PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 7 Humanities: Week of 10/28/2019: It’s Liberty Or Nothing


Dear Families,

Leaping forward in time from The Age of Exploration to the inciting incidents of The American Revolution might seem like a stretch, but interestingly, the template of colonialism, exploitation, and expansionism perfected by Christopher Columbus is not so different from the methods employed by our founding fathers. We noticed that the very words leveraged to wage war — Freedom for All! — are actually a shocking hypocrisy that amount to merely freedom for the already wealthy and privileged.

The American Revolution really did seem like a just cause — why should the colonists here be occupied by a country over there? But, who actually gained from the victory over England?

Did the Indians benefit from our independence from England? No, conditions actually got worse for the Indians.  The Proclamation of 1763 forbid westward expansion into Indian territory. When England was defeated, the colonists decided to move westward across the continent.

Did black Americans benefit from the American Revolution? No, slavery existed before, during, and after the war. It was even written into the Constitution.

Did white farmers benefit in the same way as someone like a Jefferson or a Madison? Not really, many poorer whites were promised land that they would never receive if they agreed to fight against England. The ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness remained words on a page and an unattainable hope for most.

The American Revolution was complex and not everyone benefited: not Indians, not black Americans, not women, and not the poor. When an event has been relegated to the past, it becomes very difficult to imagine its trajectory in a way other than how it went. We tend to believe that many or even all of our wars have been inevitable. However, between war and inaction lie a million possibilities.


Ms. Sacilotto


Typical board notes that we walk through together, discuss, and apply to subsequent assignments . . .


Creating a plan for our Colonial House models . . .


A basic Colonial House that includes a well, an outhouse, and a small subsistence vegetable patch . . .


701 and 702 Colonial House “building” highlights . . .

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Eyewitnesses To History: The Boston Massacre in Writing


Alex A:

It was a rather sunny day outside. I can’t enjoy the rare weather though, I have to get this metal to the blacksmith. You see, I’m the apprentice of Lemuel, who’s one of the towns best blacksmiths. I’ve only started out a few months ago, yet I’m already doing higher level tasks since he took on a new apprentice only a week ago. He’s the one mopping the floors and carrying the heavy casts now.

The route I’m taking is a rather scenic one. From the port passing by the customhouse and finally to Lemuel’s Blacksmith. He not one to like the morons Britain calls King, as most of us in Boston. Once he even turned down an apprenticeship because the man way a loyalist, which if you ask me is a good reason. Anyways, I’m about to pass by the Custom House now. Oh how I hate those lobster backs that harass this town.

Ding dong ding dong. “Where’s the fire?” one man cried. “Look over there, lots of people are crowding.” another hollered. “The British are beating up a boy” a third one yelled. I dropped my crate of iron so I could join the rush towards the customs house. 

“Go back to Britain dalcops!” one man said as I threw a rock at the British. “Go away you gobermouches!” another taunted as I formed a snowball. “Look at those raggabrashes!” I threw the snowball. “Rakefires” I bent down to make another one. “Fire” “Fire” Fire”. Yet the British do not fire.

“Fire” is yelled from behind the soldiers, just as a soldier is hit in the head and when he gets back up  Bam. Musket smoke rose as a few people at the front of the hoard slank down, full of blood. Everyone dispersed. I picked up my crate, and continued on my way.*

*Note: any seeming misspellings are intentional to the character(s) for authenticity


Edie W:

Journal Entry of the Best Bell Ringer               March 10, 1770

That was not part of the job description. See when the royal governor appointed me as bell ringer of the town church, I did not think I actually would have to ring the bell for an emergency like that. Yes, I know there might be a war soon. Yes, I know we are living in a sketchy time. But did I think there would be murders within my eyesight from the top of the church tower? Short answer: No. See why I wanted to work up there is to 

1: Spy on people 

2: Make them like me

3: That’s it

When I worked there, my grand plan of why I wanted to work there was definitely failing. No people liked me, and all the people’s windows were closed. 

