Unit 1: Foundations



In a TIMED WRITE ESSAY, SWBAT describe how Early American texts and genres explored and communicated views of human nature and influenced political thought and systems through the use of the rhetorical triangle, imagery, and figurative language.

What then is the American, this new man?…He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He has become an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims. (from “Letter III,” Letters from an American Farmer by Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, 1782)

Unit Essential Questions:

1. What is HUMAN NATURE?

2. How did early Americans view HUMAN NATURE? How did these views as expressed in narratives, sermons, and political documents define the “American” as an idea and the United States of America as a political and cultural entity?

3.  How did views of HUMAN NATURE as expressed in foundational writing in U.S. history inspire and shape artistic, cultural, and political movements?

4.  How have early U.S. writers and artists influenced current “American” values and politics?

Unit Terms:

Genre, creation stories, sermon, slave narrative, public document, Puritans, Rationalists, Native/Indigenous, persuasion, ethos, pathos, logos, imagery, parallel structure, purpose, claim, evidence, tone.


Objective 1:

Students will discuss and define concept of AMERICA and AMERICAN IDENTITY by participating in concept attainment activity and FOUR SQUARE discussion.  

Objective 2: 

After participating in a GALLERY WALK, students will be able to explain the effects of European settlements on native populations and compare Rationalist and Puritan views of human nature, God, and government by completing a Gallery Walk Pamphlet.

a. Gallery Walk Images and Text

b. Gallery Walk Pamphlet

c. Web Resource: http://www.ushistory.org/us/index.asp

 Objective 3: 

After annotating passages from Thomas HobbesLeviathan and from Jean Jacques Rousseau’sDiscourse on Inequality” students will be able compare and contrast Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “state of nature” in a Socratic Seminar to understand European influence of Early American literature.  

a. from Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

b. from Discourse on Inequality by Jean Jacques Rousseau

c. Socratic Seminar Instructions, Questions Guide, Socratic Seminar Prep, and Socratic Seminar Outer Circle

TenochObjective 4: 

After annotating passages from creation stories of the Americas, students will be able to identify native views of “human nature” completing summaries that include events used to develop moral lesson in the story.

a. PREREADING: Native Voices Video,The Sun Still Risesby Joseph Bruchac, The Sun Still Rises Annotation Guide

b. READING: from “Coyote Finishes His Work” p. 25 & The Big Myth

c. POST READING: Summary Template

Objective 5:

By reading and annotating Early American literary genres, students will be able to: 1.) identify authors’purpose and use of rhetorical devices 2.) explain how these early writers’ views of human nature  influenced American identity and political thought.

shapeimage_3a. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards, pp. 44-49

i. PRE-READING: Anticipation Guide,Edwards Notes & Tone Words

ii. READING: Dialectical Journal

iii. POST-READING: Summary Template



b. “The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano” by Olaudah Equiano (AKA Gustavus Vassa)

i. PRE-READING: Anticipation Guide, Olaudah Equiano Notes & Tone Words

ii. READING: Dialectical Journal

iii. POST-READING: Summary Template




urlc. from from “The Autobiography: The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson

i. PRE-READING: Anticipation Guide, Jefferson Notes & Tone Words

ii. READING: Dialectical Journal

iii. POST-READING: Summary Template


Patrick Henryd. “Speech to the Virginia Convention” by Patrick Henry

i. PRE-READING: Patrick Henry Notes & Tone Words

ii.  READING: Says-Means-Matters

iii.  POST READING: Expository Summary , 4 Square Discussion

iv. Web Resources: THE SLAVE-TRADE.; An Original Letter from Patrick Henry.


Philosophy-Header1Objective 6

By reflecting and discussing Early American values and philosophical ideas, students will be able to explain how these early writers’ views of human nature influenced American identity and political thought.