President Grant and Horace Greeley

Historical content: 
The Gilded Age
Historical skills: 
Contextualization, Corroboration, Sourcing

Assessment

Directions: 

Use the document, source information, and background information to answer the questions below.

Background Information: This passage is from an 1872 pamphlet written by John D. Defrees, a leader in Indiana’s Republican Party. He was one of Horace Greely’s most vocal supporters for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1872.  Incumbent President Grant was also seeking the Republican nomination.

Source: 

Title: "A Record of the Absence of President Grant from the Seat of Government"
Author: John D. Defrees
Date: 1872

Source text: 

“During all the time of this absence and neglect of business on the part of President [Grant] and cabinet, they take good care to receive their salaries at the end of each month in full .... If [an ordinary worker] be absent a few hours in attendance on a sick wife or dying child, it may be, he is "docked" for the time lost! Why should not the time lost by the President and cabinet be deducted from their pay? Were it not for . . . party spirit, which rules with an iron hand, no man could be found in favor of continuing these men as the agents of the people.... 
Horace Greeley . . . will not only attend to business himself, but require all others in the employ of the Government to do so .... [The people] have determined to make him their next President, and they will most surely do it.”

Title: “A Record of the Absence of President Grant from the Seat of Government.”
Author: John D. Defrees
Date: July 27, 1872
Location: Washington, D.C.

Question 1: What in the background information about John D. Defrees might lead you to question this document’s reliability as evidence of Grant's performance as president?

Question 2: What is one other thing you would want to know about John D. Defrees or his pamphlet to better determine this document’s reliability as evidence of Grant's performance as president? Why?

About the Assessment

Like the Lange assessment, this question asks students to engage in sourcing, contextualization, and corroboration.  Students are asked to consider how the contextual information affects the reliability of John Defrees's pamphlet on Grant's presidency.  Then, students must identify other information that would help them further evaluate the reliability of this pamphlet.