American Revolution: More Than Two Sides (My First Speaking Engagement)

Another reason my October was filled to capacity was my first speaking engagement. I presented “American Revolution: More Than Two Sides” to fifth graders at my son’s school on October 24.

At the beginning of the school year, I told my older son’s teacher I was a genealogist and new DAR member. I volunteered my time and expertise for anything she needed, and she came back with a request — giving a talk about the complexities of the American Revolution. Specifically, the “sides” of the American Revolution (patriot, loyalist, neutralist) and the factors that led colonists to join these sides. The talk served as an introduction to the fifth graders’ American history project this semester.

I had a great time researching this topic and presenting to the 100-student audience. In addition to the socioeconomic aspects of choosing a side, we discussed the concerns of Native Americans, slaves and free blacks, other countries like France and Spain, and religious groups such as the Anglicans, Quakers, and Jews.

The fifth graders were an attentive group and asked great questions. My favorites were, “How did you learn all this?” and “How do you know what your ancestors were doing way back then?” My answers: Learn library research skills and cursive — that’s how you locate original records and know how to read them. These skills are so often overlooked in our digital world but are vital to genealogists and historians.

I know the fifth graders will have some interesting projects, and I look forward to seeing them in a few weeks at their project expo. Meanwhile, my son thinks his mom is one smart cookie.

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