History essay


Introduction

This tutorial will introduce you to some of the key principles for writing research essays in Historical Studies and suggest ways of improving your research and writing skills. The tutorial will cover the following points:

  • the purpose of a history essay
  • the key characteristics of a history essay
  • primary and secondary sources
  • descriptive and analytical writing
  • analysing an annotated history essay
  • improving a history essay


What is the purpose of a history essay?

As with many other scholars, historians learn their craft through researching and writing essays.

The main purpose of a history essay is to:

  • formulate and defend a logical and convincing argument about a key problem or question in the discipline

This process of producing an essay involves:

  • examining important debates among historians, and
  • demonstrating skills in finding, evaluating, and presenting analysis of relevant primary and secondary sources


What are the key characteristics of a history essay?

A history essay has many important features, but the key characteristics can be summarised as follows:

  • a clear response to the question or problem that you are addressing
  • a convincing argument that explains why your response is valid
  • a logically structured development of the argument in the main body of the essay
  • critical evaluation and skillful use of relevant primary sources
  • critical evaluation and skillful use of relevant and up-to-date secondary sources

Check your understanding

Now that we have identified the main purpose and characteristics of a history essay, we can begin to explore effective research and writing strategies.

Sources

The research materials required for your essay will generally fit into one of two categories: primary sources (first hand evidence) and secondary sources (scholarly writings on the topic).


Primary sources

Typically, primary sources are materials that were produced during the historical period that you are studying. These kinds of research materials are called primary sources because they were written or created by those who experienced or observed the events and conditions under analysis. However, primary sources can also include related autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories and other materials that were recorded after these events and conditions.

Primary sources take many different forms. The most common types used by historians are:

  • texts, such as letters, diaries, official documents, newspaper reports, or fictional accounts (such as novels or poems)
  • oral accounts, accessible through audio or audio-visual recordings and transcripts
  • images, such as paintings, prints, photographs, maps and posters
  • documentaries or feature films from the period

This is far from an exhaustive list! All surviving materials are potential primary sources. New scholarship in the discipline depends, to a significant extent, on exploring different kinds and combinations of primary sources.


Secondary sources

Secondary sources are studies of the past written by historians or, occasionally, scholars in other disciplines. Scholarly sources can be found in peer reviewed journals and books from scholarly publishers. These sources have been reviewed by experts in the field and recommended for publication. They are the product of considerable research and contribute to ongoing academic discussions in the discipline.

Secondary sources generally come in the following forms:

  • books written by a single author or co-written with other historians
  • edited collections. These are books that focus on a particular period or theme that consist of separately authored chapters
  • peer-reviewed journal articles. These are articles published in recognised academic journals that have gone through a referee process

In your essay, you will be required to use these types of academic sources to support your argument. The quality of the sources you choose will influence the quality of your essay.

Non-scholarly sources can include newspaper articles, blog posts, popular (non-academic) books, and journals or magazines that are not peer reviewed. In most cases, these kinds of sources are not appropriate for a research essay in Historical Studies unless they are used as primary source material.

Check your understanding

Now that we have explained the differences between primary and secondary sources, it is time to test your deduction skills! Imagine that you are conducting research for an essay about the relations between Europeans and Native Americans during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763).

Consider each of the sources below and decide whether or not it is a primary or a secondary source.

Descriptive and analytical writing

When writing a history essay, you will be required to both describe and analyse your sources and your topic. While description and analysis are both essential features of academic writing, remember that the purpose of your essay is not to merely describe past events or the material contained in your sources. For a strong critical argument, you must also analyse them.

Descriptive writing is necessary in order to outline a past event or set of conditions, or to summarise the content or argument of a text. While descriptive writing may be necessary, it does not demonstrate a deep understanding of your sources or the topic. Descriptive writing is there to support your analysis.

Analytical writing involves a critical engagement with your primary and secondary sources.

Check your understanding

Recognising the difference between descriptive and analytical writing

These examples are taken from the sample essay that we will examine later in the tutorial.

Read each paragraph and decide whether it is descriptive or analytical.

Generating analytical engagement with sources

As you can see from the above examples, analytical writing relies on a critical engagement with your primary and secondary sources. In order to generate this kind of engagement, many historians and other scholars compile a list of questions, or make up a note taking template that encourages them to think critically and write down their thoughts.

Here are some examples of questions that you might ask about your primary sources:

  • what do I know about the circumstances and context surrounding its creation? How does this impact the content and the views presented in the work?
  • whose voices are present in the text? Have important perspectives been left out? Why is this? What implications does this have for my ability to answer the question?
  • what secondary sources or theories might be useful for contextualising, understanding and interpreting a source such as this?
  • how is this type of source useful in exploring and answering my central question (in other words, how is it important for the development of my argument)?
  • does this source contradict my thinking on the topic? What does this mean for my overall argument?

Here are some examples of questions that you might want to ask about your secondary sources:

  • what argument is this scholar making?
  • what evidence or theories have they used?
  • have they provided enough supporting evidence to support the argument?
  • is their reasoning sound? In other words, have they drawn conclusions that are a suitable match for the evidence that they have provided?
  • how has this study changed or influenced my understanding of the topic and my approach to the essay question?

The table below offers an example of how you might construct a note taking template to help you generate critical analysis of your sources and to synthesise primary and secondary material.

SourceKey content/quotesRelevant secondary source arguments/perspectivesSignificance?
Letter from George Washington to John Stanwix dated 1758“the Indians are mercenary; every service of theirs must be purchased.”[23]Gregory Evans Dowd: gifts “embodied, for both peoples, relations of friendship, leaderships, power, and domination.”[21]The British perceived their gifts to the Cherokee as a form of payment. They thus positioned the Cherokee as mercenaries who should be treated as subordinates and whose loyalty was not guaranteed.

Annotated Historical Studies Research Essay

Analysing an annotated Research Essay

Now that we have discussed the main principles of essay writing in Historical Studies, let’s look at an example of a completed essay by an undergraduate student. This will allow us to explore ways of putting these principles into practice.

