During the American Revolution, the Continental Army was lead by George Washington and experienced various high and low points. Along with the regular Continental Army, local militiamen, called “Minutemen” played an important role in winning the war for American independence.

At the beginning of the war, many symbols were used to represent the American independence movement. Going as far back as 1754, Benjamin Franklin had used the “Join or Die” flag as a symbol of the need for the English colonies to unite. A recurring theme in the symbolism was the use of the rattlesnake. The rattlesnake was used in the first flag of the United States Navy in 1775.


Another flag that became a symbol of American freedom and the fight for independence was the Bennington flag that was said to have been flown in 1777 during the Battle of Bennington in Vermont.


The rattlesnake appears again in the Gadsden Flag. In 1775, Col. Christopher Gadsden presented his flag to the Second Continental Congress and to his home state of South Carolina. Gadsden’s flag became a symbol of freedom during the Revolutionary War and is still used by groups in the USA today as a symbol of personal independence and liberty.



Research the history of the Gadsden Flag and the symbolism of the rattlesnake during the early days of the American War for Independence. Write 2 paragraphs describing why early Patriots used the rattlesnake as a symbol of freedom, including the traits of the rattlesnake that they felt were admirable and fitting to the militias of the USA.  Assignment will be typed and turned-in by Tuesday 11/23/10. Turn-in can be on paper (by end of school Tuesday)or via email (received in email by 11:59pm Tuesday night)


Write 1 paragraph describing the history of the Gadsden flag and why Christopher Gadsden used the rattlesnake as the symbol of freedom on his flag. Turn-in can be on paper (by end of school Tuesday)or via email (received in email by 11:59pm Tuesday night)

EMAIL ADDRESS:  joelsimonds@rocketmail.com



Benjamin Franklin became one of the most influential voices of the English colonies before the American Revolution. Through his printing of “Poor Richard’s Almanac” he was able to not only inform common Americans about farming knowledge, seasonal weather forecasts, puzzles, and common-sense wisdom, but it also gave Franklin the credibility to become an out-spoken critic of the English king and the laws enacted by the English Parliament.


Benjamin Franklin used the pseudonym "Richard Saunders" to publish "Poor Richard's Almanac"

Poor Richard’s Almanac was a trusted source of information in Colonial America.

In the Colonies at the time leading up to the Revolution, one of the major means of speaking out and rallying support from the common people was through the use of political cartoons. Political cartoons are pictures used for the purpose of getting a point across about an issue. It could be used in a positive way to try to tell people how great a man (like George Washington) was or to criticize the government. Political cartoons are still used today, every day in local newspapers.

One of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous politcal cartoons was published in the newspaper “Philadelphia Gazette” in 1754 (12 years before the Declaration of Independence).  Take a good look at the cartoon and try to recognize the details and find the meaning of it.

Join or Die was a cartoon published by Benjamin Franklin

ANSWER: What was the meaning of “Join or Die”? What evidence do you have (refer to the flag, info you already know, or what you learn in class). Answer should be at least 2-3 sentences..

Asian goods had been traded in Europe dating back to the Roman Empire. Ancient trade was done on the old Silk Road, where Arabic and Persian “middle-men” acted as go-betweens for both the Chinese and the Europeans. During the Dark Ages, contact with that outside world was halted in Europe, and at different times the Chinese closed up their world to the outside as well.  With the development of Islam, Arabic traders and warriors took over the Silk Road and controlled access with Asia. However, from the 400s to the 1000s, most Asian goods were unavailable and unwanted in Europe.

The Crusades were fought in the 1000s between Europeans and Arabic Muslims, but an unintended result was that Europeans returning home were able to bring back Asian goods, which then became in-demand throughout the continent.  Once these rare goods were re-introduced to Europeans, demand soared! However, prices were outrageous too, because Arabic traders, acting as “middle-men” were determined to get their share of the profits. This lead to a race between European nations to find the quickest sea route from Europe to Asia. As sailors were looking for a way to find a sea route to Asia, they discover lands previously unheard of on the European continent.

As the Portuguese explorers sailed east around Africa and eventually made it to India and China, Spanish sailors, lead by Columbus, sailed west. Spanish conquests in this “New World” lead to the downfall of Native American powers such as the Aztecs and Incas. Portuguese exploration of the coast of Africa lead to an involvement in the African slave trade, which soon spread to the other European exploring nations.

Europeans carried diseases with them to the Americas. These were diseases that “Indians” had no immunity to and caused millions of deaths. In some places, up to 80-90% of the native population died from these illnesses. Europeans had begun using the natives to work on their sugar plantations, but with so many deaths the workforce was depleted and they needed more people to fill those jobs. A new trade opened up as Portuguese began trading guns with African tribal chiefs in exchange for slaves captured from enemy tribes. Slaves were brought to the American continents to work on these plantations. As slaves were brought to America, new crops were grown and introduced back in Europe which created a new demand for these new goods.

Originally, the goal was to find a route to Asia to be able to control trade, but in the end millions of Native Americans were killed and their cultures nearly became extinct, millions of Africans were kidnapped from their homes by other Africans and sold into slavery in a land they didn’t even know existed, and a whole “New World” was opened up to Europeans to chase their dreams of a better life outside of the old ways of Europe. None of these results were the original intent of those involved in what we call “The Age of Exploration.”

Christopher Columbus's ship "Santa Maria" was one of the three Spanish ships to land in the Bahamas in 1492.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT- Think of a time when you or your family did something that had an unintended consequence. Write a 1 paragraph response from your own personal experience. (ex: your family moved from one place to another, you were nervous about a new place, but you ended up finding a new best friend.)

The summer of 2010 was extremely busy, yet very enjoyable. I spent most of July with my high school basketball team as we played 26 games in 30 days. The team was able to improve and younger players were able to get some valuable experience.

My family and I were able to travel a little bit as we spent 3 days in Laughlin, NV riding SeaDoo’s in the Colorado River under the 110 degree sun. At the end of July we traveled to Boston, MA for a 6 day trip. It was my family’s first real vacation and we were able to experience the East Coast and see so much of our country’s history. It was such a great trip that when we got home my wife started looking to see how much it would cost to move there! We visited the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Fenway Park, and a ton of historical sites.

In August I spent a week at UC San Diego at a basketball camp called “Point Guard College” where I was able to pick up tons of information and new ideas for my teams. We spent a lot of August relaxing and just hanging out. I was able to golf about once a week. I started golfing last year, so this summer I was a lot better and actually enjoyed playing a lot more. Practice Practice Practice…

Me and Alyssa at the Boston Science Museum

Good times at Fenway Park


Respond to this post with one of your own. Include the following: 1 thing you enjoyed doing this summer, 1 goal you have for this year, and 1 thing you are looking forward to learning about in US History…