Dear John; Dear Abigail

Image result for john adams


They are, perhaps, the best American love story I know of. John and Abigail Adams were a matched set. Both had incredible minds and were in favor of declaring independence from Great Britain before nearly anyone else in the colonies thought it was a good idea. He was the politician and she was the one who kept him grounded, took care of their family and farm while he was away, and even pushed him to think about issues relating to women and slaves. The Adamses spent many long years apart as John worked for independence and then was an ambassador to Europe. As hard as that was for them, we get the benefit of it today in the form of their letters, which have been preserved. In those letters they discuss their children, the new country, independence, old friends, their love life, farm life and thousands of other things. [Abigail even wrote one letter while in the process of giving birth]


I have several things for you to examine regarding the Adamses.


Part I

First,  two actual letters that have been transcribed. They are easy to read in typed form, but if you want you can click on the images along the right side and see the original pages. Each letter is several pages and each page is separated by a solid line. The spellings and capitalization are a bit off for some words; try not to let that throw you.


Letter from Abigail to John [March 31 – April 5]  

A little background info on this letter:

  • Abigail is writing from the family farm in Braintree, Massachusetts just outside Boston.
  • The British army has recently left Boston after many months occupying the city
  • Salt Peter is an ingredient in making gun powder, which the American forces (Continental Army) lacked severely.
  • She switches topics with nearly ever paragraph; try to keep up.


Letter from John to Abigail [April 14]

A little background info on this letter:

  • John is writing from Philadelphia, where he is part of the Continental Congress.
  • He has been trying for quite a while to get all the colonies to vote for independence from Great Britain, but many of them are afraid or unwilling to do so.
  • Independency is another word for independence.


Some Questions Regarding the Letters – Answer these before going on to part two below

  • Abigail mentions their second house in Boston. What does she say of it? What is John’s response?
  • How does John respond to Abigail’s request that he ‘remember the ladies’?
  • Who do you suppose the ‘solicitor general’ is?
  • What do John and Abigail think of the colony of Virginia?
  • What do these letters tell us about the character of the Adamses? What kind of people were they? Can you get an idea of their personality through the letters?


Part II

Next, two sound recordings from a musical called 1776. The main character is John Adams and Abigail appears on stage only when John is writing letters to her. She stands at one side of the stage and he at the other, and they talk/sing to each other through their letters. Sorry I couldn’t find a good video of it, but you’ll be able to picture it if you’ve read the above letters and give it a little imagination. You’ll also hear a few other actors interrupting John once in a while with their lines. Make sure you listen to these in order.

[Important: This musical is a work of fiction. It is based on real events and some of the lines are actual quotes, but by no means is it all completely true]

Also beware there are some minor expletives. If you don’t want to hear them skip this section.

Clip #1

  • This begins with John ‘praying’ to God after being very frustrated with Congress, which he thinks isn’t getting anything done.

Clip #2

  • This begins with John writing to Abigail after all the southern colonies walked out of Congress because of a disagreement over slavery. John Adams was in favor of ending slavery while in the deep south the economy and way of life of many depended on it.


Questions about the Musical – Answer these on the same paper/email that you used for the questions above

  • What similarities and differences exist between John and Abigail as they are portrayed in the musical as opposed to their own letters?
  • What do you think the writer of the musical was trying to say about the character of Abigail and John Adams?


You can write the answers to these questions out by hand or type them and email them to me at 

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Audio Notes – Townshend Acts, Coercive Acts, and Boston Massacre

Below you’ll find the link to the audio notes from the Revolutions podcast. Pay particular attention to how the events and people connect to each other and to events and people we’re already familiar with.

The Townshend Acts

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Trouble in New England – Video Notes

Below is the video on the New England cranks, witches, and other problems faced by the puritans.

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Columbus Day

Related image


Today is Columbus Day, which I don’t celebrate and try to purposely ignore. I don’t even talk about Columbus much in class. The comic that is linked below will explain why.

Don’t Celebrate Columbus Day

Once you’ve read the comic you will have learned about another, more likable, Spanish adventurer/explorer. The comic suggests we should replace Columbus Day with Bartolomé Day. To complete this assignment make a flyer/poster in celebration of this new holiday. Flyers should contain the phrase Happy Bartolomé Day, they also need a tagline/motto which encourages the kinds of values this new hero stood for. Flyers do not need to be larger than a normal sized sheet of paper.

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Confederate Generals

Image result for nathan bedford forrest statue memphis


Yesterday you read an article about the violence in Charlottesville, VA. One of the sparks for the protests was the proposed removal of a stature of a confederate soldier. There are lots of opinions on what to do with old memorials especially those memorials which heroically depict men who fought for the Confederate States of America (CSA). A quick google search will give you more than you ever wanted to know on the opinions people have for an against such removals. A good example is the statue of Nathan Bedford Forest. Read a little about him here and then listen to this short piece of audio about his statue and the reasons why it was put up.

For homework answer these questions and be prepared to discuss them tomorrow. The last is based (in part) on the audio piece, the others will require further research and thought.

  • What is the argument of people who are for the removal of confederate monuments?
  • What is the argument of people who are against the removal of confederate monuments?
  • What are your thoughts on this topic?
  • What does Nate DiMeo mean when he says “…monuments are not memories…they have motives. They are historical. They are not history itself.”


You can write out your answers to these questions or email them to me at

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The Beginning of History

In the past few years I have had several people suggest that we start history classes with modern day and then work backwards through history slowly revealing how recent events connect with the past. This makes a lot of sense in some ways because arguably history isn’t linear and learning from history definitely isn’t. This means we could start anywhere we wanted in time and learn about history from that point or from multiple points.

I won’t be doing this entire year backwards, but I will jump a bit between recent and less recent history. Recently I was reminded that there are some events so important and momentous that we all but have to stop and think, “How did this happen? What led up to this?” The point is you can start history anywhere. For this year I’m starting it on August 11th 2017.

The protests and violence in Charlottesville, VA brought all this into sharp focus for me. The protests and resulting death on August 11th and 12th showed a darker side to American history. This is very recent history, but in a larger sense it is just the latest part of a story that has been playing out for a very long time. History isn’t a grouping of separate events. It’s a story in which the earlier chapters can often give us insight into what is happening in our chapter. More than that however, just like a novel the events early in the book dictate how the characters act in the closing chapters. How you feel (and the actions you take) about white nationalist ideas, and the events that followed are largely based on how well you know the story of race relations in the United States, the confusing narrative of the U.S. legal and police systems, and a multitude of other ongoing and connected stories. Our story.

Read the article in the link above. Feel free to look up other information as well if you have questions. I want you to write a response to this article similar to what you would write for a current event report. In your response consider these questions.

  • In your opinion who should we hold responsible for this violence?
  • Were the actions (of police, protesters, counter-protesters) justified? Why or why not?
  • Why is there so much tension between black people and white people? Not just in Charlottesville, VA but in other places around the country and in the country as a whole as well.

No summary is necessary.  This response should be about three-fourths of a page.

You can write this response long hand or type it and email it to me at (Make sure you put your name on it). Either way it is due this Friday, Sept 29th

(Write the assignment in your planner!)
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2017 Summer Blog #13 – Who tells your story?

My final word on Alexander Hamilton…for now.

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