Note: This essay uses Chicago referencing which incorporates the use of footnotes.

The sample essay below was written in response to the following question about the Seven Years’ War in North America (also known as the French and Indian War):

Essay question: Choose one particular case study from the Seven Years’ War. What can it tell us about the state of British-Indian relations in the middle of the Eighteenth century?

Read through the essay in full and consider the marker’s comments. As you read, consider how well this student has responded to the question and supported their argument with evidence. We will then explore how the assignment could have been improved. This knowledge will allow us to develop a step-by-step process for working through essay assignments in Historical Studies.

Click the icons next to each paragraph to show the lecturer’s comments. Click again to hide the comment.

Legend:

Good Problem Suggestion Question
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Native Americans were powerful actors in the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War. Lasting from 1754 to 1763, Lecturer's comment 1:
Historical accuracy is important. The French and Indian War began in 1754. The Seven Years' War didn't officially begin until 1756, when Britain declared war on France
the war was a conflict between European powers that played out on a global stage; the North American struggle of which is known commonly as The French and Indian War. Throughout this war both the French and the British relied heavily on their alliances with native Indians. It is through the study of these alliances that we can come to understand the nature of relations between the Europeans and the native populations within the framework of colonial America. The alliance between the British and the Cherokee will be employed for this essay as its chosen case study. By tracing the initial alliance and subsequent deterioration of British-Cherokee relations, this essay will aim to uncover the origins of the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1758-1761, and by doing so will survey the limitations of diplomacy and the struggles of intercultural exchange during this period.Lecturer's comment 2:
This is a clear and convincing justification of the case study.
Mutual mistrust and suspicion was a hallmark of this exchange, and would contribute to the outbreak of the conflict.

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Scholarly interest in the Seven Years’ War has increased in recent years, exemplified by Fred Anderson’s seminal work Crucible of War, published in 2000.[1] Within the existing literature the Cherokees have often been under-studied; their diplomatic efforts overshadowed by the part they played in the Anglo-Cherokee War narrative.[2] British-Cherokee diplomacy is fundamental to understanding their relationship, and this is best reflected through the study of gift-giving. Deep within the study of gift-giving lies the cause of the deterioration of their relations, which is that they had fundamentally different conceptions about the nature of the alliance itself, and their roles within it. Ultimately this essay will argue that British-Cherokee relations are reflective of native Indian power in the face of European colonialism; that they were not willing subjects caught in the crossfires of an imperial conflict between France and Britain. Lecturer's comment 3:
A clearer expression of your argument is needed here - think about the kind of response that the question is asking for.

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Allied with the British since the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, the Cherokee was one of the largest and most formidable Indian tribes of the American southeast.[3]Lecturer's comment 4:
This is not the main point of this paragraph. State the main point at the beginning of the paragraph (this is called the topic sentence).
Residing throughout the “western Carolinas, northwestern Georgia and what is now eastern Tennessee,” the Cherokee enjoyed successful trading relationships with the southern colonies, in particular South Carolina.[4] The British highly valued their alliance with the Cherokee; they were very well aware that having Indian allies was crucial to their continued survival and prosperity in the southeast.Lecturer's comment 5:
This is the main point (the topic sentence). Move it to the beginning of the paragraph.
General John Forbes Lecturer's comment 6:
Clarification needed. Who was he? Why is his opinion important?
commented in a 1758 letter to General James Abercromby that they must make sure to “provide everything that can keep them steady to our Interest.”[5] In another 1758 letter, this one sent to British official William Pitt, Lecturer's comment 7:
William Pitt was effectively the head of the British government, even though the Duke of Newcastle was officially the prime minister. Stating this illustrates the importance of the letter and shows your understanding of the period.
Forbes commented that “our greatest Dependence is upon them,” referring to the Cherokees.[6] George Washington suggested that the Cherokees abandoning the alliance “might be of the most fatal consequence to this part of the Continent.”[7] That settlers from colonies such as Virginia, under continual attacks from other Indian tribes, would relocate to South Carolina demonstrates the sturdiness of the alliance with the Cherokees.[8] In 1754, James Glen, the Governor of South Carolina, proclaimed that the Cherokee “were never more strongly attached to the British interest,” and that they were the “key of Carolina.”[9] The words of Glen and Forbes highlight the dependency of the British on their Indian allies, and are reflective of the strength of the alliance prior to the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War. Lecturer's comment 8:
Solid concluding sentence, but reference to secondary sources would have further strengthened the point and shown that your primary source quotes reflect the broader views of British soldiers and politicians.
This war would prove to be the ultimate test for British-Cherokee relations.

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The Cherokee would prove themselves invaluable allies in the war as they were involved in campaigns against the Shawnee and Delaware in the Ohio Valley, as well as those directed toward the French-held Fort Duquesne.Lecturer's comment 9:
A more accurate topic sentence is needed here, too. This paragraph continues the previous point but in a more specific way. Are there two separate points here (one for this paragraph and one for the previous paragraph)? Or is there a single point to be made (in which case only one paragraph is needed)?
Cherokee involvement in the northern conflicts peaked in 1758 with the contribution of seven hundred warriors to the British cause.[10] In addition to providing enemy scalps, the value of the Cherokee alliance also came from their ability to gain information about the workings of the French forces. In 1757 George Washington, then Colonel of the Virginia Regiment, wrote to Colonel John Stanwix that the Cherokees had “returned … to Fort Cumberland with five scalps, and a French Officer prisoner.”[11] It is through the interrogation of these prisoners that the British could gain an upper hand on French campaigns. The success of the Cherokees prompted Edmond Atkin, the Southern Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to comment that “[Cherokee] Scouting in these parts hath been of infinite service this summer to [Virginia] as it hath kept the enemy’s parties out of its settlements.”[12] Defeating the French meant forging, as well as maintaining, alliances with the Indians that were as prosperous as those between the French and their Indian allies. In a 1758 letter Forbes informed Abercromby that “I think the Cherokees of such consequence that I have done everything in my power to provide them in their necessary’s,” highlighting the dependency of the British on the Cherokees.[13] Maintaining the alliance was essential to ensuring that the Cherokees would not abandon the British cause and join forces with the French, whom Washington claimed, in an October 1757 letter to Virginia governor Robert Dinwiddie, were “making them vastly advantageous offers.”[14]Lecturer's comment 10:
This is an excellent example of how to incorporate a primary source quote into a sentence.
That the French were making such offers speaks to the strength of the Cherokee tribe and to the often fickle nature of Anglo-Indian alliances within North America at this time.

