AmSt. 2010: Reaction Paper Assignments

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 Day celebrations.

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. 28).

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 Sept. 30)

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 Oct. 7)

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 Oct. 28)

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. 22)

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. 9)

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)

© 2002 by Chris H.  Lewis, Ph.D.
Sewall Academic Program; University of Colorado at Boulder
Created 7 August 2002:  Last Modified: 23 August 2002
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