Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
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Most colonists thought of themselves as British citizens until the American Revolution, and they believed that they enjoyed certain rights based on English political traditions and Enlightenment- thinking. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense persuaded many that natural rights and popular sovereignty trumped monarchy. Such ideas attracted slaves and other marginal groups, but white planters associated freedom with the right to hold property—including slaves.
Loyalties that grew during the Revolution were based on individual perspectives. For disparate persons such as Phillis Wheatley, a slave poetess; William Franklin, a royal governor; and Dragging Canoe, a Cherokee warrior, these perspectives represented a broad cross- section of people inhabiting America at that time.
Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped from West Africa and sold as a slave in Boston. She began writing at an early age, and was soon drawing parallels between the evils of slavery and Great Britain’s colonial policies.
William Franklin served Great Britain as a soldier and governor before the Revolution, and remained loyal during the war.
Tsiyugunsini (Dragging Canoe) emerged before the American Revolution as a young Cherokee leader who opposed accommodating white settlement. Like most indigenous nations, the Cherokee sided with the British during the conflict, and Dragging Canoe led a large coalition of groups in battle.
Carol Berkin studies the history of colonial women through immersing herself in the documents they produced, and the artifacts they fashioned and used. She argues that this immersion helps students of history to avoid “presentism,” the imposition of modern points of view on cultures of the past. Careful study of textiles, for example, can help us understand the women who made and wore them. Read edited Hands on History interview with Carol Berkin.