This week I worked on my 5000-word draft. I decided to include my historiography to get some peer feedback ahead of our writing retreat next week, because I intend to spend most of that time working to overhaul that section of my paper. The version of the historiography which I included with this week’s draft contained the revisions and edits which were recommended to me after its original submission some weeks ago. I was genuinely looking forward to this week’s peer review session as an opportunity to receive comments about my historiography, and as a way of finding new formatting and transition ideas by reading others’ historiographies. I came away from this week’s class confident that I could create a historiography that I was pleased with; something I couldn’t say about the version I submitted previously.
In the lead up to our class this week, my time was spent writing and preparing my 5000-word draft. In the days after our class, my work schedule has only allowed me time to review the comments my draft received, rather than letting me jump back into writing and revising. I think that this time off from full-on writing will serve as a valuable reset before the self-editing process begins in earnest.
I realized before our class on Wednesday that I had never reached out to the historian recommended to me by our professor. I had intended to email her the week before our spring break, but I apparently never sent it. I realized my mistake when I was going through my inbox looking for any response, only to find my initial email sitting in the drafts folder. I will be sure to include any response I receive in next week’s update post.
This week I wrote a 2,500-word section of my paper’s initial draft. The process proved to be more of a struggle than I had been anticipating prior to sitting down and writing. This might also have been due to the time-off I took from doing schoolwork during last week’s spring break. Although I was initially able to crank out a hefty chunk of the expected 2,500 word-count, I hit a bit of a roadblock about 1,500 words in. In the end, I ended up with a section which totaled 2,712 words. In retrospect, this roadblock was mostly due to me not wanting to utilize any secondary sources in the sections I was writing, because the syllabus had specified that both this, and the next assignments were to be focused on the use of primary sources. I plan on using secondary sources throughout my next section to prevent running into this issue for next week’s assignment.
On the side of the ongoing research I have been conducting, I spent much of this week reviewing my notes on the lengthy Pacificus and Helvitius essays and selecting which sections to quote in my paper. As the week winds down, I have also been doing the same for some of my secondary sources. Because my time is split between school and work, my writing process has had to adapt. In the past, I was able to set aside blocks of time for writing, but my schedule this semester has not afforded me such opportunities. Instead I have been writing in bits and pieces: two paragraphs on a section of receipt paper, a page on the reverse of a handout from my German class, etc. Although this has proven challenging, I have found that the shake-up in process has helped keep my ideas feeling fresh.
This week I worked on the “outline and first two paragraphs” assignment. I had written a draft of an introduction paragraph some weeks ago as a sort of reference for the direction of my ongoing research. However, because the specifics of my topic have shifted slightly since then, the paragraph itself was largely useless for this assignment. In changing this introduction paragraph, I also changed my thesis statement to fall more in line with the refocusing of my topic.
I also heavily modified and formalized my existing outline. I found doing this the most helpful to me personally, because I had been feeling doubtful and anxious about the overall direction my research was headed: seeing a completed outline has made me much more confident and comfortable.
I have also begun working on the revisions to my historiography. One of the key notes I received from my initial draft was that I had not included any previous work that focused specifically on Washington’s 1793 Neutrality Proclamation. Because the assignment had been for five sources, it did not contain all of the sources I plan to discuss in the final paper. That said, it has been difficult to locate sources which focus on the proclamation. Thankfully, I have shifted my topic to more of a focus on the Democratic Republicans’ response to the proclamation, and how they were able to parlay the national debate around the proclamation into a key position of power following the 1796 presidential election. Because of this change of direction, the focus of my historiography has also shifted. Luckily for me, works on the early history and rise of the Democratic Republicans seem more readily available than works on the 1793 proclamation.
This week, I spent a lot of time researching and preparing my historiography assignment. I am not entirely confident that I did it correctly or in-line with the expectations of the course, but it is where most of my reserved time went this week.
I had to put aside my goal from last week (focusing on the review of my primary sources) as I spent time reading through my secondary sources to find the five which best suited the assignment. I researched reviews of the materials which were published in scholarly journals. I also spent time researching the authors of these reviews, making sure to only utilize the work of historians and those with some authority on the subject. I faced a slight issue with one of my sources which had no reviews. The source was published in 1932, so – being unable to find any then-contemporary peer-reviews – I instead used Google Scholar to search for any later works which referenced it. This search also yielded no results, leading me to the conclusion that the source material was not influential and did not significantly add to the existing historiography.
I have also been preparing the email I will be sending to the professor recommended to me during our recent one-on-one meetings. I had originally been planning to reach out later this last week but was ultimately unable to do so.
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.
This week I was sick for most of the time I am typically able to set aside for research, so I was not able to accomplish as much as I would have liked. That said, I did stumble upon an interesting angle for at least a portion of my final paper.
I found Theatre, Society and the Nation: Staging American Identities, a 2002 book published by Cambridge University Press which contains a chapter titled “Federalist and Democratic Republican theatre: partisan drama in nationalist trappings.” The chapter discusses how both the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties utilized stage productions as a method of furthering their agendas; by popularizing their ideologies. From here I found several other articles which support the notion that the parties sought to achieve dominance by both appealing to and attempting to shape public sentiment.
