II. How to Write
a Paper Using a Primary Document
B. Thesis Statement
and Opening Paragraph.
You need to begin with a thesis statement, that is, an opinion that
you can support with facts culled from your research. Your thesis must
answer all aspects of a given question or topic. An example of a thesis
Hart Benton's "The Destiny of the Race" demonstrates the extent to which
Manifest Destiny used racism as a justification for westward expansion
and masked the extent to which American success in the west was the
result of policy rather than divine law.
Your opening paragraph
should also summarize what you intend to say in your paper and the order
in which you plan to say it.
The body of your paper should be divided according to the organization
laid out in your opening paragraph; make sure that you either stick
to that order or change your opening paragraph. Cite source materials
that support the main points of your argument.
Quotes (direct use
of somebody else's words or ideas) and citations (references to or paraphrases
of somebody else's words or ideas) should be used to strengthen your
argument by showing that it is based on something other than your imagination
or personal opinion. This means that you should choose your quotes wisely.
Make sure that they support your argument, and if one doesn't, get rid
of it-even if you think it's a brilliant line.
contempt for the natives of North America is made obvious in a number
of passages. He comments that while some express sadness at the extinction
of east coast Indians, he "cannot repine that this Capitol has replaced
the wigwam-this Christian people, replaced the savages-white matrons,
the red squaws…" Benton creates a comparison in which Indians clearly
come out as the deserving cultural losers.
Benton contends that "Civilization, or extinction, has been the fate
of all people who have found themselves in the track of the advancing
Whites," he is ignoring the role played by the United States government
in the destruction of Indian tribes. This is especially notable given
that he was writing less than a decade after Andrew Jackson forced the
removal of the assimilated Cherokees out of Georgia.
D. Summation and
Restate your thesis and summarize your argument. Go back and make sure
that you've done what you say you've done. If you haven't, edit.
You may use footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notes when you cite
sources within the body of your paper. Parenthetical notes are the easiest-simply
include the website or author and page number in parentheses at the
end of any relevant sentences.
was considered a rash declaration eighty years ago, is old history,
in our young country, at this day."
You MUST include
a bibliography at the end of your paper. If you do not, I will return
your paper. There are numerous correct bibliographical forms, but a
basic style is:
Author last name,
author first name. Full title of the book. City of publication: Name
of press, publication date.
In practice, this
Neal. Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of
New England, 1500-1643. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
To cite a website,
use the name of the site and the URL. For example:
County History http://history.smsu.edu/FTMiller/LocalHistory/Docs/Benton/destinyoftherace.htm