History of American Citizenship and Immigration (AMH2097 – Nationality, Race, and Ethnicity in US History)


History of American Citizenship and Immigration (AMH2097 – Nationality, Race, and Ethnicity in US History)

These are the instructions for a History paper at Florida State University.

Need help completing this series of assignments? Get in touch via the order form or chat with us on our social media channels (WeChat, WhatsApp, FaceBook, and Instagram).


This semester you are required to write a paper that considers the history of American citizenship & immigration. Your paper should address the following questions:

  • Historically, how has the United States defined and establish citizenship? How has this changed over time? Have there been restrictions placed on who can become a citizen in the United States? If so, explain the restrictions–who did they applied to?
  • Define “race” and “ethnicity.” How have immigrants’ race and/or ethnicity impacted their immigration experience to the US? What are the US’ philosophies of race and ethnicity and how have they changed over time?
  • How did the US treat America’s first non-citizens, Africans? Historically, how has the US handled African American citizenship? Has this changed over time?
  • How did the US handle citizenship for other immigrant groups that we discussed in this course?

You must use these questions and create a thesis statement that introduces your paper and your point of view. Don’t think of this assignment as addressing 4 separate prompts—you should find a way to make this a cohesive paper.

You must address Forced African immigration as well as 2 other groups of your choosing that we discuss this semester in class.

This assignment will be turned in, in 4 different steps.


Word Count: 300

You must write the intro paragraph and a thesis statement for your paper based on what you have learned so far this semester.

You may develop this thesis as you continue to write. Your intro paragraph should introduce your topic broadly, but the thesis is perhaps the most important component of your paper. Please take the time to read about what a thesis statement is before you write. There is a rubric for this assignment below. 


This section includes your interpretation of your topic and in many cases concludes with a statement of your research question. This is the “So What” factor.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively.

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement.

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.


Guidelines & Point Distribution (/100 points)

The thesis statement tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion (/30 points)

The thesis statement tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper (/20 points)

The thesis statement is specific and addresses the prompt (/20points)

The thesis statement makes a claim that others might dispute (/20points)

Intro Paragraph is free from grammatical errors (/10 points)

Don’t Lose Points:

300 words are required for this assignment

  • 10-30 words under -10 points
  • 31-75 words under -25 points
  • More than 75 words under students can only receive half credit on the assignment
  • Students may go up to 100 words over 250 with no penalty, but going over 350 words will result in -25 points
  • Students MUST INCLUDE A WORD COUNT on their paper. If no word count is included students will lose 25 points

Examples of Thesis Statements:

Suppose you are taking a course on 19th-century America, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War. You turn on the computer and type out the following:

  • The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

This weak thesis restates the question without providing any additional information. It does not tell the reader where you are heading. A reader of this weak thesis might think “What reasons? How are they the same? How are they different?” Ask yourself these same questions and begin to compare Northern and Southern attitudes (perhaps you first think “The South believed slavery was right, and the North thought slavery was wrong”).

Now, push your comparison toward an interpretation—why did one side think slavery was right and the other side think it was wrong? You look again at the evidence, and you decide that you are going to argue that the North believed slavery was immoral while the South believed it upheld the Southern way of life. You write:

  • While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions.

Now you have a working thesis! Included in this working thesis is a reason for the war and some idea of how the two sides disagreed over this reason. As you write the essay, you will probably begin to characterize these differences more precisely, and your working thesis may start to seem too vague. Maybe you decide that both sides fought for moral reasons, and that they just focused on different moral issues.

You end up revising the working thesis into a final thesis that really captures the argument in your paper:

  • While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government.

Compare this to the original weak thesis. This final thesis presents a way of interpreting evidence that illuminates the significance of the question. Keep in mind that this is one of many possible interpretations of the Civil War—it is not the one and only right answer to the question. There isn’t one right answer; there are only strong and weak thesis statements and strong and weak uses of evidence.

Let’s look at another example. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

  • Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

Why is this thesis weak? Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: most likely a general, appreciative summary of Twain’s novel. But the question did not ask you to summarize; it asked you to analyze. Your professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; instead, she wants you to think about why it’s such a great novel—what do Huck’s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race, etc.?

