Sunday, July 6, 2008

American Revolution Dialectic History Presentation

This is set up in the foyer for the guests who arrive, my parents. MIL had flown 1500 miles to see the event and opened the door for them so that we could make our grand entrance as a family.

Here is the display of the historical documents, sealed letter from George Washington to his wife Martha,quill pen, ink, sealing wax and stamp.

Here are some games, musical instruments, compass and scope from the era.

Here are the books that were read and the art projects that were completed. The dc wove baskets, decoupaged boxes, made silver plates and cups, copy books and clay pieces which was a popular art form back then./span>

We came down the stairs with ds in the lead, playing Yankee Doodle on his fife which he had gotten in Colonial Williamsburg four years ago. DD made and wore this hat while we made our grand entrance.

Then we welcomed everyone and announced who we were. DH was portraying Ben Franklin, I was portraying Martha Washington, dd was portraying Abigail Adams and ds was portraying a boy from a plantation in Yorktown even though I had tried in vain to talk him into being the Marquis de Lafayette.

Then ds distributed programs for our guests to follow the presentation. These baskets contain the programs (on the left) and souvenirs (on the right, more on that later).

Afterwards, ds gave some background information on the historical events leading to the boycott on tea.

I had given my dh a script of comments Ben Franklin made during different historical points. DH interjected these after every recitation. Can't you just imagine Ben Franklin doing this? At this point he interjected, "This king will stand foremost in the list of diabolical, bloody and execrable tyrants!"

Then dd presented her speech on Liberty Tea (which we made from fresh orange and chocolate mint leaves in my tasted excellent!), explaining proper etiquette, and then served tea. (Editor's Note: I didn't think about keeping the camera in one position.Oops!)

After dh prayed the blessing, we served a buffet dinner made from recipes from historical places in Virginia. 

Virginia Ham

Currant Nut Tea Cake from Carter's Grove Plantation near Williamsburg, Virginia

Almond Macaroons from King Arms Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia

Sweet Potato Muffins from Christiana Campbell's Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia

Garden Salad from Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia (Thomas Jefferson's cooks were known for using fresh ingredients from the garden, especially peaches, which are in this salad with an herbal vinaigrette.)

Whipped Honey Butter imported from New York Colony (For Christmas last year my SIL sent honey from the bee farm in her backyard in upstate New York.)

Apple Cider Cake from Chownings Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia (This cake got stuck in the bundt pan. I had to scoop it out. It was then renamed Spiced Apple Spoonbread with Apple Cider Sauce. It turned out to be the best tasting item offered!)

In the kitchen we had Peanut Soup from Mount Vernon near Alexandria, Virginia.  (This was one of George Washington's favorite dishes. I alter the recipe significantly so that it is lighter. gasp)

There was also Wassail from Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia.

At the end of dinner, the children each played pieces on a keyboard borrowed from my mom. They used the harpsichord setting. DD played a piece she is currently learning. DS taught himself in 2 weeks how to play Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Then dh, portraying Ben Franklin, got up to share about one of Franklin's inventions, the glass armonica. DS is dressed very casually, because like Ben, he planned on jumping in the lake for a swim after the presentation. Also I had no time to make a full costume (see last paragraph of that blog entry)for him, which he announced a desire for at the last minute. lol MIL had read that blog entry right before she left for the airport to come here. She said that if she had known she could have packed a colonial costume she had in the garage for him to wear! Go figure! I never thought to ask her for something like that! lol

 Then dd gave a speech about the events from the Boston Tea Party to Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech.

Then ds recited "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death." I coached him very little on this. This was entirely his interpretation. It did help that he saw Patrick Henry do this in Colonial Williamsburg four years ago! Hold on to your hats!

Ben Franklin then interjected...I had to stand before the English Parliament and endure verbal abuse at their outrage over the Boston Tea Party, while lords and ladies sat in gleefully mocking tone. I was sarcastically questioned and called names. I endured this outrage in stoic silence. However, as I left, I hissed, "I will make your master a little king for this."

