One of the most surprising connections of the American Revolutionary era emerged at the very beginning of the war between the African American poet Phillis Wheatley and the commander in chief of the American forces, George Washington.
The Sons of Liberty was a secret organization formed in opposition to the Stamp Act in the summer of 1765. Lead by Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and others, the Sons of Liberty coordinated colonial resistance to British tyranny using petitions, propaganda, and public assembly. First formed in Boston, local Sons of Liberty organizations were soon established throughout the colonies.
Charles Sumner (1811–1874) was a Radical Republican senator and reformer who fought for abolition and rights for African Americans. Sumner was born in Boston and attended Harvard Law School. He began his first term in the US Senate in 1852. He immediately denounced the Compromise of 1850 in his first major speech. In May 1856, he delivered another anti-slavery speech. Focusing on the “Crime against Kansas,” Sumner denounced the events in “Bloody Kansas” as well as his pro-slavery colleagues. Among the people Sumner criticized in his speech...
Crispus Attucks (ca. 1723–1770) was one of the civilians killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre of 1770. Little is known about Attucks’ life before the Boston Massacre, but he was likely a fugitive slave of African American and American Indian heritage. He probably worked as a sailor and was certainly among the crowd who gathered on Boston’s King Street on March 5, 1770, to confront British soldiers stationed there.
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, both the British and the colonists used broadsides to influence public opinion. This broadside, “The Bostonian’s Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring & Feathering,” printed in London in 1774, is a British depiction of the Bostonians’ treatment of a British customs officer, John Malcom.
Like many others before and after her, Lucy Knox performed a continuous juggling act as a busy wife and mother. She was not reluctant to discuss affairs of state in a frank and forthright manner with her husband, Henry Knox.
View the engraving The Bloody Massacre in King Streetin the Gilder Lehrman Collection by clicking here.
This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. The lessons are built around the use of textual...