American Founders’ Month in Florida: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton AMF

It’s American Founders’ Month in Florida, and today we look at Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, one of the youngest of those men and women so significant in the early life of the United States, has certainly experienced something of a renaissance lately. This is due in no small part to the wonderful work of Lin Manuel Miranda and his musical interpretation of Hamilton’s life and career. But did you know that this great musical is actually based on a fantastic historical book about this immigrant and leader? It draws from the work of historian Ron Chernow, and has inspired many Americans, young and old, to consider anew the life and beliefs of this sometimes controversial Founding Father.

Alexander Hamilton was many things. An intellectual, a Federalist, an immigrant, the father, and even savior, of the American economy, Treasury Secretary, an advocate for an aggressively strong federal government, an effective national bank, and ultimately a man who had as many enemies as he did friends. You can learn more about Hamilton from the New York Historical Society.

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: Alexander Hamilton AMF

Check out Lin Manuel Miranda performing one of the best songs from his impactful musical.

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
John Adams: A Hero of Liberty
James Madison: Father of the Constitution
The Sons of Liberty: The Tea Party and More
Mercy Otis Warren: Antifederalist and Advocate for Liberty

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American Founders’ Month in Florida: Mercy Otis Warren

Sept 19 Warren

American Founders’ Month continues here in Florida. Today, we take a look at one of the most influential of those women who played a role in the establishment and early days of the United States: Mercy Otis Warren.

Mercy Otis Warren was one of the most well-read and literate residents of Massachusetts in her day, man or woman. A playwright and a historian, an eloquent essayist and inveterate letter writer, she was one of the loudest voices speaking out against the failures and perceived tyranny of British government in Massachusetts and the other colonies.

A long time friend to both Abigail and John Adams, she broke with her dear friend over the creation of the U.S. Constitution, which she opposed as a violation of the ideals she and Adams were strong advocates for during the Revolution. Indeed, she was one of those Anti-Federalists who wrote in response to the Federalist Papers; using the nom de plume ‘A Columbian Patriot’, she wrote powerfully on perceived flaws in the new Constitution, and as herself to her dear friend John Adams on how he had so betrayed what they fought for. Sadly, her relationship with the Adams family never truly recovered.

You can learn more about this fascinating woman through the National Woman’s Hall of Fame. 

Grab the Powerpoint slide featured in this post: Mercy Otis Warren AFM

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
John Adams: A Hero of Liberty
James Madison: Father of the Constitution
The Sons of Liberty: The Tea Party and More

American Founders’ Month in Florida: The Sons of Liberty

Sept 14 Sons of Liberty

American Founders’ Month in Florida continues today with a look at the Sons of Liberty. The Sons of Liberty were a sometimes controversial secret society devoted to combating what it perceived as British oppression by any means necessary.

While they may be most famous for organizing boycotts of British goods and dumping tea into Boston Harbor, they also took sometimes-violent action against people seen as serving British interests. We all recall, for example, those images from the era that illustrate Sons of Liberty tarring and feathering British tax collectors.

Philip_Dawe_(attributed),_The_Bostonians_Paying_the_Excise-man,_or_Tarring_and_Feathering_(1774)_-_02

The Bostonian Paying the Excise-Man, 1774 British propaganda print, referring to the tarring and feathering, of Boston Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm four weeks after the Boston Tea Party. The men also poured hot tea down Malcolm’s throat

The Sons of Liberty were sometimes extreme in their pursuit of liberty; was that extremism always justified? How can we really say, from our own vantage point today? What a fascinating discussion we can have! You can learn more about the fascinating Sons of Liberty and its role in the Boston Tea Party from the Massachusetts Historical Society. 

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: Sons of Liberty AFM

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
John Adams: A Hero of Liberty
James Madison: Father of the Constitution

American Founders’ Month in Florida: James Madison

Sept 15 or 16 Madison

Sunday is Constitution Day, so it is perhaps a good time now to share the Founder perhaps most associated with the Constitution: James Madison. Madison is sometimes referred to as the father of the Bill of Rights, and was an influential voice in the effort to replace the Articles of Confederation with a working national government under a federal system. He, like many of the Founders’, was a man of contradictions: a believer in liberty while owning slaves, an opponent of the debt and taxes necessary for waging war and yet leading (with some good cause) the United States into an ill-advised war with the British in 1812, and so much more. He was a complex man, this Father of the Constitution. One wonders what he would make of his handiwork today.

