Advanced Placement Examination
UNITED STATES HISTORY
Section II - Part A
(Suggested writing time - 45 minutes)
Percent of Section II score - 45
Directions: The following question requires you to construct a coherent essay that integrates your interpretation of Documents A-1 and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. In your essay, you should strive to support your assertions both by citing key pieces of evidence from the documents and by drawing on your knowledge of the period.
1. "By the 1850's the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord and tension and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created."
Using the documents and your knowledge of the period 1850-1861, assess the validity of this statement.
Source: An Anonymous Georgian, "Plain Words for the North," American Whig Review, XII (December 1850)
"In a government where sectional interests and feelings may come into conflict, the sole security for permanence and peace is to be found in a Constitution whose provisions are inviolable. . . . 'Every State, before entering into that compact, stood in a position of independence: Ere yielding that independence, it was only proper that provision should be made to protect the interests of those which would inevitably be the weaker in that confederacy.
" [The framers of the Constitution] acted wisely, and embodied in the Constitution all that the South could ask. But two Constitutional provisions are necessary to secure Southern rights upon this important question,-the recognition of slavery where the people choose it and the remedy for fugitive slaves. . . . We hold that the Constitution of the Union does recognize slavery where it exists. . . .
'A large portion of our States have adopted and allow slavery. The entire country becomes possessed of new territory, to the acquisition of which these slave States contribute mainly. The South admits the right of this new territory to choose for itself whether slavery shall or shall not exist there. 'But the North insists, that while the territory was partly acquired by Southern men, is partly owned by Southern men, that they shall be excluded from its soil, that they shall not carry their property into their own land-land which is theirs by the right of purchase' Thus it is rendered, if these views are carried out, simply impossible for any new State representing the Southern interest ever to come into the Union. The equilibrium which alone can preserve the Constitution is utterly destroyed. And to do this, flagrant violations of the plainest rules of right and wrong are committed. . . .
"The Union, without a living, vital Constitution, is but a vain and empty name. Nay, more, it is but a body powerless for good, strong for evil. Its destruction is inevitable unless the original guarantees are respected and maintained."
Source: Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Source: Ralph Waldo Emerson, address on The Fugitive Slave Law (May 3, 185 1)
"An immoral law makes it a man's duty to break it, at every hazard: For virtue is the very self of every man. 'It is therefore a principle of law that an immoral contract is void, and that an immoral statute is void. . . ." The [Fugitive Slave Law] is a statute which enacts the crime of kidnappings crime on one footing with arson and murder. A man's right to liberty is as inalienable as his right to life. . . .
"By the law of Congress March 2, 1807, it is piracy and murder, punishable with death, to enslave a man on the coast of Africa. 'By law of Congress September, 1850, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, punishable with fine and imprisonment, to resist the reenslaving a man on the coast of America. : . . What kind of legislation is this? What kind of Constitution which covers it? . . .
"I suppose the Union can...