Friday, January 30, 2004

Writing Senior Thesis

As all who were or are history majors know, when you approach the end of your undergraduate work you come to a point where you are required to write a serious historical paper on a given topic in the range of about 20-25 pages buttressed primarily through primary sources.

I am at such a point (therefore cutting into much of my time for other writing) and I have decided to keep everyone who reads this blog up to speed on my evidence findings, and my writing for this senior thesis.

The overall topic of the class I am in is U.S. Involvement in Vietnam. I spent the first week developing a thesis that interested me and I've included it below:

The United States fatally hampered its war effort in Vietnam by not supporting a consistent free alternative to Communist North Vietnam. The reason for this was that American intellectuals and politicians of both parties no longer believed in the ideas that form the basis of a free society (individual rights, capitalism) and did not support or implement policies in South Vietnam consistent with this. If we didn't promote freedom at home, why and how could we even try to do it abroad?

My preliminary research, aside from learning the pertinent facts of the war, has been directed towards American domestic politics. Several quotes already found include,

"We need to strengthen our nation by safeguarding its health. Our working men and women, instead of being forced to ask for help from public charity once they are old and ill, should start contributing now to their own retirement health program through the Social Security System." italics added - John F. Kennedy, Third State of the Union, Jan. 14, 1963.

"Today the potential of the American economy is such that it has become the responsibility of society to delineate and fulfill a far broader range of civil rights than we have provided for in the past." - Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, First Things First: New Priorities for America

"I believe that new American will have, first among his characteristics, the understanding that his capacity for grace - his love and concern for his fellows - is more significant and necessary than an unbridled individualism or an intellect devoid of compassion." - Senator George McGovern, A Time for War A Time for Peace

"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961.

"Men want to be part of a common enterprise -- a cause greater than themselves. Each of us must find a way to advance the purpose of the nation, thus finding new purpose for ourselves. Without this, we shall become and nation of strangers." - Lyndon B. Johnson, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1965.

"The second third of this century has been a time of proud achievement. We have made enormous strides in science and industry and agriculture. We have shared our wealth more broadly than ever. We have learned at last to manage a modern economy to assure its continued growth." - Richard Nixon, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1969.

"In this past third of a century, government has passed more laws, spent more money, initiated more programs, than in all our previous history.

In pursuing our goals of full employment, better housing, excellence in education; in rebuilding our cities and improving our rural areas; in portecting our environment and enhancing the quality of life -- in all these and more, we will and must press urgently forward.

We shall plan now for the day when our wealth can be transferred from the destruction of war abroad to the urgent needs for our people at home." - Richard Nixon, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1969.

"We have the chance today to do more than ever before in our history to make life better in America -- to ensure better education, better health, better transportation, a cleaner environment -- to restore respect for law, to make our communities more livable -- and to insure the God-given right of every American to full and equal opportunity." - Richard Nixon, Second Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1973.

"But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer to the American people, but what I intend to ask of them ... It holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security." - John F. Kennedy, Nomination Acceptance Speech, July 15, 1960.

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