Show/hide lecturer's comment 11

Home to numerous Indian groups and European settlements, colonial North America witnessed a mixing of cultures on an immense scale. There is no doubt that the cultures of the southern British colonies and their Indian neighbours did mix, demonstrated by contemporary reports such as that of Lieutenant Henry Timberlake, who noted that “the rest of their dress is now become very much like the Europeans.”[15] Richard White has labelled this intermingling as the “middle ground.” White’s concept, which focuses predominantly on the French and Indians of the Great Lakes region, suggests that from the inevitable misunderstandings between two cultures, new meanings and new practices would arise.[16] The fundamental issue with the British-Cherokee alliance was that this did not occur. John Oliphant reiterates this as he is confident that such a “middle ground” was never established on the Anglo-Cherokee frontier. He suggests that the deterioration of the alliance was inevitable because “each side had radically different ideas about the nature” of the alliance itself, and how they perceived one another within it.[17] This fundamental issue is most apparent through an examination of the role that gift-giving played in the British-Cherokee alliance.Lecturer's comment 11:
This paragraph is really about the academic debate and the reason your essay is focused on gift-giving. It would be better to move this material to the introduction where you introduce some of the literature.

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The British and the Cherokee had different perceptions about the importance and meaning of gift-giving. These differences provide insight into the way these allies valued each other and the nature of their relationship, and also what they each hoped to gain from it. Matthew C. Ward notes that Robert Dinwiddie promised ample gifts for those Cherokees who made their way up north to assist the British in their war efforts.[18] According to Forbes the promised gifts included fuzees, deer skins, wampum; as well as powder horns and gunpowder.[19] These gifts were essential to Cherokee prosperity, particularly in the case of gunpowder, as they required it as a method of defense against their Indian enemies. More often than not the promises of gifts were not kept, or at least not in a timely manner. Paul Kelton describes a situation at Winchester, Virginia, where almost one hundred and fifty Cherokee warriors arrived to discover the gifts that they had been promised were not there.[20] Situations such as this would become commonplace throughout the early years of the war, Lecturer's comment 12:
Clarification needed. Why did this failure to provide gifts become commonplace, considering that the alliance was so important to the British?
leaving the Cherokees deeply unsatisfied. The absence of these gifts was problematic to the Cherokee in a practical sense as their presence in the northern colonies meant that they were not able to hunt and trade as they would have at home.Lecturer's comment 13:
This is an important point, but what did it mean for the Anglo-Cherokee relationship? Stay focused on the essay question!

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The importance of gift-giving, however, did not lie on this practical level. Gregory Evans Dowd asserts that the importance of gifts was that they “embodied, for both peoples, relations of friendship, leaderships, power, and domination.”[21] Lecturer's comment 14:
Excellent use of a secondary source quote. This illustrates why gift giving was so important to the functioning of the Anglo-Cherokee relationship.
The British perceived the gifts they were giving as a form of payment, thus recognizing the Cherokees as mercenaries who were being paid for their service. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in her study of the midwife Martha Ballard’s diary, noted that this was the custom at the time in North America; that for the British presents represented “both a gift and a payment.”[22] In a 1758 letter to John Stanwix, Washington proclaimed that “the Indians are mercenary; every service of theirs must be purchased.”[23] The problem with the British perceiving their supposed allies as mercenaries was that they would have felt the Cherokees had no loyalty to them; that they were soldiers who fought for whoever provided the greatest economic reward. These doubts over the loyalty of their allies would have heightened British mistrust and suspicion toward the Cherokees. In a 1757 letter to Washington, Lieutenant Colonel George Mercer observed that the Cherokee “have not omitted upon all Occasions to tell me what the French give their Indians,” and that “if they are not properly rewarded, they will all forsake us.”[24] It is evident here that the British felt no sense of loyalty from the Cherokee, in what actual fact was merely miscommunication Lecturer's comment 15:
Incorrect grammar. Take more care with expression.
caused by the confusion of gift-giving. Cherokee culture meant that they perceived the gifts as signs of friendship and respect; of them being equal partners. Lecturer's comment 16:
A separate paragraph is needed here on the meaning of gift giving to the Cherokee.
Timberlake reported that the Cherokees would wear “a silver breast plate” as well as “a shirt of the English make,” which Evans Dowd argues was their way of reducing the distinction between themselves and their supposed allies; a signal of their partnership.[25] Oliphant remarks that within Indian culture gifts were representative of “friendship and treaty making, symbols of ratification and good faith.”[26] Lecturer's comment 17:
Develop this point.
Thus gift-giving was representative of the fundamental problem of the British-Cherokee alliance. As Evans Dowd points out, British ideals of subordination could not be reconciled with Cherokee ideals of brotherhood.[27]Lecturer's comment 18:
Excellent concluding point and reinforcement of the main argument.

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The British expected subservience from the Cherokee,Lecturer's comment 19:
Structure. This continues the point made earlier about what gift giving meant to the British. It would be better to discuss the meaning of gift giving to the British in one paragraph.
as they would have any other paid mercenary. This is highly evident in a letter sent by Washington following Cherokee dissatisfaction, as he commented that “they are the most insolent, most avaricious, and most dissatisfied wretches I have ever had to deal with.”[28] It is clear from Washington’s irritated tone that he expected more of the Cherokees. Lecturer's comment 20:
This is a good example, but is there further evidence to support this point?
The Cherokees expected to be respected on the same level as the British, as would any esteemed ally. When they grew tired of waiting for gifts, the Cherokees abandoned the British cause in the north.Lecturer's comment 21:
Structure: This is about the breakdown in the relationship, so move this into the next paragraph.
It no longer served the Cherokee interest to remain, and their returning home highlights the power and agency of the Cherokees. Forbes reported in May 1758 that “The Cherokees are now no longer to be kept with us… neither by promises nor presents.. they begin to grow extremely licentious, and have gone so far as to seize the presents designed for them.”[29] Other reports such as this of Cherokee theft, and later violence, would follow, as would reports of British violence toward the Cherokees; a culmination of which would eventually spark the war.

