Nationalism vs. Sectionalism Timeline


  • Study events leading to the Civil War
  • Decipher the significance of events from 1810 to 1860 as either uniting the country or dividing the country
  • Analyze the contributions of specific events to the eventual outbreak of the Civil War


  • Packet of resources
  • Handout with chart for events
  • Blank paper for timeline and questions
  • Red and blue writing materials (pens, markers, colored pencils, etc)

Part One:

  • Go through all of the provided materials to fill in your chart
  • For each event addressed, you will have to answer-
  • What is a brief summary of what happened?
  • What was the date (year) this event occurred?
  • Is the event an example of nationalism or sectionalism?
  • Why?

Part Two:

  • Put all of the events listed on your chart on a timeline
  • When you are putting your events on your timeline, you need to put all of the events that are examples of nationalism in BLUE and all the events that are examples of sectionalism in RED
  • Your timeline should start at 1810 and end at 1860
  • You need to pick 1 example of sectionalism and 1 example of nationalism to illustrate on your timeline

Part Three:

  • Answer the questions provided to you on separate paper
  • Make sure you follow the requirements for each question
  • Most questions will force you to THINK and make your best GUESS based on what you have looked at.

Nationalism vs. Sectionalism: Student Handout

Fill in the chart below as you go through each of the provided resources. Make your BEST guesses based off of what you learn- I will NOT tell you if you are right are not because the purpose of this assignment is you for you make assumptions based on what you see. If you are provided a primary resource- make sure you use it to make your determination- it’s there for a reason. Good luck!

Examples of Nationalism

Event / Year / Brief Summary (10 words or less)

Examples of Sectionalism

Event / Year / Brief Summary (10 words or less)

Examples of Nationalims (con’t)

Examples of Sectionalism (con’t)

Nationalism vs. Sectionalism Reflecting Questions

Use the space provided to answer the questions. Make sure you answer in well-structured paragraphs with complete sentences. Most of these do not have specific right or wrong answers- they are based on your opinions. However- you will lose points if your opinions are not backed up by information you learned during your research. Good luck!

  1. What are 4 things you learned while completing this activity? (These can be about nationalism or sectionalism or about the events themselves) (at least 5 sentences)
  1. Looking at your timeline, by what do you think the Civil War was inevitable (meaning couldn’t be stopped)- why do you say that? (at least 4 sentences)
  1. What patterns can you notice about the events on your timeline? When did most nationalist events happen? What about the sectionalist events? (at least 4 sentences)
  1. If you could have lived through 4 of these events, what would they be and why? (at least 6 sentences)

Nationalism vs. Sectionalism: Honors Student Handout

Fill in the chart below as you go through each of the provided resources. Make your BEST guesses based off of what you learn- I will NOT tell you if you are right are not because the purpose of this assignment is you for you make assumptions based on what you see. If a primary resource is provided- make sure you use it/read it in its entirety and base your response on that.

Examples of Nationalism

Event / Year / Brief Description

Examples of Sectionalism

Event / Year / Brief Description

Examples of Nationalism (con’t)

Examples of Sectionalism (con’t)

Nationalism vs. Sectionalism Reflecting Questions: Honors

Use the space provided to answer the questions. Make sure you answer in well-structured paragraphs with complete sentences. Most of these are based on your opinions. However- you will lose points if your opinions are not backed up by information you learned during your research. Good luck!

  1. What are 4 inferences one can make about nationalism and sectionalism by looking at your timeline? What do you think that says about the time period it depicts? (at least 6 sentences)
  1. Most historians agree that the Civil War was inevitable. At what point do you think it went from being a probability to being a certainty? Why? (at least 6 sentences)
  1. What four events would you have most wanted to witness? Why? (at least 4 sentences)
  1. Sometimes, events that are examples of nationalism actually led to events that are examples of sectionalism. Why do you think that is? Pick two examples of this from your timeline events. Then explain how in each pair, the event that causes nationalism ended up leading to an example of sectionalism in America. (At least 6 sentences)

Rush Bagot Agreement

Rush–Bagot Agreementwas an exchange of notes between Richard Rush, acting U.S. secretary of state, and Charles Bagot, British minister to the United States, that provided for the limitation of naval forces on the Great Lakes in the wake of the War of 1812. Each country was allowed no more than one vessel onLake Champlain, one on Lake Ontario, and two on the upper lakes. Each vessel was restricted to a maximum weight of 100 tons and one 18-pound cannon. The agreement was ratified unanimously by the Senate in 1818. With some modifications, it has remained in force to the present day and has formed the basis of peaceful border relations between the United States and Canada.

