Experiencing the Revolutionary War Era through Visual Images

byAlexandra Kennedy Edwards


Use a picture, it's worth a thousand words. 1 The origin of this old adage is unknown but it has sometimes been attributed to an editorial by Arthur Brisbane in a Syracuse publication in 1911. No matter how it is stated the phrase is concise: A series of complex ideas that can be conveyed with a much more clear-cut visual image. 2 I am always fascinated by the impact of visual images on my students. The visual being worth a thousand words truly applies to 13 year olds. An American Patriot political cartoon from 1774 called Paying the Excise-Man is a classic example of a visual image needing little in the way of words to convey the anger taken out on anyone neglecting to obey the order of boycotting British goods. The threat of a sound beating, tarring or feathering and possibly even death is made very clear in this image. Was this a Patriot or terrorist action lies in your perspective. 3 I think of John Steuart Curry's Tragic Prelude (1938, Kansas Statehouse), a painting of John Brown at Bleeding Kansas. Or Thomas Hovenden's portrait of the same Brown in The Last Moments (1884, Metropolitan Museum of Art) before his execution for treason against the United States government. Brown is portrayed here as a saint on his way to the gallows for the murders of five pro-slavers in Missouri. Whether saint or devil, Brown is considered one of America's first terrorists. Another beautiful image that haunts me is William John Wilgus' portrait entitled Captain Cold, or Ut-ha-wah (1838, Yale University Art Gallery). My students come to me with the memories of Disney's film Pocahontas and often see the images of this film as a realistic portrayal of Native American people. How is the Onondaga's chief more realistically portrayed in Wilgus' painting than Disney's depiction of Powhatan or John White's drawings of the "noble savages" first seen in the Carolinas? Author Larry McMurtry said that the "Redface" images of Native Americans and the American West were "invented by writers, impresarios and poster artists." 4 Which image captures the real Native American?

We are subjected to a greater amount of information today and from so many more sources than ever before. The need to properly navigate through all these images is imperative for my students. These 13 year olds need to be savvy consumers of that visual information in order to piece together a more factual view of a particular time period. They need to evaluate the messages they receive from the visuals that they encounter, especially if that visual is being used as a primary source that will allow them to interpret a particular era. The goal of this curriculum unit is to allow me to be the facilitator while they journey on to discover the role of the Revolutionary War in US History. I believe a visual image can bring about more student-driven discussion. I cannot teach without words but utilizing a diverse collection of primary sources can assist me drive home a particular historical point to my students. I want to open up more avenues for my students to use as far as primary sources are concerned. We live in a world where a 15 second video could sell my students any number of products in a single moment. How can I as a teacher compete with that 15 second flash and sell them history? How can 20 minutes of presentation, lecture, and discussion about the trials and tribulations of the Jamestown settlers compete with a series of images that visualizes that same story in a matter of seconds? I do not think that the image alone can do the job but it can certainly draw my students in to a more vibrant discussion. In order to make sure that this journey becomes successful early in the year I will have to establish a set of guidelines that can be utilized throughout the year. Parameters for interpretation of all the visual objects will have to be established. My goal is to sell history to them through these many images and channel their visual appetite into absorbing US History. I need to guide my students in the direction of what an artist's intention may have been, what is implied by the primary source, and what might have been left out that would impact their interpretation of the source. This engagement will also include the aspects of gender, class, and role within the visual images themselves. I believe that my students will be better prepared to explore the evolution, range, and techniques of the artistic pieces and then able to comprehend their nation's history more relevantly.

Although I will be predominantly focusing on primary sources such as paintings, prints, furniture, household wares, political cartoons, and other items, I will also be including several novels for my students to read. These have been chosen because they articulate the story and mood of this Revolutionary War era and the viewpoints are so very diverse. I work hand-in-hand with my Language Arts teacher to support her in the Common Core reading goals. As with the paintings, the novels engage my students and create an atmosphere that will become more student-driven in the end. The novels reflect the very diverse observations of American Patriots, Loyalists, British soldiers, and the British populace in England. The novels are:

  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  • Chains by Laurie H. Anderson
  • Forge by Laurie H. Anderson
  • Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

The novels deal with loyalty to country, king, parents, and slaveholders. Two of the books are from the perspectives of slaves faced with the decision of staying with their owners and possibly remaining slaves for the rest of their lives or joining with the British who are making fast and false promises of freedom when the British win the war. The characters are multi-cultural for my racially diverse students. The narratives are seen from young teenage male and female points of view. Students choose their novel, and I believe it is important to give novels and authors that help to reflect their culture. I think that they get to make a choice in the book they read makes the novel completion more enjoyable. The last novel takes on a British viewpoint with a 16-year-old young man journeying from England to America in the midst of the Revolution. Although written by an American author the fact that he writes it from a British view point and that serves as a piece with an alternative historical ending, I think it answers the "what if" question kids always ask – a significant way of grappling with big historical problems. The visual primary source will provide the basis of the unit and the reading as a secondary source to make this more student directed and satisfactory for their learning process.


I teach eighth grade US/NC History in a suburban sixth through eighth grade middle school in Cornelius, outside Charlotte, North Carolina. The school is considered economically-advantaged in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. However, the recent recession has had an impact on the school. Our free and reduced breakfast/lunch percentages have increased from the mid-teens to the mid-twenties. I have about 130 students this year and they are divided into four classes. Due to the above grade level and at grade level distinctions given to Language Arts Honors (at least one year above grade level in reading), Language Arts Standard (below or at grade level), Math 8 (at grade level), and Algebra I or Geometry (high school courses), my students will also mostly be leveled (not intentionally). I will have two classes of above grade level in both Math and Language Arts), one class of mixed levels (above grade level in one of the core classes), and one class that is on or slightly below grade level. My on grade level class may have students who actually read two to three years below grade level. Scattered throughout these four classes are Exceptional Education (EC) students who may have processing disabilities in Math and Reading. I will also have several EC Resource children. These students are classified as EMH (Educable Mentally Handicapped), with IQ's of 50 to 75. These students are main-streamed with their regular classmates for Science, History, and electives. In addition to this, I will also have ESL (Limited English Speakers) students. This particular group of students is growing rapidly. Charlotte's international student population numbers have changed dramatically over the last ten years. We started with a small but growing Latino population and are now seeing many students from China, Scandinavia, Russia and Poland. A foreign language literacy teacher is attached to our school full time as of last year but the students are mainstreamed into our classes from day one. They spend their elective period of the day with the foreign literacy coach and work on reading and communication skills. Each teaching team consists of four teachers. There are five class periods a day, consisting of about 80 minutes per class. We rotate classes each nine week quarter. So, our first block class becomes our second-block second quarter, and our fifth block rotates to first. It allows us to see each student in a different light and to take advantage of those times when a child may be a "sleeper" in first block but come to life in second block!

Bailey Middle is also a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) school. Students who have Smart Phones, laptops, or iPads are allowed to bring them into the classroom, with the discretion of the teacher. Not every student has personal access to these items, sometimes due to lack of money but most recently because parents don't like their kids having them at school. The school is WiFi connected and has a growing collection of iPads, Chrome books and other technology available for check out through the media center. We currently have 1600 plus students and approximately 200 plus technology items for check out by teachers. If I have a BYOT day I can arrange ahead of time for 15 to 30 Chrome books to be stationed in my room or rely on students to share their technology with seat mates. It is not a perfect situation but is ever changing because of PTSA and large company grants or donations. There is also a program devised by one of my former students, Franny Millen, called Eliminate the Divide or E2D. She and her family have sought ways to provide computers and Wi-Fi service to those families economically disadvantaged in the Davidson, NC community. Implementing this technology will necessitate the use of this and other types of technology. Each class room is also equipped with a couple of extra desktops, a Smart board or ceiling mounted LCD projector.

