Length: 800-1300 words
Submission: Please submit your essay as a Word document (.doc or .docx) to the appropriate “Assignments”
Question: Thomas Paines Common Sense, first departed from the earlier pattern in American political rhetoric of arguing right and wrong on the basis of English law and/or the norms of English political culture?
Coming up with a thesis: Make sure that you directly answer the question above by naming one of these documents as the one that shows a true shift away from making claims like “No taxation without representation!” or “No standing armies in peacetime!”—which had been claims couched in British legal and political cultural traditions.
Thesis is: Common Sense contended that independence from Britain was the only feasible and honorable course for the American colonies and helped sway the opinion of many colonists from misunderstanding and contentment to acceptance of complete political and economic independence from Britain
How to support your thesis: Walk your reader through the following text as an example of the tradition of arguing right and wrong within the terms of English law/English political culture; (2) John Hancock’s Boston Massacre Oration;
This is really where you are going to earn your credit on this topic; you have to show that you have a strong grasp about what was particularly “British” in the American colonists’ ways of presenting their political grievances and desires.
Then, show how the document at the heart of your thesis (COMMON SENSE) differs in approach from the (Hancocks Oration) example that you have just analyzed for your reader. The contrast should illustrate how Common Sense, represents a new type of argument in (formerly) English North America.
This is a prompt designed to set you up for success in academic essay-writing. You are tasked with closely analyzing historical primary sources and formulating a persuasive argument on the basis of your close analysis. The goal is for you to understand how the ideas voiced in these primary sources reflect their historical contexts and how, within those contexts, they were attempts either (a) to appeal to commonly-held opinions or (b) to challenge what would have been the status quo of the time and place.
To make sure that you write a well-argued essay, first be certain that you assert a clear thesis (i.e. a position with which someone might disagree, but which you can prove, on the basis of what you show in the body of the paper, to be correct). Second, make sure you offer lots of corroborating evidence. The supreme type of evidence in history-writing is primary-source evidence: the words of actual historical actors indicating what or how they thought about a particular historical situation that they lived through. Imagine a reader who is deeply suspicious of your point of view, and then try to build a case that will persuade even this skeptic. Leave nothing to chance. You must not count on your reader to fill in gaps in your argument or to understand why the facts and examples you are bringing up are particularly significant within that argument. You must also not count on your reader coming to your essay with any prior knowledge of the particular topic you are writing about. Guide your reader all the way along.
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