Topic #1: Explain how the last sixty years of American history have shaped the present-day United States. Topic #2: Argue how the history of the United States between the end of World War II and the early 1960s justifies or refutes Henry Luce’s argument.

Analyze primary sources and use the documents effectively to make a historic argument. As you prepare for this assessment, use the attached document, Helpful Tips for Writing Essays Based Upon Primary SourcesPreview the document, to help you produce a strong essay.
utilize appropriate historic terminology, and provide specific examples from the documents to support your arguments.
Students must identify the documents they are utilizing in your essay.

Topic #1: Explain how the last sixty years of American history have shaped the present-day United States.

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Topic #1: Explain how the last sixty years of American history have shaped the present-day United States. Topic #2: Argue how the history of the United States between the end of World War II and the early 1960s justifies or refutes Henry Luce’s argument.
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Documents: Be familiar with the following documents
Rosa Parks on Life in Montgomery, Alabama (1956-1958)
Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968)
Pat Buchanan on the Culture War (1992)
Pedro Lopez on His Mother’s Deportation (2008/2015)
Topic #2: In 1941, publisher Henry Luce said the twentieth century would be remembered as the “American century.” Argue how the history of the United States between the end of World War II and the early 1960s justifies or refutes Henry Luce’s argument. How would you summarize this period of American history?

Documents: Be familiar with the following documents
The Truman Doctrine (1947)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Atoms for Peace” (1953)
Richard Nixon on the American Standard of Living (1959)
Barry Goldwater, Republican Nomination Acceptance Speech (1964)Helpful Tips for Writing Essays Based Upon Primary Sources:
Carefully review the essay question. Keep all the elements of the question in mind as you familiarize yourself with the sources, develop a thesis, outline your main points, and write the essay.
Develop a strong thesis statement. Ask yourself, “What is the main question that I am trying to answer in this essay?” “What is the one point that I want the reader to come away with after reading my essay?” You will be writing this essay based on several primary sources, so consider a theme that unites the documents. Your thesis is like a coat tree upon which you will hang your supporting evidence. It should present your analysis of the meaning and significance of the source(s). Accordingly, your thesis should be argumentative, not descriptive.
Example of a descriptive “thesis”: “In Common Sense, Thomas Paine presented his views on why the American colonists should break with Great Britain” (Note: no one would ever disagree with this statement; it only tells us what the author did and it says absolutely nothing about the meaning or significance of Paine’s work).
Example of an argumentative thesis: “Thomas Paine’s use of plain language, biblical analogies, and egalitarian rhetoric explains the enormous appeal of Common Sense” (Note: one could easily prove this argument by examining, in the subsequent paragraphs, the three points listed in the sentence).
Don’t summarize-analyze! A primary source essay should not be a restatement or summary of the document’s content. These Essays call for a close analysis or dissection of the texts’ meanings.
Use strong topic sentences. “What is the main point I am trying to make in this paragraph?” The first sentence in the paragraph-the topic sentence-should announce not only the subject of the paragraph but also the significance of the information that follows it. The topic sentence is essentially the thesis of an individual paragraph. Do not place your strongest points in the middle of or at the end of the paragraph lest the reader wonder why he/she is reading your evidence.
Use quotes judiciously. The essay should present your analysis of the sources; overuse of quotes reduces the amount of space in which you have to develop your arguments and shows that you have nothing more to say than the original document. Refrain from using block quotes unless the complete quote is indispensable to your analysis. Make sure you always explain the significance of quote you include in your essay. Don’t make a statement and then drop a quote in. Always follow the quote with your analysis of that evidence.

From The College of William and Mary History Writing Resource Center

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