Grade 5 – To Join, or Not to Join, George Washington’s Army

Detail of a recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental Army

TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Revolutionary War
Theme
The Role of Connecticut in U.S. History
Town
Norwich, Statewide
Related Search Terms
American Revolution, Continental Army, Black Soldiers, Recruitment Posters, Equality, Valley Forge
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

 Why do people enlist in the military?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How did the Continental army get recruits to join?
  • Why would a young man want to enlist in the Continental army?
  • How might an enslaved man feel about serving in the Continental army?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental army
Recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental army – Connecticut Historical Society

This poster uses much hyperbole, including a “truly liberal and generous…bounty of TWELVE dollars, a fully sufficient supply of good and handsome clothing, a large and ample ration of provisions” and the chance for one to “embrace this opportunity of spending a few happy years in viewing…this beautiful continent,…return with pockets FULL of money and his head COVERED with laurels.” (Note: students may need to be told or reminded that many 18th-century documents used the “long s,” which looks like an “f,” at the beginning or in the middle of words in place of the familiar “s.”)

Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781
Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781 – Connecticut Historical Society

Certification that Beriah Bill purchased a slave named Backus Fox and enlisted him in the Continental Service in Norwich, Connecticut. Note that “enlisted for a class” means that Backus counted towards the town’s quota of soldiers they were required to provide to the army. Sometimes enslaved men who enlisted were allowed by their owners to keep a portion or all of their wages earned, but this document makes no reference to any such agreement. This is a hand-written, notarized statement.

Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781 – Transcriptionpage

Transcription of the above document for students who may have difficulty deciphering the 18th-century handwriting.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Start by showing students the recruitment poster and asking them (as a group, individually, or with a partner) to generate observations and questions about it. Have students share their observations and questions.

Some questions that might be addressed include:

  • What is the purpose of the poster?
  • Who is the target audience for this poster?
  • What words, phrases, or images does the poster use to persuade recruits to join?

Next, show or distribute the Backus Fox document (and transcription) and ask students to share or note down:

  • What facts they know for sure from the document
  • What guesses they can make based on the evidence in the document
  • What questions they have

Some questions for discussion might include:

  • Why would the author of the document enlist an enslaved man in the Continental army?
  • How were the quotas for each town determined? What was the quota for our town? How can we find out?
  • How might the enslaved man feel about serving in the army?

Wrap up with a class discussion of the differences in perspective of free recruits and enslaved soldiers.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Students can write historical fiction letters home from the war from the point of view of either a free or enslaved recruit about enlisting in the Continental army, researching historically accurate details. Students should explore motivations and expectations that led to their enlistment. They may also choose to write from the point of view of someone who paid a substitute to serve in his place, writing to explain his decision. If you wish to display the letters, final copies could be written on parchment-type paper.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ

Grade 5 – Nathan Hale: A Connecticut Hero

Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale

by Rachel DiSilvestro


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War
Theme
Cultural Diversity and an American National Identity
Town
Coventry, East Haddam, New London, Norwalk, Statewide
Related Search Terms
American Revolution, Hero, Patriot, Spy
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What makes a hero?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What actions make a hero?
  • What characteristics describe a hero?
  • How can words and pictures make people perceive someone as a hero?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson:

  Document commissioning Nathan Hale a Captain

Document commissioning Nathan Hale a captain in the nineteenth regiment of foot command by Colonel Charles Webb. Signed by John Hancock – Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale
Last Words of Captain Nathan Hale, the Hero-Martyr of the American RevolutionNew York Public Library Digital Collections, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Start by asking students to define a “hero.” What characteristics or actions make a person a hero?

Have students examine the document commissioning Nathan Hale as a captain in the army of the United Colonies.

  • Look for words in the document that describe Hale’s character or the expectations for his behavior. (Students may need assistance defining unfamiliar terms or expressions.)
  • Students should discuss these terms and compare with their previous definition of a hero.

Show students the illustration (created much later–in the 1850s) depicting the last words of Nathan Hale, just prior to his hanging by the British.

  • What do students see/notice in the image?
  • How would they describe the various characters in the image?
  • What questions do they have about what they see?
  • What guesses can they make about what is happening?

Explain that the image was created about 75 years after the events shown.

