Indian Policy Essay

1456 Words6 Pages
To make a judgment about continuity or change, students must first define "the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790's." They can then move to the "decision of the Jackson administration . . .", his Indian policy, as represented relatively consistently over a 15-year period in Documents H, 0, and Q. As if the definition of terms (the word reformulation is archaic enough to have disappeared from the latest American Heritage Dictionary) and the identification and comparison of policies were not enough, students are further required to consider the role of "moral, political, constitutional and practical concerns" in the shaping of these policies and their permutations through time. Professor Alden Vaughan of Columbia University, the chief faculty consultant at the time and a specialist in colonial English-Indian relations, helpfully classified this question as a two-by-four matrix. He suggested that students might construct a grid with the four concerns on one axis and Jackson's policies compared with their antecedents on the other (with a resolved thesis: continuity, change, both, neither). Students could then grid their evidence and construct their answers making reference to all four of the question's categories. (This system of essay organization within a matrix can be applied to any question with several variables or areas of consideration. See 1981's Northern Middle-Class Women DBQ for another example.) There may be no DBQ in this entire collection that illustrates the difficulties of context and evidence that face the historian more obviously than this question does. After wrestling with the complex causality implied in the question itself, students will experience no relief with a highly inconclusive set of documents. Several public moralities are clearly at work here, as are inconsistent Indian policies which sometimes protect and
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