This particular unit will require the addition of Autodesk 123D Catch. The app is free for smartphone users and some computer brands. This application turns regular photos into 3D models. I imagine my students being able to use this in several ways. At first, they can take any object, follow directions and take photos (about 20) while circling an inanimate object. Once done they submit to Autodesk and the company processes and returns to you the photo you submitted in 3D format. Some of the activities they will engage in will include recreating a painting. Although I had this in mind when I began this project, the photos of Yinka Shonibare's re-creation of Hogarth's Rake's Progress (1732, John Soane's Museum), called Diary of A Victorian Dandy, persuaded me to try this using the 123D Catch process. Every angle of the students' re-creation can be documented via the 123D catch app. Our administrators and technology specialists are constantly asking us to make sure we use innovative technology. I consider this a beneficial application for my classroom.

Some of the Common Core Reading Standards I will be addressing in this unit include but are not limited to the following: cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources; determine central ideas of a primary or secondary source in order to provide an accurate account of the source from prior knowledge; identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view and purpose; and distinguish difference between fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text. 5 The North Carolina Essential Standards I will be addressing include: 8H1.3 – use primary and secondary sources to interpret various historical perspectives; 8H2 - understanding the ways in which conflict, compromise, and negotiation have shaped the US/NC; 8H3 - understanding the factors that contribute to change and continuity in the US/NC; analyzing the democratic ideals which shaped the government of the US/NC; 8C & G2.3 - explain the impact of human and civil rights issues experienced by people throughout the US/NC; and 8C1 -analyze how different cultures influenced US/NC. 6


I will be using the images of many artists throughout my curriculum unit. The artistic development of a particular time period have the capacity to expose the historical events of that time from the viewpoint of the artist. 7 The artistic piece illustrates a historical scene but it also reflects the personal opinions of the artist in relation to the scenes portrayed. I will be utilizing the images of John Trumbull, Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, Ralph Earl, and Charles Wilson Peal. Benjamin West was active from 1746 to the early years of the 19 th century. His Grand Tour of Europe was sponsored by Philadelphians Dr. William Smith and William Allen in 1760. He stopped in England in 1763 for a visit but never went home. He is known for his large scale historical paintings "with expressive figures and colors." 8 He conversed with George III about the state of art in England, received royal commissions from the King and eventually helped in the establishment of the Royal Academy of Art in 1768. His greatest piece is considered to be The Death of General Wolfe (1770, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). 9 His students included John Trumbull, Ralph Earl, Charles Willson Peale, and Gilbert Stuart.

John Trumbull's father saw his son as a lawyer, not an artist. Trumbull did attend Harvard and later joined the Revolution as a Patriot from Connecticut. He would become an aide-de-camp to George Washington and went to England in 1780 with the hopes of studying under West. Trumbull's correspondence with Franklin, his father's position as Governor of Connecticut and his former profession as an officer under Washington got him arrested for treason. He spent eight months in jail and was deported home. 10 Trumbull would return again to England in 1784 to study under West, having convinced his father that art was not so "frolicsome." 11 Trumbull began on a journey to produce paintings that were seen as scenes from America's national history. His first major piece was The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill (1785, YUAG), something he actually witnessed from a distance. General Warren is dying but a British grenadier moves to hasten his death with a bayonet, when a British officer holds back his fellow countrymen. Soldiers of the opposite side could still be humane, in spite of the fact that the two nations were at war. 12 This was to be the start of his journey to paint some of the most important events of the Revolutionary era.

Copley learned the art of engraving from his stepfather early in life. Considered one of the earliest great American painters, the Bostonian taught himself by studying anatomy. 13 He gained early fame with a painting of his half-brother, Henry Pelham, and A Boy with a Squirrel (1765, Museum of Fine Arts Boston). Copley also painted Paul Revere (1770, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). An interesting contrast to his own self portrait, Copley displays Revere as a craftsman, simply dressed in cotton clothing, big hands worn with the work he did. In comparison, Copley's self-portrait (1769, Metropolitan Museum of Art) shows a man of finer talents in his beautifully rich brocade robe, each line of fabric clearly painted. 14 In June of 1774, Copley would leave the colonies for England. His in-laws were Loyalists. He would also do the Grand Tour of Europe, as many painters before him had. Copley had great success with portraits and historical pieces such as The Death of Major Pierson (1781, Tate). 15 The painting is of British Major Pierson at the Battle of Jersey in 1781. Grey and white smoke from the battle lift into the sky above the brightly colored red uniforms of British men injured and dying on the ground below.

Ralph Earl was a Loyalist, although his father was actually an officer in the Continental Army. As many of the other American artists of his time, he was self-taught. I found his story interesting because while he was working on pro-American propaganda prints, it is said he acted as a spy for the Loyalists and then chose to disguise himself as a servant and ran off to England, leaving wife and family behind, and then marrying another woman. 16 He painted The Portrait of Roger Sherman (1775, YUAG). Some consider Calvinist Sherman awkwardly drawn by Earl but the painting illustrates Earl's use of shadows and strong lines and it conveys Sherman's strong and uncompromising character. 17

Charles Willson Peale was not only a painter but also a soldier in the Continental Army and a naturalist. Peale was regarded as one of America's first Renaissance men. He established one of the first museums in the United States and worked with Jefferson on a polygraph machine. He studied under Copley and West. Although he did many portraits of influential military and political figures, one of his best known pieces is George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1781, YUAG). It is one of the only portraits that Washington actually sat for in person, spending hours while Peale sketched him. Dark clouds are being pushed to the background followed by the retreat of the defeated British Army. 18 Behind Washington's legs lies a mortally wounded General Hugh Mercer, a soldier who had fought on the British side and survived the Battle of Culloden, the French and Indian War, but then became an American Patriot and assisted Washington to these crucial victories during this dark time of the Revolutionary War.

The American Revolution had its beginnings in the actual first colonization of the Americas by the British in the 1580s. One of the founding principles of colonization was the mercantile economic theory. A colony's purpose was to make money for the mother country by sending back to England all the rich natural resources found in the colonies. These natural resources would be used by England to provide necessary food and supplies needed by a growing English population. Raw materials included salted fish, fur, lumber, indigo, rice, tobacco, wood, cotton, rum, and other agricultural goods. Products were consumed by the British, made into finished products and either sold back to the American colonies at a higher price or sent to Africa in exchange for slaves who would then be sent on to the Caribbean and later the 13 colonies. Although England's first attempts at setting up colonies in the Carolina's in 1585 failed, news of possible riches spread and in 1607 the first "successful" colony began at Jamestown, Virginia. Success was at first hampered by lack of knowledge of survival techniques, disease, starvation, and antagonistic behaviors by the colonials toward Native Americans, but by 1619, Jamestown became an achievement that would bring thousands from Europe.

