which principle does this establish? Has this principle had any impact in our current political and legal context? How so – do you agree with the principle or not? Why or why not?
Why were internal improvements a controversial issue in the decade following the War of 1812?
Why was the West the region most seized with the spirit of nationalism following the War of 1812?
To what extent had John Quincy Adam's behavior during the Florida Purchase Treaty and the Monroe Doctrine earned him the title of the “lone-wolf nationalist”?
Why did the United States reject the British foreign minister's proposal for a joint declaration of opposition to any further colonization in the Western Hemisphere?
To what extent was the Monroe Doctrine an isolationist document? Support your answer.
Rank the following in the order of what you see as their importance in shaping America's legal system: McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, Fletcher v. Peck, Dartmouth College v. Woodward, Cohens v. Virginia. Justify your ranking.
Select two of the following and explain what important contributions to American nationalism after the War of 1812 they made: John Marshall, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams? Justify your selection.
To what extent is the Era of Good Feelings “something of a misnomer” for the decade following the War of 1812?
Historians have sometimes referred to the program of the Jeffersonian Republicans after 1815 as “neo-Federalist.” Is this an accurate label? Why or why not?
Compare and contrast the competing views behind both sides of the Missouri Compromise. To what extent can the compromise be seen as a victory and a loss for both sides. Which side do you think got the better deal? Justify your answer.
Which do you think was the most significant event of the decade following the Treaty of Ghent: panic of 1819, McCulloch v. Maryland, Florida Purchase Treaty, Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine? Justify your selection.
Why were the landlocked South and West so ardently in favor of a war for freedom of the seas that sea-fronting states in the East opposed?
Since both France and Britain were guilty of placing commercial restrictions on American trade, why did the United States declare war only on Britain?
To what extent can it be said that the United States won a victory over Great Britain in the War of 1812?
Write your definition of national independence. Then use this definition to argue that the War of 1812 should or should not be called the Second War for American Independence.
Which do you think was the major cause of the War of 1812: western war hawk territorial expansion, British violations of American neutrality rights on the high seas, or the urge to uphold national honor and pride? Justify your selection.
What might the president and Congress have done in 1812 to avoid war with Britain and still maintain the nation's honor?
Assess the validity of the following statement, “America may not have fought the war as one nation, but it emerged as one nation.”
Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of Henry Clay's “American System.” What was the basis of support and opposition for this proposal?
Describe the ways in which nationalism exhibited itself in the American republic following the War of 1812?
Why was the election of 1824 so ridden with conflict and confusion? What was at stake between the competing candidates, especially Adams and Jackson?
Compare and contrast John C. Calhoun's position with regard to protective tariffs in 1816 with that of his position in 1828.
To what extent was Andrew Jackson a states' rightist? To what extent was he a nationalist?
Write your definition of political favoritism. Then use this definition to argue that the rotation in office/spoils system of the Jacksonians was or was not crass political favoritism.
Assess the validity of the following statement, “Andrew Jackson was a common man in the presidency.”
If you had lived in the 1820, would you have voted for Andrew Jackson? Why or why not?
In what ways did Andrew Jackson as president reflected the views, values, and interests of the West and that of the South?
Select two of the following and explain how they would have supported Andrew Jackson and Jacksonian policies:
To what extent is the following statement true or false, “the Tariff of 1828 was dishonest.” Why? What purposes lay behind passage of this tariff law?
Compare and contrast the Whigs and Democrats in regard to their beliefs, public policies, and supporters. Summarize the crucial differences between them.
To what extent did the tariff policy become an important national issue by 1832? Summarize the South's position on protective tariffs.
To what extent was John Quincy Adams's presidency frustrating for him and was ultimately judged a “failure.”
Write your definition of tyrant. Then use this definition to argue that Andrew Jackson was or was not a presidential tyrant riding roughshod over the Constitution.
Write your definition of a great president. Then use this definition to argue that Andrew Jackson was or was not a great president.
Compare and contrast Calhoun's South Carolina Exposition to the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions with regard to the doctrine of secession. Why did Calhoun put forward this view of constitutional propriety?
List the chief controversial issues of the Jackson administration. What position did Jackson take on each of them? Why?
Did the national government or the state of South Carolina “win” the nullification crisis? Justify your answer.
If you had been living in the age of Jackson, would you have been for or against the following: nullification, veto of the bank, and Indian removal? Justify your position.
