Describe the contributions of France and other nations and of individuals to the outcome of the Revolution. Identify the different roles women played during the Revolution. Understand the personal impact and economic hardship of the war on families, problems of financing the war, wartime inflation, and laws against hoarding goods and materials and profiteering.
American Revolution: Sybil Ludington's Ride, April 26, 1777
Time Alloted2 - 3 45 Minute Periods, Estimated
State Content Standards
5.6 Students understand the course and consequence of the American Revolution.
- Describe the contributions of France and other nations and of individuals to the outcome of the Revolution.
- Identify the different roles women played during the Revolution.
- Understand the personal impact and economic hardship of the war on families, problems of financing the war, wartime inflation, and laws against hoarding goods and materials and profiteering.
Downloaded and duplicated visuals and graphic organizers—bold lettered. The image may be projected from an acetate overhead, or from a power point slide show. The lesson concludes with an interactive computer challenge.
Students should be familiar with the causes of the American Revolution and the first conflicts in and around Boston, Massachusetts in 1775-76.
- In order to make the introductory image more meaningful, the teacher may want to start with reading the Events of the Ludington's Ride.
- Show students the image entitled The Patriotic Race, by Charles C. Nahl. Have students report on the details. Make a list as they report. Have them speculate on what is beyond the edges of the scene—guesses should show a logical connection to the details of the drawing. Last, have students create positive and negative “spins” or interpretations on what they see pictured. They are, in the modern phrase, “spin doctors.” Record the positive and negative spins in another list. (A spin doctor explains a situation or an event in a way that influences others' way of looking at the situation or event. It is the opposite of being neutral or objective).
- After the preview warm-up, students can play a game called Spin Doctor . It utilizes the skill of putting a specific spin on an event. The game allows students to consider how individuals influenced the American Revolution, women's roles in the war, and how the war impacted the way people lived.
- To prepare for this game, students need some background preparation, for they will be creating “Patriot Spins” and “Loyalist Spins” for events/facts related to the Ride of Sybil Ludington in April, 1777. One of the reasons the American Revolution was so difficult is that Americans were not united over the decision to fight Great Britain . Patriots were eager to separate from Great Britain and to become an independent nation. Loyalists did not think independence was reasonable or even possible, given Great Britain 's military and economic strength. Download and duplicate both the Patriot Point of View and the Loyalist Point of View pages. Students may read the lists in small groups or as a whole class.
Playing the Game: Spin Doctor
The teacher or other appointed leader will read from a page entitled Events of Ludington's Ride during the course of the game.
Divide the class into an even number of teams of three to five students each. Multiple teams maximize the amount of student participation. Make a score card on the blackboard or on an overhead.
Decide which teams will create Patriot Spins, and which will create Loyalist Spins. Spin doctors on both sides aim to promote the virtue of their political position and/or discredit the virtue of the opposing position.
The Loyalists have the first turn. The teacher reads the first event on the list of events. Teams confer separately to create spins that are consistent with or sympathetic to a Loyalist point of view. They have 20 seconds. Each Loyalist team shares one of their spin-ideas. The Loyalist score is the number of unique spin-ideas. Thus if two teams think of the same spin for an event, it only counts as one point. There is an advantage in creating more than one spin. It may be necessary at the last second to choose an idea that no one has yet mentioned-- in order to preserve the point requirement of “uniqueness”. The teacher referees whether the spins make sense. Nonsense spins don't count for any points at all.
Play goes to Patriots. The teacher reads the next event on the list. Patriot teams have 20 seconds to come up with appropriate spins. They share. The score is equal to the number of unique spins. And so forth for 10 rounds total, or 5 spins for each side.
Sybil's image should be displayed during the game. After play is completed, ask students what they can see in the picture that is consistent with what they learned from the game. What details in the image are outside the limits of the game? (Details may be outside the limits of history, e.g. clothes, hair style, facial expression.)
Synthesis or Conclusion Activity:
Have students complete a “Two Sides to Every Issue” network. On one side they record what Patriots might have thought about Sybil Ludington's 40 mile ride, at night, during a storm, to alert minute soldiers to get to their positions in the Connecticut militia outside Danbury , Connecticut . On the other side they record what Loyalists might have thought about the same events and details. One side will praise Sybil. One side will criticize her.
Optional essay prompt: Have students write a paragraph to this prompt: Why is it reasonable or unreasonable to think that Sybil Ludington was the only girl or the only teenager who participated in the American Revolution? A page for writing is attached, entitled Writing Prompt for Sybil Ludington's Ride.
Extension Activity: Interactive Computer Game
The computer provides a script format that guides the student through an argument between a Patriot and a Loyalist. Each return is a cue to the computer to skip a line, print the next speaker's name in bold letters followed by a colon. Tabs are set so that what the student writes is properly indented. Cartoon figures available at the bottom of the screen can be used to illustrate the argument, or better yet, students may add their own, original cartoon figures. The images function like rubber stamps. The student can use them selectively to illustrate lines of dialogue at each of the activity's 8 returns. The result would be an “illuminated” dialogue between a Patriot and a Loyalist airing their differences on the need for a revolution against Great Britain .