The American colonies were a hidden jewel. And England realized that but not until it was too late. One of the most important causes of the American Revolution is the idea of salutary neglect. Early laws passed by the British Parliament in the 17 th and early 18 th centuries were ignored by the colonials or better yet, not enforced by England. Several Navigation Acts were passed by the British over a span of a 140 year period. Most were similar in dictating how goods left and arrived in America, via Britain. Your ship might want to trade with France or the Netherlands but you stopped in England and paid taxes on whatever goods you were hauling. Wars and disagreements with Spain and the Netherlands spurred the passing of these laws in Parliament. Spanish and Dutch goods swamped British markets and put the British merchants at an unfair disadvantage. Hoping to better control trade and seal off Britain to the influences of Dutch and Spanish trade, Navigation Acts sought to direct trade between the Americas and England to England alone. Dutch trade with England was very small in comparison to Dutch trade with the rest of the world and these acts actually hurt England more than the Dutch. Eventually, an off the books mutual agreement allowed the Dutch to trade but it was a form of smuggling and as long as the parties were not caught, all was well. Trade between the colonies and England was a little more restrictive. The British navy had proved its supremacy in a series of battles with the Dutch but she was not big enough to patrol the whole Atlantic. Most Americans adhered to the variety of Navigation Acts but there was smuggling taking place. This increased as the middle of the 18 th century approached. If the laws were not being uniformly enforced it made it easier for the colonists and other nations to slip by unnoticed. Although not a problem in early days, it became an issue that would have to be dealt with as the coming final French and Indian War (1754-1763) approached. As any parent knows, making rules, not enforcing them, and then all of a sudden trying to impose those rules when things get out of hand is not feasible.

Until the Revolution the colonies continued to grow rapidly. English, Dutch, French, Swedish, and Germans immigrated to the colonies. By the 1700s, each colony had established a government – House of Burgesses, colonial assemblies, or colonial legislatures. Royal governors were appointed and colonial councils were bound by decisions made by those governors. Until the late 1760s, it was a working relationship. The Governor could veto actions passed by the colonial council but often did not. There were a few instances of Governors being at odds with their colonial councils or assemblies. Some were run out of the colony.

As towns continued to grow, many American colonials became financially successful. Jonathan Fairbanks arrived from Yorkshire, England, in the 1630s. His house is the oldest surviving timber frame house in North America. 19 The family continued to prosper, grow, and add on to the house. The Rose homestead in Hop Yard Plain of Branford, Connecticut, resembles a typical home you might find not only in the colonies but also of homes in England. The Rose main family room is housed in the Yale University Art Gallery. Although sparsely furnished by our standards today, it sported a large fireplace, often the center of activity in a home. Providing warmth, light and heat for cooking food was the job of any well-constructed house in England or the Americas. As the money flow increased, a Staffordshire teapot might be purchased, its red glaze shining in the firelight. Perhaps a silver teapot from Paul Revere might be added later or a coffeepot if the Revolution had already started. The house might be expanded and more solid furniture added, such as John Brown might have done. This 1785 desk and bookcase combination (1785, YUAG) made from mahogany, American black cherry, chestnut, eastern pine, and southern yellow pine. Or he might have ordered and waited for quite some time for an original Hepplewhite, Sheraton, or Chippendale piece of furniture from England.

Colonial America was on the move and that move brought it into the path of the Native Americans and French on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains. The French and Indian War which began here in the colonies in 1754 would be the second cause of the Revolutionary War. The French had explored the southern portion of what is today Canada in the mid to late 16 th century. They had a much smaller population of colonials than the British, a strictly enforced religion of Catholicism, and a much better relationship with their Native American tribes. America became a great hunting ground for the French and trappers often worked side by side with the Ottawa or Abenaki tribes. They took the time to learn about their partners' tribes, customs, language, and hunting methods. They often intermarried with the Native American women. Most of the American colonials did little to foster relations with their neighboring tribes and as they expanded into Tuscarora, Pequot, Delaware, and Cherokee wars often ensued. These wars sometimes involved the French and English in both Europe and here in the Americas. The final French and Indian War of 1754 began as colonials started to advance into French territory known as the Ohio Valley. Restless colonial adventurers brought back tails of rich rivers and abundant land for farming. The Anglo-American colonial population was fast approaching 1.5 million while France's colonial population was barely a quarter million. France sought to protect its rich fur trapping grounds. Native Americans that were once on friendly terms, such as the Ottawa and Iroquois, had been driven apart by taking opposite sides in hostilities between the French and English. With France's fur supply and untamed lands at risk all became embroiled in a war that ended in Europe in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris. The French military eventually lost out to the huge sums of money raised by England's Prime Minister, William Pitt the Elder. Pitt had a single-minded vision to keep the French in their place and defeat them at any point possible. 20

One of the key battles, The Battle of Quebec, which took place in 1759, was immortalized by painter Benjamin West in 1770. The painting, The Death of Wolfe (1770, National Gallery of Canada) recalls the death of British General Wolfe after the battle that ended French hopes for victory in the Seven Years War or French and Indian War, as it was called here. West shows Wolfe as almost Christ-like in his approaching death. Historical paintings usually took their subjects from ancient Rome or medieval England, and even when loving military heroes were depicted, they were usually shown in Roman clothing, to give them more dignity and grandeur. The Death of General Wolfe was the first time that modern clothing was shown in a major historical painting. It caused quite a discussion amongst painter Sir Joshua Reynolds and others. King George III refused to complete the purchase until West was able to convince all otherwise. Some, like Reynolds, wanted the painting to conform to the traditions of history painting, which demanded classical forms of attire. 21 In the foreground is a figure who might be viewed as the Noble Savage. West had completed a Grand Tour of Europe, including Italy, and the stance and position of the Iroquois is much like the classical lines of Roman sculpture. This figure represents the Iroquois Native Americans who had fought with the British at the Battle of Quebec, using their local knowledge to aid the British in their victory. The light pushes away the dark clouds in the direction of the captured French flag and reflects the defeat of the Marquis de Montcalm on that same battlefield. A later paining looking back at the event, The Sketch for the Death of Montcalm by Marc Aure@le de Foy Suzor-Coteì (1902, Museìe National des Beaux-Arts du Queìbec) expresses the same sentiment upon the death of France's greatest general. The French defeat here would forever change the landscape of America. France lost her empire with the Treaty of Paris but in the chessboard game of wars to come down the road, France would gain the land known as the Louisiana Purchase in time to sell it to the Americans for a paltry $15 million.

The war in the colonies was clearly about what could be gained from the defeat of the French and their allies. Some, like Benjamin Franklin, were not persuaded that this was the best course of action. Franklin knew that no matter who the victor was some sort of penalty would be paid by the colonials. And Franklin was correct. The third cause of the Revolutionary War was the taxes brought about by the tremendous hole put into England's financial coffers. The coffers needed refilling and what better way to start that than by taxing the Americans for their victory. The catchphrase "no taxation without representation in Parliament" would become the battle cry starting in 1765 with the first round of English taxes on American colonials and their products. Franklin's earlier 1754 political cartoon Join, or Die (LOC) was probably the very first American political cartoon. The eight piece segmented snake, according to some legends, could reunite and if done by the time the sun set, it would become a strong united force. 22 Franklin wrote an editorial in the Pennsylvania Gazette asking colonial legislatures to join together and create an army of some sort to fend off attacks from Indians and possibly even the French. Although a popular idea to have a united militia, his call to arms fell by the wayside until the early 1770s when England started to tighten its taxation hold on America. Franklin's delayed militia would indeed come to fruition.

