• one sentence explaining what the quotation means
• a list of events in the 1760s and 70s that make Paine’s ideas about revolutionary behavior seem to be “common sense” (for example, the Boston Massacre)
The Declaration of Independence
New Information Changes Views of the Past
Interpretations of history often change. That’s because historians are always finding new facts and interpreting the past in new ways. For example, histories of the American Revolution for decades focused on the participation of European Americans. Often the involvement of African Americans, women, and others was ignored.
In the last 30 years, however, historians have worked hard to paint a more complete picture of the Revolution. History has changed as a result. Below is a part of an article by Jon Swan that sheds light on some of the “Forgotten Patriots” of the Revolution. Who are the Forgotten Patriots that Swan talks about?
America’s Forgotten Patriots
…When I was growing up, I had never heard a teacher mention the role blacks played in the Revolution. In fact, I suspect my ignorance on this score would have remained intact if I had not looked into the story of a black woman who sued for her freedom in 1780—and won.
… Black Americans—in and out of uniform, on land and at sea, and on both sides of the conflict—played a significant part during the struggles that would separate the colonies from England. Crispus Attucks, part black, part Natick Indian, and a towering six feet two inches tall, was among the five Americans killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, which took place five years before the Battle of Lexington. In the words of a nineteenth-century memoirist, Attucks was “the first to defy, and the first to die.” Similarly, on April 19, 1775, among the first to take a bullet at Concord Bridge was Prince Easterbrooks, a Lexington slave who had been enrolled in Captain John Parker’s company, which was the first to engage the British. But Easterbrooks survived to fight in nearly every major campaign of the war.
Among the other black Minutemen who fought at Concord was Peter Salem, from Framingham, Massachusetts, a slave whose owners had freed him so he could enlist. Two months after the Battle of Concord, Salem was among the two dozen or so blacks to see action, and plenty of it, at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Several early accounts of the battle credited Salem with having fired the shot that killed Royal Marine Major John Pitcairn, who had led British Regulars into battle against the Patriots at Lexington and Concord. As historian Benjamin Quarles pointed out, however, “The story that Salem fired the shot that felled…Pitcairn is not easy to substantiate.” In any event, the freed slave from Framingham appears to have won renown for his marksmanship because his musket, which saw further use at Saratoga and Stony Point, may be seen in a display case, bearing his name, at the Bunker Hill Monument.
Source: Jon Swan, “America’s Forgotten Patriots,” MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Autumn 2000. Reprinted by permission.
After you have read the excerpt from “America’s Forgotten Patriots,” answer the following questions:
1. Who are the “Forgotten Patriots” that the author refers to?
2. What are some accomplishments of the men mentioned in the reading?
3. Why do you think these men were “forgotten”?
4. Why is it important for historians to uncover new facts and make new interpretations of the past?
Life in the Continental Army
In Chapter 7 you learned about the difficulties the Continental Army faced while fighting the British. The colonists began the American Revolution at an obvious disadvantage. Few men were trained to fight in a war against a professional army. Men enlisted for short periods of time—six months or a year. Necessities like guns, gunpowder, food, and shoes were in short supply. The winter of 1777–78 at Valley Forge was especially difficult. As one soldier, Joseph Martin, noted, “The greatest part were not only shirtless and barefoot, but destitute of all other clothing, especially blankets.”
The Americans did have some advantages. Their army was fighting on home ground. The army’s commander, General George Washington, was experienced and inspiring. Finally, the people were patriotic.
Joseph Plumb Martin was only 15 when he enlisted in 1776. He served until the war ended in 1783. Below is an excerpt from a book Martin wrote about his experiences. Published in 1830, this book is one of the most informative pieces on life in the Continental Army. What was daily life like for these early American soldiers?
May 1780 …we got a little musty bread and a little beef, about every other day, but this lasted only a short time and then we got nothing at all. The men were now exasperated beyond endurance. They could not stand it any longer. They saw no alternative but to starve to death, or break up the army, give all up and go home. This was a hard matter for the soldiers to think upon. They were truly patriotic, they loved their country, and they had already suffered everything short of death in its cause. And now, after such extreme hardships to give up all was too much, but to starve to death was too much also. What was to be done? Here was the army starved and naked, and there their country sitting still and expecting the army to do notable things while fainting from sheer starvation.
Joseph Plumb Martin Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier (1830)
Joseph Plumb Martin, who wrote vividly about life as a soldier, was among the troops camped at Valley Forge for the winter. Review the information about Valley Forge in Chapter 7 (see page 94). Based on what you have read, write two fictitious but realistic journal entries that tell about Valley Forge from a soldier’s perspective. Include
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Investigating Primary Sources
appropriate dates as well as the following terms: farmers, von Steuben, drill, training, and stronger. Also mention at least three hardships that you read about in the excerpts from Martin’s book on pages 94–95 of your text. Use vivid and accurate details in your writing. Well-chosen details will help you clearly convey the situation at Valley Forge.
The Importance of State Constitutions
Americans declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776. By 1781, most states had adopted new state constitutions.
