For the writing assignment, you need to pick an issue or topic in US history, or a person who influenced a key issue or topic, in the period up to
1865. The following list (set up in the order I thought of things) provides suggestions for possible topics, but you can always pick a topic/person
that is not listed. ALL topics must be approved by the instructor, whether or not they are on the list.
Political documents that shaped the development of the nation:

Declaration of Independence
Articles of Confederation (focus on why they failed)
Bill of Rights

Other key Political events/trends

Development of First Party System
Collapse of the Federalists
Break-up of the National Republicans and start of Second Party System
Collapse of the Whigs
Rise of the Republicans
Westward expansion and the creation of new states

The Civil War
Why did it happen? Why wasn't it prevented?
How has it changed America socially, technologically,etc?

Foreign Policy
War and Conflict - North Africa in 1801, Britain in 1812, Mexico in 1846
Almost-War - France in 1798, Britain in 1845
Diplomacy - US relations with major world powers (pick one nation and discuss US foreign policy toward it)

Slavery & Abolitionism (focus on one of the following)
Why did southerners support slavery
Why did some northerners oppose it
Why did the abolitionists never gain a majority in the north
How did Congress (or the courts) deal with slavery

Other race-relations issues (focus on topics such as the following)
Role of African-Americans in northern society
Role of "Free Blacks" in southern society
Government policy towards Indian nations
Forced movement of eastern Indians to the west

Role of Women in American society

Industrialism in America
Why did it develop in the north
Why did it not develop in the south
Role played by immigrants in the workforce

Education in America
Rise of public Education in the north
Development of Higher Education institutions

Economic Developments
Funding and Assumption
Rise and Fall of the National Bank
Economic Crises (aka Panics) and their effect on the nation
The Erie Canal
Railroads and the Economy

Significant people who played a role in the above (and other stuff too)

Presidents - focus on how their time in office affected the nation
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Jefferson Davis

Other Politicians:
Alexander Hamilton
Albert Gallatin
John Marshall
Roger Taney
John Randolph of Roanoke
Henry Clay
John Calhoun
Daniel Webster
William Crawford
William Wirt
Thomas Hart Benton
Stephen Douglas
Sam Houston
Charles Sumner

Business leaders:
John Jacob Astor
Samuel Slater
Eli Whitney

Social leaders:
Lucretia Mott
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Frederick Douglas
William L Garrison
Margaret Fuller
Benjamin Rush
John Brown
Charles G Finney
Joseph Smith