Leaders of Excellence in Education,
Last week we saw the rise of the Sons of Liberty with their Boston Tea Party and discussed the numerous taxes and hardships placed on the colonists by King George III. In class we talked about recognizing precursors to conflict and how we can use the lessons from history to help us make wise decisions about our own future.
Why Does Propaganda Work? Because Some People Want It is a short article for Leaders of Excellence in Education. I completely disagree with their premise that people do not have the intellectual chops to discern on their own, they simply were not taught as children. This article was a rallying cry for me this morning to keep teaching!
This week we’re getting to know the men and women who helped found our country.
“He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.”
Samuel Adams’ statement is one of the principles that we will apply throughout the year. Basically, if a person is a liar, unkind, prideful… with their families and friends, it is probable that they will continue to do these things in public life. Southern meaning: You is what you is. The bible states this truth again and again. It is so important to teach our children to recognize character traits and make wise judgements.
We’re exploring weather in science this year. I did not know that the wind blows the opposite way in the southern hemisphere. It is so much fun to learn along with our students.
Our geography sentence establishes the French portion of North American. We will revisit this during the American Revolutionary War, Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and the French Revolution.
We’re going to try to add our timeline card links here. It will be quite a long Weekly Letter but hopefully will reduce confusion. Please let us know if you’d prefer it separated.
Week 4 Card 1 John Hancock
For Our Little Ones:
John Hancock’s father died when he was young and his wealthy merchant uncle cared for him. When his uncle died, John inherited his business. He used his wealth and influence to persuade others to join the movement to form the United States. John Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and used a large signature stating that it was large enough for King George to see without his spectacles. He was president of the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the United States was born. From 1780 to 1785, Hancock was the first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was reelected in 1787 and served until his death in 1793. excerpts from History.com
The Road to Revolution
In 1765, John Hancock entered local politics when he was elected a Boston selectman. The following year, he won election to the Massachusetts colonial legislature. Around this same time, the British Parliament began imposing a series of regulatory measures, including tax laws, to gain further control over its 13 American colonies. The colonists opposed these measures, particularly the tax laws, arguing that only their own representative assemblies impose tax them. Over the next decade, anti-British sentiment among the colonists intensified and eventually led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
Hancock came into direct conflict with the British in 1768, when one of his merchant ships, the Liberty, was seized in Boston Harbor by British customs officials who claimed Hancock had illegally unloaded cargo without paying the required taxes. Hancock was a popular figure in Boston, and the seizure of his ship led to angry protests by local residents. In the ensuing months and years, Hancock became increasingly involved in the movement for American independence. Massachusetts was at the center of this movement, and Boston, in particular, was dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty.”
A Wanted Man
In 1774, John Hancock was elected president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, which declared itself an autonomous government. In December of the same year, he was chosen as a Massachusetts delegate to the Second Continental Congress, which served as the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution.
Hancock’s revolutionary activities made him a target for British authorities. In 1775, he and fellow patriot Samuel Adams avoided arrest in Lexington, Massachusetts, after Paul Revere (1735-1818) made his legendary nighttime ride to warn them the British were coming.
John Hancock’s Famous Signature
In May 1775, John Hancock was elected president of the Continental Congress, which was meeting in Philadelphia. The next month, the Congress chose George Washington (1732-1799) as commander of the Continental Army. (According to some accounts, Hancock had eyed the role for himself.) During the eight years of war that followed, Hancock used his wealth and influence to help fund the army and revolutionary cause.
On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) stating that the 13 American colonies were free from British rule. The document also detailed the importance of individual rights and freedoms. As president of the Continental Congress, Hancock is credited as the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. His prominent, stylish signature became famous. (According to legend, Hancock boldly inscribed his name so the English king would not need glasses to read it.) Today, the term “John Hancock” is synonymous with “signature.”
John Hancock’s Governorship and Later Years
After resigning as head of the Continental Congress in 1777, Hancock had his chance for military glory in 1778, when he led some 5,000 Massachusetts soldiers in an attempt to recapture Newport, Rhode Island, from the British. Although the mission was a failure, Hancock remained a popular figure. He went on to help frame the Massachusetts Constitution, adopted in 1780, and was elected governor of Massachusetts by a wide margin that same year.