This final cause of the war, no taxation without representation, came about as the result of England's new taxation policies, the new Proclamation of 1763 which banned settlers from moving westward over into the newly won land from the French (Ohio River Valley), and a crackdown on the earlier mentioned policy of salutary neglect. America had vast sources of potential for riches and it was time for England to start enforcing the old laws and create new taxes to build up the British treasury. There had always been laws that restricted trade between even colonies, such as the Iron Act, the Woolen Act, the Hat Act, and several Sugar Acts. Loose enforcement was going to be put to an end to this once and for all. A new era in relations was about to begin for the British and her colonies.

The American colonials believed themselves to be citizens of England and in accordance with citizenship, came full British rights guaranteed under the Magna Carta and The English Bill of Rights hammered out during the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This meant that the American colonies were entitled to representation of some sort in the British Parliament. As tax after tax was imposed and then repealed and then imposed again Americans learned otherwise. America had transformed as a colony socially, politically and intellectually. 23 The colonies were now prepared to assert their rights and refuse taxation without having someone speak on their behalf in Parliament. Taxes to pay for the French and Indian War and price of housing more British soldiers in America would not come from the colonials. Taxes such as the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts were met with boycotts or better yet with sugar, smuggling. Two of the most telling cartoons of the era was Ben Franklin's The Colonies Reduced (1767, LOC) and the anonymous The Stamp Act and The Repeal (1766, Williamsburg). The first one reflects Franklin's thoughts on Mother England dismembered and her colonies floating away. This would continue if the Stamp Act was not repealed and England would cease to be a great power in the world. The Stamp Act and the Repeal depict the great emotional feeling about this tax. A little coffin makes its way to a mausoleum, which is the resting place of all naughty dead taxes. In the background are ships filled with goods ready to be brought onto the docks and readied for sale in American shops. Industries in England were suffering and many English merchants appealed for help to their members of Parliament. Taxes were repealed but England slipped in a little law called the Declaratory Act. This Act gave Parliament the right to pass any law it wished and to make sure that those laws would be binding in America. America continued to boycott a variety of acts, American ships skirted the British Navy as smuggling to and from the Caribbean increased and Americans formed groups to discuss methods of quiet disobedience.

One of these groups most active in the parle process was the Sons of Liberty. Its members were Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Edes, Patrick Henry, and James Otis. Even Benedict Arnold had early membership. Sam Adams used the Boston Gazette to spread news, ideas, inflammatory statements, and often took direct action to prevent the taxes from being enforced, or in the case of the Boston Tea Party, goods from being delivered. Probably the most infamous event of this time would be the Boston Massacre. Paul Revere, engraver and silversmith, took Henry Pelham's (John Singleton Copley's half-brother) drawing of the event and created an engraving that has been immortalized in every US History textbook. 24 Pelham, a Loyalist, would return to England while Revere gained fame for his engraving of the event. The work of a master propagandist, Revere's engraving shows a "massacre" of five American colonials by the heartless British soldiers in March of 1770. In fact, an argument over the settlement of a small bill escalated to a confrontation between British soldiers led by Captain Robert Preston and a group of young men and dockworkers, a few of them Sons of Liberty members. As the evening moved on, ice balls, oyster shells, and stones were lobbed at the British "Lobsterbacks" (so called due to lobster-like appearance when viewed from behind). Yelling and threats ensued and then a shot was fired resulting in more shots. A "don't fire" was heard as "fire." Reality was a little different than what was portrayed in that engraving. Many children grew up actually believing the engraving over reality. John Adams, a remarkable writer and lawyer, set the record straight with his offer to defend the British soldiers. Someone, he said, had to show that the Americans were not barbarians and these men needed a proper defense. The trial began in November of that year, amongst much propaganda from both sides. In the end, Adams was able to defend six of the soldiers to innocence and the remaining two were found guilty. Their reduced punishment consisted of a branding of the thumb. The jury was convinced that the soldiers were being harassed to the point of fearing for their lives.

Although this event stirred the fighting spirit of both sides, things actually seemed to calm down for a while. There was the Gaspee incident, a British ship known for its harassing techniques while chasing American smugglers across the waters near Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. 25 In June of 1772, a group of angry Rhode Islanders on the packet ship Hannah gave chase back to the ship, cornered it, ran it aground, boarded it, and burned it – after taking what they needed from the ship. The British were furious but could not get any evidence as to who the guilty party was.

About the same time as the Gaspee incident, Sam Adams began work on the committees of correspondence. About 8,000 Patriots joined this communication organization. This was linked together in all 13 colonies. Decisions about boycotts, raising militias and actions against the British acts and officials came through these groups. Figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry belonged and eventually many of these men convened in 1774 to form the first Continental Congress, America's first government. This action occurred as a result of the notorious Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. The British East India Company had fallen on rough financial times, in part because of a huge unsold reserve of 18 million pounds of tea which was a result of cheaper smuggled Dutch tea. 26 To prop up the British East India Company a new tax on tea was imposed on the Americans. The Tea Act required that tea sales bypass the colonial tea merchants in the colonies and be sold directly through special envoys of the British government. 27 Colonial reaction was swift. Anyone cooperating with the British was tarred and feathered, chased out of town, or received a beating. Bostonians Paying the Excise Man (1774, LOC), a mezzotint (a style of engraving) by Philip Dawe appeared after the infamous Boston Tea Party. The official has been thoroughly humiliated with a tarring and feathering and is now forced to drink his tea, served boiling hot. The Sons of Liberty had dumbed 340 chests of tea into the harbor as a message to England that we were not going to be forced to buy and consume their products. The tea's value today is about three quarters of a million pounds. Punishment was swift and harsh. No more salutary neglect! With harsh legislation, the Coercive Acts, nicknamed by the colonists the Intolerable Acts, the British closed the Boston Harbor until all tea was paid for (something that would never happen), cancelled all town and government meetings in order to shut down groups like the Sons and committees of correspondence down, shuffled indicted British soldiers accused of crimes off to England for trial, housing British soldiers in colonial homes, and the final ignominy, taking the hopes and desires of the backcountry people away by giving the Ohio River Valley to Canada. England's political cartoon Bostonians in Distress (Sayer and Bennett 1774, LOC) Reaction was immediate on our part. War was just a matter of months away.

The Revolution would begin in a tiny couple of towns in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. After the passing of the Intolerable Acts, the First Continental Congress and Sons of Liberty worked quickly to raise armed militias. Franklin's Plan of Albany Union from 1754 was resurrected. Arms were smuggled in and secured and militias taught how to ready at a moment's notice to fight. News of illegal arms and artillery reached the British. British troops would mount a search for the weapons and Sons of Liberty members who had participated in the plan. In the early morning hours of April 19 in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, the first shots of the war were fired. Who shot first is a mystery but each side said "it twas the other." A series of documents from each colony entreating independence arrived at the Second Continental Congress housed in Philadelphia including North Carolina's Mecklenburg Resolves and a year later, the Halifax Resolves. Although the Declaration of Independence would not be published until July of 1776, many people had made up their minds. Some would change their minds in the ensuing months as battles were won and lost. The British Army and Navy were viewed as victors and the American colonials as the underdogs.