Battle of new Orleans

Primary Resource

Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo

In November 1835, the northern part of the Mexican state of Coahuila-Tejas declared itself in revolt against Mexico's new centralist government headed by President Antonio López de Santa Anna. By February 1836, Texans declared their territory to be independent and that its border extended to the Rio Grande rather than the Rio Nueces that Mexicans recognized as the dividing line. Although the Texans proclaimed themselves citizens of the Independent Republic of Texas on April 21, 1836 following their victory over the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto, Mexicans continued to consider Tejas a rebellious province that they would reconquer someday.

In December 1845, the U.S. Congress voted to annex the Texas Republic and soon sent troops led by General Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande (regarded by Mexicans as their territory) to protect its border with Mexico. The inevitable clashes between Mexican troops and U.S. forces provided the rationale for a Congressional declaration of war on May 13, 1846.

Hostilities continued for the next two years as General Taylor led his troops through to Monterrey, and General Stephen Kearny and his men went to New Mexico, Chihuahua, and California. But it was General Winfield Scott and his army that delivered the decisive blows as they marched from Veracruz to Puebla and finally captured Mexico City itself in August 1847.

Mexican officials and Nicholas Trist, President Polk's representative, began discussions for a peace treaty that August. On February 2, 1848 the Treaty was signed in Guadalupe Hidalgo, a city north of the capital where the Mexican government had fled as U.S. troops advanced. Its provisions called for Mexico to cede 55% of its territory (present-day Arizona, California, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, Nevada and Utah) in exchange for fifteen million dollars in compensation for war-related damage to Mexican property.

Other provisions stipulated the Texas border at the Rio Grande (Article V), protection for the property and civil rights of Mexican nationals living within the new border (Articles VIII and IX), U.S. promise to police its side of the border (Article XI), and compulsory arbitration of future disputes between the two countries (Article XXI). When the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in March, it reduced Article IX and deleted Article X guaranteeing the protection of Mexican land grants. Following the Senate's ratification of the treaty, U.S. troops left Mexico City.

California Gold Rush

Primary Resource


Invented: 1836

The Pony Express

The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, mail, and small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri, across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento, California, by horseback, using a series of relay stations. During its 18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860, to October 1861, it became the West's most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraphwas established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the country.

The Pony Express was a mail-delivery system of the Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express Company of 1859, which in 1860 became the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. This firm was founded by William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell all of whom were notable in the freighting business.

Hudson River School of the Arts

Active from 1825-1840

Completion of the Erie Canal

Watch the following video:

(completed in 1825)

National Road Completed

Completed in 1824

Gadsden Purchase

Watch the following video clip:

Missouri Compromise

Established in 1820

Compromise of 1850

Henry Clay, U.S. senator from Kentucky, was determined to find a solution. In 1820 he had resolved a fiery debate over the spread of slavery with his Missouri Compromise. Now, thirty years later, the matter surfaced again within the walls of the Capitol. But this time the stakes were higher -- nothing less than keeping the Union together. There were several points at issue:
1. The United States had recently acquired a vast territory -- the result of its war with Mexico. Should the territory allow slavery, or should it be declared free? Or maybe the inhabitants should be allowed to choose for themselves?
2. California -- a territory that had grown tremendously with the gold rush of 1849, had recently petitioned Congress to enter the Union as a free state. Should this be allowed? Ever since the Missouri Compromise, the balance between slave states and free states had been maintained; any proposal that threatened this balance would almost certainly not win approval.
3. There was a dispute over land: Texas claimed that its territory extended all the way to Santa Fe.
4. Finally, there was Washington, D.C. Not only did the nation's capital allow slavery, it was home to the largest slave market in North America.
On January 29, 1850, the 70-year-old Clay presented a compromise. For eight months members of Congress, led by Clay, Daniel Webster, Senator from Massachusetts, and John C. Calhoun, senator from South Carolina, debated the compromise. With the help of Stephen Douglas, a young Democrat from Illinois, a series of bills that would make up the compromise were ushered through Congress.
According to the compromise, Texas would relinquish the land in dispute but, in compensation, be given 10 million dollars -- money it would use to pay off its debt to Mexico. Also, the territories of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah would be organized without mention of slavery. (The decision would be made by the territories' inhabitants later, when they applied for statehood.) Regarding Washington, the slave trade would be abolished in the District of Columbia, although slavery would still be permitted. Finally, California would be admitted as a free state. To pacify slave-state politicians, who would have objected to the imbalance created by adding another free state, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.
Of all the bills that made up the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was the most controversial. It required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive's right to a jury trial. (Cases would instead be handled by special commissioners -- commissioners who would be paid $5 if an alleged fugitive were released and $10 if he or she were sent away with the claimant.) The act called for changes in filing for a claim, making the process easier for slaveowners. Also, according to the act, there would be more federal officials responsible for enforcing the law.
For slaves attempting to build lives in the North, the new law was disaster. Many left their homes and fled to Canada. During the next ten years, an estimated 20,000 blacks moved to the neighboring country. For Harriet Jacobs, a fugitive living in New York, passage of the law was "the beginning of a reign of terror to the colored population." She stayed put, even after learning that slave catchers were hired to track her down. Anthony Burns, a fugitive living in Boston, was one of many who were captured and returned to slavery. Free blacks, too, were captured and sent to the South. With no legal right to plead their cases, they were completely defenseless.
Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act made abolitionists all the more resolved to put an end to slavery. The Underground Railroad became more active, reaching its peak between 1850 and 1860. The act also brought the subject of slavery before the nation. Many who had previously been ambivalent about slavery now took a definitive stance against the institution.
The Compromise of 1850 accomplished what it set out to do -- it kept the nation united -- but the solution was only temporary. Over the following decade the country's citizens became further divided over the issue of slavery. The rift would continue to grow until the nation itself divided.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