First, the question asks you to pick an aspect of the novel that you think is important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children.

Now you write:

  • In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.

Here’s a working thesis with potential: you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. Your reader is intrigued but is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?” Perhaps you are not sure yet, either.

That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

  • Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.


If you would like feedback/comments on your assignment before you submit them, please send a rough draft to your assigned grader. (Graders will be assigned after drop/add week)

Graders will accept rough drafts of this assignment until Feb. 11 at 11:59pm. If you miss this deadline you should not expect that graders will have enough time to return your rough draft with comments.

Assigned Graders: 


You should not approach this assignment as if you are creating a wikipedia page. Your Zine project must be an exercise in writing about history. What does this mean? It means that you should not simply recap your notes in a wiki-style straight forward presentation of facts. Writing about history is actually arguing a point of view or perspective. For this reason you need to push beyond simply recapping facts and tell us WHY these facts matter, WHAT these facts tell us about about American history and American pesent. Your Zine needs a point of view beyond, “this happened.” Your zine should also tell us why it is important that people know these facts. What are some potential pitfalls to not knowing these facts? Please pay attention to this part of the project. It is impossible to get an A on this assignment if you don’t adequately provide a perspective of the history you are presenting. 

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2011.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., et al. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 9th ed. New York: Longman, 2010.

Lunsford, Andrea A. The St. Martin’s Handbook. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. 8th ed. New York: Pearson, 2018.

This is Step II: Outline

This assignment requires students to turn in an outline for their paper.  This outline must include: A strong their thesis statement, an introductory paragraph,  a topic sentence for each paragraph in your paper, a bullet point outline of evidence you will use to support that topic sentence and a conclusion sentence.

Consider the big questions for this paper and how you will address them. What evidence will you provide to support your point?

Please noteI know that you will not have enough information from this semester to complete every question you are asked to address here. Your  thesis may also change or evolve as you learn new information. That’s okay. The idea is to put yourself in the best possible position when it comes time to write your actual paper. So, don’t spend too much time on the parts of the paper we haven’t covered yet. You will notice that the rubric says things like “Outline has a topic sentence for each paragraph where possible” If we haven’t talked about the Irish yet and you want to write about the Irish, just present your paragraph this way:

                Irish: I will develop this paragraph after we learn about the Irish in class

 Do the most you can with what you have and try to anticipate how your paper will develop. We won’t grade you down for the things you don’t know yet!


Guidelines & Point Distribution (/115 points)

  • Outline has a strong thesis statement (/25 points)
  • Outline has a strong introductory paragraph that introduces material effectively (/20 points)
  • Outline has a topic sentence for each paragraph where possible(/20 points)
  • Outline has bullet points for evidence students will use in each paragraph where possible (25/points)
  • A clear effort has been made to create an outline that addresses the questions and will set students up for step III in this process (/25 points

More information on Crafting an Outline:


Your introduction provides context to your readers to prepare them for your paper’s argument or purpose.  An introduction should begin with discussion of your specific topic (not a broad background overview) and provide just enough context (definitions of key terms, for example) to prepare your readers for your thesis or purpose statement.

Sample Introduction/Context: If the topic of your paper is the link between educational attainment and health, your introduction might do the following: (a) establish the population you are discussing, (b) define key terms such as healthy and well-educated, or (c) justify the discussion of this topic by pointing out a connection to a current problem that your paper will help address.

Thesis Statement:

A thesis or purpose statement should come at the end of your introduction and state clearly and concisely what the purpose or central argument of your paper is. The introduction prepares your reader for this statement, and the rest of the paper follows in support of it.

Sample Thesis Statement: Because of their income deficit (Smith, 2010) and general susceptibility to depression (Jones, 2011), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.


After the initial introduction, background on your topic often follows. This paragraph or section might include a literature review surveying the current state of knowledge on your topic or simply a historical overview of relevant information. The purpose of this section is to justify your own project or paper by pointing out a gap in the current research which your work will address.