Show/hide lecturer's comment 22

Mistrust and suspicion was a consequence of the severe misunderstanding between the British and the Cherokees over the importance of gift-giving. As tensions increased from 1757 onwards, a series of conflicts between the former allies would occur that stemmed from a complete absence of trust. In a letter to Stanwix in July 1757, Washington details a situation in which some Indians, claiming to be Cherokees, faced disputes over their identity and were “put in close confinement” as Edmond Atkin “suspected their loyalty... taking them for spies.”[30] Events such as these would have highlighted to the Cherokee that the British were not treating them as equal partners, rather as people to be wary of; whose intentions could not always be trusted. Fred Anderson recognizes Forbes’ Expedition as another instance where tensions between the British and the Cherokee were heightened. Lecturer's comment 22:
Washington's letter and Forbes' Expedition are both good examples of tensions within the alliance. However, before you give examples to illustrate your point, give evidence to show the extent of the breakdown. You have mentioned "a series of conflicts" but you haven't discussed them! Give some more information about this series of events (you can keep this brief and to the point) and cite authoritative secondary sources.

Show/hide lecturer's comment 23

The expedition, which aimed to capture Fort Duquesne from the French, highlighted once again the fundamental barriers to the success of the British-Cherokee alliance. Anderson comments that the Cherokee felt insulted by Forbes’ authoritative manner throughout the journey.[31] This is emblematic of British expectations; that the Cherokee should follow orders as mercenaries should, and the Cherokee reaction reflects that they thought they were partners, not mercenaries. The Cherokee abandoned the expedition, however on their way home they were attacked throughout the Virginia and North Carolina backcountry by local settlers, who treated them with “offhanded savagery.”[32] Violence also broke out when the settlers would refuse the Cherokee food and shelter, something that the Cherokees had always perceived as a “mark of friendship and hospitality.”[33] Thus the problems that resulted in war stemmed in the most part from the problems that were created by the alliance, and that are reflected in the study of gift-giving. So although Tom Hatley has claimed that the causes of the war are straightforward, that it was a result of the violence between the Cherokee in the backcountry, it is evident that the violence was merely a symptom of the misunderstandings within British-Cherokee relations.[34] Lecturer's comment 23:
Excellent critical engagement with secondary sources. This shows that you are asking questions about the arguments put forward by scholars and testing them based on your own understanding of the evidence.

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Examining diplomatic efforts made to avoid war offers insight into the policies of the Cherokee towards the British.Lecturer's comment 24:
A clearer topic sentence is needed. What is the main point that will be developed in this paragraph? What is the insight that you are referring to?
Ward notes that throughout the duration of the alliance, and even more so at the time of its deterioration, the Cherokees were “fragmented and factionalized into a pro-British party and … [an] anti-British party.”[35] The apologists were those Cherokees who advocated the benefits that their continued alliance with the British would bring, such as goods through the maintenance of trade. The nativists were concerned that the British settlements were encroaching on their territories, and felt that continued alliance would weaken these geographical boundaries. Division between the Cherokee is unsurprising when their geopolitical situation is taken into account; Bruce Stewart comments that their nation was “highly decentralized, with individual town[s] … exerting independent political authority.”[36] Following the attacks on their people coming home from the northern frontier, the Cherokees began violent attacks on the British in the southern colonies as retribution. Simultaneously Cherokee apologists, whom Anderson notes were predominantly “older men who had had some role in establishing the alliance” in the first place, were sending representatives to Charleston to negotiate with South Carolina’s new governor William Lyttleton.[37] In his memoirs, Timberlake noted that Cherokee leader Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter) was the driving force for continued peace with the British, as he commented that he kept his “his attachment inviolably to the English.”[38] Although the attempts of apologists such as Attakullakulla would ultimately fail, as Lyttelton refused to provide the requested gifts, Lecturer's comment 25:
Clarification is needed. Why did he refuse?
the division of the Cherokee nation demonstrates that they were empowered actors in this case. Both the apologists and the nativists were fighting for what they thought was in the best interest of their people in the case of the British alliance.Lecturer's comment 26:
It is important to acknowledge differences of opinion among the Cherokee, but pointing out that they were "empowered" seems like an obvious thing to say. The more important point seems to be that gift giving was vital to the health of the alliance, because it gave the apologists more authority within Cherokee society

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As well as proving the inherent problems of the alliance, an examination of gift-giving demonstrates the limitations of the British Empire within the North American context. The money that the British were willing to spend on these gifts for the Cherokee, even if they did not always arrive in a timely manner, highlights the dependency of the British toward their southern Indian allies. Lecturer's comment 27:
This paragraph repeats the point made earlier in the essay about why the alliance was important to the British. Delete it or move some of the material into the earlier paragraph.
George Washington’s comment that the Virginians were not “equal to [the Cherokee] in the woods,” suggests that the knowledge that the Cherokees had of their geographical surroundings was crucial to the success of the British cause.[39] John Grenier comments on challenges that General Richard Montgomery faced leading an expedition against the Cherokee when twenty of his men were killed and ninety injured by their former Indian allies. Their suffering at the hands of the Cherokee could be contributed to the limitations of British “operational capability in the mountains.”[40] Despite their large numbers, it was crucial for the British to have support from those Indians who were aware of their surroundings during the Seven Years’ War.

