Assignment: Declaring Rights

Length: Four pages (about 1300 words)
The Rights paper is worth 100 points.

Background on the assignment: Peoples’ understandings of their rights have not been static; those understandings have shifted with time and circumstances. In this paper, you will discuss how a certain right was understood during the time from the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688 through the drafting of the Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10 of the US Constitution) in 1789.

The assignment: Choose one of the rights that you investigated in the Rights Charts. Discuss the declaration of that right from the documents presented in Rakove (you may use documents not included in the Rights Charts as well as the documents included in the Rights Charts). What can you say about how that right was understood in the time frame 1688-1789, based on evidence from the documents and the discussion by Rakove? Include how the changing circumstances represented by the different documents may have contributed to the changing declarations of the right. Finally, present your personal reaction to that right as you see it declared/practiced in the present-day United States. This personal reaction should represent 1/4-1/3 of the paper.

Learning outcomes: The Rights paper is one of the assignments in the course that will develop your skills to meet the learning outcomes of the course. As described in the outcomes listed below, the Rights paper gives you the opportunity to read and analyze primary sources to understand the developing understanding of rights from 1688-1789. You will then use the information represented by the primary source documents to present an argument concerning the developing understandings of a particular right in the time from the Glorious Revolution in England to the crafting of the Bill of Rights for the US Constitution.

Goals related to understanding and using primary and secondary sources:

  • HUM1: Students will analyze texts of a variety of types, distinguishing the various historical elements of the text.
  • HUM2: Students will explain the relationships among the various historical elements of a text.
  • HUM3: Students will identify the cultural, historical, and intellectual influences on a text.
  • HIST1: Explain how past peoples understood their worlds and how those understandings shaped the ways they acted.
  • HIST2: Interpret historical evidence with consideration to historical actors’ various perspectives: social, cultural, economic, political.
  • HIST3: Identify and analyze the central issues, arguments, and points of view in primary and secondary sources.
  • HIST4: Synthesize evidence representing a variety of perspectives


Goals related to writing:

  • HIST5: Formulate a thesis and conclusion substantiated by primary and secondary source analysis.
  • HIST6: Establish the context, audience, and purpose of their written assignments.
  • HIST7: Master the conventions of historical writing, including clear paper organization (thesis, evidence, conclusion); logical paragraph organization; clear, direct, and engaging language; proper citation methods, using Chicago style.

The components of the paper

Your paper should make an argument about the right that you discuss. A well-argued paper has these components:

  • thesis statement. Your paper should have a thesis statement of 1-2 sentences at the end of the introductory paragraph. Your thesis statement should present your topic AND the argument you intend to make about the topic.

Here are some examples of thesis statements:
Weak thesis statement: “This paper will discuss how the legal status of African    Americans changed in the decades after World War II.” [Describes the topic but makes           no argument.]

Somewhat better: “The legal status of African Americans improved dramatically in the    decades after World War II.” [Suggests an argument but not the reasoning behind it.]

            Much better: “The legal status of African Americans improved dramatically in the            decades after World War II, partly due to improved economic opportunities and growing            sympathy among whites, but even more due to mounting activism by blacks themselves.”         [States a clear argument, and summarizes the reasoning behind it.]

  • well-crafted paragraphs. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that relates back to your thesis statement. See the handouts Outlining an Essay and MEAL and How to Write a Plump Paragraph for samples of how to organize your paragraphs.
  • You must include evidence from both primary and secondary sources to present a historical argument. Otherwise, it’s not a historical argument – it’s just an opinion piece. Your evidence can include quotations, facts, statistics, anecdotes – anything that helps support your argument AND that you can document.

For more information on presenting your evidence effectively and citing your evidence     correctly, see the handout How to Present Evidence.


Requirements for the paper

  • The Rights paper should be four pages, about 1500 words. I will deduct points for being under the proper length.
  • Format of the paper: Double-space all text except the heading. Use 1” margins on all sides. Use 12 point font, either Times New Roman or Cambria. Number the pages. Do not use a running header.
    For the heading, single space and left justify. Include your name, the assignment name, the class code (HIST-1361) and the date the assignment is due.
    It is nice to have a title for your paper, but not required. A title page is not necessary.
    You will be turning this in through Canvas. Indicate your thesis statement by bolding it.
  • When you write the paper, think of your audience as being an adult who is not taking this class. In other words, be sure to provide enough background information so that someone who is not in this class could pick up your paper and understand what you are writing about.
  • There is a grading rubric for this paper posted on Canvas along with the assignment instructions
  • Use Chicago Manual of Style citations in your paper to cite specific evidence. This is a required component of this paper.

o To cite evidence from Rakove, create a footnote and use the following format for the first citation. It is Author first name last name. Title, (place published: publisher, date), #. After that you use last name of the author. Partial title, page #. You can easily create a footnote in Word by placing your cursor at the end of the sentence that you need a footnote in and going to the top toolbar, hitting references and then insert footnote. It places a number in your paper at the cursor point and gives you a place put the actual citation. Each time you do this it adds a number. When you edit it renumbers for you.

o You do not need a citation for evidence from the Declaration of Independence;      however, your text should make it clear that the evidence comes from the  Declaration of  Independence.

o To cite evidence from the US Constitution, use the format Article x, Section x for evidence from the un-amended Constitution, or the format Amendment x for evidence from an amendment. This goes into your footnote.

o To cite information from a class PowerPoint lecture, use the form Rebecca Hunt lecture, date, slide #) for the citation. For example, (Rebecca Hunt lecture 2/22/17, slide 12).

  • Please post a copy of your paper on the class Canvas site by
Get a 10 % discount on an order above $ 50
Use the following coupon code :