1776 – 1831 Building a New Nation Supplemental Materials

Art Activities

Silhouettes

Silhouettes were a popular form of portraiture in the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were made by traveling artists with simple materials. Silhouette artists could create these portraits for clients in cities and small towns, and in both public and private spaces. For this reason, historians call silhouettes the most democratic art form of the Federal period. Many artists are still inspired by the technique and aesthetic of silhouettes today.

In this activity, students will analyze the silhouettes created by Martha Ann Honeywell and discuss the process and purpose of a silhouette portrait. They will consider why silhouettes were considered the most democratic artform of the Federal period and then create their own silhouette of a classmate.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Observations of the New Nation

People traveled from far and wide to learn about the new United States. But not everyone could afford the luxury of seeing the new nation for themselves. Instead, they learned about the U.S. from friends, artists, and writers who traveled there. One such artist was the Baroness Hyde de Neuville, who drew and painted the places she and her husband visited. She was the first woman artist in America to leave a substantial body of work and her pieces tell one of the most accurate visual stories of the Early Republic.

Students will analyze the work of the Baroness Hyde de Neuville and discuss how art can provide detailed information about what it was like to live in a certain time and place. They will create their own visual diaries in graphite and watercolor that capture where they live today.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

For supplemental slides to walk you through the art activity, click here.

Propagating “American” Womanhood

Dating back to the colonial period, wealthy white girls were taught to complete elaborate needlework samplers as a way to showcase their domestic sills, education, and personal character. During the early Federal period, creating samplers came to be seen as one of the ways women could demonstrate their aspirations to the ideal of “American” womanhood. Young girls across racial groups had differing experiences with the creation of samplers. While free Black parents and institutions like the African Free School wanted young Black girls to learn skills like needlework to demonstrate their equality in a racist society, young Indigenous girls were forced to learn these skills as a form of cultural erasure in western territories.

In this activity, students will analyze samplers created by young Black and Cherokee girls and discuss what can be learned about their experiences with the propagation of white “American” womanhood in education during the early Federal period from their work. Then, considering that many young women of that time did not have the option to celebrate their own identities and culture with their embroidery, students will create their own sampler displaying a theme of personal significance to them.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Source Notes

Navigating the New Government

Remember the Ladies

  • Ellis, Joseph J., First Family: Abigail and John Adams (New York: Knopf, 2010).
  • Ed. Frank Shuffelton, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (New York: Penguin, 2004).
  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Symbol of the New Nation

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
  • Gutierrez, Jeanne, “American Woman? Amérique, Columbia, and Lady Liberty,” October 23, 2018, Women at the Center Blog, https://womenatthecenter.nyhistory.org/american-woman-amerique-columbia-and-lady-liberty/, accessed 5/25/2021.

Women’s Suffrage Experiment

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Against Women in Government

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Federalist v. Anti-Federalist

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
  • Skemp, Sheila L., Judith Sargent Murray: A Brief Biography with Documents (New York: Bedford Books, 1998).

On the Capabilities of Women

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
  • Skemp, Sheila L., Judith Sargent Murray: A Brief Biography with Documents (New York: Bedford Books, 1998).

Abolition Loopholes

  • Horton, Lois E., “From Class to Race in Early America: Northern Post-Emancipation Racial Reconstruction,” Race and the Early Republic: Racial Consciousness and Nation Building in the Early Republic, ed. Michael A Morrison and James Brewer Stewart (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002).

Republican Motherhood

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Making Treaties

  • Sleeper-Smith, Susan, Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest: Indian Women of the Ohio River Valley, 1690–1792 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, 2018).

Reaffirming Coverture

  • Kerber, Linda K., “The Paradox of Women’s Citizenship in the Early Republic: The Case of Martin vs. Massachusetts, 1805.” The American Historical Review 97, no. 2 (1992): 349–78. Accessed 6/15 2021. doi:10.2307/2165723.

Benevolent Societies

  • Becker, Dorothy G., “Isabella Graham and Joanna Bethune: Trailblazers of Organized Women’s Benevolence.” Social Service Review 61, no. 2 (1987): 319–36. Accessed June 16, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30011889.
  • Allgor, Catherine, A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006); The Early Years, http://www.graham-windham.org/ about-us/history/the-early-years/ (accessed, 10/25/2016).
  • “Orphan Asylum Society,” The Encyclopedia of New York City, rev. ed., Kenneth T. Jackson, ed. (New Haven and New York: Yale University Press and the New-York Historical Society, 2010).

Growing Frustration

  • Zagarri, Rosemarie, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Fashion and Politics

  • Allgor, Catherine, A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006).
  • Smith, Margaret Bayard, letter to Miss Susan B. Smith, March 1809, The First Forty Years of Washington Society, portrayed by the family letters of Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith from the collection of her grandson J. Henley Smith (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,1906), https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015027775694;view=1up;seq=11 (accessed 8/17/2016).

Life Story: Dolley Madison

  • Allgor, Catherine, A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006).
  • James Madison’s Montpelier: Home of James and Dolley Madison, www.montpelier.org (accessed 7/2016).
  • The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, Holly C. Shulman, ed., http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/dmde/ (accessed 9/2016).

Life Story: Oney Judge

  • Dunbar, Erica Armstrong, “Ona Judge Staines, The President’s