Topic: Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick
History 12 Online Topic Paper: Guidelines and Helpful Hints and Paper Prompt
Papers that are turned in after the end of class on Tuesday Feb. 19th are considered late. You will need to submit an electronic copy through Blackboard and the
Turnitin.com feature in Course Documents. See the syllabus for the penalties for late papers.
Length: 3-4 pages
Format: double spaced, 12 point font, regular margins (no larger than 1”)
Prompt: see page 5.
Sources and Research Expectations:
The assignment for this paper is designed so that you DO NOT need to do any additional reading or research. The material from lectures, Blackboard documents and the
book itself are sufficient for writing this paper. Assuming that you have taken good lecture notes and completed the reading, Ragged Dick as assigned, you should be
able to write the paper without consulting any outside sources, although you may if you wish too.
Citations and Documentation:
Use The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines for the footnotes. This may be accessed online, or through manuals in the Library.
You may decide that purchasing a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style is a good investment. You may not. If not, you can find copies in Madden Library. There is one on
reserve and one in the reference section. You can also consult the online version of The Chicago Manual of Style. The online version is not as exhaustive as the hard
copy version, but for the purposes of this paper, the online version is sufficient. Access the online version at:
If you would like to use a lecture as a source, you may. Remember that information that is considered general knowledge does not have to be documented—and much of the
lecture material falls under this category—but there may be certain statistics or quotes from lecture that you may wish to use. When you cite from a lecture, use the
format: name of lecturer, Title of Lecture (date and location of lecture). For example: Vernon Creviston, “The City on a Hill”: The New England Colonies, (lecture
delivered for History 11, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA, September 9, 2010).
As a general rule, the textbook is considered a source made up of general knowledge and, therefore, does not need to be cited. The exception, again, would be if you
want to include certain statistics or quotes. For the most part, you should avoid quoting at length from your textbook. Why? Because secondary sources such as your
textbook do not provide material for particularly interesting quotations. You should paraphrase instead. Primary sources, on the other hand, can often be great sources
for quotations and should ALWAYS be footnoted.
Rules on Citations:
At all costs, you should avoid plagiarism. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to know what constitutes plagiarism. The “I didn’t know defense” WILL NOT WORK. University policy
says the following: “Plagiarism is a specific form of cheating which consists of the misuse of the published and/or unpublished works of others by misrepresenting the
material (i.e., their intellectual property) so used as one’s own work.” This means that stealing from a famous historian’s book is just as serious as having a friend
write your paper for you. Plagiarism can result in expulsion from the University.
Plagiarism will certainly result in your flunking this class.
In citing sources, you do not have to cite information that is considered general knowledge. Much of the information in lecture and in the textbook is considered
general knowledge. You do need to provide citations for things like statistics and, of course, any time you quote from a source, you must cite that direct quote.
You must also cite any parts of your paper that are paraphrased from published sources. Remember, if it is not your idea, then you need to acknowledge the source.
TO REPEAT: IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to know what constitutes plagiarism. The “I didn’t know defense” WILL NOT WORK.
Lastly, you will find a great aid for creating your citations in Microsoft word itself, under the References tab which allows you to select the style of citation you
want to use and to insert the citation when needed. Please refer to the Microsoft Word help wizard for more on this or see your instructor personally.
colonies remained few in numbers and poorly organized. For Metzger, the colonial press played the primary role in mobilizing colonists against the imperial
legislation with their anti-Catholic rhetoric. Sister Mary McDermott expanded upon Metzger’s views by arguing that for those outside of Puritan New England, it was
the expansion of Canadian territory that proved to be the prime motivational factor driving many to the Patriot cause. While both Metzger and McDermott examined the
impact of the Quebec Act on the thirteen colonies, their biased pro-Catholic views undermine their work. Furthermore, they not only look at the American colonies in a
political vacuum, ignoring the leadership role that British opposition initially provided American colonists, but they also fail to recognize the influence the act has
in the process of American declaring independence.
Yet other historians would examine the role of religion in less strident terms, even if they too limited their scope to New England. Peter Doll provided an excellent
example of how the Quebec Act helped identify social forces at work in colonial society, with his study, Revolution, Religion, and National Identity. While Doll’s
primary goal was to return the effects of religion, specifically anti-Anglicanism, to the story of the American Revolution, he did use the act to juxtapose the efforts
of the British government to those of radical Americans. Although concentrating his focus almost exclusively on New England, Doll still
 Charles H. Metzger, The Quebec Act: A Primary Cause of the Revolution (New York: The United States Catholic Historical Society, 1936), 204-205.
 Sister Mary C. McDermott, “The Quebec Act” (Master’s thesis, Creighton University, 1930).
 Peter M. Doll, Revolution, Religion, and National Identity: Imperial Anglicanism in British America, 1745-1795 (Madison, WI: Farleigh Dickinson University Press,
 Brad Jones, “England ad Empire,” (Lecture given at CSU, Fresno Hist. 210, 14 April, 2008).
“Horatio Alger’s book, Ragged Dick, while a work of fiction, is a great example of Social Darwinism in Gilded Age America. This work demonstrated the many
opportunities for all Americans that existed in American society in the late nineteenth century where hard work, honesty, and initiative would allow individuals to
make their own fortunes.” Write an essay that answers this prompt, you may agree, disagree, or take some middle ground as you like, but you must provide an argument
and support it with evidence (i.e. specific information/examples) gleaned from the book, lectures, or other sources of your choosing. A few points to keep in mind when
considering your paper and argument: look at the prompt, it is asking if you think that Alger is right and that ANYONE in America can be successful as long as they are
hard working, honest, get an education and use their money wisely. Do you agree with this? You can either agree that yes Alger is right and explain why using examples
from the textbook or other sources or you can disagree and provide your evidence. Either way, make and argument and support it with evidence.
For my paper, I agree with Alger and think that ANYONE in America can be successful as long as they are hard working, honest, get an education and use their money
Please use Ragged Dick as a source and 1 other source of your choosing.
Strong history papers must have a central argument. The argument is laid out in your thesis statement (which can be more than one sentence) and is woven throughout
your paper. This argument is backed up with specific evidence. Your paper must have an argument that is backed up with specific evidence. If you do not know how to
construct such a paper, you need to seek help from one of the writing centers or myself.
You may decide that a chronological organization works best for your paper. Alternatively, you may decide that a thematic or topical organization works best. There is
no “correct” way to organize your paper.
The Thesis Statement:
• It is an argumentative statement, not a simple fact
– Example of a thesis statement: “From its very inception as colonies, the United States has been a land of freedom and opportunity for all who settled here.”
– Example of factual statement: “The English colonies, from which the United States was created, relied upon the English form of government and law.”