All-College Writing Contest


All-College Writing Contest Winner 2001-02

Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 2001

Author Comments

Originally I intended to focus my senior thesis on the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: I was intrigued by the question of how a truly brilliant general become a disappointing president, although perhaps the answer is found in the question. I scuttled this project due to the limited availability of appropriate documents and settled instead upon an examination of the congressional debate on the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. I quickly found this subject provided an excellent insight into the political spectrum of the period, and Sarah Fenton, my instructor in American Thought, was accommodating enough to let me use a small sampling of this material in my term paper for her course.

Next year I will begin graduate work in history, and this project has taught me many things about the process of historical investigation. It involves, no question, a great deal of grunt work, which can be frustrating and tedious, but the rewards of this creative process are very real. Ideas are important, and writing history is a process of both interpreting the ideas of your sources and expressing them to your audience.

Faculty Advisor

Sarah Fenton



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