Explain to students that in class so far, they’ve explored some of the ideals associated with the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. In class today, they’ll be deepening their understanding of the founding, this time from the perspective of those who were denied their rights and excluded from political participation at the time.
Tell students that in the next activity, they will be examining two primary sources from the founding era: an antislavery petition from a group of African Americans in Massachusetts (1777) and an influential essay from a white female writer and intellectual (1790). The sources were written by individuals belonging to groups that were denied equality and freedom in 1776 and in the centuries since. But, as the sources illustrate, these individuals nevertheless had their own powerful visions of what those ideals looked like and what the collective future of the United States should be.
Ask students to explore the primary sources using the Jigsaw strategy. This strategy asks students to become “experts” on a specific document and then share their knowledge with another group of their peers.
Divide the class into pairs and give each pair a specific source (Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature, 1777, or “On the Equality of the Sexes” by Judith Sargent Murray, 1790). Have each pair first read the text silently to themselves and record their annotations (thoughts, questions, and epiphanies) in the margins. When they are finished, ask each pair to read the text aloud together and discuss and answer the reflection questions in the gray boxes at the end of each section. Next, each pair should follow the instructions for sharing their thoughts, questions, and epiphanies under the section TQE Time! Finally, students will discuss the connection questions with a partner. Be sure that students know they will eventually be summarizing their source for another group of students who have not read that source, and they will be sharing their answers to the connection questions.