Read and analyze books and journals on the
Spanish-American War then formulate a specific thesis statement drawing on the
material. You will craft a detailed outline of the essay you would write using
these materials. The purpose of this assignment is to focus your attention on
the fundamental building blocks of historical writing.
• Source 1. Excerpt from President James Monroe’s Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 2, 1823.
• Source 2. Excerpt from New York Journal and Advertiser, February 17, 1898.
• Source 3. Excerpt from New York Times, February 17, 1898.
• Source 4. Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1805 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1890), 1-5.
• Source 5. Marie Elizabeth Lamb, Awake United States! (New Orleans, LA: 1898).
• Source 6. Excerpt from Albert J. Beveridge’s Senate campaign speech, September 16, 1898.
• Source 7. Theodore Roosevelt, “The Strenuous Life,” April 10, 1899.
• Source 8. The Anti-Imperialist Position, March 25, 1899.
• Source 9. Excerpt from President William McKinley’s War Message to Congress, April 11, 1898.
C. Source Summaries:
Choose five sources from the nine listed above that you will use for your analysis. After reading each chosen document carefully, write a one-paragraph summary (at least five sentences) of each source. Include the following information: Who wrote it? What is the central theme of the source? What arguments are made? You will end up with five paragraphs, each containing at least five sentences. Label each paragraph with the source number, as follows:
D. Thesis Statement:
Now you will develop an original thesis statement of your own. You will draw upon the knowledge you have gained from the primary sources, the textbook chapter, and the lecture. If you were to write an essay about this topic, what argument would you make? History essays advance a thesis and then prove that argument with evidence. A strong thesis is both clear and specific. Often, a thesis statement is actually a spoken answer to an unspoken (hidden) question. A hidden question might be “Why did America become involved in the Spanish-American War?” You would not state that question in your essay, but your thesis statement would give the answer to that question. Your thesis statement might be “America became involved in the Spanish-American War for three primary reasons. First….” Other hidden questions you might answer could include “Why did some Americans oppose involvement in the Spanish-American War?” or “How were various groups affected by American involvement in the Spanish-American War?” Feel free to make up your own hidden question, but be sure that your thesis statement is a clear, specific answer to your hidden question.
Your thesis statement should be between one and three sentences. Be sure to label it as follows:
Thesis Statement: Some Americans opposed involvement in the Spanish-American War because …
Now you are ready to create your detailed outline. Using bullet points or a traditional outline format, outline the essay you would write. Your outline should include at least five paragraphs. Each paragraph should have at least three body points. Your body points for each paragraph should be complete sentences. For each paragraph, indicate the sources you would use. You should include at least two references in each paragraph. They can be from the same source, but different paragraphs. To reference the sources, use the format that follows, indicating the source and paragraph number, if available (if not, don’t worry about it). Include your thesis statement as well as the five sources you summarized. You may also include additional sources from the list. Please do not use any additional research for this project.
F. Hint: When you finish building your outline, revisit your thesis statement. Most often, you will discover that your work has given you new insights that you will want to use to refine your original thesis. Tighten your thesis so that it aligns with your outline.
G. Be careful not to plagiarize on this assignment, as described on the course syllabus. Use your own words and ideas. Trust your own judgment.
H. If you would like to see an example of what your assignment format should look like, see the document “Assignment2Template.”