- Loyalty to the King is honorable, and has been honorable for centuries.
- Americans are bound to England by language, history, culture, values and religion. United with Great Britain , colonists will be a part of all that is good in British culture and history.
- American colonists still have family living in England . Loyalty to England is loyalty to family.
- The British Empire has the strongest navy in the world, and a professional army. Americans have no navy and a volunteer army.
- The British Parliament has tried to raise money from American colonists to pay for the army that protects the colonists from the Indians, the French, and the Spanish. The taxes are reasonable.
- The Parliament has the right to govern, including the right to impose taxes when money is needed for the common good. Protection in the unsettled areas would benefit everyone. It would be tax money well spent.
- There are ways in the British tradition of Parliament and King to correct errors over time. We have to be patient. The Parliamentary system works.
- Americans are very lucky to be able to own property. With hard work, they become prosperous. A rebellion would wipe out prosperity.
- Without the British military to help protect trade on the oceans there is piracy. Without the British military to protect settlement on the frontier, there is lawlessness. British power keeps us safer than we would be without it.
- The British Empire is the most civilized empire in the world. Why start all over again? Starting over is a huge risk, more likely to fail than to succeed.
- There is no freedom of speech or freedom of the press except for those who argue against rebellion. Those who oppose rebellion suffer from Patriot violence. Loyalist property is taken by Patriot mobs and armies.
- The colonies are losing its most prominent citizens, many of them move to Canada or return to England than remain in a rebellious colony.
- War will destroy what we have taken 150 years to build, governments, courts, towns, businesses, farms....
- War brings out the worst on both sides. There are civilized ways to solve problems that do not use violence. We should negotiate and petition and debate. With patience we will get what we want.
- These are the beliefs that would be part of a Patriot's thinking.
- The King is a tyrant who does not remember that Americans are citizens with rights.
- Each colony has a governor; some of them are appointed by the king, others are elected by the people. All the colonies have legislatures. Thus, Americans have participated in representative local government since the colonies were built in the1600s.
- Americans are a new kind of people who have figured out how to survive. England can't govern Americans better from across the ocean than Americans can govern themselves.
- Laws passed by Parliament from 1763 to 1773 tried to impose taxes on American colonists as a way of propping up an expensive empire.
- Americans object to how tax laws are made without any American having a voice in the debate. Then come punishments when American resistance grows strong
- The king has shut down legislatures, and he has made judges and governors answer to him rather than to the colonists.
- American citizens, like the citizens living in Britain , want the right of trial by peers. The king says citizens must be tried in England or in another colony.
- The king thinks Americans will agree to laws that benefit only British merchants and British manufactures and British military.
- The British army takes what it wants from private citizens or destroys property in order to make citizens suffer.
- The king has not responded to Americans' requests for fair treatment, except to create more tax laws, or to close more courts and town meetings.
- The only thing that has caused Parliament to drop tax laws is boycotts of British goods, but then Parliament always turns around and passes more laws that hurt Americans.
- The British efforts to punish colonists don't work. For example, after the Boston Tea Party, King George III closed the port of Boston . Instead of dividing the colonies, punishment united the colonies against the king.
- Americans fought with the British in the French and Indian War. They know how British armies think and fight.
- A fight for freedom, rights, and property is a worthy fight.
Write your topic sentence in the box. Use radiating lines to collect details that support the claim you make in the topic sentence. Write a paragraph at the bottom of the page.
Writing Prompt for Sybil Ludington's Ride
Write your topic sentence in the box. Use radiating lines to collect details that support the claim you make in the topic sentence. Write a paragraph at the bottom of the page.
It is reasonable to think that Sybil Ludington was just one of many teenagers who participated in the American Revolution. There are primary sources like personal diaries and newspapers that describe how young people participated. Even without those documents, it is reasonable to expect that young people adopted the loyalties and concerns of their families. They would have helped their families in the hard work of settling in a new country and in the emergencies that occasionally occurred. Age would not have eliminated young people from the biggest emergency of them all-- the struggles related to a war. And in an emergency, being female would probably not matter very much either.
Charles Christian Nahl (1818 – 1878)
Charles C. Nahl was born in Kassel , Germany , in 1818, into a family of accomplished artists. He studied art with his father and one of his cousins, and learned the medium of watercolor by age 12. He undertook further training at both the Kassel and Dresden Academies . The formal academies prioritized historical and religious scenes over other subjects and stressed the importance of draftsmanship and detail.
In 1846, Nahl moved to Stuttgart and then Paris with his mother, younger siblings, and an artist friend, Frederick August Wenderoth. While in Paris , he continued his studies. Because of the political and social unrest in Europe at this time, the Nahl party left France for the United States.