You can learn more about James Madison from the National Endowment for the Humanities!

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: James Madison AFM

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
John Adams: A Hero of Liberty

American Founders’ Month in Florida: John Adams

Sept 12 J Adams

John Adams remains one of the most fascinating of the Founders. A passionate patriot and one of the earliest supporters of American independence from Great Britain, he nevertheless felt it important to provide legal defense to those British soldiers accused of crimes as a result of the Boston Massacre.

“The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.” 

His rivalry with his colleague and once-and-future-friend Thomas Jefferson is also a fascinating aspect of the ‘strange bedfellows’ relationships that were necessary in the pursuit of America independence.

Check out the National Humanities Center’s activity on Adams and leadership here to get a sense of who this Founder was and how he influenced our nation.

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: John Adams AFM

And if you are so inclined, check out this humorous but realistic and passionate take on the patriot John Adams, from 1776.

 

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
James Madison: Father of the Constitution

Take the #CivXNow Pledge!

CivX
Next week, the Lou Frey Institute, in collaboration with our friends at iCivics, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, and the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts, is excited to host the upcoming ‘Democracy at a Crossroads’ Civic Education Summit in Washington, DC. With generous support from the Carnegie Corporation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the McCormick Foundation, civic education leaders from across the country will get together with influential individuals in politics, government, business, and society to discuss why civics matters, and why it demands attention.

What is really exciting is that the success that Florida has had in civic education, thanks to the work of its teachers and growing out of the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act, will be highlighted on center stage!

If you are so inclined, consider taking the pledge to help our young people learn the civic skills and develop the civic dispositions so necessary in this 21st century America!

American Founders’ Month in Florida: Benjamin Franklin

Sept 8 Franklin

Our celebration of American Founders’ Month here in Florida continues with a look at Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin may be one of the most fascinating of the people who contributed to this country during the Founding Era. He was known for his wit, his charm, his brilliance, and yes, even his way with the ladies. He may be introduced to younger kids with the story of his decidedly unwise but ultimately legendary act of flying a kite in a thunderstorm, but truly, he was so much more than that. Take some time and check out this great DocsTeach resource on dear Mr. Franklin’s time as a politician and diplomat!

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: Ben Franklin AFM

And the wonderful musical 1776 is always worth checking out for some excellent historical debates and discussions. Here, Benjamin Franklin talks about what makes Americans different from their English cousins, featuring some of the wit and charm and especially intellect and passion he was known for  (relevant clip begins around :34).

 

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more

American Founders’ Month in Florida: Abigail Adams

Sept 6 A Adams

Abigail Adams is perhaps one of the most well known of what we might call the Founding Mothers, the women who participated, in one form or another, in the establishment of the United States of America. Indeed, she was more than simply the wife of of one president (John Adams) and the mother of another (John Quincy Adams). But what was she, really, and what do we owe to her memory and her contributions to our country? Check out the overview and really cool primary sources in this lesson provided by the Massachusetts Historical Society to learn more about this incredible woman.

You can download the PowerPoint slide to share with your students here: Abigail Adams AFM

Additional American Founders’ Month Posts:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?

American Founders’ Month in Florida: George Washington

Sept 3 or 4 Washington

George Washington is perhaps the one Founding Father that most people, both here and abroad, may recognize by both name and image. From his placement on the one dollar bill and the quarter, to his name on numerous cities throughout the United States as well as our architecturally rich capital, Washington is everywhere. Today, we bring you this link to Mount Vernon, on the life, legacy, and character of our first president.

You can download the PowerPoint slide on Washington here: SEP 3 AFM MVGW

American Founders’ Month in Florida!

Sept 1 Intro Picture

Click here to download the above image as a powerpoint slide with an active link to share with your students and friends!

Friends, as you may or may not be aware, the Florida Legislature recently designated September as ‘American Founders’ Month’. While covering material related to Founders’ Month is, at this point, encouraged rather than required (though Freedom Week is still something of a mandate later this month), we will be providing you with some ‘quick-hit resources’ that can serve as either a warm up for your class or as a jumping off point for a deeper exploration. Throughout the month, we will be sharing images/slides featuring a person or group from the Founding Era. Currently, we are planning 2 or 3 a week, on a staggered schedule. And for September 1st, we are happy to introduce the resources about the Founding Fathers available at the National Constitution Center!