A Summary- Original Text Written in 1852

Uncle Tom’s Cabin opens as Mr. Shelby and a slave trader, Mr. Haley, discuss how many slaves Mr. Shelby will need to sell in order to clear up his debt. Despite his misgivings, Mr. Shelby decides to sell Tom, a faithful and honest man, and Harry, the son of his wife’s favorite slave, Eliza. Eliza overhears that her son has been sold and makes a split-second decision to take him and run away to Canada that very night. Earlier that day, her husband, George Harris, had let her know that he planned to leave his own master, and she hopes they will both be able to escape and reunite in Canada.
As Eliza takes off, the slave trader Mr. Hadley follows her and almost catches her. She escapes into Ohio by crossing a river on a piece of floating ice. Mr. Haley sends slave catchers after her, and returns to collect his remaining property, Tom. Tom chooses not to run because he knows his master (at this point, Mr. Shelby) relies on his honesty.
Tom and Mr. Haley leave for the South. En route, Tom saves a little girl from drowning. The girl's father decides to buy Tom to be his daughter's personal servant. Tom has lucked out (insofar as being sold can be called lucky) because the girl’s father, Augustine St. Clare, treats his slaves relatively well. The little girl, Eva, is also a sweet child, devoted to her servants and family. Unfortunately, the mother, Marie St. Clare, is a more typical slave owner and runs her slaves ragged as they try to satisfy her endless demands.
Tom grows fond of little Eva. They discuss their mutual Christian faith on a daily basis. Eva even transforms the life of a hardened young slave girl named Topsy, and begins to teach another slave, Mammy, to read.
When it is clear that Eva is ill and going to die, she calls all the slaves together to give them a speech about God’s love (and her love) for them. She gives each slave one of her blonde curls so they will remember her. Then she dies of consumption (known now as tuberculosis).
Meanwhile, Eliza and her husband George are reunited in a Quaker camp. From there, they escape to Canada successfully, though not without a couple of run-ins with slave catchers on the way.
Back at St. Clare household, Augustine St. Clare is heartbroken at his daughter Eva’s death, as are all the slaves. St. Clare promises Tom his freedom but, before he finishes making out the papers, he is killed in a barroom brawl. Tom is sold at auction, along with many of the other St. Clare slaves.
Tom’s new master is Simon Legree, an evil and violent man who works his slaves until they die, then buys new ones cheaply in a never-ending cycle. Despite Legree’s treatment, Tom maintains his honest, kind behavior. Legree does his worst to "harden" Tom so that he can use Tom as an overseer on the plantation, but Tom refuses to change no matter how hard or how often Legree beats him.
When Tom encourages two female slaves, whom Legree uses as prostitutes, to escape, Legree beats Tom to death. It takes a few days for him to die, however, and in the meantime, his old master’s son, George Shelby, arrives to emancipate (or free) Tom – too late. Instead, "Master" George buries Tom then leaves.
The two female slaves who escaped Legree’s house, Cassy and Emmeline, end up on the same ship as George Shelby. Cassy confesses her story to him, realizing that George’s heart is soft towards the plight of escaping slaves. Another woman on the ship soon confesses her story to George as well, and it turns out that she is George Harris’s sister, sold south into slavery many years earlier.
George Shelby relates that George Harris married Eliza and they both escaped to Canada. Cassy, overhearing the story, puts two and two together and realizes that Eliza is her own daughter, who was taken from her many years before.
The two women travel to Canada together and are reunited with their families. Although Tom’s life ended in tragedy, there is much happiness among these slaves who survived and escaped the trials and tribulations of slavery, either through emancipation or by fleeing to Canada.