3.b.

Analyzing Arguments


This guide is intended to:

Consider this thesis question, which is the one Frank Tannenbaum asked in From Slave to Citizen:

How did differing patterns of slavery in the Americas lead to differing patterns of post-emancipation race relations in the Americas; specifically, how did these differing historical patterns of slavery make post-emancipation Latin America a better place for people of African descent than the post-emancipation United States?

What are the premises underlying it?

Now consider this thesis:

As evident in patterns of emancipation, slavery (and hence post-emancipation race relations) in the United States was harsher than in Latin America because -- due to a legacy of Catholicism and Roman law -- Latin American slavery recognized to a greater degree the moral value of the slave.

What is the "road map" for this paper? That is, what is the chain of reasoning this paper must pursue if it is to demonstrate the veracity of its thesis?

  1. There were differing patterns of slavery in the Americas
  2. These determined differing patterns of post-emancipation race relations
  3. Latin America is a better place for people of African descent than the United States

Note that thus far the paper is structured around the premises underlying the thesis question. The veracity of these need to be established before any further claims can be made.

  1. Slavery in the United States was "harsher" than slavery in Latin America.
  2. Differences in harshness were due to differences in the degrees to which the institution of slavery recognized the "moral value" or humanity of the slave.
  3. Differences in the degrees to which slavery recognized the "moral value" or humanity of the slave resulted from differing religious and legal institutions; Latin America was less harsh due to a legacy of Roman law and Catholicism.

Note that these are all new claims, which can only be made once the "thesis premises" have been established. Note that much of the paper must deal with simply establishing that the thesis question may be asked.

How to evaluate this argument: