US History Research Paper (choose one of the mentioned topics ), history homework help

The core assignment of this course is a documented research paper
(1500-2000 words in length = approx. 6 – 8 pages double spaced, 12-point
The essay should support a thesis statement with information gained from
research or investigation.
Your research paper will not be just a report presenting information,
but will be an essay that carefully examines and presents your own
historical interpretation of the topic you have chosen and your
interpretation of the information you have gathered.
Your research paper may include consideration of problems and solutions,
define key terms, or refute arguments against your thesis statement.
It is important to choose a topic of interest to you.
Approach this assignment with an open and skeptical mind, then form an
opinion based on what you have discovered.
You must suspend belief while you are investigating and let the
discoveries shape your opinion. (This is a thesis-finding approach.)
Once you have found your thesis, write the paper to support it.
You will use some of the following critical thinking skills in this
Choosing an appropriate topic, limiting the topic
Gathering information, summarizing sources
Analyzing and evaluating sources
Defining key terms
Synthesizing information, comparing and contrasting sources
Testing a thesis, making an historical argument, using refutation
Amassing support for a position
Documenting sources
Because this may be a longer essay than you have written before and a
complex process is involved, it is recommended that you complete this
paper using the following steps:
Choose a topic related to U.S. History to 1877 (Chapters 1-15) that you
would truly like to explore and that you are willing to spend some time
on. Your chosen topic should be focused. Pose a question that you really
want to answer. You may want to begin with more than one topic in mind.
Do some preliminary reading on the topic(s). You may begin with the
textbook, then further explore the information available. Refine your
topic. Summarize your topic, your interest in the topic, the questions
you want to answer, and a hypothesis you want to test.
Gather information from a variety of sources. Use a minimum of four
(4)sources for your paper, and at least one (1) must be a primary
Outline the results of your research and then plan for your essay (note
you are not required to submit the outline).
Examples of primary sources are ones that are used in our discussion
forums 2 – 8.
They are sources that are contemporary to the times under investigation.
Here’s additional help with primary sources
An example of a secondary source is our textbook, though the textbook
also contains excerpts of primary sources, which you may use as a source
in your essay.
Do not use encyclopedias of any kind.
Write the final draft and be sure to include a Works Cited List; be sure
to use the correct MLA documentation style.
INTRODUCTION & THESIS: The essay makes a clear and effective
statement (the thesis) about the chosen topic. /15
FOCUS AND DEVELOPMENT: Body of the essay focuses on this thesis and
develops it fully, recognizing the complexity of issues. /30
SUPPORT AND SYNTHESIS: Uses sufficient and relevant evidence to support
the thesis (and primary points), including facts, inferences, and
judgments. Quotes, summarizes, and paraphrases accurately and
effectively–appropriately introducing and explaining each quote. /30
CONVENTIONS: Uses MLA format correctly; includes a Works Cited list; is
free of errors. /10
CORRECTNESS AND STYLE: Shows critical thinking and depth of
understanding; uses appropriate tone; shows sophistication in language
usage and sentence structure. /15
TOTAL: 100
As you begin to think about your research paper for this course, it is
important that you select a topic that is of interest to YOU and that it
is related to history before 1877.
The following is a list of essay topics that you could consider for your
Research Paper.
These topics are only suggestions. You’re welcome to develop your own
topic of interest. If you have any questions or need help getting
pointed in the right direction, please let me know.
• Explain as thoroughly as you can how the slave trade affected African
• The sophistication and diversity of the peoples in the early Americas
is remarkable. Explore that diversity in an essay that discusses early
Native American culture, architecture, religion, gender relations,
economy, and views of freedom.
• What key political, social, and religious ideas and institutions
defined the English nation around 1600?
• Once England decided to create an overseas empire, it did so with
impressive speed. Explain the motives behind English expansion to the
North American continent, including the Great Migration.
• Many degrees of freedom coexisted in seventeenth-century North
America. Discuss the various definitions of freedom. Be sure to include
slaves, indentured servants, women, Indians, property owners, and
Puritans in your discussion. Identify any similarities and differences
among these different versions of freedom.
