formulating my senior thesis statement

timer Asked: Dec 8th, 2014

Question description

UCCS Journal.docx 

This is my professors comments to the paper in whole.  "At present, you more or less have two different papers. The first one involves a long background to slavery in general, then slavery in the U.S., and then the horrors of antebellum southern slavery in particular, with some good use of primary sources such as Solomon Northrup. The second paper is about Ellison and is mostly a summary of what you have found from Johnson/Roark and Koger.

The key here will be to make the "second" paper more substantial, and to bring in much more in the way of primary sources to fill out that part. The other key will be to connect the two different papers. At present, there is virtually nothing connecting them.

As mentioned before, the part on the broad background of slavery can be trimmed back, even more than you have done; one paragraph establishing the ubiquity of slavery in human society is plenty. Beginning on p. 3 you get to the slave trade and slavery in North America generally. Again, that can be trimmed back, because the real focus here is on antebellum slavery in the American South, rather than slavery in general in America. Moreover, some of the broad background material can be replaced with more specific background/context about the free people of color, so that when we get to them later in the paper, we will know how they got there in the first place.

When set within the context of free people of color and of the nature of slavery in South Carolina, the story of Ellison is all the more amazing. First, because of the Denmark Vesey aborted rebellion of 1822 (of which there are many good published volumes of primary sources), and even further back because of the experience of the American Revolution (when a lot of slaves ran away to the British side), restrictions on slaves and free blacks in SC were even worse than they were in other southern states. Also, keep in mind that South Carolina boasted many of the nation's wealthiest people, in and around Charleston, and that the proportion of whites to blacks in many of those counties was 1 to 3 or 1 t to 5 -- in other words, blacks were a majority of the population in a good deal of the state, especially in the Charleston region. This of course necessitated a particularly brutal regime of control, because whites were keenly aware of what could happen in the case of a slave revolt.

As I said, all of the above makes Ellison's story so interesting and remarkable. There are some other places (like New Orleans, and Richmond) where people like Ellison were not all that uncommon, because there were a lot of close relationships of masters and slaves, often involving family relationships when slaveowners sired offspring with slave women. But it just wasn't that common in SC, where whites and blacks lived at a greater remove from one another than in perhaps any other southern state."

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