Shortly before the Battle at Bunker Hill in June of 1775 a British political cartoon appeared in the Westminster Magazine called The Political Cartoon of the Year 1775(1775, LOC). It illustrates King George and Lord Mansfield, British politician, seated in an open carriage led by two horses called "Obstinacy" and "Pride" and they are about to lead England off the cliff and into a dark abyss. 28 This represented the war with America. John Trumbull would see the Battle of Bunker Hill from Roxbury, Massachusetts, and he later painted The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775 (1786, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The focus is on the dying Warren in the left side of the painting, while an acquaintance of Trumbull, British Major John Small, prevents another British soldier from finishing the job. The sky is filled with the smoke of the carnage and the ground scattered with the dead from both sides. To the right is a Continental officer, Thomas Grosvenor, and behind him his slave. This battle was of great importance for both sides, though not for the same reasons. The Americans had just proven their gumption by repelling the British troops advance up the hill several times, while the British, superior in their knowledge that they would beat the Americans, won the battle but at a very heavy cost. America would not back down.

Most of the English did not think that this war could be lost. However, a few politicians and caricaturists in London thought otherwise. Matthew Darly, British printmaker. One of the last prints he did was entitled Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his wicked American children (1777, LOC). The illustration shows England as an old man with a wooden leg and crutch, tugging his puppeteer strings hooked to the noses of five American men. The Americans resist heartily, shooting pellets and stones at England. 29 A rarity during those times, Matthew's wife was also a printmaker and caricaturist.

What were the wants of the American colonials? "How is it," asked London's famous author, Samuel Johnson, "that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" 30 Owning slaves, as did Washington and Jefferson, was not an off putting idea to wanting liberty. About 10% of the white population, estimated by some historians, were Loyalists. These lived in cities controlled by the British military, New York City for a large part of the war. 31 Some were wealthy, their businesses tied to the English import trade, and then some were poor farmers, who were often tied to the idea of loyalty, as though to a master. The question of loyalty to king was also about loyalty to father and family. Families were split asunder throughout the colonies because of differing loyalties. In the coastal areas many were Patriots because their businesses had been affected. The Patriot population was bigger in the New England Colonies and smaller in the southern colonies, until the war was brought into the south in the late 1770's, especially with the second Battle of Charleston and the Battle of Kings Mountain. Slaves were lulled into a false sense of security when the British offered all slaves who fought with them freedom at war's end. The thought that Britain could lose was not conceivable. The British did set up a small community of ex-slaves in coastal Canada. But that was a small transaction There were slaves and freemen who also fought with the Patriots. Slaves saw no relief from their forced life-long servitude when aligning themselves (voluntarily or forced) with the British. Some British soldiers kept their word. Many sold the slaves back into slavery in order to have money available upon their return to England.

Some colonials just waited on the fence and made their choice based on who was doing the best job winning. Small rebellions within the war itself broke out in the Carolinas. Patriots engaged in brutal fights with Loyalist neighbors before taking on the British army. The British often over- estimated the impact of Loyalist soldiers, as they did at the Battle of Moore's Creek north of Wilmington, North Carolina. A small force of Patriots took out a British and Loyalist force more than double the Patriot size in a matter of a few minutes. Pig grease and candle wax derailed the British hopes to rapidly take the Carolinas in February of 1776. Mistakes made by the British navy undermined an attack on Charleston in the same year. The tide pulled out and left the British stranded and target practice for Patriot soldiers. This war would not be won by the usual methods. The guaranteed victor would become the biggest loser.

One of the most popular Trumbull paintings found in US History textbooks is The Declaration of Independence (1786-1820, YUAG). Although there are some liberties taken with the event in the portrayal of more men present than were actually there on July 4, 1776, the picture exemplifies one of the most important moments in US history. The main writers of the Declaration are placed center to slightly right and they were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. There was no turning back for these Americans and in fact they were risking their lives by signing the document. There had been an Olive Branch Petition offered a few months earlier to the British, but that was a half-hearted offer. Most of the colonies had sent their own versions of a Declaration of Independence from England. The Declaration of Independence very clearly set forth the causes of their separation from England in The Preamble, Our Rights as Men, Charges against the Tyrannical King, what we had done to avoid separation, and the final signatures of 56 men.

The darkest year for the Americans was the fall and into winter of 1776/77. The first victorious battles and "we can show the British" attitude fell as losses in New York mounted. The English had left the New England colonies and headed into the Mid-Atlantic colonies of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Continental soldiers were deserting at high numbers. At war's start, there had been close to 20,000 American men. Now, Washington could barely count 4,000. Death, disease, suffering families, fading desire to fight a possibly lost cause, and British wins decimated the Continental army. This would change. There were victories at Trenton, Princeton, and in early fall of 1777, a huge victory at Saratoga, New York. This battle in New York would give a resounding defeat to the British and finally bring in French support. Trumbull's The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 (1792, YUAG). Washington had crossed the Delaware River in freezing temperatures. That crossing is immortalized in a later painting, Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware (1850, Metropolitan Museum of Art). The Hessians, German auxiliaries for hire, had celebrated Christmas with many trimmings and liquor and Washington was sure they would be asleep and also unprepared. Their leader, Johann Rall, was mortally wounded and over a 1,000 Hessians had been captures while the Americans had only three injuries. The magnanimity of Washington is shown by Trumbull. Washington sends Major Stephens Smith to care for the mortally wounded Rall. The battle was over and their enemy powerless. Trumbull would also paint General George Washington at Trenton (1792, YUAG) for the city of Charleston to commemorate the President's visit in May of 1791. Trumbull considered this his finest piece. 32 This was a key moment in Washington's career and the war and reflected the "heroism and nobility" of Washington. 33 Charleston rejected it because the city wanted a more peaceful image. His noble steed reared up in the background and the victory of the battle pushes darkness away. Washington's stance reflects the noble Greek sculpture of Apollo Belvedere, the lines classical, the fabric crisp and almost touchable. 34 Trumbull would accommodate the Charlestonians and paint another one for the city.

With American victories at the Battle of Saratoga and the arrival of French support, the British took the war south into the Carolinas. The British gambled that there were many more Loyalists in the southern states and General Cornwallis would move in to Savannah, Charleston and then sweep up the back country of the Piedmont. Coastal battles were a loss of the Americans, with over 5,000 American Patriots taken prisoner at Charleston. The loss of slaves was catastrophic. It is estimated that up to 25,000 slaves would join or be taken by the British. 35 South Carolina's slave population dropped by at least 20% with the loss of Charleston and Savannah. Some stayed with the British, others were taken to set up communities in Nova Scotia, one group returned to Sierra Leone, and also the West Indies. For many, it would be a return to some form of slavery after the war.