Evaluate the wisdom of Jackson's veto of the re-charter bill for the Bank of the United States. Who gained and who lost by his veto?
Why has Andrew Jackson been called “the first modern president”?
It has been observed that “though Jackson was perhaps not himself a democrat, he was a democratic leader.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
How does the election of 1840 “illustrate the shortcomings of democratic politics”?
To what extent does American democracy have on free-market capitalism? What role did class play in Jacksonian democracy?
Set the historical context of the following statement and state to what extent you agree or disagree with it, “we are not a nation, but a union, a confederacy of equal and sovereign states.”
Compare and contrast the economic development of the Northeast with that of the South. What were some of the reasons that cause those differences in development?
Compare and contrast the United States with Britain and Europe in the industrialization of its economy.
To what extent did the American government contribute to and promote industrial growth and economic expansion in the early nineteenth century?
To what extent did the impact of industrialization, urbanization, and the transportation revolution have on the development of American agriculture?
Summarize the impact of the industrial revolution on American labor, on the rich and the poor, and on families and home life.
Write your definition of revolution. Then use this definition to argue that the industrial revolution was or was not a revolutionary event.
To what extent did each of the following play in the development of industrialization of the American economy: technology, immigration, investment, government aid, and internal improvements.
Rank the following in terms of their contribution to industrialization: cotton gin, principle of interchangeable parts, Erie Canal. Justify your ranking.
Identify the single most significant development in (a) manufacturing technology, (b) transportation, (c) communications technology, and (d) business organization that encouraged industrialization in the United States. Explain your choice in each category.
List the five most important inventions of the early nineteenth century and rank them in order of importance. Justify your ranking.
Assess the validity of the following statement, “the Erie Canal was the single most important accomplishment contributing to economic expansion prior to the coming of the railroad.”
If America is indeed a “nation of immigrants,” why does it have a history of native prejudice toward new immigrant groups?
Explain the impact of the market revolution on American workers, including women.
What traits fostered by America's early-nineteenth-century frontier experience are less than admirable? Why did they become American traits?
Compare and contrast the Irish and German immigrants of early-nineteenth-century America in terms of their motives for leaving Europe, pattern of settlement in the United States, impact on American life, and reception by native-born Americans.
It has been claimed that the frontier acted as a “safety valve” for the East, allowing the discontented to begin an alternative life on the frontier. To what extent does this seem to have been true?
Assess the validity of the following statement, “The cotton gin affected not only the history of America but that of the world.”
How did Eli Whitney make the American Civil War more likely and at the same time give the Union an advantage once the war began?
Why were women prominent in the reform crusades of the early nineteenth century? What contribution did they make to social reform?
Why did the communitarian movement flourish in the early nineteenth century? What were communitarians trying to prove? Why did most fail?
How did each of the following encourage social reform: Second Great Awakening, industrialization, nostalgia for the past?
Write your definition of paternalism. Then use this definition to argue that early-nineteenth-century American reform efforts were in part paternalistic endeavors by middle-class Americans to “do something for” the less fortunate.
What do you find the single most worthwhile reform movement of the early nineteenth century? Why?
What was the relationship between industrialization and the women's rights movement? What did women reformers want?
In what ways did American literature in the early nineteenth century reflect the New Democracy of the Jacksonian age?
How do the Knickerbocker group, Hudson River school, and transcendentalists all reflect the “nationalism” of early-nineteenth-century America? What particularly “American” values did each reflect?
What role did women play in the intellectual and literary movements of the early 1800s?
Explain why the Mormons became a target for religious intolerance in America.
In the reform movements of the first half of the 1800s, historians have regarded some reformers in the abolitionist movement not so much as heroes, but as people who sought social control. What is your opinion?
To what extent was cotton production and slavery more a burden to the South than a benefit?
Why was the proposal for colonizing blacks back to Africa attractive to many whites, even as late as the onset of the Civil War?
To what extent were abolitionists extremists when they undertook to abolish slavery?
To what extent was slavery an exceptionally cruel institution.
Assume the role of a southern slave. Describe what life is like for you. What experiences have you had, what have you seen happen, what emotions have you felt, and what do you believe and value?
To what extent did the “gag resolution” symbolize the threat that slavery posed for all Americans, North and South.
