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G. Casey Cassidy
- I. Introduction
- II. Goals, Objectives and Strategies
- III. The British and The French Wage A War
- IV. The British Tighten Their Control
- V. Johnny Tremain and the Colonists Fight Back
- ____A. Prerevolutionary Boston
- ____B. The Sons and Daughters of Liberty
- ____C. The Boston Massacre
- ________1. The Fifth of March
- ____D. The Boston Tea Party
- ________1. Johnny Tremain
- ____E. A Call For Action
- VI. The American Revolution Is Launched
- ____A. Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
- ____B. The Minutemen and The Redcoats
- ____C. The Battles of Lexington and Concord
- ____D. The Battles of Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill
- ____E. The Second Continental Congress
- ____F. Common Sense
- VII. The Declaration of Independence
- VIII. Connecticut’s Revolutionary Occupation
- ____A. My Brother Sam Is DeadIX. Conclusion
- X. Lesson Plans
- XI. Teacher Bibliography
- XII. Student Bibliography
- XIV. Field Trips
This year I am participating in Professor Lawler’s seminar on “American Children’s Literature” because it will afford the opportunity to develop a curriculum unit which will focus on the dramatic involvement of young Americans caught in turbulent times in American history as they sought to help shape the destiny of America forever. Having recently been assigned to teach social studies, this unit will help me to design a literature-based program to supplement my teachings of the American Revolution.
The unit will become a wonderful narrative exposition beginning with the British involvement in the Ohio River Valley in the French and Indian War, followed by angry protests against British taxation policies on stamps, sugar, tea and other commodities, and culminating in military confrontations between the colonists and the Crown. The Newbery Medal winner Johnny Tremain will portray Revolutionary Boston as a living drama, perceived through the eyes of a shrewd and observant youngster. We will relive major historical events which were to lead to the Boston Tea Party and to the Battle of Lexington. This passionate piece of historical fiction will recreate wartime experiences for students of American history.
Although the Revolution was fought in New York and New Jersey as well, our unit’s primary focus will be with the early battles and events in Massachusetts as well as our home state of Connecticut. My Brother Sam Is Dead captures the Revolutionary spirit as the Meeker family themselves are “captured” by the British troop movements in and around their homestead in Redding Ridge, just northwest of Fairfield, Connecticut. The family is further distressed as Mr. Meeker, among others, is a loyal supporter of the Crown and Sam, his son, constantly talks about defeating the British and of becoming independent and free. Tim Meeker, the younger son, is torn between his loyalty to his father and his desire to fight for freedom with his brother.
To provide a female prospective to the Revolutionary War, we will draw upon the experiences of two young women who find themselves in wartime Boston confused by their loyalties to their families, friends and employer. Ann Rinaldi has created two wonderful pieces of literature which dramatize pivotal moments in the War. First, The Fifth of March, a story of the Boston Massacre, relates skirmishes as a daily event in Boston as the rebelling colonists bristle against taxation and British military occupation. Our major character, Rachel Marsh, serves as an indentured servant to a young ambitious lawyer, John Adams, but her loyalties are compromised when she befriends a British soldier, Matthew Kilroy.
Our second novel, The Secret of Sarah Revere, to be used as a supplementary text, involves thirteen-year-old Sarah Revere, the daughter of the famous Patriot Paul Revere, and her insights into the political events surrounding her father’s subversive activities against the Crown, including his now infamous ride to warn his countrymen of impending danger.
These wonderful pieces of literature will provide historical insight into critical phases of American history. They will afford opportunities to truly appreciate the sacrifices that our country’s ancestors have made in order to shape the face of America today.
Our third novel, My Brother Sam is Dead, will examine the British occupation of farm lands, town commons and major roadways in southwestern Connecticut as the “lobsterbacks” prepare to march through Connecticut to participate in battles in upstate New York and Canada. Our major character Tim Meeker becomes an important messenger for the Patriot cause as he rides from township to countryside, relaying information concerning British troop movements to the Patriot hierarchy. Tim also has to resolve family and personal issues as he is torn by his father’s loyalty to the Crown and his brother Sam’s desire for liberty.
As I have noted in my introduction, this unit will seek to bring to life many important occurrences and events which led to the Boston Massacre and to the American Revolution. These actions were necessary for America to be freed from British rule. Ordinary people—-people such as lawyers, doctors, publishers, business merchants, painters, cooks, barbers, tailors, and people young and old alike sought to unite together for the good of all. Together they were able to defeat the British and to gain “liberty and justice for all”.
