Writing the American Constitution

Assignment: Twice during the summer semester, you will write a paper that makes a historical argument in response to a question of your choosing. The essay should be 5-7 paragraphs long and provide sufficient evidence from the textbook and the .pdf primary sources in the modules to support your main argument. The questions for the Unit #2 Essay are provided in this description.

Description: This assignment is designed to help you work on the class learning objectives related to making historical arguments and demonstrating mastery of key events, people, and ideas in US history. It will also help you to develop your skills in the Core learning objectives by showing how things change over time, interpreting events, ideas, etc. in their historical context, and evaluating sources.

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What do to: write a five-to-seven paragraph long essay that includes an introductory paragraph with a strong thesis statement, three or four body paragraphs that provide supporting evidence to support that thesis statement, and a conclusion paragraph that brings together your argument as a whole. Body paragraphs should begin with clear topic sentences and end with a strong transition sentence. You should plan to have 5-6 sentences per paragraph. All body paragraphs must have footnotes that cite your primary and secondary sources whether you are paraphrasing a source or quoting directly from it. You can expect to have at least six total footnotes in the entire essay. You must use at least one secondary source (like the textbook and/or class lectures) and at least one class primary source (most of the pdfs in the modules). You can cite the same source more than once. You do not need to consult outside sources.

An important note on analysis for all essays: students have generally struggled with demonstrating analysis on these essays. For any topic you choose, the best answers will not only explain what happened but account for its influence on other events of the time.

For example, if you want to explain why Calvinist theology was significant, you would not only give an account of what it was, but analyze its influence on other events:

-It inspired English Puritan colonists to create a society grounded in religious faith that prevented non-believers from voting. (For example)
2. Why and how did Americans decide to write the Constitution? Your answer should address why the Articles of Confederation were ultimately thrown out and consider at least two of the major issues debated at the Constitutional convention. Answers must include a class primary source to earn highest marks.

Style Guidelines

-Your essay should be 5-7 paragraphs long, double-spaced paragraphs. Please do you best to limit your paper to 3.5 pages double-spaced.

-Use a normal, 12-pt font and 1-inch margins.

-You don’t need a detailed heading; just your name will suffice.

-Use a title for the paper, but the title can be simple. No title page is required.

-Make it very clear which topic you’ve chosen for ease of grading for your TA. You can include the topic in your paper title.

-You may choose an essay topic similar to your group timeline project or you may choose to write about something different.

Citation Guidelines

-The Chicago Manual Style footnote system is required. See here for more information: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-1.html (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

-I don’t want or need to see a Bibliography page. Just appropriate use of footnotes.

-When you quote directly from the textbook or the primary source, you must use quotations.

-You must cite your source with a footnote, even if you are only paraphrasing a source.

-For an example of how to cite a book, here is how you would cite our class textbook in a footnote. Please take note, that you do not need to include chapter titles or subheadings. The number after the comma is the specific page number being referenced:

Eric Foner, Give me Liberty!: An American History, Brief 6th Edition, Vol. 1 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2020), 197. For more information on Writing the American Constitution see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_States

Writing the American Constitution

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