Refer to the syllabus for general information about papers and Paper #1 which is a critique of the Kaplan article (on Blackboard), “Jefferson and the Constitution…”
Review the sections of Rampolla that offer information about analyzing secondary sources and writing a critique (Sections 2b-2 and 3b-3). Also, you might want to read Chapter 8 of our textbook for background information. I have added a couple pieces of information below to help set the article in historical context.
Then, read the article thoroughly, maybe a couple times, to make sure you understand what Kaplan is stating, and most especially to make sure you recognize Kaplan’s thesis statement—what point is he making (or trying to make) in this article? Be sure to read the footnotes in Kaplan’s article so you can assess his sources. Where did he get the information about Thomas Jefferson in Paris? Are those sources adequate?
Write a first draft of this critique, keeping Rampolla’s suggestions (from 3b-3) in mind about what to include in the critique, and make sure your critique is more than just a summary of Kaplan’s article. I know what Kaplan wrote; I want to know how you assess Kaplan’s article! Refer again to the syllabus to make sure you’ve included enough footnotes and not too many direct quotations. It might be helpful to read that draft aloud and/or have someone else read it to make sure it’s clear and that you’re conveying your assessment of Kaplan’s article. Then re-write and finalize, including a bibliography page (even though it only has the article and maybe the textbook as bibliography entries.)
*Please try to avoid using first person pronouns in this critique. You DON’T need to state:“I think Kaplan…” or “It’s my opinion that Kaplan…” because I KNOW it’s your opinion or idea as you write it! Be bold and write something like: “Kaplan argues successfully that…” or “Kaplan does not make a convincing argument when he notes….” or “The author ignores ….”
CONTEXTUAL INFORMATION: The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution of the U.S. written and ratified during the American Revolution. In the Articles government, the states were sovereign, and there was only a Congress with limited authority to govern (there was no president or Supreme Court.) The Articles government appointed Thomas Jefferson as minister (similar to an ambassador) to France. So, Jefferson was in Paris in 1787 when the Constitutional Convention is being held in Philadelphia where the Articles of Confederation government was dissolved and the Constitution was ratified. Kaplan’s article describes Jefferson’s feelings and beliefs about the formation of this new Constitutional government and the concerns that some people had that this new government might become so powerful that it would take away the rights of people and states that they had enjoyed under the Articles of Confederation government.
On page 325 when Kaplan uses the phrase: the “Court of Versailles,” he is referring to the palace (built by Louis XIV) on the outskirts of Paris that was the seat of the French government at the time.
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