Assignment: Revolutionary Memory and Its Uses
Write an essay of 4 to 6 pages (about 1200-1500 words) in response to the question below.
Your essay should draw on course readings and discussions; (no additional research is expected or permitted.)
Argument: Every essay must have one. The successful essay will present an argument well supported by specific evidence from a range of course texts. You will not be
able to—nor should you—present every historical detail relevant to your topic. Instead, focus your argument on one well-constructed thread of analysis, and support
your argument with careful use of evidence from the text. Show your reader how you know what you know, and tell your reader why the evidence matters to your argument.
Audience: Assume that your reader is an educated person with a background knowledge of American history, but little familiarity with these specific texts. You should
briefly identify people and situations as you discuss them, but you do not need to summarize the whole history of the period.
You must cite all quoted or paraphrased material in properly-formatted Chicago-style footnotes, but a bibliography is not necessary for this assignment.
Style: It counts. The best essays will feature fluid, graceful prose, with few or no grammatical or mechanical errors. Use your word processor’s spell check function,
but be aware that it makes mistakes. There is no substitute for careful proofreading. Your paper should be well-organized, with a logical flow and smooth transitions
between paragraphs. Good prose cannot cover for a weak argument, but neither can good ideas make their mark if buried in weak prose. Strive for simplicity and clarity.
Provide a title that reflects the content of the essay.
? Analyze the uses of Revolutionary memory and rhetoric in two nineteenth-century social movements (abolition, women’s rights, school integration, education). Using
both primary (Stanton, Grimké, Walker, Douglass, Rush, Willard, Smith case documents) and secondary (Moss) sources [if relevant], make an argument about how
nineteenth-century Americans engaged in specific causes called upon the memory of the Revolution. Choose movements and documents you have not yet written about. One
way to approach this topic is to compare two movements. Did they call upon different aspects of the Revolution? Did they call upon the same aspects but interpret them
differently? How so? What does their use of Revolutionary rhetoric teach us about 19th-century reformers? Another approach is to consider the uses of Revolutionary
rhetoric in these movements against what we know about the history of the Revolutionary era itself. That is, did 19th-century Americans distort the history of the
Revolution? Did they ignore relevant parts of the conflict? How and to what ends? Focus not on whether reformers got it “right” but on how they adapted or adopted the
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