Early state constitutions reflected republican principles. They based the government’s right to rule on the will of the people. They established legislatures in which the people’s will could be represented. The constitutions of Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire abolished slavery in those states. Some constitutions took steps to separate church and state. And state constitutions were the first to include a bill of rights.
When delegates gathered for the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787, they brought with them their experience with state constitutions. Not surprisingly, some of the language and many of the ideas of the U.S. Constitution come directly from the state constitutions. Below are the preambles to the Massachusetts Constitution and to the U.S. Constitution. What principles and concepts do they contain? How are they similar? How are they different?
Preamble to the Constitution of Massachusetts (1780)
We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence, or surprise; of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other; and of forming a new constitution of civil government, for ourselves and posterity, and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain, and establish, the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Preamble to the United States Constitution (1789)
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Set up a T-chart to compare the preamble to the Massachusetts Constitution with the preamble to the United States Constitution. On one side of the T-chart, record three differences you see. On the other side, record three similarities.
The Constitution: A More Perfect Union
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“We” the People?
The framers of the Constitution resolved many questions when they formed the American system of government. How should states be represented in the new government? How should the chief executive be elected? How will power be balanced? Unfortunately, other questions were left unsettled. For example, as you learned in Chapter 8, the founders compromised on the issue of slavery. Eventually, Americans would have to come to grips with that explosive issue. As you will learn, it would contribute to the outbreak of Civil War in 1861.
Another question left unresolved was the status of women. Women made up nearly half of the population. Women provided essential support during the American Revolution. But common practice did not allow women to vote or to hold office. The Constitution did not change women’s status.
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was a strong supporter of women’s rights. She believed in equal education for boys and girls, and she made sure her own daughter received a good education. Below are excerpts from letters between Abigail and John when John was serving in the Continental Congress in 1776. In the first excerpt, Abigail urges her husband to remember women. In the second excerpt, he reacts to her advice.
What does Abigail warn will happen if women are not included in the new government? How are her views and John’s different? What do you think explains their different points of view?
I long to hear that you have declared an independency—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment [start] a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation [say].
Abigail Adams Letter to her husband (1776)
As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where…But your Letter was the first Intimation [sign] that another Tribe [women] more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented.
John Adams Reply to Abigail (1776)
Pretend you are a woman living in the late 18th century. You agree with Abigail Adams, and you want to promote women’s rights. Write a passionate letter to the editor of your local newspaper, trying to persuade people to adopt your views. Make sure your letter includes a well-
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defined thesis (one that states a clear and knowledgeable judgment). Give detailed examples and reasoning to support your argument. For example, your thesis might be, “Women can do everything men can do and should have all the same rights as men.” As an example to support this thesis, you could mention the capable leadership of Elizabeth I, who served as queen of England long before the colonies declared their independence. How could men dutifully follow a queen for decades, yet then say that women are not capable of exercising the most basic political rights?
Separation of Church and State
The interaction between government and religion has often caused hard feelings in the United States. In colonial America, the church and the state were tied closely together. In fact, most citizens paid taxes to support a state-established church. For example, in Virginia, Baptists were forced to pay the salaries of Anglican ministers. Anglicans were happy. Understandably, most Baptists were not.
The American Revolution forced people to rethink state-established churches. Was it fair for the government to single out one church to receive tax dollars? Many said yes. Others, including George Washington and Patrick Henry, believed that the state should support all Christian churches, not just one. Still others argued that no church should have government support.
Thomas Jefferson believed that both institutions would be healthier if they were separate. In his view, separating church and state was the only way to truly preserve religious freedom. Otherwise, he argued, the government would always have some control over people’s religious beliefs.
In 1786 the Virginia legislature passed a law called the Statute for Religious Freedom. This law, written by Thomas Jefferson, laid the foundation for the separation of church and state in Virginia. A few years later, drafters of the Bill of Rights drew on Jefferson’s ideas when they wrote the First Amendment to prohibit government support for religion.
Following is a long, wordy sentence from Jefferson’s statute. What one simple, yet important idea does he communicate in this sentence?
Be it enacted by the General Assembly [of Virginia], That no man shall be compelled to frequent [attend] or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods [hassled by others], nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain [hold], their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities [civil rights].
Thomas Jefferson Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
Political Developments in the Early Republic
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Examine Jefferson’s long sentence from the Statute for Religious Freedom. Many bills or acts of government are written in this style. The language is broad and tries to cover all kinds of circumstances. Could Jefferson have shortened this statement?
Decide which language is essential (absolutely necessary) to communicate his message, and which offers only incidental information (not necessary to communicate his ideas).
1. Write down one phrase from the passage that you think is essential.
2. Write down several words or phrases that you think might be incidental.
3. Finally, rewrite Jefferson’s statement in a simple sentence that a typical middle school student could understand.
A Policy of Peaceful Transition
The presidential election of 1800 was an important test for the young nation. The race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was close and hard fought. Both sides did some nasty campaigning to make the other side look bad. Jefferson was accused of robbing a widow of her trust funds and of being an atheist. Adams was roasted for backing a military buildup. In many countries, the tension might have led to open warfare. Fortunately, the United States had a model for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power. The elective process, though somewhat flawed, worked. Jefferson, the Republican, defeated Adams, the Federalist—and the United States was still one country.
