United States History Slavery Assingment

Home | APUS History | AP Government | World History | Frontiers | Identities


Abolition and Civil War Paper and Debate

This assignment is worth 15% of your overall grade for this semster. This 3-5 page paper will be due on December 6 and is worth 10% of your overall semester grade. The debate will take place in class on Dec 6th. The debate is worth 5% of your semester grade. If you miss the debate, you CANNOT make it up for full credit (even if the absence is excused)!


The cover of Uncle Tom's Cabin, arguably the most important

abolition document of the 19th century.

The Paper

Your essay should be 3-5 pages long. You must utilize AT LEAST 3 primary sources and you must include AT LEAST 2 quotes from the primary sources. You should find your sources using the links to the right. You may use sources from Major Problems and the CDROM (AP), but at least one of your primary sources should be from the Internet . The essay should be typed, double-spaced, and written in 12-point, Times New Roman font. You must have a thesis that you prove with evidence.

Basing your thesis on the primary sources as well as on what you know about the historical context of the time, write a short scholarly article about the intellectual positions of the pro-slavery or anti-slavery proponents. You will be assigned the perspective you are writing about in class (pro or anti slavery). Remember, this should be from the perspective of a historian in the year 2010 writing about this long-ago event. Since it is a scholarly article, you can assume your audience has some knowledge about the abolitionist debate, and thus you needn’t spend a great deal of time setting the stage. But you DO need to illustrate that you understand the overall historical context in which the debate is occurring (e.g. the dependency of the South on slave labor for its economic stability).

Your essay should explain WHAT the sources are saying, but should also analyze HOW they are saying it. We have been practicing this all semester, so you should be getting good at it. If you have concerns about how to approach this, come see Dr. Berry!

Click here to read the Grading Expectations in more detail!

The Debate

In the debate, you will, by utilizing primary documents, argue for or against slavery (the opposite position you researched in your essay) and the need for the Civil War more generally. In the debate, you will play the role of a person who was pro/anti slavery in the 1850s. In the debate, therefore, you will argue from the first person about the righteousness or abomination of abolitionism and whether or not a civil war is necessary.

Importantly, you will be expected to argue AGAINST the perspective you studied and analyzed for the essay! The all-class debate will occur on Dec. 6. You must bring with you to class a one-page explanation of your character. Click here for more information.



The Grading Rubrics

Grading Expectations for Participation in Debate:
A = Student presents her/his position in a well-informed manner at least once during the debate; student takes the opportunity to rebut another person’s stance on the issue at least once during the debate; student treats all others in the debate with respect
B = Student discusses in the small group, but is quiet during the larger group debate; student is well-informed about her/his position but does not assert it in order to rebut another’s position; student treats all others in the debate with respect
C =  Student does not verbally represent her/his position; student does not participate in either the small group or large group discussion verbally but attentively listens to the activity; student treats all others in the debate with respect

The Liberator
A picture of The Liberator -- one of the most influential abolitionist publications in America. Borrowed from: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam007.html

D/F = Student does not attend debate; or student is disruptive or disrespectful during the debate proceedings without offering anything of value. It is clear student did nothing to prepare for the debate


GRADING EXPECTATIONS for Paper (each section will be weighted equally):

A = Strong Thesis with sophisticated Argument
B =Strong Thesis with some argument
C =Attempted Thesis but unclear argument
D/F =  No thesis evident

Evidence from the Readings and Lecture:
A =  Excellent use of direct quotes and critical analysis of each quote used as well as linkages to broader context (evidence from lecture and text book)
B = Use of direct quotes, less strong critical analysis; some lecture/text book context
C = Evidence of evidence, but no direct quotes or analysis; lack of coherent context
D/F = No evidence used; no context evident

Grammar and Writing:
A =  Solid spelling, punctuation and sentence structure (perhaps 1 or 2 mistakes) and correct paper format
B = A few spelling and punctuation mistakes; some unclear sentences, correct paper format
C = Several spelling and punctuation mistakes which interfere slightly with comprehensibility, some format inconsistencies
D/F = So many spelling, punctuation and structural mistakes that the writing is unreadable, incorrect paper format

Organization and comprehension:
A = Clear topic sentences for each paragraph, logical progression of paragraphs (including transitions), illustration of excellent comprehension of the material, strong introduction and conclusion, no factual errors
B = Most topic sentences are clear, paragraphs have logical progression, above average comprehension of material strong introduction and conclusion, few if any factual errors
C =  Some topic sentences unclear, paragraphs are weakly connected (limited transitions), average comprehension of material, weak introduction or conclusion, some factual errors
D/F = No topic sentences, no logical progression of paragraphs, incomprehensible or absent introduction or conclusion, no evident comprehension of material, enormous factual errors