Writing Guidelines for History Identifications and Essays
Your essay should have an introductory paragraph that in some way summarizes, encapsulates, suggests, shapes, and/or sets up the ideas, themes, facts, or whatever you are going to discuss in the main body of your essay. In other words, you should set forth your thesis.
Here, in the main body of your essay, you should develop the principal ideas and themes, and support them with the appropriate facts. The main body will inevitably be several paragraphs long, perhaps a page or two or more, depending on what you want to say and the amount of material you include. Basically, the main body consists of as many paragraphs as you need to discuss the question at hand.
Also let me note that individual paragraphs generally begin with a topic sentence for that paragraph, follow that by a couple of sentences of development, then end with a sentence that forms a transition to the next paragraph.
Here in the conclusion is where you evaluate what you have discovered in your analysis, drawing conclusions based on the evidence you have presented.
Thoroughness and Specificity
Always be as thorough as you can in your answers, even in Discussion, because I have to grade the work you show me, not imagine what you know. Make sure you cover all of the main events, elements, or aspects of what you are answering, with at least some brief explanation of each. Use specific examples.
One way to make sure your answers are thorough is to address "who, what, when, where, why, and how" in each answer. Make sure you also analyze cause and effect and historical significance wherever possible. Try writing your answers as though you are explaining the item to someone who never heard of it before.
Richard Hofstadter subtitles his essay on President Theodore Roosevelt somewhat paradoxically as depicting "The Conservative as Progressive." This is, of course, only possible in a system where things are being changed and destroyed as rapidly as they are in American capitalism; the notion of Schumpeterian "creative destruction." Yet I hope to demonstrate that Roosevelt's most celebrated "Progressive" tendencies were, in reality, extensions of what he would term the "bully pulplit" of elective office, and stand effectively as a radical critique of the American economic system.
The first way in which we can note the resistance of Roosevelt to the effects of capitalism is also the one for which Roosevelt is most highly regarded today: his stewardship of America's environment. Roosevelt would establish the National Park Service, which is usually widely recognized as his own attempt to creatify a uniform and militarized new atmosphere of "rejection" of American military values, in keeping with Hofstadter's theory that "it is customary to explain Theodore Roosevelt's personality as the result of compensation for physical inferiority" (Hofstadter 271) in the same method as anything else. Clearly Roosevelt was willing to set limits to the power of the market in order to preserve natural resources, in a definition which included our aesthetic resources as well.
Roosevelt's other reforms generally indicate a willingness to set limits to the power of the free market. For example, Roosevelt's championship of civil service reform was presented by him, in his speech to the New York state legislature, as being above ideology: "my object in pushing this measure is…to take out of politics the vast band of hired mercenaries whose very existence depends upon their success" (Morris 180). In other words, Roosevelt himself would offer the public defense in the New York State Legislature -- which is where he was when this reform was instituted first by New York's Governor Grover Cleveland, later elected as a Democratic President on two non-consecutive occasions. Roosevelt is likely to have understood civil service reform, therefore, as a form of pandering to public will on this particular issue. But I suggest it is noteworthy that he defines it in terms of the corruption of a paid relationship, by characterizing them as "mercenaries."
A final hallmark of Roosevelt's supposed "Progressive" agenda has always been considered with one aspect which, according to our own contemporary mores, no longer seems so: namely his imperialist tendencies. There is no doubt that Roosevelt considered America's role in the former Spanish territories won after Dewey took Manila to be a largely meliorist agenda that would improve conditions. But it is worth recalling the notorious poem by Rudyard Kipling, which is…