Cornwallis had been charged with moving into the Piedmont and backcountry of the Carolinas where they thought Loyalist support would win them this part of the south and eventually the war itself. The southern war was chaotic and fought more in the guerrilla style. Sometimes both sides wore civilian clothing and it was difficult to tell who was Loyalist or Patriot. The British had overestimated Loyalist support in February of 1776 north of Wilmington and they were about to do it again. Fiercely independent over-the-mountain men drove through early fall snows and over the Appalachian Mountains to protect their Patriot brethren. 36 British Colonel Banastre Tarleton would capture American Patriots at the Battle of the Waxhaws and in his need to drive forward quickly, killed 113 Patriots. He admitted it but said the Patriots had shot his horse from under him and his men "went crazy with bloody revenge." 37 From that point on he would be known to the Patriots as Bloody Butcher Tarleton and the phrase "Tarleton's Quarter" became popular as a way of saying no quarter would be given to any British or Loyalist man. Sir Joshua Reynolds, an artist who utilized the grand style of idealization, painted Tarleton in The Portrait of an Officer (1782, National Gallery) 38. A bit of Tarleton's arrogance and proud bearing are evident in the painting. Another piece to look at for a modern interpretation of Butcher Tarleton is Yinka Shonibare's Colonel Tarleton and Mrs. Oswald Shooting (2007, National Gallery). 39 The piece shows a headless Tarleton and Mrs. Oswald hunting. Both Tarleton and the Oswald's were advocates of slavery. Shonibare manipulates the objects as symbols of "the violence of slavery and colonization." 40 While Tarleton was sweeping up one side of the Carolinas, the over-the-mountain-men would meet one of Tarleton's subordinates at a little place on the North/South Carolina border called King's Mountain. Often named a reverse Bunker's Hill by the Carolinians, it was a key victory by the Americans. Patrick Ferguson had the top of the mountain and the Patriots the rugged rocks and uneven turf of the base of the mountain. Recalling the recent butchery of Patriot soldiers by Tarleton the Americans took less than an hour to bring down Ferguson's men, over 800 of them. Cornwallis, hearing of the loss moved his army to Guilford Country Courthouse and after an encounter with Major General Nathaniel Greene's almost double sized forces, Cornwallis withdrew the battle field with huge casualties, although it is called a win for Cornwallis, the loss of so many of his men was a critical blow. Cornwallis took his leave to go to Yorktown where he waited for British rescue.

Unbeknownst to Cornwallis, his British Navy had been cut off by the French and American ships. With limited supplies, malaria on their heels and no chance of rescue, Cornwallis surrendered his Army to Washington in October of 1781. The unthinkable had been accomplished again: David beat Goliath. The British Army Band played "The World Turned Upside Down." Cornwallis refused to come down and officially surrender to Washington. In his stead Cornwallis sent Brigadier General Charles O'Hara to surrender to Washington. O'Hara offered the ceremonial sword first to the Comte de Rochambeau, who shook his head, then to General Washington who also shook his head but indicated it was to be given to the man who had been defeated at Charleston, his second in command, Benjamin Lincoln. 41 John Trumbull's The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781 (1787-1828, YUAG). Washington is center, while British General O'Hara walks besides Washington's prancing horse. The Americans are to the right and the French with Rochambeau to the left. Trumbull painted the French officers in Thomas Jefferson's home in Paris and regarded it "as one of my best small portraits." 42 Before his departure from American in 1787, Trumbull had requested a list of the French officers so that he could paint them. Jefferson granted Trumbull's wish. The world had been indeed turned on its head with the victory of the American Patriots. The journey to full nationhood was only beginning for the United States. How the United States created a lasting democracy was to be hammered out over the next few years and the ensuing Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Textual Content

The novels which I have chosen to accompany the visual pieces I utilize in the unit are My Brother Sam is Dead, Chains, Forge, and Year of the Hangman. My Brother Sam is Dead recounts the story of a family in Massachusetts on the opening day of the war, the shots exchanged at Lexington and Concord. Father and sons become divided over the issue of remaining loyal to King George or taking up sides with the Patriot cause. This situation reflected the predicament of families across the 13 colonies. The younger son, Tim, narrates the slow meltdown within the family and community, the loss of family members and the ups and downs of their struggling tavern. Tim asks the "what if" questions at the end: Was the Patriot win worth the loss of Father and Sam and was there another means of solving the argument between the English and American colonials other than war? He doesn't answer the questions but instead lets the reader reflect and resolve a possible solution.

Chains and Forge are part of a trilogy, the third, Ashes, being released later this year. Students who like to read will be enticed by the idea of a trilogy. Chains is narrated by Isobel, a 13-year-old slave who is promised freedom, along with her sister, Ruth, upon the death of their owner. 43 For quick money, an unscrupulous distant relative sells the girls to New York Loyalists. The Locktons are a pitiless couple, not just with Isobel and Ruth but also amongst themselves. The Locktons strategize with other high ranking New York Loyalists about the upcoming 1776/77 British invasion of the city. Isobel has met an older slave, Curzon, and he knows the importance of her position in this Loyalist family. His early attempts to persuade her to spy on the Locktons fail but when Isobel's sister is sold away, Isobel realizes that she will do anything to find and save her younger sister. She listens to the plan hatching in the Lockton's parlor and takes that information to Curzon. Forge begins with Isobel and Curzon's escape from New York. 44 The second book then focuses on Curzon's journey to keep from being captured. He ends up enlisting in the Continental Army but continues to live in constant fear of being found out. The details of the horrific winter Curzon endures at Valley Forge are character changing, as it will be for Washington's troops. Washington will emerge from this winter to go on and accomplish significant wins later in the year. The third book will no doubt resolve Isobel and Curzon's status as slaves.

The fourth book, The Year of the Hangman, is an alternative history of the years that followed the failed American Revolution. I think that I will have students actually begin at the end with Blackwood's afterward. Blackwood addresses what alternative history is and then goes on to explain what actually happened in comparison to what happens in the book. The book is narrated from the viewpoint of Creighton, a 17-year-old arrogant and determined British boy. A serious of misfortunes on his part drive his mother to request her high ranking British officer brother's intervention. He is kidnapped and wakes up on the way to America. His Uncle sets about to make Creighton into a perfect British gentlemen. And here the history is changed. The Americans have not done well and many have been driven into Spanish and French territories in Florida and New Orleans. The book's characters are slightly altered. Washington's capture has brought about the failure of the rebellion. Benjamin Franklin is hiding out in New Orleans writing articles for his newspaper in hopes of encouraging the Patriots to reunite. Benedict Arnold has not become a traitor but instead a hero in various battles in Florida. Creighton becomes part of Franklin's New Orleans entourage and starts to see that the British may not be the side he wants to remain with. The book ends with some hope for the American cause and the experience has made Creighton a responsible young man. 45


Students will be familiar with the SOAPSTONE model. 46 This also will have been covered since week two as we do a lot of primary sources. This can be used for analysis of any object. The others that follow are ones I also utilize in class.

  • S = Subject of the piece?
  • O= Occasion, time, place, setting?
  • A=Audience, who is this directed to?
  • P=Purpose, why was this piece written, painted, etc.?
  • S=Speaker, who's voice is telling the story?
  • TONE=Attitude or emotional characteristics of the piece?

AP (Advanced Placement) classes in high school use this extensively and many middle schools adopted this practice several years ago in order to familiarize kids with this early so that there are no surprises for them in high school. There are also several more writing components to this Document Based Question format that help with the interpretation piece. It is a great asset for the kids to have this foundation when evaluating and interpreting primary sources. For this unit, combining the novel with primary sources, and verifiable facts should bring about a well-rounded decision when assessing the historical accuracy of the novel. The writing pieces in this AP-DBQ element are also a part of the Common Core and Essential Standards in North Carolina.

