American History

Answer the following question in a 1000-word essay. Your essay should be based on a nuanced understanding of the topics we have talked about in lectures and discussions as well as the readings.  Make sure you offer a strong thesis (or argument), and then support your case with convincing evidence and examples.  Essays that do not make use of any of the non-textbook readings will not receive a passing score:

The events that led to the foundation of the United States have variously been described as the American Revolution or the American War of Independence.  Which do you think is a more fitting description?  Was this a revolution, which not only overthrew a government but also ushered in revolutionary social, political, and/or cultural changes?  Or was it merely a war of independence, in which one government replaced another, without disturbing social relationships and Americans everyday lives to any great extent?  Was it a forward-looking attempt to create a new revolutionary society, or a conservative struggle to take America back to the way things were before 1763? (Or was it something else altogether?)

As you begin to think about this question, you may want to consider the issues raised by the historian George Allan Billias:

Was the transformation [from English colonies into the United States of America] sweeping enough to justify the term revolutionary?  Did the new nation differ that much from the former colonies?  Did the laws, institutions and customs of the United States constitute a sharp break with the British heritage?  Was American society radically reshaped and restructured as a result of independence?  Was there a dramatic shift in the ideas, attitudes, and behavior of most Americans in the relationship between individuals and their government, the society, and with one another?  Within the context of our nations history, such issues may be reduced to a single question: How revolutionary was our Revolution?

To successfully answer this question, you will need to present at least two major areas in which America either did or did not see revolutionary change (depending on your argument), as well as one area that might support a counterargument (for example, if you argue that it was not a revolution, an area that did nonetheless see significant change).  Your essay should successfully support your argument based on your two major supporting examples, and clearly show why they outweigh the counterargument you also examine.

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The Rules

Due Date: Sunday, April 11, 11:59PM
Length: 1000 words (anywhere between 900-1200 will be acceptable). This will come out to roughly 3-4 pages, depending on your font and margins. It is OK if you go a little over the maximum word count.  It is not OK to offer less than the minimum.
Format: your essay should be double-spaced, and typed in a reasonable 12-point font with standard margins (Hint: nothing makes you look more desperate than using a font like Courier New that noticeably stretches the text. If in doubt, use Times New Roman).
Please highlight or underline your thesis sentence in your introduction
This is not a research paper, but a paper designed to evaluate how well you can use material from this classreadings, lectures, and discussionsto present and support a convincing historical argument. Therefore, you may not use sources from outside our class.
All quotes or references to specific reading passages must be properly cited to avoid plagiarizing. If you have any questions about what does and does not constitute plagiarism (some cases of plagiarism are due more to carelessness than an intention to cheat), do not hesitate to ask me.
To cite a source from our class, you need only put the authors name in parentheses at the end of the sentence that contains the quote or reference. For example: The authority of parliament was allowed to be valid in all laws, except such as should lay internal taxes (Franklin). If you are citing the online textbook, please site the name of the book, followed by the chapter and section number.  For example, (American Yawp, Chapter 5, Section IV).
You need not cite lecture material.
Since all of your sources will be drawn from this class, you do not need to include a Works Cited page.
Since history is a collaborative effort, you may talk together with your classmates as you think about the issues involved in writing your essay. However, you are on your own for the writing process, and your final essay must be your own unique product.

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