I’m trying to learn for my History class and I’m stuck. Can you help?
Write a 750-word response to the following prompt:
The idea of “freedom” was central to the culture, politics, economics, and society of the United States between 1865 and 1918. Throughout this period, however, the meaning of freedom was constantly debated, contested, and negotiated.
Choose three different individuals/groups that we have discussed in the first third of this course (modules 1-4). Explain how each of them defined, explained, and used the concept of freedom. You should also compare these contrasting views of freedom. What were the points of agreement and disagreement? Could these multiple definitions of freedom coexist, or were they mutually exclusive? What did “freedom” mean for these people? Did freedom for some groups necessarily mean a lack of freedom for others? Why?
Be sure to define the term “freedom” in your answer.
- Your answer must quote and cite at least three different documents from the required reading for Modules 1 through 4.
- Be as specific as possible, and be sure to use the assigned readings to defend your answer.
- Answers that are too short or too long (more than 50 words in either direction) will lose points.
- Your answer will be checked for plagiarism using Turn-It-In.
- Your answer should be based on material covered in class lectures and in the assigned reading for this course. DO NOT CONSULT OTHER SOURCES. I do not want to know what Google tells you about this topic. All the information you need to answer this question can be found in the assigned reading and in your class notes.
Some tips on formatting and length:
- 750 words is not much! It’s about three double spaced pages (1” margins, 12 point font).
- Be brief, especially in your introductory paragraph. Get right to your argument, don’t waste words describing everything we’ve covered in the course. There’s no need to make sweeping statements like “Since the beginning of U.S. history….”
- The prompt asks several different (but closely related) questions. You do not need to answer each and every one of them, but you should try to address most of them (at least in passing) in your essay.
- Suggested format:
- 75 words: Introductory paragraph that ends with a clear thesis statement (that is, your argument and your answer to the question asked in the prompt).
- 200 words: body paragraph 1, which should contain your first example and a quotation from your first document.
- 200 words: body paragraph 2, which should contain your second example and a quotation from your second document. A transition paragraph between paragraphs should address the similarities/differences between your first and second example.
- 200 words: body paragraph 3, which should contain your third example and a quotation from your third document. A transition paragraph between paragraphs should address the similarities/differences between this example and your first two examples.
- 75 words: a concluding paragraph that compares your three examples and reiterates (not word-for-word!) your thesis from the introduction.
- You MUST introduce and contextualize your quotes. We’ve read dozens of documents this term. You must tell your reader what document you’re quoting.
- GOOD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right,” black residents of Nashville stated in a petition, “and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.” As these petitioners noted, the work of freedom remained incomplete, even after emancipation.
- BAD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right, and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.”
- The second example is extraordinarily confusing for your reader. Who are you quoting? Are these your words? Introduce your quotes, and then explain them in your own words.
- You should also try to avoid extended quotations. In almost all circumstances, you shouldn’t be quoting more than one or two sentences at a time. When you’re trying to quote a longer passage, intersperse your own words as necessary. When I see paragraph-length citations I start to worry that you’re just trying to fill up space…
Historians use Chicago Manual of Style, Humanities format. Use footnotes, not parenthetical/in-text citations.
Cite the documents from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom as follows:
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Home Life,” in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020), 14-17.
I have a PDF copy of the book “voices of freedom” if you need it.