How powerful is a state? How powerful should it be? These questions have been debated since the Revolution. Under the Articles of Confederation, we saw states with significantly higher power than the national government; there was an attempt at more balance in the Constitution. Yet the debate over the power of each level of government continued to be debated, and this debate formed some of the reasoning behind having a Bill of Rights, led to the formation of our two political parties, and formed the basis of many of our conflicts in U.S. history. In the Federalist Era, we saw James Madison and Thomas Jefferson write the “Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions,” in reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts; their work outlined their beliefs of where national law overreached and states should be able to counter that law. And in the Age of Jackson, we see the issue arise again in relation to the tariffs.
For this essay, you will need to craft a 1000 word, 5-paragraph essay (feel free to craft more than 5 paragraphs).
You ***must*** include and address the “The Kentucky Resolutions” ( and “South Carolina Exposition and Protest.” This is a required part of the assignment.
You will also need to review the U.S. Constitution and arguments in support of it.
Here is a link where you can access the Federalist Papers (written in the 1780s in order to convince Americans to support the new Constitution):
Here is a link to Letters from The Federal Farmer, these letters were written in opposition to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution:
Do not use additional internet sources without approval.
Prompt/Question: Should state governments have more powerful than the national government, or should the national government be more powerful?
Take a position on state power versus national power. In other words, should state governments or the national government have more power? Your thesis should answer this question. Your thesis roadmap should provide 3 support points (taken course readings/material, the above primary sources, and the Constitution) that support your argument. Refer to the above documents AND the U.S. Constitution when making your argument. You may use all sources we have covered all ready for this assignment. ***In addition, you must compare/contrast the Kentucky Resolutions and the South Carolina Exposition in several places in your paper.
1. Your introduction should explore the basic argument of state powers versus national powers. You may want to turn to the Constitution itself to find material.
2. In your support paragraphs, address the three points in your roadmap (remember, your topic sentences should reflect those points). Use the Resolutions and the Exposition and Protest to make your point (argue against for for). Remember to explain/explore the historical context of the documents. This is important, as they were written 30 years apart.
3. Write a conclusion that answers whether a state should have the ability to nullify a national law, and if so, under what circumstances? If not, why not? This last paragraph will be your opinion but remember do not use “I” in any form. State your opinion as if it were fact.
Please do not simply compare/contrast. Take a position (based on the prompt) and argue it.
General Instructions (see the checklist for more requirements):
1. Do not plagiarize. All phrases taken word-for-word from a document must be surrounded with quotation marks and followed by an in-text citation. In addition, you must include that source on your Works Cited page. If you paraphrase anything, you should follow that section with an in-text citation. Do not change every third or fourth word of someone else’s writing in order to complete this assignment.
2. Use at least (3) primary sources (The Kentucky Resolutions, The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, and the U.S. Constitution). The best essays will include additional sources (see above). Remember, primary sources are sources created at the time of the event or by someone who experienced the event. The use of these sources must followed by an in-text citation and be included on your Works’ Cited.
3. Do not use internet sources. If you need to do outside research, you may use library books or academic articles found through Galileo. These sources must be listed on the Works Cited, and you must include in-text citations after the information you’ve taken from the source.
4. Include a Works’ Cited Page. Your Works’ Cited page should have a minimum of 4 sources: the 3 primary sources listed above and the textbook. Cite all quotes and references to specific ideas and data. Citations on your Works’ Cited page MUST be in proper form that conforms with the citation standard you pick. You may use any FORMAL citation method. For help citing work and creating a work cited page, consult a librarian or visit:
5. You must include at least (9) concrete and specific examples (the names of people, places, events or ideas). This is the bare minimum number of specific examples and may earn you a ‘C’ at best. You can take these examples from the textbook, primary sources, or other sources on the course website.
6. Papers with less than 1000 words will be penalized. Your Works’ Cited page does not count towards the 1000 required words.
7. Citations should be formatted according to the MLA guidelines (if you want to use APA or Chicago, check with me first), including both in-text and your Works Cited page. Guidelines for MLA can be found using the Purdue Owl or you can reference the Citation Help.pdf from the Start Here Module of the course.
8. Essays should be typed in 12-point font with a simple, clean font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Use 1”-inch margins on all sides and double-space the text. Your essay should be a minimum of 1000 words.
