Dr. Joanne Freeman has been a professor of early American History for about 20 years. My class got to see the fabulous speaker she is through the video that was posted on canvas. In this lecture that she was giving to her students, she speaks about the Declaration of Independence and the importance of it. In the lecture, Freemans main argument was that the Declaration of Independence was more than just a piece of paper written by a bunch of guys in a room. Freeman wanted to enlighten her class and any viewer watching, that it’s not necessarily the paper that was the most important thing but rather the events that were going on leading up to it.
In Freeman’s lecture, she talks about what the point of the
Declaration of independence really was. What we found out was that the
document during that time, was not actually as important as we make it
to be today. Jefferson quoted, “Neither aiming at originality of
principle or sentiment nor yet copied from any particular and previous
writing. It was intended to be an expression of the American mind.” What
he is saying in this quote is that the Declaration of Independence was
not seen as the main focus of the process of declaring independence.
What it did was reflect American assumptions about government and the
rights of the body politic. In this lecture, we hear a lot of what the
people had to say about declaring independence from Great Britain and
how they contributed to the Declaration of Independence, but we could
have heard more of Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts, opinions, and steps he
took toward writing the document. Also, I think it would have been
valuable to hear King George’s thoughts and feelings toward this event.
Although it does briefly go over Jefferson and the king, it is not
nearly as much as what we could have heard.
Today in class we discussed Freeman’s lecture and heard
questions and feedback from the class. Ms. Arrowsmith presented some
musical videos by Schoolhouse Rock that entertainingly explain the
certain events that were happening around the time of the creation of
the Declaration of Independence. This is a god contribution to learning
facts about the that time in history because it is studied that you can
your brain can hold onto things better when in the form of a rhythm or
song. The believe this because it causes both sides of your brain to
work at once so when the next time you hear the song, it’ll be easier to
follow along. This is a great studying option. Also, Ms. Arrowsmith
presented us with the “Common Sense” document which was written by
Thomas Pain. This document was written six months prior to the
Declaration of Independence and gives a visual of what certain colonist
felt about King George the third. He was pretty much calling him out for
all the let-downs the king had brought to the colonies. The Declaration
of Independence was, in other words, a revision of the Common Sense
document but in a nicer way.
In class, Ms. Arrowsmith gave us some historical questions to answer
as well as students had the chance to discuss questions they had on the
subject. One question that was asked was; What was more important than
the Declaration of Independence at the time? The conclusion the class
drew was that the war was a big deal at the time and that took away much
of the attention from the Declaration. Another thing that was more
important than the document was how the Olive Branch Petition, which
stated the act of no more bloodshed was received by the king at the same
time as the king received information on Bunker Hill. Another question
that we came by was; What does the Continental Congress have to take
into consideration? Some conclusions the class drew was; Who will
replace King George? How will we organize our government from scratch?
How do the people of the colonies feel about it? Although Freeman’s
lecture covered many topics, my classmates and I were left wondering the
opinions of Jefferson and King George? I found Joanne Freeman’s lecture
to be very entertaining and interesting and I would love to learn more
about the topic!