The American Experience to 1877
Term Paper (100 points)
The purpose of this paper is to combine historical research with your own original analysis of history. In this paper, you will compare and contrast the lives and legacies of two American presidents from the period 1789-1876. You will write a 5-page (minimum) paper in 12-point font using standard margins that discusses the issues below. Remember, you are writing a coherent paper, not just answering a series of questions. You are not just writing a paper on two presidents; you must directly compare and contrast the two, as described below. You will also need to include a bibliography with at least six (6) sources. (See the section on sources below) Provide appropriate citations in your paper (footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references are all acceptable). The paper will be graded on thoroughly addressing the issues and on originality of the analysis, as well as on spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The writing tone should be formal and scholarly. The Harper Writing Center is available to help you proofread. Don’t forget a cover page (Cover page and bibliography do NOT count as part of the 5-page minimum). Staple your paper.
Choosing the presidents
You can choose only ONE president from the list below:
George Washington Andrew Jackson
Thomas Jefferson Abraham Lincoln
You must choose at least one president from the list below. Or you can choose to compare and contrast two of the following presidents:
John Adams Ulysses S. Grant John Tyler
James Madison Andrew Johnson William H. Harrison
James Monroe James Buchanan James Polk
John Quincy Adams Franklin Pierce
Martin Van Buren Zachary Taylor
Addressing the issues:
- Write an introduction explaining the purpose and contents of your paper.
- Directly compare and contrast the lives of the two men before they became president. Did they have anything in common? What was their educational background? What types of jobs/roles did they have before they became president? In your opinion, were they qualified to be president? Why or why not? Which was more qualified? Why?
- What were the main events happening in the nation/world while they were president? Did the presidents deal with similar events during their time in office?
- Which president accomplished more while president?Directly compare and contrast the accomplishments of the two presidents.
- What is the greatest accomplishment of each while president? How do these two events compare?
- What is the worst thing each man did while president? How do these events compare? (ALL presidents make mistakes.)Directly compare and contrast the mistakes of the two presidents.
- Directly compare and contrast the legacies of the two men. What is the one thing each president should be remembered for? In your opinion, were they good presidents or poor presidents? Why? Which was better? Why?
- Write a conclusion that summarizes your research and analysis.
Some notes on sources
- Know the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism before you begin. If you need clarification, ask the instructor. Make sure you put your paper in your own words.
- You must use at least six sources.
- No more than half of your sources can be from the Internet. At least three sources must be print sources. Try to avoid sources that are extremely biased either for or against the presidents.
- Textbooks and encyclopedias are not college level sources. This includes on-line and electronic encyclopedias.
- You must provide a minimum of two citations within the body of the paper from each source. This shows that you used all of the sources listed in your bibliography.
- Use an appropriate, acceptable format for the bibliography. History papers usually use the “Chicago Style”, but you are not required to choose that format for this paper. Do not make up your own bibliographical style.
Some Writing Tips to Improve Your Grade
In your research paper it is expected that you will use a formal, academic style of writing. In order to help you do this, I have included the following suggestions for your paper. Proofread carefully or get help from the Harper Writing Center. Grammar, style and punctuation are part of the final grade.
- Do not use contractions in formal writing. (Words like don’t, didn’t, etc.)
- Do not use abbreviations or slang.
- Unless you personally know the person about whom you are writing, do not refer to them simply by their first name. The first time you write the name, give the first and last name. Thereafter, you can use either the last name or the person’s title.
- Use appropriate citations. You can use footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references, whichever you are most comfortable using. You do not have to cite every fact in the paper. However, all quotations and statistics should be cited. Other facts that are questionable or controversial should be cited. You should also cite any time you report someone else’s opinion.
- Use the correct form of “its.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, for example, “the dog ate its bone.” “It’s” is a contraction meaning it is. For example, “It’s a beautiful day.” Also, use the correct form of “there” and “their”. “There” refers to a place, as in “He is over there.” “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “They waited for their ride.”
- Know when to use “U.S.” instead of “United States.” “United States” is a noun and “U.S.” is an adjective. For example, “The government of the United States” or “the U.S. government.” Both are correct. You would not write “the government of the U.S.” or “the United States government.”
- Avoid using the word “got.”
- Do not use flowery, overly complex writing. You should strive for clarity in each sentence.
- Do not use gross exaggerations (i.e., “He was the greatest man who ever lived.”).
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