Stovepipe-hatted, the long-nosed and pointed-beard folk hero so symbolic of our great nation, Uncle Sam has been with us for more than 190 years. Along with Miss Columbia and the Statue of Liberty, he enjoys instant recognition around the world as America’s spokesman. So much so that back in 1961 the US Congress made him our official emissary and recognized Samuel Wilson as the inspiration behind the symbol. Like the song Yankee Doodle, however, life began for him as anything but the patriotic and beloved embodiment of the United States.
The final permanent characterization of Uncle Sam came at the hands of James Montgomery Flagg, a famous illustrator during the first quarter of the 20th
century. It was his portrait of Uncle Sam
, on a World War I recruiting poster, staring down into the eyes of the nation’s young men and telling them “I Want You for the US Army”, that cast forever the image of America’s favorite Uncle.
ON EARLY AMERICAN MUSIC
From the very beginning, this was a singing land. Space for the Pilgrims was precious on board the crowded little trans-Atlantic vessels, and musical instruments were not among the essential provisions. But human voices and memories take up no room, and the family Bible and psalm-book were essential. Thus it is no surprise that the number of truly popular secular songs on this side of the Atlantic was counted in the dozens rather than in the hundreds.
The first great outpouring of native song occurred at the time of the American Revolution. The prejudice against all things British inspired American composers and their works were greeted with wild enthusiasm. This led to a curious result, seemingly unique to this country – the parody became the most popular form of American vocal expression. Our newspapers were full of topical verses written in the patterns of songs of the day. Sometimes the poet would help out the reader by making a reference to the tune (“To be sung to the tune of ‘Yankee Doodle’” was a typical example).
The concept of parody was nothing new in the colonies. In an effort to combat the “foolish songs and ballads” of the day, clergymen turned to parody. New England preachers set up committees in their congregations to gather the more appealing melodies to be fitted out with holy words and used as hymns – thus reviving the earlier practice of Martin Luther who had said, “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?”
History of the United States
History of the United States
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The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The largest settlements were by the English on the East Coast, starting in 1607. By the 1770s the Thirteen Colonies contained two and half million people, were prosperous, and had developed their own political and legal systems. The British government's threat to American self-government led to war in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. With major military and financial support from France, the patriots won the American Revolution. In 1789 the Constitution became the basis for the United States federal government, with war hero George Washington as the first president. The young nation continued to struggle with the scope of central government and with European influence, creating the first political parties in the 1790s, and fighting a second war for independence in 1812.
U.S. territory expanded westward across the continent, brushing aside Native Americans and Mexico, and overcoming modernizers who wanted to deepen the economy rather than expand the geography. Slavery of Africans was abolished in the North, but heavy world demand for cotton let it flourish in the Southern states. The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln calling for no more expansion of slavery triggered a crisis as eleven slave states seceded to found the Confederate States of America in 1861. The bloody American Civil War (1861–65) redefined the nation and remains the central iconic event. The South was defeated and, in the Reconstruction era, the U.S. ended slavery, extended rights to African Americans, and readmitted secessionist states with loyal governments. The national government was much stronger, and it now had the explicit duty to protect individuals. Reconstruction was never completed by the US government and left the blacks in a world of Jim Crow political, social and economic inferiority. The entire South remained poor while the North and West grew rapidly.
Thanks to an outburst of entrepreneurship in the North and the arrival of millions of immigrant workers from Europe, the U.S. became the leading industrialized power by 1900. Disgust with corruption, waste, and traditional politics stimulated the Progressive movement, 1890s-1920s, which pushed for reform in industry and politics and put into the Constitution women's suffrage and Prohibition of alcohol (the latter repealed in 1933). Initially neutral in World War I, the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, and funded the Allied victory. The nation refused to follow President Woodrow Wilson's leadership and never joined the League of Nations. After a prosperous decade in the 1920s the Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the onset of the decade-long world-wide Great Depression. A political realignment expelled the Republicans from power and installed Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and his elaborate and expensive New Deal programs for relief, recovery, and reform. Roosevelt's Democratic coalition, comprising ethnics in the north, labor unions, big-city machines, intellectuals, and the white South, dominated national politics into the 1960s. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II alongside the Allies and helped defeat Nazi Germany in Europe and, with the detonation of newly-invented atomic bombs, Japan in Asia and the Pacific.
