Writing Prompt: Storycatching

The point of this prompt is to make you reflect on the culture(s) that you belong to and be able to articulate your connections and your experiences within your culture(s). Since the culture that you’re part of ultimately helps shape the person you become, it is important to acknowledge its influences on your person.

The prompt is this:

Write a short essay detailing a culture you belong to. It can be the culture within a group of friends, the culture within a club or other organisation you belong to or it can be the wider culture within a nationality or ethnicity. Please include a picture representation of your culture. The picture could be of a place, an item or the people that represents your cultures.

This was my take on the prompt:

My culture is in the mini-Chinese cities all across the world. When I started school in the United States in the state of Arizona, the culture inside and outside my house was starkly contrasted. Outside was hostile, spoke English and somewhere that I obviously wasn’t wanted. Inside was calming, spoke Mandarin and the Fuzhou dialect, and full of soft, warm places to curl up and later on, to read books in.

However, I learned that this didn’t always have to be the case. While I slowly adjusted to the US and learned their language, I sought refuge in places that reminded me of the years spent with my grandparents in the verdant, rolling mountains of the Fujian province. In a place locked with concrete and pavement, I took refuge in the cultural empire that we had worldwide; the Chinatowns, the Chinese supermarkets and the food. In these places, I wasn’t the one lost and out of my element. Rather, those with khaki shorts and pastel T-shirts were the ones uncomfortable among the stacks of vegetables and fruits.

Here, there was dried cuttlefish, whole ginger root(gross), LaoGanMa’s special chili sauce, stinky tofu, a wall of seafood that aren’t filleted or boned and a much smaller section of meat products, no bacon, scarcely any sign of cheese or milk and aisles just for sauces ranging from the basic soy sauce to a myriad of cooking alcohol. However, it isn’t just about the ingredients you can buy; it’s also in the places you can go. Tea houses, especially those that have kept faithful to the taste back home, are highly sought after and often impossible to get into on the weekends. Other more adaptive businesses, often centered around boba tea, have sprung up wherever there are Asians, becoming somewhat like cultural Starbucks and attracting quite a lot of Westerners too.  Through these places and through the food that we share, I can find a little bit of home everywhere.

In all of the places I’ve lived, through five states and moving cross-country, there were strings to tie me back to those first years of my life, to the warm embrace and the familiar taste of meals surrounded by family.

APUSH Unit III Essay Prep: Articles of Confederation to War of 1812 (circa 1770s-1800s)

d8f05a62283be3ce50475fb6df3719ba

So this is the first of the APUSH posts. I don’t have Unit I or II up because at the time, I didn’t do a lot of preparation for the first couple of units and what I did have was not sufficient for any sort of studying. Because of that, I’ll start with Unit III. I should also say that I won’t give you everything you need for each of these prompts because that’ll be no fun and it defeats the purpose of being an AP student. I’ll only give you the basic points and the synthesis and contextualization. Oh and any events I list may or may not be in chronological order, so be careful of that as well.

I was given these prompts, you might have gotten something different for Unit 3:

(1) “Our prevailing passions are ambition and interest; and it will be the duty of a wise government to avail itself of those passions, in order to make them subservient to the public good.” -Alexander Hamilton, 1787

How was this viewpoint manifested in Hamilton’s financial program as Secretary of the Treasury?

  • Synthesis: Second Bank of America (chartered in 1816 after the War of 1812 because they recognised the need to have a national banking system as well as a consistent national currency which is what they had trouble with during the War)
  • Contextualization: They needed to have the American people be loyal to the federal gov’t (and by extension, to the Constitution) as opposed to their local and state gov’ts and through the various aspects of Hamilton’s Financial Plan, tried to encourage nationalistic sentiments especially among the wealthy and affluent.
  • Points:
    • National Bank- Bank was made to be a corporation whose stocks could be purchased by third parties (turning private financial interest into national economic interest)
    • Funding Plan- plan to “fund” the national debt by a cycle of continuing to sell and pay off bonds
    • Assumption Plan- the federal gov’t would assume all state debts in exchange for moving the capital from the North to the Potomac
    • Basic Idea: If the citizens are personally invested in the country’s success, then these people will have more of an inclination to do things in the interest of the whole country as opposed to for themselves or for their state.