Back to the murders. This is how I saw it from the tower:


I was drinking a beer, leaning over the edge trying to peer into the only open window in town, when I saw them. A couple soldiers fully dressed in their soldier equipment, gun and all. Talking to each other, laughing, throwing a rock or two at the red coats. Some tapping their booted shoe waiting for their turn, adjusting their cornered hat. Then I heard it. A couple bangs and a couple screams. Then more screams. Then yelling. More screams. 


Yep, I witnessed five deaths from my bell tower. See how the soldiers are telling the story in court is surrounded by self defense. It’s all based around self defense. It was not self defense. How I saw it, from the highest point in all of town, is the stupid Brits shot our men for throwing a couple rocks at them. 

Back to my story, this is what I was thinking…


WE’RE NOT IN WAR! Or are we? Should we be? I don’t want to die… am I going to die? If I’m going to die I want to die a noble death. I run down the church steps and as always pretend not to see the boy living in the walls. See I don’t want to help the boy find a home because it’s not my problem. But I know he’s always looking at me because he admires me so much, and wants to be just like me one day, because I’m such an icon. Obviously. I run down the cobblestone street, tripping over my feet, of course stopping to see if the pretty girl across the street left her window open, no she didn’t, and I keep on running. I stop around the corner and rethink what I’m doing. Yeah… no… I don’t think… I couldn’t… I slowly turn around, and walk back to the bell tower. I don’t know what I was thinking, dying a noble death, and all that jazz. See I don’t want to die at all. No no noble death, but no death at all! Great, I don’t even remember why I wanted to die. 

Okay, yeah, most people are thinking how could a good-looking, buff, lady’s man like me not want to protect the colonies and die nobly and all that? Well, let me just say, no lady’s actually like me. I’m not that buff, but I am good looking. It really comes as a shock to most people. But the thing is, the only men who die fighting and get their name passed down for generations are all of those things. What if I die fighting and try to protect people but don’t get my name passed down? I’d only protect people for the fame obviously, so if I don’t get the glory what’s in it for me? Nothing, because I’m not a rich white man, and I’m not handsome, and I don’t own slaves. 

I slowly climb the church towers tall steps, and think about what I saw earlier. The smell of blood and gunpowder still tingle in my nose, the dead people flash before my eyes and I stumble on the stairs, clinging to the railing. I sit down, for I feel nauseous and dizzy. No one told me I would go through this being the bell ringer. No one told me.


So that’s what happened on that day of death, the day of tragedy, the day that I think officially started the war against the Brits. That day was also the day I realized if my ego could be any bigger I’d be King George 111 himself. After that day I stopped being the bell ringer. The smell of blood lurked when I walked past the church, there’s no way I could spend all my time there. No one told me though, that one day I would witness 5 deaths that would change my life. No one told me.


Zev T:


I fell out of the sky today, in pieces of snow, and froze into a piece of ice. I wonder what this new place will be like!


My life has been so boring lately. All that has happened is I’ve been trampled and not noticed. Over time some more snow friends have built up near me into a mound. I hope for something to happen soon, and it seems like something will, because while everyone is walking around most of them seem kind of annoyed at something. I don’t fully know what, but I have one idea. Some people wearing red coats have been patrolling the area, and sometimes the people wearing blue talk loudly to them, and I think it’s the red-coated people who irritate them


A really loud crack echoes through the air, and it shocks me. I haven’t ever heard anything like that before! I didn’t like it though. The people that seemed irritated before now seemed both scared and angry. One of the more angry people grabbed me out of the mound and ran over to a pillar. He hid behind it. Even though he was allowed to be angry, he was gripping me too hard, and it hurt a lot! I could see out of the corner of my “eye” that the red-coated people were causing the big cracks. I wished I could make them stop. They kept causing the loud booms and they were pointing their long pieces of metal at the blue people. I don’t know why this is all happening, it is very confusing. All of a sudden, the person holding me runs up and throws me. I soar through the air and hit one of the red-coated people, and it seems they get more hurt than I do. They scream in pain and fall back to the floor. I see the person that was holding me, on the floor with red stuff covering them. This all seems so sudden, I have no idea why this is happening. A wave of fear wash over the blue people as they notice the man on the ground with the red stuff. This is the most interesting thing that has happened to me yet, and while I am happy that something is happening, I’m not sure if it is actually a good thing. Some more snowballs and rocks are thrown, and they seem to be hurting the red-coated men too. I wish everyone would just stop.


