• Unit Title

    Unit 1 Foundations-Beginnings through Reconstruction
    Supplemental Materials
    Data Sets (6)



    Region of Birth Reported







    Latin America

    Northern America


























    113,383 (1.2%)






































































    Source:  Selected Historical Decennial Census Population and Housing Counts. U.S. Census Bureau. 3 Feb. 2009 <http://www.census.gov/population/www/censusdata/hiscendata.html>.

    Changes in America



    1. The United States expanded geographically across the continent of North America.


    1. There were significant regional economic differences between northern and southern states prior to and after the Civil War.


    1. The size, location, and composition of the population of the United States grew, spread, and became more diverse.


    1. The nature of the labor force in the northern and southern states differed dramatically prior to the Civil War.


    1. Improvements in technology led to changes in commerce, transportation, and communication and vice versa, as changes in these realms fostered technological innovation.


    1. Patterns of immigration and migration changed the composition and location of the population in the United States during the 19th Century.


    1. During the 19th Century an increasing percentage of Americans lived in urban areas.


    1. The United States interacted with other nations throughout the 19th Century.


    1. Ideas of equality and freedom were expanded to include new groups of people and took on new meaning during the 19th Century.



    Example of a Thesis Statement from #1 Above


    Manifest Destiny and the national pride it engendered made the geographic expansion of the United States possible. 

    Essay Guide

    Arguments are everywhere


    [M]aking an argument—expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence—is often the aim of academic writing. . . . [I]f your writing assignment asks you to respond to readings and class discussion, your instructor likely expects you to produce an argument in your paper.

    Most material you [read or hear] has been debated by someone, somewhere, at some time. Even when the material you read or hear is presented as simple "fact," it may actually be one person's interpretation of a set of information. In your writing, instructors may call on you to question that interpretation and defend it, refute it, or offer some new view of your own. In writing assignments, you will almost always need to do more than just present information that you have gathered or regurgitate facts that were discussed in class. You will need to select a point of view and provide evidence (in other words, use "argument") to shape the material and offer your interpretation of the material.


    If you think that "fact," not argument, rules intelligent thinking, consider these examples. At one point, the great minds of Western Europe firmly believed the Earth was flat. They assumed this was simply an uncontroversial fact. You are able to disagree now because people who saw that argument as faulty set out to make a better argument and proved it. Differences of opinion are how human knowledge develops, and scholars spend their lives engaged in debate over what may be counted as "true," "real," or "right" in their fields.


    . . . . We all use argumentation on a daily basis, and you probably already have some skill at crafting an argument. The more you improve your skills in this area, the better you will be at thinking critically, reasoning, making choices, and weighing evidence.



    Making a claim


    What is an argument?  An argument is usually a main idea, often called a "claim" or "thesis statement," backed up with evidence that supports the idea. In [your] papers, you will need to make some sort of claim and use evidence to support it.   In other words, gone are the happy days of being given a "topic" about which you can write anything. It is time to stake out a position and prove why it is a good position for a thinking person to hold.


    Claims can be as simple as "Protons are positively charged and electrons are negatively charged," with evidence such as, "In this experiment, protons and electrons acted in such and such a way." Claims can also be as complex as "The end of the South African system of apartheid was inevitable," using reasoning and evidence such as, "Every successful revolution in the modern era has come about after the government in power has given and then removed small concessions to the uprising group." In either case, the rest of your paper will detail the reasoning and evidence that have led you to believe that your position is best.


    When beginning to write a paper, ask yourself, "What is my point?" For example, the point of this handout is to help you become a better writer, and we are arguing that an important step in the process of writing effective arguments is understanding the concept of argumentation. If your papers do not have a main point, they cannot be arguing for anything. Asking yourself what your point is can help you avoid a mere "information dump." Consider this: your instructors probably know a lot more than you do about your subject matter. Why, then, would you want to provide them with material they already know? Instructors are usually looking for two things:

    • Proof that you understand the material, AND
    • A demonstration of your ability to use or apply the material in ways that go beyond what you have read or heard.


