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Lesson One

Lesson Two

Lesson Three

Lesson Four

Lesson Five


Lesson Four: Writing DBQ Essays


Provide a Path

The Body Paragraphs

Write a Conclusion


Adapted from Frederick Rushton, Worcester (MA) public schools

Provide a Path

Write an introductory paragraph:

Sample Introductory Paragraph (based on the Sample DBQ)

Governmental decision making has to do with how a government makes, interprets, or enforces its decisions. Citizenship has to do with the role an individual plays in his/her government. [provide definitions]  Different types of governments have existed throughout global history, and these governments have affected the role of their citizens in the decision-making process.  Two such types of government are absolute control by an individual or few individuals, and democracy, which is a government where the people have control. [provide background by using the words of the historical context]  By analyzing the role of citizens in the decision-making process of each type of government, the advantages and disadvantages of different governments can be seen. [indicate topics to be discussed]  In spite of the fact that decisions may take a long time to make, democracy is the form of government best able to involve citizens in a country's decision-making process. [statement of thesis]

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The Body Paragraphs


Develop paragraphs that cite supporting evidence from the documents and include outside historical knowledge. Students should do the following, for a complete DBQ:

Sample Body Paragraph (based on the Sample DBQ)

Absolute governments give people few rights. [simple sentence]  The ruler or king has the only real sovereignty, and such kings often claimed to rule by what is known as "divine right," or by answering only to God.  Although they did respect certain laws, such kings often controlled self-expression in many ways, such as restricting religious groups, free speech and the press, and other liberties.  A strong example of an absolute government is the government of France from the mid-1600s to the early 1700s. [list facts]  The king, Louis XIV, was shown seated on a throne; he was someone others were supposed to look up to. [compound sentence]  Yet some people questioned such power.  Clearly, in this political system, people would have few rights and the ruler would be very powerful. [evaluation and analysis]  Likewise, [transition] people living under the rule of King Louis XIV of France would have few rights.   Because he had complete control over France, Louis XIV he was called the Sun King…. [complex sentence] 


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Write A Conclusion

Restate the thesis and summarize major points.

Sample Concluding Paragraph (based on the Sampler DBQ)

Thus, democracy is the best form of government to involve citizens in the decision-making process. [restate thesis]  This is because in a democracy people have the right to make decisions.  Furthermore, in a democracy the citizens have the right to be informed and participate; but, under absolute rule, the voices of citizens do not matter.  Democracy is a good system because it makes sure that decisions will be made with the consideration of the interests of most of the people. [summarize main points]

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