Purpose: History is about clearly and concisely analyzing sources (evidence). The key is not just repeating information (facts), but rather making a convincing argument (thesis) for what those facts mean. Without an argument, readers will not understand why you are telling them about a historical event, person, or idea. An analytical argument is not simply a forceful statement. Instead, historical analysis is like arguing a case in a court of law. You must use specific examples and explain how they support your thesis. Few of you will write about history professionally, but everyone should develop the skills of effective professional communication, and the ability to critically evaluate claims, information, and sources.
Topic: Based upon your reading of the provided primary sources and on information from the lectures and The American Pageant, explain which interpretation of U.S. imperial expansion is most convincing. Pick only ONE. Your response MUST include a logically constructed thesis statement (argument) within the first paragraph, followed by analysis and explanation of your historical examples through the rest of the paper. Mere description is not sufficient. You must use at least THREE primary sources and TWO secondary sources. Your textbook and course lectures are acceptable secondary sources. Primary sources are sources that come from the historical period, not explanations written later. These have been provided in this assignment packet. Pro tip: explain not only the strengths of the argument you find most convincing, but also address its potential weaknesses.
• American imperialism is best understood as the logical conclusion of the Gilded Age because powerful business interests bent the power of the U.S. government to facilitate corporate expansion. Having already dominated the domestic economy, corporate trusts such as Standard Oil and the United Fruit Company expanded into foreign territories such as Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico, China, and Costa Rica. U.S. businesses hobbled or overthrew foreign governments that attempted to curb American economic influence, often relying on U.S. military intervention to “protect” American property and life.
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