Suppose you are taking a course on 19th_century America, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War. You turn on the computer and type out the following: The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.
A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts such as surprising contrasts or similarities, and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a working thesis that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.
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