During his tenure as governor, Massachusetts was plagued by sharp inflation, and a number of farmers defaulted on loans and ended up in prison. In the face of the mounting political crisis, Hancock, who was suffering from gout, resigned the governorship in 1785. The following year, an armed uprising by Massachusetts farmers that later became known as Shay’s Rebellion broke out. The rebellion ended in early 1787, and Hancock was reelected governor that same year. He did not attend the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia; however, he presided over his home state’s 1788 convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution and gave a speech in favor of ratification.
In 1789, Hancock was a candidate in the first U.S. presidential election, but received only four electoral votes out of a total 138 cast. George Washington garnered 69 votes, while John Adams (1735-1826) captured 36 votes, earning the two men the presidency and vice presidency, respectively.
Hancock remained governor of Massachusetts until his death at age 56 on October 8, 1793. Following an extravagant funeral, he was buried at Boston’s Granary Burying Ground. History.com
Some Questions to Ask:
- Sometimes God gives great wealth to people so that they can use it for the good of others. Do you see this in John Hancock? Why or why not?
- Do you think John Hancock was fearful when he signed the Declaration of Independence? If not, why?
Week 4 Card 2 Nathan Hale
For Our Little Ones:
Nathan Hale grew up in Connecticut. After he graduated from Yale University, he taught school. He also taught young women, something that was unusual at the time. He volunteered to help during the Revolutionary War. He was caught spying and was punished with his life. At only the age of 21, Nathan Hale said, “I have but one regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country”.
from Totally History Nathan Hale was born the sixth child of twelve in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. He grew up on his family’s prosperous farm until leaving to attend school at Yale 13 years later with his older brother. During his enrollment, Hale belonged to a literary fraternity, Linonia, which examined issues of the day such as the ethics of slavery and other academic topics such as astronomy, literature and mathematics. While at Yale, Hale met and studied with Benjamin Tallmadge, who would significantly influence his perceptions and decisions later in his life.
Upon graduation in 1773, Hale became a schoolteacher in East Haddam followed by a posting in New London. During his tenure as a schoolteacher, Hale taught regular classes but also offered classes to young women of the town. During his college days, he often spoke on the inequality of education between men and women. When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Hale joined the Connecticut militia and was elected first lieutenant. Despite his enlistment, rank and active service, Hale did not participate in military combat activities until 1776, although he spoke up on behalf of military action in community meetings.
Following his unit’s participation in the Siege of Boston, Hale, who did not participate, received a letter from his former classmate, Tallmadge, on July 4, 1775. In this letter, Tallmadge encouraged Hale to become an active militia member. Due to the inspiring nature of the letter, Hale accepted a commission as first lieutenant in a regiment stationed in Stamford, Connecticut under the command of Colonel Charles Webb.
Upon his enlistment, Hale’s regiment was stationed in New London before being ordered to Cambridge. In Cambridge, the regiment was attached to the left wing of the army commanded by General George Washington on September 14, 1775. Camping at the foot of Winter Hill, this portion of Washington’s army commanded the route from Charlestown, which was one of only two roads the British could use to exit Boston. On January 30, 1776, Hale’s regiment was moved to the right wing in Roxbury where they participated in successful actions in March to drive British troops out of Boston.
Intelligence Gathering In the spring of 1776, the Continental Army moved forces to Manhattan to prevent the British from taking control of New York City. Hale’s regiment was one of the units assigned to this effort under the command of Washington. Washington sought a volunteer to go behind British lines and discover the location of the planned invasion. Hale, seeing the assignment as a patriotic opportunity, volunteered on September 8, 1776.
A few days later on September 12, Hale crossed enemy lines disguised as a Dutch schoolteacher, immediately placing his life at risk. As an enemy spy, his life was forfeit should he be caught by British forces. New York City fell on September 15 to British forces and Washington’s troops retreated to Manhattan Island’s north end. Hale remained in the British occupied southern tip of the island.
