So I have currently started working on my bachelor's thesis and I chose to do it on the Civil War. The catch is that I _have_ to use a primary source for my thesis.
Can anyone make some suggestions for where I can find some valid sources? I.e archives. I have chosen to focus on the election in 1860 and why it was a contributing factor to why the war started. Some sources that may show x votes on this delegate and what not.
Or if someone have some ideas to what else I can focus on that is easier to get primary sources.
I am not american, btw.
It always takes a bunch of the thesis. I wouldn't recommend writing about the whole war in detail. I did mine about Spanish-American War and went nearly crazy and of course it was a much smaller conflict.
Watching the documentary series would be the best start. It's fine to cite documentaries.
I am not writing about the whole war in detail, though, just focusing on why it broke it to begin with, and possibly how the Union (north) were so much more attractive to foreign enlisters.
But what I really need help with isn't knowledge about the war in itself, but where I could find a primary source to build my thesis on. A documentary is not valid, as it is not considered a primary source. I may have mispoked or just said something incorrect, but what I mean by a primary source is the oldest surviving depiction of a historic event.
Try to get a primary source relating to election results by state, if I remember correctly Lincoln was not on the ballot in the majority of the future confederate states, and with Lincoln steamrolling the North in the election, Southern states felt threatened, believing Lincoln was going to abolish slavery leading to panic and secession, the 1860~ US census may be useful for you too, highlight the population difference between North and South, leading to feelings of Southern oppression, as well as bringing up any other relevant differences between Northern, Southern, and Border state demographics.
read the articles of secession of the various states. Here's South Carolina's.
Also read up on the John C. Calhoun. After Madison and Jefferson died, Calhoun became the political voice of the South.
You can check news papers archives from the time as well.
So, however pc it may sound, this would have to begin with slavery. Why it wasn't made illegal when writing the constitution and about the conflict of interests when the new territories were added in 1803, 1848 and so on. Then the compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act etc. Presidents Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan and Lincoln as well as John C. Calhoun.
Also the tarrifs. A very important factor.
Another aspect that I almost never see talked about is how momentous the election of Lincoln was. Lincoln and his Republican party was the first truly sectarian party to win the presidency. Both Whigs and Democrats were national parties. The earlier Jeffersonian Republicans and Federalists also had strong leaders from both the North and the South. Meanwhile the GOP made it very clear that their policies were pro northern and antislavery. If you were to take the Southern that view the US as a contract between sovereign states which promised to put sectarian issues aside, the election of Lincoln would be seen as a slap in the face.
>doesn't know how to find sources
What kind of shit university are you attending? I taught this to student in the first fucking semester.
>Why it wasn't made illegal when writing the constitution
because the old south was instrumental in the founding of the US. The free states compromised on their beliefs in order to cooperate with the South. As much as american historians try to argue their way around it, many of our founding fathers were dyed in the wool southern slave owners. Madison, Washington, Jefferson and eight of the first twelve presidents were southern slave owners.
>conflict of interests when the new territories were added in 1803, 1848 and so on. Then the compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act etc.
I would study Jefferson's writings, I think he's the best example of the South's evolution on the subject of Slavery. He went from a champion against slavery to a slavery apologist, to a full blown advocate for its expansion into the southwest towards the end of his life. Like many southerners he was certain that abolitionists were tyrants in disguise using the controversy of slavery to subjugate the south.
I know. Still. My university teaches this to students in the first semester and everybody knows how to do this afterwards. This is why they can use student tutors (like me).
Yes we got taught the 3rd semester on how to analyse, find and use the sources. In my country, there are certain rules for primary sources, especially when it comes to politics (government-documents, war-documents) and so forth. Some archives are closed, some are open and some need to be requested. I am not sure what rules and what archives to check considering I have to use US material.
>In my country, there are certain rules for primary sources
And in Germany they are not or what is it that are you implying? I taught them about the laws, the archives and all the other formalities. Analysis and stuff is taught by post-grad obviously though analyzing sources is pretty much everything a history student does. It baffles me that any university would try to keep students away from working with primary sources in archives. Hell I went to 3 archives in the first semester.