Week 2 Blog: Research Question

Although we have just finished our first week of class, I have already gained lots of interesting insights and knowledge on the history of slavery. I took a few courses that touched on the history of slavery when I was in high school, but it is already obvious that high school history classes include sugarcoated content that is commonly biased. When learning about slavery in high school, our textbooks and professors focused primarily on slaves in the rual south, and made it seem as if the only thing slaves did in our country was work in the cotton fields. In my eyes, one of the most interesting parts of our readings/course content up to this point was learning about how slaves contributed so much to our nation’s wealth. While high school course content encouraged me to believe that slaves only worked on plantations, our content in this course has already informed me that slaves contributed significantly in building our country as a whole. Besides working in cotton fields, slaves also labored extensively in the field of mining, construction, transport, and even factory settings.

My newly obtained knowledge regarding enslaved individual’s significant contribution to the wealth and success of the United States has brought up a few questions in my mind that I’d love to explore further. I’m interested in gaining more information regarding how much slower our country would have developed without forced labor, which leads to my research question: Would the United States currently be such an advanced country if slavery/forced labor never existed?

There are plenty of primary historical sources that would provide me with further insights on my research question. I think it would be a good idea to find old letters and diaries that talk about all the different types of work that was done by enslaved individuals. These sources could include viewpoints of enslaved individuals, as well as anyone else that witnessed the work being done in our country. The information included in these sources would give an accurate idea of exactly how significant the contribution of enslaved people was in our country. My findings could potentially cause me to reframe my question, mostly due to the fact that my research question is very broad. Depending on my findings, I might be encouraged to narrow down the question to a specific field. With the materials available, I can reasonably conclude that a significant majority of the nation’s infrastructure and ways of transportation were provided by enslaved individuals. The next steps in the process from here would be to start analyzing data and information found in the sources, and determine if it’s enough information to fully answer my research question.

2 thoughts on “Week 2 Blog: Research Question

  1. These are all very reflective and profound thoughts abut the content of our readings thus far. I too, have always been interested in the far-reaching impacts of slavery throughout the Americas. It was not unique to the South, but also formed a variety of different labors from personal servants to factory labor. With that said, your questions is strong and points to one important outcome of this course; recognizing how the institution of slavery (and its horrors and violence) were at the bedrock of America’s founding. It’s a realization some may find difficult to grapple. I think your choice of potential sources would showcase a perspective of slavery that is much needed; although because so few writings exist from people who were enslaved, recorded oral histories are another option!

  2. Hi Wyatt, I really enjoyed your explanation of the downplayed nature of topics such as slavery in typical education. It reminds me a lot of my own research question which was to identify the biases you spoke of in regards to complex topics such as that of slavery. It’s nice to know that someone else feels the same way as I do and that Im not alone in thinking that typical education is biased.

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