    This second part can be done in many ways: you can critique the material, apply it to something else, or even just explain it in a different way. In order to succeed at this second step, though, you must have a particular point to argue.


    Arguments in academic writing are usually complex and take time to develop. Your argument will need to be more than a simple or obvious statement such as "Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect." Such a statement might capture your initial impressions of Wright as you have studied him in class; however, you need to look deeper and express specifically what caused that "greatness." Your instructor will probably expect something more complicated, such as "Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture combines elements of European modernism, Asian aesthetic form, and locally found materials to create a unique new style," or "There are many strong similarities between Wright's building designs and those of his mother, which suggests that he may have borrowed some of her ideas." To develop your argument, you would then define your terms and prove your claim with evidence from Wright's drawings and buildings and those of the other architects you mentioned.





    Do not stop with having a point. You have to back up your point with evidence. The strength of your evidence, and your use of it, can make or break your argument. You already have the natural inclination for this type of thinking, if not in an academic setting. Think about how you talked your parents into letting you do [something you wanted]. Did you present them with lots of instances of your past trustworthiness? Did you make them feel guilty because your friends' parents allow your friends to do this? Did you whine until they just wanted you to shut up? Did you look up evidence such as your grades to show how responsible you are?  These are all types of argumentation, and they exist in [school] in similar forms.


    Every field has slightly different requirements for acceptable evidence, so familiarize yourself with some arguments from within that field instead of just applying whatever evidence you like best. Pay attention to your textbooks and your instructor's lectures. What types of argument and evidence are they using? The type of evidence that sways an English teacher may not work to convince a history teacher. Find out what counts as proof that something is true in that field. Is it statistics, a logical development of points, something from the object being discussed (art work, text, culture, or atom), the way something works, or some combination of more than one of these things?


    Be consistent with your evidence. Unlike negotiating with your parents for something you want, a paper is not the place for an all-out blitz of every type of argument. You can often use more than one type of evidence within a paper, but make sure that within each section you are providing the reader with evidence appropriate to each claim. . . . You cannot convince a confused person, so keep things tidy and ordered.





    One way to strengthen your argument and show that you have a deep understanding of the issue you are discussing is to anticipate and address counterarguments or objections. By considering what someone who disagrees with your position might have to say about your argument, you show that you have thought things through, and you dispose of some of the reasons your audience might have for not accepting your argument. 

    You can generate counterarguments by asking yourself how someone who disagrees with you might respond to each of the points you've made or your position as a whole. If you can't immediately imagine another position, here are some strategies to try:

    • Do some research. It may seem to you that no one could possibly disagree with the position you are arguing, but someone probably has. For example, some people argue that the American Civil War never ended. If you are making an argument concerning, for example, the outcomes of the Civil War, you might wish to see what some of these people have to say.
    • Talk with a friend or with your teacher. Another person may be able to imagine counterarguments that haven't occurred to you.


    Once you have thought up some counterarguments, consider how you will respond to them—will you concede that your opponent has a point but explain why your audience should nonetheless accept your argument? Will you reject the counterargument and explain why it is mistaken? Either way, you will want to leave your reader with a sense that your argument is stronger than opposing arguments.


    When you are summarizing opposing arguments, present each argument fairly and objectively, rather than trying to make it look foolish. You want to show that you have seriously considered the many sides of the issue and that you are not simply attacking your opponents.  It is usually better to consider one or two serious counterarguments in some depth, rather than to give a long but superficial list of many different counterarguments and replies.  Be sure that your reply is consistent with your original argument. If considering a counterargument changes your position, you will need to go back and revise your original argument accordingly.


    Adapted from:  Argument. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.  3 Feb. 2009 <http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/argument.html>.

Last Modified on February 14, 2018