Assess the validity of the following statement, “slaves were better off than both wage earners in northern industry and free blacks back in Africa.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
Assess the validity of the following statement, “white southerners…liked the black as an individual but despised the race. The white northerner…often professed to like the race but disliked individual blacks.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
It has been argued that both Britain and the North were tied to the South with “cotton threads.” Explain.
Describe the arguments and the ways in which the south reacted to antislavery arguments after the 1830's.
Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836. Why wasn't it annexed to the United States until 1845?
Compare and contrast President Polk's willingness to go to war against Mexico over Texas but not against Britain over Oregon?
Given the great enthusiasm for territorial expansion, why did the “all of Mexico” movement fail?
To what extent was the Mexican War a “limited” war?
Was there any validity to the charge that the Texas annexation and Mexican War were attempts to expand slavery? Why or why not?
Write your definition of national interest. Then use this definition to argue that the Webster-Ashburton Treaty or the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo did or did not serve the national interests of the United States.
Write your definition of imperialism. Then use this definition to argue that the United States was or was not an imperialistic nation in the 1840s.
List the following items in order of their importance as factors in the outbreak of war between the United States and Mexico: Slidell mission, Taylor's troops on the Rio Grande, debt claims of American citizens, Manifest Destiny, Polk's quest for California. Justify your ranking and explain how each item contributed to the outbreak of war.
List the following items in order of their importance as contributors to American expansion to the Pacific: land hunger, trade opportunities, suspicion of British intentions, Manifest Destiny. Justify your ranking and explain how each item contributed to territorial expansion.
Assess the validity of the following statement, “James K. Polk is one of America's near great presidents.” Do you agree that he should be so highly ranked? Why or why not?
To what extent was the Mexican War inevitable? Was it necessary? Why or why not? What might either side have done to avoid war?
Assess the validity of the following statement, “the Mexican War was a major cause of the American Civil War.”
To what extent was there a reassertion of Manifest Destiny in the 1850s? What were the goals of America's diplomacy at the time?
Explain the widespread popularity of the concept of popular sovereignty as a way to resolve the issue of slavery in the territories. Then explain why it ultimately failed.
Explain the relationship between the Ostend Manifesto and the slavery controversy in the United States.
Write your definition of compromise. Then use this definition to argue that popular sovereignty was or was not a reasonable compromise between the sections on the slavery expansion issue.
Do you believe that there is a “higher law” than the Constitution? What is it? Why is this concept “dangerous to republican government”?
Assess the validity of the following statement, “the Compromise of 1850 contributed to the Union victory in the Civil War.”
To what extent was the Kansas-Nebraska Act a serious mistake for southern interests.
Compare and contrast the views of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun in the congressional debate that produced the Compromise of 1850.
To what extent did the building of the first transcontinental railroad linking the East and the West contribute to the wrenching apart of the North and the South?
It has been said that “the historian who searches for examples of intelligent and tolerant statesmanship in the period 1850–1854 seeks almost in vain.” Citing the “statesmanship” of men like Clay, Douglas, Webster, Calhoun, Pierce, and Fillmore, demonstrate that this argument is or is not supportable.
Do you think that by the end of 1854 the two sections had reached an impasse and that Civil War was inevitable sooner or later? Why or why not?
What was responsible for the violence in “Bleeding Kansas”? Why might the violence be viewed as a “prelude to Civil War”?
What were the implications of the Dred Scott decision for
a. the status of free blacks in the United States?
b. the concept of popular sovereignty?
c. the future of slavery in America?
Write your definition of national self-determination. Then use this definition to argue that southern secession in 1860–1861 was or was not an act of a people conscious of their own separate nationalism and determined to achieve it for themselves.
To what extent did each of these individuals contributed to the coming of the Civil War: John Brown, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln.
Compare and contrast the criticism in Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin to Helper's The Impending Crisis of the South. Which had the more dramatic effect on public opinion? Why?
Always—in 1787, 1820, 1833, and 1850—the North and South had been able to compromise over their differences. Why not in 1861?
Rank the following in order of their importance to the coming of the Civil War: Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, John Brown's raid, Lincoln's election. Justify your ranking.
Assess the validity of the following statement, “Kansas provided a horrible example of the working of popular sovereignty.”
Assess the validity of the following statement, “it was probably fortunate for the Union that secession and civil war did not come in 1856, following a Republican victory.”
To what extent was the Crittenden Compromise a way to avoid Civil War? What modifications might have made it more attractive to both Lincoln and the South?