It really feels like this time would never come. About to graduate with my degree and fly into the world. I’ve been in school for the last nineteen years of my life, I’m not going to know what to do with myself.
All of the presentations this past week set the bar exceptionally high in regards to the quality of work on display, so I’ve spent much of this week planning out how I’m going to present this Wednesday. I am equal parts extremely excited and incredibly terrified to finally take the plunge. There’s a large part of me that doesn’t want to make the commitment of taking my project and saying “this is finished”, if I look hard enough there will always be more flaws I can root out.
In all, the past year has been indescribable. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit bitter about my last year and a half of college have been overwhelmed by Covid and everything else that’s happening. It’s been turbulent and full of unexpected hurdles, and I genuinely have no idea how I’m going to look back on it, nor process what it means. Despite having to leave campus and experience classes through a webcam, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m capable of and have enjoyed a lot of it; this class has been a highlight of that. Thank you to everyone who read my work and put up with my ramblings about the Dutch Republic.
My draft is in a pretty good place at the moment. I’m sitting at just under 6200 words, and Wei provided some valuable feedback this past week that should help me very much in finishing this thing up. I have a pretty good idea of where I want it to go, it only remains to take it there. I haven’t been able to implement the edits as of this moment just due to drowning in other work. I should have a little more time on Easter Sunday and during the start of next week to really get some writing done. Plus (and I know this is a tired joke) that’s why the good Lord saw fit to bless this world with caffeine, right?
The biggest thing that I think my paper needs is more addressing of the counterpoints to my central argument, of which there are a reasonable number. I need to go into greater depth on the other influences on early America as well as why one might think that the Dutch Republic was completely irrelevant to the founding fathers, then reasonably refute them.
Despite this, I am happy to report that the reason I’m so exhausted tonight is that I was able to road trip three hours out to central PA to get my first Covid-19 shot! I heard that food service workers were now eligible even though PA is still in group 1-A, and that was the closest location I could schedule an appointment. Despite having to work a shift immediately after returning home, I’m feeling great. It’s a gigantic burden off of my shoulders. Also, to unwind, I recommend anything from Victory Brewing Co.
My tenth week of writing and research has been… alright, all things considered. I’ve been diving deep into my sources between work and my spare time, but I haven’t gotten any significant amounts of writing done yet. I’m currently sitting pretty at about 3800 words, but there’s still a lot of fleshing out to be done, so adding to that word count by waxing eloquent about esoteric details about Thomas Jefferson shouldn’t be too difficult, only time consuming. Fortunately, I still have a few days left to write so I’m not particularly worried.
What has got me worried is that so far I haven’t uncovered any solid, concrete evidence that supports my thesis: that the Dutch did have an influence on the Americans. There’s a lot of extremely compelling circumstantial evidence, but so far nothing that would stand up in a court of law. There is one blurb that I remember reading somewhere that claims the founding fathers were actively reading the Dutch Act of Abjuration, but I made the unfortunate mistake of not immediately marking it down and since can’t find it for the life of me, despite my best efforts. Hopefully it’ll turn up again soon.
Completely unrelated, but as stress relief and just as a fun project to work on I’ve started getting into model kits on the side. I just finished a kit of the USS Olympia that I bought a few weeks ago, and I’m super happy how it turned out! It was surprisingly a lot more fun and way more relieving than I anticipated.
Week Nine has actually been something of a relief. After sitting still for so long for one reason or another on banging out my writing and research like some kind of reverse Sisyphus, I’ve finally gotten the ball rolling on actually beginning to write my paper. This is owed to a herculean effort involving much caffeine far to late in the day, but has produced a solid 3,800 word skeleton for my larger work that I should be able to fill in with relative ease/
My thesis has solidified, and the basic structure of my writing is down on paper. All that really remains is to continue to flesh everything out. That being said, I still need more sources, as well as to mount a serious effort to insert specific cited claims instead of the kind of generalizations that are much easier to write. There remains the lions share of the work to be done, but now that I’ve built up some momentum and I have an extra week to work, it’s really only a matter of doing it.
On a semi-related note, I’ve found that the Album Where’s the Drop? by Deadmau5 actually makes wonderful study music. It’s a weirdly compelling blend of swelling orchestra and synths. Easy to lose yourself in, making it fantastic for studying. If it can make me of all people focus, there’s got to be something to it, right?
The last few weeks have in terms of research have been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been struggling to get work done and have missed a few deadlines, to say nothing of class. However at the end of this the eighth week, I feel like I’ve finally gained my footing, and I’m beginning the process of clawing my way out of the hole I’ve dug for myself like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
Research is progressing, with a thesis and draft in the works. I’ve gathered a few more sources relevant to the Whig Party in Britain and how they influenced politics in pre- and post revolution America, and I’ve begun seriously writing now, even though I missed the deadline of last Wednesday for a first draft. I still need to finish my peer edit but that hopefully shouldn’t take too long.
All in all all I can say is that I’ve finally broken out of a standstill, and I’m starting to build of steam and momentum. It’s about time too, as if I waited much longer I doubt I’d be able to catch up. As it is, I think I can manage it; besides, I do my best work when my back it to the metaphorical wall, just like the founding fathers when they wrote the Articles of Confederation.