Me and my friends are scattered across the ground, and what used to be the snow mound is reduced to nothing. The blue people are agitated, and some kind of rebellious emotion is spreading around, but I’m not sure if I want it to keep going. This has all been so confusing and sudden.


Tabor AP:

I remember being in the mountains. I remember the feel of the soil upon me. I remember the people. The people who dug me. I was still there. Part of me still is. But I remember the feeling of being broken up and sent off to various places. Part of me was made into gardening supplies. They were bought and still owned by a nice old woman with a taste for flowers. Part of me was made into farming tools, yet they had been broken down and discarded long before. Then there was that part of me that had been used for less benevolent purposes.

 I remember being so hot I thought I would being so hot I thought I could not hold it any longer. And I remember the horror of slowly losing my form. Feeling myself trickle down my center. I remember having no form, feeling myself seep down defeated. From then on, part of me was fused. Forced into the same body of some other metals. Part of me was lost, replaced by them. As they violated every crack and nook of my body. And I was keen. A bullet. 

Loaded and locked, I terrorized the town I had came from. It turned out whatever I did, I was terrifying. I thought I might not be used for anything for close to a year. I just sat there, while whatever in hell I was fused with babbled and murmured. Until one day… I remember the people throwing rocks. With a crash and a curse one of them hit my wielder. I thought the people who had cowered for so long had finally realized I had no purpose. I almost felt relieved, even knowing I would be discarded again. In the flash of a second my wielder held me up, and with a pop-like sound, I was shot.

Time Stood Still.

I whizzed. I flew. I hurled through the air. The sensation was almost surreal. I gazed at the sky above me. At the ground below. All around I saw the people. They had such funny faces. Halfway between a smile and a frown. I whizzed towards one of them, a bald man with a strangely out of proportion head and mutton chops streaking down his sides. Time began to speed. I whizzed faster. Faster. Faster yet. Until all at once I whizzed into his skull with a cracking sound. Here I am. Inside this man. I felt others like me whizzing past too.  Here I am, the last part of a greater thing. Stuck inside the fractured skull of this poor man. I’m not even pure me anymore. And now, all there is left to do is wait… wait… and wait yet.


Ava M:

March 3rd, 1770

I crawled out of bed in a sleepy state, barely able to force myself to wake up. My wife called me from the kitchen, I heard “Sammy,”. I groaned, as I lifted myself up from my bed and walked into the bathroom. “Samuel Gray, you’re already late for work!”she hollered from the kitchen. I walked out and grabbed my breakfast, toast. “Good morning Phoebe,” I mumbled.

“ Good you’re up, you have to get going” she states. “ Whisking me off so soon?” I tease, “ No just ready to start my day,” she replies. The floor is cold and I move to put on my shoes. “Don’t forget to take a jacket,” Phoebe called out. “I won’t. Love you, see you tonight,” “Love you too,” she calls back.

As I rushed down the streets I bite into my piece of toast. Hard, almost going stale. I jogged through the bustling morning crowd, squeezing through the busy people. I see the “Standing Army” drinking and moving in with our citizens. Britain disgust me. All the taxes and things they do for money. I continue walking and I move to my tiny store and push inside. “Ready to get to work Sam?” my boss calls out. “Of course,” I yell back. 

I began to weave my way through the rest of the day. Making my ropes, tending to customers. I arrived home late at night and Phoebe was already asleep.

– Sincerely Samuel Gray


March 4th, 1770

Today was freezing cold. The snow came down, but not a nice fluffy white snow. It was a cold, hard, frigid snow. Soaking my skin through and through. Phoebe insisted I took a jacket, but I wish I had worn more layers! By the time I made my way to work I was cold and drenched. My teeth were chattering. I took my breakfast with me on the run, but by the time I slowed down, it was just unappetizing.

