Ever since I read Douglas Brinkley’s The Majic Bus, An American Odyssey, I have wanted to the hit the historical road–preferably the colonial and revolutionary America road–with some of my college students or perhaps some Messiah College alumni.
At Messiah College our students have the option of taking a “cross-cultural” course in which they spend three weeks in another country or culture, but I am imagining that an extended trip back to the culture of eighteenth-century America would not meet the parameters for this course. (Although I am certainly willing to try to make the pitch!)
I was reminded of this longstanding entry on my so-called “bucket list” after reading Jim Cullen’s field trip to Massachusetts with his high school students. They are visiting the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Custom House (featured in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter), Lexington and Concord, Walden Pond, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill, and the site of the Boston Massacre. What a great trip.
I could imagine an east coast tour with students during May that would hit as many colonial and revolutionary-era sites as possible–from Boston to Charleston. In addition to the traditional stops such as the Boston Freedom Trail or historical Philadelphia we could also hit less popular places such as the site of the Greenwich Tea Burning (Greenwich, NJ), the Ephrata Cloister (Ephrata, PA), or the Brandywine Battlefield. We would have lectures and readings along the way.
Who’s with me?
Such a trip would probably be expensive and filled with logistical hurdles, but it would also be a life-changing educational experience for students. I am sure it would be a highlight of my professional career as well.
Have you ever taken or led such an American history trip? If so, I would like to hear from you. Feel free to share in the comments section.
That sounds fun. I still remember a three week Civil War class/field trip I took with the late Joseph Harsh through Virginia a while back. The collegiality the group develops is critical to learning.
My pitch is, of course, the Revolution in backcountry North and South Carolina. Some of the better and lesser known sites to visit that have something to do with late colonial and revolution would be the Trading Path (early colonial commercial corridor), Historic Hillsborough, Alamance Battleground (Regulator War), Guilford Courthouse, Lindley's Mill/Pyle's Hacking Match, Old Salem, Alexander Homesite at the Charlotte Museum of History (for the alleged Mecklenburg Declaration), King's Mountain, Brattonsville (Houck's Defeat), and Camden and Cowpens. Obviously, the coastal areas have good stuff (Edenton, New Bern, etc.) but the backcountry is where the war and the social revolution get unexpected.
Of course, y'all could stay at my apartment for a couple of nights! Haha.
If this ever gets off the ground, please count me in immediately!
John Fea says
OK Susanna–you're on the list!