Due October 9, 2023

On Monday, October 9, students will submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay on a topic concerning early US diplomacy provided to them in class on Thursday, Oct. 5. All essays must include references to the Herring book, properly cited using Chicago-style footnotes. Outside research is allowed but not required. Essays will be graded on depth of analysis, use of evidence, and quality of prose. Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points each day.


Please choose ONE of the follow essay topics:

  • Who was the most successful US diplomat between 1776 and 1900?  Do not include presidents.


  • What was the worst presidential mistake in US diplomatic decision-making between 1789 and 1900?

  • Please open your paper with a descriptive title and your name (byline).
  • Make sure to address a question and devise a thesis statement that can be effectively argued in a short paper.  Consult the Methods Center handout on How to Write a Thesis Statement 
  • Make sure to provide essential definitions and background as you proceed with your answer –and most important– explain why your choice seems better than some other alternatives. 
  • Prof. Pinsker will comment on full or partial drafts.  You may also consult with the Writing Center for help with your essay.  Do not work with other students in the course.

Sample Footnotes

According to George Herring, it was “unilateralism” and not isolationism which “formed a powerful and enduring strain in U.S. foreign policy.” [1]  Any subsequent citation to Herring can be abbreviated with only author’s last name and page number.[2]

[1] George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower:  U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 6.

[2] Herring, 118.

  • Make sure you are using and formatting your footnotes correctly.  Provide footnotes for all quotations and highly specific information (such as statistics). See the models below as well as this methods handout on How to Use Footnotes and consult as needed with the library’s Chicago-style guide, but make sure to use sample footnote models for formatting and NOT bibliography examples.
  • Take to care to evaluate your sources as you deploy them in your essay.  See this methods post on Evaluating Sources for a helpful overall framework.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of integrating your quoted evidence with some degree of fluidity.  Awkwardly inserting quotations is one of the hallmarks of mediocre undergraduate essays.  Consult this handout from the methods center for a range of good tips.
  • Also, please guard against plagiarism.  Remember our discussion from the very first day of the semester.  Never write your own words while looking directly at your sources, especially secondary sources –unless you are quoting them.
  • And finally, always remember to proofread your work by printing it out and reading it aloud, slowly. See our methods handout on How to Proofreed [sic]