Other unit objectives will encourage oral and silent reading activities as well as creative writing experiences. We will seek to improve critical thinking and analytical skills with comprehensive questions related to our novels. We will challenge our students with map skills as they plot troop movements from battle to battle and region to region. Time lines will prove invaluable as they will provide a framework for our Revolutionary episodes, culminating with the Declaration of Independence signing. Hopefully my students will become motivated to read beyond our three central novels and get involved with research efforts which will enhance their understanding of our country’s birth.
As for strategies, my curriculum unit will assist me in several ways. At Clemente school, our comprehensive school plan strongly emphasizes reading and writing skills. Students will be challenged to seek out unifying themes among our novels. In both books which describe Boston, many major characters are interwoven and the events are related from different perspectives but united by a common Patriotic cause. Note taking, summarizing individual chapters and developing book reports will help to improve our writing skills. Role playing will lend itself nicely as we seek to recreate the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Guest speakers will be invited to demonstrate their silver and pewter making processes to give the students an appreciation for the skilled craftsmen of the period. And, the unit would not be complete without a field trip to the Trumbull room at the Yale Art Gallery to view the magnificent period pieces of Washington Crossing the Delaware, the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, etc. Finances permitting, a trip to the Freedom Trail in Boston Massachusetts would certainly culminate a wonderful learning experience. Hopefully, our students will develop a richer understanding of the heroic accomplishments of our forefathers (and foremothers and foreyoungsters) and, in turn, applaud their perseverance.
After winning the battle at Fort Duquesne, the French achieved a larger victory against General Braddock as he marched towards the fort. Not heeding Washington’s military advice, the French destroyed Braddock’s army, killing him in the process. The French continued to enjoy a military advantage for the next two years.
By 1756, the British vastly improved their army, and they began to win the war in North America. By 1763, the British and the French had signed a peace treaty, with the French giving up most of their North American holdings. The British now had control of all the territory between the thirteen colonies and the Mississippi River excluding New Orleans.
Additionally, King George III wanted to keep a tighter rein over the colonies. Subsequently, Great Britain began enforcing the Navigation Acts and imposed new and more restrictive taxes. The Navigation Acts had been passed in the 1660’s to control international trade; they required the colonists to sell products such as cotton, sugar, indigo and tobacco only to England. Furthermore, they also limited what products could be developed in the colonies, which forced the colonials to purchase certain goods only from British companies.
Britain’s next step was to pass the Sugar Act of 1764 which placed taxes on sugar, molasses, coffee and cloth. This act also provided new rules which discouraged smugglers who sought to import products which had not been previously taxed in England.
The colonists also reacted negatively to the Quartering Act of 1765 which forced them to feed and house soldiers sent from England to “protect” the thirteen colonies. By the end of the year, more than 10,000 troops had been sent to America.
Apparently, these measures had not generated enough monies or the Crown was displeased with their control polices because in 1765, the British announced the Stamp Act which taxed marriage licenses, land deeds, wills, newspapers, college diplomas and approximately fifty other sundry items. By the end of 1765, Britain’s relations with its American colonies had become strained at best.
The reaction against taxation was often violent. The most powerful and articulate groups in the population rose against the taxation. Resolutions denouncing taxation without representation as a threat to colonial liberties were passed. In October of 1765, colonial representatives met on their own initiative for the first time and they decided to mobilize colonial opinion against the English parliament’s interference in American affairs. From this point on, events began to reach the point of no return for the colonies.
This sense of rebellion and discontent with Imperial England was especially evident in Revolutionary Boston, as we will witness in Johnny Tremain and the Fifth of March. Both of these novels will focus on Pre-Revolution events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party which were to lead to the battles of Lexington and Concord. Within these novels, we will also be introduced to many famous personages of the period. People such as John and Abigail Adams for whom our heroine Rachel Marsh worked as an indentured servant—- a nanny to their children Nabby and Johnny; Doctor Joseph Warren, the Adams’ family physician; John Hancock, one of New England’s richest merchants; Sam Adams, John’s brother and a radical leader of the Patriot cause; as well as several members of the Sons of Liberty, including Will Molineaux, Crispus Attucks, Josiah Quincy, Paul Revere and Thomas Boylston. We will also meet representatives of the English crown such as Governor Bernard and Lieutenant Governor Hutcherson of Massachusetts, Attorney General Mr. Jonathan Sewell, and the fictional Mathew Kilroy, the British soldier who engages Rachel’s attention while standing guard duty at the Adams’ homestead, becomes a central figure in the Boston Massacre, and ultimately is sent back to England after being successfully defended by John Adams. Mathew and his fellow British soldiers had been charged with murder in the aftermath of the bloody incident.
