Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mini Lesson: Nathanael Greene Letter (Activity 4)

For upper middle school and high school levels

Students will be able to
-          Use the clues gathered from the primary source document to draw conclusions about the importance of the document and about the society in which it was written.
-          Draw connections between the events of the Revolutionary War and current policy questions

Historical Background: See Nathanael Greene Mini Lesson #1

Suggested Use: Use these questions to conclude this series of mini lessons. This lesson should help students realize the importance of primary source document and the larger lessons about history that you can gather from primary source documents. Refer to lessons for document materials: 1 * 2 * 3

Final Questions:
  1. Why is this letter important?

  2. Underneath all the specific details, what does it show us about the time period in general?

  3. What were some of the obstacles on the path towards independence?

  4. Did everyone appreciate the cause of independence? How did some people’s lack of support affect the cause?

  5. What are some reasons behind the lack of donations by the people of New Jersey? (You’ll have to read between the lines.)

  6. How might our lives be different today if Continental Army had not eventually received the supplies it needed from Trenton and other surrounding areas?

  7. Research extension: From what classical work is Nathanael’s exclamation “Oh Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” taken? If possible, read the quote in its original context. Is Nathanael using the quote to mean what it originally meant, or is he using it out of context? What does his quote show about the American attitude towards the past? Was the Revolutionary period marked by great historical awareness? Did Revolutionaries use the past and classical references to show off their intelligence, to accurately explain what happened in the past, and/or to legitimate their claims?

  8. Take a side: did the citizens have a responsibility to help the Continental Army? Should the Army have taken care of itself? What authority should the Army have used to gather supplies from civilians?

  9. Current events connection: consider the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan over the last eleven years. Do the citizens of America have a responsibility to provide support their armed forces? What does that responsibility entail practically? How can and should people dissent from a war with which they disagree? How is this question about our political situation different from the one facing the American colonists at the time of Greene’s writing? How is it similar?

Common Core Standards:
RH 6-8.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
RH 6-8.6. Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
NJ Content Standards:
6.1.12.D.2.a - Analyze contributions and perspectives of African Americans, Native Americans

National History Standards:
Era 3, Standard 1b: Reconstruct the arguments among patriots and loyalists about independence and draw conclusions about how the decision to declare independence was reached
Era 3, Standard 1c: Compare and explain the different roles and perspectives in the war of men and women, including white settlers, free and enslaved African Americans, and Native Americans.

Additional Resources:

Morristown National Historic Park. Featured Manuscript: Nathanial Greene. September 2011,

ML14: Nathanael Greene (Activity 4)
Mini Lesson by Julie Carlson

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