Friday, October 28, 2011

Defining a Gentleman

At a book group meeting last year, we read the book Paul Revere's Ride. As a part of that meeting, we were handed out different pictures of paintings of revolution era figures. Two pictures in particular, Thomas Gage and Paul Revere demonstrated the differences in how Britain and the Colonies defined themselves, and defined what was proper. These artist's renderings give a small glimpse in the incompatibility between British and American leaders and their ideals.

My US History I class is now approaching the Revolutionary War unit, and with it the creation of an American identity. The following assignment was created for my May History Connected project and will be implemented in my classroom next week:

Assignment: Defining a Gentleman

The contrasts between mother country and colony continued to grow as the years passed. The British policy of Salutary Neglect allowed the colonies to take control of their own political and economic interests, and gave them a taste of independence. In this time, colonies like Massachusetts began to develop their own separate identities from the British and the British crown.

Sir Thomas Gage saw himself as a gentleman in a very traditional, old world sense. He came from wealth, went to the best military academies, and rose through the ranks to become a prominent British official serving as Governor of Massachusetts.

Paul Revere saw himself as a gentleman as well, but in a very different fashion. He was a hard working silversmith who came from a more modest source of family wealth, and worked tirelessly in his community to build his reputation as a leader in the Boston revolutionary movement. Two men, different goals, different worlds, different definitions of what it means to be a gentleman.

1. 1. Analyze the picture of Paul Revere. Explain how it lends a window into how he wanted to be portrayed. Factor in all aspects of the picture, including his clothes and his handling of his craftsmanship.

2. 2. Analyze the picture of Thomas Gage. Explain how it lends a window into how he wanted to be portrayed. Factor in all aspects of the picture, including his military uniform and the setting of the portrait.

3. 3. Compare and contrast the two portraits. How does it show the difference between the Revere’s and Gage’s definition as a gentleman? How does this illustrate the larger differences between Great Britain and the American colonies?

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