The United States is brimming with history you might enjoy researching for an essay, and the period before 1945 contains a wealth of ideas from which to choose. Select a topic that appeals to you, and your interest will come through in your paper. Having a few topic ideas to start with will help you spring toward your area of interest and choose the right topic for your essay.
Wars and Conflicts
Warfare and other conflicts, either on U.S. soil or in foreign countries, provide an interesting area to explore. You might find the Civil War interesting or, perhaps, World War I. If your teacher assigns a long essay, you can look for a broad topic, but if you have a smaller page or word count, you may need to get very specific in your topic. For example, a broad topic might involve a particular Civil War battle such as Gettysburg. For a more specific topic, you may choose to research the effects the war had on the shipping industry. Other wars and conflicts you can look into include the American Revolution, the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812.
The beginning of the U.S. government gives you ample room to research and explore topics. You might focus on what led to the rise of the colonies’ desire to break away from Great Britain’s rule. Other options include the role of particular documents, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, that were part of such great change. For a lengthier research project, you might look at a certain aspect, such as religion in government, and evaluate how it evolved.
Important people in U.S. history offer plenty of options to research. You might find American presidents of interest or some of the founding fathers, such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. A long research paper might give you ample room to look into various areas of the person’s life, but for a short paper with a narrow topic, you might choose one aspect of the individual’s life, such looking into the inventions of Benjamin Franklin.
Many eras within American history provide ample room to discover topics that will work for your paper. You might find Western exploration interesting, such as the expeditions of Lewis and Clark, or you might look into the movement west and focus on people traveling the Oregon Trail. Other eras include the Salem witch trials, the Great Depression or the Prohibition movement. To narrow your focus, you might look into the items Western settlers chose to bring with them on their journey.
- USS Constitution Museum: Short History of the War of 1812
- Civil War Trust: A Brief Overview of the American Civil War
- Library of Congress: Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
- Miller Center at University of Virginia: American President: A Reference Resource
- National Archives: America’s Founding Fathers
- National Archives: Teaching with Documents: The Lewis and Clark Expedition
- Library of Congress: Western Expansion & Reform (1829-1859)
- Library of Congress: Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
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