Critical Thinking - Analyzing Congressional Floor Debates

Analyzing Congressional Statements

Analyze a Floor Debate

In this section, you'll review and choose one of four historical events from the mid-1800s. Then, you'll analyze the congressional floor statement associated with that event.

Choose an Event/Floor Statement to analyze:

  • 1853: Transcontinental Railroad Survey
  • 1862: Land Grant Universities
  • 1868: The Purchase of Alaska
  • 1872: Civil War Political Disabilities
Representative Samuel Bridges of Pennsylvania "Bridges, Hon. S.A. of PA" Photo Negative. between 1865 and 1880. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc... (accessed March 29, 2012)

1853: Transcontinental Railroad Survey

Statement of Representative Samuel Augustus Bridges, Pennsylvania

Representative Samuel Bridges of Pennsylvania argues against federal support of the transcontinental railroad, which was a priority of President Lincoln's as a way to help unite a divided country.

Instructions: Use the resources below to analyze the floor statement you chose.

  • Full Statement: Library of Congress
  • Transcript of Statement (PDF)
  • Primary Source Images: Library of Congress
Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont "Hon. J.S. Morrill" Photograph. between 1855 and 1865. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc.gov/pict... (accessed March 29, 2012)

1862: Land Grant Universities

Statement of Senator Justin Morrill, Vermont

Senator Justin Morrill of Vermont proposes "land-grant" colleges for instruction "in agriculture and the mechanic arts," which led to the creation of schools like Texas A&M, Purdue, Virginia Tech, and MIT.

Instructions: Use the resources below to analyze the floor statement you chose.

  • Full Statement: Library of Congress
  • Transcript of Statement (PDF)
  • Primary Source Images: Library of Congress
Representative John Peters of Maine "John Andrew Peters, in 1864." Brady, Mathew. Photograph. 1863. From Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=... (accessed March 29, 2012)

1868: The Purchase of Alaska

Statement of Representative John Peters, Maine

Representative John Peters of Maine argues that Alaska is "intrinsically and virtually worthless" and should not be purchased from Russia for $7.2 million.

Instructions: Use the resources below to analyze the floor statement you chose.

  • Full Statement: Library of Congress
  • Transcript of Statement (PDF)
  • Primary Source Images: Library of Congress
Senator William Sweet of Nevada "Hon. Wm. Morris Stewart of Nevada" Photograp h. between 1860 and 1875. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc.gov/pict... (accessed March 29, 2012)

1872: Civil War Political Disabilities

Statement of Senator William Stewart, Nevada

Senator William Stewart of Nevada argues for removing "political disabilities" from most Confederates after the Civil War, allowing them once again to work in the federal government.

Instructions: Use the resources below to analyze the floor statement you chose.

  • Full Statement: Library of Congress
  • Transcript of Statement (PDF)
  • Primary Source Images: Library of Congress

Analyze Floor Statement

Your selected event is:

1853: Transcontinental Railroad Survey

Answer the following questions based on the congressional floor statement.

Questions Type your Answers here Progress: 0/12
Go back to: Effective Arguments Challenge Next Section: Key Congressional Statements