This is NOT a report, you must form a thesis statement and write an argumentative paper. *

| October 22, 2018

Suggested Topics For Short Papers

1.
These prompts are
taken from a variety of sources and are designed to help you brainstorm a topic
for you short papers. You do NOT have to use one of these prompts; they are
merely suggestions to help you develop your own.
2.
Since these
prompts are designed as suggestions, they may NOT be detailed enough to stand
by themselves, meaning that you may have to add to a selected prompt to make it
appropriate for this assignment.
3.
Please make sure
you are using an argument style in your writing and not just writing a report.
Please see this.unc.edu/handouts/argument/”>website on argumentative writing and this.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/”>website on writing
thesis statements. I have also enclosed a video that addresses these issues.

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What lessons do you think English colonists learned from their early
Jamestown experience? Focus on matters of fulfilling expectations, financial
support, leadership skills, and relations with the Indians. What specific
developments illustrate that the English living in the plantation colonies
tried to apply these lessons?

Rank the items in the
following list, starting with the one that you think had the most important
consequences. Then justify your ranking. Finally, speculate as to what might
have happened had these events not occurred.
a. The cultivation of tobacco in Virginia
b. The introduction of slavery into the
plantation colonies
c. The “enclosing” of croplands in England

Select any combination of two of the three colonial settlement areas
(South, New England, middle) and compare and contrast them. Focus on the motives
of their founders, religious and social orientation, economic pursuits, and
political developments.

To what degree was the government of Massachusetts Bay
simultaneously theocratic, democratic, oligarchic, and authoritarian?

Which of the New England or middle colonies would you have preferred
to live in? Explain your answer by discussing your selection’s social,
economic, political, religious, and ethnic characteristics.

Some historians have argued that Puritanism was especially suited
for life in the wilderness of seventeenth-century America. Do you agree? Why or
why not?

Compare and contrast the economies, geography and climate, mortality
rates, sex ratios, and family relationships of New England and the southern
colonies. In which of the two regions would you have preferred to live? Why?

Why did colonial masters first adopt the institution of indentured
servitude rather than Indian or black slavery to meet their demands for labor?
Why, then, did black slavery replace indentured servitude?

Which do you think was the main cause of Bacon’s Rebellion:
resentment felt by backcountry farmers, Governor Berkeley’s Indian policies, or
the pressure of the tobacco economy? Justify your choice.

Argue either that an “American” way of life had emerged by the end
of the seventeenth century orthat two wholly distinct ways of life, one
New England and the other southern, had emerged by the end of the seventeenth
century.

Did differences in wealth and status in the colonies increase or
diminish from 1700 to 1750? Explain.

Explain how the Great Awakening, an
intensely religious movement, contributed to the development of the separation
of church and state in America.

Early America was not a world of equality and consensus, yet many
immigrants poured in, seeing America as a land of opportunity. How could they
draw such a conclusion?

Compare and contrast the French colonies in North America with their
British and Spanish counterparts. Consider, for example, location, timing,
economy, political organization, and religious influences.

Why did the Ohio Valley become the arena of conflict between the
French and British in America?

It is sometimes observed that the roots of future wars lie in the
results of past wars. In what ways does it appear that the French and Indian
War helped to cause the American RevolutionaryWar?

Suppose that the French had won the French and Indian War. What do
you think would have been the consequences for the British colonies in America
in both the short and long run?

Explain the relationship between
mercantilism, the Navigation Laws, and British efforts to create an
administrative structure for their empire after 1696.

What were the major advantages and disadvantages of the British and
the colonists, respectively, as the American Revolutionary War began? What
would Britain have to do to win? What would the colonists have to do to win?

In what ways were the mercantilist policies of the British
burdensome to the colonists? In what ways were they beneficial? From this
comparison, draw a conclusion about the effects of mercantilism and the
Navigation Laws on British-colonial relations up to 1763.

Which of the following do you think was most responsible for the
conflict between Britain and its American colonies: the ineptness of parliamentary
leadership, the colonists’ behavior, the high-handedness of King George III,
the British mercantilist system and Navigation Laws, or the actions of British
officials in the colonies? Justify your choice.

Itmight be said that it was the British who were revolutionaries in
1763 and the colonists who were conservatives attempting to preserve the status
quo. Explain.

Create a scenario for the period 1763–1776 to demonstrate that the
American Revolutionary War and colonial independence from Great Britain were
not inevitable.

The combat of the Revolutionary War began in spring 1775. Why did
colonists wait until the summer of 1776 to declare independence?

Account for the widespread and enthusiastic colonial reception of
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

Many historians argue that without
French aid the colonies could never have won their independence. Do you agree
or disagree? Why?

It is often argued that the British “lost” the Revolutionary War
more than the Americans “won” it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Why didn’t the leaders of the American Revolution extend their
spirit of equality to the abolition of slavery and giving women the right to
vote?

In what way was anticolonialism established as a legacy of the
American Revolution? How, then, did the United States establish a justification
for its own future territorial expansion?

List all the reasons why the
Articles of Confederation needed to be replaced in order of importance,
starting with the most important reason. Justify your selection and arrangement.

