Period: 1765

Revolution & Constitution: 1765 – 1799
Preaching and Farming at Mission Delores by Anton Refregier | Zinn Education Project

Lying to Children About the California Missions and the Indians

By Deborah A. Miranda
In California schools, students come up against the “Mission Unit” in 4th grade, reinforcing the same lies those children have been breathing in most of their lives. Part of California’s history curriculum, the unit is entrenched in the educational system and impossible to avoid, a powerfully authoritative indoctrination in Mission Mythology to which 4th graders have little if any resistance.
Continue reading
White House Black History | Zinn Education Project

Missing from Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved

By Clarence Lusane
Schools across the country are adorned with posters of the U.S. presidents and the years they served in office. U.S. history textbooks describe the accomplishments and challenges of the major presidential administrations — George Washington had the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln the Civil War, Teddy Roosevelt the Spanish-American War, and so on. Children’s books put students on a first-name basis with the presidents, engaging readers with stories of their dogs in the Rose Garden or childhood escapades. Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution welcomes visitors to an exhibit of the first ladies’ gowns and White House furnishings.

Nowhere in all this information is there any mention of the fact that more than one in four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery.
Continue reading

Chains

Book - Fiction. By Laurie Halse Anderson. 2010. 336 pages. Historical fiction based on the life of an enslaved teenager during the Revolutionary War.
Continue reading
It’s Constitution Day! Time to Teach Obedience or History? (Article) - Teaching about the Constitution requires a critical and nuanced exploration—one that is alert to the race and class issues at the heart of our governing document. | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

It’s Constitution Day! Time to Teach Obedience or History?

By Bill Bigelow
Pearson-Prentice Hall’s high school textbook, United States History, opens its chapter on the Constitution with this Daniel Webster quote: “We may be tossed upon an ocean where we can see no land—not, perhaps, the sun and stars. But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey. The chart is the Constitution.” United States History tells students approvingly that Ronald Reagan and others have recited this Webster quote at celebrations of the Constitution.

This is the kind of on-bended-knee Constitution worship that has long been a staple of our country’s social studies curricula.

Sure, these days, most U.S. history textbooks acknowledge that the Constitution was not without controversy. Holt McDougal’s The Americans offers a perfunctory couple of pages on the debate between elite groups of Federalists and Anti-Federalists. But corporate textbooks present the Constitution as a wise inevitability, awaiting only the Bill of Rights as the icing on a delicious cake of compromise.
Continue reading
Apalachicola River | Zinn Education Project

The Color Line

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits.
Teaching Activity by Bill Bigelow
Continue reading

Re-examining the Revolution

Background Reading. By Ray Raphael. 7 pages. Based on his book Founding Myths, Raphael critiques the textbook portrayal of the American Revolution. The textbooks say that "a few special people forged American freedom" which "misrepresents, and even contradicts, the spirit of the American Revolution."
Continue reading
Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play | Zinn Education Project

Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 14 pages. Rethinking Schools. A role play on the Constitutional Convention which brings to life the social forces active during and immediately following the American Revolution with focus on two key topics: suffrage and slavery. An elementary school adaptation of the Constitution Role Play by Bill Bigelow. Roles available in Spanish.
Teaching Activity by Bob Peterson
Continue reading

Half a Revolution

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 16 pages. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 5 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the Revolutionary War as "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight," as well as the failure of early Americans to complete a full revolution.
Continue reading

Servitude and Rebellion

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olsen-Raymer. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 3 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the role and dissent of indentured servants in American colonial history.
Continue reading