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THE ASSIGNMENT One of the various ways to understand a primary source is by plac

by | Jun 21, 2022 | History

 

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THE ASSIGNMENT
One of the various ways to understand a primary source is by placing yourself in that document’s time. So for this particular assignment, I want you to put yourself in the mindset of the early months of 1776. Try to set aside anything you might know about what came after — like the Declaration of Independence, the war, and the very existence of the United States of America. Instead, imagine yourself as a colonist reading these two documents, or hearing them read in a tavern, and reacting to them. And then write an essay of about two pages, in which you respond. Are you convinced by the arguments from one of the authors? Are you developing a strong set of opinions either for or against independence? What arguments are the most compelling to you?
You’re encouraged to be creative in doing this. Are you writing from the point of view of a large landowner? Or a poor laborer? Or a woman? Or a Black person, free or enslaved? Where would your particular interests lie? You can imagine yourself as another pamphleteer entering the public debate, or arguing in the pub, or even making a speech in the Continental Congress.
As you can see, I’m giving you a lot of latitude to do this in your own way. Make it your own and be creative. But along the way I do want you to:
— use quotes from both documents
— bring in some context about the time period, from the textbook or other course materials
— come to a conclusion: do you favor independence, or should the colonies remain British? How do you argue your case?
(By the way, I don’t grade you on whether I agree with your choice. There were valid arguments on both sides.)

 

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