Samples of Writing Assignment I

The following are sample A and B Writing Assignment I's submitted by recent students. They are from several of my classes, but all are the format for Writing Assignment I, except that some have more than the required three sources.

(History 111)

Many countries believed that power and strength was measured by the colonies the country ruled. Countries in Asia and Europe had many post and colonies spread out throughout the world. Later the United States became a centralized empire and sought to expand it’s power. I believe that the idea of social darwinism was the most crucial factor that led to United States imperialism, and also influenced the thought of superiority over the so thought “uncivilized” people of the invaded land. The idea of social darwinism was influence by a scientist named Charles Darwin, and his theory of natural selection. Social darwinism implied that society was a test and only the strong survive and the weak die off, this idea justified the countries thought that other land and people that were weaker deserved to be ruled and conquered because it was the natural thing to do. In the US age of empire, islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines were the main targets for colonization. 

Taking over other land was really easy for the United States because they were so advanced. The US were a powerful country with a strong military that could control any other land that was thought to be inferior and uncivilized. The US was aware of this and thought it was just a matter of time and choice as a political cartoon by Boston Globe, “Well, I Hardly Know Which to Take First.”, illustrates.( 1898, The cartoon is a scene where Uncle Sam is a customer at a restaurant and is being waited on by President William Mckinley. Uncle Sam is looking at the layout of the menu with options resembling the bill of fare which include Cuba Steak, Porto Rico Pig, Philippines Floating Islands and Sandwich Islands. The caption says, “Well, I hardly know which to take first!” while Uncle same has a big grin on his face. The cartoon conveys the US attitude of superiority by showing that they wanted to take all the options and that it was as easy having to  pick which one is to go first.

The United States thought of themselves as a high power empire and that other countries and lands were beneath them. They believed that there way was the best and that others needed to conform to the United States way of life whether they wanted to or not. This way way of thinking was part of social darwinism which stated that “the poor require assistance because they aren’t as fit, so the rich should help them out (notes 2012, This “help” given to other people established superiority as you can see in an illustration by Fred Morgan, “Holding His End Up” (1898, The illustration is of Uncle Sam in the center putting on a circus-like act for other countries to showcase the US military power and the power over their colonies. Uncle Sam is shown as a strong man being able to balance and control uncivilized children that are labeled as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Philippines, and Ladrones Isles. The drawing shows three savage-like children posing and conforming to Uncle Sam’s power as if they were trained to do so. But in his hands it shows two other savage-like children who still needed to be “trained”. The drawing generally shows the US power in being able to dominate and control other land and it’s people.

Social darwinism being a factor in US imperialism was also a factor in trying to conform the colonies and civilized them because they felt it was the United State’s right to do so. The US though the best way to assimilate the colonized people was through educating the children. An example of wanting to educate the children to the way of the US, is an illustration by Louis Dalrymple called “School Begins” (1899, The illustration is of a United States classroom being taught by Uncle Sam. The classroom is set up were there are four children that represent Hawaii, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba sitting in the front row looking scared and unwilling to comply while Uncle Sam is saying “Now, children, you’ve got to learn these lessons whether you want to or not! But just take a look at the class ahead of you, and remember that, in a little while, you will feel as glad to be here as they are!” The caption is referring to the white children in the back who are reading and learning on their own.

In conclusion the late 1800’s were a time where the US empire was booming and they wanted to expand. There were many influences that led to imperialism, but I believe the main reason was social darwinism and their belief that they were superior and had the right to do as they pleased.

The Reconstruction Era and Black Suffrage

Sectional division played an active role in U.S. politics dating as far back as the colonization of the British in America.Due to different climates and geographic location, varying economies were developed between the North and South. The South was more agriculturally motivated and relied on the export of farmed goods to generate revenue, where the North was motivated through trade export and fishing. The South used slaves to work and even run plantations and farms, where the North did not need nor truly agree in having a slave. The differences between the North and South influenced their attitude on several issues involving the nation’s well-being, including slavery. As the sectional differences grew between the North and South, tension increased to the point that individual states could no longer create solutions, leading to the Civil War.As a result of the Civil War, Society had mixed views on the role of the federal government with respect to black suffrage and race relations during the Reconstruction Era, lending to a long road of Civil Rights for African Americans.

