Sample 11th Grade United States “Enduring Issues” Essay

Sample 11th Grade United States “Enduring Issues” Essay

Henry Dircks, Mepham High School, Bellmore, NY

The “enduring issues” essay will be a hallmark of redesigned New York State Global and United States history Regents exams. This sample “enduring issues” essay and evaluation rubric was developed by Henry Dircks, a social studies teacher at Mepham High School, North Bellmore, New York.

DIRECTIONS: An “Enduring Issue” is an issue or topic that exists across time in U.S. History. It is an issue that the American people have attempted to address with varying degrees of success. Read or observe the five documents below. Then identify and define an enduring issue that is common to all the documents in the set. (For instance, documents such as the Dred Scott decision, a Reconstruction literacy test, a Harlem Renaissance poem, MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham jail and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would share the issue, “The African-American struggle for equality saw many achievements and setbacks.”) Finally, write an essay in which you:

  1. Identify and define the issue using evidence from at least three documents.
  2. Argue that this is a significant issue that has endured by showing either:
    1. How the issue has affected people or been affected by people, or:
    2. How the issue has continued to be an issue or changed over time
  • Include outside information from your knowledge of social studies and evidence from the documents.

DOCUMENT 1: Thomas Jefferson, Third Annual Message to Congress (1803)Source: The Avalon Project, Yale Law School Website

Congress witnessed, at their last session, the extraordinary agitation produced in the public mind by the suspension of our right of deposit at the port of New Orleans. They were sensible that the continuance of that privation would be injurious to our nation; we had not been unaware of the danger to which our peace would be perpetually exposed while so important a key to the commerce of the western country remained under foreign power. Propositions had, therefore, been authorized for obtaining, on fair conditions, the sovereignty of New Orleans; and the provisional appropriation of two millions of dollars, to be applied by the president of the United States, intended as part of the price, was considered as conveying the sanction of Congress to the acquisition proposed. The enlightened government of France saw, with just discernment, the importance to both nations of such liberal arrangements as might best and permanently promote the peace, friendship, and interests of both; and the property and sovereignty of all Louisiana have on certain conditions been transferred to the United States by instruments bearing date the 30th of April last. While the property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters secure an independent outlet for the produce of the western States, and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole course, free from collision with other powers and the dangers to our peace from that source, the fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a wide-spread field for the blessings of freedom and equal laws.

DOCUMENT 2: An Act to Secure Land to Settlers on the Public Domain (1862)

Source: National Archives and Records Administration

SEC. 1.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United States Government or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, from and after the first January, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, be entitled to enter one quarter section of public lands… which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted… that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified; And That he, she or they shall prove by two credible witnesses that he, she or they have resided upon or cultivated the same for the term of five years immediately succeeding the time of filing the affidavit, the settler shall acquire the absolute title to the land, and be en- titled to a patent from the United States.

DOCUMENT 3: Painting: “The Trail of Tears” by Robert Lindneux (1942)Source: Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

DOCUMENT 4: Resettlement Administration Map (1935) Source: Library of Congress

DOCUMENT 5: Treaty of Paris (1898). Source: The Avalon Project, Yale Law School Website

The United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain desire to end the state of war now existing between the two countries, who, assembled in Paris, have, after discussion of the matters before them, agreed upon the following articles:Article I: Spain relinquishes all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba and as the island is, upon its evacuation by Spain, to be occupied by the United States, the United States will, so long as such occupation shall last, assume and discharge the obligations that may under international law result from the fact of its occupation, for the protection of life and property.Article II: Spain cedes to the United States the island of Porto Rico and other islands now under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies, and the island of Guam in the Marianas.Article III: Spain cedes to the United States the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands. The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.

Rubric for Enduring Issues Essay Assignment

28-30Enduring issue is defined and
representative of documents
Enduring issue is guiding theme
throughout essay
Discusses task in body paragraphs (people OR change)
Uses more than three documents
Explains history, rather than just
describe it
Rich in outside information
Enduring issue is defined and representative of documents
Enduring issue is present
throughout essay
Discusses task in body paragraphs (people OR change)
May use more than three
May explain history, rather than
just describe it
More than satisfactory in outside information
Enduring issue is defined and
representative of documents
Topics discussed with little
reference to enduring issue
May discuss task in body
paragraphs (people OR change)
Uses three documents
Describes history; contains
satisfactory outside information
Enduring issue is not defined or
not present
No reference to enduring issue in
Does not discuss task in body
paragraphs (people OR change)
Uses three documentsDescribes
history; contains little outside
0-15No enduring issue
Does not discuss task in body
paragraphs (people OR change)
Uses fewer than 3 documents
Describes history; contains no
outside information

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