This week I prepared for my presentation. Although I had started to work on the material I was planning to present last week, I had not yet began formatting it into an actual presentation. As I developed my presentation, I was able to identify several areas of my paper that I would like to adjust moving forward, such as my decision to omit any meaningful inclusion of Susan Branson’s These Fiery Frenchified Dames: Women and Political Culture in Early National Philadelphia. Another example would be my title, which is both accurately descriptive, and long and cumbersome.
I have also continued to integrate the comments I received on the last two drafts of my paper. One of the big suggestions which came out of the last two peer-review sessions was that I consider including the specific reactions of Jefferson, Adams, and Madison to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment. Although I was initially going to do this, I have been unable to locate definitive statements from any of them concerning their opinions on the Amendment.
Beyond the comments which I received, I have also been working to reformat many of my citations to better conform to the Chicago Manual of Style. Because of the nature of several of my sources, this has required a decent amount of research in and of itself. Additionally, I have continued to research the topics introduced to me during my recent meeting with Dr. Roney, most notably how the Yellow Fever outbreak in the 1790s illustrated the partisanship which was growing in the U.S. at the time.
This week I was finally able to meet with Dr. Roney. We discussed sources and she recommended that I look into several different aspects of my topic which I had not previously thought about looking into. Given the limited time between now and when the final paper is due, I will not be able to fully explore all of these angles, but they would not all have been perfect fits for my paper to begin with. Although all of Dr. Roney’s recommendations were related to the time period and the broad topic of the early days of the Democratic Republican party, some of the specifics would be better served in a paper being written from a different starting point.
One of the recommendations I will be following however, is the link between the outbreak of Yellow Fever which took place in Philadelphia in 1793 and the sense of partisanship which was growing at the same time. Apparently, some people would only go to doctors who fell in line with their own political leanings. Another topic which I plan to research as a possible inclusion for my paper is the rise of partisan fashion. This would go alongside the planned section on the Yellow Fever and my existing sections on theater productions and newspapers, all of which would be in relation to this growing trend of partisan politics which laid the groundwork for the Democratic Republican party’s ascension.
I also spent time this week integrating the comments I received from last week’s peer-review session into the draft I submitted this week. In addition to this, I have continued to prepare for my upcoming presentation.
This week I completed the first full draft of my paper. I focused on three specific areas of work to complete this draft: my historiography, some additional body paragraphs, and making changes according to feedback on my previous drafts. I completely overhauled my historiography this week, so I am waiting to receive feedback from both our professor and from my time meeting with Dr. Roney on Tuesday. In addition to adding some transitions to improve the flow of my writing, I added several new paragraphs, I added a section which discussed Washington’s Farewell Address and his stance on the growing tide of partisan politics. I also included a section which explored the information I had recently found concerning the two major, partisan newspapers in Philadelphia during the 1790s. During our in-class peer review session, it was suggested to me that, in addition to my current coverage of the Twelfth Amendment, I should include a section on the opinions of Jefferson, Madison, or Adams concerning its adoption. I have only just begun researching this, but I plan to delve in deeper on Sunday after I am done at work for the day.
This week and next are incredibly busy for all of us: as the semester winds down, assignments tend to pile up. Because of the work I still have to complete for my other classes, I took our professor’s advice and shifted my limited focus onto preparing for my upcoming presentation. During our class on Wednesday it was mentioned that we could discuss our paper-writing/research process during our presentations. I thought that this topic would be an interesting one to discuss so I have been coming up with a way to talk about it. Beyond this, I have begun working on a digestible overview of the information in my paper.
This week I had my one-on-one meeting with our professor. We discussed several things, but the topic which most significantly impacted this week for me was the idea of interjecting public opinion and the view of the “average” citizen into my paper by exploring newspaper articles from the late-1700s and early-1800s.
My preliminary research into this topic and early-American newspapers as a whole revealed quite the rabbit hole. I eventually determined that, although the angle had merit, I would have to massively rework my paper in order to fully implement it. The original reason for this new topic was a concern that my paper was focused exclusively on a select group of upper echelon politicians during a specific period of American politics. By introducing the views expressed in newspapers, the hope was that another voice might be heard. I think that topic is interesting and robust enough to support a devoted paper of its own, or at least one which specifically focuses on the differences between the common feelings and the feelings of elite politicians.
I did come across information on two specific newspapers that I will be using in my paper. The Gazette of the United States and the National Gazette were both Philadelphia-based, partisan papers which operated around the time of my topic. I will be including information about these publications in an already-planned section on partisan media and how the parties were spreading their ideas.
As a general update to my ongoing attempts to contact Dr. Rooney, I emailed her but received an automated response back because she was away. The message said that she should be back by the 31st so I will be reaching out again after posting this.
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.