Congress, political parties, whites, blacks, and even the President had conflicting views on race relations, creating controversy and problems within the states. “The Freedman’s Bureau!” (1866, artist unknown,, which states, “An agency to keep the Negro in idleness at the expense of the white man. Twice vetoed by the President, and made a law by Congress. Support Congress & you support the Negro Sustain the President & you protect the white man,”is one of a series of racist posters against Radical Republicans, on the topic of black suffrage. In particular, this was published during the election of a governor running on a white supremacy platform supporting Andrew Johnson, due to President Johnson vetoing the Civil Rights Bill that was enforced by Congress. There is so much going on in this poster; the white men working while the black man lounges, support congress and you are not in support of the white man, the white man must work to keep his children and pay his taxes, the list goes on and on. Basically, many felt that if you supported the “freedman” you were against the whites, that the roles were now reversed from the black slaves supporting the wealth and freedom of the white man, and that now whites were working on behalf of the blacks freedom. This poster portrays how different the views were between the government and Society as a whole with regard African American rights during the Reconstruction Era.

Despite Amendments and new laws passed by the federal government, Southern whites in society looked for any means possible to effectively eliminate the new freedoms of African Americans. The 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave African American men the right to vote stating that the, “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” In the cartoon, "Everything Points to a Democratic Victory This Fall," also referred to as, “White Citizen league barring Black voters,” featured in Harper’s Weekly (October 31, 1874, Jim Crown in America), two voting lines are portrayed, one for colored people and one for whites. There is also a sign that reads “ Notice No N**** Votes here”, despite the 15th amendment and being freed from slavery, white’s did whatever they could to keep the two races separate. After the Civil War, Southern States passed discriminatory legislation known as The Black Codes of 1866 allowing for the civil rights of black citizens to be compromised.

The rights of African Americans continued to be compromised by whites in society despite the constitutional amendments; however, civil rights, justice and equality are still sought after. In Thomas Nast’s political cartoon “To Thine Own Self Be True, “ featured in Harper’s Weekly (April 24, 1875,, a Civil Rights Bill is being passed between woman Columbia (representing America) and an African American. The bill reads, “The equality of all men and women before the law, Civil Rights Bill. It is the duty of the government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political. Signed by the President, U.S. Grant.” This cartoon portrays the role the government is playing in passing the Civil Rights Bill and creating equal rights for African Americans, although once vetoed by President Andrew Johnson is finally pushed through under the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. The passing of the Bill of Rights marked an important milestone on the road of Civil Rights for African Americans.

 Throughout the Reconstruction era, society had mixed views on race relations and the role of the federal government after the Civil War, as shown in “The Freedman’s Bureau,” (1866) and "Everything Points to a Democratic Victory This Fall,” (1874). However, constitutional amendments; 13 which abolished slavery, 14 which defines citizenship and protects a persons political and civil rights from being “abridged or denied by any state”, and 15 giving African Americans the right to vote, all played an integral role in pursuing African American Civil Rights. Finally, after previous attempts, Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws, several Acts and Constitutional Amendments, rights, justice, and equality are received, through the passing of The Bill of Rights, as shown in, “To Thine Own Self Be True,” (1875). Thus proving that although views were mixed among parties; African Americans, Society, and the federal government have embarked on the long road for African Americans Civil Rights.

The Progressive Era in the United States was a time when women were expanding their role in society. Modern conveniences had paved the way for women to become interested in many different areas that they previously did not have the time to consider such as education, political activism, and social concerns. However, not everyone was content to see women changing their traditional functions. Many men of the Progressive Era felt threatened by the changing roles of women away from their primary occupation as traditional homemakers. 

