Professor Duval, HIST 1483, Spring ’20

This paper will be an approximately 1000-word essay based on the set of primary sources provided on the Exploring U.S. History website.

Your task is to answer one of the questions below, using the sources provided, to make an argument about the development of slavery in Virginia during the colonial period. You are required to use a minimum of three sources (of course, you are welcome to use more, if you choose), one of which must be An act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705).

Imagine your audience as intelligent readers craving new knowledge about the past, but unfamiliar with these documents. What can you tell them about the sources that will surprise them? That will deepen their understanding of slavery in colonial America?

Option 1: How did opportunities for Africans in Virginia to gain their freedom decline between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?  How did these laws alter Virginia society?

  • A Report of a Comittee from an Assembly Concerning the freedome of Elizabeth Key” (1656)
  • “Negro womens children to serve according to the condition of the mother” (1662)
  • “An act declaring that baptisme of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage” (1667)
  • “An act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705)—you must use this source
  • “Of Servants and Slaves in Virginia”; an excerpt from The History of Virginiaby Robert Beverley (1722)

Option 2: How did the status of enslaved Indians in Virginia change from the mid-seventeenth to the early-eighteenth century? How were these changes linked to shifting laws and ideas about African slavery?

  • Metappin, a Powhatan Indian (1662)
  • Selected Acts Concerning Indian Slavery in Virginia (1662-1682)
  • “An act declaring that baptisme of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage” (1667)
  • “An act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705)—you must use this source
  • “Of Servants and Slaves in Virginia”; an excerpt from The History of Virginiaby Robert Beverley (1722)

Requirements and Deadlines

  • Please make sure to answer ALL parts of the question.
  • This paper is due to your discussion leader in discussion section in Week 6 (via Canvas).
  • The paper should be 900-1200 words long (around 3-4 pages) and include a word count at the end.
  • This paper is worth 150 points (i.e. 15% of your final grade).
  • All papers must include footnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • For instructions, see the Citation Guide on the Exploring U.S. History website.
  • If you are confused or unsure about how to cite, please see either the professor or your discussion leader and we will be happy to help you.

Writing and Organizing the Essay

Your essay should develop a claim about the system of slavery during the colonial era that answers one of the prompts. That claim—your thesis—needs to go beyond simply reporting what you found or describing the documents. Instead, it should use evidence to broaden, qualify, and support your claim in order to prove your point.

A few guidelines:

  • Your thesis should be the final sentence of your introductory paragraph.
  • After the introduction, each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that connects to the thesis. These body paragraphs must use evidence to support the larger claim with quotations and/or paraphrasing from the sources.
    • This evidence should come from at least three of the primary sources provided for your chosen question. One of these sources must “An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705). You can certainly use more, if you wish.
    • You MUST cite your evidence—whether direct quotes or paraphrasing. To use ideas without proper citation is plagiarism and is a violation of OU’s integrity code. For more on plagiarism and how to avoid it see: http://www.ou.edu/content/dam/integrity/docs/nine_things_you_should_know.pdf
  • Your essay should conclude with a summary paragraph that demonstrates a deeper understanding of the topic, created by the argument of the paper.
  • Throughout the essay, sentences should be clear, logically organized, and efficient. Quotes and evidence need to be smoothly integrated into sentences and paragraphs, and both your spelling and grammar must be correct.
  • You do not need to use fancy vocabulary or convoluted jargon. Simpler is better.

After you’ve completed your first draft, please proofread out loud. The best argument can be undermined by poor writing—weak topic sentences, poor paragraph structure, awkward phrasing, excessive quotations, a feeble vocabulary, or typos. Writing clearly is hard, and requires time, patience, and repetition.