Carpenters' Hall

Getting Started

Teachers are encouraged to make use of the assets within Carpenters' Hall. The building is a classic example of Georgian architecture and it is a faithful representation of the colonial style.

Teachers should make arrangements for their trips with enough lead time to allow the scheduling of first-person historical interpretation (e.g. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington; see The Gazette for current schedule of events in the Park). This would add some color when the volunteers describe the uses of the building and the historical events that occurred within the walls of Carpenters' Hall.

All grade levels should be encouraged to appreciate the efforts of the Carpenter's Company in making the Hall available through the ages. Emphasis should be on the contributions of the Hall and the Company to Philadelphia and the nation extending to the present day.

Grades 1-4

Primary grade students need to think of the historical figures who made use of the Hall. They need heroes and role models who personify the traits that a democratic society values. They have to realize that the historical figures were real flesh and blood people who risked their lives and fortunes because of their belief in personal freedom. In this regard teachers are encouraged to work with their school and community librarians to develop an age-appropriate bibliography. You will find a sample bibliography here.

Grades 5-8

Middle school and junior high students are capable of developing the important events of the Colonial Period through reading, discussions, debates, and mock trials. There are very few history texts that note more than the highlights of the colonial period prior to the start of the American Revolution. Teachers should encourage students to become familiar with the controversies of this period in our history. This familiarization should come about with the development of research by the students through reading and other activities.

The students will be able to:

  • Trace the events leading up to The Revolutionary War by creating a timeline, which begins with The French and Indian War.
  • Recognize the fact that the colonists saw themselves as English citizens who deserved the same rights as those who physically lived in England. (link to Classroom Activity)
  • Describe John Locke's basic theme in "Two Treatises of Government," and point out the similar sentiment in The Declaration of Independence.
  • Develop an understanding of the conflicting ideals regarding slavery and the plight for freedom from Great Britain.
  • Trace the development of the Carpenters' Company and its contribution to colonial architecture and The Revolutionary War period.
  • List the actions of the British and the reactions of the colonists regarding these acts.
  • Define "Salutary Neglect" and explain the repercussions of British enforcement policy to repay debts incurred during the French and Indian War.

Grades 9-12

High school students are able to delve into the background of the various conflicts and events that led to the American Revolution. Classes should be encouraged to create timelines that highlight the growing divisiveness developing between the Colonists and the Mother Country. Students should realize that the English used the Colonies as a "dumping ground." Unlike the French and the Spanish who allowed only the most loyal of their citizens to emigrate, England encouraged their religious and political dissenters to leave England and take up residence in the New World.

High school students should also be exposed to the philosophy of the time by reading excerpts or summaries of John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government." They should be able to compare that language of 1690 to the language Thomas Jefferson used in writing The Declaration of Independence. Students can also delve much deeper into the lives of the Founding Fathers to realize that they were imperfect human beings, like the rest of us. These discussions should lead the students into a profound understanding about the formation of The United States government under The Constitution. Our Founding Fathers were aware that they were human and could not account for all circumstances under this new government if it were going to last. They therefore made allowances for change in order to protect the growing nation in the form of an article in The Constitution created specifically to explain the procedure for amending it. This was the true genius.

The students should be able to:

  • Develop more deeply the research activities listed for the middle school years.
  • Describe the evolution of the Colonial legislatures and how they differed from the Parliamentary form of government.
  • Compare and contrast the history of dissent from the Boston Tea Party, the Committees of Correspondence, and the activities of the Sons of Liberty through American History to the street demonstrations at the Republican and Democratic Party Conventions. This history of dissent could be handled through students debates on the effectiveness, use, and reasonable limits on organized dissent.
  • Describe the role of The Carpenters' Company from its inception to the present day. It is important to realize that this group practiced "involved citizenship" from its inception.
  • Debate the validity of the following statement: "The First Continental Congress and Carpenters' Hall is the spiritual birthplace of the United States."
  • Conceptualize that the Founding Fathers were complicated and real people, with human shortcomings and faults, while they are rightfully recognized as remarkably intelligent people, they also had their own economic motivations and they refused to acknowledge the contradictions in freedom and unfreedom. Despite the fact that they were evident products of their own time they managed to create documents that have transcended time and that are relevant today.
  • Recognize the importance of European animosities in the winning of the American Revolution. Why else did the French and the Spanish, no lovers of democracy, aid the colonists?

Carpenters' Hall, 320 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Open free to the public daily, except Mondays (and Tuesdays in Jan. and Feb.), from 10am-4pm

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Copyright 1999-2015 by the Independence Hall Association,
a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
Publishing electronically as On the Internet since July 4, 1995.