The Soviet Union and the U.S. emerged as opposing superpowers after the war and began the Cold War confronting indirectly in an arms race, the Space Race, and intervention in Europe and eastern Asia. Liberalism reflected in the civil rights movement and opposition to war in Vietnam peaked in the 1960s–70s before giving way to conservatism in the early 1980s. The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, leaving the U.S. to prosper in the booming Information Age economy that was boosted, at least in part, by information technology. International conflict and economic uncertainty heightened by 2001 with the September 11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror and the late-2000s recession.
1. Ask your students to discuss the difference between television and live theatre. It is important that they know about theatre etiquette, or manners. Refer to the poem above on Matinee Manners.
The student understands how we learn about ourselves, our relationships and our environment through forms of theater (e.g., film, television
, plays, and electronic media)
TH.E.1.2.3 (3-5) The student understands theatre as a social function and theatre etiquette as the responsibility of the audience.
The student recognizes the use of comparison and contrast in a text.
2. Have students learn the following vocabulary words and listen for them during the play. See how many words they can recall and how they were used in the context of the play.
abolition colonies democracy depression despot
discrimination dishonor earnest economy eloquent
endeavor equivocate freedom government immigration
industrial inspiration integrity liberty patriot
perish pilgrim polio prosperity renaissance
responsibility revolution score secede segregation
skeptic slavery taxes tyrannous virtue
LA.A.1.1.3 (PreK-2) The student uses knowledge of appropriate grade-, age-, and developmental-level vocabulary in reading.
The student uses simple strategies to determine meaning and increase vocabulary for reading including the use of prefixes, suffixes, root words, multiple meanings
, antonyms, synonyms, and word relationships.
3. Have the students look and listen for patterns during the play. See how many patterns they can recall and how they were used in the context of the play. Encourage students to be aware of patterns that may occur in music, dance, scenery, costume fabric and dialogue. Students may also notice architectural patterns in the theatre.
The student describes a wide variety of classification schemes and patterns related to physical characteristics and sensory attributes, such as rhythm, sound, shapes, colors, numbers, similar objects, and similar events.
The student describes a wide variety of patterns and relationships through models, such as manipulatives, tables, graphs, and rules using algebraic symbols.
4. This play is a musical journey through American History. Discuss with your students the differing types of music that they will encounter and how music has changed since 1776. After the show, have the students analyze and describe the music from the show. There are many classic songs as well as newer compositions that can be analyzed.
The student understands music in relation to culture and history.
The student knows how to analyze simple songs in regard to rhythm, melodic movement, and basic forms (e.g., ABA, verse, and refrain).
AFTER THE PLAY
1. Discuss the production with your students. What did they like or dislike about the play? What was their favorite time period and historical figure? Why? Have the students draw a picture or write a letter to the cast of “Let Freedom Sing” telling them what they learned.
LA.E.2.1.1 (PreK-2) The student uses personal perspective in responding to a work of literature, such as relating characters or simple events in a story or biography to people or events in his or her own life.
LA.B.2.2.1 (3-5) The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of content and experiences from a variety of media.
2. During the play over 50 great Americans were either talked about or portrayed. Have the students select a famous American and draw a picture or create a diorama depicting that person in action (e.g. Washington crossing the Delaware, Amelia Earhart flying across the Atlantic, Harriett Tubman leading slaves to freedom).
The student knows significant individuals in United States history to 1880.
The student knows significant individuals in United States history since 1880
3. It is said that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Discuss this concept with the class. Have the students consider how their lives today would be changed had events in our nations past occurred differently.
The student understands how individuals, ideas, decisions and events can influence history.
4. Lead your class in a discussion on patriotism and citizenship. What makes a person a citizen? What makes a person a patriot?
The student knows the qualities of a good citizen (e.g., honesty, courage, and patriotism).
The student understands why personal responsibility and civic responsibility are important.
5. The United States has been called a “nation of immigrants” and the “land of opportunity.” Mark on a map all the different continents and countries that are represented by the students in your classroom. Discuss the hardships and joys that occurred when people left their homelands to come to this nation.
The student understands the changes that occurred in people’s lives when they moved from faraway places to the United States.
The student knows that after the Civil War, massive immigration, big business, and mechanized farming transformed American Life.
6. Several documents were talked about during the play (The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights). Discuss them with the class. Why are they important? What freedoms are enumerated by the Bill of Rights?
The student knows significant historical documents and the principal ideas expressed in them.
THE ART OF FCAT
Visual and Performing Arts Field Trips provide an excellent source of support for the development of skills necessary for success on the FCAT. We invite you to use these instructional strategies to enhance FCAT preparation through your theatre field trip.
FCAT Cognitive Level 1
Read the story (or play) your field trip performance is based on.
Name the main character.
List all the characters.
Identify the setting.
List the story events in the order they happened.
Describe a character (or setting).
Explain the problem (or conflict) in the story.
Explain how the actors used stage props to tell the story (or develop characterization).
Discuss how the blocking, or positioning of the actors on stage affected the performance.
Discuss how unusual technical elements (light, shadow, sound, etc.) were used in the performance.
Draw a picture of a character.
Illustrate or make a diorama of a scene from the performance.
Draw a poster to advertise the performance.
Work with other students to act out a scene.
Demonstrate how an actor used facial expression to show emotion.
Write a narrative story to summarize the plot of the performance story.
Use a map and/or timeline to locate the setting of the story.
Make a mobile showing events in the story.
FCAT Cognitive Level II
Would the main character make a good friend? Write an expository essay explaining why or why not.
Create a graph that records performance data such as: female characters, male characters, animal characters or number of characters in each scene, etc.
Compare/Contrast a character to someone you know or compare/contrast the setting to a different location or time.
Solve a special effects mystery. Use words or pictures to explain how “special effects” (Lighting, smoke, sound effects) were created.
Image the story in a different time or place. Design sets or costumes for the new setting.
You’re the director. Plan the performance of a scene in your classroom. Include the cast of characters, staging area, and ideas for costumes, scenery, and props in your plan.
Create a new ending to the story.
Did you enjoy the performance? Write a persuasive essay convincing a friend to go see this production.
Write a letter to the production company nominating a performer for a “Best Actor Award.” Explain why your nominee should win the award.
Create a rubric to rate the performance. Decide on criteria for judging: Sets, Costumes, Acting, Lighting, Special Effects, Overall Performance, etc.
is a professional theatre ensemble that specializes in bringing classic fairy tales to over 150,000 young people each year throughout the Southeast.
STAGES' show credits include critically acclaimed performances of: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, School House Rock, Mother Goose, Cinderella and The Princess and the Pea. Be sure to join us for our 25th anniversary season featuring ; Sleeping Beauty, Santa’s Holiday Revue, Aladdin and The Three Little Pigs .
STAGES PRODUCTIONS is dedicated to making drama an integral part of education, and lesson plans help incorporate these plays into the student’s curriculum. Thank you for supporting this mission by choosing a STAGES PRODUCTIONS play!
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Downes, O., A Treasury of American Song (1940) Knopf
Vinson, L., Early American Songbook (1974) Ridge Press – Rutledge Books
Boni, Margaret B., The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs (1952) Simon and Schuster
Agay, D., Best Loved Songs of the American People (1975) Doubleday
Boni, Margaret B., Songs of the Gilded Age (1960) Golden Press
Microsoft Encarta ‘98 Encyclopedia . (1998)
Traktman, P., Matinee Manners.
Linder, P., The Art of FCAT.
Nuhn, R., Uncle Sam – Super Patriot.