My research topic was very much inspired by my faculty adviser, Dr. Judith Schafer. Much of my interest in the Congress and the Presidency has come from her legal history classes, and my choice of a historical topic was in line with those classes. For my paper, I will write about the interactions between Congress and the office of the President in the era leading up to the Civil War. The leaders of our country certainly contributed to the sense of disunity in that period, and that inability or unwillingness to compromise certainly is still present today. I want to look at these decisions (or indecisions) to fully explore the causes of the Civil War, specifically the election of President Abraham Lincoln, the Nullification Crisis of 1832, and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. These events portray how legislation and politics are intertwined in shaping our country.
I think the most difficult part of my research will be narrowing my topic down and giving it a common focus that can also relate today. Yes, there are a lot of specific instances you could pick out to compare and contrast with today’s politics, but to put those in a meaningful, consolidated, fluid thesis will be tricky. I think the most ideal organization for my paper will be a generalized analysis of the social attitude of the era while narrowing in on specific topics that I think most represent my ideas. Keeping my goals in the front of my mind the entire time I research and write the paper will be incredibly important.
I have not done any previous research or had any experience with my specific topic. Classes I have taken, though, have introduced me to areas such as slavery in the antebellum South and the timeline of Jacksonian America. I’ve also had to do legal research and congressional research, which I think will help in finding great primary sources to use for my paper. Although I’m really excited to be doing original research and creating a paper I will be proud of, I’m mostly looking forward to getting to our fall conference and meeting you guys! See you soon.