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The Federalist Papers – Social/Personal Responsibility Research Paper

This assignment requires the student to read selected letters from The Federalist Papers. Students will analyze and interpret these primary sources (Federalist Papers) and secondary sources to formulate a short paper based on the social and personal responsibilities of various figures, why they are writing these papers, and how we in modern America deal with those issues today. The assignment is worth 50 points. A copy of The Federalist Papers is easy to find either for free online or for a few dollars ($7-10) in book form. There are plain English versions of them available if you have a hard time understanding 1790s English. Search “Plain English Federalist Papers” and that should bring up numerous options.

Social and Personal Responsibility Paper: Students will choose one of The Federalist Papers to analyze and write a 1-2 page paper (Formatting requirements: single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1” margins, no headings except name and paper title); Papers not meeting the stated formatting requirements will be docked 5 points). The definition of “1-2 page” is 1 full page (not half a page or 3⁄4 of a page), with no words on a third page. This is meant to help students learn to write in a precise and concise manner. Citations must be done in Chicago (Turabian) format. Papers done in MLA format will be docked points.An example is at the bottom of this document.

Social responsibility is defined as a demonstration of civic responsibility and its engagement in various larger communities. Personal responsibility is defined as an evaluation of choices and actions of others or one’s own actions, and relate the consequences (good and/or bad) to decision- making. Students must discuss these issues using critical thinking and effectively communicate their views on these topics in their papers. The paper must discuss the social and personal responsibility of both the writers of the documents and modern interpreters of the documents (politicians, judges, media, American public).

The easiest way to do this is to analyze the primary document (the Federalist Paper of your choice) in the first half of the paper and use primary and secondary sources to address how modern American deal with or dealt with the same issues in their time. (For example, Federalist 33 discusses taxation. Analyze how and why they are discussing that issue, using the document and lecture material. Then, in the second half of the paper, use secondary sources to analyze and explain how modern Americans deal with taxation.) The secondary sources need to be books, articles, or comprehensive web sites. Web pages like,, and others of that sort will not give students the requisite information needed and are unacceptable. It should go without saying that Wikipedia is also not an acceptable source. There will be points off for using unacceptable sources.

The deadline for submission of the paper portion is listed on the link to turn in this assignment. No late papers will be accepted, NO EXCEPTIONS. The students will turn 1 electronic copy to the class dropbox online, otherwise the student will be assigned a ZERO for the paper assignment. Failure to turn in this assignment will adversely affect your final course grade. You must turn in your paper in a format Blackboard can read. Blackboard tells you in the upload link which formats it can read. It CANNOT read Google Docs or Apple Pages. If you turn in your paper in either of those formats, it will not be read, and you will get a zero.



Students may choose any of The Federalist Papers to write about for their paper. Dr. Smith recommends the following to help you, but you may choose others outside this list: 2, 4, 10, 14, 15, 17, 21, 25, 30, 38, 39, 42, 44, 46, 51, 57, 62, 63, 68, 69, 74, 78, 81, and 84.
Only one student per class can write on a particular Federalist Paper and preference will be on a first come, first served basis. If a student writes on the same Federalist Paper as another student who claimed it first, the second student will receive no credit for their paper. A discussion board has been created to claim the paper numbers, so look there to see which numbers other students have and have not taken. Dr. Smith does not check the discussion board unless there is a problem (e.g.: two students do the same topic) and is not responsible for making sure students pick their topic correctly. The board is for students to check which papers are available. If you are confused or have question, please email Dr. Smith! Claim your paper on the discussion board in the “Paper Assignment” tab.

Writing tips:

1. Statements such as “I think…” “I feel…” “I believe…” “This showed personal/social responsibility by…” and any other statement like these should not find their way into your paper. You can express these sentiments without resorting to high school level writing.
2. You do not need to introduce the book, author, etc. It is a waste of time in such a concise paper. Get to the point!
3. Do not use contractions in formal writing (don’t, won’t, can’t, etc.).
4. Use normal paragraphs, they are your friend! Giant walls of text are not!
5. Do not put an elaborate heading at the top (I know some of you are sneaky with that! haha). All you need is your name and paper title. Any paper with 3-6 lines of heading will not meet the length requirement.
6. If you would like help becoming a better writer, please ask Dr. Smith for assistance.

Citation Examples

This website gives a good overview of the types of citations you may need and how to do Chicago Turabian style of citations.

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