Some men feared that if their wife pursued an education, she would no longer be content with her traditional role of homemaker. In the 1901 photograph by R.Y. Young titled, “The New Woman Wash Day” a man is shown glaring at his wife as he does the laundry while she sits contentedly reading a paper entitled “Truth.” Although the photograph is humorous, it illustrates an underlying uneasiness that men felt as women pursued more intellectual pursuits. They were afraid that women would not be content to continue in their traditional roles and that they might have to contribute to the household duties. In reality, due to time saving appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, and ready to wear clothing, women were able to pursue outside interests and still maintain a home.

Many men believed that if their wife became involved in political activism they would ignore their traditional duties of wife and mother. In Tom Fleming’s 1915 political cartoon, “The Home or Street Corner for Woman – Vote No on Woman Suffrage” he reflects the fear of men of that era by depicting a sweet, loving mother holding a cute baby on the left side and a demonic, shrew like woman holding a flyer for a political rally on the right side with the words “what do you prefer?” The cartoon was used to persuade men to vote no on women’s suffrage. If women did not have the right to vote, they would remain home and continue in their traditional roles. The message of the cartoon was that if one’s wife was involved in political activism she would turn into a crazy person that was not involved with her family. She would ignore her maternal responsibilities and put her political activism first. In actuality, women activists like Margaret Sanger were devoted mothers as well as important political activists. 

 Some men were worried that if women got involved with social issues, they might be forced to change their immoral but lucrative business practices. During this era, women had the time to be very concerned with the terrible conditions that existed for the poor. Child labor was unregulated and rampant due to the new industrial machines and assembly lines that a child could work. Prostitution was accepted and considered necessary so as not to burden a wife, primarily due to a lack of information on sex. The October 9, 1915 political cartoon by Merle De Vore Johnson, “I did not Raise my Girl to be a Voter” comments on those fears by showing a girl labeled “anti” singing to a chorus of men labeled “procurer, dive-keeper, child labor-employer, grafter, cadet, and sweat shop owner” while a man labeled “political boss” conducts her. The message of the cartoon reflects the opinion of the day in that if women did not get the vote, those types of men would be able to go on with their immoral business practices; if women did get the vote they would use their power to change those practices. These types of businessmen were correct to feel threatened by the social activism of women of this era. Women formed the National Consumers League and worked to enact important reforms such as child labor and sweatshop reforms.

 Because of time saving appliances and consumer goods, the Progressive Era gave women the freedom to pursue educational, political, and social activities. However, this new ability for women to pursue interests outside of the home was a new situation for men as well. Some men felt threatened by women’s change from traditional homemaker to intellectual and/or activist. Many were against Women’s Suffrage and the changes they felt would occur with women obtaining the right to vote. They were wrong to be afraid that women could not be loving wives and mothers as well as social and political activists. However those engaged in immoral business practices were right to feel threatened by socially and politically motivated Progressive Era women who did indeed work to to enact important social and political reforms.

(History 105)

The Roman occupation of Britain during the period of 500 BC was the catalyst for widespread change among the Celtic people, as would be expected. In the era leading up to the occupation the Roman historian Tacitus brought back a less than flattering review of the people he had observed during his time in the north in "Germania"( ). “Whenever they are not fighting. They pass much of their time in the chase, and still more in idleness, giving themselves up to sleep and to feasting, the bravest and the most warlike doing nothing…” He noted how their homes were “rude masses without ornament or attractiveness. . . .” It seemed that the only things these early people valued were fighting and feasting. However, the increasingly intricate quality of the art and beginning of written records under the foreign influence indicate that the Roman presence brought about a great shift in values among the Anglo-Saxon people to the point that skills were developed beyond uses solely for survival.

