Imperialism WWI final assignment 2007

American Studies
Perspectives on US Foreign Policy
"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
- H. G. Wells
What lessons can we learn from history, and how can we apply them to our lives,
country, and world today?
What should be the United States’ role be in the world today?
When we first began to examine the factors which influence the role of the United States in the
world, we studied the Spanish American War and forms of American diplomacy, then we read
Woodrow Wilson’s message to Congress on the eve of America’s entry into WWI. We read a recent
speech by President Bush about the current situation in Iraq. Over the course of the unit, we
explored various current events and connections that raised similar questions and issues. The
literature from the unit also raises significant questions about American involvement in world
Based on what you have read, discussed, watched and learned over the past two weeks, we would
like you to take a stand on what you think the role of the United States should be in the world.
To focus this task, we would like you to read an article from either a conservative or a liberal
perspective (see the webpage for suggested links), and then write a letter that includes your
reaction to the suggestions of the article.
Your letter need not be written back to the author or to the editor of the newspaper, magazine or
blog. Instead, you might decide to write to an elected official (one of your representatives in
Congress or the President), to another public official who you think could most affect the situation
(Sec’y Rice, Ambassador Negroponte, etc, but the person should be an American), or you may write
to a presidential candidate.
The letter should take you no longer than one hour to write, but should include references to
history that we have studied in this unit. (No formal citing is required.)
1. Look back at what we have studied in this unit:
 Monroe Doctrine / Manifest Destiny / Social Darwinism / Roosevelt Corollary
 Imperialism/Spanish American War readings (Choices Packet, in binder)
 Events leading up to WWI
 Wilson’s “War Message to Congress”
 Wilson’s Fourteen Points
 the Choices Debate materials on the Treaty of Versailles & joining the League of Nations –
which presented the three “options” for US foreign policy
 Current events, and our discussion about what the role of the United States should be
 Sergeant York (d. Howard Hawks)
 Johnny Got His Gun (by Dalton Trumbo)
 WWI historical background (Choices Packet, in binder)
 Recent speeches from President Bush
 Michael Ignatieff’s “The Burden”
“Editha” (by William Dean Howells)
“The War Prayer” (by Mark Twain)
“Debs Loses Appeal; To Serve 10 years” – New York Times, March 11 1919
2. Read the current article (either conservative or liberal – your choice) available on-line or by
hard copy, upon request. Try to understand the author’s main arguments and note the
evidence being used.
3. Create the letter. Think of this as a short persuasive piece.
a. In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and your position. This should be the thesis
of your paper (ex: The role of the United States in the world should be___
b. Then, proceed to suggest why this is your opinion. Cite historical references and
some of the current situation. This main body of the letter will also include a
response to the current article you chose to read.
c. Conclude your letter by restating your opinion.
Use sources from the unit. This means at least three different references from three
different sources, fully explained, including at least one reference to the article you
are reading.
Make a clear connection between the sources you select and the argument you are
making. The President/Public Official should not only know exactly where you stand,
but on what grounds you have reached your conclusion. Be specific!
You may only use “I” to introduce yourself in your first paragraph and in your final
paragraph. It should never be used in the context of “I think, I believe, or in my
4. Since we will actually be sending these letters, they should take the form of a proper letter.
Please be sure that your letter is free of typographical, mechanical, and grammatical errors.
It should take the form of the example on the bottom of this page.
5. The letter is due on Friday, March 23. It should be single spaced, and roughly one-to-two pages.
6. After spring break, we will return your letters and encourage you to revise and send them. We
hope you will find this to be a rewarding experience.
1959 N. Waukegan Rd.
Deerfield, IL 60015
March 18, 2007
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 2001
Dear Mr. President:
Introduction. Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Letter
goes here. Letter goes here.
Great topic sentence. Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Letter goes here.
Letter goes here. Letter goes here. Thoughtful analysis.
Stunning conclusion. Letter continues. Look to the future.
Howard Zinn