This free curriculum unit from the New-York Historical Society explores the active and engaged role that 18th century women played in colonial and revolutionary America. Materials consider how women experienced and were integral to settler colonial society, as well as the ways they participated in political discourses surrounding the American Revolution.
The Core Documents Collection – Documents and Debates is structured around a series of topics, each based on a question for debate. For each topic, there is a collection of documents that, together, form the basis of argument over that topic – from those who debated it at a given point in American history. Volume One covers 1493-1865, and Volume Two covers 1865-2009.
The goal is to explore a series of critical moments in American history by asking questions for which there are not simple yes/no answers, but instead call for informed discussion and rational debate. The Documents and Debates readers also include appendices of additional documents, and together are a perfect fit for any American History survey course, including AP U.S. History.
This short video asserts that although the American Revolution doesn’t fit the paradigm of other revolutions (e.g., British, French, Russian), it nevertheless resulted in a new form of republican government coupled with a new understanding of the role of citizens—both without turbulent social consequences. Professor Jack Rakove concludes that the hallmark of the American Revolution was the truly revolutionary idea that people could and should decide for themselves how to be governed.
This short video challenges the notion that the Constitution was a conservative reaction to the democratic ideals of the American Revolution. The Revolution generated constitutional discussion in the states, where legislators explored the nature of executive power, and other constitutional questions. In light of this constitutional innovation, Professor Jack Rakove maintains that the Constitution of 1787 was the culmination of—not a reaction to–the Revolution of the late 1770’s.
This video playlist is part of the New-York Historical Society’s Academy for American Democracy, an educational initiative focusing on history and civics education for sixth grade students. Videos explore the ideals of democracy, civic participation, the evolution of Ancient Athenian and American democracy, and the power of the people within democracies.
This short video illustrates the degree to which women actively participated in the American Revolution. In response to the Stamp Act, American colonists agreed to stop importing British goods and the colonial women led the boycotts of tea, fine cloth, and other consumer goods. Women began to think of themselves as “Daughters of Liberty.” Professor Rosemarie Zagarri explains how male political leaders came to acknowledge the political capacity and potential of women during this era.
This short video clarifies the role played by Loyalists throughout the American Revolution. Never more than 1/5 of the population, Loyalists’ political and military significance varied both chronologically and geographically. Professor Jack Rakove highlights the efforts of British forces in the Southern colonies to enlist Loyalists in hopes of “pacifying” the countryside, but concludes that there were too few Loyalists for this strategy to succeed.
This short video explores the limited rights of women prior to the American Revolution. According to the idea of femme covert, women were legally and politically subservient to their husbands. Married women could not own property and all women were considered irrelevant to the political sphere. Professor Rosemarie Zagarri notes that 80% of the freemen in the colonies could vote (as compared to 20% in Great Britain), but suffrage was still limited to men.
This unit begins by providing background information on the establishment of the thirteen colonies. Across 25 lessons, students learn about early alliances, the French and Indian War, and causes and provocations of the American Revolution. Students are introduced to major ideas in the Declaration of Independence and to key figures in the Revolution, as well as art and literature representative of the period.
Includes 25 lessons of roughly 45 minutes each.
This short video examines the Boston Tea Party of 1773 as the critical event which transformed political discussion about British imperial authority into an active source of controversy. By the early 1770’s, British and Americans thought differently about the extent of Parliament’s power to legislate for the American colonies. Professor Jack Rakove notes that British punishment of Massachusetts for its defiance of the Tea Act precluded a peaceful resolution of the political controversy.