As the British Isles opened up to foreign trade and invasion, new tools and crafts made it across the channel. Specialization began to spread across the land. The Sutton Hoo purse lid of the7th century( ) is a prime example of the enhance desire for ornamentation. A generation before the increase Roman presence Tacitus said of the northern people that “[they] all wrap themselves in a cloak which is fastened with a clasp. or, if this is not forthcoming, with a thorn, leaving the rest of their person bare.” In fact he went as far as to say that slaves were not distinguishable from the masters in station or dress. Yet with the example set by their new Roman neighbors the wealthier Celts began showing off their possessions, like ornamented purses. And if the wealthy were acquiring them it was only because the tradesmen had learned the skill to make them in the first place. The Sutton Hoo lid was clearly not an import as it exemplifies the De Navarro style "typically dominated by continuously moving tendrils of various types, twisting and turning in restless motion across the surface" (Celtic art, Wikipedia), a Celtic design.

Intricate art was not the only change wrought by the appearance of the Romans. It could have been the prolonged nature of the Roman occupation or the seeming permanence of it that created a need within the Celtic people a desire to record their history and preserve a legacy. The Book of Kells (late 6th- early 9th century) is to this day perhaps the most iconic and most cherished symbol of Celtic heritage and pride. Monks took almost three hundred years painstakingly pouring over the illumination of the Book of Kells (, which is a mix of both record keeping and artistic flourish. The degree of planning, effort and attention to detail - staggering when considering that they worked in the cold abbeys by candle light under the constant threat of attack- highlights the importance of the work they were doing and the message they sought to preserve in an age where life was brutish and short. Aside from the gospels the monks preserved the artwork of this particular peace cannot be overlooked. Monks had to survive of the land at the monasteries the just the same as those in the villages and that was on top of the days spent in prayer. So it again shows the degree of care and pride taken by those who created the book that some much of it was channeled into mere decoration rather than simply getting the words on the page.

Finally, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (9th century) is an indication of the legacy the people of the time wished to preserve. Similar to the monks, the people had to live of the land and had for generations been at war with each other. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ( was thought to have been written and copied by a series of scribes and passed throughout the land. In the ages leading up to this period of time, stories and history were passed down through oral tradition as an entertaining past time. Traditionally in the British Isles it was only the monks who could read and write. But as a more refined civilization settled in around the Anglo-Saxons said refinement began to rub off. As Tacitus reported of the early people, “To pass an entire day and night in drinking disgraces no one.” And yet at the time of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, scribes were employed to record stories and thoughts. The society supported scribes- who by their scholarly nature would most likely not be out in a field by day nor wielding weapons with the warriors. The job of a scribe did not enhance daily life in a tangible way that would further the chance of survival and yet they were valued members of society all the same.

Although Celtic crosses and swirls and ornamented grave markers are proof that the early Celts put at least some worth on ornamentation, it was the skill specialization that came with the Roman occupation that really indicates where the values and the mindset of the Anglo-Saxon people were headed. This period of time was the first real indication that they found worth in the intangibles and that they were on the verge of shifting from a mostly drunken and war-faring scattering of tribes to a sustainable civilization.


Justifications and Blind Faith 

Legitimacy is an essential quality of a society because legitimacy is a quality that validates a society’s power and existence. Societies often look to legitimize their claims to power and to justify their actions by connecting its legitimacy to a perceived higher truth such as a religion. The uses of institutional religious support, religious imagery, the redefinition of religious duty, and other articulations of religion have been used to derive a sense of legitimacy for certain actions. The use of religion as a source of legitimacy played an important role in developing the Western World in the Middle Ages because the Church was at the apex of its power, which positioned it as the ultimate source of truth in the world. Similarly, the interplay of religion and legitimacy influenced England in the Middle Ages. Many aspects of Medieval England culture, such as warfare and the right to rule, sought to derive legitimacy from religion.

The portrayal of warfare in Medieval English literature in particular sought to derive legitimacy from the Christian religion. The Crusades sought to derive its legitimacy from religion. The literature during the English Crusades sought to justify the Crusades through use of religion such as The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a thirteenth century English fiction. An excerpt from The Travels of Sir John Mandeville shows how religion was articulated to legitimatize the Crusades:

For a cursed emperor of Persia, that hight Saures, pursued all Christian men to destroy them and to compel them to make sacrifice to his idols…And that was a great miracle, that God made for them [the Christians]…Insomuch, that one good Christian man in good belief should overcome and out-chase a thousand cursed misbelieving men…