9. Successful essays should be carefully organized, with strong thesis statements and specific evidentiary support. Your introduction should include a clear statement of what you will argue in the essay (thesis statements are never questions). The body of the essay will include at least three paragraphs (though you can write more – with this assignment, you will want four body paragraphs) that analyze and evaluate the idea of nullification. Conclude by discussing the key conclusion you reached and why (remember not to use the first person in formal academic essays).
10. Be sure to revise and edit carefully. In addition, make sure to download and use the essay checklist before submitting your essay.
Feel free to use the below guidelines when constructing your essay.
P1. Include an introductory paragraph (length: 6-8 sentences).
This should include:
Topic sentence. This sentence will give the reader a specific idea of the subject/topic of the essay. It should set the context of the paper.
1-2 more sentences expanding upon the context. For example, if you’re writing about the American Revolution, include a couple of sentences talking about the events leading up to it.
c. Thesis statement. Your thesis should be clear, concise, statement
about the relationship between state power and national power.
It should have a clear (and specific) argument. For this assignment, it
a good thesis would be one that takes a stance on whether or not a
state should have the ability to nullify a national law. This will be the
subject of your final paragraph, too.
For example, if your prompt is: “What caused the American Civil War,” a good argument would be: “The Civil War was caused by a debate over the expansion of slavery across North America.”
A poor thesis statement would be: “The Civil War was an important event in American history.” This thesis is broad/vague.
Another poor thesis statement would be: “The Civil War was caused by social, cultural, and political factors.” These factors are too broad, and the argument is unfocused.
Note: Avoid including an “A, B, and C” component in your thesis statement. Save those points for a roadmap.
A roadmap sentence that outlines how you will argue your thesis statement. This sentence may follow an “a, b, and c” formula. All elements (a, b, and c) should support and be directly relevant to the prompt and the 5 main tasks of the assignment. Your roadmap should be independent of your thesis. Remember, too, the topic sentences of your main support paragraphs *must* reflect the 3 points in your roadmap. They should also be in the same order.
A good roadmap sentence for the prompt on the causes of the Civil War would be: “Most important in this debate over the expansion of slavery was the question of the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, human rights abuses of slaves, and religious ideas about the morality of slavery.” This roadmap is specific, and all points support the “good thesis” above.
A poor thesis would be “Points related to the expansion of slavery are social, political, and economic.” These support points are too broad. Your argument would be unfocused.
P2-P4. Include at least (3) body paragraphs (length: 6-10 sentences or more for each paragraph). This is a recommendation. You may have more than 3 body paragraphs. *Note: paragraphs should not be more than 3/4th of a page double spaced. *
Body paragraphs should include:
Topic sentence. Your topic sentence should give the reader a specific sense of what the body paragraph is about. Be direct and concise. In the case of this assignment, topic sentences should be relatable back to one of the 5 main tasks you must achieve in the essay. Remember, your topic sentences should reflect the points in your roadmap. For example, the first point in your roadmap should be the subject of your first support paragraph and of its topic sentence.
A good example for a topic sentence on the causes of the American Civil War would be: “The question of the balance of power in the U.S. Congress caused political conflict between the North and the South.”
A concrete and specific example under each topic sentence. Use an example related to your topic sentence (and the essay tasks/primary sources).
Introduce an example from the textbook or primary source. A simple factual statement or a brief quotation is okay.
Interpret the example/primary source. Analyze it. Find something insightful to say.
Explain the relevance of the example/primary source to your overall argument. Explicitly tie/relate back to thesis, if need be.
Another example, if you want.
Introduce example/primary source. A simple factual statement is okay.
Interpret example/primary source. Analyze here. Find something insightful to say.
Explain relevance of example/primary source to overall argument. Explicitly tie back to thesis, if need be.
Wrap up/Conclude paragraph (maybe two sentences). Craft a sentence to explain relevance of your examples/primary sources to your thesis. You should also transition to the next paragraph.
For example, “The question of the balance of power in the U.S. Congress was closely related to outrage over human rights abuses of slaves.” (Outrage over the human rights abuses of slaves should be the subject of the next support paragraph.)
P5. Include a conclusion (length: 6 to 8 sentences – you may need to exceed this limit for this assignment).
This should include:
A restatement of your thesis (in different words)
Sum up your argument and evidence and tie everything together – you may revisit your main points and explain why they are important (3-4 sentences)
A statement of why this topic, question, and your argument is important (1-2 sentences)
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