Second Essay –Sectionalism

Due November 15, 2022

On Tuesday, November 15 [REVISED], students will submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay on a topic connected to slavery and sectionalism provided to them in class on Thursday, November 10.

Please choose ONE of the questions below and submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay by email to Prof. Pinsker by Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 5PM (via Word doc or PDF attachment)

  1. In the 1840s, Frederick Douglass warned that the widespread efforts in the North to help runaway slaves were becoming “an upper-ground railroad.”  What did he mean by that observation?  How important were the various battles over fugitive slaves to the dramatic increase in American sectionalism and the coming of the Civil War?
  1. “I was losing interest in politics,” Abraham Lincoln once recalled, “when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again.”  Why was the repeal such a turning point for Lincoln and so many other northern politicians?  How important were the various conflicts over slavery’s expansion into the western territories to the dramatic increase in American sectionalism and the coming of the Civil War?

  • Please open your paper with a descriptive title, byline (name), and a clear, engaging introductory paragraph with analytical thesis statement. Don’t just restate the question and consider using opening tactics such as thoughtful narrative vignettes or striking quotations or statistics to help focus the reader’s attention.
  • Organize your essay in a way that respects chronology and historical context.
  • Use past tense except when describing modern scholarship
  • Avoid first person pronouns, including “our”
  • Prof. Pinsker is available to review drafts by email (before Tuesday) and you may utilize the Writing Center

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.

  • Make sure to use a variety of sources from the course syllabus to support your claims, properly cited using Chicago-style footnotes.
  • Relevant reading assignments for this essay include several chapters from American Yawp, articles by Prof. Pinsker, the opening chapter of Louis Masur’s book CIVIL WAR, excerpts from THE PORTABLE FREDERICK DOUGLASS (2016) 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]

[4] Louis P. Masur, The Civil War: A Concise History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 23.

[5] Masur, 46.

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]