(Source 1)

Literature like The Travels of Sir John Mandeville helped to legitimatize the Crusades by creating the notion that God had sanctioned the Crusades. In novels like The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, God appeared to sanction the Crusade through his intervention on behalf of the Christians. Also, literature like The Travels of Sir John Mandeville helps create a notion of religious superiority. The Persian emperor is portrayed as an evil murderer of Christians and as a worshiper of idols in the novel and these anti-Christian qualities translated into weaknesses on the battlefield against the Christian army. Medieval English literature used religion to justify the wars like the Crusades, and similarly other mediums would be similarly used. 

Art was another means through which religion was used to legitimize war in Medieval England. For example, the Purbeck Marble effigies of Knights at the Temple Church in London (1245) demonstrate how religion and art were used to legitimize the Crusades (Source 2). The marble effigies of these knights, who fought in the Crusades, in the church symbolize the kinights’ closeness to God. In presenting this closeness between the knights and God, the English Church managed to create a sense of legitimacy for the Crusades because it constructed a connection between the cause of the Crusades and God, the ultimate good to Medieval society. Art like marble effigies of Crusader knights help to construct a visual legitimacy between the cause of the Crusade and the God.

Religion played a role in legitimizing the right to rule during Medieval England. Religion was a necessary component in legitimizing a government’s right to rule. The manuscript, Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket (1250 AD), shows the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the hands of King Henry’s barons (Source 3). Henry tries to undermine the power of the Church, and he causes the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which causes public outcry. Henry undermines the Church’s power, and ultimately, ends up undermining his own legitimacy to rule. Henry regains his legitimacy by doing public penance, a religious activity. By realigning himself with the Christian faith, Henry’s rule is able to avoid a loss of legitimacy. Another English king, who endangered his rule by undermining the legitimacy afforded by religion, was King John. King John appointed of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a right of the pope, and this sparks a feud in which the Pope excommunicates John. King John’s excommunication causes internal rebellion in England because John’s right to rule had suffered a great loss of legitimacy. In order to restore his legitimacy, John makes England the pope’s fief at the pope’s written request (Source 4). The legitimacy provided by the Church and Christian faith was important in order to maintain one’s right to rule in Medieval England.

Religion was an essential source of legitimizing claims to governing and undertaking wars in Medieval England. Religion through the use of art and literature helped legitimize the goals of the Crusade in the mind of the English. Meanwhile religious support was necessary in maintaining one’s right to rule in Medieval England. Ultimately, religion in the Middle Ages consolidated itself as powerful source of legitimacy in England.

Throughout the early history of the area that is now England, many monarchs ruled the lands, often with an ironfist. Until the time of the Normanconquest, however, power was relatively decentralized through the numeroussmall kingships of the land. Normankings consolidated these smaller kingships underneath a more centralized, andtherefore more powerful, reign. Theabusive behavior of Norman-born kings - and the ensuing outcry from the people- heralded the inception of the ideal of an English monarch’s powers being limited.

Starting in the early 12th century, the heavy-handed ruling of Norman kings had started stirring voices of dissent amongst thecommoners. An excerpt from the Worchester Chronicle titled “Those who work, Those who fight, Those who prey- The Dream of Henry I” (1140, a fictitious dream in which the current monarch, Henry I, is confronted by the angry appeals of farmers and knights who demand lower taxes. Though imagined by the producers of the pamphlet,this brief article reveals that the greater populace desired to have a voice in the king’s decisions. The third segmentof the dream reinforces this idea, showing King Henry I submitting to the people’s desires by instating lower taxes for the next seven years. The publishers must have felt that they were truly acting as the public’s voice if they did not cower from the possibility ofHenry’s swift vengeance for such flagrant slander. This indicates support not only amongst thelowest peasants, but also amongst minor nobles and other law keepers.