Then ds gave a speech on the geography of Boston, Lexington and Concord and background behind the poem "Paul Revere's Ride."

Then dd recited "Paul Revere's Ride." It was 6 minutes long, too long for photobucket so I shortened it....and sadly the video is now terribly grainy. boo hoo But she did a great job!

Then Ben Franklin interjected...I had just arrived home from England when the Battles of Lexington and Concord errupted. What I thought would be retirement, became a unified call to arms. "Nothing can save us from the most abject destruction but a spirited opposition. It will be our salvation."

At this point ds handed me (Martha Washington) a letter from George Washington. Martha thought she had burned all the correspondence between her and her husband, but three have been found. I printed a copy of one and then the dc and I sealed it with actual sealing wax and a stamp purchased at Monticello four years ago. We left it sealed until I opened it to read out loud for all to hear.  Being the wife of a military guy myself, I was able to relate to much in this moving and endearing letter.

Then dd gave a speech on the Declaration of Independence.

Afterwards ds recited the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence from memory.

Then Ben Franklin interjected, "We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Then dd gave a speech on the role of women during the American Revolution, specifically Abigail Adams and Martha Washington.

Afterwards ds gave his speech, telling how he lived on a plantation near Yorktown and how he helped in the war, even though he was only a boy. He explained how he helped make ammunition and the events he saw at the Battle of Yorktown and the final victory!

Then Ben Franklin interjected, "We are now friends with England and with all mankind.  May we never see another war! For in my opinion, there was never a good war or a bad peace."

Then dd gave a speech on the Constitution of the United States of America.

Afterwards ds recited the Preamble to the Constitution.

Then Ben Franklin interjected...During the Constitutional Convention I studied the carving of the sun on the back of General Washington's chair and pondered "...whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun."

At this point the children distributed souvenirs to the guests and everyone got a big smile on their faces. These were our Colonial Newspaper projects. The children each wrote one article of their choice each week of our studies, on a current topic. News topics range from historical events to gardening and architecture spanning time from the French and Indian War to the term of our first president of the United States. On the last page ds wrote an advertisement. There are 10 pages that we printed in double columns on parchment paper and folded in half. There were other things we wanted to do to make it realistic, using ideas from many of my TOG friends. But simply doing this took time: mainly keeping a header then formatting the rest ito double columns.

Then dh, as Ben Franklin, closed with comments based on Franklin's famous quote. As he left the Constitutional Convention after the papers were signed, he was asked, "What kind of government did you give us? A monarchy or a republic?" He responded "A republic if you can keep it." Following is another of Franklin's quotes that he spoke during the Convention to the delegates) "I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that 'except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest."

Then I wrote into my husband's script...Remember this as you leave. Study your Constitution well. Elect those who will uphold it. Pray before the Lord and ask for His guidance and direction. Adieu and good night.


  1. Wow, what a wonderful celebration! Thank you so much for taking the time to learn to upload videos. You truly do a marvelous job in making the lessons come alive.

  2. WOW WOW WOW!!! THat was very impressive. Good Job to all of you. What a wonderful way to finish off the year.



  3. Absolutely wonderful. Our 8 & 5 year old watched all of the videos. It gets the juices flowing for us - we are just starting Year 2, Unit 2 and will be on Unit 4 in the winter/spring. Thank you so much for sharing. Your hard work is evident!



  4. My first word I wanted to write was WOW! but then I read all the comments, and everybody said the same thing! Thank you for sharing a superb presentation!



  5. Fabulous job Laurie!! Tell your dc that they were fantastic! I loved all the videos and can't wait to show them to my dc tomorrow. I loved all the Ben Franklin interjections throughout ~ what a great way to include your dh! (and a great way to learn what interjections are!). Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, as always!



  6. What a wonderful unit celebration! And the videos turned out so well. Thank you so much for letting us join your celebration. Well done!


  7. Your attention to detail always amazes me, and what a timely study!

  8. as always. Your children did a wonderful job on thier recitations. You always put so much thought and energy into these. I love you sharing them with us.