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The Academic Essay

The traditional academic essay is generally called the "Five-Paragraph" essay because it has a total of five paragraphs: a thesis paragraph, three body or topic paragraphs and a conclusion. It is sometimes called the "Three-Point" Essay, because you prove your thesis assertion with three main points, with supporting evidence. In order to organize your expository essay, you need to develop an outline before you sit down to write your rough draft. For the outline format for this class, you do not need to use full sentences for your headings or sub-headings--just a phrase or word will do. However, I am asking that you include your thesis statement, topic sentences and concluding sentence in your outline. This is for you to ensure that you are following the guidelines for good thesis and topic sentences. The thesis sentence gives an overview of the essay to come. It tells what stand your are going to take on a particular topic or issue. A good thesis:
   

Focuses your thoughts to a workable main idea. Asserts your position clearly. This is your opinion, not just a statement of fact. Makes a generalization that will be proven by supporting points and specifics. Carries more weight if it is written in the third person, rather than the first person.

A good topic sentence:
 

Presents one of your main supporting points that proves your thesis Does not incorporate a specific fact or example. (For instance, a date, statistics, or an expert's name or quote.)

The following is a sample outline for an expository essay, based on the importance of Sally Hemmings in American history. The full expository essay follows.

Laurel Saiz Prof. L. Saiz ENG 103 Spring 2001

Roots B. George Wythe C. The Significance of Sally Hemmings Topic Sentence: The Sally Hemmings story touches some hot-button issues for many Americans. Genetic evidence and reaction III. A. Sally Hemmings' role in Monticello B. Life on the Color Line C. Thesis Statement: We all know about Presidential shenanigans. Racial Mixing and American History Topic Sentence: Jefferson's "white" descendants should not have been so outraged. Greater Recognition in America Topic Sentence: Even before the latest historical revelations about an American president. Slaves in the Family IV. Hemmings offspring C.Race and the "Wrong Side of the Bed" in American History I. A. multiracialism was given new attention in many books. The Sweeter the Juice B. II. Hemmings description D. A. The Color of Water . often at the highest levels of American history. because it mixes the unsavory thoughts of illegitimacy and miscegenation with a hither-to-fore sacred figure. since there have always been bi-racial offspring. but Sally Hemmings is all the more frightening for some people because of the many unaddressed questions relating to race in our society.

" She was called "dusky Sally" in derision during the muckraking 1806 campaign. Monticello. Haizlip discovered that her mother's lineage could be traced to . Harding's family home in Marion. We all know about Presidential shenanigans. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip talks about tracking down her mother's relatives years after they abandoned her because her skin was too dark to enable her to "pass. who were only one-eighth black. passed completely into white society.V. you might not get a response at all--only a cold stare. often at the highest levels of American history. Hemmings. but Hemmings' alleged liaison with Jefferson is all the more frightening for some people because of the many unaddressed issues relating to race in our society." By going through genealogical records. "We don't like to talk about Nan Britton here. As a "quadroon. since there have always been bi-racial offspring." Hemmings was described as "mighty near to white. and ask about Sally Hemmings. as it mixes the unsavory thoughts of illegitimacy and miscegenation with a hither-to-fore sacred figure. which rivaled the Monica Lewinsky incident in scandalousness. At least one line of Hemmings' offspring." Talk about Monica Lewinsky may elicit responses ranging from Clinton hatred and sarcasm to amusement or even boredom. When you go to Thomas Jefferson's mountaintop home. Making even more of a splash was the more recent announcement in October 1999 that genetic evidence supports the oral history that Jefferson fathered at least one child by Hemmings. Ohio. was only one-quarter black and--even more interestingly--was his dead wife's half-sister. In The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White. The Jefferson Memorial Society reacted to this by initially banning all of Hemmings' relatives from meetings of this Jefferson genealogical organization. Concluding Sentence: Perhaps 21st Century students will learn that "the wrong side of the bed" did not just mean shameful illegitimacy. The "Wrong Side of the Bed" and Race in American History When you go to Warren G. Some descendants did not even know until 1999 of their slave and Jefferson connections. a slave whose job it was to take care of Jefferson's personal wardrobe. and ask about Nan Britton. The Hemmings story touches some hot-button issues for many Americans. the docent in charge may sniff and say. but was an everyday occurrence in American race relations. Jefferson's "white" descendants should not have been so outraged.

but was an everyday occurrence in American race relations." Williams'Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovers He is Black is about their reemergence into black culture. Slaves in the Family. Fawn Brodie's book. Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. George Wythe. Lydia Broadnax. multiracialism was given new attention in many books. many of whom were signers of the Declaration of Independence. but--with the exception of Roots--are not presented in school curricula. Gregory Howard Williams. talks about how Wythe was murdered by his nephew who resented being left out of his will in favor of Broadnax. probably fathered a bi-racial son with his slave housekeeper. Chicken George.Martha Washington's family. who had always claimed to be a swarthy "Italian. All of these popular books have been on the best-sellers lists. one of Hailey's most interesting ancestors. was fathered by a plantation owner. Edward Ball's National Book Award-winning work. Alex Hailey's monumental work Roots--the subject of a record-breaking TV series in the 1970s--did much to pave the way for an open look at America's multi-racial history. the dean of the Ohio State University Law School. Whether mainstream education will decide to incorporate the traditionally taboo subject of miscegenation on the part of American historical figures remains to be seen. Jefferson's law professor. Even before the latest historical revelations about an American president. . describes the moment when his father. talks about his African-American cousins--descendants of his slave-owning ancestors. The opposite of "passing" is James McBride's story of his Jewish mother who left her white family behind. More recently. recounted in The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother." told him they were actually "niggers. Perhaps 21st Century students will learn that "the wrong side of the bed" did not just mean shameful illegitimacy.