This assignment calls for you to compare and contrast two historical documents and place them in their historical context.

This assignment calls for you to compare and contrast two historical documents and place them in their historical context. The documents you are to write about, Narrative of Lavinia Bell and Letter to an English Abolitionist, are included in this module. This is not a research assignment. The only materials you will need are this packet, your textbook, and your class notes. I want to know what you think about these documents. Begin by carefully reading the two documents. Think about what the two authors have written. Decide what ideas the authors share and what ideas they differ upon. Evaluate the authors’ motives and goals. Then decide how these documents relate to a specific historical era. Finally, go back and re-read the documents, making note of specific examples that support your decisions. In writing your paper, which will explain the decisions you have reached, be sure to identify the authors and the subject(s) they are writing about. However, please be brief in discussing these elements of the documents. I am relatively uninterested in a summary of the works. Your identification and critical evaluation of the authors’ arguments and viewpoints is the key to this assignment. It is particularly important to address the authors’ motives and methods. In other words, what do the authors hope to accomplish and how do they attempt to accomplish that goal? In order to analyze the documents the following questions may be helpful: In what ways are the documents similar? How are they different? Why are they similar or different? What are the authors’ backgrounds? How do differences in their backgrounds relate to differences in their ways of thinking? What are their motives? Why do they think the issue they are writing about is important? What major point(s) are they trying to convey? Who is their intended audience? How do they try to appeal to their audience? It is very important that you place the documents in their historical context. One of the purposes of this assignment is for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the era in which these documents were written. Therefore, it is crucial that you describe what was going on at the time these authors wrote. Your discussion of the documents’ historical context must reference material presented in class lectures and Chapter 10 of Out of Many. While Chapter 10 was not a chapter you were quizzed on, you must read it as part of this assignment. Chapters 13 and 15 in Out of Many will also provide useful information. You may find it helpful to imagine that you are not writing this paper for a history instructor to read. Instead, imagine that you are writing for a fellow student; someone who is intelligent but has little background in US history. Explain to that imaginary reader what was going on at that time, then describe what makes these documents a product of that time. A thorough introduction is strongly recommended. In the first or second paragraph of your essay identify the specific documents you are writing about, who wrote them, and the date or era when they were written. (When first mentioning a person, provide their full name; after that you can refer to them by just their last name.) Most importantly, use your introductory paragraph to inform your reader of the main theme (or thesis) of your essay. Because defining the subject and thesis of your paper is a good way to organize and clarify your ideas, I recommend you write your introduction before writing the body of your essay. The use of quotations from the documents, and only from the assigned documents, is recommended. Try to back up your main statements about the documents with quotations. However, be careful to use quotations correctly. State your ideas in your own words. Once you have done so, then support your claims with specific quotations from the documents. Because it is important to state things in your own words, do not quote from the textbook or any other secondary source. Take care to quote the author’s words exactly. Since you are only allowed to quote from the documents themselves citation is not required.

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