Although “The Boston Massacre” was hardly a massacre, this event was a milestone on the road to American independence, being the first powerful influence in forming an outspoken anti-British opinion. On Monday, March 5, 1770, after a weekend of minor clashes, the conflicts between the Boston “lobsterbacks” and the colonials came to a head. Insults exchanged between British soldiers and local merchants ended with physical confrontations. This led to a small riot, and the Boston Garrison responded with a small squad of soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston. The colonial mob, led by Sam Adams and Crispus Attucks, taunted and menaced the soldiers, but it wasn’t until Private Hugh Montgomery (our Private Mathew Kilroy) was struck by a thrown club that any action occurred. When Montgomery returned to his feet, he took aim into the crowd and fired, his fellow soldiers joined him and the rest is history.
When British troops fired on the unruly mob of Boston citizens, killing three and fatally wounding two others, it was immediately dubbed the “Boston Massacre”. Paul Revere’s engraving shows a line of British soldiers gunning down an unarmed and peaceful group of citizens. John Adams, patriot and future President of The United States, referred to the mob as “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and mulattos, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs”. Adams, as has been noted, was to successfully defend these soldiers at their murder trial.
The real significance of this event was that it gave rebellious leaders propaganda against the British. Young boys such as Chris Snider, who was shot by Tories during one of the mob’s escapades, became martyrs; Snider’s death became a focal point for the anger of the Patriots.
Crispus Attucks, who was shot and killed during the Boston Massacre, became a hero when in fact he was an outsider to the region. He was specifically recruited as an agitator to move the mob to action. Others were involved in the “Massacre” for the violence of it or to avenge personal grievances. Popular legend has made these colonials who died heroes and martyrs but in truth, they were neither. It is widely accepted now that those who died were no more than unlucky members of an angry crowd.
Between 1770 and 1773, the colonies appeared to be quietly celebrating the repeal of the Townshend Acts. The boycott against British goods had hurt the British economically. Following the violence of the Boston Massacre, the English Crown decided to eliminate duties on cloth, paper, glass and paint among other items. They also put an end to the absolute power of the tax collectors who, without warning or legal recourse, could search colonial homes and businesses for smuggled goods. In April, 1770, most of the Townshend duties were repealed; however, the tea tax was not and this tax continued to aggravate and strain the relationship between England and her colonists.
In our novel Johnny Tremain, we find our central character caught up in the on-going struggle between Boston’s anti-British Whigs and Tories. In addition to working at “The Boston Observer”, a pro-Patriot newspaper, and delivering it by horseback throughout the countryside surrounding Boston, Johnny begins delivering letters for Sam Adams and the Boston Committee of Correspondence, the secret communications network of the American rebels. It was in short order that Johnny became an ardent Whig, listening to the Patriot leaders of opposition in and around Boston and attending secret “Boston Observer” meetings in the printing press attic with such notables as Sam Adams, Reverend Samuel Cooper, John Hancock, Will Molineaux, Josiah Quincy, James Otis, Joseph Warren, and Paul Revere. It was at these private meetings that the colonials decided to rebel against the Tea Act of 1773. This Act, passed by the British Parliament, enabled the British East India Company to decide which colonial merchants could sell their tea. Furthermore, they created a monopolistic environment in which the price of tea was so lowered that it made smuggling unprofitable and subsequently eliminated the independent colonial merchants. Prior to this Act, the colonists had boycotted the company’s tea and, after 1770, such a flourishing illegal trade existed that perhaps up to ninety percent of the tea consumed in America was of foreign origin and imported duty free. In December, 1773, the Boston Tea Party occurred as a reaction to the hated Tea Act of that same year - more than 340 chests of valuable tea were dumped into Boston Harbor.
Following this rebellion, the struggle against England intensified and the British responded quickly. First they closed Boston Harbor to all ships and imposed martial law on the city. To demonstrate their resolve and power, the British then moved nearly ten thousand troops into Boston. The “Town” was to be starved into submission and the harbor was not to be reopened until all the dumped tea had been paid for. The closing of the port of Boston was indeed tyranny, and this kind of oppression was the last straw for most colonials as the news spread rapidly throughout the colonies.
