The Long Essay and some more possible essay choices for unit 3

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The Long Essay

General Information About the Writing Portions on the May AP US Exam:

This will be the second Essay you will write in Part 2…or the first YOUR choice…., The DBQ is also included in Part 2…You will have already completed the Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions in Part 1.

You will have a 15 minute reading period where you plan your 2 essays, DBQ and Long Essay… after which you may open your “blue book,” which is filled with blank lined paper for you to write your responses to the DBQ, and your choice of the 2 available Long Essay Questions.
Questions will be limited to topics or examples specifically mentioned in the concept outline. The essay will measure the use of historical thinking skills to explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. History as defined by the thematic learning objectives. Types of questions: Continuity and Change over time, Comparison, Causation, or Periodization [ this will be discussed in detail later in this piece  ]
You will have 1 hour and 30 minutes, to complete both questions…a 15 minute reading period and suggested writing times of 40 minutes on the DBQ and 35 minutes for the long essay….YOU may choose to spend your time writing as you see fit…but at the end of the 75 minutes (subtracted the 15 minute writing time) whatever you have written in the “blue book,” hopefully two great essays  will be graded and you will be done.

The Long Essay will focus on a specific THINKING SKILL…these four are the focus…

  1. Historical Causation:

Students should be able to:

-Compare causes and/or effects, including between short and long term effects.

-Analyze and evaluate the interaction of multiple causes and effect -Assess historical contingency by distinguishing among coincidence, causation, and correlation, as well as critiquing existing interpretations of cause and effect.

  1. Continuity and Change over Time

Students should be able to…

-Analyze and evaluate historical patterns of continuity and change over time

-Connect patterns of continuity and change over time to larger historical processes or themes

  1. Periodization

Students should be able to…
-Explain ways that historical events and processes can be organized within blocks of time.
-Analyze and evaluate competing models of periodization of U. S. history.

  1. Comparison

Students should be able to…
-Compare related historical developments and processes across place, time, and/or different societies or within one society
-Explain and evaluate multiple and differing perspectives on a given phenomenon
****Neither the DBQ nor the Long Essay will focus exclusively on events prior to 1607 or after 1980.

****To earn maximum points, the Long Essay asks you to do a few things:

  1. Write a thesis that directly addresses all parts of the question.[in introduction-and connected to body]

  2. Support your argument with evidence, using specific examples. [body]

  3. Apply Historical Thinking Skills as directed by the question. [body}

  4. Synthesize the elements above into a persuasive essay that extends your argument, connects it to a different historical context, or connects it to a different category of analysis. [in conclusion]

From The College Board: A Sample
Specifically using Support, Modify, or Refute….to address the Quesiton…

Part B: Long Essay Questions

Students will choose one of two long essay questions to answer in writing. The long essay requires that students demonstrate their ability to use historical evidence in crafting a thoughtful historical argument. For the sample questions presented here, students will analyze an issue using the historical thinking skills of historical argumentation and patterns of continuity and change over time.

As with any essay, a good response begins with the development of a relevant thesis. The Question in this sample set begins with a sentence describing a historical interpretation about continuity and change and then ask students to “support, modify, or refute” that interpretation. A solid thesis will take a stance that chooses one of these three options. In the rest of the essay, the student should provide evidence in a manner that is convincing, thoughtful, and built on a sound knowledge of historical information relevant to the topic.

The following question is meant to illustrate an example of a question that might appear in this part of the exam.

Question: Some historians have argued that the American Revolution was not revolutionary in nature. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.

. What Good Responses Will Include

A good response to this particular question will support, modify, or refute the interpretation that the American Revolution was not revolutionary in nature.

An Essay Supporting the Interpretation: An essay supporting this interpretation would craft an argument using specific evidence that shows the American Revolution did not foster revolutionary change but instead maintained continuity. Although not required to do so, a good response might also acknowledge that the situation is nuanced and to some degree ambiguous. The essay might therefore contend that for the most part, the historical evidence supports the claim made in the question stem, while pointing out that some contrary evidence exists as well.

In supporting the interpretation, a good essay might cite historical facts from any of a number of appropriate areas. It might note, for example, that the outcome of the American Revolution saw no broad change in the composition of those who dominated the social, political, and economic structure of the former colonies. Those individuals who were wealthy, powerful, and influential before the event continued to possess wealth, power, and influence later. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson could serve as examples. This approach would argue that the Revolution was basically a revolt by colonial elites against the elites in England.

