21H.102 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

American History Since 1865


Essay #1

For our first paper assignment, you will be asked to write a short essay that responds to the following prompt:

The historian Eric Foner argues that Reconstruction should be understood as an “unfinished revolution.” 1 In what ways, if any, were the American Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed revolutionary, and for whom? What was left “unfinished” by Reconstruction?

Essays should present an original argument that responds to the above prompt. This argument should be unique (of your own making) and should reflect careful and serious engagement with course materials. It should also be clearly expressed and organized, so a reader would have no problem understanding both the overall argument and its progression through your essay. In crafting your argument, you should draw on lecture, discussion, and secondary source readings (materials assigned for Lecture 2). Evidence in support of this argument should be drawn from at least three primary sources (materials assigned for Lecture 3).

Essays should be approximately 1250 words in length (please include a word count at the end of your essay), double-spaced, and written in a 12 point font. They should include page numbers, properly formatted footnotes with accurate citations, and a title that reflects the paper’s argument. All sources should be cited using the Chicago Manual of Style (see the Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide). For an example of what citations in Chicago format look like, see the footnote at the bottom of this page.

Essays will be evaluated according to:

  • The quality of the analysis and argument presented
  • The strength of the evidence marshaled in support of that argument
  • The clarity and quality of written expression (this includes style, grammar, and proper citation)

Essay #1 is due during Lecture 5.

1 Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (New York: Harper Collins,1988).

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Lecture Notes