The colonies reacted in 1774 by calling together the First Continental Congress to form an “Association” to assume leadership and spur new local organizations to end royal authority. Because of the influence of these “Associations”, many people throughout the colonies joined the movement, and the collection of supplies and the mobilization of troops began to take place. The leadership of the “Associations” was able to fan the fires of Revolutionary fever. Fifty-two men from all of the colonies except Georgia met to condemn the British move and to demand the repeal of the oppressive taxes. The most significant aspect of the meeting wasn’t that they stood up to the King and his government; it was that they stood up together. By the close of the novel, Johnny Tremain has learned that the Yankees have a fighting chance against the Redcoats, and he is prepared to take his place among the rebel armies encircling the British in Boston.
The Revolutionary War erupted on April 19, 1775. The reason that the British and the Americans resorted to using arms, after a decade of fighting verbally and ideologically over the rights of British subjects in the colonies, was because both sides had finally become convinced that force alone could and would decide the issues which divided the empire. A month earlier, Patrick Henry, during the Second Virginia Convention, delivered his most famous and passionate speech. His words became the clarion call that led the colonies into Revolution with courage and eloquence, he cried, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death”.
That morning, the 19th of April, 1775, the British force marched into Lexington encountering approximately seventy Minutemen, many who were unarmed but willing to stand up for their rights. Minutes later shots rang out and eight colonists lay dead and one British soldier was wounded. The war had begun and American blood had been spilled. Later that day, the British marched on towards Concord to destroy colonial munitions and were rebuffed by the Minutemen. Many people on both sides were killed and the British retreated to Boston, losing many troops along the way. The Battle of Concord had sent a message that people were willing to die for their ideals of freedom. This message reached people in many countries; subsequently, people came to say that the Minutemen at Concord had fired “the shot heard around the world.”
As the British retreated from Concord, the colonists followed them to Boston. The patriots set up camps around Boston and built defenses on Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill, hoping to contain the British troops in Boston. Shortly before dawn on June 17th, the British began shelling Breed’s Hill in Charlestown, setting fire to most of the area. More than 2,500 British troops attacked, capturing the fortification only after the colonials had run out of gunpowder and suffered incredible losses. The British drove the colonials first from Breed’s Hill and then from Bunker Hill, which was to become the bloodiest battle of the entire American Revolution. The British won the battles but suffered huge losses. One British general had noted that the battles had filled him with horror. The British now fully understood that the colonials were ready to fight.
Meanwhile, the Second Continental Congress had met on May 10, 1775 and George Washington was elected commander of the patriotic forces. The delegates voted to mesh the various colonial militia into the Continental Army. The British rejection of the Olive Branch Petition, an effort to prevent a final split with England, stiffened the patriots’ resolve towards independence. England’s response to this petition was to send 25,000 additional soldiers to the colonies. It was the largest troop deployment that England had ever sent overseas; this huge force arrived in New York in 1776.
By early 1776, Americans were ready to denounce any allegiance to the British Crown.
In January of that same year, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, a brochure that strongly served to rally Americans to independence. Paine had sensed the rise of tension and the spirit of rebellion that had steadily mounted in the colonies after the Boston Tea Party, and when the fighting had started, in April, 1775, with the battles of Lexington and Concord. In Paine’s view, the colonies had the right to revolt against a government that imposed taxes on them but which did not give them the right of representation in the Parliament at Westminster. And he went further: for him there was no reason for the colonies to stay dependent on England.
In this statement Paine states that sooner or later independence from England must come, because America has lost touch with its mother country. In his words, all the arguments for separation from England are based on “nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments and common sense”. Government was a necessary evil that could only become safe when it was representative and altered by frequent elections. The function of government in society ought to be only regulating and therefore as simple as possible. Not surprising, but nevertheless remarkable was his call for a declaration of independence. Due to the massive number of pamphlets sold (approximately 500,000), Paine’s influence on the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 was great. Paine’s writing convinced many of his countrymen to disown the monarchy and replace it with a republic. As long as Americans deluded themselves with the hope that they could be free and yet remain British subjects, Paine believed that the cause of liberty was doomed.
Most delegates at the congress were for independence and there were many reasons why they felt so strongly. First, the colonists’ anger toward England had continued to grow and many colonial leaders no longer trusted England. Secondly, the colonists had already engaged in armed conflicts with the British and they felt that they had reached a point of no return. Finally, they wanted financial help from Britain’s enemies in Europe and to secure these funds from France and Spain, they decided that the best way was to declare their independence.
A formal parchment of the Declaration, adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, was available for signing on August 2, 1776. The intention of the Declaration as summarized by Thomas Jefferson was “to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent. . . . Neither aiming at originality of principles or sentiments, nor yet copying from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind”.
