Georgia Extension: Benjamin Banneker

Georgia Extension: Benjamin Banneker

These extensions expand the Self-Evident stories to Georgia. They start with a local case study, then ask students to compare and contrast what they see to the original story in order to draw deeper conclusions about Georgia history.

Standards:

  • SS8H3 Analyze the role of Georgia in the American Revolutionary Era
  • SS8H3.b: b. Interpret the three parts of the Declaration of Independence (preamble, grievances, and declaration) and identify the three Georgia signers of the document.

Plan:

  1. Complete the Basic Plan for “I Got A Letter From the Government”
  2. Transition to your Georgia case study: “Thomas Jefferson wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence, which said that “All men are created equal” and have “inalienable rights,” yet he enslaved Black people and believed they were inferior. We’re going to learn about the three Georgians who signed the Declaration and explore their relationship to slavery. What do you think we will find?” Discuss a few ideas in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class.
  3. Students should research George Walton, Lyman Hall, and Button Gwinnett. The shorter version of this extension is to look up whether these men enslaved people (Hall and Gwinnett did; most evidence says Walton did not). With more time, students can learn about the enduring legacy and namesakes of each man or attempt to find more information about their beliefs about Black or indigenous people.
  4. Explore some or all of the following prompts to connect student research to the bigger issues of the Self Evident video. This could be done through discussion in pairs, small groups, as a whole class, or using a digital discussion board. Students could also do individual informal journal responses or more formal writing.
    • Are you surprised by what you found? Why or why not?
    • Why is it important to know whether the signers of the Declaration enslaved people?
    • Walton has a high school named after him that people are advocating be renamed due to his views on and treatment of indigenous people and his family’s status as large-scale slaveholders. When we name something after somebody, what messages are we sending? Why is it important for us to revisit how we view figures from the past?
    • Button Gwinnett has had a lot of interest -- there’s been a few videos made about his short life! They don’t focus and sometimes don’t mention his status as an enslaver. What do you think about this omission? Should the fact that somebody in the past enslaved people be part of every conversation about them?
    • Why do you think it is so hard to find records of these men discussing their views on slavery and Black people? What does that tell you about the past?