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Persuading Juries

Persuading Juries

During recitation in the last week of the semester, you’ll be asked to write another essay.  As you now know, fifty minutes doesn’t provide much time to write something you’d be pleased with, so, as before, we’re providing the topics a week in advance.  Your job, now, as last time, is to:

  1. read through the topics
  2. take the time to
  3. reread the appropriate material from your lecture notes and textbook for all three topics
  4. do some extra research—the library, the internet—to flesh out what is said in 2a.
  5. then perhaps make a rough outline of what you want to say in your recitation-essay
  6. NOTE: as before, this is for home use only–for the exam you may only bring 2-3 blue books and your memory.

At the exam, as before:

  1. your TA will pick two out of those three topics
  2. you will then choose one of those two to write about

Here’s how to judge how well you’ve done:

  1. an adequate essay (the “C range”) will have the minimal facts—just enough to sketch out an answer, but nothing more
  2. a good essay (the “B range”) will amplify a bit—it will take more time to explore the subject, give more details to back up the essay, and be more specific at every turn
  3. a very good essay (the “A range”) will be even more developed—extremely specific, loaded with details, the writer even taking time to get into the character within the essay.

We don’t expect you to be Charles Dickens or Mark Twain, but everyone can do well on this (and, obviously, we want you to!) if she/he takes the time to do some research and plan things out beforehand.


1.You are Citizen Javert, and you have been given the job of leading the prosecution of the French ex-Citizen King, Louis Capet (Louis XVI), scheduled for the 10th of December, 1792.  At the moment, you are about to write your opening speech, in which you will lay out the case against this infamous criminal, whose family has done so much for so long to oppress the People.  As you compose, think about how you can persuade the jury.  Should you begin by discussing his ancestor, Louis XIV, who did so much to bankrupt the state with his extravagant spending on foreign wars, mistresses, and Versailles?  Would Louis XV, whose disastrous seven-year war around the world lose France the bulk of its colonies be another juicy example?  And what has this Louis done?  Can anyone who tries to run away from his own kingdom not be guilty of something?  Remember:  your ultimate goal is to obtain a death sentence and to set the stage for the complete removal—forever—of the monarchy.  How will you do it?

  1. It’s 1820 and you and your family have been driven off the land your family has worked for generations so that it can be turned into pasture for thousands of sheep. Desperate, you have moved to a nearby town and have begun work in a cloth-making mill. The conditions are terrible, but some of the workers have secretly suggested that maybe, if the workers could get a Liberal member of Parliament to inspect the place and write a blue book, things might improve.  As the only literate person among them (you used to keep a small school part-time in your old village), the others have asked you to write to The Select Committee for the Overseeing and Improvement of Mills and Factories in the House of Commons and beg for help.  To do so, you must write a letter which describes your own experience, (which is like that of so many others), from the landlord who used an Enclosure Act to chase you off the land to the city to which you came and what it’s like to live there next to the mill and what conditions are like, working 6 days a week, 14 hours a day.
  2. You are the Prime Minister of Teutania, the latest European kingdom to become unified from a series of smaller states in the later years of the 19th century. As you look about you at the bigger, older states, you can see that, both to develop economically and to gain prestige, you have to reach outside Europe and the best way to do this is to found a colony or two. Unfortunately, the King, Gustaf I, is an old-fashioned type of monarch who can only think within European boundaries.  There are those in Parliament, however, who can pressure the King into just about anything (and his son, the Crown Prince, is a modern type, always ready for something new).  What you need to do is to write a speech to deliver at the opening of this year’s Parliament (a copy to be sent privately to the King, of course), in which you discuss the history of colonization and its successes (don’t forget to mention your wealthy and powerful neighbors, Great Britain and France), as well as point out just how colonies can help the economy of the mother country and what such colonies can do for the status of Teutania on the European stage.

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Category: Sample Questions