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Historians call the pieces of information left to us from the past primary sources. These types of sources can include speeches and court records as we see in this question below, as well as, all other material that comes to us directly from the people we are studying such as letters, diaries, wills, or tax records. They differ from secondary sources because secondary sources are not directly from the people you are studying. Your textbook, for example, is a secondary source. It was written not by the people described in it but by a present-day historian named Eric Foner. Primary sources are the building blocks of historical argument. When a historian wants to make a point about the past, he or she must back that point up with evidence from primary sources. Each week in this class you will discuss one or more primary sources from one of the chapters of the Voices of Freedom primary source reader. 

If you don’t yet have that book, this chapter is available as a PDF in the “content” area of Blackboard. Note that this will be the only week where the PDF for the chapter will be available. For future week’s you’ll need a copy of the book, or to access it from the Reserves section of the Library.

For this discussion, carefully read sources 10 and 11 in Chapter 2 of Voices of Freedom (pages 30-40). The two sources are an excerpt from the trial of Anne Hutchinson and a speech by Massachusetts governor John Winthrop made eight years later. In his text Winthrop describes two types of liberty, natural and moral. In your discussion response I’d like you to do two things. First, explain whether or not you agree with his division between a liberty to do whatever you want and a liberty that comes from accepting (and obeying) the authority of society. Next explain how you think his vision of liberty affected the outcome of the case against Anne Hutchinson.

In your response you should use evidence from the primary sources to prove your point. Typically this requires a three-step process of making your assertions about the issue, giving the reader evidence that proves your point (usually by providing a brief quotation from the text), and then fully explaining to the reader why the evidence proves your point. When you do provide information from the reader, be sure to provide citation. A simple parenthetical with the editor’s name and the page number (Foner, 30) will suffice since we are all reading the same few sources each week.

Responses should run between 200 and 400 words.

For full credit, be sure to provide a substantive response of at least 100 words to someone else’s post after you have posted your response. In these responses you want to fully explain why you agree or disagree with what the person has said.

A grading rubric for these discussions is available in the content section of this Blackboard site.

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