  • What do you think the artist’s purpose was in creating the image?
  • What did the artist want you to feel about Nathan Hale?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Students will discuss why Connecticut chose Nathan Hale as the state hero, considering important American values and how these contribute to our American identity. Students will then investigate other people who played “heroic” roles in the American Revolution or in Connecticut’s history, and present their findings through a “Museum of Heroes” (posters, songs, role-playing, etc.).

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Articles to READ

Grade 5 – Caleb Brewster & The Culper Ring

by Nick Merullo


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Revolutionary War
Theme
The Role of Connecticut in U.S. History
Town
Bridgeport, Fairfield
Related Search Terms
American Revolution, Caleb Brewster, The Culper Spy Ring
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

 In what ways did “ordinary” Americans contribute to the American Revolution?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • Why did the Continental army rely on contributions from civilians?
  • How did women contribute to the Revolution?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

A-H of the Culper Spy Ring Code - Library of Congress and MountVernon.org
A-H of the Culper Spy Ring Code – Library of Congress and MountVernon.org

The image above is a page from the coding index used by the Culper Spy Ring, a group of colonist civilians working as spies who gathered and reported intelligence to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Caleb Brewster was a key member of the organization. Brewster served as a courier delivering messages to agents in Connecticut and Long Island across the Long Island Sound. His long—standing friendship with Benjamin Tallmadge, Washington’s chief intelligence officer, and his reputation as an expert seaman, made him the perfect man for the job.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Have students do a close reading of the page and consider:

  • What words can they recognize on the page?
  • Why might some of these words need to be written in code?
  • What are some benefits of using numbers instead of words?
  • How might the results of the Revolution changed if these messages were discovered by the enemy?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Have students research the Culper Ring and present findings:

  • Create a map detailing one of Brewster’s excursions from the coast of Connecticut to Long Island.
  • Write a letter from the perspective of General Washington to Caleb Brewster.
  • Have students create their own coding system and write a secret message between spies.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Articles to READ
Field Trips and Programs

Grade 5 – New London’s Role in American Independence

by Laura Krenicki
William J. Johnston Middle School, Colchester


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Arts, Revolutionary War
Theme
The Role of Connecticut in U.S. History
Town
New London, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Abigail Dolbeare Hinman, Daniel Huntington, Benedict Arnold, New London, American Revolution, Revolutionary War
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What was Connecticut’s role in the American Revolution?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How do museums in Connecticut and elsewhere in New England help us understand the American Revolution?
  • How do museums represent American identity?
  • Are museums trustworthy places to learn about U.S. history?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Daniel Huntington, Abigail Dolbeare Hinman, 1854-1856 - Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut
Daniel Huntington, Abigail Dolbeare Hinman, 1854-1856 – Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut

This painting of Abigail Hinman is on display at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut. The story of the painting is that Abigail was home in New London while her husband, a sea captain, was away on a voyage. Suddenly, outside of her home, Abigail heard a commotion and witnessed the city of New London being destroyed by red-coated soldiers. Surprisingly, she saw Benedict Arnold, a family friend from the nearby town of Norwich, was one of the soldiers. He commanded the soldiers to spare her property, but Abigail was not blind to his blatant act of treason.

(Daniel Huntington (1816-1906) this link shows other paintings by the same artist). Ask students why the image of Abigail is so different from the other subjects in the the paintings.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Have students do a close reading of the image of Abigail. What do students notice about her style of dress, her posture/expression, the background, etc.? What clues are there as to the time period of the image? Where is it? What is going on?

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

There is little written about Abigail Hinman, although there is more information about her husband, Elisha (who wasn’t there for this event), and Benedict Arnold (seen in the background of the painting). Have students research the burning of New London and present their findings:

  • as a reenactment — students write a play that retells the story of New London.
  • through a living timeline — students each take a point in the history of the American Revolution and relate what happened in Connecticut on that date.
  • by recreating the scene — students may create a visual representation of the event through a drawing, painting, photograph, video, or even a tableau. A student “voice” should then explain what the image represents to the rest of the class or audience.
  • through a letter — students should write a letter to the editor of the Connecticut Courant (now called the Hartford Courant) explaining what was taking place in New London and what should be done about it.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT