Second Essay –Coming of War

Due November 12, 2021

On Friday, November 12, students will submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay on a Coming of Civil War topic provided to them in class near the beginning of that week.

  • Prof. Pinsker will discuss and distribute a choice of topics in class on Tuesday, November 9th
  • Please open your paper with a descriptive title and your byline.
  • Organize your essay in a way that respects chronology and historical context.
  • Prof. Pinsker is available to review drafts (before Friday) and you may utilize the Writing Center
Please choose ONE of the questions below and submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay by email to Prof. Pinsker by Friday, November 5, 2021, at 5PM.
  1. Which was a more potent force in escalating the sectional conflict over slavery between 1820 and 1860:  westward expansion or the crisis over fugitive slaves?  Make sure to illustrate both developments with effective examples as you make your interpretive argument.
  1. The sectional conflict over slavery was the driving force behind the coming of the Civil War, but it was by no means the only source of national division between 1820 and 1860.  How did issues connected to religion, partisanship, and gender also polarize Americans during that period? What did those conflicts reveal about the evolving national culture?

All essays must include both primary and secondary source material from the assigned readings properly cited using Chicago-style footnotes.  Outside research is allowed but not required.

  • Relevant reading assignments for this essay include several chapters from American Yawp, articles by Prof. Pinsker and Laurel Ulrich, the opening chapter of Louis Masur’s book CIVIL WAR and featured primary sources from the House Divided Project. But don’t forget to consult the discussion topic pages on the course site syllabus as well –they also contain valuable insights and examples.
  • Make sure to devise a thesis statement that can be effectively argued in a short paper.  Consult the Methods Center handout on How to Write a Thesis Statement 
  • Make sure you are formatting your footnotes correctly (see some of the samples below).  For further guidance, see this methods handout on How to Use Footnotes and consult as needed with the library’s Chicago-style guide, but make sure to use sample footnote models for formatting and NOT bibliography examples.  

Sample Footnotes

[1] Myles Beupre et al., “Democracy in America,” in The American Yawp, eds. Joseph Locke and Ben Wright (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018). [WEB]

[2] Yawp, Chapter 9: IV.

[3] Matthew Pinsker, “Interpreting the Upper-Ground Railroad,” in Max van Balgooy, ed.,Interpreting African American History and Culture (2014), 75-88 [WEB]

Essays will be graded on depth of analysis, use of evidence, and quality of prose. Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points each day.

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of integrating your quoted evidence with some degree of fluidity.  Awkwardly inserting quotations is one of the hallmarks of mediocre undergraduate essays.  Consult this handout from the methods center for a range of good tips.
  • Also, please guard against plagiarism.  Remember our discussion from the very first day of the semester.  Never write your own words while looking directly at your sources, especially secondary sources –unless you are quoting them.
  • And finally, always remember to proofread your work by printing it out and reading it aloud, slowly. See our methods handout on How to Proofreed [sic]