AP U.S. History Document Based Question Example

AP U.S. History Document Based Question Example

The DBQ requires you to analyze the documents in addition to bringing outside information to bear on the question. This is a difficult task, and you have only 15 minutes to plan before you begin writing. Don’t panic! Use the same strategies given for the LEQ for document analysis. The more you practice using these strategies, the better you will become at quickly finding significance in the documents.

Use the prompt and documents below to practice writing a DBQ. Either create an outline of key points or time yourself for 55 minutes (15 to prep and 40 to write) to get test day practice. Check your answers against the sample response at the end to see how yours compares!

 

DBQ Sample Question

Directions: Question 1 is based on the accompanying documents. The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise. You are advised to spend 15 minutes planning and 40 minutes writing your answer. Write your responses on the lined pages that follow the questions.

1. Analyze the impact of World War II on American national identity and the impact of the constitution on actions undertaken by the federal government.

Document 1

“We believe in national unity which recognizes equal opportunity of black and white citizens to jobs in national defense and the armed forces and in all other institutions and endeavors in America. We condemn all dictatorships, Fascist, Nazi and Communist. We are loyal, patriotic Americans, all. But if American democracy will not defend its defenders; if American democracy will not protect its protectors; if American democracy will not insure equality of opportunity, freedom and justice to its citizens, black and white, it is a hollow mockery and belies the principles for which it is supposed to stand. Only power can affect the enforcement and adoption of a given policy. Power is the active principle of only the organized masses, the masses united for a definite purpose. We loyal Negro-American citizens demand the right to work and fight for our country.”

Asa Philip Randolph, January 1941, “The Call to March,” from The Black Worker, May 1941

Document 2

“Now therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action to be necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any persons to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restriction the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.”

Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, February 19, 1942

Document 3

Document 3

“Rosie the Riveter—We Can Do It” poster, 1942

Document 4

Document 4

Propaganda supporting censorship during World War II

Document 5

Document 5

Tuskegee Airmen with white commanding officer, 1944

Document 6

“1. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 which, during a state of war with Japan and as a protection against espionage and sabotage, was promulgated by the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command under authority of Executive Order No. 9066 and

the Act of March 21, 1942, and which directed the exclusion after May 9, 1942, from a described West Coast military area of all persons of Japanese ancestry, held constitutional as of the time it was made and when the petitioner—an American citizen of Japanese descent whose home was in the described area—violated it.”

– Supreme Court decision Korematsu v. U.S.

Document 7

Document 7

Rationing propaganda poster, 1943

 

Sample Response

The need for more laborers, soldiers, and support for the American cause during World War II dramatically altered American identity. However, at the time society was seemingly becoming more inclusive, some constitutionally questionable decisions were made that also altered the United States. Overall, World War II changed the face of the United States and set into motion movements that would transform what it meant to be an American in the decades to come.

As war seemed inevitable, Americans were called to factories to begin the process of rebuilding American military power and to also bolster America’s only free ally, Great Britain. Most factories employed white men exclusively as most unionized jobs were held by whites. As America seemed to be preparing for war A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, started a movement to allow African Americans to gain access to jobs preparing for the war effort. Mr. Randolph threatened a “March on Washington” if “loyal Negro citizens” were not granted the right to work in the common effort to defeat Nazi Germany (Doc. 1). President Franklin Roosevelt responded with an executive order to require that all industries with government contracts hire African Americans. As the United States entered the war, the call for soldiers increased, and millions of men volunteered to fight to defeat Germany and Japan, including African Americans. While still having to serve in segregated units that had white officers, thousands of African American men served proudly. An example of their ability to fight well was demonstrated by the all-black Tuskegee Airmen who flew many missions with distinction (Doc. 5). Although inequality lasted for the duration of the war, the foundations for a modern civil rights movement were being created as acceptance of African Americans into traditional roles in the military began to extend to other aspects of American life.

Women began to change their role in American society to one in which they would be looked upon as more of an equal to men. As the war progressed and more men went off to serve in the military, more women were required to take their place in factories. “Rosie the Riveter” became an American icon during the war, where she demonstrated her devotion to the cause to defeat the Axis Powers (Doc. 3). African American women made great strides in society as they left their traditional service jobs as maids and washer-women and also took the role of Rosie. Women also joined the military in the WACS, WAVES, and WASPS, and although they usually served in clerical positions, they were able to free more men to fight in the war effort. After the war ended, many women remained on the job as their husbands returned home and took advantage of the GI Bill and went to college. Women remaining on the job led to an evolution of a society with dual-income homes. Women’s identity as Americans thus was changing, as they became breadwinners and also gained respect as equals.

While African Americans and women were becoming more identified as equals and as “Americans,” Japanese Americans were forced to lose what little American identity they had gained. Executive order 9066, signed by FDR after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, forced thousands of Nisei and Issei to be sent to detention centers (Doc. 2). Families were forced to live in limited quarters with no freedoms. This action was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1944 decision Korematsu v. U.S. as the fear of espionage and sabotage seemed to be very real in places like California after America was attacked by Japan (Doc. 6). Therefore, although African Americans and women were beginning to take on the identity as full citizens, Americans of Japanese descent did not.

As the constitutionality of the detention of a group of Americans was determined, the constitutionality of censorship was not. During World War II, Americans gave up some of the freedoms that identified them as Americans; for example, the U.S. mail was censored to potentially protect the well-being of American troops overseas (Doc. 4). Americans also temporarily lost the freedom to buy as much of certain products through rationing.

For the duration of World War II, American identity changed. Groups traditionally not granted full rights as citizens were gaining more respect from those who had had rights and power since the inception of the United States. Within twenty years of the conclusion of the war, African Americans and women had made legal gains that led them to equality; even Japanese Americans had made headway to a semblance of equality. And as the war ended, Americans expected their freedoms to be restored. While Americans held proudly to their identity, it was clear that they were willing to give up some of the ideals they held as part of their identity and were also willing to expand the scope of who was considered an American during a time of national emergency.

Overall, this essay is very thorough and develops the analysis well. Considering there is a 45-minute suggested time limit for writing the DBQ essay, this essay is clear and well supported. It utilizes and analyzes all six documents very accurately. The narrative is complemented by outside information, which is also explained well.

This essay has a strong thesis, very clear and relevant and the context of the question is also very clear. This thesis would earn the one point possible for the thesis.

The use of factual information is exceptional, and the information is explained very well and is nicely linked to the analytic information. This essay would receive all 4 possible points for the analysis of historical evidence and support.

The context of the analysis is very clear; the reader can tell exactly when the events are taking place in American history. One point for the context out of 1 point available.

The evidence and analysis are all synthesized into a clear and well-developed narrative. One point of 1 for synthesis. The total score for this essay would be a 7 out of 7 possible points.