This book realistically deals with the horrors of war, carefully blending fact and fiction to reveal the agony and suffering of one Connecticut family. What begins for Tim as a kind of strange adventure turns sharply disturbing. Tim witnesses the brutal murder of a patriot slave at the hands of the British soldiers. Ned’s murder causes Tim to rethink his loyalties. The Patriots are also depicted in a harsh and realistic light when Tim’s father is imprisoned for allegedly selling his cattle to the British. The novel ends tragically with Sam being convicted and subsequently executed by the Patriots for a crime that he did not commit. It’s the human cost of war and not the political issues involved that Tim comes to understand so well. This is a sobering tale that will leave readers with mature view of history and war.
We will also visit the colonial furniture and silver and pewter displays to highlight the skilled craftsmen during our country’s beginning years.
Johnny Cake Recipe (Journey Cakes)
Soldiers made their own corn bread by grinding corn, mixing it with water and baking a cake-like patty over a hot fire. These were known as Journey Cakes because they were easy to prepare as they were moving from site to site.
|1 cup cornmeal||1 tsp. salt|
|11/4 cups water||1 tsp. sugar|
|2nd Connecticut Regiment||5th Connecticut Regiment|
|President Mike Meals||Vyto Karmazinas|
|28 Richard Brown Drive||77 Old Jewitt City Rd.|
|Uncasville, CT. 06382||Preston, CT. 06365|
This Britannica software CD is specifically designed for Apple II GS and IBM PC. Students will become personally involved with troop deployment, finances, negotiations and government. Students will have the opportunity to rewrite history.
Caratello, John and Patty. Revolutionary War Activity Book. 1996.
This curriculum resource presents an inter-disciplinary lesson plan approach highlighting specific, reproducible materials in math, science, social studies, art, music, writing, and life skills.
Collier, James and Charles. My Brother Sam Is Dead. 1974.
This literature selection captures the Revolutionary spirit as the Meeker family themselve are “captured” by British troop movements in and around their homestead in Redding Ridge, just northwest of Fairfield, Connecticut.
Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremain. 1993.
This wonderful piece of historical fiction portrays Revolutionary Boston as a living drama perceived through the eyes of a shrewd and observant youngster.
Globe Fearon. Exploring American History. 1995.
This supplementary text supplies numerous resource suggestions to complement the textbook “One Nation, Many People”.
Globe Fearon. One Nation, Many People. 1995.
This curriculum textbook provides on accurate, comprehensive and succinct sequential development of historical events which delivers the framework of study for our literature-based project.
Rinaldi, Ann. The Fifth of March. 1993.
This delightful novel written from a female perspective focuses on the experiences of our heroine Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant for the household of John and Abigail Adams.
This beautifully illustrated and detailed cook book will provide recipes for foods that our founding fathers and colonial settlers enjoyed and that our students can bake and enjoy as well.
Collier, James and Charles. My Brother Sam Is Dead. 1993
(See Teacher Bibliography)
Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremain. 1993
(See Teacher Bibliography)
Galdone, Paul. Paul Revere’s Ride. 1963.
This poem by Henery Wadsworth Longfellow has thrilled Americans for generations and now, through the skillful illustrations of the New England countryside, students will be able to retrace Revere’s ride and his spirited cry that “The British are coming, the British are coming.”
Globe Fearon. Exploring American History. 1995
(See Teacher Bibliography)
Globe Fearon. One Nation, Many People. 1995.
(See Teacher Bibliography)
Gregory, Kristiana. The Winter of Red Snow. 1996.
This novel of compelling historical fiction allows the reader to watch young American soldiers prepare for war.Murray, Jim. A Young Patriot. 1996.
This fictional first hand account of revolutionary war time experiences is dramatically narrated by a fifteen-year-old Connecticut farm boy who was an eyewitness to the fight that set America free from the British Empire.
Rinaldi, Ann. The Fifth of March. 1993
(See Teacher Bibliography)
Rinaldi, Ann. The Secret of Sarah Revere. 1995.
This literature selection involves thirteen-year-old Sarah Revere, the daughter of the famous Patriot Paul Revere, and her insights into the political events surrounding her father’s subversive activities against the Crown.
B. The American Revolution - Schlesinger Videos - 1996
____1. Revolutionary War Paintings-Trumbull Room
____2. Silversmith and Colonial Furniture Displays
B. New Haven Colonial Society
C. Sturbridge Village
D. The Boston Freedom Trail
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