Category Archives: Project-based Learning

Joseph Pease and His Role in the Resolves

I am a senior at Suffield Academy and involved in a project-based learning class. Our goal is to find out more about what happened in Suffield in 1774, regarding freedom, slavery, and its complexities.

My previous research was about John Adams. Through my investigation I found out that both Adams and Washington visited Suffield multiple times.  This made me curious to find out who else played an important role in our town?

By using investigation skills, I found out that Joseph Pease, a signer of the resolves, was an important figure in Suffield in the mid 1700s. He was born in Enfield in 1728, and he moved to Suffield in 1750. He raised a large house on High Street, ten years after he moved there. This soon became one of the most notable houses in the town. It was one of the first houses built with a chimney in each end and a hall through the middle. Furthermore, the house was known for having a rare architectural grace. Unfortunately, the house was demolished in 1902.

Moreover, in addition to building a distinct house, my investigations revealed that he was known for advocating liberty. His diary shows that he served in any public capacity required by his town. Another interesting aspect is that he did not own any slaves. This is something that may be surprising, because many of the wealthy men in Suffield owned slaves. By using cross-researching skills, I also learned that he was a farmer. He made twelve to fifteen hundred barrels of cider a year. Most of these were being shipped to Holland. He also had a saw mill.

All of this information shows us he played a big role in Suffield. It also suggest that he was a good man and trusted by the town. As I mentioned, he served in any public capacity required by Suffield. This may be why he, along with King and Granger, were chosen and led up the committee that would later write the resolves. Which was very important work at the mentioned time period. The work he did also shows us that he was committed to the town, as writing the resolves must have taken a lot of time and patient. The three men must have met after being appointed, during a town meeting to discuss and then later to actually write the resolves. The fact that they were able to do all of this also suggest that they had good leadership ability and influence.

Moreover, one of his eleven children, Seth Pease (1764-1819), graduated from Yale just as his father. In addition, Seth Pease served as the first Assistant U.S. Postmaster General under another Suffield native, Gideon Grander Jr. He served under President Thomas Jefferson´s first term.

Sources:

https://books.google.com/books?id=4m0ZAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA211&lpg=PA211&dq=Joseph+Pease+(1766-1842)&source=bl&ots=-PtzamctnG&sig=Ase6EDkc5dIfMy3iMYqIhWtMils&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi68eWyz6HSAhVsyVQKHaZgD4QQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=Joseph%20Pease%20&f=false

http://www.suffield-library.org/history/pease/page1.htm

http://suffield-library.org/lookingback/home/home3.htm

http://www.suffield-library.org/localhistory/pease.htm

 

John Adams, a complex reporter

I am a senior at Suffield Academy and I am involved in a project-based learning class. Our goal is to find out more about what happened in Suffield in 1774, regarding freedom, slavery, and its complexities.

My previous research was about, Loyalists in Suffield in 1774. Through my investigation I found some important document. One of the document I found contains names of Loyalist that were in Suffield in 1774. This made me wonder: Can I find more documents during the mentioned time period?

By using researching skills, I found a diary written by John Adams. By using investigation skills, I found a page that states that John Adams was in Suffield November 5th 1774.  It was immediately interesting for our class to learn that John Adams had been to our town in 1774. John Adams was an important lawyer and patriot from Massachusetts. He was part of the First Continental Congress that took place in 1774-1775. He later became the second president of the United States. Moreover, John Adams was a complex intellectual. In the after math of the Boston Massacre, he showed his passion for the law and acted on his belief that everyone deserves a fair trial. He agreed to defend the soldiers from Great Britain. He argued that the troops had acted in self-defense. The Boston jury agreed, and six of the soldiers were found not guilty. By defending the British soldiers, he went against his patriot beliefs as well as his cousin´s, Samuel Adams.

Moreover, by looking through the diary of John Adams we realized he was a good reporter, who will help our class learn more about freedom and slavery in 1774. For instance, when he was near Suffield and stayed overnight at an Inn in Palmer, Massachusetts, he describes an interesting discussion. In the diary page from November 5th 1774, he talked about Parliament´s recent Acts with a Scottish Presbyterian couple. They also discussed trade, economy, and politics. Interestingly, he agreed with these “zealous Americans” who were of another faith and belief than his Congregationalist´s ideas.