Practicing Democracy: Popular Politics in the United States from the Constitution to the Civil War is a 2005 book published by the University of Virginia Press which contains sections of interest, especially its chapter titled “Legitimacy, Localism, and the First Party System,” which I found in the references of another article.
“The Twelfth Amendment and the First American Party System,” an article published in a 1973 volume of The Historian offers helpful insight into the system which solidified the party system in the United States.
“If I had it in his hand-writing I would burn it”: Federalists and the authorship controversy over George Washington’s farewell address, 1808-1859” is a 2014 article from the Journal of the Early Republic. It explores a long-standing controversy over the true authorship of George Washington’s Farewell Address.
All of this culminates in what I might describe as the potential reality that the parties used Washington’s 1793 Neutrality Proclamation as a scapegoat, a tool for furthering their own advancements.
This week I wrote a Research Proposal which helped solidify the direction I want to take my research. I have a “work-in-progress” thesis statement which I’ve developed by building from what I had initially written for my elevator pitch. The search for suitable sources has also aided in the development of this thesis.
As a part of this week’s Research Proposal I began considering the history of my topic’s history, which was something I found more challenging than I had expected. I’m not sure if it’s because I lack experience exploring historiographies, or because there isn’t much previous work looking into my specific topic. Although if the latter is the case, I suppose that an absence of content about a topic does speak volumes about the approach generally taken towards that topic. That said, I still feel that I simply haven’t found what I’m looking for yet and will continue my search for previous writings about my topic.
Last week I wrote about a source of mine that I had reservations towards using because it sported a publisher of questionable repute. This week I spent time looking into the sources cited in the book – which was essentially a collection of original texts – and found that several of these sources are available through Temple’s library services.
When I wasn’t working on the Research Proposal or looking into my questionable source, I was gathering other possible sources. The last time I counted I had a folder of bookmarks containing around twenty potential sources. I have begun evaluating about five of the secondary sources in earnest. And will discuss them in next week’s blog post. I have also identified several primary sources that I plan on using such as The Federalist Papers and George Washington’s Farewell Address.
This week I developed an elevator pitch for my proposed research topic. In doing so I was able to identify several sources which I plan on looking into. I have found and acquired a collection of primary sources which will be central to the writing of my paper. The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1794 is a collection of the essays written by Hamilton and Madison in conflicting response to Washington’s 1793 Proclamation of Neutrality. Both the proclamation itself and several relevant letters are also included in the book. The editing and an introduction are attributed to Morton J. Frisch of Northern Illinois University. The book was published in 2007 by Liberty Fund Inc. Although the publisher does not appear to be a traditional scholarly source, the content appears to be presented in completion and without bias. If I find this to be an inconsistent appraisal, I will seek out individual sources for the contained works.
I have found several articles which seem to pertain to my topic. I have only had the opportunity to begin reading one of them. “Connecting the President and the People: Washington’s Neutrality, Genet’s Challenge, and Hamilton’s Fight for Public Support” was written by Christopher J. Young and published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of the Early Republic. I feel like it is still too early to determine whether I will be using this as a source. I plan on further evaluating this and the rest of the articles during the coming week and I will include more details in the next update post. In anticipation of the upcoming week’s proposal, I have been re-working the “question” I had prepared for my elevator pitch into a more complete thesis. I have also been working on a preliminary outline for my paper.
My name is Joseph Ganiszewski, and I am a senior at Temple University. Before attending Temple, I earned an associate degree from Montgomery County Community College. Since my graduation from high school in 2014, my academic interests have shifted several times. Although I began my time at Montco as a fine art major (with hopes of becoming a graphic designer), I eventually realized that it was not a good fit. I then changed majors to the versatile and more easily-transferable “liberal studies.” When I first enrolled in Temple, I was majoring in secondary education and history. After exploring the career for a semester, I ultimately decided to drop the secondary education portion and solely pursue a degree in history. At this point in time, I have no specific career goals that directly involve my major, although it is something that I am open to.
As I write this post, my research topic is still in flux. I plan on further solidifying my intentions this coming Monday and Tuesday. The most fleshed-out idea I have at the moment is to explore George Washington’s statement of neutrality on the French Revolution. I became aware of this topic while researching the U.S. government’s response to the French Revolution for my Intermediate Writing Seminar paper last semester. From my recollection and understanding, Washington issued the statement without submitting it to Congress. Although this step was technically unnecessary, Washington’s critics viewed this action as an overstepping of bounds. It would then take roughly a year before Congress officially backed-up Washington with a more-formal statement on the matter. I believe that I would explore the political environment leading up to the issuing of the statement, as well as the resulting backlash. My primary sources would likely include personal correspondence from notable U.S. and French political figures of the time, as well as Washington’s statement and Congress’ follow-up. This topic would be presented in the form of a traditional research paper.