HIST 1483, Dr. Malka Fall 2020
This paper will be an approximately 1000-word essay based on a set of primary sources provided through the links below. Your task is to answer one of the questions below, using the sources provided, to make a historical argument. You are required to use a minimum of three sources. Of course, you are welcome to use more, if you choose.
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 colonial America?
Option 1: How did legal opportunities for Africans in Virginia to gain their freedom change between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?
- 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)
- “Of Servants and Slaves in Virginia”; an excerpt from The History of Virginia by Robert Beverley (1722)
Option 2: How did the Salem Witch Hunt reflect power relations in late seventeenth-century New England?
- “Cotton Mather on the Recent History of New England” (1692)
- “John Hale’s Account” (1702)
- “Sarah Good” (June 29, 1692)
- “Bridget Bishop” (June 2, 1692)
- “Letter from Thomas Brattle to an Unnamed Clergyman” (October 8, 1692)
Requirements and Deadlines
- Your paper is due to your TA at 5 pm on Friday, September 25th, in whatever format he or she prefers.
- It should be between 900 and 1200 words long (around 3-4 pages) and include a word count at the end.
- It must include footnotes formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. See the Citation Guide on the Explore U.S. History website.
Writing and Organizing the Essay
- Your essay should develop a claim about the past – a claim about either slavery in colonial Virginia or witchcraft in colonial New England. That claim is your thesis, and it needs to go beyond simply reporting what you found, or describing the documents. Instead, it should use those documents 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 three of the primary sources provided on the website. You can certainly use all of them, however.
- 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, 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 with clarity is hard, and requires time, patience, and repetition.