1. Essay Questions



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1. Essay Questions
80. Describe the impact of Europeans on Native American (Indian) cultures and the impact of native cultures on Europeans. Then explain why it was or was not a good thing that European culture prevailed.
81. Summarize the motives, expectations, problems, and rewards associated with the age of European expansion.
82. It is sometimes said that the Europeans who came to the Americas settled a “virgin land” that was unused and unspoiled. Write an essay demonstrating that this is or is not an accurate description of what happened.
83. Write your definition of culture. Then use your definition to compare the cultures of Native Americans and Europeans.
84. Write your definition of the concept of discovery. Then use this definition to demonstrate that Columbus was or was not the person who discovered America.
85. What was the nature of slavery in Africa before the arrival of the Spanish?
86. Are the conquistadores to be considered villains or heroes for their actions in the Americas?
87. Describe the Aztec civilization and the effect that European conquest had on it.
2. Essay Questions
99. What lessons do you think English colonists learned from their early Jamestown experience? Focus on matters of fulfilling expectations, financial support, leadership skills, and relations with the Indians. What specific developments illustrate that the English living in the plantation colonies tried to apply these lessons?
100. In many ways, North Carolina was the least typical of the five plantation colonies. Describe the unique features of colonial North Carolina and explain why this colony was so unlike its southern neighbors.
101. Write your definition of progress. Then use this definition to demonstrate that the discovery of America did or did not lead to progress in human history.
102. Which one of the following do you think made the most important contribution to European expansion: Renaissance thought, the search for new trade routes, or new developments in technology? Explain your choice.
103. Rank the items in the following list, starting with the one that you think had the most important consequences. Then justify your ranking. Finally, speculate as to what might have happened had these events not occurred.

a. The cultivation of tobacco in Virginia

b. The introduction of slavery into the plantation colonies

c. The “enclosing” of croplands in England


104. Why was tobacco called a poor man’s crop and sugar a rich man’s crop?
105. Discuss English treatment of the Irish and its consequences.
3. Essay Questions
122. Select any combination of two of the three colonial settlement areas (South, New England, middle) and compare and contrast them. Focus on the motives of their founders, religious and social orientation, economic pursuits, and political developments.
123. To what degree was the government of Massachusetts Bay simultaneously theocratic, democratic, oligarchic, and authoritarian?
124. Discuss the similarities and differences between the Confederation of New England and the Dominion of New England. Be sure to cite the date of the founding, state the reasons for their creation, describe how they functioned and what they accomplished, and explain why they were ultimately abandoned.
125. Write your definition of religious fanatic. Then use this definition to argue that the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay were or were not religious fanatics.
126. State and explain your position on whether or not political authority should be used to enforce a particular view of morality. Then explain why you would or would not have been in favor of banishing Roger Williams and/or Anne Hutchinson from Massachusetts Bay.
127. Construct a definition of Puritanism using the concepts of predestination, calling, covenant, Protestant ethic, and conversion.
128. Which of the New England or middle colonies would you have preferred to live in? Explain your answer by discussing your selection’s social, economic, political, religious, and ethnic characteristics.
129. In your opinion, which three of the twelve colonies founded in the seventeenth century made the most significant contributions to the perennial American values of democratic self-government, educational opportunity, religious toleration, social plurality, and economic materialism? Explain your choice.
130. Make a list of the motives of English people who migrated to America in the seventeenth century. Rank the items in the list from most important to least important. Then justify your ranking.
131. Write your interpretation of John Winthrop’s comment that Massachusetts Bay was to be “as a city upon a hill” and “a beacon to mankind.” In your opinion, do Americans still hold this view of their nation’s role in the world? Why or why not?
132. Some historians have argued that Puritanism was especially suited for life in the wilderness of seventeenth-century America. Do you agree? Why or why not?
4. Essay Questions
72. Compare and contrast the economies, geography and climate, mortality rates, sex ratios, and family relationships of New England and the southern colonies. In which of the two regions would you have preferred to live? Why?
73. Why did colonial masters first adopt the institution of indentured servitude rather than Indian or black slavery to meet their demands for labor? Why, then, did black slavery replace indentured servitude?
74. Were distinctions of wealth and status widening or narrowing as the seventeenth century drew to a close? Why?
75. Write your definition of racism. Then use this definition to argue that the origin of slavery in colonial America was or was not primarily the result of English racism.
76. Write your definition of mass hysteria. Then use this definition to argue that the Salem witchcraft episode was or was not a simple case of mass hysteria.
77. Which do you think was the main cause of Bacon’s Rebellion: resentment felt by backcountry farmers, Governor Berkeley’s Indian policies, or the pressure of the tobacco economy? Justify your choice.
78. Describe what you think town life contributed to the life-style of New Englanders; then consider what was the consequence of the absence of towns in the colonial South.
79. Argue either that an “American” way of life had emerged by the end of the seventeenth century or that two wholly distinct ways of life, one New England and the other southern, had emerged by the end of the seventeenth century.

5. Essay Questions
88. Summarize the key features of the American population in the early eighteenth century. Consider its sources, size, location, diversity, and mobility.
89. Did differences in wealth and status in the colonies increase or diminish from 1700 to 1750? Explain.
90. Explain how the Great Awakening, an intensely religious movement, contributed to the development of the separation of church and state in America.
91. Write your definition of religious fundamentalism. Then use this definition to argue that the Great Awakening was or was not a movement of religious fundamentalists.
92. Write your definition of democracy. Then use this definition to argue that colonial politics had or had not become democratic by 1760.
93. Early America was not a world of equality and consensus, yet many immigrants poured in, seeing America as a land of opportunity. How could they draw such a conclusion?

Unit 1


6. Essay Questions
75. Compare and contrast the French colonies in North America with their British and Spanish counterparts. Consider, for example, location, timing, economy, political organization, and religious influences.
76. Why did the Ohio Valley become the arena of conflict between the French and British in America?
77. Write your definition of world war. Then use this definition to argue that the French and Indian War was or was not a world war.
78. Write your definition of nationalism. Then use this definition to argue that the French and Indian War was or was not a nationalizing experience for colonial Americans.
79. Which of the following do you think contributed most to the British victory in the French and Indian War: the leadership of William Pitt, the aid of American colonists, or the skill of the British regulars? Feel free to cite a reason of your own. Justify your choice.
80. The French and Indian War has also been called the “Great War for Empire.” Explain why this might be an appropriate name for this war.
81. It is sometimes observed that the roots of future wars lie in the results of past wars. In what ways does it appear that the French and Indian War helped to cause the American Revolutionary War?
82. Suppose that the French had won the French and Indian War. What do you think would have been the consequences for the British colonies in America in both the short and long run?

7. Essay Questions
97. Explain the relationship between mercantilism, the Navigation Laws, and British efforts to create an administrative structure for their empire after 1696.
98. Given that the Quebec Act did not apply to the thirteen seaboard colonies, why did the act create such a stir of protest among them?
99. What were the major advantages and disadvantages of the British and the colonists, respectively, as the American Revolutionary War began? What would Britain have to do to win? What would the colonists have to do to win?
100. What does the phrase point of no return mean to you? Identify that point in colonial-British relations between 1760 and 1776 and explain why you picked that event/date.
101. Write your definition of conspiracy. Then use this definition to argue that the colonists were or were not victims of a British conspiracy to rob them of their liberties.
102. Both the British and the colonists were devoted to the principle of “No taxation without representation.” This being true, how did both taxation and representation become major sources of controversy between the colonists and Parliament?
103. In what ways were the mercantilist policies of the British burdensome to the colonists? In what ways were they beneficial? From this comparison, draw a conclusion about the effects of mercantilism and the Navigation Laws on British-colonial relations up to 1763.
104. Which of the following do you think was most responsible for the conflict between Britain and its American colonies: the ineptness of parliamentary leadership, the colonists’ behavior, the high-handedness of King George III, the British mercantilist system and Navigation Laws, or the actions of British officials in the colonies? Justify your choice.
105. List the following in order of their importance to colonial protest: pamphlets, boycotts, mob action, committees of correspondence. Justify your ranking.
106. It might be said that it was the British who were revolutionaries in 1763 and the colonists who were conservatives attempting to preserve the status quo. Explain.
107. The text authors comment, “Insurrection of thought usually precedes insurrection of deed.” What do they mean? In what ways is this generalization an accurate description of the coming of the American Revolutionary War?


108. Create a scenario for the period 1763–1776 to demonstrate that the American Revolutionary War and colonial independence from Great Britain were not inevitable.
109. Historians have argued for many years over why the Revolution occurred. In your opinion, what school of thought is the most convincing, and why?

