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Kennesaw State University Slavery and Freedom Essay

Kennesaw State University Slavery and Freedom Essay

Question Description

Essay Prompt: According to Eric Foner, “Freedom is not a fixed, timeless category with a single unchanging definition. Indeed, the history of the United States is, in part, a story of debates, disagreements, and struggles over freedom” (xx-xxi). Defend this statement by writing an essay of at least 900 words that explains the contested and shifting ideological ideas that informed the United States’ debate about slavery. The essay should include:

  • an introduction,
  • an underlined thesis statement that guides your essay,
  • and paragraphs with clear topic sentences, relevant historical information, and source citations to explain the topic.
  • Citations: Paragraphs must include enough citations to fully support your essay. Citations should be provided for all direct quotes and paraphrases. Citations should be placed directly after relevant sentences. Essays with excessively long quotations will be penalized. (In other words, use citations to support your argument, not be your argument.)
  • Length: Most students can usually write an effective paper in 1,000 to 1,200 words. However, I do not penalize if you go longer. Write what you feel is necessary to get your point across.
  • Prohibited: The use of non-course materials is prohibited because I am assessing your effectiveness in using assigned course materials to craft a well-contextualized argument. Papers that cite or plagiarize from outside sources will receive zeroes. The TurnItIn plagiarism checker will be used.
  • Mechanical Requirements: Upload your paper to D2L as a Word .doc or pdf by clicking add file. Assignments should be double-spaced in 11- or 12-point Arial or Calibri font with standard margins. Do not submit your paper as a comment, as Apple .pages, or as any form of image (jpeg, tiff, etc.).
  • Advice:
    • Attached Documents: You are not expected to analyze the documents/images below, although you may. Instead, use them as a jumping off point to discuss the larger historical topics suggested by the documents/images.
    • Explanation (CENTRAL TO SUCCESS): There is no “right” answer here. This is an open-ended essay that will be reviewed for historical significance, comprehensiveness, understanding, and creativity. Questions you should ask yourself:
      • Did I adequately explain the ideological changes in the meaning of freedom over time?
      • Did I adequately examine the conflicts that arose over those ideological changes?
      • Did I identify the most important topics and adequately explain their significance?
      • Did I adequately explain connections between topics?

Criteria: Assessment is worth 100 points and counts as 22.5 percent of the final grade. (Please see full rubric attached to assessment on D2L.)

  • Content (25 points)

□ Does the essay adequately summarize events, ideas, and/or actions relevant to the topic?

□ Is historical information provided to support the argument as it develops?

□ Is the cited historical information relevant to the argument?

  • Critical Thinking (25 points)

□ Is the essay’s overall argument logically developed paragraph-by-paragraph and well supported

by historical information?

  • Citations (25 points)

□ Does this essay cite at least seven (7) of the attached documents?

□ Does this essay cite Foner’s Give Me Liberty at least five (5) times?

□ Does this essay cite lecture presentations at least five (5) times?

□ Do the citations advance the essay with new information?

  • Clarity (25 points)

□ Is the thesis statement underlined and does it state a clear position?

□ Does each paragraph have a topic sentence that identifies what the paragraph is about?

□ Is the essay spell-checked?

□ Are proper nouns capitalized and spelled correctly?

□ Is each sentence a complete with a clear subject and verb?


(Required attached documents begin on the next page.)

Attached Documents: At least seven (7) of the documents below must be included in the essay. Make sure you include the document and image the essay


Document 1: “View of South Street, from Maiden Lane, New York City, c. 1827,” by William James Bennett. (From the Metropolitan Museum of New York.)


Document 2: U.S. Supreme Court decision in Scott v. Stanford (aka, the Dred Scott decision)

Document 3: Proslavery apologist George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society (1854).

Document 4: “The First Vote,” engraving published in Harper’s Weekly, 1867.


Document 5: Map of Union and Confederacy states during the Civil War.


Document 6: Republican Party Platform of 1856.

Document 7: Editorial by William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, January 1, 1831.

Document 8: “American Progress” by John Gast (1872).


Document 9: Declaration of Independence, 1776.

Document 10: Map of the Missouri Compromise.


Document 11: Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863. (Source: Strobridge Lithograph Co., c. 1888, via Library of Congress).


Document 12: David Walker’s Appeal (1829).


Document 13: Transatlantic Slave Trade. (Map from slavevoyages.org.)


Document 14: From Petitions of Slaves to the Massachusetts Legislature (1773 and 1777).

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