I pushed my way in hoping boss wouldn’t notice how late I was, but the world isn’t perfect. “Sam, you’re late, again,” he said as he stared me down. “I know sir, I’m really sorry I won’t be late again,” “I’m not paying you to be lazy!” he screamed and all of our customers turned to look. “I’m sorry,” I mumble again. My boss is a big intimidating man. I had worked for him for years and still don’t know his name. He’s big and tall, with red checks, a round belly and a loud voice. The job doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s something I do well.

The rest of my day I try to blend into the background. Help my customers, make ropes. Not cause another commotion. Not be noticed by my boss. It’s easier that way. Staying on his good side, is what gets you a paycheck. Or even better a raise. The last time I got a raise was two years ago. I was going to ask for one soon, but now might not be the best time.

– Sincerely Samuel Gray 

March 5th, 1770 

This morning I woke up and Phoebe was still fast asleep. I shook her awake. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I overslept.” she exclaimed, with a look of disappointment on her face. “It’s ok,” I say, “Let’s go,” So we rushed around the house quickly shoving on our coats and rushing out the door. Phoebe works a cleaning job on Mondays, so we ran down the street together, until we split ways. “Bye, I love you,” I called out. “I love you more,” she replies, and we both scurry off to work. 

At this time I’m in a full on sprint. Pushing past people, yelling “Sorry,” behind me. “I can’t be late for work, I can’t be late for work,” I kept telling myself. I pushed into the shop right on time. Releasing a sigh of relief. Then I begin my daily routine, weaving, weaving, weaving. That’s all there is to rope making. Just knots and more knots. With occasionally selling one of my pieces to a customer. Helping them find what they need, what rope they should use. In the afternoon boss told me that he needed me to get more jute and hemp (plant fibers we use to make rope). The air was brisk and cold. Snow was everywhere and still falling. I made my way to the little booth that sold hemp and jute. I purchased what I was told and tried to make my way out of the town square. 

There was a crowd of people watching a commotion. I pushed myself through, so much that by the time I’d finished I’m at the front of the large crowd. Now I can see what this is about. It’s a snowball fight between the standing army and civilians. This happens quite often with citizens chanting, “Go home!” and “Drink your tea,” I join them as I make a snowball and nail a man in the stomach, hitting his “pretty” red coat. Then quickly run away. I try to push through the crowd but the crowd is not giving in and I’m stuck at the front. Not protected in the safety of the people. “I’m going to be late for work,” I think, “Boss is going to be so upset,” Then I hear it. Blasting through the air, a sequence of gunshots. Louder than thunder. I flatten myself to the ground, waiting for them to end. Waiting for the large billows of smoke to clear. 

After a long time when it doesn’t stop I decide to use it as cover. I creep out quickly. The gunshots echoing through my bones. Then a soldier sees me as I try to quicken my pace. It’s the man I hit with the snowball. My heart quickens. I breath heavily. “Stop!” he yells after me. I see the coldness in his clear blue eyes, unforgiving. His red outfit obscured with smoke. His silver hair covered with debris. The man I hit earlier, I keep running, and soon, I’m out of breath. He points his gun at me. “Damn you, don’t fire,” I scream at him. He doesn’t seem to care. He points the gun at my head and pulls the trigger. I try to jump out of the way, but am no match for the speed. I stare as the little metal thing moving towards me. I hear myself let out a scream. Then, the pain hits me, throbbing pain in my forehead. I crumble to the ground and find myself crying. I rock back and forth holding my forehead. The blood is gushing down my face, it begins seeping into my eyes and my mouth. I feel it sticky all over me. Until my entire face is covered with it. I taste it, I see the blood. All I can see is red, then I begin seeing black. Big splotches of black. I feel sick. My body goes limp. 

“Phoebe,” I whisper, and then the immense pain takes over…

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