Response to Question #1

From the following list of essay topics please pick one and write an essay of approximately 1000 words in response. When you title your essay, please make sure it refers to the question that you’re answering, for instance, “Response to Question #2”

Question #2
From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement in the United States made significant gains. In particular, the federal government took on a new role in guaranteeing the rights of African-Americans. Why does the government become more responsive to civil rights in this era? Remember, in answering this question you’re not just describing events — WHY do these events occur? What changes in American society lead up to the success of the civil rights movement?

Guidelines for Writing the Essays


Essays will be graded on the following criteria:


I.  Organization (how well you structure your argument)

a.  You should have an introductory paragraph that briefly summarizes your

answer to the question.

b.  The body of the essay should be logically organized to support your argument.

Usually a topical organization is best.  For instance, if the question asks

you to talk about economics, politics, and social structure, a logical

form of organization would be to have a paragraph on economics,

a paragraph on politics, etc.

c.  Each paragraph in the body should begin with a clear topic sentence.

A topic sentence indicates the main point you’re making in that paragraph.

As a general rule of thumb, never start a paragraph with a statement of

fact or a quote.  Your paragraph should stay focused on proving that

central point.  For instance, if you indicate in your topic sentence that

you will be making an argument about politics, don’t wander off into

talking about economics.

d.  Your essay should have a clear conclusion that summarizes the main points of

your argument (your answer to the question)

II.  Use of Evidence (how well you support your argument with historical facts)

a.  Key assertions should be supported by specific historical facts rather than


b.  Evidence should be integrated into the argument.  Just throwing out facts is

not enough – you need to explain HOW the facts help prove your


c.  Facts should be CORRECT and RELEVANT.   The first point is obvious.

In the second case, students often dump a large quantity of facts into

a paper without any regard to whether they relate to answering the

question.  This indicates that the student doesn’t really understand the

significance of the evidence.

III.  Overall Effectiveness of the Argument (Does your answer make historical sense)

a.  The essay should actually make an analytical argument, not just provide a

narration of events.  In history we look at not just WHAT happened in

the past, but WHY it happened and WHY it’s significant.

b.  All elements of the question should be addressed.   If the question has two

components and you only address one, that’s not a complete answer.

c.  Overall, the essay should reflect a good understanding of the historical issues

being discussed, based upon the course materials.



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