• Man in the Middle: Thomas Day and the Free Black Experience

    Created December 3, 2014
    Thomas Day mantlepiece detail

    This lesson uses Day as a focal point for students to learn about ways that free blacks attained their free status and “crafted freedom” for themselves and others through their craft and entrepreneurial skills, through political activities, through leveraging their social position and contacts, and through their art and creativity.

  • Frederick Douglass’s “Narrative:” Myth of the Happy Slave

    Created October 8, 2014
    Frontispiece of original edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

    In 1845, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and Written by Himself was published. In it, Douglass criticizes directly—often with withering irony—those who defend slavery and those who prefer a romanticized version of it.

    Peter Whittemore (left), a descendant of Herman Melville, reads from Moby Dick

    A Revival of the American Spirit on the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan!

    On the occasion of the Charles W. Morgan’s homecoming to New Bedford, Massachusetts (June 2014), a descendent of Herman Melville, Peter Whittemore, acting as one of the 38th Voyagers, delivers an open letter to the world in the form of a “top-gallant salute.” He draws inspiration from his ancestor’s novel, Moby Dick and reflects upon the 38th Voyage of the Morgan as a wake-up call for 21st-century environmentalism.

  • “Twelve Years a Slave”: Was the Case of Solomon Northup Exceptional?

    Created March 27, 2014
    Solomon Northup
  • “Twelve Years a Slave”: Analyzing Slave Narratives

    Created February 21, 2014
    Solomon Northup

    The corrupting influence of slavery on marriage and the family is a predominant theme in Solomon Northup’s narrative Twelve Years a Slave.  In this lesson, students are asked to identify and analyze narrative passages that provide evidence for how slavery undermined and perverted these social institutions. Northup collaborated with a white ghostwriter, David Wilson. Students will read the preface and identify and analyze statements Wilson makes to prove the narrative is true.

    Congress passes Indian Removal Act

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    May 26, 1830
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    President John Quincy Adams signs protective tariff (“tariff of abominations”)

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    May 19, 1828

    John Brown, abolitionist, born

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    Martin R. Delany African American abolitionist, doctor, and politician, born

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    May 6, 1812
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    Texas wins independence from Mexico

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    April 13, 1836