The 19th century largely focused on two themes: the growth of the nation’s size and the ability of Americans to participate in its freedom. The nation continued to expand westward, particularly due to territorial gains in the Louisiana Purchase and after the Mexican-American War.

This territorial expansion heightened the stakes of slavery in a polarized nation. Most of the leading Founders had reviled slavery (even while tolerating it as a temporary necessary evil) and they expected it to die out. Instead, slavery thrived, not only growing economically but generating defenders, mostly in the South, who considered slavery a positive good to be defended and encouraged. Conversely, pressure to stop slavery’s expansion and even to abolish it entirely grew more intense in the North.

This tension over slavery eventually led to the Civil War, in which the country, under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, eventually ended slavery via the Thirteenth Amendment. The efforts to secure the civil rights of black Americans, including former slaves, also developed into the effort to secure women’s rights as well, though women’s suffrage would not be universally achieved until 1920.

Section 5 Abridged Study Guide.

Question Background Information
Additional Content

Section 5.1 Purchasing the Louisiana Territory

Q90: What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

Even before the Constitution had been ratified, settlers continued to move west into the American territories east of the Mississippi River that had been ceded to the American government by the British.

Question 90 Guide

Section 5.2: Wars of the 19th Century

Q91: Which was not a war fought by the US in the 1800s?

America engaged in a variety of wars in the 19th century. The most prominent of these were the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War.

Question 91 Guide 

Q92, 93 + 96: The Civil War

Southerners, long used to using the power of the federal government to protect slavery over the protest of anti-slavery Northern states, feared the loss of this power. Thus, they responded to the victory of Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery Republican Party in 1860 by seceding from the Union. This triggered the Civil War.

Questions 92, 93 & 96 Guide

Section 5.3: The Civil War and the End of Slavery

Q94 + 95: Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln led the United States during the Civil War and is credited with saving or preserving the Union, while also helping end slavery. 

Question 94 and 95 Guide

Q97 + Q98: The Reconstruction Amendments

Who is a citizen? How does one become a citizen (or lose citizenship)? And what does it mean to be a citizen?

Question 97 and 98 Guide

Section 5.4: Women’s Suffrage

Q99 + 102: Women's suffrage

During the 18th and 19th century, women, especially married women, did not have the same legal rights as men.

Questions 99 and 102 Guide