These essays are part of a CLASS SET. Please DO NOT MARK!
Directions: On a separate sheet of paper, make a chart of strengths and weaknesses for each of the following essays, and then use the AP Scoring Guide to assign a score (dash - 9) to each. Make sure that you can justify your scores with specific evidence.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” wrote Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. This quote applies to the situation in which African Americans found themselves at the onset of the Civil War. It was a good time because the war was being fought in order for them to recieve their freedom. However, it was a bad time because many of their brethren were still slaves, and they were still being discriminated against by not being allowed to join the Union army. Alfred M. Green looked beyond the bad times to the good and encouraged African Americans to fight for their right to serve their country. He was able to persuade his fellow African Americans to join the Union forces by delivering a powerful speech in which he spoke of duty, the evilness of the Confederacy, and what a Union victory could do for African Americans.
Mr. Green begins his speech with talk of duty and patriotism. “My country, right or wrong, I love thee still!” It is their duty to serve their country in any way they can. According to Mr. Green, African Americans must show the world that they are filled with pride for their country and are willing to fight for freedom.
In the second and third paragraphs, Mr. Green qualifies the fact that African Americans have been mistreated in the past, in the United States of America. He does this to show that he has not forgotten the wrongs done to African Americans in past years. He makes allusions to George Washington and the Revolutionary War, to Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812, the Dred Scott case, and other cases in which African Americans were treated injustly. Mr. Green is not forgiving these grievances, only saying that they are in the past, and he wants to work for the future. These two paragraphs are constructed delicately because of the sensitive subject matter. He uses parallel structure by beginning both paragraphs with “It is true…” He does this in order to soften the writing and make the reader more comfortable because of the familiarity.
Mr. Green attempts to persuade his fellow African Americans to fight if not for themselves, then for their duty to their fathers, or for revenge against the institution of slavery. He explains that it is the duty of these men to create a better future in order to help make the past more bearable. Mr. Green appeals to the people’s sence of family duty by writing, “…let not the honor and glory achieved by our fathers be blasted or sullied by a want of true heroism amoung their sons.” Also, he appeals to their sense of revenge by explaining how the Confederacy is going to war in order to expand slavery. He tells them that they should fight for the freedom of their own race. Also, he states that if they fight for the Union, then slaves in the South might get the courage to overthrow their masters.
The tone of Mr. Alfred M. Green’s speech is both powerful and heartfelt. He attempts to persuade his fellow African Americans to join the Union forces by appealing to their sense of duty, sense of family obligation, and their respect for freedom. He ends by powerfully concluding that they must have faith in God who is, “the God of truth, justice, and equality to all men.”
In his speech, Alfred M. Green uses alliteration, anaphora, and direct quotes to convince his audience that they should join the Union army.
Green uses anaphora extensively in his speech. He says, “it is true” twice and then “let us” multiple times. This helps to emphasize certain points. He first says “it is true” in line 9. Then he talks about how the founding fathers fought for freedom in the Revolutionary War. This is an appeal to pathos. Then he uses it again in line 15 where he talks about the fugitive slave laws and Dred Scott decisions. By starting with the same phrase it emphasizes the points and how connected they are. He also says “let us” in lines 24, 30 and 36. All these examples of anaphora help him drive home his points to his audience.
Green also uses a lot of alliteration. In line 24 he says “let us not be derelict to duty” and later on “our present position.” He uses it again in line 36 “let us, then, take up the sword, trusting in God.” Even in the beginning of the speech he says “it is these grand principles that enable men, however proscribed, when possessed of a true patriotism.” All this alliteration helps emphasize his main points. They draw the reader’s attention and help them remember.
Finally, Green makes good use of quotes in his speech. Paragraphs one and three both end with direct quotations, and Green uses a third in the final paragraph. All of these quotes prove that he is an educated speaker. They help his ethos too, and make him a trustworthy writer. It was unusual for a black man to be able to read at that time, so his audience would be impressed that he was able to quote Thomas Paine directly. This makes his argument more convincing. Also, when he is able to quote the South’s actual intentions in the closing paragraph, he appears knowledgeable, and that makes his argument stronger. His specific evidence helps him convince his audience to join the army.
Overall, this is a convincing speech. Green uses many rhetorical devices to persuade his audience, but most importantly alliteration, anaphora, and direct quotes.
Although African Americans were not yet allowed to fight for the Union army in 1861, Alfred M. Green’s speech encourages them to prepare for a time when they will be able to do so. He anticipates his audience’s counterarguments, and acknowledges them by making some concessions early on in the speech, but he then begins urging his listeners to enlist when they can, borrowing heavily from Revolutionary War rhetoric in an attempt to inspire in his audience a desire to fight.
The second and third paragraphs both introduce possible counterarguments by admitting “It is true,” which lets the audience know that Green understands some of their doubts and misgivings about joining the Union army. He acknowledges that although even great Americans like Washington and Jackson praised black men for their deeds in war, African Americans are still not recognized as citizens and do not have equal rights (10-14). He also acknowledges the painful truth that racial prejudice oppresses them (15-21). Doubtless, many in his audience were nodding their heads at the mention of the unfair Dred Scott decisions and the fugitive slave laws, and wondering why they should fight for a country that treats them so badly. In these paragraphs, Green repeatedly uses the pronouns “we” and “us,” reminding his audience that he is one of them, and shares their frustration. By admitting that blacks have served their country bravely but have not been treated fairly, Green gains credibility in his audience’s eyes and establishes himself as someone worth listening to.
Having gotten his audience on his side by conceding that they do have reasons to be angry with their government, Green now turns to his true purpose, persuading them that in spite of all of the injustices they face, they should still fight for the Union. He ends paragraph three with a rephrasing of Thomas Paine, saying that those were the “‘days that tried men’s souls.’” This reference is the beginning of a string of other places where he will use familiar diction from the Revolutionary times to inspire that old “zeal” to fight for freedom. The Paine quote comes from the opening of The Crisis Number One, where Paine draws a distinction between the “sunshine patriot” and the men who will fight even when things are bad. Green is essentially doing the same thing. He, like Paine, acknowledges that times are tough. But he asks his people to stay true and fight nonetheless. He reminds them of “our duty” (23) to defend the country, again using the first person plural pronoun, as did his predecessors almost a century ago, including himself among those who should “take up the sword” to “defend the right” (36-37). He also uses the Revolutionary buzzwords “treason” (41) and “tyrant” (48) to make the system of the Confederacy seem unlawful and evil. As others did in 1776, Green asks his audience to help “overthrow” an oppressive government that threatens to bind them all into slavery. Here, however, the enemy government is the South, not England, and the chains that Green frightens his audience with are literal, not the figurative ones of Paine or Patrick Henry. And while he does try to scare his listeners with the prospect of what will happen if the South defeats the Union, he also asks his listeners to hope for a better future, where they will “create anew” their “claims upon the justice and honor of the Republic” (32-33). Like those authors of the Revolution, he offers a vision of new country, with fairer laws, if only they can first beat the enemy. He ends by appealing, as he did in the opening paragraph, to his audience’s sense of patriotism by mentioning the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, those of “justice and equality for all men,” and by mentioning, as famous revolutionaries like Paine and Henry did, that God is on their side.
Green, a black man himself, shows his listeners that he understands their anger at being treated unfairly, but he attempts to redirect that anger towards a worse foe, the South. Perhaps figuring that what worked for Paine and Henry would work for him as well, he uses Revolutionary War rhetoric to appeal to his audience’s patriotism, hopes, and fears in an attempt to convince them to fight, even if the circumstances they find themselves in are not ideal.
Score 5—Makes some good points (as in paragraph 3: “Mr. Green is not forgiving these grievances, only saying that they are in the past, and he wants to work for the future.”), and identifies some specific appeals, but the analysis is very weak in places. The appeals mentioned are obvious, and the writer struggles to connect them to effect (as in paragraph 3: “These two paragraphs are constructed delicately because of the sensitive subject matter. He uses parallel structure by beginning both paragraphs with ‘It is true…’ He does this in order to soften the writing and make the reader more comfortable because of the familiarity.” What does it mean to construct a paragraph “delicately”? What “familiarity” are we talking about? Etc.). Thesis present, but weak (there is a better thesis in the conclusion!). The chronological structure is unhelpful. Terrible opening. Trite with too much fluff. Space is wasted here that could have been spent analyzing more in depth in the body paragraphs. Pretty good command of language, with occasional lapses in diction. Too much judgment from the writer (he was able to persuade them? How do you know? It is powerful? How can you tell? Etc.).
Score 4—A weak, formulaic essay that does not really ever succeed in explaining how the strategies help Green convince his audience to join the Union army. The factual errors and misinterpretations also hurt this paper (for instance, the lines in quotation marks are not all direct quotes, and not all the “let us” instances are anaphora. And as for the remark about the audience being impressed by the Paine quote, if his audience can’t read, will they be familiar with Paine? Logic fail.). The strategies mentioned are minor and not really connected to purpose, which is of course why this writer struggles. The analysis is vague and ineffective (what points are being emphasized? What connection is the anaphora emphasizing? Etc.) Also, the body paragraphs do not match the order promised in the thesis. The prose is not bad, and the thesis has all three parts, but the argument itself is too weak to pass.
Score 9—This is a mature, well-written essay with a strong thesis and good support. It has an unusual and perceptive focus in the second half that sets it apart from other papers. The writer clearly understands the structure and purpose of the speech, and is not just summarizing and/or parroting the prompt. The evidence is specific and the explanations clear. The connections between the strategies and the purpose are also clear. The prose is clean and eloquent. You will find few stronger essays written in 40 min. Nearly flawless.