Purest Sons—Creative Response

Creative Responses: “Purest Sons”

(30+ Minutes)

“Creative Responses” activities allow students to practice perspective taking and use creative expression to more deeply explore the stories presented in the Basic Plan. Most require a little further research into the linked resources. Choose one or more of the options below, or allow students to choose the option that best fits what they want to express. Depending on what you ask students to produce, this could be a short extension activity or a project that takes a week or longer! Sketches, drafts, or proposals are examples of shorter engagement activities. Further research, a look at the conventions of the desired genre, polished products that have gone through a cycle of feedback and revision, and potentially a presentation to an authentic audience are examples of activities that could be done over a longer period.

NOTES TO EDUCATOR:

The following curriculum asks students to continue thinking about, discussing, and writing about slavery. Please be sure to remind students of the respect and rigor required to study this history. This is hard history, but it is necessary history to study.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Use creative interpretation to discover new ways of understanding Koscuiszko’s, Jefferson’s, and Hull’s interconnected stories.
  • Present interpretations of “Purest Sons” using creative writing, visual expression, or lyrics/poetry.
  • Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives; practice perspective-taking.

RESOURCES FOR RESEARCH:

OPTION 1: LETTER WRITING (WRITING)

Using what you learned in the episode of Self-Evident entitled “The Purest Sons of Liberty” and from the sources above

a. write a letter from Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s perspective (he would already be dead so it would be from his"ghost") to Agrippa Hull which details Kosciuszko’s reaction to Jefferson’s failure to execute the will.

  • Consider the tone of the letter. Would Koscuiszko be angry, disappointed, sad, confused, or something else entirely? How will you communicate this tone?
  • Consider the audience (Hull) of the letter. How do you think Kosciuszko would speak to Hull about an issue that directly affects him? How do you think two friends would speak to each other?
  • Consider what else Kosciuszko might advocate for, moving forward. What other solutions or possibilities might he suggest, in order to continue the fight for racial justice in the (newly made) United States of America?

b. write a letter from Agrippa Hull’s perspective to a friend (general or specific—Theodore Sedgwick? Mumbet?) which details Hull’s reaction to Jefferson’s failure to execute the will.

  • Consider the tone of the letter. Would Hull be angry, disappointed, sad, confused, or something else entirely? How will you communicate this tone?
  • Consider the audience of the letter. How do you think Hull would speak to a friend about an issue that directly affects him? How do you think two friends would speak to each other?
  • Consider what else Hull might advocate for, moving forward. What other solutions or possibilities might he suggest, in order to continue the fight for racial justice in the (newly made) United States of America?

OPTION 2: (RE) IMAGINING THE STORY (WRITING)

Using what you learned in the episode of Self-Evident entitled “Purest Sons” and from the sources above, write a short narrative story that details what our past (and thus our present) could have looked like had Jefferson executed the will. You can consider any (and every) facet of society, such as: culture, economy, education, public health, government and political systems, infrastructure, technology, environmental impact, wealth distribution, and so on.

  • For example, what could our school systems have looked like if emancipated slaves were provided education and stability? What sustainable structures could the enslaved people at Monticello have created if they weren’t kept in bondage? What might civic and political institutions have looked like in the early republic if slavery had been abolished?
  • You can communicate your re-imagined story through any of the following formats:
    • Written paragraphs
    • Free verse or poetry
    • Children’s story book
    • Podcast recording

OPTION 3: PORTRAITS & ILLUSTRATIONS (VISUAL ART)

Using what you learned in the episode of Self-Evident entitled “Purest Sons” and from the sources above, create your own piece of art to communicate your understanding of Kosciuszko’s and Hull’s friendship.

  • Draw a visual representation of Agrippa Hull and Thaddeus Koscuiszko’s friendship as you view it following the episode. What details would you include and why?
    • Write a 4-5 sentence curatorial “Artist’s Statement” that uses specific details to explain your decisions as an artist. Why did you create the image(s) in the way(s) you did? Why is it important to remember this friendship today?
  • Think about and explore the monuments and statues created to honor Revolutionary War soldiers and battles over the years. Create / design / draw a memorial that commemorates the contributions of Agrippa Hull, or other Black soldiers you’ve learned about. Consider who / what you’re choosing to represent, what materials you’d use, where you would locate the monument, and its size.
    • Write a 4-5 sentence curatorial “Artist’s Statement” that uses specific details to explain your decisions as an artist. Why did you design the memorial in the way(s) that you did? Why are the ways we choose to remember the past important?

OPTION 4: LYRICAL RESPONSES (MUSIC/POETRY)

Using what you learned in the episode of Self-Evident entitled “Purest Sons” and from the sources above, create your own music or poetry to communicate your thoughts and feelings about the relationship between Kosciuszko, Jefferson, and Hull.

  • Think back to the scene where Hull describes his travels South with Kosciuszko and the horrors of slavery that they witnessed. Write a poem in response to the contradiction of fighting a war for freedom that did not include freeing enslaved people. Engage all of your senses (taste, touch, sight, sound, smell) to fully convey the weight of that contradiction. How do you feel the world would be different if the Revolutionary War had brought an end to slavery?
    • Write a 4-5 sentence curatorial “Artist’s Statement” for your music/poetry that explains some of your decisions as an artist. Why did you create the lyrics or poem in the way(s) you did?
  • Write a poetic or musical response to Jefferson’s lack of follow through on the execution of Kosciuszko’s will. Were you angry when you found out about this? Confused? How do you feel the world would be different if Jefferson had kept his word? Consider what parts of the story are most powerful to you and what emotions accompany it.
    • Write a 4-5 sentence curatorial “Artist’s Statement” for your music/poetry that explains some of your decisions as an artist. Why did you create the lyrics or poem in the way(s) you did?
  • [Optional] Perform your piece.