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Paper Assignments

Paper #1

Topic: Age of McCarthyism

Write a 5-page paper in response to the following question:

Would McCarthyism have existed without Joe McCarthy? In answering this question, you must support your argument with historical evidence from the primary documents in Schrecker. In making your case, consider evidence that both supports and challenges your argument. Your papers must contain a thesis. Please consult the guide to writing history papers for additional help. (Due on last day of week #4)

Paper #2

Write a five-page paper discussing the following historical development: Between 1964 and 1968, in just four years, American society underwent a profound political change. Define and explain that dramatic transformation using primary evidence to support your claims. Be sure to ground your argument with reference to specific historical events. (Due on last day of week #10)

In-class Assignments

Vietnam War

You are in the President's Cabinet meetings in July 1965. You have listened closely to the debates about whether to escalate America's commitment in Vietnam. You have considered both the benefits and risks of taking further action. At a key impasse, President Johnson turns to you to ask you what should be done. You say . . .

In formulating your response, consider the following questions (as well as any others you think are pertinent):

  • Why is the US in Vietnam in the first place?
  • What are America’s goals in Vietnam?
  • Are those goals attainable?
  • Why or why not?
  • What are the costs of inaction?
  • What are the costs of further action?
  • What steps exactly ought to be taken?
  • What factors must the President consider in making his decision?
  • What are the US obligations in this region?
  • Are there national security issues at stake?
  • What authority must Johnson seek to pursue the plans you suggest?
  • How has the President justified his actions thus far?


Imagine you are living in America in the early 1950s when McCarthyism is at its height. In one way or another, since the end of World War II, you have become involved directly in either defending or repudiating both anti-communism and the tactics used to fight Communists in your midst. Justify your actions.

To do this, first explain who you are and what your actions have been (Hint: figure out which documents best represent your viewpoint). Then justify your actions. In doing so, you will want to explain why challenges to your position are unjustified. (Hint: you may have to consult documents outside of your point of view).

Here is a list of groups:

Administration Officials
Liberal Anti-communists
Republican Anti-communists
Fifth Amendment Communists
Communist Party Activists

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