(2) Evaluate the relative importance of domestic and foreign affairs in shaping American politics in the 1790’s.

For this prompt, you need to state whether domestic or foreign affairs was more important in shaping American politics in the 1790s. I’ve listed what was happening in both categories. And depending on which one you thought was more important, the synthesis point I used may have to be tweaked.

  • Synthesis: Cold War- how foreign diplomatic failures overshadowed the later half of the 1900s after WWII, which should have been a relatively peaceful time, y’know, because all the major powers in the world needed to rebuild themselves economically, politically and especially in Germany, literally. Some relevant points would be McCarthyism and the Marshall Plan.
  • Contextualization: There’s a lot of things you can use here. For example, the French Revolution could count if you do it correctly.
  • Points:
    • Foreign Affairs:
      • French Revolution, Jay Treaty, US’s neutrality in foreign wars (GW’s Farewell Address), X, Y, Z Affair and the Convention of 1800 (end of Quasi-War with France)
    • Domestic:
      • Everything with Alex Hamilton and his Plan, strict v loose construction (Federalists vs Republicans), Whiskey Rebellion, Alien and Sedition Acts
    •  Politics:
      • George Washington(once again, his stance on US neutrality), Hamilton v Jefferson, Two Party System, Election of 1796 and the “Revolution”  of 1800

(3) To what extent was the election of 1800, sometimes known as the “Revolution of 1800”, a turning point in U.S. History?

  • Synthesis: Election of 1860, another election that had a monumental impact on US history otherwise known as when Lincoln became POTUS and when the Civil War starts
  • Contextualization: You could bring out how Jefferson’s ideas differed from the Federalists’ ideas and how this disagreement was a source of contention in the past.
  • Points:
    • Jefferson was the founder of the original Republican party (historians now call them Democratic-Republicans, but I’ll just keep it simple) and was the chief advocate for Republican ideals, in contrast to the first two presidents of the US who were Federalist (although GW wasn’t officially a Federalist, his tendency to agree with Hamilton meant that technically, he was one)
      • this obviously means that this is the first time there was a Republican president
      • this shift to Republican ideals means that the focus of the country was no longer at the national level but at the individual and state level
    • confirmed (in a way) the existence and legitimacy of a two-party system
    • the beginning of the downfall of the Federalist party
      • Judiciary Acts of 1801- changed courts with the intent to weaken Fed. party
    • reduced military budget and debt of the country
    • General Idea: How power transferred from the Federalists to the Republicans and what happened as the result

(4) Compare and contrast the contributions of two U.S. Presidents between 1788-1810 in helping to establish a stable government after the adoption of the Constitution. (GW, Adams, Jefferson)

  • Synthesis: You can use Lincoln again because he was the first Republican president(the third party system-> Democrats vs Republicans) and he obviously drastically changed the country and helped stabilise the country by, y’know, winning the Civil War
  • Contextualization: There were three presidents during that time; you need to compare and contrast two in your essay. Whichever one is left, you can use for contextualization. I chose to use Adams as contextualization and how he continued Washington’s policies etc etc.
  • Points: 
    • George Washington:
      • highly respected and people followed his example (he had a calming effect during the turbulent times, so to speak)
      • helped America stay neutral with Proc. of Neutrality and Jay Treaty
      • put down Whiskey Rebellion partially through his reputation alone
      • set precedents for future presidents (it rhymes!-almost)
        • had an ideologically diverse cabinet
        • showed the people that having presidents doesn’t necessarily mean having to live under tyranny
      • exerted his presidential powers underneath the Constitution
        • for example, by passing the Judiciary Act of 1789 (that made the judiciary system and the Supreme Court)
      • supported Hamilton’s plans and thus put the US on good financial footing
        • included assumption plan and the moving of the capital, shifting loyalties more towards the country as a whole
    • Thomas Jefferson:
      • Louisiana Purchase-encouraged an agrarian economy
        • guaranteed the people’s independence as per Jefferson’s Republican ideals
        • Lewis and Clark Expedition- encouraged western expansion
      • a more minor thing- he decentralised power by disestablishing state churches
      • showed that a peaceful transfer of power was possible and didn’t try to stamp out Federalist influences in the gov’t
      • accepted opposition against him (John Marshall), confirming checks and balances
      • another more minor thing- had success dealing with the Barbary pirates which expanded trade in the Mediterranean