Below is a passage from Jefferson’s inaugural address. His intent is to unite the country. Jefferson’s ideas continue to influence American politics today. What does Jefferson mean when he states, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists”?
[The election] being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good… Let us, then, fellow citizens unite with one heart and one mind… And let us reflect that…we have yet gained little if we countenance [allow] a political intolerance as despotic [tyrannical], as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions… But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have been called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists… I believe this [to be]…the strongest Government on earth.
Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address (1801)
President Thomas Jefferson called the election of 1800 “The Revolution of 1800.” Why would he make such a claim? Set up a table to show all the presidential elections up to and including the election of 1800. Make three columns: one for the names of the
Foreign Affairs in the Young Nation
Investigating Primary Sources
presidents, one for the dates they were elected, and one for the states they came from. Then answer the following questions:
1. How many elections were held before 1800?
2. How old was the Constitution in 1800?
3. Why was it important to have a peaceful election in 1800 that followed the rules set out in the Constitution?
4. What was the significance of Jefferson’s inaugural address?
Isolationism or Involvement?
As you learned in Chapter 12, Spain controlled much of Latin America in the early 1800s. About that time, an independence movement swept through that part of the world. Country after country separated from Spain. By 1825, the last Spanish troops were driven from South America. Many people in the United States pressured the president to back the new, independent Latin American nations.
Following is part of a speech that Secretary of State John Quincy Adams delivered to the House of Representatives on July 4, 1821. People continue to refer to Adams’s famous words in debates about foreign policy today. According to Adams, how should the United States act? What does he say the United States stands for? How does his speech compare with the Monroe Doctrine of 1823?
Fourth of July Address, 1821
She [the United States] has, in the lapse [period] of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings… But she goes not abroad [overseas], in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all… She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own [joining in other country’s battles], were they even banners of foreign independence…she might become the dictatress [single ruler] of the world. [America’s] glory is not dominion [control over others], but liberty.
John Quincy Adams Warning Against the Search for Monsters to Destroy (1821)
Draw a political cartoon that illustrates the arguments Adams made in the speech quoted above. Include images that represent the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Add a caption. Show your cartoon to an adult and explain the historical background. Then, have the adult write a paragraph that explains your cartoon.
A Growing Sense of Nationhood
Defining America Through Literature
What is America? By the early 1800s, many events had defined the new nation politically: Independence had been declared in 1776. The American Revolution had been won. The Constitution had been written. The War of 1812 reaffirmed America’s independence. America was a free and democratic nation.
Two men attempted to define America in a different way—through literature. Authors Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper helped to shape the identity of early America.
Washington Irving (1783–1859)
As a writer, Irving had a keen eye for the American landscape and the people who lived in it. He wrote about the New Yorkers he knew, often with humor. And he wrote sympathetically about the Native Americans who, he believed, were being ill treated by white settlers. For his charming tales in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819–20), Irving would later be called the father of the American short story. Following is a passage from one of his best-loved stories.
It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle [house] of the Heer Van Tassel, which he found thronged with…farmers, a spare leathern-faced race, in homespun [homemade] coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles. Their brisk, withered little dames [wives], in close crimped caps, long waisted short-gowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and pin-cushions, and gay calico pockets hanging on the outside. Buxom lasses, almost as antiquated as their mothers, excepting where a straw hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city innovation. The sons, in short square-skirted coats, with rows of stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the fashion of the times, especially if they could procure an eelskin for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout the country as a potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.
Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1819)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851)
Cooper was one of the first authors to use an entirely American setting for his stories. He featured the frontier—a setting that could not be mistaken for any place in Europe. His white, Native American, and black characters reflected the country’s diversity. The frame of the white man…was like that of one who had known hardships and exertion from his earliest youth…. He wore a hunting shirt of forest-green, fringed with faded yellow, and a summer cap of skins which had been shorn [shaved] of their fur. He also bore a knife…but no tomahawk. His moccasins were ornamented after the gay fashion of the natives…. A pouch and horn completed his personal accouterments [accessories], though a rifle of great length, which the theory of the more ingenious whites had taught them was the most dangerous of all firearms, leaned against a neighboring sapling [young tree]. The eye of the hunter, or scout, whichever he might be, was small, quick, keen, and restless,
Andrew Jackson and the Growth of American Democracy
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roving while he spoke, on every side of him, as if in quest of game, or distrusting the sudden approach of some lurking enemy. Notwithstanding the symptoms of habitual suspicion, his countenance was not only without guile [deceit], but at the moment at which he is introduced, it was charged with an expression of sturdy honesty.
James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
Draw a caricature of an American in the early 1800s as described by Irving or Cooper. Your drawing should include specific details of clothing, possessions, and background setting. Label parts of your drawing to explain key details. For example, you might draw a line from your person’s shirt and write a short caption explaining why an American might have worn a homespun cotton shirt.