In this class we will study the American Revolution in its global context. We’ll spend the first 2/3 of the class examining America’s colonial history and the circumstances in Europe that led this breakaway group of feisty upstarts to insist on creating their own country, independent of kings and queens and taxation without representation.
But we’ll also look at those who were wary of this new American project — most notably enslaved Africans and the Native population, who accurately predicted that independence from Britain would hurt their cause more than it would help. How do we reconcile this understanding of our history?In the last 1/3 of the class we will compare the American Revolution to the French and Haitian Revolutions, which happened at roughly the same time and were also the product of Enlightenment ideals. John Adams, America’s nerdy second president, was horrified by the chaos of the French Revolution, but other Founding Fathers found it inspiring and indeed quite entertaining.
The United States likes to present itself as a unified country with a unified “origin story,” but that’s hardly the case. We’ve been squabbling amongst ourselves for 400 years. This class will help you understand the American Revolution, but it will also give you a much deeper appreciation of the historical roots of modern-day political debates.
Suggested age range: 13+
Outside work: 2 to 3 hours per week (video + readings)
When & where: Fridays at Voyagers in Chelmsford (directions) from 11:00-12:00, Sept. 21-Dec. 14, 2018. No class Nov. 23.
Fee: $250 for the semester, which includes a non-refundable registration fee of $10. Please read our media policy. $10 discount for Voyagers members. Payment plans available. Fees waived for families with financial need. (Waivers and payment plan information.)
Note: Students who enroll in all three Rise Out classes offered on Fridays at Voyagers receive a $100 discount on the third class.
Photo credit: Laura Fokkena