Another analysis supporting the assertion made in the exam question might draw upon the work of historian Charles Beard, who famously argued that the creation of the Constitution in the late 1780s was a counterrevolution. Beard contended that the Constitution was created to maintain commercial and landowning elites’ power, influence, and standing in the face of events such as Shays’s Rebellion and other attempts at revolutionary change. Note that since the question does not confine the response to a particular time period, it would be appropriate to cite events and other evidence from the 1780s in the essay.

Other good responses might analyze the absence of revolutionary change for groups such as women, slaves, and Native Americans following the Revolution. In the case of women, the revolutionary rhetoric about natural rights did not result in their obtaining political or economic independence. Neither did the Revolution significantly change the plight of most slaves. While Northern states began to outlaw slavery, the vast majority of slaves lived in Southern states where their conditions were largely unchanged. Native Americans actually lost liberty.

An Essay Written to Refute the Interpretation: Conversely, a good response might take the opposite approach and refute the assertion cited in the exam question, using persuasive evidence to contend
that the Revolution was revolutionary in nature and that significant change did occur. This argument could point to a significant change in government, in that the Revolution did away with royal power and authority and instead substituted written state constitutions guaranteeing a republican form of government. In

a similar vein, a good response might note that the Revolution did away with certain aristocratic practices such as primogeniture (which limited inheritance of land to the eldest son). This led to the possibility of a greater dispersion of the ownership of land.

Other appropriate arguments refuting the interpretation might assert that the Revolutionary period resulted in the spread of American democratic culture. The rise of pamphleteering prior to the Revolution indicated democratization in politics, as did the growing enfranchisement of citizens. A good response might point out that voter participation grew immediately before and following the Revolution, setting the stage for even greater democratization in the early 19th century. Natural rights rhetoric about liberty and equality, furthermore, gave women and African Americans a basis for combatting legal inequalities that limited their roles in society.

An Essay written to Modify the Interpretation: Finally, a good response might instead choose to modify the interpretation presented in the question. In all likelihood, this approach would emphasize that the totality of evidence is not clear-cut: that the American Revolution was in some ways revolutionary but in other ways was not. To make this argument, a good response would probably select facts supporting each of the two possibilities listed above, presenting proof that the Revolution was ambiguous.

In all of the above cases, a strong response will demonstrate knowledge of relevant chronology and incorporate a detailed understanding of historical events, arguments, and circumstances.

*********Some Sample Questions that would fit this style from Unit 3 are: [more samples at the end]****

  1. Some Historians have argued that the Election of 1800 was not revolutionary in nature. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.

  2. Some Historians have argued that the Era of Good Feelings was a misnomer. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.

  3. Some Historians have argued that Thomas Jefferson while President of the United States, 1801 -1809, was consistently inconsistent. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.

  4. Some Historians have argued that the election of Andrew Jackson brought a dramatic change to politics because he was a backwoods barbarian ill suited to be president rather than a continuation of the trend of the common man gaining power in our political system. Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, providing specific evidence to justify your answer.

The Sample Question we will look at today is slightly different… it does not ask you to support, refute, or modify a statement… it is more similar to a standard essay…
The Question:
Evaluate the extent to which trans-Atlantic interactions from 1600 to 1763 contributed to maintaining continuity as well as fostering change in labor systems in the British North American Colonies.
Obviously the Question has a focus on Continuity and Change over time.
As you look at the Rubric I have supplied to you from the College Board….You can earn up to 6 points on the Long Essay.

  1. Thesis (0-1point)

The thesis should include the ideas of continuity (what and how things stayed the same over the time period) and change over time (what changed and how things changed over the time period)
Does the Essay state a thesis that directly addresses all parts of the question? The Thesis must do more than restate the question.

  1. Support for Argument (0-2 points)

Part of the argument should stress what & how things stayed the same over time.

