• Lesson 2: President Madison's 1812 War Message: A Documentary Review

    The battle between the American warship U.S.S. Chesapeake (right) and the British warship H.M.S. Leopard (left)

    Students examine examples of primary documents (and some secondary accounts) that illuminate key points in President Madison's letter. The lesson identifies 10 statements in the message about which students are likely to have questions, and it provides relevant materials. If students raise questions about other sections of the letter, class members may be able to locate pertinent documents on their own, once they become familiar with some of the sources available in the records of Congress.

  • Lesson 1: The Monroe Doctrine: U.S. Foreign Affairs (circa 1782–1823) and James Monroe

    Portrait of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States, by Gilbert  Stuart.

    What was the Monroe Doctrine? What principles of foreign policy did this Doctrine establish? What were the significant events in U.S. diplomacy before 1823? What diplomatic roles had James Monroe played before he became president? Here, a careful examination of the document anticipates what is to come.

  • Lesson 1: The War in the North, 1775–1778

    George Washington in the uniform of the Continental Army, by Rembrandt  Peale.

    Lacking any organized army before 1775 (aside from local colonial militias), the Continental Congress had to assemble a more or less improvised fighting force that would be expected to take on the army of the world's largest empire. This lesson will trace events in the North from 1775 to 1778. By looking at documents of the time, and using an interactive map, students will see how an army was created and understand the challenges that Washington and his men faced during this critical early stage of the war.

  • The Native Americans' Role in the American Revolution: Choosing Sides

    Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea, Mohawk chief

    Native American groups had to choose the loyalist or patriot cause—or somehow maintain a neutral stance during the Revolutionary War. Students will analyze maps, treaties, congressional records, first-hand accounts, and correspondence to determine the different roles assumed by Native Americans in the American Revolution and understand why the various groups formed the alliances they did.

  • Mapping Colonial New England: Looking at the Landscape of New England

    A Dutch Map of the English colonies in North America around 1685 with an inset  view of New Amsterdam.

    The lesson focuses on two 17th-century maps of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to trace how the Puritans took possession of the region, built towns, and established families on the land. Students will learn how these New England settlers interacted with the Native Americans, and how to gain information about those relationships from primary sources such as maps.

  • Taking Up Arms and the Challenge of Slavery in the Revolutionary Era

    A  Map of 100 miles round Boston, 1775.

    Was the American Revolution inevitable? This lesson is designed to help students understand the transition to armed resistance and the contradiction in the Americans’ rhetoric about slavery through the examination of a series of documents. While it is designed to be conducted over a several-day period, teachers with time constraints can choose to utilize only one of the documents to illustrate the patriots’ responses to the actions of the British.

  • Colonizing the Bay

    John Winthrop wrote "General Observations for the Plantation of New  England"

    This lesson focuses on John Winthrop’s historic "Model of Christian Charity" sermon which is often referred to by its “City on a Hill “ metaphor. Through a close reading of this admittedly difficult text, students will learn how it illuminates the beliefs, goals, and programs of the Puritans. The sermon sought to inspire and to motivate the Puritans by pointing out the distance they had to travel between an ideal community and their real-world situation.

  • Lesson 2: The Monroe Doctrine: President Monroe and the Independence Movement in South America

    An early portrait of James Monroe.

    How did conditions in Europe relate to the independence movements in South America? What reasons did President Monroe give for recognizing the independence movements in South America?

  • Lesson 3: The Monroe Doctrine: A Close Reading

    Thomas Jefferson played a role in the development of the so-called Monroe  Doctrine.

    To what events in United States and European foreign affairs does the Monroe Doctrine refer? What was the primary purpose behind the Monroe Doctrine?

  • Lesson 3: Ending the War, 1783

    Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown.

    During the Revolutionary War there were several attempts made to end the fighting. In this lesson students will consider the various peace attempts made by both sides during the Revolutionary War.