Student A answers Discussion Question #1 affirmatively, stating that Tecumseh was an American hero. The main arguments are that the Indian leader fought for what he believed in, protected his land and people, and wanted to unite all the Indian tribes. I agree that Tecumseh was an American hero, and I agree with Student A’s arguments; however, I think Student A could improve the answer by elaborating on the complexity of the historical figure of Tecumseh and addressing the controversy associated with the Indian leader. Stating that a person who initiated attacks on American settlements in 1810 and participated in the War of 1812 as an ally of Britain is an American hero requires more explanation. Concerning Discussion Question #2, Student A explains how the shift in the concept of value occurred and argues that it played a significant role in women’s liberty in America. I had not examined the issue from this perspective, and I found Student A’s idea interesting: since education had come to be considered an important component of women’s virtue, women became more educated, and thus struggled more actively for their freedoms and rights. The letter that Student A wrote to a slave as a mill worker manages to reflect the way a Lowell mill girl would have felt about her work back in 1825. The assumed author of the letter perceives her work as a kind of liberation from her parents, but she also states that the conditions are harsh. Somewhat naïvely, the assumed author thanks the slave she is writing to for working out in the field without fully realizing how inhumanely slaves are treated in the South. Also, the assumed author stresses the importance of her and her addressee’s work for the economy, which I think is an idea that could be widely shared among mill girls in 1825.
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I think that Student B manages to convincingly explain why Tecumseh is an American hero. The major supporting points are the Native American leader’s courage (he addressed himself fearlessly to a powerful and potentially dangerous government) and integrity (he wanted all Indian peoples to be united and did not accept the selling of the land). Students B’s initial perception was that Tecumseh was not a Native American hero, but latterly came to regard the iconic leader as an American hero as more information was revealed about the subject, which I think is an impressing example of historical thinking. Concerning Discussion Question #2, Student B states that there had been a shift in the concept of virtue by male citizenry regarding the characteristics of an ideal woman; however, Student B thinks that those were different virtues, thus refusing to regard them in the same context. I disagree with that because I think that the shift indicated an attempt of the Government to control social processes. However, Student B’s argument that women’s education made them go beyond the limited roles of wives and mothers is quite convincing. Finally, concerning the letter that Student B wrote from an enslaved person to a mill girl, I think it was very moving and powerful. The author stresses that the living and working conditions of a slave in the South are much worse than those of a mill worker in New England, although both may be treated unfairly. Also, I agree with Student B that a mill worker has hope for a better future and possibly for making a difference through access to education, and the author of the letter encourages the addressee to use all the opportunities at her disposal.