The American Experience in the Classroom: Timeline

Use the timeline to see how our featured artworks fit into the context of important events in American history.

1760-06-05 03:58:50

Young Moravian Girl

This girl's flushed cheeks, bright eyes, and graceful gestures hint at a vibrant personality. The artist, who was a lay preacher and painter in the Moravian community, also delights in rendering details of her traditional costume—from the pointed waistline to the elegantly slit sleeves. The Moravians were a communal society that began in the fifteenth century in Moravia and Bohemia, which today are parts of the Czech Republic. Many Moravians settled in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. This work is a reminder of the search for religious freedom that led many to migrate to America.

1765-04-01 00:00:00

The Stamp Act

The British Parliament enacts the Stamp Act, provoking anti-tax protests in colonies.

1765-04-01 00:00:00

Mrs. George Watson

Mrs. Watson, the wife of a wealthy Boston merchant, wears a fashionably low-cut gown of luscious satin and white lace and holds a porcelain vase that echoes the contours of her figure. The yards of expensive fabric and silk ribbons in the costume testified to George Watson's success as an importer of European goods, as did the fact that he could afford to commission a portrait from Boston's foremost painter. Mrs. Watson showed herself to colonial society as a fashionable English matron, but her direct gaze suggests the grit and character of a new American society that would emerge within ten years.

1767-06-05 03:58:50

The Townshend Acts

The act requires colonists to pay duties on tea and other imports.

1770-03-05 21:21:32

The Boston Massacre

The confrontation between a mob of colonists and British soldiers on the night of March 5, 1770 ended with the death of 5 colonists. The event became highly propagandized by Patriots in favor of independence from Great Britain.

1773-09-01 06:37:41

Phillis Wheatley becomes the first African American to publish a book of poetry

Phillis Wheatley was only seven or eight years old when she was captured and taken from her home in West Africa. A slave ship brought her to Boston in 1761. Knowing nothing of the talents she would soon show the world, John Wheatley, a prosperous tailor, and his wife, Susanna, purchased the young girl directly from the ship and named her Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley grew up to be a poet. Her collection, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published on September 1, 1773. - Library of Congress

1773-12-16 12:32:25

The Boston Tea Party

In an act of protest against British taxation, demonstrators board three ships in Boston Harbor and dump 342 chest of tea into the water.

1775-04-19 11:54:07

The Battles of Lexington and Concord

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

1776-02-10 05:09:52

Mrs. James Smith and Grandson

Charles Willson Peale painted this intimate portrait in Philadelphia two months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The young boy, Campbell Smith, named for his grandfather *, holds The Art of Speaking, a manual of rhetoric and oratorical study. Campbell rests his finger on the phrase “to be or not to be” from Hamlet's soliloquy, possibly referring to family aspirations or revolutionary ideals.

1776-03-08 13:50:55

1776 - Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense

Published anonymously in Philadelphia in January 1776, Common Sense appeared at a time when both separation from Great Britain and reconciliation were being considered. Through simple rational arguments, Thomas Paine focused blame for colonial America’s troubles on the British king and pointed out the advantages of independence. With over half a million copies in twenty-five editions appearing throughout the colonies within the first year, this popular pamphlet helped to turn the tide of sentiment toward revolution. – Library of Congress

The American Experience in the Classroom: Timeline

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