APUSH | Wiley | DBQ Exemplar 1
On the national exam, you will write one Document-Based Question (DBQ) in 60 minutes; your essay will contribute to 25% of your
overall score. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at several DBQ exemplars to gain a better understanding of how to plan and write a
strong APUSH DBQ. The first DBQ we’ll look at deals with a topic most of you are familiar with: slavery in colonial British North
America. The documents and essay hone in on the society’s gradual dependence on slavery, subsequent codification of slavery into
colonial law, and how slave societies formed amidst the horror and degradation of human bondage. The content within this DBQ will
span Periods 1-3.
Take out your
and read the instructions/tips and scoring guide for DBQs on pages 15-18. This is important for all
students to do—even those that took AP Euro last year—because APUSH DBQs are not identical to the Euro format.
Actively read the background information and prompt below for this sample DBQ. Then mark up each source, according to DBQ
guidelines on page 15 of your
. There should be lots of annotating around documents as you address each of the
tips/questions on page 15 for document analysis.
Actively read the exemplar (pages 6-7) in its entirety. Then complete the analysis sheet (page 8) with your partner.
Background & Historiography
: Stanley M. Elkins, a famous historian who wrote
Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and
(1959), argued that the harsh conditions of American slavery stripped slaves of their native African identities,
prevented them from having strong social and family relationships, and reduced them to dependent child-like laborers who were
emasculated and unable to think for themselves. However, recent historical scholarship has reexamined the lives of those born into
slavery and has begun to focus on their religious, social, cultural and intellectual identities. Many historians now conclude that
individuals born into slavery had the power to shape their own world and were not merely objects of oppression. Historians are now
analyzing slavery with a more broadened perspective, looking at not just slave treatment, but the creation of slave societies as well.
Yet, in doing so, some critics believe that society may lose sight of how oppressive and degrading American slavery really was.
: To what extent was slavery in the “New World” dehumanizing? [Note: Dehumanization = to deprive of human qualities.]
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was the
son of a slave woman and an unknown
white man. Douglass was exposed to the
degradations of slavery, witnessing
firsthand brutal whippings and spending
much time cold and hungry. Eventually
Douglass fled his captors in Maryland,
settling down in Massachusetts to focus
on abolition. He joined various religious
and political organizations, became a
lecturer of Massachusetts Anti-Slavery
Society, and published his autobiography,
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass