Today we use the term “Native American” to refer to the indigenous peoples of the American continents. In an of itself the name denotes their essential “Americanness.”  But of course, this was contested in earlier centuries.  Who or what is an “American?” and what was the status of Native Americans in the early Republic?  Your first  paper assignment in this course is to compare two documents written to or about Native Americans by early American presidents (in both cases the Cherokee).  In this paper you will use the documents to analyze how the term “American” was being defined by the authors and argue how and why the status of Native Americans changed between 1796 and 1835.   What does “American mean according to the author and what are the implications of that answer? Also address the question of what the author’s motivation for writing this was. 

  • Document 9: George Washington, Letter to the Cherokee (1796)
  • Document 10a: Cherokee Appeal (1830)  
  • Document 10b: Jackson, Seventh Annual Address to Congress (1835)

 In your introduction you should introduce your topic and then provide an analytical thesis which directly answer the question above. Note that a thesis is the answer the the question(s) you pose not the questions themselves.  Please refer to  the page in the Getting Started Module Reading and Writing Help for advice on how to set up a paper and stupid mistakes to avoid (like using the present tense, using the first person, or not having a thesis but rather a vague generalization). It will also guide you to understanding the difference between analysis and summary.  You are NOT summarizing the documents.  You are analyzing how they are in dialogue and formulating an argument about what this tells us about the status of Native Americans in the early republic.  You are also not writing a history of the period or of Native Americans in general. You can assume that your reader, me, knows the general historical background and figures.  Do not waste space giving me factual background unless it directly answers one of your WHY questions.  Stick to grappling with the documents. This mean that in order to be successful you need to engage directly with the document:  quote them, analyze what the quotes mean, and use quotes to support what your argument about what they were arguing and why.  

You should have at least 3 body paragraphs supporting two or three different aspects of your thesis.  Each paragraph should have it’s own point and internal cohesion. So for example, one paragraph could be on how the author defined American with direct examples from the text. Another paragraph could be on why the author wrote this and who was his audience was.  You should also definitely have a paragraph where you are arguing how and why the status of Native Americans changed in this period.  A final body paragraph on the implications is another possibility.  But remember, it should already be stated in your thesis/introduction what you’re arguing.  The body paragraphs serve to support it.  

Your final paragraph should be a conclusion.  No new material should be presented in a conclusion. Conclusions are to conclude. Sum up your argument and bring the paper to a close. 

Write in a clear and professional manner.  Do not use the first person, do not give me your opinion, do not write that something is “unfair” (that’s your opinion).  Analyze what Washington and Jackson argued.   Not even Takaki or the textbook.  This is a document analysis.  You are a historian using a historical document to make an argument about the status of Native Americans in 1798 or 1830. 

You should cite your quotes by putting the author’s name and the page number.  Example: (Washington, 2). You do not need to provide bibliography unless you use outside sources.  Note on outside sources: Don’t do it.  I beg you.  Just use the materials from this class and focus on the documents.  To those of you who insist on looking things up and using outside secondary sources–be VERY careful.  Even if you cite those sources honestly the danger is that you won’t analyze the document for yourself and rather report some other scholar’s interpretation–which will get you no higher than a C.  In addition, the risk of unintentionally plagiarizing someone else’s analysis of this speech is much bigger–and I hate busting people for plagiarism.  Analysis can be intimidating, but it’s better to just force yourself to do. If you look at what other people wrote about these documents you’re not analyzing what they mean. You’re summarizing what someone else said.  

Your paper should be about 3-4 pages, 1 inch margins, 12 point standard font (such as Time New Roman).  The first line of each paragraph should be indented and the paper should be aligned to the left or justified.  Upload a word of pdf file to Canvas. NO GOOGLE DOCS OR CLOUDS OF ANY SORT.  

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