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HIST 1301 SO Snaples: Historical Debate Paper

Historical Debate Paper

The purpose of this paper is for you to explore a controversial decision or topic in American history and to eventually reach a conclusion about it.  You will pick one of the topics listed below and then consult your notes, read the appropriate sections of the textbook, and do independent research on the topic.  After completing your research, you will identify at least three arguments in favor and three arguments against the issue before reaching your own conclusion.  Finally, you will summarize the topic, arguments, and your conclusion in a 750 to 1,000 word essay.

History 1301 U.S. History Before 1876 Topics:

  • Which of the first two colonies, Virginia or Massachusetts, offered colonists the best opportunities in terms of societal advancement, wealth, freedom, and life expectancy?
  • Which of the first political parties, the Federalists or the Democrats, offered the best vision for the future of the country?
  • Was the South's decision to secede in 1860-61 justified and constitutional?
  • Did Columbus' voyages ultimately harm or benefit North America?

Finding book and ebook resources

The TCC Library catalog gives you access to materials from all of the campus libraries. It will locate print books, and also give you online access to electronic materials such as ebooks, audiobooks, and streaming videos.

Access the TCC Library Catalog:

A good way to start is to type in the topic you are researching. The catalog will look for your words in the titles of books as well as descriptions and tables of contents of books. Once you have obtained a result list, you can modify it to suit your needs.

If you are looking for ebooks, audiobooks or streaming videos, try clicking the "Electronic Book" link in the blue column to the right of your result list. This will limit your results to just those materials you can access online through the catalog. Some of the materials you find in this area will require you to login in with your WebAdvisor username and password (the same as you use for MyTCC).

If you are interested only in books that are available on your specific campus, the same blue column on the right of your result list will enable you to limit your results to materials on a specific campus.

For more in-depth information about searching the TCC Library catalog, see the Catalog tab on the

Virgina v. Massachusetts

When researching the first two American colonies Virginia and Massachusetts, try these search terms in the history databases in the list to the right or in library catalog linked above:

  • Virginia Colony
  • Colonial Virginia
  • Massachusetts Colony
  • Colonial Massachusetts

Federalists v. Democrats

When researching the early political parties, the Federalists and the Democrats, use these search terms in the History databases listed to the right or in library catalog linked above:

  • Federalists
  • Federalist party
  • Federalist Papers
  • Democratic party history
  • early democrats

Secession, constitutional or not?

When researching the question of whether the secession of Southern states in 1860-1861 was justified or constitutional, use these search terms in the History databases listed to the right or in library catalog linked above:

  • Secession
  • Confederate States
  • South Carolina Secession
  • United States Constitution 1860

Columbus's Voyages - harm or benefit?

When researching the question of whether Columbus's voyages ultimately harmed or benefited North America, use these search terms in the History databases listed to the right or in library catalog linked above:

  • Christopher Columbus
  • Columbus's voyages
  • Columbus's voyage to North America
  • Effects of Columbus's voyage to North America

Using Library Databases

Off-Campus Note: If you are using a computer outside the TCC network, you will be redirected to a login page after you select one of the database services. The login page will give you specific instructions on entering your user name and password. If you have problems signing on, contact the library staff for assistance.


Once you select the appropriate database(s) from the list below, enter your search terms. You can perform a basic or advanced search. The basic search is further divided by keywords or exact phrases. For most searches, basic keyword combinations [Example: privacy and terrorism] are sufficient. If you need to limit your results to "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" journals only, check the box labeled "peer-reviewed." In addition, check the box labeled "full text" so you will only get articles that include the full text.

Document formats: Once you have completed your search and are viewing the result list, you will notice that many articles are available in different formats.

  • HTML Full Text - This format includes just the text of the article and has limited graphics. This is the best choice if you do not need the included images or graphics, or you are saving/emailing the article and need to conserve space on your computer disk or in your mailbox.
  • PDF or Full Page Image - A scanned image that displays the article just as it appeared in the magazine or journal. It will include any charts, graphics, and pictures that appeared with the original article. This can be useful if you are looking for visual aids. Viewing a PDF requires the free Acrobat Reader.

If the documents are not what you are looking for, click on "Refine Search" and try other terms. Try searching synonyms, using specific phrases for exact searches, or use the Expand Search to locate related words.

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