• Explain the reasons behind the various conflicts between the English
and the Indians. How do differing perceptions of land and liberty fit
into the story? How does trade play a part?
• William Penn called his colony a “holy experiment.” Chronicle the
development of Pennsylvania, with particular attention to the advantages
that the colony offered to settlers. What liberties were guaranteed and
to whom?
• By the 1750s, North American colonists possessed a dual identity: they
were both British in their attempts at Anglicization and also
distinctly American. What factors contributed to this dual identity?
What reinforced the British identity? What reinforced the American
identity? Be sure to discuss political, cultural, social, and economic
aspects of society.
• Explain how and why tobacco planters in the Chesapeake region came to
rely on African slaves rather than European indentured servants over the
course of the seventeenth century. At what point did the Chesapeake
become a “slave society” rather than merely a “society with slaves”?
• The line between slavery and freedom was more permeable in the
seventeenth century than it would become later. Explain how slavery was
treated in the seventeenth century by discussing the law, customs, and
liberties extended to slaves. What contributed to the hardening of the
line between slavery and freedom?
• The slave experience was diverse in British America. Describe how
slavery evolved in the various regions of British America. What role did
African religions play? What liberties, if any, were extended to slaves
in the northern colonies, the Chesapeake region, and the rice kingdom
of South Carolina and Georgia? What was the impact of the Stono
• Explain the impact of the Seven Years’ War on colonial society. Pay
particular attention to how the war and its outcome shaped colonial
identities as well as to the relationship between colonists and Indians.
• As Europeans continued to settle the North American continent during
the 1700s, Indians constantly struggled to maintain their independence
and identities. Illustrate the common obstacles the Indian communities
faced and the ways they tried to unite to overcome their hardships
during the eighteenth century. Consider the Indians in California during
the Spanish missionary period, the Creeks during the early settlement
of Carolina, the Indians in Pennsylvania, and the Indians during and
after the French and Indian War (including Pontiac’s Rebellion).
• Discuss the debates that occurred over virtual representation. How did
the leaders in London and the leaders in America view participation in
governing the empire differently?
• Revolution is a dynamic process with consequences no one can
anticipate. Explain the initial goals of the colonists in 1765 at the
time of the Stamp Act and the evolution of their ultimate decision to
declare independence in 1776. What were the political and social
consequences of the Revolution that had emerged by 1783?
• Many students commonly believe that the Revolutionary War was a short
and relatively painless war. However, for Americans, only the Vietnam
War lasted longer than the Revolutionary War. In a thoughtful essay,
describe why the war was so lengthy and what the costs involved were for
the British and for the Americans.
• Compare the relative advantages of the American and the British
militaries. How was George Washington able to secure a victory over the
most powerful nation in the world?
• Discuss the ways in which both supporters and opponents of
independence used the concepts of “freedom” and “slavery” during the
American Revolution. Be sure to consider the perspectives of Thomas
Paine and Jonathan Boucher (both in “Voices of Freedom”), the slaves who
fought for both sides, and others whose ideas you consider significant.
• How did the colonists justify their protests and ultimate rebellion?
What sources did they call on? What philosophies were influential? How
was the language of freedom and liberty used?
• Freedom and an individual’s right to vote became interchangeable in
the wake of the Revolution. Describe how that transformation came about
and how the various state constitutions dealt with voting
• Thomas Paine wrote that the essence of a republic was not the
“particular form” of government, but its object: the “public good.”
Discuss how the various states structured their governments and how they
believed those governments provided for the public good.
• To what extent did Revolutionary-era Americans agree with Noah
Webster’s statement that equality was the very soul of a republic? Your
response should define what Americans meant by equality and should
consider groups that seemed to enjoy equality as well as those groups
that did not.
• How did Loyalists view liberty? How were they treated after the war?
• When Dr. Samuel Johnson, the British writer, asked how it was “that we
hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of negroes,” he was
pointing to a key irony of the American independence movement. What
arguments did supporters of American independence use to justify
retaining the institution of slavery? Did any of their contemporaries in
America counter their arguments? How?
• How did women react to the language of freedom and liberty? Be sure to
include in your response Abigail Adams’s opinions that appear in
“Voices of Freedom.”
• Not everyone supported the independence movement within the colonies.
Explain who supported independence and who did not. Be sure to include a
discussion about how socioeconomic standing, race, religion, and gender
affected an individual’s support for or opposition to independence.
Also consider why the other regions of the British Empire, such as
Canada, the Caribbean islands, and Florida, did not also rebel and seek
• Compare the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution. Which
document did a better job of protecting liberties? Running a government?
Explain your answer with specific examples.
• Identify the three major ways that the U.S. Constitution addressed the
institution of slavery. Would you say the Constitution was a proslavery
or an antislavery document? Explain your answer.
• Under President Washington, Secretary of War Henry Knox had hoped to
pursue a more peaceful policy with the Indians. How did U.S. policy
concerning the Indians unfold in the 1790s?
• Women were increasingly coming to believe that they too had the right
to knowledge, education, public discourse, and employment. Discuss the
various arguments being made in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries by women regarding their changing roles in the new republic.
• Did the United States really win the War of 1812? Examine the terms of
the peace settlement. What was gained? What was the greater victory for
• Explain how improvements in transportation and communication made
possible the rise of the West as a powerful, self-conscious region of
the new nation.
• Discuss the impact of the market revolution on women and
African-Americans (both free and slave).
• Explain the shift from artisan to factory worker, and discuss the
factory system. What were the advantages and disadvantages? Who was left
out? Who benefited? What were some ways workers responded?
• Thoroughly describe the arguments made that linked American freedom to
westward expansion. Who or what were obstacles to freedom in the
pursuit of expansion? How did Americans deal with those obstacles?
• Some women worked in the mills, relishing the freedom and independence
they felt away from the farm for the first time, while others developed
a cult of domesticity, thinking themselves free to not have to work
outside the home. Compare the meaning of freedom for these two groups of
women. Think back to previous chapters and compare the role of women
during the market revolution with the “republican motherhood” role of
women during the American Revolution.
• The admittance of Missouri to the Union sparked a national crisis.
Describe the debates that led up to the final compromise. How does the
Missouri Compromise illustrate that sectional issues would surely arise
• Thinking back to previous chapters, analyze America’s policies toward
Indians from the Washington administration through the removal of
Indians from the southeastern states in the 1830s and early 1840s. What
ideas and policies about Indians remained the same? Which changed? Why?
• Despite unimaginable hardships, slaves were able to maintain a sense
of identity and a determination to attain freedom. Describe how slave
culture aided those endeavors and drove slaves’ desire for freedom. Be
sure to consider African heritage, slave family life, folklore, and
religious life in your response.
• What made slavery “peculiar” in the United States?
• For the most part, white southerners defended the “peculiar
institution” whether or not they had slaves, whether they were rich or
poor, and whether they lived on large plantations or small farms. Why
was this the case?
• Discuss the relationship between masters and slaves in the American
South. Did masters have all the power in this relationship, or did the
enslaved exert some power? Points to consider include paternalism, the
size of slaveholdings, slavery and the law, forms of slave resistance,
and labor organization (task and gang systems).
• Slave rebellions were rare but important. Compare the slave rebellions
(merely planned or actually carried out) of Denmark Vesey and Nat
Turner. What did Vesey attempt to do? What did Turner attempt to do? How
were these men similar? How did they view slavery and freedom? How did
white society react to them, and why?
• The abolitionists’ greatest achievement lay in shattering the
conspiracy of silence that had sought to preserve national unity by
suppressing public debate over slavery. Explain how the abolitionists
achieved this, and comment on how successful the movement was or was
• One person’s reform in some cases may be considered an attack on
another person’s vital interests. Describe how the antebellum reform
movements—particularly temperance, colonization, abolition, and women’s
rights—involved conflict between different sets of ideas and interests.
• One of the debates within the antislavery crusade was colonization of
African-Americans to Africa. Explain the various arguments for and
against colonization
• Frederick Douglass wrote, “When the true history of the antislavery
cause shall be written, women will occupy a large space in its pages.”
Was Douglass correct? Explain the role women played in the abolitionist
movement. Then analyze how that experience influenced the feminist
• What were the women at Seneca Falls advocating? Be sure to explain how
they understood freedom and liberty. What methods were the feminists
using to promote their cause?
• Did morality or economics dominate the debates over slavery in the
1850s? Explain the various arguments made for and against the expansion
of slavery. Who, if anyone, was arguing for abolition?
• Many Americans and immigrants from other lands believed California
presented a magnificent opportunity for economic freedom once gold was
discovered. However, the boundaries of freedom were tightly drawn in
California. Explain the expansions and limitations of freedom there.
• Using the Lincoln-Douglas debates, explore how each man viewed
freedom. What can their political debates tell us about American society
on the eve of the Civil War?
• Analyze Roger Taney’s decision in the Dred Scott case. How did the
ruling mirror the sectional debates that had been occurring in Congress?
What consequences did the decision have on the liberties and freedoms
of blacks in America?
• Examine the aftermath of the Mexican War and its consequences for
Indians, slaves, and free blacks in the newly acquired areas. Think back
to Thomas Jefferson’s idea of an Empire of Liberty. Did the newly
acquired land from the Mexican War promote Jefferson’s idea, or as with
the Louisiana Purchase, was it an empire of liberty for only a few?
• How do you explain why and when certain slave states seceded from the
Union? Why did some slave states—Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and
Missouri—not secede from the Union?
• What did the Union soldiers believe they were fighting for? What did
the Confederate soldiers believe they were fighting for?
• What was the basic premise of the Confederate government? What
advantages did the Confederacy have, and why did its leaders think
victory would be theirs?
• Compare and contrast the leadership abilities of wartime presidents
Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. How significant was each man’s
leadership to the course of the war?
• How did the war affect the economies of the North and of the South?
• Blacks eagerly signed up for service in the army and navy after the
Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Describe the life of a black
soldier. How did it differ from the experiences of black sailors?
Overall, how important were black servicemen in the outcome of the war?
Finally, discuss what fighting in the war meant to these men.
• Frederick Douglass declared, “The work does not end with the abolition
of slavery, but only begins.” In a thoughtful essay, discuss what you
foresee as the work that will need to be done to secure freedom and
liberty to the ex-slaves. Is emancipation enough? Why or why not?
• Lincoln observed in 1864 that “we all declare for liberty but in using
the same word we do not all mean the same thing.” He continued to
explain what the North meant and what the South meant, and how victory
meant a national norm as defined by the North. Illustrate how liberty
would come to be understood for the nation after the Civil War and
analyze whether the abolishment of slavery was enough to propel the
United States to finally exist as its founding documents suggested it
• What did freedom mean for the ex-slaves? Be sure to address economic
opportunities, gender roles, religious independence, and family
• Explain how wartime devastation set in motion a train of events that
permanently altered the white yeomanry’s independent way of life,
leading to what they considered a loss of freedom.
• Reconstruction witnessed profound changes in the lives of southerners,
black and white, rich and poor. Explain the various ways that the lives
of these groups changed. Were the changes for the better or worse?
• Stating that he “lived among men, not among angels,” Thaddeus Stevens
recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment was not perfect. Explain the
strengths and weaknesses of the Fourteenth Amendment. What liberties and
freedoms did it extend in the nineteenth century—and to whom? How did
it alter the relationship between the federal government and the states?
• Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Or was it something in
between? In your response, consider land policy, key legislation during
Presidential and Radical Reconstruction, southern politics, racial and
political violence, and northern “fatigue” with Reconstruction. Be sure
to make clear what you mean by success and failure.
• The debate surrounding the creation and ratification of the Fifteenth
Amendment divided one-time political allies over the matter of women’s
suffrage. What were the arguments for and against including a woman’s
right to vote in the Fifteenth Amendment? What did this debate say about
the boundaries of freedom defined by Reconstruction?