University of Houston Downtown History Discussion
Using the primary texts supplied, choose two pro-slavery and two anti-slavery documents and write a 750-word essay that examines how the proponents and opponents of slavery used the analytical concepts that framed this course when making their arguments (Mobility, Democracy, Capitalism, and Difference). You should identify the authors’ main point, and utilizing two of the four concepts, examine how they defended their positions. Your paper should conclude by explaining why some contemporaries of slavery may have found certain arguments compelling, while others found them offensive (to conclude effectively, you will need to explain the historical context in which these texts were written, based on what you have read in the U.S. History text and learned in class discussion).
Please note that the proslavery texts reflect the racism found in many quarters of nineteenth-century America. As historians, it is only right that we reject these views as we analyze how these writers constructed their defense of slavery. Other researchers have noted that the proslavery appeal to racism was intended to undermine the Abolitionist efforts to put forth “all men are created equal” as the core American value (see the antislavery texts). Please beware that the level of racism seen in these documents can be shocking and disturbing to modern readers.
I want to make one aspect of this assignment very clear. YOU ARE NOT ARGUING FOR OR AGAINST SLAVERY. Rather, this assignment is a document analysis. Your job, as the author of a signature assignment, is to IDENTIFY AND EXPLAIN the arguments being made in the primary sources discussing slavery. As this is a survey-level history class, we are concerned with historical views on the institution of slavery when it was a major point of contention in American society and politics in the 1800s, not modern views of slavery.
No secondary sources, other than the U.S. History text, should be integrated into this paper’s analysis.
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