37 pages 1 hour read

Joseph J. Ellis

American Creation

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2007

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Essay Topics


Ellis writes that “[o]ne of the beauties of the inherently ambiguous definition of executive power in the Constitution was that it could expand or contract like an accordion, making the music required in different historical contexts” (225). Choose an example of a time in US history when executive power either expanded or contracted. Who was president and what were the circumstances of the expansion or contraction? How did it occur? What were its consequences?


Ellis refers to Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis” as an extension of Jefferson’s thoughts on the Louisiana Territory. What was Turner’s thesis and why was it an important contribution to American historiography? What have been some criticisms of it?


Chapter 4 and Chapter 6 look at how the new nation dealt with the Native Americans living within its territory. Ellis concludes that the inability to prevent their removal was one of the founders’ failures. This issue would later come to a head with the Indian Removal Act of 1830, leading to the “Trail of Tears.” Describe the repercussions of George Washington and Henry Knox’s failure to forge a solution to the new nation’s relationship with Native Americans.