  • Artifact analysis worksheet
  • http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/cartoon_analysis_worksheet.pdf

  • Art analysis worksheet
  • http://www.scribd.com/doc/64234821/Art-Analysis-Worksheet

  • Using primary sources in general
  • http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/

  • The Advanced Placement Teacher's Guide is also one that I will use
  • http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/ap_arthistory_teachers_guide.pdf

Another strategy I liked was the diamond fold from YNI fellow Andrea Kulas. The folding process creates a diamond in the center of the paper with four triangles off to the sides. The diamond is synthesis and the four triangles historical events, personal connections, or solutions to problems that the characters encounter. Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst have some excellent activities for students to do as they read their novels. 47 The Signposts include:

  • Contrasts and contradictions - why does character act this way.
  • Aha Moment – why might a character's insight reveal something important about plot
  • Tough Questions – not all questions have an easy answer
  • Words of the Wiser – an older or wiser character shares their wisdom or experience hoping to guide the protagonist through a difficult decision
  • Again and Again – words or phrases repeated
  • Memory Moment – memory interrupts the flow but reveals important things

Each signpost has its own worksheet that can be freely used by teachers. This process is used in the Language Arts classrooms and I think students will be able to do the same activities in my room.


I will be merging two sets of separate activities together as a culmination of this curriculum unit. The first segment that I want to address with the unit is how my students are going to interpret painting, prints, political cartoons, household items, and any other objects considered a primary source. I would like to begin the first day with the SOAPSTONE format. This has been developed for middle and high school students. A higher level of the SOAPSTONE method is APPARTS and PERSIA, just a few more details such as economics. I have included countless paintings, cartoons, and ordinary household objects in my Content Background section. This unit is meant to be taught mid-September (colonization) to late October (end of Revolutionary War). I want students to feel confident in their analysis of primary sources and I will begin the first day of school in August with the first two pieces and then move on through the rest of this list as the unit progresses:

  • Francesco Furini Artemisia Prepares to Drink the Ashes of her Husband, Mausolus (1630, YUAG) "Old" but this could be in a fashion magazine today and I think this can draw the students in when they look at the details.
  • Quenten Metsys A Bagpiper (1513, YUAG) Paired with the above art piece, a jovial big man and his musical instrument.
  • Frans Hals A Pair of Portraits of an Elderly Couple Heer and Mevrouw Bodolphe (1643, YUAG) An example of people who may have come from Holland to the colonies.
  • Simon Verelst Mary of Modena (1680, BAC) Their fate as Catholics exemplifies religious fervor of the time and explains why so many sought religious freedom here.
  • Hogarth William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (1741, BAC) Fashion of the wealthy Englishman
  • Joseph Highmore Henry Wyndham (1743, YUAG) Contrasting light and richness of fabric
  • Samuel Scott Vice Admiral Sir George Anson's Victory off Cape Finistere (1749, BAC) British and French naval engagement, always at war with one another.
  • Richard Wright The Fishery (1764, BAC) Also a reminder of the use of ships as prisons for Patriot captives.
  • Joseph Richardson Coffeepot (1765-80, YUAG) Beautiful work on silver pot
  • Joseph Smith Tea Caddy Made for Esther Smith (1767, YUAG) American example of earthenware
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds Mrs. Abington as Miss Prue in Love for Love by William Congreve (1771, BAC) One of the novel's characters in Chains reminds me of her
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds Sarah Campbell (1777-78, BAC) Richness of the fabric
  • Benjamin West The Artist and his Family (1772, BAC) Expat West and his family in England, including his Quaker father. Reminder of importance of Quakers in America during abolitionist movement.
  • Johan Joseph Zoffany The Drummond Family (1769, BAC) A Scotsman and his family. Drummond was a banker and later members of family served as pursers
  • John Nost, The Younger Bust of George III (1764, BAC)
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds Charles Stanhope, 3 rd Earl of Harrington (1782, BAC) Involved in disaster at Saratoga, interestingly dressed in medieval armor
  • James Ward Man Struggling with a Boa Constrictor, Study for "Liboya Serpent Seizing its Prey (1803, BAC) Struggle for survival and YNI fellow pointed out the imagery of the snake as whip

Activity 1: Each student will have one of the artifact, cartoon and art analysis sheets listed in the strategies section above. They will glue it into their interactive notebooks. These notebooks contain all their work done as class and homework for the year (except larger projects). Once the main analysis sheet is glued in they can answer the questions from the sheet on later pages in their notebooks. The pieces will be analyzed by era, type of piece, etc. following the art analysis sheets. Depending on what the art work is – painting, cartoon, 3D object – we will look at why created, the use of race, role, class, and gender in the piece, surrounding historical significance, functionality, color, lighting, and style.

Activity 2: I will put students into groups on a rotating basis and have them recreate the art work in a "skit," similar to the Yinka Shonibare photographs. Every third piece we do I will allow the students to pick their groups. They will analyze the original, research artist and background of art piece, and then create their own montage. I will have students with smartphones load the 123d catch app onto their phones. I know that the use of this app will require some practice and I think I will make it a homework assignment for the first few days of school. They can practice at home and then we can utilize it in the class. This is a sharing activity, especially for those who do not have a smartphone. If our iPads are available, we will be allowed to load them onto those. Once students have mastered the app we can start using it. The pictures of an object are taken (about 15 to 20 of an object from all angles) and then the app turns the pictures into a 3D object. The process can take up to an hour.

Activity 3: Students will pick the novel they want to read after some research and book reviews they will check out. This will be done the second week of school. About 80% of reading will be conducted at home, with a daily ten minutes in class three times a week. I own 200 copies of My Brother Sam is Dead and a few of the others. Parents can purchase Chains, Forge, or Year of the Hangman in hardcopy or Kindle/Nook format. Parents have been generous in the past and purchased copies of books for those who cannot afford to make the purchase. We will discuss race, gender, roles, and the meaning of loyalty. Many of the paintings and primary sources that I will be utilizing will serve as discussion points along with the reading of the novel. Activities within the novel unit: 1. Students will do the Signposts mentioned in Strategies. We will do this in groups on a weekly basis. This will help ensure that students are reading their books. Students will be given a chapter range to complete each week. 2. They will then produce a diamond fold analysis artifact mentioned in Strategies and they will do this individually. They will address significance of historical events, personal connections they make with the young narrator, solutions to problems their characters encounter, the tastes/scents/sounds within the novel, and the center diamond will address different types of conflict their characters encounter. 3. The final product I have in mind is an accordion book called a snail. Paper size for this is usually 18" by 24". Directions for this can be located on http://alexandraedwards.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/ Students will respond with writing and drawing to the following prompts in the booklet:

  • Historical setting and causes of war
  • Major characters
  • Synopsis
  • Explain the significance of loyalty to family, slaveholder, country/military, and king
  • How do the viewpoints of the war differ between the major characters
  • What is loyalty in the context of this book
  • Give detailed examples of man v man, man v nature, and man v self conflicts in novel
  • What is the big aha moment in the novel and how does it play out
  • If the characters had a choice, what would they have done differently
  • Illustrate the two most important scenes from the novel and tell me why important
  • Design an advertisement to sell this book to your classmates

Appendix – Implemented District Standards

The North Carolina Essential Standards I will be addressing include:

8H1.3-use of primary sources. The whole unit focuses on primary sources: Paintings, furniture, house ware items, drawings, and other items.

8H2 - understanding the ways in which conflict, compromise, and negotiation have shaped the US/NC. The pre-Revolutionary era offer many opportunities of colonial negotiation, compromise, and conflict with taxes, boycotts, repeals, Mecklenburg Resolves and Halifax Resolves locally and The Declaration of Independence and Olive Branch Petition nationally.

8H3 - understanding the factors that contribute to change and continuity in the US/NC; analyzing the democratic ideals which shaped the government of the US/NC. Discussing mercantile economic theory, no taxation without representation, and how The Declaration of Independence was articulated.