Discontent with Norman rule drove some to outright revolt in attempts to bring relief from the oppression suffered. Book 2, Chapter 5, The Church Historians of England, volume IV, part II (William of Newburgh, 1189, a revolt by the Welsh that was put down at a mere inconvenience to the Norman king, Henry of Essex. This revolt, though by itself unimpressive,was more importantly a symptom of the discontent of the people under Henry’s domination. The book’s author, William of Newburgh,described the revolt’s cause in no certain terms, but makes it known that the central issue was that of money owed to the king. For generations, smaller kingdoms had existed and many of those owed homage to “overlord” kings, meaning a yearly tribute toa high king was by no means new, yet the Welsh found it necessary to renege on their payments. For such dramatic actionto occur there must have been wide discontent, even outrage, at the cost ofsubmission to the Norman kings. In the end, the threat of annihilation brought the Welsh to surrender themselves againto Norman rule, but this short-lived rebellion speaks volumes on the people’s opinion of the Normans.

By the early 1200’s, Norman rule had become so outrageous that nobles took direct action to limit the power held by the king. After suffering extreme taxation and other offences, nobles directly underneath the king formulated the Magna Carta (1215, Lane’s 105 Document Workbook). Thisdocument was the first written record of laws that established limits on a monarch’s powers to the effect of protecting the rights of free men. King John, upon duress, signed the document,establishing its formal legitimacy, though he ignored the document shortly after the ink had dried. As it was morecommon for nobles to squabble over the lands that each controlled, the collaboration required to devise this edict must have required significantpressure on the wallets of the involved nobles. Though unsuccessful in actually restraining the Norman domination, the Magna Carta (1215, Lane’s 105 Document Workbook) stoodas a symbol of the inalienable rights of free men and nobles alike.

Underneath the iron fist of Norman control the people of England sought the means to protect the rights of all men despite the oppressive rule of the monarch. The Worchester Chronicleexcerpt (1140,,the chapter from The Church Historians of England (William of Newburgh, 1189,,and the Magna Carta (1215, Lane’s 105 Document Workbook) are three separate documents that together create an image of popular discontent with the rulingNorman kings. These documents, though theevents described were mostly ineffective, reveal that the ideals of limitation of an English monarch’s power had its humble beginnings during the era ofNorman oppression.

(History 104)

The 18th Century was a time of change in Europe and the world abroad. Common men and women wanted freedom, freedom that they believed was god given. All parties involved had their own vision for change but only those willing to shed blood and exercise their power with terror would see their visions of freedom take shape.

 The people of Paris believed a coup was underway and the dismissal of the minister of finances only fueled this believe. Bastille was a prison and stood as a symbol to king, Louis XVI cruel reign. If the people of Paris attacked the prison and took its guns and ammunition the king would have little to attack with. At first there were negotiations but it didn’t take long before the crowd turned into a mob and stormed the prison. The prison was lightly guarded and only housed a few prisoners but the people of Paris saw it as a symbol of terror and were willing to die to see it brought down.

“Storming of the Bastille” 1789
Jean-Pierre Houel

Everyone was in revolt and women were too. With the price of bread rising and no voice in government to represent them, women decided to take up arms and put their life on the line in hopes of change and freedom. As the women marched towards Versailles their mob grew. The mob ransacked and armory and with weapons in hand the besieged the palace and made their demands to the king. This action of violence showed that women and peasants when pushed to their breaking point would rather die fighting then die hungry and weak.

“Women’s march on Versailles” 1789

After centuries of repression and left with no voice the peasants and common men of the Third Estate saw their path to freedom and it was paved with blood. The Third Estate helped make the king and nobility of France rich. Since the nobility and clergy did not pay taxes the burdens of taxes was left only to be paid by the poor. Poor people of France could not hunt, could vote without it being overruled by the other two Estates, and overall where just tired of seeing the rich benefit from making the poor poorer. Through riots and blood shed the Third Estate pushed the National assembly to be created.

"Awakening of the Third Estate" 1789

As the common men and women of France struggled for freedom from taxes and hunger and over all oppression, they reached a breaking point and turned to violence and riots. With blood shed came change but as the old rulers made they way to the guillotine the new leaders would only find new ways to hold down the middle class.