complete initial discussion post for history course and reply to 1 student


Unit 2 Discussion:
The Debate Over Independence

Before embarking on the study of history, understanding how to “do” history can be useful. To most people, the definition of history is simple – it is what happened in the past. However, it is really not that simple. Since we cannot revisit the past (except if you are Dr. Who), the main tasks of the historian is to interpret the artifacts that have been left behind. These artifacts from the past are what historians call “primary sources.” Primary sources are the raw materials of history–original documents and material objects which were created in the past. You have probably experienced primary sources in your own life. For example, many of you have visited museums, and the objects found in a museum are primary source objects – things created by those people living in the past. Another example is a book that may have been assigned in a class like one from Shakespeare or Jane Austin; those too are considered primary sources because they are written by authors from the past.

When historians write about the past, they interpret the meaning of those objects. Interpretations of history are known as “secondary sources” and you have also encountered these in your life. A textbook, for example, is a secondary source because it was written by a historian living today. Other examples of secondary sources (which again, are interpretations of the past) include most history books at Barnes and Noble, documentaries on TV, and even movies (think of Twelve Years a Slave). One of the problems that historians face is the biased nature of sources. It is important to consider who created the object, why they created it, and what message was it intended to convey. Even historians can be biased based on their personal beliefs (politics, religion, race, gender, etc.). A good historian attempts to understand these biases and write accounts that are based on sound logic and supported with evidence (sorry fans of Ancient Aliens, that show doesn’t meet the threshold).


There are two parts to this assignment: an initial posting and a response. You are required to read all of the primary source assigned, take notes, and then present your findings to the class. Here is how it will work:


-Last names beginning with A-L: Read Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

-Last names beginning with M-Z: Read Charles Inglis’s The True Interest of America Impartially Stated.

·If you last name begins with A-L your initial posting will attempt to convince the American colonies that independence is necessary. You are what they call “role- playing” like you are a Patriot living in 1776. You will read the document by Thomas Paine, then use his arguments to present a compelling case for independence. Your posting should convey at least three of the main themes conveyed by Paine, as well as include quotes from the reading to illustrate your main points. It should be a minimum of three paragraphs (each paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences).

You also can be as creative as you’d like with your initial posting. Here are a few ideas:

-create a PowerPoint/Prezi, presentation (after all, didn’t they have computers in 1776?). They must have a minimum of ten slides.
-create a YouTube video where you give a speech to the Continental Congress (I’m sure they all had iPhones as well). The text of the speech should be a minimum of three paragraphs (each paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences).
-create a pamphlet (just like Common Sense) or newspaper article where you discuss your main points (Word and Publisher work well for this format). The text of the pamphlet/newspaper article should be a minimum of three paragraphs (each paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences).

***You must give specific examples & direct quotes from the secondary and/or primary sources used in unit materials and must cite these sources following the MLA style, the University of Chicago Press’s Chicago Manual of Style or Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Refer to the online resources Guide to the MLA Style or Turabian and Chicago Styles Citations. You should use footnote citations or in-text citations. For your direct quotations, you must not only cite your source, but must also use quotation marks.Basically, half of you will have citations like this: (Paine 7) while the other half of you will have citations like this: (Inglis 3).

*** You must use these citations no matter format you use: regular post, PowerPoint, pamphlet, YouTube video, etc.In the video you “cite” by simply saying something like this: “On page 3 inCommon Sense, Thomas Paine writes…”

You don’t have to do a works cited section (bibliography) on the bottom of your post.


2. RESPONSE: Read a post of a fellow classmate who is taking the opposite position. Then in a two paragraph response (should be a minimum of 5 sentences each) explain why they are wrong and you are right! Of course, in a polite way!Don’t worry about citations in your response post.

Remember to use proper “netiquette”:

Netiquette: I expect you to use proper “netiquette” when interacting with me and with your fellow students in the course. Basically, you should think of yourself as a professional engaged in business communications. Do not write in a format that you would not submit to your employer.

Here are some general netiquette guidelines:

  • Use proper grammar and spelling in e-mails and discussion postings. (This is especially important in graded discussion postings.)
  • Avoid using capital letters. This is usually regarded as shouting at the recipient.
  • Remember that humor is difficult to convey in text, so be careful and explicit if you are trying to make a joke.
  • Never post or respond to a personal attack. Never use vulgar language. I will reserve the right to remove any inappropriate messages.
  • If you disagree with a post or idea, present your thesis with evidence supporting it. It is very possible to disagree with a statement politely and productively. Avoid: “That is the dumbest thing I ever heard!” Better: “I completely disagree with your post….”
  • Cite all sources and references in discussion postings and course assignments.


Independence is Necessary!

We, as Patriots, should be clear in our decision to stand for freedom. Is England our parent or our friend? Although some may think that is impossible for us to thrive in an independent state, we must remember that as children grow in stature, so we have grown in independence (Paine 1). “Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present condition they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies” (Paine 3). There is no reason we should not free from this terrible predicament.

Again, if England is our parent, why do they treat us with such contempt? “Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon families…” (Paine 2). If they want to live in good relationship with the colonies, they should treat us with respect, admiring our capabilities as a nation. No longer should we stand by and allow them to force taxes or a certain religious reign on us. We should be free from the pangs of abuse and allowed to do as we see fit. England, in all her power, would do the same if she were in our shoes.

Lastly, we as colonies can no longer stand the economic trials that comes with being a dependent of England. “Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection with Britain” (Paine 2). Are we not unequally yoked with a country who will tear down what they have tried so hard to build up? “…I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England forever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul” (Paine 5). We must have independence or we will be destroyed.

Fight for Independence!