(5) Analyse the impact of the American Revolution on both slavery and the status of women in the period 1775-1800.

  • Synthesis: Since the Civil War has been mentioned multiple times already, the next most obvious choice would be th 19th Amendments: when women got the right to vote
  • Contextualization: The First Great Awakening
  • Points:
    • Slaves:
      • anti-slavery sentiments were present before (for example, Quaker societies in 1775) but by 1792, even heavily pro-slavery places had anti-slavery sentiments like Virginia
        • side note: GW made it so that upon his wife’s death, all of his slaves were to be freed. Martha Washington set them free early.
      •  Lord Dunmore’s Proc (encouraging slaves to join British forces in return for freedom) caused slaves to rise against their masters, prompts Americans to offer freedom as well, tens of thousands later fled with the British
      • set ban date for the importation of slaves (1808)
      • NW Ordinance 1787 prohibits some territory from becoming slave states
      • BUT 3/5th Compromise, Fugitive Slave Clause and the fact that twenty years was allowed for the importation of slaves to stop
    • Women:
      • increased respect for their competence and rationality in managing family’s’ farms and businesses while men were away at war (Revolutionary War)
      • only legal gain-divorce was easier in some courts (to negligible effect)
      • social changes-wives were treated as more of a companion rather than as being treated as inferiors, some more freedom in choosing spouses, spinstership didn’t seem to be so bad anymore, women began to push for education (for example, Philadelphia’s Young Ladies Academy in 1787)
      • some female activists became famous for speaking out against the patriarchy; Abigail Adams and Judith Murray
      • Republican Mother, mothers seen as the passers of liberty and virtue onto their sons
      • BUT no real (tangible) progress in political power of females, traditional belief that women are subservient and weaker are still strongly held on to

(6) Evaluate the extent to which there was continuity in the conduct of United States foreign policy between 1789 and 1823.

  • Synthesis: US’s initial neutrality during WWI.
  • Context: Highlight what wars and foreign conflicts there were that could have affected America’s foreign policy and in particular, public opinion and by extension, the two-party system and the rise and fall of parties (like how the Federalist party lost favour because of the Hartford Convention).
  • Points:
    • George Washington remained neutral during his presidency (Proc of Neutrality and Farewell Address, later during the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolution)
      • Madison, Adams,  and Jefferson tried to remain neutral as well, but America ended up waging war with the British (War of 1812)
    • Attempts to use trade as a diplomatic weapon( not trading with either France or Britain). SPOILER: it doesn’t work.
    • GW renounced French-American Treaty and even had a Quasi-War with France (a break from previous good relationship with France, also seen with XYZ Affair and the aforementioned Quasi-War)
    • continued expansion (land grab) through Louisiana Purchase, Pinkney Treaty, Adams-Onis Treaty, Convention of 1818 (joint claim with Britain to Oregon Territory)
    • Continued limiting British influence (Jay’s Treaty, limited effects, Rush-Bagot Treaty) 
    • Continuity: War Hawks and how they wanted war with Britain, continued to use US commerce as diplomatic weapon (Macon’s Bill #2, Non-Intercourse Act, Embargo Act), Treaty of Ghent restored pre-war relationship with the British)
    • Monroe Doctrine (by Monroe and John Quincy Adams) warning against foreign intervention in the Western Hemisphere