Based on our readings about the origins, founding, and first hundred years of the country, discuss whether the early United States was truly a REPUBLICor actually an EMPIRE. One way to begin would be to get a good dictionary and look up the definitions of the two words.
Consider the impact of U.S. policies and actions toward ANY OR ALLof the parties listed BELOW.
Remember that your thesis must make a choice: REPUBLICor EMPIRE. You may choose to argue that the U.S. evolved to become both a republic and an empire. But whichever choice you make, you should specify how and why and when that happened. In other words, your argument must be based on historical facts, not simply opinion.
You should cite facts in support of your thesis (argument). Whichever option you select, you should be able to find plenty of facts to support it in our two textbooks and two books of primary sources. If you wish, you may also cite other sources to support your argument. However, if you cite Internet sources, they should be either “.edu” or “.org” sites, not “.com.”
INDIANS Consider how white people treated Native Americans from the earliest colonial days until 1877. Address not only early colonial conflicts – physical, material, spiritual – but also conflicts on western and southern frontiers of the early United States. Remember that the Reconstruction era in the South also marked the beginnings of the so-called Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River.
BLACKS Consider how white people – North and South – treated Africans and their descendants in the New World, from the earliest colonial days until 1877, the end of the Reconstruction era in the South. Be sure to specify and distinguish between white people of different social status, economic class, and geographic location. Remember to distinguish between free blacks (in different places) and slaves (also in different places).
WOMEN Consider how the wealthy, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men who generally ruled the country treated women of all races and socio-economic classes, from earliest colonial days through the end of the Reconstruction era in 1877. Be sure to specify by race and class.
IMMIGRANTS Consider how white men and women already living here treated other white immigrants to the New World. These would include indentured servants during the colonial era; Catholics, from the early colonial era onward; and early to mid-19th century immigrants, such as Germans and Irish. Address how the treatment afforded to immigrants varied according to their gender, ethnicity, social status, economic class, and religion.
MEXICANS Consider the Mexican-American War, known in Mexico as “The War of North American Aggression.” What existing U.S. policies contributed to the war? Precisely how did the war come about? How was it promoted by U.S. politicians and prosecuted by U.S. armed forces? What territory changed hands as a result, and who benefited from that exchange? For example, who came to rule California and its gold fields?
FURTHER GUIDANCE: ESSAY & THESIS STATEMENT
Your essay should be 7-10 pages long. It should have a Bibliography and End Notes, according to the guidelines you can find in the Rampolla book. Bibliography and End Notes are NOT counted in the 7-10 page requirement. So, in total, your submission should be about 9-12 pages in length.
Please observe these specifications: One-inch margins; double-spaced; 12-point type; Times New Roman font. Please be sure that each page of your essay has a HEADER with YOUR NAME, as well as the PAGE NUMBER.
Thanks to Steven Posusta and his excellent book Don’t Panic: The Procrastinator’s Guide to Writing an Effective Term Paper(well worth its modest cost) here are some guiding principles to help you write your essay about whether or not the early United States was a republic or an empire.
First, a simple format that will produce an effective thesis statement for almost any essay:
(general statement, oppositeopinion from your thesis)
(yourthesis, your idea)
(examples, supporting evidence; #1, #2, #3, etc.)
#1 Although many people thought Albert Einstein was a genius,
#2 nevertheless, he was an idiot,
#3 because he never learned to tie his shoelaces, etc., etc., etc.
That’s Posusta’s basic “Instant Thesis” format. And it’s very useful. I urge you also to study the Rampolla book, especially her Chapter Four, as well as her suggestions about Bibliographies and End Notes. (Please use endnotes, not footnotes.)
For the your essay on Republic v. Empire, the Posusta Instant-Thesis format should do the trick. However, as many of you have already noticed, you may want to argue that the U.S. was FORMALLY a republic, but IN SUBSTANCE already had or soon acquired aspects of an empire. Even so, you can still use the Instant-Thesis format.
Remember the first thing to look for when forming your thesis iscontrast.
FOR EXAMPLE: “Albert Einstein was a genius, buthe could never tie his shoes.” “Plato lived long ago, buthis ideas still apply.”
This kind of contradiction is built into the theme of our essay. As a result, your thesis statement almost writes itself. For our assignment, the first thing for you to decide is whether the early United States was a republic or an empire. Then specify on the basis ofwhich actions toward the specific types of people that you choose to address: women, Indians, blacks, indentured servants, immigrants, Mexicans, etc.
This not the only way to write a thesis (see Rampolla) but it usually works. First, simply write the answer to the basic question – republic or empire — in blank #2 above. For example: #2. nevertheless, in substance, the U.S. was already (or soon became) an empire,
We know that blank #1 needs only to contradict #2. So, for example:
#1 Although the government of the United States was in form that of a republic — OR — Although the United States was formally a republic,
#2 nevertheless, in substance, the U.S. was already (or soon became) an empire,
#3 as can be seen in its treatment of (insert here your reasons and evidence).
There is a duality built into the question, making it simple to choose sides. Once you choose, all that remains is for you to find and specify the reasons whyyou chose your thesis. But remember, whatever thesis you choose, you must stick to it and prove it by citing examples from our textbooks and our books of primary sources, as well as any other sources you may want to cite.
Finally, after you’ve completed the various paragraphs that form the body of your essay, you should write a CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH. This is ESSENTIAL, but a fairly simple thing to do.
A concluding paragraph just restates your thesis in a slightly different way. For example: “In conclusion, it is clear that [INSERT HERE YOUR RE-WORDED THESIS STATEMENT] as shown by [INSERT HERE A CONDENSED LIST OF YOUR REASONS AND EVIDENCE].
Now, what do you do if you get to the conclusion and realize that you have NOT PROVEN your argument? Simple. Just go back and change your thesis statement to reflect what you have actually been able to prove.
YOUR FIRST JOB: MAKE A CHOICE
You need to find the contrast or contradiction in your assignment. Then take some time to figure out which argument you would prefer to make. You can argue the question either way. There is no “right” answer. One way is as good as the other. The choice is entirely yours. But whichever side you choose, you need to back it up with evidence from the sources that you cite.
Another way to look at this assignment (or any essay) is to think of it the way a journalist is taught to approach writing a newspaper article:
1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them;
2) Tell them;
3) Tell them you’ve told them.
These three “tells” correspond directly to the three parts of any essay: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Both the Introduction and Conclusion are usually a single paragraph. The last sentence of the introductory paragraph should be your Thesis Statement. The first sentence of your concluding paragraph, should be along the lines of “In conclusion, ___________.” or “Therefore, it is clear that __________ .”
The Body of your essay can be any number of paragraphs, however many you feel you need to make a convincing argument in support of your thesis, yet still not exceed the length requirement. In this case, ten pages.
The first sentence of each paragraph in the Body of your essay should state directly one of the key points in support of your thesis/argument. (If you’ve done a good job of outlining your essay, this will be easy to do.) The rest of that paragraph should simply flesh out that aspect of your argument. If you want to, you can write more than one paragraph for each of your key points.
You will want to write MORE THAN ONE draft of your essay. You will want to read it to yourself OUT LOUD. And it’s a good idea to give it to someone else whose judgment you trust to read it, too. That way, if there’s something they don’t understand, you’ll know you need to rework that part.
I hope this helps you to get started on your essay – and the sooner the better. Above all, remember that a good essay is ALWAYS re-written several times.