One of the most important skills a historian develops is the ability to evaluate historical documents. This evaluation concerns asking questions of the documents that allows a historian to have insight in a particular topic or period being investigated. This week’s documents relate to the weekly module topic. This week’s documents relate to the weekly module topic of culture and cultural interaction. If you still need help prioritizing your questions of the document go to the Document Interpretation Tutorial Page. Use the questions below to learn how to analyze various types of sources and to become an historian yourself.
In this weekly discussion assignment you will need to:
- Choose one of the documents below to read from one of the 2 categories.
- Write a 250-500 word initial post and and present your interpretation of the document and the material you have been introduced to in this module.
Category 1: Hamilton & Jefferson
- How does Hamilton’s understanding of what is, “necessary and proper,” in government affect his reasoning?
- What implications does this argument have regarding the enumerated powers given to Congress in Article 1 of the Constitution?
- How does Washington defend his actions? What does he cite as the basis of his power to suppress the rebellion?
- What did Washington ask Congress to do in this address?
- How did Washington describe those who participated in the rebellion? In your opinion was this a fair assessment? Why or why not?
- Why did Washington refuse to protect any Americans who aided the warring nations?
- Who were the major belligerents in the European war?
- How is Jefferson’s Inaugural Address a reflection of the, “Revolution of 1800”?
- What did Jefferson mean when he said, “We are all Republicans we are all Federalist”?
Category 2: The Masters Class
George Fitzhugh, The Blessings of Slavery Read 29-30 and Chapter XXI (page 294-299)
- How does Fitzhugh compare slavery of his day to the slavery of ancient Rome and Greece?
- Does Fitzhugh see race as an important factor in terms of slavery? Explain
- According to the excerpt, which group is persecuting free white laborers?
Benjamin Drew, from The Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada Read Mrs. James Steward (pages 41-43) and Mrs. Nancy Howard (pages 50-52)
- What common experiences do both women report? In your opinion did most slaves share these experiences?
- Why do you think both women finally settled in Canada? (Consider the year these accounts were published)
Levi Coffin, Reminiscences of the Underground Railroad in the 1850s Read from 298-301; start at, “I was personally acquainted…”
- According to Coffin, what precautions or tactics did the Coffins employ to conceal fugitive slaves?
- Why does Coffin feel that he and his wife were successful conductors on the Underground Railroad?
- How does Coffin describe the plight of the fugitive slave who fled to Cincinnati?
Frederick Law Olmsted, from A Journey in the Seaboard States Read: A Tobacco Plantation (Page 88)- Religious Condition (Page 115)
- What impact do you think writing this made in the pre-Civil War North when it was published? Do you think it advanced or hindered the abolitionist cause?
- How does Olmstead describe the religious and moral conditions of slaves in the South?
- Compare the free-labor farm to the slave-based tobacco farm. What are the significant differences as reported by Olmstead?
An Account of the Late Intended Insurrection Among a Portion of the Blacks of this City Read Red Text Section on page 17