Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reflective Letter

Leah Vickers

Reflective Letter

Throughout the development of my writing process while taking Writing 101, I have noticed my strengths and drawn attention to my weaknesses. There are certain things that I never knew about when it comes to writing. For instance: writing a correct outline before drafting a paper comes in very handy. I honestly had never written an outline for a paper before; this is one aspect of writing that I will carry with me. One major thing that I learned while writing one of my essays was not to write an introduction to a paper first thing. Obviously you cannot introduce something if you don’t quite know what that something is yet. I learned that it is wise to do all of the research first, make the outline, draft the body of the paper, then go back and write the introduction so you can touch on all of the main subjects.

To be honest, writing has always been one of my weaknesses. Although I have always been told by my parents and my brother that I am a good writer, the grades on my papers disagree. I struggle to demonstrate my thoughts in an understandable way that makes sense to others and not just myself. I work hard on constructing a great essay, but my efforts may go unnoticed when my topics don’t flow or my points aren’t even relevant. I have developed a fear of writing when it comes to essays. When I receive the assignment I usually procrastinate. This is something that I have been struggling with for a while and one of the things that still needs to change before my next writing assignment arrives. I already have a plan that will help prevent procrastination from happening: instead of stressing about what to do or how to start, I will contact my instructor to receive assistance. This will be one great leap for me; I know it seems small, but it will definitely help me.

Aside from the negative, one positive strength that I have developed is my ability to make a sentence flow into the next paragraph. I was struggling with this on my first essay, but as I progressed, my second essay A Loyal Citizen to the Crown of Europe; New York 1777, turned out to be much improved. At the end of the first paragraph I said, “Taxes must be imposed on anyone living in the colonies”, and at the beginning of the next paragraph I transitioned into, “Patrick Henry reflects this opposing view of taxes.” I then touched a little more on the subject of taxes. My first essay that is included in the portfolio is Bacon’s Rebellion. Since it was my first it was not nearly as good as my second. It does not reflect me personally as a writer, although it did guide me into writing my next essay, it is an example of how I transitioned into writing A Loyal Citizen to the Crown of Europe; New York 1777.

After taking writing 101 I have actually developed a greater respect for writing. I used to think “Oh, writing is easy”, but I never realized how much really goes into it. The book that we used earlier this quarter, They Say/I Say, was very helpful to me. It provided useful templates that made me think outside the box and make them my own. They helped when you didn’t know how to begin or conclude. Another thing I learned is that as a writer, there are usually always things that need improvement because there is no such thing as a “perfect writer.” For instance, I still need to work on my introductions and conclusions. To me that is the one of the most difficult parts of writing. I hope to keep everything from Writing 101 ingrained into my memory in hopes that it will tremendously help in my future writing experience.

Portfolio: Essay 2

Leah Vickers

A Loyal Citizen to the Crown of Europe; New York 1777

----As I, a loyal citizen to my fellow partners of Great Britain, walk along the streets of New York, I realize why so many people from other colonies are drawn here. It is beautiful and has great things to offer. The cobblestone sidewalks are filled with faces and there is a peace that surrounds you as you walk along the calm Hudson River with lush green grass and blue skies. Our many trading posts provide it easy for anyone to make a living. Farmers are able to sell and export crops and agriculture, and imported slaves become useful tools. Our land is beautiful, but “[…] immigrants as well as native New Yorkers were deserting the colony for the neighboring provinces due to the lack of free land in New York” (Kim). Our New York colony, like all the other thirteen colonies, is supported by our mother country, Britain. We owe our success to them, but I wish we didn’t have to part. We loyalists are outnumbered by patriots, and as of now the patriots have the attention of the British. Those patriots are so stubborn and full of themselves. They went behind our backs and wrote letters and pleas to other colonies and even to Europe. On May 13th, 1774 the patriots of Boston sent a letter to some of the patriots here in New York asking for help and stating how Britain had been “cruel and unjust” and they requested assistance in becoming detached. The New York Committee was unable to be of any help. But this certainly did not stop those ruffians from pursuing their dream of independence. I believe that the British have been an absolute wonder in helping our thirteen colonies become established. How else would Britain or any of the colonies gain success? Taxes must be imposed on anyone living in the colonies.

