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I need 2 – 3 typed and double-spaced paper about American history, specifically about (Unit Three) — “Debating the Origins of the American Revolution”. This is a reading and writing assignment.

Reading Assignment (from your textbook):

 “Thinking Like a Historian” — Debating Thomas Jefferson and Slavery, pages 264-267

  • Secondary Source 1 — Douglas L. Wilson, “Thomas Jefferson and the Character Issue” (1992)
  • Secondary Source 2 — Paul Finkelman, “Jefferson and Slavery” (1993)
  • Primary Source 1 — Thomas Jefferson, a draft section omitted from the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • Primary Source 2 — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1787)
  • Primary Source 3 — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to M. Warville [a Frenchman] (February 11, 1788)
  • Primary Source 4 — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Holmes (April 22, 1820)


Note: The “Thinking Like a Historian” sections of your textbook provide us an opportunity to understand how (and why) historians have interpreted the past in different ways. By highlighting the works of two historians, sometimes from different time periods, these sections give us a glimpse into the field of historiography — the history of doing history. These brief excerpts are “secondary sources” — sources produced by scholars after the fact. In addition, your textbook author (David Emory Shi) has included primary documents to be read alongside of the secondary source excerpts. Primary documents are historical artifacts that comes from the time period under examination and can take a variety of forms (ie letters, diaries, political documents, movies, advertisements, etc.).

In this second “Thinking Like a Historian” section, Shi provides excerpts from two renowned historians who have tried to make sense of Thomas Jefferson’s views on slavery in light of his status as a slave owner. After reading the two excerpted secondary sources and the two primary sources carefully, write a two to three typed and double-spaced paper with standard font and margins that answers the question in bold below. When you have completed your assignment, you should upload it via the assignment link above.

Based on what you’ve read in your textbook so far, with particular attention to the four primary documents in the “Thinking Like a Historian” section, which historian — Wilson or Finkelman — do you think has the stronger interpretation regarding Jefferson’s views of and practice of slavery? Why?

In responding to the question above, you should include a brief summary of both Wilson and Finkelman’s respective arguments and you should take into consideration how the four primary documents either strengthen or weaken those arguments.


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