Questions on american history.


Each essay should be at least five standard-length paragraphs but no longer than seven standard-length paragraphs.

Include an introduction and conclusion paragraph.

1) Economic inequality developed alongside capitalism during colonial and U.S. history. First, explain how and why slavery created wealth inequality across the colonial and U.S. South. Second, discuss how the Industrial Revolution changed labor and why this led to further class division, as observed by Alexis de Tocqueville. Conclude by arguing whether or not you believe that this wealth inequality was inevitable during U.S. history before 1877, and whether such inequality is itself always a bad thing.

2) Federal power began to increase after ratification of the U.S. Constitution and continued to increase through the era of Reconstruction. First, describe the strength (or lack thereof) of the U.S.’s first national government, the Articles of Confederation. Second, explain how the federal government expanded during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and subsequent heyday of “Radical Republicans.” Conclude by discussing how and why this federal expansion was opposed during the following historical moments: the promulgation of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, the South Carolina “Nullification” crisis, and the creation of the Confederate States of America.

3) Imperialism has been a central fact of American history for centuries. First, describe how fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europeans like Christopher Columbus viewed the indigenous peoples that they encountered in the Americas. Second, discuss “Manifest Destiny” and John O’Sullivan’s vision of America’s identity and role for the world. Conclude by assessing how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century white Americans like Andrew Jackson typically viewed the American Indians that they encountered in the U.S.’s western territories.

4) Partisanship emerged just years into America’s Constitutional era and continues through today. First, outline the major disagreements between Federalists and Democrat-Republicans and discuss why they fought so bitterly before the War of 1812. Second, explain how and why the Republican Party emerged during the 1850s and discuss why they fought Democrats so bitterly before, during, and after the Civil War. Conclude by arguing whether or not today’s partisanship compares to those aforementioned periods of political discord.

5) Racism and white supremacy have been an unfortunate reality throughout U.S. history. First, explain how the idea of racial difference emerged in Virginia during the seventeenth century and how Virginian Thomas Jefferson elaborated on that differentiation a century later. Second, discuss the treatment of African Americans during the following periods and as illustrated by the respective documents: the colonial era and Olaudah Equiano, the antebellum era and Harriet Jacobs, and the Reconstruction era and Joe Easley. Conclude by reflecting on whether you believe racial injustice is getting better or worse during our own era.

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