Nahl and his family remained in New York until 1851. Like so many others, they decided to seek their fortunes in California. They sailed from New York to Panama and then up the Pacific Coast to San Francisco . They reached San Francisco on May 23, 18 51. The family set out immediately for Rough and Ready where they were tricked into purchasing a “salted mine.” It was co mmon for sellers to “salt mines” or sprinkle them with gold from another mine, to give the impression that it was rich w ith gold. With this disaster and bad health, Nahl decided to resume his artistic career. He, and his friend, Wenderoth, established a studio in Sacramento . They accepted commissions for portraits and commercial work, gaining a great following in their new community. After a devastating fire in Sacramento in November 1852, Nahl and Wenderoth moved to San Francisco where Nahl established a studio with his younger brother, Arthur.
Within a short time, Nahl was the most sought after illustrator working in the state. His drawings of 19th century California , which were produced as detailed wood engravings, appeared in newspapers, periodicals, books, broadsides and letter sheets. They were seen by audiences on the Pacific Coast , as well as readers and viewers in the eastern states and Europe .
Nahl's most popular work included illustrations for works written by Alonzo Delano. He produced images for Pen-Knife Sketches: or Chips of the Old Block (1853), The Miner's Progress (1854), The Idle and Industrious Miner (1854) and Old Block's Sketch Book: Or Tales of California Life (1856). By combining humor and morality with excellent draftsmanship, Nahl produced the quintessential image of California gold miner.
Nahl was a careful observer of nature, and produced beautiful imagery of fruits, flowers and other vegetation, but he paid less attention to landscape. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Nahl was not drawn to such wonders as Yosemite. Nahl's images of mining life included accurate features of the Sierra foothills, but he usually emphasized figures over scenery.
Nahl is most remembered for his panoramic historical themes and early California scenes such as Miners in the Sierra of 1851-52 (in collaboration with Wenderoth) and Saturday Night in the Mines (1856). His reputation rests on signature works such as Sunday Morning in the Mines, The Fandango and Sunday Morning in Monterey , all produced in the 1870s. Although Nahl continued to produce illustrations throughout his lifetime, his enduring success came from his large-scale paintings. His paintings attracted patrons including Judge E.B. Crocker, Leland Stanford and James Flood.
By the time Nahl died in 1878, at the age of 59, his style of colorful, dramatic painting had passed from favor. It was not until the later part of the 20th century that his work was evaluated in new contexts and his reputation was re-established as Artist of the Gold Rush.
About The Patriotic Race, 1870
Judge Crocker first commissioned Nahl to create a pair of paintings: The Love Chase , 1869 and The Patriotic Race, 1870. Both subjects provided the artist with an opportunity to depict running horses. In The Patriotic Race, notice how all four legs of the horse carrying our heroine are off the ground. This painting pre-dates the photographic experiments Eadweard Muybridge made of running horses for Leland Stanford. Stanford wanted to know if a horse's legs were really all off the ground at the same time at some point in a horse's gait.
According to the narrative, The Patriotic Race, both armies were camped near the Potomac. One evening, British officers hosted a ball for the ladies in the nearby towns. The heroine was at the ball. While at the ball, the heroine overheard a conversation between two British Officers about an important dispatch. The dispatch needed to be delivered to the commanding British officer. The heroine, who supported the American cause, diverted the messenger, took the dispatch bag and found the messenger's horse outside. She got on the horse and raced toward the American camp. A British soldier saw her and raced after her and at sunrise the British officer finally caught up with the heroine. Out stepped an American soldier, alerting the British soldier, and allowing him to escape. Notice how Nahl unifies his painting: the light sweeps the viewer's eyes across the painting, exposing the full story; the rose color of the sky is carried across the painting by the heroine's rose-colored dress and connects with the British soldier's red coat.
The Patriotic Race refers to the Revolutionary War period. So far the actual source for the story, told in this painting, has not been identified. It is similar to other actual stories of women during the Revolutionary War. Sybil Ludington, for example, has been called the Female Paul Revere. When her father, a colonel in a local Connecticut militia, learned that the British planned to burn the town of Danbury and his men were scattered over a wide area near his home, it was sixteen-year old Sybil, who rode on horseback over 40 miles in the dark to spread the alert in 1777. Twenty-two year old Deborah Champion is another of these real-life heroines. In 1775 her father sent her to Boston on a mission to deliver papers to General Washington. In the company of her family's slave Aristarchus, she rode from her home in Connecticut and crossed enemy lines in Massachusetts on her way to General Washington. The Patriotic Race may well be based on a fictional story, but the elements of courageous young heroines delivering messages in defiance of the British Army are based on actual events.
Moreland L. Stevens , Charles Christian Nahl: Artist of the Gold Rush . Sacramento , CA : E. B. Crocker Art Gallery , Sacramento , 1976.