2.6 Whose monument? Whose revolution?
Provided by UNC Libraries / Documenting the American South.
This lesson asks students to examine North Carolina monuments in the Commemorative Landscapes collection that commemorate the American Revolution. Students will record and discuss individuals honored in these monuments and compare them with muster rolls from regiments of the period. Students will then discuss how North Carolina monuments commemorating the American Revolution might affect their ability to interpret and understand what happened during this time in U.S. history.
- examine and learn about monuments commemorating the American Revolution in North Carolina.
- Compare muster rolls of involvement in the American Revolution to the individuals honored in North Carolina monuments commemorating the American Revolution.
- analyze the factors which influence whose contributions to history are remembered and whose are not.
Time required for lesson
One 90-minute class
- Copies of the Semantic Feature Analysis Chart — one per student
- Notebook paper
- Access to the Commemorative Landscapes collection
- Access to the Revolutionary War muster rolls
- Computer with internet connected to a multimedia projector
- Computer lab or individual student computers
- Ask students to brainstorm a list of reasons why people might erect a monument honoring another person.
- After they have made their lists, put students into pairs and have them share their lists with a partner. Pairs should generate a list of up to three different reasons why a monument might be erected.
- Have students share their top three reasons with the entire class. Record these reasons on the board, and then point out the examples which relate to the idea that the person being honored did something important.
- Explain to students that when we see monuments, we often assume that the person or people being honored by the monument did something important. Explain that they will analyze why certain people’s involvement in the American Revolution is documented and celebrated while the involvement of others is not.
- Display the Commemorative Landscapes website and explain that this collection contains information on and pictures of monuments in North Carolina. Explain that they will be looking at some of North Carolina’s monuments that commemorate the Revolutionary War.
- Click on the “Explore” tab and the “Browse Monuments” tab. Then click on the Revolutionary War label under “Subjects.” Show how all of the monuments under this label commemorate some aspect of the Revolutionary War.
- Give each student a copy of the Semantic Feature Analysis Chart.
- Explain that they will look at five of the Revolutionary War monuments in the Commemorative Landscapes collection and conduct a semantic feature analysis using the chart. Explain that this chart will ask them to document:
- the person/people being honored by each monument.
- the year in which the monument was created.
- characteristics of the person/people being honored.
- characteristics of the person/people dedicating and/or paying for the monument.
- the stated rationale for honoring the person/people in question.
- After examining the monuments, students should look for similarities in the data they have collected. Questions they might want to consider if they are struggling to identify patterns by themselves are:
- Do the people being honored share any characteristics (nationality, gender, rank, ethnic background, social class, etc.)?
- Are the reasons why the monuments were dedicated similar?
- Do the patterns or trends in the monuments seem to change over time when the monuments are ordered chronologically (perhaps including sentences starters: “At first __________, then __________, and most recently __________.”)
- Students will compare the groups of people honored with muster rolls from regiments of the period to determine whether the people who tend to be honored in the monuments are representative of the broader group of people fighting.
- If time allows, students can discuss how the types of trends and patterns they noticed in the identities of the people being monitored might affect their ability to interpret and understand what happened during the American Revolution.
Students will write letters to the park rangers at Guilford Courthouse Battlefield describing the trends they discovered in the Revolutionary War monuments in North Carolina and how the types of monuments present might impact their understanding of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. They will explain whether they think the monuments are appropriate or not and, if they take issue with the constitution of the monuments, suggest some new ones which the park might look to add.
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
Grade 11–12 — United States History
- Goal 2: Expansion and Reform (1801-1850) - The learner will assess the competing forces of expansionism, nationalism, and sectionalism.