----Patrick Henry reflects this opposing view of taxes. If it weren’t for him, I don’t believe this whole “revolution” would have even begun in the first place. He and that Thomas Paine insist that no taxes be imposed upon anyone living in the colonies. How do they think that Britain will survive without us or us without them? I do not see what is so wrong about paying taxes if we are getting freedom in return. I don’t think that freedom is exactly a life or death situation. But according to Patrick Henry, who would rather have death over captivity and taxes, he and many others believe that being secluded from Britain will actually make them successful. The patriots believe “[…] that as America flourished under the former connexion with Great Britain, that the same connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect” (Common Sense). I am wondering if this is really what the patriots want. I believe that separation from Great Britain will bring many trials and difficulties. They need to leave well enough alone and let the British make their own decisions because they are the founders of our colonies in the first place.

---- If the famous Patrick Henry’s ideas of war are taken into effect, the patriots could possibly irritate the British so much that they would be inclined to impose an even heavier tax upon us colonists! If Patrick Henry was so faithful to God then why did he insist in his document Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death that “[…] we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!” (Henry)? I don’t think that God intended us to fight over what we want. War only leads to death, and we are not to kill our neighbors! This is the biggest reason as to why I choose to remain loyal to the crown. I do not believe in war, and I do not want my children growing up thinking that it is okay to go out and kill people just to get attention or to get what you want. We don’t want to damage our trade with Great Britain. In my opinion, this is all that war will do for us, besides make us very unhappy.

----After the signing of The Declaration of Independence in 1776, 547 loyalists in New York, including me, signed and circulated “A Declaration of Dependence” to stay connected with Britain. We thought it was a good idea at the time, until we realized again how outnumbered we really were. Our declaration did nothing. I guess the patriots were just better at persuading the British into thinking it was their way or no way at all. My views will never change about being a loyalist. If we do end up being split apart from Great Britain, I will always remember the influence that Britain had on my family and I, and the respect that I had for them. I agree with the right to tax because it maintains success, and disagree with dependence in fear of struggling alone.

Work Cited:
1.) Paine, Thomas. "Common Sense." US History Jan, 1776 5 Nov 2008

2.) Henry, Patrick. "Give me Liberty or Give me Death." Avalon Project 23 Mar, 1775 31 Oct 2008

3.) Kim, Sung Bok. A New Look at the Great Landlords of Eighteenth-Century New York.The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Oct., 1970), pp. 581-614. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Portfolio Essay: 1

Leah Vickers

Bacon’s Rebellion: Essay

----- Wars are not just evidence in our history books, some are still going on today. Between countries like the United States and Iraq, miscommunications have lead to attacks and some still believe that President George Bush is responsible for the bombing of the twin towers in New York City on September 11th 2001. The same states of affairs are similarly present in Virginia, 1676 during Bacon’s Rebellion. Some argue that the Governor of Virginia, William Berkeley, was at fault for the attacks on the colonies committed by the Native Americans. The government had made peace treaties with the Indians about what land was rightfully theirs and they both respected their boundaries. But when the poor settlers complained about Indians and the need for land, the government denied them because the Native Americans were useful to the government with their fur trade that made a great income. Just as the Virginians relied on the Indians for trade and wealth, the United States also depends on places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia for our crude oil. Without this our country would not be the same. Peace in America and in Virginia are said to have been destroyed by George Bush and Nathaniel Bacon. The citizens of the United States put their trust in President Bush and believed he would keep them safe. The Virginians also trusted in William Berkeley when it came to government affairs and keeping the colonies protected. Both these men did just what they said they would do, but they had issues with cooperation on the Indian’s and terrorist’s part.

