Question:  Since the founding of the United States, Americans have disagreed passionately over a variety of issues, including Constitutional interpretation, the role and size of the American military, American involvement in foreign conflicts, and health care.  Only once in its history has the nation degenerated into civil war. What about slavery – as a social system, as an economic institution, as a political problem for American democratic institutions – made it such a uniquely divisive issue?  Why did a disagreement over slavery lead to war?


Directions: In a 6-8 page paper, you should develop an argument about why the American political system proved unable to find a peaceful solution to the question of slavery’s place in the nation.  The best papers will not simply repeat points made in the readings and in lecture; rather, they will combine information from various sources to serve a clear, arguable thesis about why the US political system proved unable to solve the slavery issue peacefully. You may use any and all course material as you prepare your paper.  You must also use at least two outside sources in conducting your research and constructing your argument.  You may not use Wikipedia as a source, or Wikipedia-adjacent sites like



Formatting:  Use Times New Roman, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced. Students must cite properly all the materials they consult in preparing written assignments.  Citation should be done in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style

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