Essay #2:Protest and Reform
P rof.H el ton,H i story117A ,Sp ri ng20 22
DU EDA TE :May2,202 2
“How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today?”

– Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

The Constitution and Bill of Rights defined the structure of the US government and the rights of
its citizens.But as the new nation embarked on its experiment with democracy, it soon became
clear that rights were not equally protected for everyone in America.

In the period between the American Revolution and the Civil War, reformers and radicals from
a variety of communities began actively agitating for change and the expansion of rights.The
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution opened the doors to the idea that all
Americans should enjoy equality and liberty. But what steps would be necessary to make these
promises real?

The Assignment:
In a thoughtful, well-written essay, answer the following question:

In the period between 1790 and 1860, what strategies did activists use to agitate for reform?
What methods did they use to influence politics, the government, and public opinion?

In your answer, you may want to consider the abolition movement, the women’s rights
movement, worker’s protests, or any other protest movement from the period that we have
studied.Be sure to cite specific examples from the primary and secondary sources.

You are not required to conduct additional research for this assignment.Your answer should
be based on the sources we have examined so far in this class.Your secondary sources are the
class videos and American Yawp.And you must use primary source evidence in this essay.

In particular, you may find these primary sources helpful:
• The Declaration of Sentiments
• Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” speech, and his
• Civil Disobedience

Format and Requirements:
Your essay should be four to five pages long, with formatting as described in the class syllabus.

Your essay should include a thesis statement that clearly answers the question.Your goal in the
body of the paper is to provide primary and secondary source evidence to support your thesis.
Use specific quotations and examples from the assigned sources to do this.

You must use Chicago style footnotes to document all of your sources.Your essay should
include a properly formatted Bibliography at the end (the Bibliography is not included in the
page count).

The proper format for footnotes and bibliographies can be found in Chapter 16 and 17 of

If you have any questions, please contact me via Canvas Inbox, or email me at

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