-----The angry colonists of the 17th century were against two groups: the Indians and the colonists' own rich leaders. The colonies were very displeased with the way William Berkeley was running the government. Servants and even blacks joined in the rebellion according to Howard Zinn and Rebecca Stefoff in A Young People's History of the United Sates, "Then white servants and black slaves joined the rebellion. They were angry, too- mostly about the huge gap between rich and poor" (Zinn and Stefoff, 36). The economy of Virginia was horrible because taxes were high and the cost of tobacco was extremely low and by the 1670s rich landowners had possession of a majority of eastern Virginia. The Government wanted to obtain more power and wealth and therefore brought over masses of indentured servants, which then resulted in a need for land. Since Bacon and his band of men received no help from the government, they "rebelled" against it and began planning schemes and methods of attack. As stated by the Quarterly Historical Magazine, "Bacon assumed command of the volunteers, and, being denied a commission from Governor Berkeley, marched out against the Indians without one" (Bacon's Rebellion 1). When it comes to the topic of Bacon's Rebellion, most of us would readily agree that Bacon had a vast amount of farmers, servants, blacks, and colonists on his side. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of how the Indians, who were not as intelligent or as big in number, were able to go almost unnoticed and take the lives of so many of them. Whereas some are convinced that Bacon had over five-hundred men, others maintain that he had one-thousand or more. In my own opinion, no matter what the number of troops Bacon had, he was still outnumbered in smarts when it came to the Indian’s overlooked intelligence. According to Document #6, "For the Indians quickly found out where about these Mouse traps were sett, and for what purpose, and so resalved to keepe out of danger; which they might easily enough do, with out any detriment to there designes". Bacon saw the Indians as unpredictable and a threat to the colonies which ignited Bacon’s wrath toward the Indians. In the book, Whether They Be Friends or Foes, Michael J. Puglisi maintains that, "...suspicions ran high against all Indians, regardless of their status with the colonists" (Puglisi, 78). Because of the Natives' unruly behavior and unnoticeable distinctions between good and bad, Bacon was given more incentive to attack the Indians in an angry rage. As the Royal Commissioners stated in Document #13, "Bacon had gone over the [James] River with his forces and hastening away into the woods, went directly and fell upon the Indians and killed some of them [which] were some of our best Friends .... the people [would not] understand any distinction of Friendly Indians and Indian Enemies, for at that time it was impossible to distinguish one nation from another, they being deformed with paint of many colors... So the common cry and vogue of the Vulgar was, away with these Forts, away with These distinctions, we will have war with all the Indians ... we will spare none." Retaliation was almost expected by the Natives. According to what the Royal Commissioners said in Document #4 , "... a Party of those abused Sasquahanocks in Revenge of the Maryland businesse came suddainly down upon the weak Plantations at the head of Rappahanock and Potomaque and killed at one time 36 persons and then immediately (as their Custome is) ran off into the woods." Basically, the Indians killed out of revenge, but the Virginians killed out of voracity. Although the author does not say so directly, he apparently assumes that the Indians ran off in a panic after committing their murders. Without speaking the Virginians language, killing out of revenge was all the Indians could do. In a way, the Indians were mere bystanders, waiting and watching as the Virginians executed their friends and loved ones in fuming incursions. What were they to do? The Indians were never warned as to what was going to occur. The only warning they were given was the first strike of death.
----- In my eyes, accounts of Indian attacks are plainly out of revenge. As far as I can see, the Indians never attacked without incentive. When the Indians didn’t get the pay or respect that they had earned, the only way they knew as “fair” was to strike and kill. According to John Pike, “The trouble began in July 1675 with a raid by the Doeg Indians on the plantation of Thomas Mathews, located in the Northern Neck section of Virginia near the Potomac River. Several of the Doegs were killed in the raid, which began in a dispute over the nonpayment of some items Mathews had apparently obtained from the tribe. The situation became critical when, in a retaliatory strike by the colonists, they attacked the wrong Indians, the Susquehanaugs, which caused large scale Indian raids to begin” (Bacon’s Rebellion 2). Yet again, the Indians are undistinguishable to the colonists, and by mistake they attacked the wrong ones. This is the foremost rationale as to why the raids kept taking place between both the Natives and the Virginians. As Bacon continued his invasions of attack on the Indians and tensions rose, Governor Berkeley's correlation with the Natives was demised. Bacon had demolished the good relations that Berkeley had with the Natives, and thus brought forth further battering. According to the Royal Commissioners in Document #4, "Berkeley had rebuked [Bacon] at the time, mildly but firmly, reminding him that he was the governor of Virginia, and that attacking friendly Indians was just one way to produce what everyone wanted to avoid, namely, [in Berkeley's words] a Generall Combination of all Indians against us." Although others may disagree with me, I believe that the relations between the Indians and colonists, and Iraq and the United States were damaged simply by miscommunications and prejudgment. President Bush had plans to attack Iraq but they beat him to it. In almost the same manner, Bacon had plans to attack the Indians, but the Indians had already started raids against them. If Nathaniel Bacon hadn’t have started the rebellion, would Jamestown have changed as drastically as it did? If President Bush hadn’t have meddled with Iraq relations, would the terrorists have bombed the twin towers and taken the lives of our fellow citizens? In my opinion, the bombing of the twin towers in New York City has strengthened our country and it opened our minds to a state of affairs we were never aware of. I believe that almost the same conditions apply to Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. The colonies were never able to take any action or speak up about how much they despised the government for not equally distributing wealth until Nathaniel Bacon stepped in. Their eyes were also opened to new beginnings and the colonies weren’t the same after Bacon’s death.
-----All in all, through the clashing and disagreement between Bacon and Berkeley, one thing remained: the Native Americans were left scratching their heads. They were the true, rightful owners of the land, and in my own views of Bacon’s Rebellion, Nathaniel Bacon was wrong in the way that he tried to seize property from them. Alternatives such as agreements and trades would have been more productive. Wars solve nothing and only lead to more conflict. This is obviously apparent in the complicated story of Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon was only sent to Virginia by his father in hopes that he would mature. Bacon not only matured, but he found himself amongst all the chaos that was previously happening before the rebellion started. According to writer John Pike in his text about Bacon’s Rebellion, “The numerous problems that hit the colony before the Rebellion gave rise to the character of Nathaniel Bacon. Due to the nature of the uprising, Bacon's Rebellion does seem at first glance to be the beginnings of America's quest for Independence. But closer examination of the facts reveals what it really was: a power struggle between two very strong personalities. Between them they almost destroyed Jamestown” (Bacon’s Rebellion 2). If I had to choose one word to describe Bacon’s Rebellion it would be greed. Bacon and Berkeley never actually resolved their issues and I feel great remorse for William Berkeley and think that he handled things the best way he could. His laws were no longer effective when it came to respected policies, and this was all due to Nathaniel Bacon. Some may think that Bacon started something great and momentous, and others may believe that all he did was bring strife and friction to the colonies. But I believe that Bacon did both these things. Although he did cause harm to many, he also proved that anyone can make a stance and change what they believe is going to make things right.

Work Cited:

1.) Title: Bacon's Rebellion 1
Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Jul., 1900), pp. 1-10
Publisher(s): Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Stable URL:

2.) Title: Bacon’s Rebellion 2
Publisher: John Pike

BR- Rhetorical Analysis for Source 2

Portfolio: Final Exam (Frame II)

In this short passage, I completely understand where the writer is coming from and I can connect with the voice. I feel the same way in which they display their feelings so strongly about the writing process. What is in our minds alone might become bleak when writing a paper. If we come to a stopping point and can't pull up any information at all, it is always best to get feedback from peers. While reading this little blurb I immediately felt that the writer was speaking from my own point of view. I share the same principles of writing, right down to a T.

The way the writer exclaims, "Of course, the writing process can be greatly improved if students have a group of peers with whom they can share their writing. Otherwise it is quite possible to feel unaccountable for practicing, not only to mention being stifled in various stages", I can really feel the passion in the writers voice and understand the meaning of what they are trying to convey. The word usage "being stifled in various stages" could mean many things to the writer, but to me, it depicts a person, so bound and so mentally asphyxiated with writing that their only way out of this suffocating tie that is holding them to writing is getting another opinion.

It is evident in my own writing experience that it’s much easier to keep writing about one subject if you have someone else who may be able to give you ideas. Just the person saying that one specific word that was needed in the next sentence can spark an array of activities in the brain and keep one writing on and on. My own mother is good for that. If I ever get stuck on writing I simply tell her what I am writing about and she automatically starts rambling about anything she can think of that is on that subject. I often have to say “Ok, stop! Stop!” because one phrase leads me to another subject, and another. For example, while I was writing my reflective letter, I couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted about the They Say/I Say book so I asked my friend Yelena what she thought of the book. What she said completely ignited my thoughts and made my sentence flow beautifully.

The quote that the writer included could not have been more perfect with the connection of the topic. It brilliantly reflected their views on writing and summed up the first sentence for them. For example, “If you are stuck writing or trying to figure something out, there is nothing better than finding one person, or more, to talk to” connects directly back to what the writer was saying when he stated “the writing process can be greatly improved if students have a group of peers with whom they can share their writing.” Sharing my writing has always helped me complete my essays and papers effectively. One can see what they are doing wrong and what they are doing right. Sometimes when writing, one may not notice errors or misunderstandings in their papers. To me and also to the writer, peer review will always be a helpful tool and “highlight the interactive nature of creativity.”