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A major source of tension within the British-Cherokee alliance was the failures of the British system to form, and adhere to, a cohesive Indian policy.Lecturer's comment 28:
This is an excellent point, but it needs to be discussed earlier in the essay.
The delays of Cherokee gifts is reflective of British mismanagement. Washington made multiple comments regarding this failure, firstly in a 1757 letter to Robert Dinwiddie as he complained that “I dread.. by the present management of Indian affairs, we are losing our interest of [the Cherokees].”[41] Later that year, again to Dinwiddie, Washington commented that the Indian affairs had been “impeded and embarrassed by such a train of mismanagement.”[42] The actions of Atkin was the source of much of Washington’s strife. Atkin was tasked to supervise British relations with Cherokees on the Virginia frontier, however he arrived in Winchester almost two months after he was supposed to.[43] The lack of gifts for the Cherokee was partly due to the absence of Atkin, thus his absence caused great strain on the alliance. Chronic mismanagement of the Cherokee alliance was symptomatic of the challenges that faced the British Empire in an unfamiliar landscape. Lecturer's comment 29:
This is an excellent point, but are there other secondary sources that you could cite to reinforce it?
It is clear that there were men such as Washington who were well aware of the importance of the Cherokee alliance. However there were men such as Atkin who lacked this awareness and who would thus cause great strife for British-Cherokee relations.

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The exploration of this alliance provides great insight into the wider relations of the British and the Indians in eighteenth century North America. The Cherokee were masters of their own fate, and the deterioration of their alliance with the British is the greatest example of this. The violence that sparked the Anglo-Cherokee War broke out due to the differing views that the British and the Cherokees had of the role that they were each meant to play within their alliance. Through the study of gift-giving it becomes evident that the British expected subservience from those they considered mercenaries, whilst the Cherokee expected respect from those they considered their partners. The disintegration of the British-Cherokee alliance highlights ultimately that the Cherokee nation possessed a great deal of agency during this period; that they were not just pawns playing a part in an imperial game. Lecturer's comment 30:
This is an excellent point to emphasise in the conclusion. This is where you "zoom out" and come back to the main academic debates on the topic.
It is only through a recognition of this agency that we can move away from the common belief that the Cherokee, and other Indians involved in the Seven Years’ War, were only involved as “antagonists to the British.”[44] Lecturer's comment 31:
This is an excellent point to finish the essay on, but if this is a "common belief" it would be a good idea to mention it earlier (in your introduction where you introduce some of the literature). This is because it is a key problem about how we view this topic that your essay is tackling.

[1] Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (New York: Random House Inc, 2000).

[2] Paul Kelton, “The British and Indian War: Cherokee Power and the Fate of Empire in North America,” The William and Mary Quarterly 69 (2012): 765.

[3] Leonard J. Sadosky, Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 17.

[4] John R. Maass, The French and Indian War in North Carolina: The Spreading Flames of War (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2013), 81.

[5] ‘Forbes to Abercromby April 22 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes Relating to his Service in America ed. by Alfred Procter James (Menasha, Wisconsin: The Collegiate press, 1938), 69.

[6] ‘Forbes to Pitt May 1 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes, 77-78.

[7] ‘George Washington to Major Francis Halkett 11 May 1758’ Accessed 4th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=72

[8] Gregory Evans Dowd, “Insidious Friends’: Gift Giving and the Cherokee-British alliance in the Seven Years’ War,” in Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750-1830, ed. by Andrew R. L. Clayton and Fredrika J. Teute (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 114-115. 114- 151

[9] First quote: James Glen in Gregory Evans Dowd, “Insidious Friends,” 114. Second quote: James Glen in Matthew C. Ward, “Understanding Native American Alliances,” in The Seven Years’ War: Global Views, ed. by Mark Danley and Patrick Speelman (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012), 55.

[10] Anderson, 457.

[11] ‘George Washington to Colonel John Stanwix June 15 1757’ Accessed 7th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=53

[12] ‘Edmond Atkin to William Henry Lyttelton August 13 1757’ in Kelton “The British and Indian War,” 769-770.

[13] ‘Forbes to Abercromby April 22 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes, 68.

[14] ‘George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 5 October 1757’ Accessed 6th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=61

[15] ‘The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake’ Accessed 1st June 2015 https://archive.org/details/memoirsoflieuthe00intimb

[16] Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011).

[17] John Oliphant, Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756-63 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2001), 29.

[18] Matthew C. Ward, Breaking the Backcountry: Seven Years War in Virginia and Pennsylvania 1754-1765 (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), 143.

[19] ‘List of Indian Goods’ in Writings of General John Forbes, 70.

[20] Kelton, “The British and Indian War,” 767-768.

[21] Evans Dowd, “Insidious Friends,” 116.

[22] Ibid, 135.

[23] ‘George Washington to John Stanwix 10 April 1758’ Accessed 2nd June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=68

[24] ‘George Mercer to George Washington 26 April 1757’ Accessed 2nd June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0079#GEWN-02-04-02-0079-fn-0003

[25] First quote: ‘The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake.’ Second quote: Evans Dowd, “Insidious Friends,” 138.

[26] Oliphant, 38.

[27] Evans Dowd, 138.

[28] George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 24 May 1757’ Accessed 2nd June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=45

[29] ‘Forbes to Pitt June 17 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes, 117-118.

[30] George Washington to John Stanwix July 15 1757’ Accessed 1st June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=58

[31] Anderson, 457-458.

[32] Ibid, 458.

[33] Evans Dowd, 131.

[34] Tom Hatley, Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians during the Revolutionary Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 119.

[35] Ward, “Understanding Native American Alliances,” 55.

[36] Tyler Boulware, “Our Mad Young Men: Authority and Violence in Cherokee Country,” in Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia, ed. by Bruce Stewart (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2012), 88.

[37] Anderson, 458.

[38] ‘The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake,’ 73.

[39] George Washington in Evans Dowd, “Insidious Friends,” 149.

[40] John Grenier, The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607-1814, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 142.

[41] ‘George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 5 October 1757’ Accessed 5th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=61

[42] George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 5 November 1757’ Accessed 5th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=66

[43] Ward, Breaking the Backcountry, 144.

[44] Kelton, 791.

Bibliography

Show/hide lecturer's comment 32

Primary Sources: Lecturer's comment 32:
This is a good selection of sources covering British perspectives on the Cherokee alliance. Is there a lack of available sources on Cherokee perspectives? If so, this is worth commenting on in the essay itself.

Show/hide lecturer's comment 33

‘Edmond Atkin to William Henry Lyttelton August 13 1757’ in Kelton, Paul. “The British and Indian War: Cherokee Power and the Fate of Empire in North America,” The William and Mary Quarterly 69 (2012): 763-792. Lecturer's comment 33:
It is acceptable to use primary sources that are quoted in secondary sources, but bear in mind that the historian has selected and edited these accounts for his article. It is preferable to find your own primary sources in edited collections, digital collections, and perhaps even original manuscripts (if available). It is good to see plenty of original primary research in your bibliography!

‘Forbes to Abercromby April 22 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes Relating to his Service in America ed. by Alfred Procter James. Menasha, Wisconsin: The Collegiate press, 1938.

‘Forbes to Pitt May 1 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes.

‘George Mercer to George Washington 26 April 1757’ Accessed 2nd June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-04-02-0079#GEWN-02-04-02-0079-fn-0003.

George Washington in Evans Dowd, Gregory. “Insidious Friends’: Gift Giving and the Cherokee-British alliance in the Seven Years’ War.” In Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750-1830, edited by Andrew R. L. Clayton and Fredrika J. Teute, 114- 151. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

‘George Washington to John Stanwix June 15 1757’ Accessed 7th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=53.

George Washington to John Stanwix July 15 1757’ Accessed 1st June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=58.

‘George Washington to John Stanwix 10 April 1758’ Accessed June 2nd http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=68.

‘George Washington to Francis Halkett 11 May 1758’ Accessed 4th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=72.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 24 May 1757’ Accessed 2nd June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=45.

‘George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 5 October 1757’ Accessed 6th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=61.

George Washington to Robert Dinwiddie 5 November 1757’ Accessed 5th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=66.

James Glen in Gregory Evans Dowd “Insidious Friends.”

James Glen in Matthew C. Ward, “Understanding Native American Alliances,” in The Seven Years’ War: Global Views, ed. by Mark Danley and Patrick Speelman (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012), 47-73.

List of Indian Goods’ in Writings of General John Forbes.

‘The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake’ Accessed 1st June 2015 https://archive.org/details/memoirsoflieuthe00intimb

Show/hide lecturer's comment 34

Secondary Sources: Lecturer's comment 34:
This is an excellent selection of secondary sources. The chosen works are relevant to the topic, they are up-to-date, and you have selected quality studies (academic books and refereed journal articles). It is important to use a combination of books (which usually have a broad coverage) and refereed journal articles (which focus on particular aspects in depth).

Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Random House Inc, 2000.

Boulware, Tyler. “Our Mad Young Men: Authority and Violence in Cherokee Country,” in Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia, ed. by Bruce Stewart, 80-99. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.

Evans Dowd, Gregory. “Insidious Friends’: Gift Giving and the Cherokee-British alliance in the Seven Years’ War.” In Contact Points: American Frontiers from the Mohawk Valley to the Mississippi, 1750-1830, edited by Andrew R. L. Clayton and Fredrika J. Teute, 114- 151. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Grenier, John. The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607-1814. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hatley, Tom. Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians during the Revolutionary Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Kelton, Paul. “The British and Indian War: Cherokee Power and the Fate of Empire in North America,” The William and Mary Quarterly 69 (2012): 763-792.

Maass, John R., The French and Indian War in North Carolina: The Spreading Flames of War. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2013.

Oliphant, John. Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756-63. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2001.

Sadosky, Leonard J., Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2010.

Ward, Matthew C. “Understanding Native American Alliances,” in The Seven Years’ War: Global Views, ed. by Mark Danley and Patrick Speelman, Leiden, 47-73. The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

Ward, Matthew C. Breaking the Backcountry: Seven Years War in Virginia and Pennsylvania 1754-1765. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.

White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Evaluating the sample essay

If we take the marker’s comments into consideration, we can see that this is a very good essay in many respects. The student has chosen a case study that allows them to explore some of the key debates on the topic of relations between Europeans and Native Americans during the Seven Years’ War. The standard of research is high, and overall they have used primary and secondary source evidence in an effective way. The essay is well-written and, despite some structural flaws, remains focused on the topic.

However, as with all pieces of academic writing, there is room for improvement! In particular, the marker would have preferred:

  • a clearer argument
  • a more logical and effective structure
  • clearer and more accurate topic sentences for the main body paragraphs

In the next section of this tutorial we will discuss how to better meet these and other expectations for essay writing in Historical Studies.

Improving a Historical Studies Research Essay

Clarifying your argument

Having identified the ways in which the sample essay can be improved, we now turn our attention to devising a step-by-step process for improving the sample introduction.

The introduction of an essay should clearly summarise the argument. The reader has to know what your argument is at the very beginning so that they are in a position to evaluate your reasoning and evidence. It is therefore extremely important that you:

  • answer all parts of the essay question using clear and direct language
  • state why you have given this answer

If you merely answer the question without stating your reasons you will have given an answer, but not an argument.

In the example below you will see a revised version of the introduction to the sample essay. Following on from the marker’s comments, it contains a more clearly expressed argument that better reflects the content of the essay. It also outlines the other key elements that need to be included in an introduction for a Historical Studies essay.

Activity

Click on the sentences in the revised introduction below to see the purpose of each sentence and gain a sense of appropriate content for an introduction. Not all of the specific elements will be appropriate for every essay topic. The important point to take away from this example is that the introduction should introduce the topic, show an understanding of its importance, state the main question or goal that the essay will address and, most importantly, state the argument that will be developed in the essay.