8. Essay Questions
109. What qualities in George Washington made him a good choice for commanding the Revolutionary army? What were his most valuable contributions to independence?
110. The combat of the Revolutionary War began in spring 1775. Why did colonists wait until the summer of 1776 to declare independence?
111. Account for the widespread and enthusiastic colonial reception of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.
112. Colonists had debated with Parliament and protested its actions since 1763. Why, then, did the Declaration of Independence single out King George III as the tyrant threatening their liberties?
113. Write your definition of loyalty. Then explain why the Loyalists were held in such low regard and treated with abuse during the Revolutionary War.
114. List the three most important battles of the Revolutionary War. Justify your selections.

115. Many historians argue that without French aid the colonies could never have won their independence. Do you agree or disagree? Why?


116. Thomas Jefferson was a slaveowner. Why, then, did he state in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”?
117. Explain why the text’s authors conclude that the Franco-American alliance was “not prompted by a love for America but by a realistic concern for the interests of France.” In what ways did the French contribute to colonial independence?
118. It is often argued that the British “lost” the Revolutionary War more than the Americans “won” it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Unit 2

9. Essay Questions
92. Why didn’t the leaders of the American Revolution extend their spirit of equality to the abolition of slavery and giving women the right to vote?
93. Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, especially in regard to the specific powers granted by each to the national government.
94. Write your definition of democracy. Then use this definition to evaluate the Constitution as it was penned in 1787. In what ways was it a democratic document, and in what ways did it guard against democracy?
95. In what way was anticolonialism established as a legacy of the American Revolution? How, then, did the United States establish a justification for its own future territorial expansion?
96. Historian Charles Beard described the Constitution as the “reactionary” phase of the Revolutionary era. What did he mean by this, and what could have led him to this conclusion?
97. Had you been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, how would you have voted on such issues as representation, taxation, regulation of commerce, and the slave trade? Why?
98. Had you been a delegate to a state convention charged with considering ratification of the Constitution, which way would you have voted? Why?
99. List all the reasons why the Articles of Confederation needed to be replaced in order of importance, starting with the most important reason. Justify your selection and arrangement.
100. Thomas Jefferson observed that “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.” What was the context of his remark? What was Jefferson warning against?
101. According to the text’s authors, “In some respects, the hated British Navigation Laws were more disagreeable after independence than before.” What is the basis for their conclusion?
102. Thomas Jefferson once said he believed that “all the good” of the new Constitution might have been accomplished by simply amending the Articles of Confederation. According to the text’s authors, it is probably a good thing that the Founding Fathers did not merely amend the Articles of Confederation. With which position do you agree? Why?
103. Assume that the Constitution had not been ratified by the state conventions. What do you think would have been the short- and long-term consequences?

10. Essay Questions
111. What was to be the purpose of the National Bank? What particular functions would it perform?
112. Compare and contrast “loose” and “strict” constructionism. What is the basis of support for each position?
113. What was the importance of the Whiskey Rebellion?
114. Compare and contrast the Federalists and Republicans, especially their views on democracy, government power, the economy, and foreign affairs.
115. Which sectional and economic groups generally supported the Federalists and which the Republicans? Why?
116. Write your definition of democracy. Then use this definition to argue that Jefferson or Hamilton was the better spokesperson for democratic government in the 1790s.
117. How would you have voted on funding, assumption, the National Bank, and protective tariffs in Hamilton’s program? Explain why you would advocate strict or loose constructionism.
118. In which party, Federalist or Republican, would you have been most comfortable? Why?
119. Describe what you think would be Hamilton’s assessment of government in the United States today. Describe what you think Jefferson’s assessment would be.
120. According to the text’s authors, “critics claimed [Hamilton] loved his adopted country more than he loved his countrymen.” Rephrase this statement in your own words; then supply evidence supporting the statement.
121. The text’s authors claim that “it was fortunate for the Republic that the Federalists had the helm [control of the government] for a time.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
122. What was the relationship between the French Revolution and American domestic politics in the 1790s?
123. Summarize the central argument of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions. Explain why they are key documents in American history.
124. Very early in its national history, the United States established a tradition of isolationism in its foreign policy. How did the Neutrality Proclamation and Washington’s Farewell Address contribute to this tradition?