Sample Background: A background section on a paper on education and health might include an overview of recent research in this area, such as research on depression or on decreasing high school graduation rates.

Major & Minor Points

Major points are the building blocks of your paper. Major points build on each other, moving the paper forward and toward its conclusion. Each major point should be a clear claim that relates to the central argument of your paper.

Sample Major Point: Employment and physical health may be a good first major point for this sample paper.  Here, a student might discuss how dropping out of high school often leads to fewer employment opportunities, and those employment opportunities that are available tend to be correlated with poor work environments and low pay.

Minor points are subtopics within your major points. Minor points develop the nuances of your major points but may not be significant enough to warrant extended attention on their own. These may come in the form of statistics, examples from your sources, or supporting ideas.

Sample Minor Point: A sample minor point of the previous major point (employment and physical health) might address worker injury or the frequent lack of health insurance benefits offered by low-paying employers.

The rest of the body of your paper will be made up of more major and minor points. Each major point should advance the paper’s central argument, often building on the previous points, until you have provided enough evidence and analysis to justify your paper’s conclusion.

More Major and Minor Points: In this paper, more major points might include mental health of high school dropouts, healthcare access for dropouts, and correlation between mental and physical health. Minor topics could include specific work environments, job satisfaction in various fields, and correlation between depression and chronic illness.


Your conclusion both restates your paper’s major claim and ties that claim into a larger discussion. Rather than simply reiterating each major and minor point, quickly revisit your thesis statement and focus on ending the paper by tying your thesis into current research in your field, next steps for other researchers, your broader studies, or other future implications.

Sample Conclusion: For this paper, a conclusion might restate the central argument (the link between lack of education and health issues) and go on to connect that discussion to a larger discussion of the U.S. healthcare or education systems.

Example of an Outline:

The following outline is for a 5-7 page paper discussing the link between educational attainment and health. Please note, this is not something you can copy for your paper exactly, it’s just an example of an outline. 


  • Current Problem: Educational attainment rates are decreasing in the United States while healthcare costs are increasing.
  • Population/Area of Focus: Unskilled or low-skilled adult workers
  • Key Terms: healthy, well-educated
  • Thesis StatementBecause of their income deficit (cite sources) and general susceptibility to depression (cite sources), students who drop out of high school before graduation maintain a higher risk for physical and mental health problems later in life.


  • Historical Employment Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were frequently unionized and adequately compensated for their work (cite sources).
  • Historical Healthcare Overview: Unskilled laborers in the past were often provided adequate healthcare and benefits (cite sources).
  • Current Link between Education and Employment Type: Increasingly, uneducated workers work in unskilled or low-skilled jobs (cite sources).
  • Gaps in the Research: Little information exists exploring the health implications of the current conditions in low-skilled jobs.

Major Point 1:  Conditions of employment affect workers’ physical health.

  • Minor Point 1: Unskilled work environments are correlated highly with worker injury (cite sources).
  • Minor Point 2: Unskilled work environments rarely provide healthcare or adequate injury recovery time (cite sources).

Major Point 2: Conditions of employment affect workers’ mental health

  • Minor Point 1: Employment in a low-skilled position is highly correlated with dangerous levels of stress (cite sources).
  • Minor Point 2: Stress is highly correlated with mental health issues (cite sources).

Major Point 3: Physical health and mental health correlate directly with one another.

  • Minor Point 1: Mental health problems and physical health problems are highly correlated (cite sources).
  • Minor Point 2: Stress manifests itself in physical form (cite sources)

Major Point 4: People with more financial worries have more stress and worse physical health.

  • Minor Point 1: Many high-school dropouts face financial problems (cite sources).
  • Minor Point 2: Financial problems are often correlated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such unhealthy food choices, overconsumption/abuse of alcohol, chain smoking, abusive relationships, etc. (cite sources).

VII. Conclusion

  • Restatement of Thesis: Students who drop out of high school are at a higher risk for both mental and physical health problems throughout their lives.
  • Next Steps: Society needs educational advocates; educators need to be aware of this situation and strive for student retention in order to promote healthy lifestyles and warn students of the risks associated with dropping out of school.

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *