HIST2F90: Money & Power in the Atlantic World

Term 2 - Major Assignment

For your major assignment, you again have a choice from three options.

All options are due: April 3 (end of day)

 Note "major project" - this assignment is worth 20 per cent of your final grade, a big chunk in a full-year course. These assignments are very different, but they are all designed both to draw together elements from across the course and to elevate your your skills in particular areas. 
  1. The first option builds on the skills practiced in our fall-term mapping assignment while also asking you to integrate additional primary and secondary sources. It focuses on a small corner of a big story: British plans for the French settlers of Nova Scotia/Acadia in the 1750s.(Format: Essay - 2500 words)
  2. The second option builds on your visual reading and textual analysis skills, with an option to explore Voyant again for its potential as a digital reading tool. Its focus is the debate surrounding the abolition of slavery using children’s literature as your primary source material. (Format: Essay - 2500 words)
  3. The third option has no specific topic, but a specific form of presentation: video. Make a video presenting a topic from of our second-term course lessons. (Format: Video - 15 minutes)
These are very different assignments, but they all require the use of basic historical thinking practices. In all cases, these are exercises in using evidence, reading sources critically, organising that evidence, and presenting an argument. Think about your sources, both primary and secondary, and their perspectives. The assignments also emphasise critical thinking about images. In the mapping option, you need to think about how to read and evaluate the maps (though also how to present them in your essay), in the literature option, you will need to analyze both the stories and in some cases, the illustrations(and like the maps, how to present them), and finally in the video you need to think about how to present images effectively (though also how to evaluate them).

How to choose which one? That's hard for us to say. Obviously the third option allows more creativity, but also demands that you have (or can develop) some technical skills. The first two lay more out for you, but require you to synthesize a fair bit of information.  All will require a fair bit of time - no assignment should be tackled at the last minute. 

The Details!!

Option #1: Cartography and Empire

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin [attributed], n.n. ca. 1745, Unnamed [Acadie, Isle Saint Jean et une partie de l'Isle Royale avec la Baye Françoise], Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center.

On the eve of the Seven Years War, Britain expelled thousands of French settlers, Acadians, from the territory that is today called Nova Scotia. How can a series of historical maps help us to understand that story?

Historical background

The Seven Years War was one of the most important wars in modern world history. It shifted colonial relations across the globe, most notably marking the ascendancy of Great Britain as the most powerful country on the planet. In North America, it shifted the basic political arrangement, effectively removing France from the continent and compelling Indigenous nations to seek peace with their former enemy.

Nowhere was the human cost more evident than in Acadia/Nova Scotia where the British expelled the resident French population, over 12,000 people. Most lost their land (often land that had been worked for generations); most lost any wealth they possessed (cash, cattle, houses, farm buidlings); many lost their lives (at least 2000 drowned or died of ship-born diseases as they were moved around the North Atlantic world).

Acadia - roughly the modern Maritime provinces of Canada, plus sections of Maine and Quebec - had been a French colony located in Mi'kma'ki, the land of the Mi'kmaq. Over the course of the 17th and early 18th centuries, French settlers had built farms and a small resident fishery in what is today southern and southwestern Nova Scotia. In a war between Britain and France between 1710 and 1713, the British captured Acadia. The subsequent peace treaty - the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713 - carved up Acadia into two sections, one comprising what is today the mainland of Nova Scotia (which Britain kept) and the other comprising the "islands of the Gulf of St Lawrence", i.e. modern day Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island (which the French kept). That treaty, as was almost always the case, did not mention the Mi'kmaq. You, however, here you might recall our discussion of the Treaty of Peace in Friendship from 1752 that we read in our lesson on Settler-Indigenous Treaties. The treaty was one of several the British negotiated with various northeastern Indigenous peoples in the 1740s and 50s - clearly the Mi'kmaq were on British officials' minds.

Hint: When we look at the maps for the assignment, the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) explains why these maps, unlike most other maps of the region, focus only on what today is the mainland of Nova Scotia - i.e. they're focussing on British territory.  In other words, these maps reflect political divisions, not the physical geography of the region. Most maps do that in some way or another; the trick is to understand the perspective.

Most of the French colonists lived in what became the British-held portion and so for a good part of the period between 1713 and the Seven Years War (over 40 years), the British were reluctant to take a firm stand on what to do with these alien (French, Catholic) people. That story is long and complex, but the short version is that the British allowed the Acadians to stay, to continue to farm, and to continue to practice their faith. It wasn't so much tolerance as neglect, as Britain simply put few resources into its new possession. Indeed, the British did very little outside a few miles surrounding the capital [Annapolis Royal, what the French had called Port Royal], and the Acadian settlements prospered in their effective independence; trade with New England thrived, and their population tripled in the period of British rule. British neglect enabled Acadian communities to prosper, and the Acadians negotiated a kind of neutrality with their former enemies. Acadian farms fed British soldiers; fishing boats and traders from New England sought Acadian wheat and cattle; Acadians purchased British goods. If based mostly in Britain's parsimonious neglect, it was a good relationship. If British officials grumbled about their French Catholic subjects, circumstances meant that they were also content to keep them.

But it was precarious. Britain and France were at war almost continuously in these years and tensions would push Britain to seek ways to consolidate control over its territory. France tried to woo back the support of its former subjects and most Acadians felt pulled in very different directions. Most stayed in their villages, and continued to farm and trade. While some relocated to Ile Royale (Cape Breton) and Isle St-Jean (Prince Edward Island), most attempted to maintain their neutral place in the British colony. 

By the early 1750s, the French, the Mi'kmaq, and the British were all pressuring the Acadians to break their neutrality and align more clearly with one side or the other. The British threatened, as they had before, to expel the Acadians, and while most believed the British would back down increasing numbers sought security in French territory. Between 1752 and the beginning of the expulsion in June 1755 the population of Isle St-Jean more than tripled from about 1500 to about 5000 as refugees fled into French territory.

It's in this moment, just before the expulsion began, that our documents are based. Your primary evidence consists of two British maps of Nova Scotia made by the same cartographer, Charles Morris, one just before (1755) and just after (1765) the Expulsion of the Acadians, plus his Description and State of the New Settlements in Nova Scotia in 1761 by the Crown Surveyor. Individually, each might be seen as simple cartographic illustrations of people and places. But, taken together and placed in their proper historical context, they can be seen to illustrate a kind cartographic illustration of the ethnic cleansing of Nova Scotia. As we have reminded you throughout the course, maps are rarely neutral or objective. They tell stories; they are made to tell stories, to help construct narratives, to plan and thus to aid policies, as both the report, and the Act will help to illustrate.

The gist of it...

Write a 2500 word essay (max. 10 pages) - using proper Chicago-style references, and a bibliography that refers to 2 maps and a report by Charles Morris. (Mandatory sources are marked with an *) to answer the following question. Make use of the additional sources listed here, and materials from our lesson on the Seven Years War for additional historical context. Note: J.B. Harley, "New England Cartography and the Native Americans" is also a mandatory secondary source. Use you own judgment on how many other sources to include.

How do these maps help us to understand the actions of the British and colonial governments in mid-18th-century Nova Scotia/Acadie? 


The Sources

Maps and other Primary Documents 
(you should use the high-resolution versions available by clicking on the links below each map - the details will be critical to understanding what's going on).

*Morris, Charles, (Surveyor), "A Chart of the Sea Coasts of the Peninsula of Nova Scotia", 1755.  Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center.

*Charles Morris. "A chart of the peninsula of Nova Scotia", [1761], Library of Congress.

*Charles Morris, "Description and State of the New Settlements in Nova Scotia in 1761 by the Crown Surveyor", transcribed in Report on Canadian Archives, 1904 (Ottawa, Dept of Agriculture, 1904), 289-301.

There are also some maps in this report that offer additional information, but they're really hard to read in the digital text. I couldn't in Covid-era conditions get these digitised properly but include here some crude images (made on my camera!!) that allow you to see some details of the first map and two of the second map. Given the dates, these maps are probably preliminary, or ancillary, maps to the finished version above dated 1761. You might use these as supplements to that map.

Jonathan Fowler and Earle Lockerby, eds., "Operations at Fort Beauséjour and Grand-Pré in 1755: A Soldier’s Diary", Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society 12 (2009) - the introduction is useful, but the diary excerpt of most interest begins on p.153. (refer to the description on the Fort Beausejour image for context)

An Act for the Quieting of Possessions to the Protestant Grantees of the Lands formerly occuppied by the French Inhabitants, and for preventing vexatious Actions relating to the same. (Nova Scotia, George II, 33, 1759).

Secondary sources

Barry M. Moody, ˜Delivered from all your distresses: The Fall of Quebec and the Remaking of Nova Scotia", in Phillip A. Buckner and John, G. Reid,, eds, Revisiting 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Perspective (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2012). 

Jonathan Fowler, "From Acadians to Planters in the Grand-Pré: an archaeological perspective", in Stephen Henderson and Wendy Robicheau, eds., The Nova Scotia Planters in the Atlantic World (Fredericton NB, Acadiensis Press, 2012),

Jeffers Lennox, “Nova Scotia Lost and Found: The Acadian Boundary Negotiation and Imperial Envisioning, 1750-1755”, Acadiensis (Fredericton) 40, 2 (2011), 3–31.

*J.B. Harley, "New England Cartography and the Native Americans", in EmersonW. Baker, et al, eds., American Beginnings: Exploration, Culture, and Geography in the Land of Norumbega (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1994), 286-313.

Some biographies of notable people you may encounter in the story:

Charles Morris
Jacques-Nicholas Bellin
Alexander McNutt

Tip: the heart of this assignment is the maps. I want you to think about the meaning of the maps, and their value in helping us understand this story. The major events here - the Seven Years War, the Conquest of Acadia, the Expulsion of the Acadians - will be important in framing your essay, but they are not the subject of your essays. The subject should be the maps and their value as sources. Remember: you have several primary and secondary textual sources, but the heart of this assignment is figuring out how the maps help us to understand the story.

Some final questions to ponder: 

What did conquest and the expulsion of the Acadians mean for Nova Scotia? Why had it it taken the British 40 years to actually expel the Acadians? Why in 1755 was it important for the British to expel the Acadians? To erase Acadia? To erase Mi'kma'ki? Look at the pre-expulsion maps: what was being destroyed? Compare with the post expulsion map: much has changed - there's a story there. How do maps, both historical and contemporary, help/hinder our abilities to understand those layers of history. Does this exercise help us think about imperial history? About Canadian history? What about Indigenous history? Can we see Indigenous history here? (Hint: you can, but you need to look and think carefully.) There are lots of geographical, or what we might call environmental, information in these maps. How does the landscape/environment help us to understand the history?  

To be clear you are NOT expected to answer all these questions. They're simply prompts. As you write, you'll see that some are connected, and some not - it depends on the tact you choose. There's no checklist - use your judgement.

2500 words (max. 10 pages) - use proper Chicago-style references, and a bibliography. 

                                                                                          - - - - - - - - 

Option #2: Children’s literature and the question of slavery and abolition

Throughout the eighteenth century, the ideals of liberty and  freedom fueled revolutions throughout the Atlantic World, bringing freedom to many, but definitely not to all. One of the biggest issues that remained involved reconciling notions of freedom with a society that still held humans in bondage. How do you challenge the long held habits of a society? Where do you begin? 

How can children's literature help us to understand the place of slavery in the 18th and 189th centuries?



Our lesson on Abolition focused primarily on the public debates surrounding the continuation of slavery.  These public debates also entered the realm of imagination through the popularity of the Romantic poets like William Blake.  We have seem his artistic work several times throughout the course in the illustrations from John Stedman’s Narrative, to the image of Europe Supported by African and America on our Syllabus. His poem, The Little Black Boy is where we would like you to begin.

This assignment provides you with the opportunity to consider how the debates surrounding slavery entered the realms of literacy, domesticity, and imagination. We have heard women’s whispers throughout the course. Our lessons on Consumer Societies and the Commercial Revolution, the Practices of Slavery, and both the American as well as the French Revolutions have provided you with some idea of women’s roles in 18th and 19thcentury society.  In many ways, their literary contributions to the debates surrounding the abolition of slavery afford us the opportunity to examine the methods through which these ideas permeated household walls and entered the domestic realm and imaginations of children. Throughout the Early Modern Era women were responsible for the education of young children, and this assignment option asks you to analyze several short examples of popular children’s literature that in many cases were created by women.  To be sure, women were not the only authors of children’s literature at this historical moment, but for we are asking you to think about these larger debates and course themes as they impacted the lives of the comfortably literate. You will have options to read selections from a wider range of authors, not just women, but we are inviting you into the nurseries and early classrooms to read along with children as they are introduced to this debate.

Our lesson on the French Revolution introduced us to some of the debates surrounding women’s education in the late eighteenth century, and many of you have understood this as a call to action for access to education for women, but you have seen many examples of educated women throughout the course, so education alone was not quite the issue.  It might be helpful to think about how and where education could be accessed. Indeed, there was growing interest delivering education to a broader spectrum of society throughout the eighteenth-century. Groups like the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, strove to educate the public on the realities of slavery, and one of the most effective means of education was to ensure some level of basic literacy, which in England took shape in the Sunday School movement, a philanthropic form of education.  

One of the more influential members of this society in England, was Hannah More (1745-1833). While she did not embrace the call for universal literacy or for women's rights, she did recognize the value of ‘popular functional literacy’. She also recognized a place for women that stressed their agency as contributing members of society, rather than passive objects.  She and her sister were responsible for establishing one of the earliest Sunday Schools dedicated to providing a basic education to the working poor of England. Her legacy is not without controversy, however. She was by no means a radical like Mary Wollstonecraft, rather she advocated for women working within the moral and domestic roles that society had ascribed to them. These ideas of functional literacy permeated both sides of the Atlantic, and to a large degree, the literature you are about to read falls under this umbrella. The well known Grimke sisters, for example, were very active in Philadelphia's Quaker society, and promoted both abolition and women's rights. While Hannah More did not actually write any children’s literature, and we have not included any of the Grimke sisters work, these women are  not the focus of your assignment, rather part of the background to give you some historical context. But many who wrote these stories were involved in similar activities, and they continued to expand on More's limited idea of functional literacy, so think about the historical context as you read them.

This is also a reminder to you to think more broadly about course themes, and place this interest in, and commitment to, philanthropic activities within the context of an atmosphere of panic that pervaded English sentiment in aftermath of the Revolutions that dominated the close of the eighteenth-century. While these revolutions brought freedom to many, our lesson on Work and Freedom, highlights the limits to which this extended to others. Those who were free, most notably men and women of property, felt a responsibility keep their own houses in order, thus extending their own ideals of household order on the rest of society with mixed results. How did children’s literature depict an ordered household?

The gist of it...

Write a 2500 word essay (max. 10 pages) - using proper Chicago-style references, and a bibliography that examines and compares these texts designed for children/youth in the light of your Abolition week readings. The focus of your paper will address at least four stories in addition to Blake’s poem “The Little Black Boy”, and examine how they discuss and depict (remember to look at the images, too!) slavery and abolition. You should be drawing upon your course readings, especially the secondary readings related to slavery and abolition, but think too about broader questions related to freedom and economic development. Remember, textual analysis focuses as much on the intended audience as the information in the text itself. Who is the intended audience (children obviously, but not all children for every text!), and what is the intended message?  Also use the secondary sources provided with these instructions to provide you with context. There is no set rubric for the number of secondary sources you will need to employ.  Use your own judgement here, but remember, the secondary sources are there to help you develop your arguments. Some will be helpful, and others will not, and using too many will distract you from actually reading the literature.  It all depends on the angle you take. Finally, pay attention to the images in these stories as they are equally, if in many cases even more important than the text itself, so in many ways this option incorporates both your textual and visual analytical skills! 

Some questions to get you started:

•    What would these texts teach children in this era? 
•    What does this tell us about popular understandings of slavery and abolition? 
•    Pay attention to the publications dates as these reflect changing public attitudes regarding slavery. Do you see evidence for progressive or regressive attitudes towards abolition? 

These are short texts, but where possible use Voyant in your analysis (and if you don't find it useful in this case, explain why). Voyant is not required for this assignment, but it can be helpful, especially for those of you who have used it and explored it well so far.

New note: Voyant seems to be having some technical glitches and is not permitting the comparison of multiple documents.  Stay tuned here for alternatives. There are a few I will be testing over reading week.

The Literature 

(choose at least four stories from at least three different authors)

Anon, Clarissa Dormer, or The Advantages of Good Instruction, London: Printed for J. Harris, successor to E. Newberry, 1808.

Anon., Cuffy the negro's doggrel description of the progress of sugar. London: Wallis, 1823.

Caroline Gilman, “The Planter’s Son” and/or  “The Plantation”, in her The Rose-Bud Wreath(Charleston SC, Babcock, 1841), 63-9 and 133-147.  

J. Elizabeth Jones, The Young Abolitionists, or Conversations on Slavery (Boston, Anti-Slavery Society, 1848), 1-19. 

Opie, Amelia Alderson. The Black Man’s Lament; or, How to Make Sugar. London: Harvey and Darton, 1826.

Richardson, Anna, Little Laura, The Kentucky Abolitionist: An Address to the Young Friends of the Slave, Newcastle: Thomas Pigg and Co., 1859.

Thompson, Matilda G. Aunt Judy's story: a tale from real life. written for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Fair. Philadelphia: Merrihew & Thompson, Printers, 1859.

Townsend, Hannah, The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, written for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Fair. Philadelphia: Merrihew & Thompson, Printers, 1846.

Noah Webster, The little reader's assistant; containing A number of stories, mostly from the history of America, and adorned with cuts. (Hartford, Nellish and Babcock, 1790), 38-43. 

Secondary Sources

(choose at least 1 from this list, and at least 1 reading from the course readings on Abolition or the Practices of Slavery, choose more if you like, but you will be assessed on effectively you connect the sources rather than the number of sources you use!)

Connolly, Paula T. Slavery in American Children’s Literature, 1790-2010.  Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 2013. (Chapters 1 and 2 will be most useful for studying the texts here.)

 De Rosa, Deborah C. Domestic Abolitionism and Juvenile Literature, 1830-1865. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003. (Chapters 3 and 4 are particulary useful depending on the angle you take in your analysis.)

Wright, Nazera Sadiq. “Black Girlhood in Early American Children’s Print Culture" - Commonplace - The Journal of Early American Life.

Hint: A good essay will develop one or more themes, use some effective and illustrative quotations, and draw from the knowledge you've already built in the course in our examination of slavery and abolition, as well as broader economic and political questions in the Atlantic world. 

2500 words (max. 10 pages) - use proper Chicago-style references, and a bibliography. 

                                                                                          - - - - - - - - 

Option # 3: Mini-documentary


Make a short documentary-style video based on a second-term topic.

Using the materials made available to you in one of your second-term lessons, make a 15 minute mini-documentary that presents that topic. It should be (i) academically rigorous (you're historians - use good sources, well), (ii) intellectually engaging (aim at an intelligent but non-specialist audience), and (iii) visually interesting (make effective use of images/visuals, and you probably need to find some additional visual materials). 

This assignment, for obvious reasons, doesn't have any additional assigned documents. You already have them, and you can do some research to obtain more if you wish. I'm happy to offer advice and support there if it would be helpful.

Tip #1: ask a question. Don't simply present material, present the material as solving a problem. Aim for an interesting question. Think, for example, of our discussion of the agricultural revolution. An obvious question would be, what was the agricultural revolution? But as we know, a more interesting question would be, when was the agricultural revolution?

Tip #2: answer your question with an argument. Your documentary should make a point, not simply recount a tale. It should answer the question.

The video will be graded on the following criteria: effectiveness as a piece of public history (clarity, accessibility, engagement), quality of the content/research, and presentation (i.e. that it looks good!).

How you do it is up to you, but the most obvious format would be some sort of screencast (i.e.a video of images and some text with a voiceover). Suggestions and links on the technical side of how to make a video can be found in the Assignment tool in Sakai. 

Should you conduct additional research? You don't have to, but you can. But, to be clear, as indicated above, that's not the object of the assignment. The heart of your work should be the material you've been given in the course, and I have been adding supplementary sources to the lessons to help you with this option. Supplement only where/if you feel it necessary, but focus on presenting strong and interesting content more than a comprehensive view. At least for text: visuals will probably require some digging.

Use good quality, Open Access images, that illustrate what you're talking about. Open Access is really important is it means you're avoiding copyright issues. For most materials in our course, you're fine because our material is old. Where do you find them? Our eText has lots of image s we used and we've tried to source all ours. So, depending on your topic, good sources include museums, libraries, and archives that have digital collections. Note that we have some favourite go-to sources: the Library of Congress (US), the Leventhal Map Center (Brown University), the Nova Scotia Archives, the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), the British Library (UK) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (go to Gallica BnF). All of these provide high-quality open-access images. One way we often cheat is to simply google what we're looking for, and then fonce we idenitfy something good we find a reputable source that provides a copy. Often we'll find an image on some weird obscure website and in poor quality with no attribution. But now armed with a name, or some kind of better terms to google, we find what we're looking for. Often, too, that new good site has more to choose from.

Images, like texts, are produced by people and you should be acknowledging them. Source your information and your arguments, as well as your images. Ensure your final shot includes a list of "Credits" or "Works Cited".

This page references: