It is December 1860. Assume the perspective of a junior member of the United States State Department who has been assigned the task of writing a report on the subject of American relations with the Japanese Empire for the incoming (Republican) Secretary of State, William Seward, to the Republican President-elect Abraham Lincoln. ‘Your’ report should: 1. Relate your observations on the character of Japanese society and offer a comparison of Japanese ideals and beliefs with American ones [this may require the identification of American respective ideals and beliefs, as ‘you’ see them] and set forth how that character might affect the course of American-Japanese relations, and the present state of those relations; 2. Identify American goals for relations with Japan along with reasons for increased American involvement in the Pacific Ocean region, and discuss why the United States should pursue these goals (as well as how it can achieve them); 3. Identify obstacles to the achievement of these goals and discuss how these might be overcome; 4. Identify and discuss the character traits that the Japanese believe separate themselves from the rest of the world; and 5. Offer a prognosis for the future of American-Japanese relations (especially those parts adjacent to the Pacific Ocean) [remember that you have no knowledge of American history after 1860 for purposes of this question, but you may make informed speculations]. Be certain to support your conclusions with proper examples and to provide a thorough rationale for why ‘you’ think the way that ‘you’ do or risk the scorn of ‘your’ superiors and loss of employment. 3. Assume the historical perspective of a New York City newspaper editor in 1787. For reasons that remain unclear, the Annapolis Convention that had assumed the charge of reviewing the Articles of Confederation has recommended that the Articles be scrapped that an entirely new ‘frame of government’ is created for the United States. Each of the thirteen states has thus sent a delegation to a ‘Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia that has prepared a wholly new blueprint for the government of the United States for ratification by ‘the people. Write an editorial that 1. Reflects ‘your’ views on these developments, especially with respect to this ‘constitution’ and whether or not your readers should support its ratification; 2. Provides an analysis of what ‘you’ regard as the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal; 3. Identifies the issues that are at stake here; 4. Sets out the degree to which ‘you’ think this proposed frame will address these issues; and 5. Lets ‘your’ readers know why ‘you’ think the way ‘you’ do. Be certain to provide examples and thorough analysis or risk the wrath and contempt of those readers. 6. Assume the perspective of a person of African descent newly emancipated (legally) by ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and living in the Sea Islands of South Carolina in December 1865. The recapture of ‘your’ home in January 1862 by Union troops, followed by the de facto emancipation of the slaves, has brought a brigade of Northern ‘friends to the Negro’ to the Sea Islands. They have brought with them, among other things, educational opportunities: ‘you’ have enrolled in their school. Now, at the end of term, ‘you’ have been assigned an essay on the topic of ‘The Negro and the United States of America’ which asks ‘you’ to write about the place of people of color in this country now that the Civil War and the evils of slavery have ended. In completing this essay, ‘you’ might consider the following questions: 1. How have people of African descent fit—both in terms of the behavior and beliefs of themselves and the behavior and beliefs of others—into the history of the United States? Why? And what effects has this history produced? 2. How will and how should people of African descent take advantage of the promise of American life as set forth in the country’s founding documents now that they have ‘received’ emancipation? 3. What do ‘you’, in particular, want out of life now that emancipation is at hand? Why? 4. To what degree do ‘you’ foresee any problems in achieving ‘your’ goals? Why? 5. To what degree do ‘your’ goals conflict, in any way, most particularly, with the beliefs and agendas of others? Why? 6. How will ‘you’ and ‘your’ counterparts deal with these and other obstacles? 7. What does the future offer? Be certain to support ‘your’ argument with convincing evidence or risk the contempt of ‘your’ teachers and, perhaps, American society at large.
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