America's Retreat from Civil Liberty in Time of Threat

In times of crisis, the federal government has often enacted laws that infringed deeply upon Americans’ civil liberties (personal freedoms) in the name of “national security” or sometimes in order to gain “victory,” when war was declared or looming. Though not frequent, when such legislation or use of federal power occurs it is completely antithetical to the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned and guaranteed for us in the Bill of Rights. Examples range from John Adams’ and the Federalists’ Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 to Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War to widespread federal suppression of “radicalism” in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution to the Patriot Act of recent times.

Your assignment is to write a paper about a specific aspect of one of the following periods/actions in which governmental power was placed above personal freedoms supposedly for the national interest:

1) the Sedition and Espionage Acts (World War I)

2) the Palmer Raids (1919)

3) the Alien Registration or Smith Act (1940)

4) the internment of Japanese- or German- or Italian-Americans during World War II

5) Various legislation during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s

6) the Patriot Act of the present century.

Since there are numerous books written on all these topics, you’ll want to find a researchable, creative angle that is appropriate for the length of assignment (5-6 pages, a minimum of 1,250 words, not including the bibliography). For example, you can focus on the historical context and rationale that led to the government’s actions. Or, you could focus on one or several of the individuals who argued for these actions and examine their motivations. Alternately, you could write about how individuals or groups of Americans were affected by these actions. Another option is to look at resistance movements against the government’s actions. Still other possible angles could be to compare and contrast some aspect of one of these actions with another sanctioned violation of liberties that occurred previously in United States history, or to examine how economic or racial issues shaped federal policies at the time.

Whatever instance you choose of government suppression of liberties, you’ll want to base your argument on thorough research, start with a clear thesis, and eventually draw some important conclusions about the vulnerable state of civil liberties in times of crisis.

You must use at least two primary sources (official documents, letters, diaries, interviews, etc. from the time period) and at leastthree secondary sources (books and articles). All sources and direct quotes must be documented in Chicago Style (CMS), which is used in history. You can peruse the actual Chicago Manuel of Style, but it may be confusing, if not overwhelming, for first-time users and it addresses alternative ways in which citations should be approached depending on discipline. Rampolla clarifies how historians use CMS with easy to follow examples in Chapter 7.
Term Paper Expectations:

The Term Paper requires you, first, to critically analyze primary sources and, second, to research related secondary sources before typing the paper. It provides you with the opportunity to develop research and writing skills as well as to synthesize knowledge about a controversial issue. In order to earn the maximum points, you must submit a paper that accomplishes the following:

– Considers the controversial issue announced by the instructor.
– Identifies at least two primary sources (i.e., letters, diaries, publications).
– Consults three or more valid secondary sources that help to develop a thesis.
– Constructs a thesis statement based upon the primary and secondary sources.
– Incorporates an introduction, body, and conclusion.
– Avoids spelling errors, awkward language, improper grammar, flawed punctuation, and other compositional mistakes
– Includes at least five pages (1,250 words).
– Uses the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for documenting all quotations and paraphrases (CMS rules are explained in Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing in History).
– Adds a complete bibliography (per Rampolla) that properly lists the sources used for the paper.

I need two books used as references:
– Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. Seagull 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton, 2014.
– Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton.


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