AmSt. 2010: Reaction
Drawing on the assigned course readings, reaction
papers (2-3 typed pages) should examine contrasting historical points
of view. Using the first or third person, explore the ways in which
an historical figure would challenge an opposing perspective on
American culture and society, trying to convince the reader of the
rightness of their cause. Use Frederick Douglass's 1852 "What
to the Slave is the 4th of July" as a model reaction paper.
Douglass examines how a slave would respond to July Fourth Independence
You have the option to create your own reaction paper
assignments. Choose any two opposing perspectives on a cultural
or political issue from the readings and determine how one side
would respond to the other's arguments. Feel free to be creative
and write on issues that interest you. If you choose this option,
you need to ask me when your reaction paper is due.
Don't feel you need to consult outside sources. However,
you might find it helpful to draw on class discussions and course
readings to understand the historical context and the critical issues
raised by the readings. If you quote someone, put the page number
in parentheses after the quotation, for example, (Douglass, 116).
Before the reaction paper is officially due, you can turn in rough
drafts for my review. As long as you turned in reaction papers when
they were due, you can revise and rewrite them for a higher grade
throughout the rest of the semester. However: You are required to
write at least one reaction paper before the midterm is due (Oct.
1. Drawing on Frederick Douglass "What to the
Slave is the 4th of July" and the "Dredd Scott Decision"
: How would Douglass respond to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott v.
Sanford decision that slavery is legal in the United States? (Due
2. Drawing on Luther Standing Bear "What the
Indian Means to America," John Winthrop "Reasons to be
Considered," and President Jackson "Second Annual Message"
: How would Standing Bear respond to President Jackson's argument
that it was right and just to remove Indians from their land? (Due
3. Drawing on Chief Joseph's "The Takeover of Indian Land:
An Indian's View" and "Theodore Roosevelt argues against
Indian Rights": How would Chief Joseph respond to Roosevelt's
argument it was right for White civilization to take over Indian
land. (Due Oct. 7)
4. Drawing on President Jackson "Second Annual
Message to Congress" and the General Council of the Cherokee
Nation "To the People of the United States" : How would
the General Council of the Cherokee Nation respond to President
Jackson's argument that it is right to remove the Cherokee from
their lands in Georgia? (Due Oct. 7)
5.Drawing on "Mary Abel Confronts the Kansas
Environment" and "George Batchleder Promotes Dakota":
How would Mary Abel Respond to George Batchelder's argument that
the Dakotas are paradise? (Due Oct. 18)
6. Drawing on Edward Ross' "Immigrants harm American Society"
and A. Andrews; "Immigrants do not harm American Society":
How would would Andrews respond to Ross's argument that Immigrants
threaten American Society? (Due Oct. 18)
7. Drawing on the "Laura Curtis Bullard on the
Enslavement of Women" and "Orestes Brownson Defines Woman's
Sphere" : How would Bullard respond to Brownson's argument
that women need to be ruled by men? (Due Oct. 18)
8. Drawing on Ida Wells "A Red Record" and
Benjamin Tillman "Lynch Law": How would Wells respond
to Tilman's argument supporting lynching? (Due Oct. 28 )
9. Drawing on Ernest Griffith "The Cancer of
Corruption," George Plunkitt's "Honest Graft," and
Lincoln Steffens "The Shame of the Cities": How would
Lincoln Steffens respond to George Plunkitt's argument that "Honest
Graft" does not threaten city government? (Due Oct. Oct. 28)
10. Drawing on Albert Beveridge"s "America
Should Retain the Philippines" and "The Anti-Imperialist
League": How would the Anti-Imperialist League respond to Beveridge's
argument that America should take the Philippines as a colony? (Due
11. Drawing on Henry Wallace's 'Lip Service to Peace"
and Clarke Clifford's "American Firmness vs. Soviet Agression":
How would Wallace respond to Clifford's argument that the Soviet
Union is engaged in a crusade to take over the world? (Due. Nov.
12. Drawing on Walter LaFeber's "Truman's Hard-Line
Policy" and John Lewis Gaddis's "Two Cold War Empires":
How would Walter LaFeber respond to John Gaddis's argument that
the Soviet Communists started the Cold War? (Due Nov. 22)
13. Drawing on King's "American Dream" Speech handout,
King's "I have a Dream" handout, and "FBI Cointelpro
against Black Nationalists" handout: How would King respond
to the FBI's plan to neutralize the Black civil rights movement?
(Due Dec. 6)
14. Drawing on the Students for a Democratic Society's
"Port Huron Statement"; the "FBI Cointelpro-New Left"
handout, and the "Senate Committee Probes the FBI's Secret
Campaign" : How would the Students for a Democratic Society
respond to the FBI's plan to neutralize the student and anti-war
movements in the 1960s? (Due Dec. 6)
15. Drawing on "Vietnam Veterans against the War" (Bibliobase
pp. 148-152) and President Johnson's "Why we are in Vietnam"
handout: How would John Kerry respond to President Johnson's speech
justifying United States' involvement in Vietnam? (Due Dec. 9)
16. Drawing on Rebecca Klatch's "Women Against
Feminism" and Gloria Steinem's "or the ERA": How
would Steinem respond to Klatch's argument that Feminism threatens
women, marriage, and the family?
(Due Dec. 9)
17. Drawing on Jimmy Carter's "The Crisis of
Confidence" and Ronald Reagans' "The American Spirit":
How would Ronald Reagan respond to Jimmy Carter's argument that
America suffers from a "crisis of confidence"? (Due Dec.
18. Drawing on "The Myth of Deterrence"
and "The End of the Cold War marked a Triumph": How would
Richard Lebow respond to Gaddis's argument that it was Reagan's
"get-tough" nuclear deterrence policy that caused the
end of the Cold War?(Due at the same time as the Final Exam)