125. Write your definition of majority rule. Then use this definition to argue that the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions were or were not a threat to majority rule.
126. Before 1790, American leaders denounced political parties. Explain why, nonetheless, political parties came into existence and what function they performed in the early Republic.
127. List as many First Amendment freedoms as you can think of. Now explain why the Jeffersonians were outraged at the Alien and Sedition Acts.
128. List the provisions of Jay’s Treaty. Which were most unsatisfactory to American interests? Why?
129. Which of the following do you think made the most important contribution to American national interests: Neutrality Proclamation, Farewell Address, Convention of 1800? Justify your selection.
130. John Adams called his peaceful resolution of the problems with France in 1800 “the most splendid diamond in my crown.” Why did he think so? Was his pride justified? Why or why not?
131. A diplomatic historian has said in reference to early American foreign policy that “Europe’s troubles became America’s opportunities.” What events of the 1790s would best illustrate the truth of this remark? Why?

11. Essay Questions
99. Why do the text’s authors refer to the case of Marbury v. Madison as “epochal”? Describe the short- and long-term ramifications of the decision.
100. What basis did Thomas Jefferson have for believing that American trade could be used as a diplomatic tool? Would you judge his economic coercion policy a failure or a success? Why or why not?
101. Write your definition of revolution. Then use this definition to argue that the “Revolution of 1800” was a real revolution or a more moderate “renovation” in American political history.
102. List at least three key principles of government advanced by Thomas Jefferson and the Republican party before 1800. Describe how these ideals fared during Jefferson’s administration. Were they translated into public policy? Explain how or, if not, why not.
103. Suppose you were a faithful Republican party adviser to President Jefferson in 1803. What arguments would you present in favor of the Louisiana Purchase? What arguments opposing the purchase would you have to counter?
104. “The day France takes possession of New Orleans we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation,” remarked President Jefferson. Why was he so alarmed?
105. The text’s authors believe that the Louisiana Purchase was “the most glorious achievement of Jefferson as president.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
106. Assess the Jeffersonian presidency. What do you think were his three most important legacies? Explain your choices.

12. Essay Questions
131. Why were internal improvements a controversial issue in the decade following the War of 1812?
132. Why was the West the region most seized with the spirit of nationalism following the War of 1812?
133. How might John Quincy Adam’s behavior in the Florida Purchase Treaty and Monroe Doctrine earn him the title “lone-wolf nationalist”?
134. Why did the United States reject the British foreign minister’s proposal for a joint declaration of opposition to any further colonization in the Western Hemisphere?
135. Write your definition of isolationism. Then use this definition to argue that the Monroe Doctrine was or was not an isolationist document.
136. Rank the following in the order of what you see as their importance in shaping America’s legal system: McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, Fletcher v. Peck, Dartmouth College v. Woodward, Cohens v. Virginia. Justify your ranking.
137. Which of the following made the most important contributions to American nationalism after the War of 1812: John Marshall, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams? Justify your selection.
138. The text’s authors claim that the Era of Good Feelings is “something of a misnomer” for the decade following the War of 1812. Do you agree? Why or why not?
139. Historians have sometimes referred to the program of the Jeffersonian Republicans after 1815 as “neo-Federalist.” Is this an accurate label? Why or why not?
140. During the Missouri debates, Thomas Jefferson expressed the fear that that “question, like a firebell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror.” Why? What was at stake in the Missouri debate that generated such profound concern?
141. The text’s authors crown John Marshall as “the foremost of the Molding Fathers,” whereas a contemporary newspaper editorial condemned him as “a man whose political doctrines led him always…to strengthen government at the expense of the people.” Which point of view do you think has the most substance? Why?
142. Which do you think was the most significant event of the decade following the Treaty of Ghent: panic of 1819, McCulloch v. Maryland, Florida Purchase Treaty, Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine? Justify your selection.

143. Why were the landlocked South and West so ardently in favor of a war for freedom of the seas that seafronting states in the East opposed?
144. Since both France and Britain were guilty of placing commercial restrictions on American trade, why did the United States declare war only on Britain?
145. Write your definition of victory. Then use this definition to argue that the United States did or did not win a victory over Great Britain in the War of 1812.
146. Write your definition of national independence. Then use this definition to argue that the War of 1812 should or should not be called the Second War for American Independence.
147. Which do you think was the major cause of the War of 1812: western war hawk territorial expansion, British violations of American neutrality rights on the high seas, or the urge to uphold national honor and pride? Justify your selection.
148. What do the text’s authors mean by stating that the War of 1812 “was ‘won’ by the United States, so far as it was won at all, in Europe”?
149. Regarding opposition to the War of 1812, the authors remark that “profits dull patriotism.” Is this a fair explanation of antiwar sentiment in 1812–1815? Why or why not?
150. What might the president and Congress have done in 1812 to avoid war with Britain and still maintain the nation’s honor?
Unit 3
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