"...dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...."

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The assignment:

You will be researching a famous speech that influenced America. You may learn about the historical contexts of these speeches in your US Studies class throughout the year!  Your goal from a language arts standpoint is to focus on the audience, author’s purpose, text structure, and impact of the speech itself. Remember what you learned when analyzing Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Choose one speech on which you will become an expert and write a 5-paragraph essay about this topic.


How will I become an expert?

  • noting the context of the time period during which the speech took place

  • finding the speakers intended audience and why he or she was addressing these people

  • discovering the purpose of the speech

  • researching the impact the speech had on American History

  • analyzing the text structure, tone, word choices, and


The speeches:

  1. Civil Rights Address-JFK

  2. Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation-FDR

  3. I Have a Dream-MLK

  4. The Duties of American Citizenship-Teddy Roosevelt

  5. Shuttle “Challenger” Disaster Address-Ronald Reagan

  6. Tecumseh's Speech to the Osages (Pease)

  7. Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give me Death”

  8. Elizabeth Cady Stanton “Seneca Falls Keynote Address

  9. Frederick Douglass: The Church and Prejudice


The Process:

  • Most of the research for this 5 paragraph essay will be done at HOME or outside of the classroom.

  • Use a variety of sources and create a bibliography in MLA format. (3+ scholarly resources): NO WIKI’S!

  • Create a well-developed thesis statement to organize your essay. Must get approved by teacher before moving on...

  • Generate topic sentences and body paragraphs that align with your thesis.



Essay Format:


Introduction: (5-8 sentences)

  • Hook

  • 2-3 general statements about upcoming body paragraphs (What are you going to talk about?)

  • Thesis Statement



Body (Each body paragraph MUST have a topic sentence, general statement, and supporting details followed by a transition to the next paragraph)

  • Paragraph 2:

    • Historical background

    • Intended audience

    • Purpose of the speech (continue to elaborate in paragraph 4)

  • Paragraph 3

    • Text structure

    • Mood and tone

    • Word choice

  • Paragraph 4

    • Evaluate if  the purpose of the speech was met.

    • Analyze the lasting impact of the speech on American History (SO WHAT? - effect)


Conclusion (5-8 sentences)

  • Restated Thesis

  • 2-3 summarizing statements

  • Lasting impression-Kicker



Transitions (see handout)

  • Make sure to use a variety of transitions to connect paragraphs, ideas, and sentences.