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Early Modern Period US History

Early Modern Period US History


The Essay Prompt:

Each student is expected to compose one excellent essay of approximately 1250 words in length in response to the following prompt. Read the background and the question carefully!

Obviously, there are many ways to answer the question. Each essay will be judged on its own argument if it properly uses a multiplicity of course materials, and if it follows the Composition Guide.

Exam Question: (50 points)


This course has offered different narratives that have alluded to the influences of humans on the geographical region that became the political institution known as the United States of America. The story of the formation of the government of the United States of America was comprised of stories of a seemingly unlimited number of human societies that preceded the institution founded in 1776. Humans, however, were not native to North America. The story of the foundation, the redefinition, and perpetuation of the United States was one of diverse human cultures migrating to the continent, crashing into each other when populations expanded and space and resources were consumed, destroying each other when cultural desires and objectives came into conflict with those of other cultures, and transforming and consuming the environment and natural resources as the humans and their cultures moved across and then filled the continent. This pattern of human migration and consumption took place more than once as humans moved from other continents in search of resources and space during the paleolithic periods, during the era of discovery and expansion in the Early Modern Period, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as migrants poured into the ports of the British colonies and then the United States, and during the last two centuries as migrants have come by land and by air to the affluent nation. All of these peoples have radically consumed environmental resources, left behind their waste, and radically affected the non-human lifeforms. In the last two centuries, the economic culture of capitalism that prospered in the United States spread beyond its borders and affected the societies of the world, as well as the natural resources of the world.

Descriptions of this historical pattern of migration of humans and their ideas, the patterns of consumption, trade, and production of waste, and the transformation of the natural environment have appeared in the daily lectures by Dr. Hill, in the various assigned readings, and especially in Steinberg’s Down to Earth (4th ed.).

The Question:

  • Describe how the history of the United States connects to the history of the world based on the material from this course.
  • Yes, this is a ridiculously broad question, but it is the one that is required of all HIS 1300 courses.
  • Your response will be evaluated on how you compose a clear, well-organized argument responding to this broad question based upon this particular course’s themes and materials and how you use the assigned texts and course materials in the composition of your well-cited/well-documented response 

Instructions for the Essays:

  • Essays will be graded according to the quality of the argument, the use of course materials (assigned readings, lectures, sources presented in lectures), the adherence to the composition guide, and the absence of outside sources and—of course—of plagiarism.
  • Students should not use outside sources (i.e., sources outside of the course materials, which may be found in the course syllabus and schedule, and course lectures.)
    • The use of outside material that is properly cited will result in a deduction from the student’s score!
    • The use of outside material that is not properly cited will result in a larger deduction and likely the charge of plagiarism and the resulting penalties.
  • Plagiarism/Cheating: Per the syllabus, “Cheating, plagiarism, representing the work of others as one’s own, or any breach of the Honor Code will be dealt with according to University and Department policies, and the strongest penalty will be issued by the professor. This means that any work submitted under your name is expected to be your own, neither composed by anyone else in whole or in part, nor handed over to another person for complete or partial revision. Students are responsible for documenting all ideas that are not their own. Failure to provide citations for any work that is paraphrased or quoted may be understood by the professor and the Honor Council to be plagiarism. Instances of plagiarism or any other act of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Honor Council and may result in failure of the assignment and/or the course. Not understanding plagiarism is not an excuse. It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the Honor Code and other university policies and procedures affecting academic integrity. 

Essays will be checked thoroughly against the work of Baylor students, tens of thousands of essays from high schools and universities, internet sources, and published works.

  • A simple parenthetic citation (as illustrated below) is expected for all sources utilized by a student either for quotation, paraphrase, or even background information.
  • Examples of expected style of citations.
  • E., Crisp asserted that Fannin made a risky gamble by returning to Goliad as Fannin and his men might be isolated and susceptible were Santa Anna to take the Alamo (Crisp, 51).
  • D. Thoreau argued in the second chapter of Walden, “All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere” (Thoreau, Walden, 73).
  • Thomas Jefferson began his argument in the treatise, “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” with the assertion that America had been conquered by the efforts of free, individual British subjects without the assistance of the British government (Jefferson, A Summary View, 42).
  • Researchers have contended since the 1990s that Clovis people had a lifeway dependent on the hunting of megafauna like mammoth and mastodons of North America (Waguespack, “Clovis Hunting Strategies,” 333-334).
  • New England Puritans understood the world through the lens of covenants. These covenants were between individuals, between individuals and members of a society, between an individual and his God, and between a society and its God. (Hill, “Covenants & Contracts”).
  • J. Herman asserted that the Puritans’ confidence in divine providence was key to their understanding the North American environment and its animals as a providentially provided “paradise on earth” (Herman, Hunting and the American Imagination, 15).
  • If the quoted text is from an assigned text that was assigned via a website, no page numbers or website addresses are necessary for paraphrases or quotations.
  • Each essay should be approximately 1250 words in length. A good response cannot be composed in under 1100 words. Please do not go beyond 1250 words.
  • Essays are expected to follow all the elements of the composition guide.
  • Submission:
  • Essays must be submitted through the assigned portal on Canvas.
  • All essays will be checked for the use of outside sources and plagiarism through Turnitin once the responses are submitted through Canvas.

Composition Guide

Precision and Clarity: Essays will be evaluated on the clarity and quality of the thesis, the coherency of the argument, the relevance of the thesis and argument, the use of course materials, and the precision of the grammar.

Checklist for Essays: The following components are required for an acceptable essay.

  • Heading: Include a heading: Include the student’s name, course and section numbers, instructor’s name (properly spelled), date of submission, and essay title.
  • Page Numbers: All pages of the essay should include page numbers.
  • Format: All essays should be double-spaced, use Times New Roman, 12 font, and have 1-inch margins.
  • Thesis:
  • Have a clear, descriptive thesis statement. (E.g., Do not open with broad, overarching observations.)
  • The thesis should be in bold font.
  • Voice: Avoid the passive voice.
  • Person: Only use the 3rd Do not use first or second person pronouns or modifiers/adjectives/possessives.
  • Contractions: Do not use
  • Sources:
    • Essays should use (and in a reasonable fashion) the texts by Herman, Steinberg, and Remini, and likely Hill & White.
    • Good essays will also reference ideas (with citations) from one or more primary sources.
    • References to lectures by Hill may be relevant and may be cited in addition to the textual materials.
  • Citations:
  • Citations must be used to cite ANY idea referenced/used other than your own.
  • Thus, paraphrases and quotations should be noted throughout and only topic sentences and concluding sentences might not have a citation.
  • All other sentences should be based on evidence and thus warrant citations.
  • “However” should never be the first word in a sentence.
  • After writing out a person’s full name, refer to that person by their last name only (i.e., Henry David Thoreau is Thoreau and never Henry).
  • Explain your statements and assertions.
  • Pack each sentence with thought and evidence.

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