Soon we will be taking a field trip to the Delaware History Museum for a program on the American Revolution in Delaware. In order to get the most out of the activities we’ll be doing, we need to know a little background. To begin with, who can tell me what the American Revolution was? (a war) And who fought against each other in this war? England (or Britain) and the British colonies. Next slide.
How many colonies were there? 13! We have to go back in time before all the fighting began to understand what was going on. All the problems started in the 1750s, over 250 years ago! In the 1740s the 13 colonies were a part of England and no one thought that things would ever change. Next slide.
Delaware and all of the other colonies were proud and happy to belong to the British Empire. It was the strongest and most powerful country in the world! Each colony had its own elected legislature. Those men made the laws and decided what taxes people should pay. Next slide.
Colonists were happy because everything was peaceful; most colonists were prosperous ( what does that mean? ). Next slide.
But that began to change in the 1750s when England and France started fighting a war in Europe. Do you think a war all the way over here ( point to Europe ) would change things all the way here ( point to the colonies )? Well it did because both England and France owned land in North America ( point out French and English territories ). Next slide.
There were conflicts over land, so the King of England sent part of the army to protect the American colonies. England with, the help of the American colonies, fought with France here in North America. We call this war the French and Indian War because the English fought against the French and their Native American allies. Who do you think won? England . Next slide.
But once England won and the war was over, the army didn’t go back home. They stayed in the American colonies. Not only did the troops not go home, but a few years later England decided that the colonists should help pay for that army. The British government decided to tax the colonists because the troops were protecting the people who lived in North America. Next slide.
The colonists thought the Stamp Act taxes were unfair. They did not ask for the soldiers to be stationed in the colonies and they couldn’t vote on the taxes because they didn’t have a representative in the English Parliament. A popular phrase during this time was “no taxation without representation.” This meant the colonists wouldn’t pay the taxes if England wasn’t going to let them help decide what to tax. Next slide.
Some people who lived here decided that they didn’t want to be a part of England anymore. They felt so strongly about forming their own country, they were willing to fight a war. These people were known as Patriots. Some of the people wanted to stay a part of Great Britain. They were proud to be English citizens and supported using force to defeat the rebellious Patriots. These people were called Tories. Next slide.
A third group did not believe in using violence to resolve disagreements. They were Quakers. Next slide.
Still others were so busy with their own lives that they didn’t really think about politics They were indifferent or uninvolved. Next slide.
In Delaware and the twelve other surrounding colonies, people argued back and forth for more than ten years about whether or not to break away from England. Eventually fighting broke out between England and the colonists. The first battle of the American Revolution was in Massachusetts in 1775 and was called the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Next slide.
The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the last straw. Starting in 1775, representatives of all thirteen colonies met in Philadelphia to decide what to do. This group was known as the Continental Congress. Delaware had three delegates – Thomas McKean, George Read, and Caesar Rodney. Next slide.
In early July 1776 Thomas McKean and George Read were in Philadelphia, but Caesar Rodney was at home in Dover. Thomas McKean was ready to vote for independence. George Read, however, did not want to vote for independence. With one man for and one man against independence, Delaware’s vote wasn’t going to count! In our museum lesson we’ll learn how Delaware took a stand on independence. Next slide.
The colonies agreed to adopt a Declaration of Independence (ask what specific date-July 4, 1776) . It was a letter written to England listing everything the colonists were upset about and said that America was officially its own country. It was willing to fight a war to stay that way. Next slide.
With the Declaration of Independence, America officially declared war with Great Britain. This was a very scary time because England was the most powerful country in the world at that time. They had money, a well-trained army and a powerful navy. Did the newly-formed United States of America have a chance to stand up against such a powerful nation? No one thought that this brand new tiny country would actually be able to beat England. Next slide.
Around 800 Delawareans joined the army in 1776 and served throughout the war in the Continental Army of General George Washington. They were called the Delaware Continentals. They were known throughout the army as the best dressed and best equipped regiment. Their hats were unusual in shape and made of leather. Because of the color of their coats they were nicknamed the Delaware Blues. Next slide.
Delawareans fought in almost every battle in the Revolutionary War. This map shows the places where Delaware soldiers fought. Delaware also formed local militias, groups of soldiers who stayed in Delaware to defend the state against the British. Over 4,000 men from Delaware fought in the American Revolution. Next slide.
Being a soldier was hard. Many soldiers died in battle or from disease. Sometimes soldiers went hungry because they did not have food or have the time to stop marching to cook. Some of the Delaware Continentals survived for a while by eating molasses, frogs, and alligators! The Delaware Continentals, like many other state regiments, marched thousands of miles during the war, sometimes up to 30 miles a day! Next slide.
In 1777 the British marched through Delaware on their way to attack the United States capital in Philadelphia. General George Washington brought the American army to Delaware to try to stop them. The armies fought a small battle or skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge, just south of Newark. In our museum lesson we’ll learn what happened to both soldiers and civilians when the American Revolution came to Delaware. Next slide.
In the six long years that the American Patriots fought the British, both sides had military failures and successes. Finally the British realized that they would not be able to defeat the stubborn Americans. When the British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, in October of 1781, Patriots of Delaware could be proud that they had played a role in choosing independence and fighting for freedom .
Delaware in the American Revolution Choosing Independence Fighting for Freedom