Part of the argument should stress what & how things changed over time.
Supports the stated thesis (or makes a relevant argument) using specific evidence – 1point

Supports the stated thesis (or makes a relevant argument) using specific evidence, clearly and consistently stating how the evidence supports the thesis or argument, and establishes clear linkages between the evidence and the thesis or argument. – 2 points

  1. Application of targeted historical thinking skill (0-2 points)

Essays should specifically link examples to continuity and change
Describes historical continuity and change over time – 1 point
Describes historical continuity and change over time, analyzes specific examples that illustrate historical continuity and change over time.

  1. Synthesis (0-1 point)

Essays can earn a synthesis point by crafting a persuasive and coherent essay….HOW?... This can be accomplished by providing A CONCLUSION that extends or modifies the analysis in the essay, by introducing another category of historical analysis, or by making a connection to another historical period or context.
For example:

  1. extending or modifying analysis…discussing how the continuity or change in labor produced a race based labor system had long-term impacts on the British Colonies or United States…or a longer discussion about the exploitation of labor.

  2. Introducing another category of historical analysis…discussing how the continuity or change in labor affected economics or politics and impacted the colonies over the long-term.

  3. Making a connection to another period or events/context…. Discussing how the continuity and change in labor systems were connected to the American Revolution, sectionalism in the antebellum period, or Reconstruction.

******Activity: You will now read the three essays and grade them using the Rubric provided and the explanation that we have discussed and is provided above…. Make sure to rate them High – Med – Low…AND give them a number grade from 0 – 6. You should take notes so that you can JUSTIFY your grade on EACH ESSAY… and so that we can discuss this in our groups and as a class….

Other types HISTORICAL THINKING SKILLS assessed by the Long Essay and the Rubric parts for those…. You will see these offered on your Essay on Friday
******REMEMBER: THE RUBRIC WILL ALWAYS ASSESS – THESIS, SUPPORT FOR ARGUMENT (applied to thinking skill with specific examples) AND SYNTHESIS…what WILL CHANGE WILL BE THE HISTORICAL THINKING SKILL ASSESSED… here are the RUBRICS, for the other three types of essays…

Describes Similarities AND Differences among historical developments. 1 point
Describes Similarities AND Differences among historical developments, providing specific examples and analyzes the reasons for their similarities and/or differences OR (depending on the prompt) evaluates the relative significance of the historical developments. 2 points

1 Compare and contrast the characteristics and influences of two of the three major sections of the United States by the mid-19th century.
Describes Causes and/or Effects of a historical development. 1 point
Describes Causes and/or Effects of a historical development and analyzes specific examples that illustrate Causes and/or Effects of a historical development. 2 points

Describes the ways in which the historical development specified in the prompt was different from or similar to developments that proceeded or followed. 1 point
Analyzes the extent to which the historical development specified in the prompt was different from AND similar to developments that proceeded and/or followed, using specific examples to illustrate the analysis. 2 points
Sample essays focusing on periodization could be:
1 Analyze the ways in which Jeffersonian Democracy and Jacksonian Democracy influenced the United States from 1800 to 1850.
*******Make sure to evaluate the Other Sample Questions given… to determine the correct historical thinking skill being assessed and the proper approach needed to answer the question.

Unit 3 Essay Topics [Chapters 11 – 15]

Support – Refute – Modify

You must show ONE of the Historical Thinking Skills in your essays (Continuity/Change Over Time, Comparison, Causation, Periodization)

  • Although the power of the Federal Government increased from 1790 -1840 often this power faced serious opposition. Compare the motives and effectiveness of those opposed to the growing power of the National Government in two (2) of the following:

Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

Louisiana Purchase

Missouri Compromise

Nullification Crisis

  • Analyze the extent to which two (2) of the following influenced the continuous development of democracy between 1800 and 1840:

The Election of 1800

Era of the “Common Man”

2nd Great Awakening

Westward Movement


  • Analyze and evaluate the ways to which one (1) of the following influenced U.S. Foreign Policy from 1800 – 1850:

Monroe Doctrine

Texas Revolution

Manifest Destiny

  • Both Nationalism and Sectionalism increased from 1800 – 1850. Did one become of greater importance in the economics and politics of the nation?

  • To what extent and in what ways did the role of women change in American Society from 1790 t0 1860. Consider (2) of the following:





  • To what extent does the transportation revolution bring about change from 1800-1850? Consider two of the following:




  • How did two of the following contribute to the re-emergence of the two-party system in the period 1820-1840?

Major Political Personalities

States Rights

Economic Issues

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