Lasting from 1756 to 1763, the Seven Years’ War was a conflict between European powers that played out on a global stage. The conflict in North America is commonly referred to as The French and Indian War. Throughout this war both the French and the British relied heavily on their alliances with Native Americans. It is through the study of these alliances that we can come to understand the nature of relations between the Europeans and the native populations within the framework of colonial America. The alliance between the British and the Cherokee will be employed for this essay as its chosen case study. Mutual mistrust and suspicion was a hallmark of this exchange, and would contribute to the outbreak of the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1758-1761. By tracing the initial alliance and subsequent deterioration of British-Cherokee relations, this essay will identify the limitations of diplomacy and the struggles of intercultural exchange during this period. The essay will do this by focusing on gift giving, which played a crucial role in the development of the relationship. The examination of gift giving illustrates that the Anglo-Cherokee relationship was characterised by fundamentally different ideas about the nature and purpose of the alliance. The British viewed the Cherokee as mercenaries who had been paid for their service. This led them to expect servitude and to doubt the loyalty of the Cherokee. Conversely, the Cherokee viewed gift giving as a sign of respect and partnership, and they judged British actions in the light of this understanding. The failure of the British to understand and meet the expectations of the Cherokee led to the breakdown of the relationship. This study of gift giving reveals that the Anglo-Cherokee relationship was dependent on the capacity of the British to comprehend and adapt to the demands of Cherokee culture and politics. Above all, it illustrates that the Cherokee were powerful agents in the conflict, rather than mere supplements to European power.

 

Revising your essay plan

If you think back to the annotated comments to the sample essay, you will remember that the marker commented that many of the topic sentences were unclear, inaccurate, or positioned in the middle or at the end of the paragraph rather than at the beginning. The topic sentence is usually the opening sentence of a paragraph. It states the main point that will be discussed and supported with evidence in that paragraph. Also, the marker commented that some of the evidence was not presented in the best place in the essay.

This feedback from the marker highlights the importance of crafting clear and accurate topic sentences. This will assist you in determining the content required for individual paragraphs, as it will help you to connect your evidence and examples to the most appropriate key points. It will also assist you with the overall essay structure, as it will help you to work out the most effective order in which to present your key points. So crafting good topic sentences helps you develop your argument in a more focused and logical way.

In order to better understand how to craft good topic sentences and use them to construct a solid essay plan, let’s look at a revised plan for the sample essay.

Activity

The student has revised their argument and their essay plan in the light of the marker’s comments. They have decided that they want to write a second draft in order to practice and improve their essay writing skills. Click on the sentences in the revised plan below for an explanation of the changes that they have made.

Introduction: Lasting from 1756 to 1763, the Seven Years’ War was a conflict between European powers that played out on a global stage. The conflict in North America is commonly referred to as The French and Indian War. Throughout this war both the French and the British relied heavily on their alliances with Native Americans. It is through the study of these alliances that we can come to understand the nature of relations between the Europeans and the native populations within the framework of colonial America. The alliance between the British and the Cherokee will be employed for this essay as its chosen case study. Mutual mistrust and suspicion was a hallmark of this exchange, and would contribute to the outbreak of the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1758-1761. By tracing the initial alliance and subsequent deterioration of British-Cherokee relations, this essay will identify the limitations of diplomacy and the struggles of intercultural exchange during this period. The essay will do this by focusing on gift giving, which played a crucial role in the development of the relationship. The examination of gift giving illustrates that the Anglo-Cherokee relationship was characterised by fundamentally different ideas about the nature and purpose of the alliance. The British viewed the Cherokee as mercenaries who had been paid for their service. This led them to expect servitude and to doubt the loyalty of the Cherokee. Conversely, the Cherokee viewed gift giving as a sign of respect and partnership, and they judged British actions in the light of this understanding. The failure of the British to understand and meet the expectations of the Cherokee led to the breakdown of the relationship. This study of gift giving reveals that the Anglo-Cherokee relationship was dependent on the capacity of the British to comprehend and adapt to the demands of Cherokee culture and politics. Above all, it illustrates that the Cherokee were powerful agents in the conflict, rather than mere supplements to European power.

Literature review: Richard White: The “middle-ground” (mixing of Europeans and Native Americans led to new meanings and practices). Oliphant: There was no middle-ground on the Anglo-Cherokee frontier (they had fundamentally different ideas about the nature of the alliance). This makes the Anglo-Cherokee alliance particularly interesting. Cherokee diplomacy has been under-explored, but we can gain insights into the alliance if we examine gift giving, because it “embodied, for both peoples relations of friendship, leaderships, power and domination” (Gregory Evans Dowd, p.116).

Point 1: The alliance was highly valued by the British because it was essential to their survival and prosperity in the southeast

Point 2: The alliance was important to the Cherokee because...

Point 3: But it was a ‘fragile’ relationship because they had different understandings of what the relationship meant and how it should be conducted. This is well illustrated through the example of gift giving.

Point 4: The British perceived gift giving as a form of payment for service, which led them be contemptuous of the Cherokee, to expect subservience, and to doubt their loyalty.

Point 5: The Cherokee viewed gift giving as a sign of respect and partnership.

Point 6: Cherokee society was divided over the benefits of the alliance, so gift giving was crucial to its legitimacy in the eyes of the Cherokee.

Point 7: The British struggled to appreciate and adapt to Cherokee expectations. Because of this they mismanaged the alliance by failing to provide gifts in a timely manner or at all.

Point 8: British lack of understanding about the importance of gift-giving to the Cherokee resulted in breakdown of trust, and led to tension and conflict

Point 9: Forbes’ Expedition illustrates the outbreak of violence was not the cause of the breakdown in the alliance, but merely a symptom of the misunderstandings within British-Cherokee relations

Conclusion: The exploration of this alliance provides great insight into the wider relations of the British and the Indians in eighteenth century North America. The Cherokee were masters of their own fate, and the deterioration of their alliance with the British is the greatest example of this. The violence that sparked the Anglo-Cherokee War broke out due to the differing views that the British and the Cherokees had of the role that they were each meant to play within their alliance. Through the study of gift-giving it becomes evident that the British expected subservience from those they considered mercenaries, whilst the Cherokee expected respect from those they considered their partners. The disintegration of the British-Cherokee alliance highlights ultimately that the Cherokee nation possessed a great deal of agency during this period; that they were not just pawns playing a part in an imperial game. It is only through a recognition of this agency that we can move away from the common belief that the Cherokee, and other Indians involved in the Seven Years’ War, were only involved as “antagonists to the British” (Paul Kelton, p.791).

