Primary Source Teaching Activity
What does it take to stand up for an idea?
Why do some people choose to take action to address a wrong, while others choose to stand by and watch?
What do these primary sources reveal about how people in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire took¬†action to address the problem of slavery during the antebellum era?
Thinking Skills: ¬†Contextualizing documents; synthesizing primary source docs to answer an essential question.
Prior Knowledge Needed: These primary sources provide insight in to how men and women in the Upper Valley participated (or didn’t participate) in reform movements during the antebellum era. An overview of issues related to anti-slavery and women’s reform would be helpful–especially the Underground Railroad, the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), The Kansas/Nebraska Act
Instructions to students:¬†Primary sources are divided into different ways people took a stand
Step 1: Source the document
- Who wrote the document?
- When was it written?
- Where was it written or published?
- Why was it written?
Step 2: Closely read the document
- ¬†Underline key words the author uses
- ¬†Summarize what the document is about
Step 3: Contextualize the document
- What was going on at the time that might have influenced the person or people who created the document or are described by it? Can you think of any noteworthy events or trends?
Step 4: Make a claim taking into account some of these questions
- How did the individual stand up for a principle or a belief?
- What were some challenges or risks involved in taking such a stand?
- What choices did the individual have in choosing to take a stand?
- What might have been some consequences and effects of their actions?
- Why do you think the person acted the way s/he did?
Source Set 1:
Norwich Female Abolition Society-excerpt¬†Taking a stand both personally and financially
The mission statement of the Norwich Female Abolition Society- unconditional abolition and elevation of Negro.
Source Set 2:
This packet connects to migration to Kansas.¬†Background on Joseph Savage
Joseph Savage of Hartford Taking a stand by taking action
Joseph Savage initially goes to Kansas to provide inspiration through song, is part of the first wave of “pilgrims” to go to Kansas for the antislavery cause. He’s from Hartford, VT.
Hutchinson Family, GET OFF THE TRACK¬†¬†Taking a stand through music
Kansas Emigrant Song¬†Taking a stand through music
Joseph Savage’s group sang this song as they crossed the Shawnee Reserve
Source Set 3:
Sometimes people take a stand for something you might disagree with. These articles are about an incident at the integrated school Noyes Academy in 1835 and the Colonization Society.
VT Chronicle-Noyes Academy, July 1835¬†Taking a stand through mob rule
VT Chronicle-Noyes Academy, Aug 1835¬†Taking a stand through mob rule
Editorial, Claremont Eagle c. 1864¬†Taking a stand but not in my backyard
Source Set 4:
Taking a stand even when the action is illegal. Link to James Wood Journal (complete)
Source Set 5:
Rutland Herald-Mob against May, 1836¬†How hard is it to take a stand when your neighbors disagree with you? This is a paper that is not in favor of antislavery. Could be a good point of view exercise.
Chauncey Knapp Letter 1839¬†Taking a stand through direct action.¬†He is harboring a fugitive slave in the VT State House. (GREAT TO USE IN DISCUSSION OF FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW.). It is also important to note that in this letter he is saying he’ll put the fugitive with a family so he can go to school and then be apprenticed as a printer. Not running to Canada–living openly in Vermont.