icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

Lesson 6: Revolution in Deerfield: Political Turmoil

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

In what ways do politics impact a community?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas

Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

top of page

Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher/Student Background

The Deerfield community found itself in the midst of political debate.

Teacher/Student Background Essay: American Revolution in the Connecticut River Valley

top of page

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • World events brought important changes impacted Deerfield.
  • There were diverse opinions about the War of Independence.

Students will be able to:

  • Contrast the changing viewpoints of Deerfield people in the years before, during, and after the Revolution.

top of page

In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read Teacher/Student Background Essay: American Revolution in the Connecticut River Valley

Further Background Reading:
Merritt, Bruce. "Loyalism and Social Conflict in Revolutionary Deerfield, Massachusetts." Journal of American History, 1970.

top of page


Primary and Secondary Sources:

Unless otherwise noted, all can be found on the American Centuries website.
  1. Smith, Barbara Clark. "The War at Home: Samuel Colton, Merchant of Longmeadow, Massachusetts." After the Revolution: The Smithsonian History of Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Smithsonian, 1985. (not on web site)
  2. Elihu Ashley letters regarding Whigs and Tories in Deerfield
  3. Military equipment
  4. List of Deerfield soldiers
  5. Teacher/Student Background Essay: American Revolution in the Connecticut River Valley

top of page

Activities Materials in Context
  • The teacher will give a short talk about national events leading up to the Revolution.
  • To learn about the reaction to the war in Deerfield, give students the teacher/student essay to read.
  • Instruct students to divide into expert groups. Then reconfigure to study groups to discuss and respond to focus questions related to the following primary documents: (Each group should make reference to the homework assignment in their response to the focus questions -- "The War at Home: Samuel Colton, Merchant, Longmeadow, Massachusetts.")

Group 1: Elihu Ashley letters/position on war -- other Tories

Respond to these statements:
  1. "Oh Tempora, All nature seems to be in confusion; every person in fear of what his neighbor will do to him. Such times were never seen in New England."
  2. Who would choose which George (King or Washington) to side with?
  3. Churches in Western Massachusetts were not inclined to support the War.

Group 2:

Invite students to review the roster of Deerfield soldiers and documents showing town support of troops, and then respond to the following:
  1. What influences came into play to determine party loyalties?
  2. How could the families with differing loyalties co-exist in Deerfield?

Group 3:

Invite students to look at the military equipment and read their labels.
  1. Based on their investigation and the use of other websites (such as American Memory), write a description of warfare in Revolutionary America.

Reconvene the class and discuss the results of their investigations.

Assignment: Instruct students to complete the following writing exercise:

After studying the American Revolution and its effects on the people of New England and the people of Deerfield, in particular, consider the following.

-- It is April, 1775 and the colonies have gone to war with Great Britain. You are male, 17 years old, and about to be drafted into the Continental Army. What are your inner thoughts and response to the draft?

-- In the year 2002, you are a student who has just graduated from high school. You and your family have diverse views on the merit of America's participation in the world as "peacekeeper." As a member of the Army reserves, you have been called up to serve in Asia. What is your response, and why?


top of page



Written response to these dilemmas.

top of page

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents



Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback