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One of the ways that history is brought into the modern news cycle is through debates over the preservation of the past – historic sites, battlefields, old buildings, and even sites of natural historical significance

Preservation Debate Assignment

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The Writing Assignment:

One of the ways that history is brought into the modern news cycle is through debates over the preservation of the past – historic sites, battlefields, old buildings, and even sites of natural historical significance. These debates bring up questions of historic interpretation, economics, usage, federal property regulations, property values, and numerous other questions and there is often no one easy answer. In the early 20th century, just as the preservation movement was picking up steam, there was a debate in Congress over the Hetch Hetchy Valley located within Yosemite National Park in California. A Congressional Bill, H.R. 7207, the Raker Bill, was introduced to create a dam inside the National Park to provide water for the citizens of San Francisco.   

For this writing assignment, you are going to be asked to examine, analyze, and juxtapose the two arguments made in support of and in opposition to the construction of the dam. The goal of this assignment is not to cast judgement on the authors or their views but rather to reflect on the efficacy of the arguments on both sides and the effect(s) of the ultimate resolution(s) to the issue at hand on American culture and society.

The Question:

Analyze, examine, and discuss the various views surrounding the Hetch Hetchy Environmental Debates and reflect on the role of these debates and their ultimate resolution on the development of the United States. To fully address the debates, conduct research on the issues, carefully read the opposing viewpoints, reflect on the efficacy of both arguments, and consider the outcome of the debate. Craft your essay response in the following parts:

Part I – Introduce the issue at debate. Do some basic research on Hetch Hetchy using the National Archives Website and basic internet research (if needed), combined with what you have learned in class to briefly discuss the historical context of the issue to introduce the reader to the subject and its role in American history.  

Part II – Analyze the argument in support of the creation of the dam.  Using your research and at least two of the documents provided, explain to the reader the “pro” perspective of the debate. Be sure to discuss the identity of the authors, the main points of their arguments, their strengths and weaknesses, and what types of evidence they used to convey their points of view.

Part III – Analyze the argument opposed to the creation of the dam. Using your research and at least two of the documents provided, explain to the reader the “con” perspective on the debate. Be sure to discuss the identity of the authors, the main points of their arguments, their strengths and weaknesses, and what types of evidence they used to convey their points of view.

Part IV – Consider the outcome of the debate and the role that the debate played in American history. Tell the reader which of the arguments ultimately won out and how the debate was eventually resolved. Do you agree or disagree with the outcome? Explain to the reader what steps were taken to bring the debate to resolution and how that resolution changed America historically and how it continues to impact American society today.

Part V – How are the issues presented in the reading(s) still relevant today? Please explain how your personal background and life experiences might influence your perspective on this topic. Imagine that you have been asked to tackle a current national or global issue of preservation. How would you use the readings to help you do so?

The Format:

Essays should be 2-3 pages, doubled-spaced, size 12 font, with one-inch margins all around.

All in-text references to sources must be cited parenthetically at the end of the sentence, i.e. (Muir).

All sources must be included in a bibliography/works cited as required by your field of study/major.

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