United States Constitution

This assignment has multiple purposes. They are:
1. Learn something about how historians conduct research with primary and secondary sources
2. Make a distinction between primary and secondary sources
3. Write a well organized, well written research paper
4. Become familiar with the Constitution of the United States. It is the fundamental law of the land.

Primary sources are documents, images, newspapers, memoirs, diaries, or anything else that was created at the time historical events were occurring. Secondary sources are what historians and others have written after studying primary sources.

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United States Constitution
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One of the most important primary documents in American history is the United States Constitution. This document can be found in the End Matter of your textbook. Go to the textbook Table of Contents and you will see “End Matter” listed. Click on “End Matter” and the Constitution of the United States will be the document immediately after the Declaration of Independence (the first document listed).

The fundamental purpose of this paper is for you to learn something about the United States Constitution. For this paper, you should focus on the Constitution as it was written in 1787. The amendments came later. Things like freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and speedy trials are found in the amendments and should not be included in this paper.

For this paper, complete the following tasks:
Read the Constitution of the United States (not including the amendments). Notice that the articles are numbered with Roman Numerals. That is how you should refer to them in your paper.

Your paper should answer the following questions.
a. Who wrote it? When? Where? This should be about one good paragraph. I expect you to use some source other than your textbook.
b. When the Founding Fathers created the Constitution, what did they create?
c. Summarize the Constitution of the United States. What does it say? This should be the majority of your paper.
d. Explain how the work accomplished by the men who wrote the Constitution still affects the citizens of the United States today.

For this paper, with the exception of the information on the authors and when it was written, you should be able to support any statement you make in the paper by referring to a particular part of the Constitution as the basis for that statement. After completing this assignment, I expect you to know about the Constitution of the United States. Things you should know include:
1. When and where it was written
2. Who wrote the Constitution
3. What exactly is the Constitution (there is a phrase in Article VI that sums this up perfectly)
4. How is the Constitution organized
5. What is the topic of each of the seven articles

Sources for this paper include the Constitution of the United States which counts as your primary source and at least three secondary sources. For purposes of this paper, I am going to define secondary sources as books written by historians or other authors with knowledge about the subject. You will need to include a bibliography with your paper. I will provide more information about secondary source

Details for your paper:

1. You should have maybe one full paragraph on the question of when and where the Constitution was written and who wrote it. When I talk about “who wrote the Constitution,” I expect you to talk about people who attended the convention where the Constitution was written. Also in this one paragraph, you should mention what those who wrote it created. Then you should begin your summary of the Constitution. I expect some details here. At least two full pages of your paper should be your summary of the Constitution.

2. The text of the paper must be at least three full pages. Your paper should not exceed five pages in length.

Warning: if your goal is to write the absolute minimum for this paper, you should be certain that you have met the minimum length requirement. If you do not, the penalty will be severe. Note that you can write as much as five pages. It is okay to exceed the absolute minimum length re

3. You text should be typed in a 11 point font that I like. I especially like Times New Roman.

4. The paper should be double spaced with a font that I like. I especially like Times New Roman.

5. Margins should be standard one inch margins right, left, top, and bottom.

6. There should be a title for your paper. The title should not be bold faced or underlined. It should be in the same font as the rest of the paper.

7. There should be a four line heading in the upper left corner of the first page only. Those four lines should be (notice the double spacing):

Your name


Instructor name (spelled correctly, please)


8. I expect your paper to be well written. I expect you to use proper sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, and anything else that comes under the general heading of grammar. Failure to do so will affect your grade. There is a “Writing Skills” document that provides some tips for better writing. I expect you to consult that guide and follow those grammar rules. The maximum number of points you will lose for grammar is 20. You are college students. I expect you to know how to write. There are multiple free websites that will check grammar for you. I suggest you use one of them.

9. I expect your paper to be well organized with a beginning (or introduction), a text in the middle, and a conclusion. You should not present any new ideas or material in your conclusion.

10. You should use citations in your paper. The easiest method of citing material is to use what is called parenthetical citations. I will provide more information about citations in a separate announcement.

11. More on citations. If you use a direct quote, there should be some form of a citation. You may use parenthetical citations. This paper will be better if you do not use any direct quotes. I discourage you from using direct quotes. Excessive use of direct quotes will affect your grade.

If you have any questions about anything concerning this writing assignment, you need to ask me before the paper is due. You can use email or the Open Discussion Forum that is available to you. This is a one and done assignment. You will not be given the opportunity to do it over for a better grade. You need to begin on this assignment right away.

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