Essay 1

Choose ONE question; write an analytical essay (page lengths below) in response. You will need to draw specific examples from texts to support your points; use parenthetical citations to document sources. Be sure to introduce quotes adequately, transitioning smoothly between your writing and that of sources. Introduce your texts by providing a brief historical context and including authors and dates of publication; craft a clear thesis statement previewing your argument in answer to the question you choose.

1. Compare (choosing at least two texts and not more than four), the rhetorical strategies used by Angelina Grimke, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Frederick Douglass, Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell, and / or Susan B. Anthony to argue for gender change. What approaches did they use in their writing or speeches to try to convince the people they were addressing? Who was / were their intended audience(s)? How did their use of language and types of argument appeal to this audience(s)? Explain what each writer or speaker was trying to achieve and how their arguments aimed to help them accomplish their goals.

Readings to Consider

  • Angelina Grimke - "Human Rights Not Founded on Sex"
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton - "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions"; "Our Costume"; "The Solitude of Self"
  • Frederick Douglass - "Why I Became a Woman's Rights Man"
  • Sojourner Truth - "Ain't I A Woman?"
  • Anna Julia Cooper - "Woman's Cause is One and Universal"
  • Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell - "Marriage Agreement"
  • Susan B. Anthony - "Speech After Being Convicted for Voting…"

You are strongly encouraged to weave in references to class lectures and readings (e.g., Boydston, Davis) to set the historical context for your close reading of the texts.

2. By closely analyzing each text, compare the rhetorical strategies of the "Declaration of Independence" with those of the "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions." How does each document ground claims of equality and build its case with evidence of injustice? To what extent is the "Declaration of Sentiments" appealing to the "sacred" nature of the "Declaration of Independence"? To what degree is the "Declaration of Sentiments" critiquing the "Declaration of Independence"? Which, if any, "sentiments" seem most relevant today on a national and / or global level? Why? Support your claims about contemporary relevance of particular "sentiments" with specific evidence, such as references to recent news articles.


First Version

  • Due between sessions 9 and 10
  • Include a "Works Cited" page and cover letter describing the strengths of the essay and areas for improvement
  • Length: 5–6 pages (1250–1500 words), typed, and double-spaced (Times New Roman, 12 pt.)


  • Due between sessions 18 and 19
  • Length: 6–7 pages (1500–1750 words)
  • Attach a new cover letter describing revision changes
  • Bold changes from the first version. Revisions should include at least 250 words different from or added to the original. In revision, you also are encouraged to include images or facts from the online Museum exhibit section on our class site (e.g., Women's Rights National Historical Park).

Note: You are encouraged to schedule a conference with the writing advisor at some point in your writing and revising process: pre-writing / brainstorming, outlining, drafting a first version, or revising the essay.