Paragraph structure and synthesising evidence

When writing paragraphs in the body of your essay, remember that each paragraph should develop a single point, idea or argument.

Click the icons next to each paragraph to show the lecturer’s comments. Click again to hide the comment.

Legend:

Good Problem Suggestion Question
Show/hide lecturer's comment 35 Show/hide lecturer's comment 36 Show/hide lecturer's comment 37 Show/hide lecturer's comment 38 Show/hide lecturer's comment 39

Allied with the British since the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, the Cherokee was one of the largest and most formidable Indian tribes of the American southeast.[3] Lecturer's comment 35:
This is not the main point of this paragraph. State the main point at the beginning of the paragraph (this is called the topic sentence).
Residing throughout the “western Carolinas, northwestern Georgia and what is now eastern Tennessee,” the Cherokee enjoyed successful trading relationships with the southern colonies, in particular South Carolina.[4] The British highly valued their alliance with the Cherokee; they were very well aware that having Indian allies was crucial to their continued survival and prosperity in the southeast.Lecturer's comment 36:
This is the main point (the topic sentence. Move it to the beginning of the paragraph.
General John Forbes Lecturer's comment 37:
Clarification needed. Who was he? Why is his opinion important?
commented in a 1758 letter to General James Abercromby that they must make sure to “provide everything that can keep them steady to our Interest.”[5] In another 1758 letter, this one sent to British official William Pitt,Lecturer's comment 38:
William Pitt was effectively the head of the British government, even though the Duke of Newcastle was officially the prime minister. Stating this illustrates the importance of the letter and shows your understanding of the period.
Forbes commented that “our greatest Dependence is upon them,” referring to the Cherokees.[6] George Washington suggested that the Cherokees abandoning the alliance “might be of the most fatal consequence to this part of the Continent.”[7] That settlers from colonies such as Virginia, under continual attacks from other Indian tribes, would relocate to South Carolina demonstrates the sturdiness of the alliance with the Cherokees.[8] In 1754, James Glen, the Governor of South Carolina, proclaimed that the Cherokee “were never more strongly attached to the British interest,” and that they were the “key of Carolina.”[9] The words of Glen and Forbes highlight the dependency of the British on their Indian allies, and are reflective of the strength of the alliance prior to the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War. Lecturer's comment 39:
Solid concluding sentence, but reference to secondary sources would have further strengthened the point and shown that your primary source quotes reflect the broader views of British soldiers and politicians.
This war would prove to be the ultimate test for British-Cherokee relations.

Now read through the revised paragraph below and note the changes.

Activity

Read through the revised paragraph and click on the coloured sections for an explanation of the changes that have been made.

The British highly valued their alliance with the Cherokee as they were very well aware that having Indian allies was crucial to their continued survival and prosperity in the southeast in the face of French competition. One of the largest and most formidable tribes of the American southeast, the Cherokee had been allied with the British since the Yamasee War of 1715-1717.[3] As defeating the French meant forging and maintaining alliances with the Indians that were as prosperous as those between the French and their Indian allies, a successful and ongoing alliance with the Cherokee was invaluable. The Cherokee supported the British militarily, peaking in 1758 with the contribution of seven hundred warriors to the British cause.[10] The Cherokee were also involved in successful trading relationships with the southern colonies, in particular South Carolina.[4] The value that the British attached to the relationship is reflected in the correspondence of key British officials. In 1754, James Glen, the Governor of South Carolina, proclaimed that the Cherokee were the “key of Carolina.”[9] The importance of the relationship with the Cherokee was relayed to the highest levels of government. In 1758, General John Forbes wrote to William Pitt, the virtual prime minister, that “our greatest Dependence is upon them.”[6] The correspondence of military officers and politicians also reveals British anxiety about the potential consequences of a breakdown in the relationship. George Washington, for example, suggested that losing the support of the Cherokee “might be of the most fatal consequence to this part of the Continent.”[7] General John Forbes commented in a 1758 letter to General James Abercromby that the British should thus make sure to “provide everything that can keep them steady to our Interest.”[5] The words of Glen, Forbes and Washington highlight the dependency of the British on their Indian allies and the crucial role that the alliance played in the battle for supremancy in North America. During the Seven Years’ War, however, the British –Cherokee relationship would be put to the ultimate test.

[3] Leonard J. Sadosky, Revolutionary Negotiations: Indians, Empires, and Diplomats in the Founding of America (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 17.

[10] Fred Anderson, 457

[4] John R. Maass, The French and Indian War in North Carolina: The Spreading Flames of War (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2013), 81.

[9] James Glen in Matthew C. Ward, “Understanding Native American Alliances,” in The Seven Years’ War: Global Views, ed. by Mark Danley and Patrick Speelman (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012), 55.

[6] ‘Forbes to Pitt May 1 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes, 77-78.

[7] ‘George Washington to Major Francis Halkett 11 May 1758’ Accessed 4th June 2015 http://founders.archives.gov/?q=cherokee%20Author%3A%22Washington%2C%20George%22&s=1511311112&r=72

[5] ‘Forbes to Abercromby April 22 1758’ in Writings of General John Forbes Relating to his Service in America ed. by Alfred Procter James (Menasha, Wisconsin: The Collegiate press, 1938), 69.

Writing a Research Essay in Historical Studies

Conclusion

This tutorial has introduced you to some of the key principles for writing Research Essays in Historical Studies, and has suggested ways of improving your research and writing skills.

Remember:

  • the main purpose of a history essay is to formulate and defend a logical and convincing argument about a key problem or question in the discipline.
  • this process involves examining important debates among historians, and demonstrating skills in finding, evaluating, and presenting analysis of relevant primary and secondary sources.

Good luck with your future endeavours writing a Historical Studies Research Essay.