Working Thesis

Your thesis statement should make some claim about HOW your primary source document went out into the world and made a particular something happen in a particular historical context. You might want to also include something about the following:

  • How the source and the issue is connected to the ideas of liberty, equality, and order
  • How the source and the issue is connected to a present day social, political, or cultural issue
  • How the source and the issue demonstrates some sort of courage and conviction in its composition (this is our Triad E Theme)

Thesis Example and List of Possible Moves:

  • Move # 1 - Let your readers know what your are doing in the paper by naming your primary source and tell who wrote it what is about very briefly
    • In this critical analysis, I examine the primary source document, a letter discussing the events after the failed slave rebellion, Gabriel’s Rebellion in Virginia from James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson in 1800.
    • Okay, now you do this:
  • Move # 2 --Let your readers know how your primary source is connected to a broader issue and why the source is an important part of the historical record
    • I also discuss how Monroe’s letter is a historical artifact that demonstrates some of the complexities and injustices of the institution of slavery.
    • Revised Version:
    • Monroe’s Letter is an important historical artifact because it demonstrates some of the complexities and injustices of the institution of slavery in the South.
    • Okay, now you do this:
  • Move # 3 -- Let your readers know how your source and issue is connected to the ideas of equality, liberty, and order.
    • Also, Monroe’s letter and its subject matter, Gabriel’s Rebellion, demonstrate
    • One of the complexities of the institution of slavery that this letter highlights is the difference in perspectives between the slaves who were fighting for their liberty and the slaveowners were trying to maintain order.
  • Move # 4 --Let your readers know how your source and issue is connected to a present day social, political, or cultural issue
    • Though the institutionalized practice of slavery was officially abolished with the 13th amendment, Monroe’s letter and his approach to the institution of slavery serves as good reminder for those of us who live in the 21st century of the ways that racist attitudes can effect political and social institutions in America.
  • Move # 5 -- Let your readers know how your source and/or issue demonstrated courage and conviction

Putting It All Together

In this critical analysis, I examine the primary source document, a letter discussing the events after the failed slave rebellion, Gabriel’s Rebellion in Virginia from James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Monroe’s Letter is an important historical artifact because it demonstrates some of the complexities and injustices of the institution of slavery in the South. One of the complexities of the institution of slavery that this letter highlights is the difference in perspectives between the slaves who were fighting for their liberty and the slaveowners were trying to maintain order. I argue that the both parties showed conviction in their beliefs. However, Gabriel and his followers demonstrated conviction and courage for daring to imagine that they could change their circumstances as enslaved men by actively rebelling.Though the institutionalized practice of slavery was officially abolished with the 13th amendment, Monroe’s letter and his approach to the institution of slavery serves as good reminder for those of us who live in the 21st century of the ways that racist attitudes can effect political and social institutions in America.