Perhaps the most ambitious project I ever created, the dreaded “Jefferson Project” looks at the historiography of Thomas Jefferson from multiple different sources and challenges students to cite and explain the various opinions about Thomas Jefferson through American history, and then to add their own opinion. This research opinion starts from the polemical assertion by Irishman Conor Cruise O’Brien” that Thomas Jefferson should be removed from the pantheon of American democracy, and students then move through several hundreds of pages of argumentation by famous American historians on the life, message, character, and legacy of Thomas Jefferson in the United States. Students must respond to O’Brien’s claim, and research papers typically came out around 30 pages.
I was always proud of this Advanced Placement United States History assignment, as it smacked of something more properly assigned in graduate school. It was intensely exhausting for both teacher and student.