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Task: Begin by picking a country or region in the world that interests you. Next, search for
articles in America’s Historical Newspapers or African American Newspapers (links on
eLearn) about that country or region published between 1790 and 1865 that can help you answer
the following questions:
What evidence can you find for the existence of a social contract in your chosen location or
group? What does the contract seem to include? Who appears to be in or out of it? If
there appears to be no social contract, why not? Craft a thesis statement and write an essay
that answers these questions using 2-5 newspaper articles.
DO NOT TRY TO GOOGLE THE ANSWER — GOOGLE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND HERE —
IT WILL NOT KNOW ABOUT YOUR ARTICLES SO IT CANNOT ANSWER THE
QUESTION FOR YOU.
To setup your essay you must include any one of Equiano’s
Interesting Narrative (1789), Rousseau’s Social Contract (1762), de Gouges’ Declaration of the
Rights of Woman (1792), Chen Hongmou’s, “On the Duties of an Official,” and/or Marx and
Engels’ Communist Manifesto (1848) but these must not be the focus of your essay.
Remember that the newspaper reports were often shaped by the perspective of an American or
British writer so be sure to think carefully about whether that perspective ignores parts of the
social contract in your location. You might find conflicting interpretations of the location’s
social contract — do not ignore the terrific opportunity this presents for your paper. Writing
about those differences in interpretation can make for an excellent paper.
Essay checklist:
Answers questions
Uses 2-5 newspaper articles
Uses lecture/podcast for context/concepts
Uses at least 1 of the Equiano, Rousseau, de Gouges, Hongmou, or Marx and Engels readings
Objective: To improve essay writing and argument skills from Assignment 1; to practice
identifying and understanding the concept of the social contract which is fundamental to many
current nations and groups.
Citations: Cite everything you use. Citations give your voice authority by proving that you are
not making up, misusing, or stealing material.
*Your reference list or footnotes must have a full web URL for each newspaper item used.
Searching generally online or using other databases does not fulfill the assignment.
*Papers must use page numbers for material from the course readings.
Helpful Hints: Be sure to craft a thoughtful thesis that connects all of your material. Refer to
the rubric as you work — it is a guide for a good essay. Be creative and concise.

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