The Hermitage and Its Place in American History

Home Education Landmark Lesson The Hermitage and Its Place in American History

The Hermitage and Its Place in American History

This lesson would fit best towards the end of the year after students have already learned about the main events that occurred in and shaped the creation of the United States. It uses a local landmark to demonstrate the parallelism between national and local history. It also depicts personal experiences of national events. Students will use primary sources to develop a meaning of American freedom based on a specific topic or time period. They will end by defending their meaning by using primary source evidence to complete a Document Based Question essay.


Ho-Ho-Kus , NJ

Type of Landmark




Learning Objectives

Students will be able to explain the evolution of the definition of American freedom by evaluating primary sources and their descriptions of freedom.

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Do Now: Define American freedom
    1. Discuss student answers
  2. Split students into 4 groups
    1. Revolutionary
    2. Slavery
    3. Immigration
    4. Civil War
  3. Each group will be given primary sources to analyze and evaluate in order to determine how they demonstrate the definition of American freedom.
    1. Revolutionary
      1. Advertisement for the Hermitage Home
      2. Invitation from Theodosia Bartow to General George Washington
      3. Runaway Slave Advertisement 1
      4. Runaway Slave Advertisement 2
    2. Slavery
      1. 1804 N.J. State Legislature Bill of Gradual Abolition
      2. Letter giving up slave
      3. Letter receiving slave back as an indentured servant
    3. Immigrants
      1. 1860 Census
      2. Inquiry about a job
      3. Hiring of a servant (small mention)
    4. Civil War
      1. Baltimore Riots
      2. Experience as a surgeon in the Civil War
      3. Slavery and abolition
  4. Students should look at each primary source searching for answers to define American freedom using their specific time period or topic.
    1. Students will do this using the HAPPY worksheet with added questions related to American freedom.

  5. After students have completed the primary source work, they should come up with a common description, within their group, of what the meaning of American freedom was in their time period or according to their topic.

  6. Closing: Each group will give a short explanation of their description of American freedom based on their primary source evidence.


Census: The official process of counting the number of people in a country, city, or town and collecting information about them.

Indentured Servant: A person who signs and is bound by indentures to work for another for a specified time especially in return for payment of travel expenses and maintenance

Abolition: The act of officially ending or stopping something: the act of abolishing something; specifically : the act of abolishing slavery


End of Lesson Assessment

Students will explain their perception of the evolution of American freedom using the provided primary sources as evidence.

Question: In what way has the meaning of American freedom evolved from the Revolutionary period through the Civil War?