HIST 1483-010, Spring 2019

Dr. Adam Malka

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 use at least two and up to all four of these sources to develop an argument about the system of slavery in the colonial period. 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?

The Sources (Click here to access)

  • Court Ruling on Anthony Johnson & His Servant (1655)
  • The Secret Diary of William Byrd II (1709-1711)
  • Excerpt from William Snelgrave’s “New Account of Some Parts of Guinea, and the Slave Trade” (1734)
  • Excerpt from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauduh Equiano (1789)

Requirements and Deadlines

  • This paper is due to your TA in discussion section in Week 5.
  • The paper will be submitted in whatever format your TA prefers.
  • The paper should be 900-1200 words long (around 3-4 pages) and include a word count at the end.
  • This paper is worth 100 points (i.e. 10% of your final grade).
  • All papers must include footnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. See the Citation Guide on the Exploring U.S. History website.

Writing and Organizing the Essay

  • Your essay should develop a claim about the system of slavery during the colonial era. 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, or even contradict our understanding of an important theme in U.S. history.
  • Your thesis needs to be featured in a clear 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 two of the primary sources provided on the website. You can certainly use all four.
  • 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.
  • Conversely, 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.