This week I spent time diving into my primary sources. Because of the nature of my topic, there is a lot of wordy material to sift through in order to find sections directly related to points I am trying to make. To give an example, the Congress-published edition of George Washington’s Farewell Address is thirty-two pages long. After reading and analyzing it, I have found six pages which directly relate to his thoughts on political parties and two pages which contain allusions to their dangers.
Following the one-on-one meetings on Wednesday, I have also spent time this week considering the specifics of how I am going to narrow my topic. My initial topic was the fallout surrounding Washington’s 1793 Proclamation of Neutrality. As I researched the topic more, I came to be interested in how the proclamation impacted America’s political party system. As I read through the primary and secondary sources I have collected, I can feel a cohesive paper forming, I just haven’t been able to locate that elusive “know-it-when-you-see-it” bit of information which ties it all together. For my Intermediate Writing seminar this information arrived in the form of a quote from Jefferson’s biography. I suspect that this time I will find what I am looking for in a letter from the leadership of one of the two political parties. Luckily there are collections of letters for most of these people. Unfortunately finding the relevant sections requires time.
It was mentioned at the Wednesday meeting that I might shift focus to either the Federalists or the Democratic-Republicans as opposed to splitting my time between the two. I have tentatively decided to focus on the Democratic-Republicans and how they used Washington’s proclamation to establish a foothold in the politics of the American public.