Thomas Pain

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Name_________________________________________________________________Date___________________________ Thomas Paine AP Argument Prompt Essay Student Samples

Sample 1: A
Throughout American history there have been many theories as to the makeup of this diverse nation. One of the most popular refers to America as the “great melting pot,” suggesting that America is a place where all kinds of different cultures and beliefs combine to form a uniquely American identity. Thomas Paine here, however, seems to be more in accord with the “tomato soup” analogy where it states that the essence of American culture is the tomato soup, that is, the so-called “American creed,” a combination of liberty, self-government, social mobility, and economic independence, while other cultures add ingredients and spices to the soup, but do not change its nature as being a pot of tomato soup. Paine suggests that despite the diversity of American population, “the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man” brings “cordial unison" and serves as the basis of American society as the tomato taste is the basis of the soup. Although his assertion of diversity and the importance of rights of man seems to hold true today, that they continue to bring unity is no longer accurate.

There is little doubt that American even today is largely an immigrant society. Ever since Lyndon Johnson loosened the quota system in 1905, every year thousands, if not millions of people from all backgrounds pour into American, recently Asians and Latin Americans in predominance. However, while in the 1700s and 1800s the immigrants also came from different nations, they often shared similar cultures as most were from the European continents; the integration of Asians and Latin Americans into a predominantly white society presents unprecedented difficulties. Community-first values held by many Asians contradict the value of personal liberty in American and most Mexicans remain loyal to their homeland, never becoming part of American society. In these cases “the principles of society and the rights of man” no longer serve as a binding force in uniting the American people; because of different cultures, these beliefs are no longer shared.

Another crucial issue in present-day America that threatens to tear the unison Paine so optimistically predicts is the ever-radical political parties. Although both parties believe in what Paine calls “the principles of society and the rights of man,” this common belief fails to unite them for they see distinctively different ways of achieving them. The recent budget standoff presents a clear example of discord, not concord, caused from our form of government—when the President and Congress fail to agree, serious problems might occur. The arguments surrounding what the government can and should do eluded Paine’s characterization of America. These arguments are, however, not entirely detrimental to the American society.

What Paine fails to recognize is that discord can sometimes be beneficial. When people possess the right to differ, when oppositional forces such as political parties fight to gain approval of the American people, we see possibilities of change—something only discord can initiate.

Sample 2: B

Thomas Paine was an educated and credible man. In 1791, he wrote the Rights of Man, discussing who the infant nation of America is. It is comprised of such different backgrounds, yet it works in harmony. It is also described to be a land where everybody is equal, and given many opportunities. Two-hundred and twenty years later, Paine’s belief still holds true even though there are greater distinctions in America.

Living in such a great city as New York City, it is easy to say that Paine’s belief still holds true. With a population of over 8 million, there are people from all over the world adhering to all kinds of faiths. Even though there are so...
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