If I’m being honest, I’ve fallen behind in my work. Life has gotten in the way, and what this means moving forward is that like those Nestle commercials I keep seeing, it’s time to Crunch. More sources, more writing, more analysis, and more sweat are needed in order to have any kind of draft by Wednesday’s class. It’s easy to write that, but what this is likely going to mean is a sleepless caffeine fueled night or two working furiously. It’s going to be hard, but that’s why the good Lord saw fit to invent the Coffee bean; to assist poor students like myself hounded by deadlines.
Beyond that, there isn’t really much to say. I plan to investigate the Whig party in Great Britain as part of my research as the possible strongest link between the Articles and the Dutch, but without evidence these words are but air. The actual legwork is ongoing.
As I write razor close to the deadline after having to stay late at work, my only real regret is that I wasn’t able to research more this past week. The last big bit of reading I did was for the mini bibliography last Wednesday, and since then various external factors have prevented me from doing much more. I did begin to edit and expand my bibliography based on the feedback I received last week, so that’s good.
I need to start seriously thinking about my thesis, as well as begin writing the very first draft of my paper at large. Still nothing particularly expansive or polished, but enough that I have a solid foundation of thoughts to elaborate on and festoon with footnotes. Other than that, I plan to find more sources both primary and secondary and continue to plow through reading them all. Sources aren’t any good if I only fish around for choice quotes, that’s academic malpractice. I’m hoping that sometime in the next day or two will present itself as the perfect opportunity to keep digesting the information. Barring that, I may have to pull some late nights, but that’s why the Lord saw fit to bless this earth with sweet, sweet, caffeine, right?
My week five has been an interesting one. I decided to revise my storyboard (the process of which remains ongoing) and I’ve requested the only (so far) non-digital book I need to study from Temple library. I’ve begun skimming my other sources as well when I’m not in class or working, and I have some time off Tuesday when I plan to really sink my teeth into them.
The source I’m most excited to get into is the treatise on the original Treaty of Utrecht written in 1762 by an Englishman. I love primary sources, but what I love more than regular primary sources is past sources talking about their sources. It’s a double-dopamine historian’s rush, and I love it. Historiography looms, so I feel it will come in useful.
Moving forward, I need to select my sources for the Historiography assignment due on Wednesday as well as really beginning to sketch out a framework of the paper in preparation for the first draft. Nothing fancy, really only partially digested notes. The sooner I begin getting my thoughts down on paper, the sooner I can rewrite and revise them. Additionally I need to dedicate significant time to sitting down and plowing through my primary and secondary sources, taking notes as I go. Hunting for other sources too couldn’t hurt at all.
This third week was the one in which I really began seriously researching my topic. So far I’ve managed to locate four Books, one scholarly article, and three online archives I’m looking forward to perusing through. One that I’m particularly excited to read is the lengthily entitled “The provisions made by the treaties of Utrecht, for separating Spain for ever from France, and for preventing France from enjoying any separate exclusive commerce with the Spanish dominions in America; and the provisions made by several treaties between Great Britain and Spain, … Together with the late treaty of union between France and Spain”, an account of the Union of Utrecht written in 1767, as well as several others. One thing is for sure, I’m going to be doing a lot of reading in the near future.
I still haven’t acquired the actual text of the Union of Utrecht, which remains probably the largest obstacle that needs clearing. Additionally, I still would like to acquire the personal correspondence of the Founding Fathers, which I hope will be in one of the archives I have access to. One other thing that I noticed is that publication dates for works relating to my question are all over the place, with two of my most promising secondary sources being written in 1958 and 1979. My worry is that these may prove too outdated to be of any real help, but it may also speak to a lack of research into this area, which gives my work the potential to be groundbreaking. Exciting! Regardless, I have to read the books first still.
Moving forward I intend to scour the archives for anything relevant and beginning the process of reading, as well as refining my ideas and beginning the general outline of my paper.
It has, admittedly, been a light week in terms of research for my final project. There are two primary sources that are the summation of the digging that I’ve done since my last post, and they are the Articles of Confederation (text retrieved from https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=3&page=transcript) and the Albany Plan of Union (https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/albany.asp), the latter of which is the first document advocating for a union of the colonies, published in 1754 by one Benjamin Franklin. In the future I intend to see if I can dig up some of the personal correspondence of the authors of the Articles both contemporaneous to the Articles themselves as well as earlier to evidence its intellectual origins. Additionally, I intend to find the exact text of the Treaty of Utrecht (1577) which has as of the time of writing proven inaccessible except for an internet archive I need to make an account to access.
Both documents that I have acquired so far are invaluable to the project, the Articles as providing one of the cornerstones of my research and the Albany Plan as an influence on them. Analysis of the Albany Plan will shed some light on some of the ideas contained within the Articles and possibly will belie whether or not these ideas are homegrown or of foreign origin. Also potentially, as the Albany Plan is a rough draft (so to speak) it may contain references to its source material that would have been edited out of later versions.
The Articles have provided valuable insight into the mindset of the writers and how they viewed themselves in rebellion against the British. Interestingly the US is referred to as the “united States”. Also interesting is a clause that specifies that when troops must be raised, they will be paid for by a common fund that the states themselves are expected to contribute to. The Albany Plan is interesting as it advocates colonial union under the British Crown, with any law passed by the unified states going into permanent effect if not struck down by the King in 3 years. Both are invaluable, providing insight into the idea of unification at different points in America’s flirtation with independence. Unfortunately, without the Treaty of Utrecht as a comparison, their usefulness is limited, necessitating the treaty as a document I need to acquire quickly.