On September 21, the Great New York Fire of 1776 destroyed a quarter of the lower portion of Manhattan. After the fire, nearly 200 American partisans were arrested by the British. At the same time, Hale was caught in Flushing Bay near Queens, New York as he awaited his planned escape rendezvous. Upon capture, he was transported under heavy guard to British headquarters in New York. Accounts of the time indicate Hale was questioned by British General William Howe after his capture and that physical evidence was found on his person incriminating him as a spy. According to historical records, papers were discovered in Hale’s shoes detailed the information he had gathered, including sketches of British fortifications and notations of numbers and positions.
Captured spies faced execution by hanging if they were found guilty of espionage activities by military judgment. Wartime standards did not require a formal trial for suspected spies. While awaiting execution overnight, Hale requested a Bible and a visit from a clergyman, but both requests were denied. Records indicate he also requested writing materials and penned two personal letters, which were destroyed after his death. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale faced his own execution. He was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery where the gallows waited. According to witness accounts and records of his execution, Hale spoke eloquently before his execution. According to many accounts, Hale stated “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”c After uttering his final words, Hale was hanged as punishment for spying.
The validity of Hale’s final words remains in question. While some accounts refer to his eloquence before his execution, the actual quote attributed to him comes from a secondary source. John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the execution, reportedly repeated Hale’s words to William Hull, an American officer. Hull then publicized Hale’s statement throughout the colonies. It served as inspiration to many and epitomized the dedication of many patriots of the time. Whether the famous quote is verbatim and accurate or not, Hale’s final moments conveyed the dedication he felt towards the quest for independence.
While Nathan Hale died at the early age of 21, his words resonated across the revolutionary efforts and throughout history. His passion and commitment to the cause of independence inspired many of his compatriots and served to motivate many others. Hale did not participate in many military actions during his brief military tenure, but willingness to take on a dangerous mission and his bravery in the face of execution earned him a place in American history as a martyred hero of the American Revolution.
Questions you may ask:
- What are some of Nathan Hale’s character traits?
- How did Hale’s character show in his decisions?
Week 4 Card 3 Samuel Adams
For Our Little Ones:
Samuel Adams crafted malt drinks and started a newspaper. Both did not work out. Later he organized the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party.
After serving as John Hancock’s lieutenant governor from 1789 to 1793, Adams succeeded to the governorship at Hancock’s death. Although he opposed Jay’s Treaty with England in 1795, he was thrice reelected before infirmity led him to retire in 1797. Three years later, when Thomas Jefferson was elected to the presidency over his cousin John, Samuel congratulated the Virginian on the triumph of democratic republicanism.
Samuel Adams was a revolutionary of great self-discipline and patience. “We cannot make events,” he believed. “Our business is wisely to improve them.” After his death, one colleague likened him to John Calvin, “cool, abstemious, polished, refined,” although Adams was “more inflexible, uniform, consistent” than the Genevan reformer. Avoiding all social pretension and cultivating ascetic manners, Adams embodied an austere Puritan republicanism that was seen as exemplary in 1775, but became archaic by the 1790s. Uniformly respected, though not always liked, Samuel Adams was, in John Adams’s words, “born and tempered a wedge of steel to split the knot of lignum vitae” that bound America to Britain.
Pauline Maier, “A New Englander as Revolutionary: Samuel Adams,” in Pauline Maier, Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (1980); John C. Miller, Sam Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda (1936).
RICHARD D. BROWN
The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Here are the Link it! Cards we’ve covered thus far!
Week 2 is about setting the stage for the thought processes that were prevalent in the early 1700’s. Think about how Catherine the Great was influenced positively by the Enlightenment Movement and the Colonists were positively influenced by the First Great Awakening.
Week 3 and 4
John Paul Jones was a Naval officer for the Continental Army. During a naval battle his ship was badly damaged. The British officer asked if he wanted to surrender. “Surrender, I have not yet begun to fight” was his answer. His tenacity lead him to winning the battle.
Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury. He implemented a gold standard for the US. When Kim was a child she could go into a bank and trade dollars for an equal amount of silver. Richard Nixon ended this. What are the ramifications of going off the gold standard? What is our currency based on now?