8C & G2.3 - explain the impact of human and civil rights issues experienced by people throughout the US/NC. I will be examining the concepts of indentured servitude and slavery in pre-Revolutionary times.

8C1 -analyze how different cultures influenced US/NC. The unit is focusing on a variety of groups arriving to the colonies and their reasons for leaving Europe. It also focuses on slavery and the opportunities for possible freedom during the Revolution.

Annotated Bibliography

Girl with a Pearl Earring film 2003 PG-13 A nice introduction to Vermeer, specifically the art of mixing paints, which is quite amazing considering how we go to the art store and buy them already prepared today. The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer (1655 Mauritshuis Gallery at The Hague, Netherlands)

The annotated Mona Lisa: a crash course in art history from prehistoric to post-modern. Strickland, Carol, and John Boswel. A good way to start a search for paintings you might want to use in the classroom.

Take the time to visit your local museums and art galleries, no matter how small. Check out the programs they have in place for you to bring your students. Everyone's A Critic published by MOMA.

Autodesk 123D Catch App for Smartphones and iPads. A great app for capturing images and fashioning a 3D like object. It is free.

I love the idea of getting your kids involved in recreating a piece of art by skit. Look at what Yinka Shonibare's works (present day) does with art. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews without their Heads (1998 Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada) based on Thomas Gainsborough's Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (1748, London, National Gallery). Yinka's Diary of a Victorian Dandy (1996, Collections of Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton, CA) based on Hogarth's Rake's Progress (1733, Sir John Soane's Museum, UK). Fragonard's The Swing (1767, Wallace Collection, UK) is another Shonibare recreation. There are many more. Shonibare is disabled and his journey through this disability would be interesting to share with your students.


1. Arthur Brisbane. "Use a Picture." Syracuse Advertising Men's Club, March 1911.

2. "Main Page." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 July 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.

3. "Sons of Liberty:Patriots or Terrorists?." Sons of Liberty: Patriots or Terrorists?. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall96/sons.html>.

4. "Redface - The History of Racist American Indian Stereotypes." Redface! - The History of Racist American Indian Stereotypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://red-face.us/>.

5. Common Core State Standards Initiative | The Standards." Common Core State Standards Initiative | Home. http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards (accessed July 13, 2013).

6. "Table of Contents." North Carolina Public Schools. http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/socialstudies/scos (accessed July 13, 2013).

7. Morgan Sumrell. "John Trumbull: Art and Politics in the Revolution | Journal of the American Revolution." Journal of the American Revolution. http://allthingsliberty.com/2013/01/john-trumbull-art-and-politics-in-the-revolution/ (accessed July 14, 2014)

8. Wikimedia Foundation. "Benjamin West." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_West#Pupils (accessed July 14, 2014).

9. Ibid.

10. http://allthingsliberty.co/2013/01/john-trumbull-art-and-politics-in-the-revolution/

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Wikimedia Foundation. "John Singleton Copley." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Singleton_Copley (accessed July 14, 2014).

14. Ibid.

15. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." John Singleton Copley: Self-Portrait (2006.235.32). http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2006.235.32 (accessed July 15, 2014).

16. "ConnecticutHistory.org." ConnecticutHistoryorg Ralph Earl Portrait of an Early American Artist Comments. http://connecticuthistory.org/ralph-earl-portrait-of-an-early-american-artist/ (accessed July 13, 2014).

17. "Early American Paintings." Early American Paintings. http://www.worcesterart.org/Collection/Early_American/Artists/earl_r/biography/index.html?PHPSESSID=b7b9aa9e2ce5c0b4f48b0cbeacb41ead (accessed July 13, 2014).

18. "Washington, George at Princeton." Washington, George at Princeton. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/artifact/Painting_31_00002.htm (accessed July 13, 2014).

19. "The Country's Oldest Timber Frame House." Fairbanks House Historical Site in Dedham, MA. http://www.fairbankshouse.org/index.html (accessed July 13, 2014).

20. Wikimedia Foundation. "William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pitt,_1st_Earl_of_Chatham (accessed July 23, 2014).

21. Wikimedia Foundation. "The Death of General Wolfe." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_of_General_Wolfe (accessed July 13, 2014).

22. "The First American Political Cartoon: "JOIN, or DIE." (May 9, 1754)." : HistoryofInformation.com. http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=3394 (accessed July 13, 2014).

23. Wikimedia Foundation. "American Revolution." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution (accessed July 16, 2014).

24. "Boston Massacre Historical Society." Boston Massacre Historical Society. http://www.bostonmassacre.net/gravure.htm (accessed July 13, 2014).

25. Independence Hall Association. "The Gaspee Affair." ushistory.org. http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/gaspee.htm (accessed July 12, 2014).

26. Independence Hall Association. "The Tea Act." ushistory.org. http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/related/teaact.htm (accessed July 20, 2014).

27. Ibid.

28. "The First Political Cartoons." in America. http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/cartoon/ (accessed July 12, 2014).

29. Matthew Darly. "Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his wicked American children." Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his wicked American children. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004673329/ (accessed July 14, 2014).

30. "American Revolutionary War: 1775 to 1783." American Revolutionary War: 1775 to 1783. http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h32-rv2.htm (accessed July 13, 2014).

31. Ibid.

32. "Yale University Art Gallery - eCatalogue - General George Washington at Trenton." Yale University Art Gallery - eCatalogue - General George Washington at Trenton. http://ecatalogue.art.yale.edu/detail.htm?objectId=20 (accessed July 15, 2014).

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid.

35. Wikimedia Foundation. "South Carolina in the American Revolution." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Carolina_in_the_American_Revolution (accessed July 13, 2014).

36. Wikimedia Foundation. "Battle of Kings Mountain." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kings_Mountain (accessed July 19, 2014).

37. Wikimedia Foundation. "Battle of Kings Mountain." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kings_Mountain (accessed July 25, 2014).

38. http://rogallery.com/Reynolds_Joshua/reynolds-biography.html

39. "Colonel Tarleton and Mrs Oswald Shooting, 2007, Yinka Shonibare MBE. Who Knows Tomorrow." Colonel Tarleton and Mrs Oswald Shooting, 2007, Yinka Shonibare MBE. Who Knows Tomorrow. http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/specials/2010/who_knows_tomorrow/artists/yinka_shonibare/04 (accessed July 25, 2014).

40. Ibid.

41. "Surrender of the British General Cornwallis to the Americans, October 19, 1781." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/war-for-independence/resources/surrender-british-general-cornwallis-americans-october (accessed July 26, 2014).

42. Yahoo! "John Trumbull, The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781 (1787-ca. 1828)." Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/yaleuniversityartgallery/9134755299/in/photostream/ (accessed July 15, 2014).

43. Laurie H. Anderson. Chains. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008.

44. Laurie H. Anderson. Forge. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.

45. Gary L. Blackwood. The Year of the Hangman. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 2002.

46. "SOAPSTONE Worksheet." SOAPSTONE. teachersites.schoolworld.com/.../files/alicia_soapstone (accessed July 13, 2013).

47. Beers, G. Kylene. Notice & note: strategies for close reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2013.

Comments (0)

Be the first person to comment

When you are finished viewing curriculum units on this Web site, please take a few minutes to provide feedback and help us understand how these units, which were created by public school teachers, are useful to others.
THANK YOU — your feedback is very important to us! Give Feedback