How to Write a Thesis And the rest of the an essay Creating a Thesis • Take a reasonable position that answers the question or prompt and that can be supported by evidence. • Write a well crafted thesis that directly answers the question and provides categories for your essay. • Consider creating a complex type of thesis by using a key word such as “although,” “however,” despite” etc. First Paragraph • The most important part of the first paragraph is the thesis. • A thesis states a point of view that you intend to support with primary and secondary source materials. • If your essay does not have a thesis, there is then nothing to support. The Prompt • To what extent did the American Revolution fundamentally change American society? In your answer be sure to address the political, social and economic effects of the Revolution in the period from 1775 to 1800. – First ask yourself what the question wants to know. – Then list the categories that you must address – Finally, what is the time period that you must consider. Types of Thesis Statements • Direct: This is a straightforward statement that clearly and directly answers the question – To a remarkable degree, the American Revolution fundamentally changed American society. Compound • Use this approach when trying to prove two main points. Use the word “and” to connect them • The American Revolution held the promise of fundamental change and, indeed, significant and permanent changes did occur in a number of areas. Split • This approach splits the thesis into several categories. In essence it combines the thesis statement with the plan of attack/themes of the essay. This works best when the prompt itself provides the essay categories. – The American Revolution did not create significant political, social, or economic changes in this country. Complex-Direct • This type of thesis statement acknowledges that contrary evidence exists and addresses the complexity inherent in most essays prompts. A well executed complex thesis offers students the best opportunity to earn a high score. Key words such as “although” or “even though” are helpful in constructing this type of thesis. – Although the impact of the Revolutionary War has been criticized by some historians for not living up to its revolutionary ideals, the years following the war did bring fundamental political, social, and economic change to America. OR – Despite the failure of the American Revolution to create a more equal society, especially for women and blacks, it did usher in significant and lasting political and economic changes. Types of History Essay Questions • Change over time: “The period from 1783 to 1815 was a period of evalution to economic maturity for the infant United States.” Assess the validity of this view • Cause and Effect: Why did the United States enter the First World War? • Compare and Contrast: Compare and contrast Jacksonian Democracy and Jeffersonisan Democracy. • Define and Identify: Discuss Jacksonian Democracy • Statement, React to it: “Presidents are rarely successful in both foreign and domestic policy.” Assess the validity of this statement. • Evaluation: Pick any three of the following and evaluate their effectiveness as political leaders: George Washinston, John C. Calhoun, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay or John Adams • Statement from a particular viewpoint: Defend British policies during the period from 1763 to 1776. • Given Framework: “The powers of the president grew because of war and foreign crises.” • Problem-Solution: “What causes of the Civil War were resolved by the Civil War and Reconstruction?” • Answer and Include: Analyze the relative importance of three of the following as contributing to the Civil Right movement. – Aunnar Mydral, An American Dilemma – The desegregation of the armed forces – Brown v. Board of Education – African American demographic shifts. Rules of Argument in Historical Writing • Always state your argument quickly and concisely, as early as possible in your paper. • When you make an assertion essential to your case, provide some examples as evidence. • Always give the fairest possible treatment to those against whom you may be arguing • Always admit weaknesses I your argument and acknowledge those facts that opponents might raise against your position. • Stay on the subject throughout your essay so your argument is not submerged in meaningless detail.