slaves as percentage of total population

Your job is to make a cause-and-effect argument about slavery and secession in Georgia. In particular, your argument about how these factors were related MUST consider the specific evidence for Decatur County and Cass County. For these two counties specifically and for Georgia and the other slaveholding states as a whole, you will wrestle with the question: How much or little did the following factors influence decisions with respect to secession?

slaves as percentage of total population
slaves per white man (at least 20 years old)
agricultural wealth per white man (at least 20 years old)
availability of transportation by rail or water
After considering all four of these factors (which will be further defined and explained to you one at a time), students will choose the one that they think offers the best explanation for Georgia’s stance on secession and the two individual counties’ respective stances. Students will access information about these factors through historical maps and tables are all available to you any time under the readings menu tab above.

Students will think about these factors as they relate to the national political and cultural battles over slavery detailed in the course readings, videos, and podcasts. The goal is for the student to be able to draw conclusions about how, say, the numbers of slaves as the percentage of a state or county population might have informed the response of that state or county to, say, the growth of abolitionism or the election of an antislavery President.

Students will organize their arguments to support a clear thesis statement articulated at the end of the introductory paragraph. An example of a thesis statement for this assignment is:

The number of slaves per white man explains Georgia’s secessionist stance but does not explain how the 2 individual counties voted on the issue at the state convention.


Wealth per white man explains Georgia’s secessionist stance and 1st county but the 2nd county’s motivation is unclear.

These, of course, are just made-up examples; students will articulate a thesis that best explains the data as they interpret it for Georgia and their counties. Students will write:

An introductory paragraph that sets up the significance of the historical quesiton at hand and presents a clear thesis statement
A second paragraph that explains the various historical factors under examination and identifies the one that will be the focus of the student’s argument
A third paragraph that analyzes that factor as it affected Georgia (and by comparison the other slaveholding states) with respect to secession
A fourth paragraph that does the same for the first individual Georgia county assigned to the student
A fifth paragraph that does the same for the second individual Georgia county assigned to the student
A concluding paragraph that pulls together the big points of the argument, considers contradictory evidence, and identifies other possible approaches to answering the question at hand
In addition to their ability to follow these instructions, students will be judged on the care with which they address the evidence specific to the assignment; the logic and structure of their argument; the connections that students make between specific evidence and the larger historical context (as identified in relevant course readings and videos) of the national debate about slavery; and the quality of the writing itself.

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