What to the slave is 4th of July?You must analyze and contextualize the document within the framework of the course, including in terms of the reading and PowerPoint presentations. This paper should not be like a book review or simply be a summary of the document. The purpose of the primary source assignment is for you to practice critically reading and analyzing primary source documents and putting them into larger context. Such a skill is absolutely central to the work of historians and is something from which everyone can benefit.

Your paper should be between two and three double-spaced pages in length (roughly between 500 and 750 words). It will be graded on four criteria, all given equal weight. They are:

1- Analyze who wrote this document and for what purpose. Who was the person who wrote the document- what can you guess from the document itself? Can you say anything about their background and point of view- gender, race, ethnicity, social class, etc.? Why did they write this? What did they hope they would get out of it? Who did they think would read it?

2- Discuss the significance of the document. Why is this document important? What new information does it give us? What impact do you think this document may have had?

3- Connect this document to our coursework. What is the historical context? What was going on at the time and in the location this source was written? What important themes in our reading and PowerPoint presentations does this document touch on? Does it support or contradict what we have been reading about this topic?

4- Write clearly, without spelling or grammatical errors, and in a well-organized manner. Two to three pages is not a lot of space, so try to be concise with well-structured paragraphs addressing each of the areas above.

Be sure to read the document Reading and Writing about Primary Sources, and feel free to refer back to the Historian’s Toolbox PowerPoint presentation from the first week of the course..

Your paper will be due by 11:59am on Wednesday, November 18th. Please let me know in advance if you foresee any difficulties turning this assignment in on time. Thank you and happy writing!Reading and Writing about Primary Sources
(Accessed at https://www.wm.edu/as/history/undergraduateprogram/hwrc/handouts/primarysources/index.php)

What are primary sources?: Historian Mary Lynn Rampolla defines them as “materials
produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under
consideration.” The French historian Marc Bloch (1886-1944) put it another way in his
book, The Historian’s Craft: “the historian is, by definition, absolutely incapable of
observing the facts which he examines. No Egyptologist has ever seen Ramses. No expert
on the Napoleonic Wars has ever heard the sound of the cannon at Austerlitz. We can
speak of earlier ages only through the accounts of eye-witnesses.” Primary sources can
include not just written documents (e.g., letters) but also the material remains (e.g.,
furniture, art, architecture, music) of a specific time and place. Primary sources are the
essential building blocks for the historian’s reconstruction of a moment in time. The
historian’s task is to design the blueprint and to assemble these blocks into a coherent
structure.

Reading Primary Sources:
Reading a source critically is one of the historian’s most fundamental skills. First read the
document(s) for content. What is the document saying? What is the story line? Glean the
source(s) for the essential information about the main characters, events, ideas, and
arguments. Once you have mastered the content, it is helpful to write a short summary of
the document in your own words. Then re-read the document(s) for context. Think about
the following questions as you critically examine the source(s):

Authorship: What do you know about the author’s background? Why did the author
write the document? What motives did he or she have in putting pen to paper? What
personal, class, ethnic, religious, gender or cultural beliefs and assumptions might have
influenced the author’s viewpoint and writing?

Genre: Does the source fall into a distinct genre (defined as “a category of literary
composition characterized by a particular style, form, and content”)? How does the genre
shape the author’s writing? Examples of literary/historical genres may include novels,
biographies, captivity and travel narratives, poems, petitions, newspapers, popular songs,
speeches, laws, government records, and pamphlets.

Audience: For whom was the author writing? Did he or she address any particular person
or group? Did the author’s audience have any effect on the document’s content? Was the
author speaking for (or representing) a particular audience? Was the author trying to
silence another audience? How was the document received?

Language: What can you tell about a historical period from the language, vocabulary,
and rhetoric used? What does the writer’s choice of words tell us about social or cultural
assumptions? How have the meanings of the words changed over time? Was the
document written in English or was it translate7/15/2020 Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852 | The American Yawp Reader

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7/15/2020 Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852 | The American Yawp Reader

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7/15/2020 Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852 | The American Yawp Reader

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