“The People in this Part of Connecticutt, make Potash, and raise a great Number of Colts, which they send to the West Indies, and barter away for Rum &c. They trade with Boston and New York but most to New York. They say there is a much greater Demand for Flaxseed of which they raise a great deal, at N. York, than there is at Boston, and they get a better Price for it. Kibby at Somers keeps a Shop, and sells W. India goods and English Trinketts, keeps a Tavern, and petty foggs it”.     – John Adams (thoughts on trade in Enfield, CT). 

Moreover, I was excited to find that this important leader of the revolution traveled through Suffield. I started wondering: Had John Adams ever been to Suffield before? Why did he visit our town? What impact did his visit have on the community?

By using cross-referencing skills I found a reference to John Adams in Robert Treat Paine´s diary. This diary states that Paine and John Adams were also in Suffield on August 10th 1774. (While it is likely that John Adams traveled through our area because it was a common pathway between Boston and New York). Moreover, I still want to find more about John Adam´s reason for visiting Suffield, and what impact his visit had. I hope to find out more about this in the time to come. By using more cross-referencing skills, team work and investigation skills I will look thorough more of the pages from the John Adams Diary and mention of John Adams in other local diaries. I also want to research if there were any other important historical figures in Suffield in the 1770s it the diary pages.

Sources:

https://www.masshist.org/publications/apde2/view?id=ADMS-01-02-02-0004-0008-0005

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams#Opponent_of_Stamp_Act_1765

http://www.masshist.org/publications/apde2/view?id=DJA02d119

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/popup?id=D22&page=D22_1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Post_Road

Mum Bet’s Freedom

Mum Bet watercolor on ivory by Susan Anne Livingston 

The class of American Studies this term has been discussing the freedom of slaves in Connecticut in response to the Boston Tea Party in the year of 1774. This is a time period of change. Slavery started to become less tolerated because slaves were suing for their freedom. This is when our class started researching Elizabeth Freeman, better known as Mum Bet. Our class started discussing Elizabeth Freeman and how she was able to fight for freedom. Some students specifically chose Suffield slaves, but I wanted to start off by trying to fully understand Elizabeth’s story and why she was able to do this. Elizabeth and her slave partner Brom were the first African American people to be freed in Massachusetts in 1780. This means that during 1774, Elizabeth was still a slave, but instead, overhearing the Ashley’s arguments about freedom. She then decided, that she should receive freedom as well. A local man who believed slave’s should be freed believed in Mum Bet, and decided to fight for her which is what inspired her to be free.  Moving forward, I would like to find the first free slave in Connecticut and how they fought for their freedom. I then started researching Connecticut slavery. It looked like slaves stopped becoming free in 1774, which is peculiar. I came across this paragraph on Slave North, which I found interesting.

“The largest increase came in the period 1749-1774. By the latter year, New London County had become the greatest slaveholding section of New England, with almost twice as many slaves as the most populous slave county in Massachusetts. New London was both an industrial center and the site of large slave-worked farms; with 2,036 slaves, it accounted for almost one-third of all the blacks in Connecticut. New London town itself, with 522 blacks and a white population of 5,366, led the state in number of slaves and                             percentage of black inhabitants.” 2

Further researching, I realized that the slave got $300 in modern day, which is not a lot. The slaves solely focused on fighting for freedom, and 1774 is when the change began, all because of Mum Bet.

Sources:

  1. This source shows great information about the importance of Mum Bet. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p39.html

2. This source discusses slavery in Connecticut. These two sources are how I connected Mum Bet with slavery In Connecticut.

http://slavenorth.com/connecticut.htm

Essential Information for our Investigation.

townseal.png

My class and I are investigating what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. history of Suffield, Connecticut. Because the Boston Tea Party was a turning point for the colonies and their frustration with Parliament, we are trying to see how conversations of freedom and slavery were inspired by these events.
In response to the Boston Tea Party (1773), Parliament drafted the the Coercive Acts in 1774, and residents throughout the thirteen colonies protested these acts in various ways. For instance, our class first studied the western Massachusetts town of Sheffield, and learned that Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house; this group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Interestingly, we learned that one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by these conversations of protest and later sued successfully for her own freedom, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781). We are now trying to find out what happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774. What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? What portion of citizens accepted the dictates of the British Parliament and refused to petition King George III? Who was neutral?

To begin our historical investigation, it is important for us to know more about the founding of Suffield as well as some of the traditions and attitudes of freedom and slavery. 

Suffield is a town in Hartford County. In fact, Suffield was called Southfield until 1674 because it being the southernmost town, that is why in some documents Southfield is referred to our well-known Suffield. (3)

Some people’s reaction to the Boston Tea Party was excitement for the future and some people viewed it as an act of vandalism. The reactions across the American colonies were mixed. Most people did want a peaceful revolution. People just wanted to have a productive trading relationship with England. They did not necessarily want to pay direct taxes levied by

parliament and the government. People of America would have been much more comfortable paying taxes to their local legislatures.

Connecticut, as a part of the thirteen original colonies, responded to the Boston Tea Party and the upcoming events. The day after the Tea Party took place, Connecticut had thrown its full weight behind the neighbors to the north, and was willing to do all CT could to support Boston.

Connecticut, based on the data, supported the loyalists. At the outbreak of the war, Connecticut consisted of six counties and 72 townships. According to the census of 1774, throughout these counties and townships, there existed some 25,000 males between the ages of 16 and 50, of whom about 2,000 identified themselves as Tories. (4) Nowhere was the presence of these individuals stronger than in the southwestern portion of the state, particularly in Fairfield County. (2) However, the question is: did Suffield? What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? Was the number of African-American effected in any way? I am looking forward to see what my classmates find in order to solve this part of the puzzle.

Slavery was common during the 18th century. We have colony of CT Census proving that in 1774 there were 37 slaves in Suffield.  The slaves were owned by wealthy merchants, tavern owners, Tobacco farm owners and town ministers and other influential people in town. We know that major John Pynchon had at least two slaves, Harry and Rocco, which means that other influential people of Suffield had slaves. (1) Suffield’s third minister, Reverend Ebenezer Devotion owned six slaves during this time period 1742-1796. Reverend Ebenezer Gay Jr. manumitted the family three remaining slaves in 1812. They were Titus, Ginny and Dinah. If we will be able to find out the names of people who had the most money in the town, we will be a step closer to solve this puzzle to find the right people who lived in Suffield in 1974. Using our deduction skills, we will dig deeper and deeper and eventually we will discover something that has been a secret for a while.

With the help of the Suffield Town Library, we have the access to the list of the earliest families of Suffield. By figuring out the century and what part of that century these people used to live, we would be able to tell who had slaves and then find out the names of all the thirty seven slaves lived in town in 1774.

 

Sources:

  1. https://archive.org/stream/documentaryhisto00shel#page/22/mode/2up/search/harry+roco
  2. http://www.hsgct.org
  3. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/j-hammond-james-hammond-trumbull/the-memorial-history-of-hartford-county-connecticut-1633-1884-volume-2-mur/page-46-the-memorial-history-of-hartford-county-connecticut-1633-1884-volume-2-mur.shtml
  4. http://cupola.gettysburg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=ghj

What Happened in Your Town During The Pivotal Year of 1774?

Freedom, Slavery, and the Complexities of 1774

Sheffield_Declaration_in_Massachusetts_Spy

Sheffield Resolves in the newspaper Massachusetts Spy

In response to the Boston Tea Party (1773), Parliament drafted the the Coercive Acts in 1774, and residents throughout the thirteen colonies protested these acts in various ways. For instance, in the western town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house, and that group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Interestingly, one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by these conversations of protest and later sued successfully for her own freedom, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781). What happened in your Connecticut town during the pivotal year of 1774? What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? What portion of citizens accepted the dictates of the British Parliament and refused to petition King George III? Who was neutral? The year 1774 also marked the highest recorded number of Africans in Connecticut, 6,464. What effect did these turbulent times have on enslaved Africans? Beginning with an excellent primary source document, such as the Colony of Connecticut Census, find the number of Africans who lived in your town and start investigating.

Mumbett70

Elizabeth Freeman aka Mum Bett

Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class, which is a winter/spring trimesters project-based learning elective to seniors, will share everything they learn about the year 1774 in Suffield on this blog and invite other Connecticut students to do the same about their town! Let’s together create Connecticut history on this great collaborative platform (blog) and “do original” history story about the the complex topics of freedom and slavery during this important year in American history. And like all great history projects, we should focus our general question about slavery, freedom, and the complexities onto one primary source that we will serve our local and regional aims simultaneously, The Colony of Connecticut Census of 1774.

 

 

 

Click on the Colony of Connecticut Census from 1774, pp. 484-492. Look up your town and begin investigating. https://archive.org/stream/publicrecordsofc014conn#page/492/mode/2up  There will be more information about project-based learning as well as important primary source investigating tips.

#PBL Mantra: Share what you learn and show how you learned it.

The Suffield Academy American Studies class will present their findings at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society. Other schools should consider what is the best format in their respective communities to share their important community information. Interestingly, once students get deeply involved into “doing” this important history, they will also understand how this is an important type of “service” learning.

Digital platforms for #CAISCT #PBL Colleagues. Along with adding important content to our CAIS PBL blog, students can also add to this important information to these sites:

#PBL Field Trip and Resources

  • Ashley House & Sheffield Historical Society: this exhibit might be a good place for #CAISCT teachers to meet for summer inspiration; likewise, visiting the exhibit and viewing the Ashley House would be equally inspiring for #PBL investigators (students). Here’s a link to a story from the Albany Public Radio station, WAMC, that highlights the impact of the Sheffield Resolves; we should also find out if the exhibit will still be on display after early September dates and accessible for a school group: http://wamc.org/post/exhibit-resolves-sheffield-s-role-history#stream/0

Stay tune for more!

 

Our Press Release: The Other Underground Railroad

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACTS & CALENDAR LISTINGS: Click SA.Presentation.4.19.2016

Bill Sullivan, American Studies Teacher, Suffield Academy bsullivan@suffieldacademy.org

Title: The Other Underground Railroad

A Free Lecture from 7:00-8:00pm on April 19th at Suffield’s Senior Center, 145 Bridge Street. Suffield Academy Students present 18th Century Kidnapping Case During Suffield Historical Society Meeting.

In 1845 Reverend Daniel Hemenway, a West Suffield minister and school teacher, wrote a letter to John Hooker, our state’s leading abolitionist, to enlist his help for freeing certain slaves in Virginia. They were descendants of Flora, an eighteenth century free African-American woman from West Suffield. Hooker and Hemenway then argued that Captain Hanchett, a Revolutionary War Hero and tavern owner in West Suffield, kidnapped Flora and her two children, transported them down the Hudson River, and sold them into slavery. The American Studies class of Suffield Academy will present information from new research about this complex case: this includes kidnapping, the “other” direction of the Underground Railroad, Flora and Exeter’s colonial life, recently discovered documents relating to Reverend Hemenway and his Select School in Suffield, as well as additional implications concerning the nineteenth century Underground Railroad in our town.

Come out and learn the fate of the four sets of Flora’s 19th century children and grandchildren whose fight for freedom involved seven county trials as well as a culminating case heard by Virginia’s Supreme Court. All Society meetings are open to the public, and newcomers are most welcome.

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alex.rider.1817

“Kidnapping” by Alexander Rider

Delineating the learning process about Vicky Chen’s art work for out flyer, she juxtaposed this image of a nineteenth century kidnapping with some of the text from the nineteenth century depositions that described Hanchett and another man forceably taking Flora away. We have some of the depositions on our blog, and the State Library of Virginia as well as the Rockbridge Advocate newspaper have other documents. The most interesting discovery we had as a class was to learn more about early nineteenth century Philadelphia physician, Jesse Torrey, who researched and compiled a book on narratives in his area. Click here to learn more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3h324.html

David Ruggles and Northampton Association

David Ruggles

David Ruggles, born in 1810 and passed away in 1849, was an abolitionist in Brooklyn, New York, who resisted slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad. David Ruggles is one of the overlooked figures, and he was actually the really important in the history of the Underground Railroad. He was anearly abolitionist in America. As an activist, writer, publisher, and hydrotherapist, Ruggles strived for African Americans’ freedom in variety of ways. He salvaged more than six hundred people, including Frederick Douglass. He was even a mentor of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and William Cooper Nell to teach them the skills of antislavery activism. As a founder of the New York Committee of Vigilance, Ruggles inspired many upstate New York and New England whites, who allied with him to form a network which became the Underground Railroad.

In 1842, a utopian community called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry was created in Florence, MA. Founders of the group, abolitionists, farmers, and silk manufactures, supported William Lloyd Garrison and the immediate abolition of slavery and wanted to participate together with others who had these beliefs. This attracted David Ruggles to get involved in this community because the community planned an egalitarian enterprise around silk manufacturing. Silk was both practical and ideological, and it did not depend on slavery. This movement protests against cotton industry, which requires a lot of labor force of slaves. By growing silk, a plant similar to cotton, they wanted to show that growing cotton is unnecessary, and therefore, owning slaves is also pointless.