Compare and contrast the Federalists and Republicans, especially
their views on democracy, government power, the economy, and foreign affairs.

Describe what you think would be
Hamilton’s assessment of government in the United States today. Describe what
you think Jefferson’s assessment would be.

Summarize the central argument of the Kentucky and Virginia
resolutions. Explain why they are key documents in American history.

Before 1790, American leaders
denounced political parties. Explain why, nonetheless, political parties came
into existence and what function they performed in the early Republic.

Which of the following do you think made the most important
contribution to American national interests: Neutrality Proclamation, Farewell
Address, Convention of 1800? Justify your selection.

John Adams called his peaceful
resolution of the problems with France in 1800 “the most splendid diamond in my
crown.” Why did he think so? Was his pride justified? Why or why not?

List at least three key principles of government advanced by Thomas
Jefferson and the Republican party before 1800. Describe how these ideals fared
during Jefferson’s administration. Were they translated into public policy?
Explain how or, if not, why not.

Assess the Jeffersonian presidency.
What do you think were his three most important legacies? Explain your choices.

The text’s authors claim that the Era of Good Feelings is “something
of a misnomer” for the decade following the War of 1812. Do you agree? Why or
why not?

Historians have sometimes referred to the program of the
Jeffersonian Republicans after 1815 as “neo-Federalist.” Is this an accurate
label? Why or why not?

Which do you think was the most significant event of the decade
following the Treaty of Ghent: panic of 1819, McCulloch v. Maryland,
Florida Purchase Treaty, Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine? Justify your
selection.

Which do you think was the major cause of the War of 1812: western
war hawk territorial expansion, British violations of American neutrality
rights on the high seas, or the urge to uphold national honor and pride?
Justify your selection.

Compare and contrast the Whigs and Democrats in regard to their
beliefs, public policies, and supporters. Summarize the crucial differences
between them.

Write your definition of a great
president. Then use this definition to argue that Andrew Jackson was or was not a great president.

What basic assumptions are contained in John C. Calhoun’s doctrine
of nullification? Compare and contrast it to the Kentucky and Virginia
resolutions and to the doctrine of secession. Why did Calhoun put forward this
view of constitutional propriety?

List the chief controversial issues of the Jackson administration.
What position did Jackson take on each of them? Why?

Evaluate the wisdom of Jackson’s veto of the recharter bill for the
Bank of the United States. Who gained and who lost by his veto?

Why has Andrew Jackson been called “the first modern president”?

Summarize the impact of the industrial revolution on American labor,
on the rich and the poor, and on families and home life. Use specifics to
support your argument.

In what ways were cotton production and slavery more a burden to the
South than a benefit?

It was argued by some that the slaves were better off than both wage
earners in northern industry and free blacks back in Africa. Do you agree? Why
or why not?

James K. Polk is often ranked as one of America’s “near great”
presidents. Do you agree that he should be so highly ranked? Why or why not?

Was the Mexican War inevitable? Was it necessary? Why or why not?
What might either side have done to avoid war?

Explain why it is sometimes argued that the Mexican War was a major
cause of the Civil War.

Compare and contrast the Irish and German immigrants of
early-nineteenth-century America in terms of their motives for leaving Europe,
pattern of settlement in the United States, impact on American life, and
reception by native-born Americans.

Why
was there a reassertion of Manifest Destiny in the 1850s? What were the goals
of America’s diplomacy at the time?

Explain the widespread popularity of the concept of popular
sovereignty as a way to resolve the issue of slavery in the territories. Then
explain why it ultimately failed.

In what way did the Compromise of 1850 contribute to the Union
victory in the Civil War?

Historians argue that the North “got the better of the Compromise of
1850.”Do you agree? Why or why not?

Assess the extent to which each of these individuals contributed to
the coming of the Civil War: John Brown, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln. Who
else should be on the list? Why?

Rank the following in order of their importance to the coming of the
Civil War: Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, John Brown’s raid,
Lincoln’s election. Justify your ranking.

When confronted with Southern secession in 1861, why didn’t Lincoln
simply allow the South to separate in peace?

The Civil War began in 1861. Why was it 1863 before Lincoln
committed the Union to the emancipation of slaves?

At the outset of the Civil War, the South confidently anticipated
that King Cotton would guarantee it European intervention. Why didn’t this
intervention materialize?

Explain the economic, military, and diplomatic results of the Union
victory and Confederate defeat in the Civil War. What do you think was the main
reason that the South lost? Explain your choice.

Historians usually rank the “Great Emancipator,” Abraham Lincoln, as
the “greatest” of American presidents. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Explain why General Sherman conducted the devastating “march to the
sea.” Explain in what ways this was like conducting modern “total war.”

List the three most significant immediate consequences of the Civil
War. Justify your selection and indicate which one consequence you think was
the most important and why.

How did freed slaves respond to Reconstruction? How did freedom
affect the economic, social, and political life of former slaves?

It has been wryly observed that “the North won the Civil War, but
the South won Reconstruction.” Interpret this statement and assess its truth.

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