School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 2. Analyze the growth and development of colonial America

Objective c. Analyze the different roles and viewpoints of individuals and groups, such as women, men, free and enslaved Africans, and Native Americans during the Revolutionary period


During the colonial and Revolutionary periods, white men were the only people allowed to participate in American civic life. Consequently, it was their reactions to British imperial policy that moved the colonies toward revolution. White men of all social classes became involved in the events of the day. While wealthy, educated men shaped revolutionary rhetoric and strategies and served on assemblies, middle and lower class men participated in boycotts and organized demonstrations. Not all white men supported colonial actions, however. Some, especially wealthy landowners and public officials, defended the Crown.

Women's activities at the time were very much limited to the domestic sphere, giving them limited opportunities to participate in the buildup to revolution. Society expected women to tend to household chores, raise the children, and support their husbands. Most women received very little education and were consequently deemed incapable of understanding the complexities of the political sphere. Women could support the movement, however, by abiding by boycotts of British imports, participating in public spinning bees held to promote the production of homespun, and refusing to drink English tea. A few highly educated women discussed political affairs in private conversations and/or correspondence with men, but social expectations prevented them for participating in more public, formal discussions of policy.

Very few African Americans, free or enslaved, were involved much in the revolutionary movement. During the Revolutionary period, slavery existed throughout the colonies, and at least 90% of all African Americans were enslaved. Free or enslaved, African Americans hoped that the revolutionary rhetoric of liberty would apply to them. Many free African Americans participated alongside lower class whites in protests and demonstrations against British policy. Enslaved African Americans chose to support the colonists or the British based on which side they believed would reward their loyalty with freedom. Most enslaved people sided with the British, especially after Virginia's royal governor promised freedom to any African American who deserted their patriot masters and joined British forces. Unfortunately, following the war, the British largely failed to live up to their promise to help African Americans achieve freedom, and many African Americans were returned to a condition of servitude. The Continental Army initially refused to accept black recruits out of deference to the wishes of the Southern colonies. As the need for soldiers became critical later in the war, however, the patriot army did enlist African Americans, especially in the Northern and Middle colonies. About 5000 African Americans served in the Continental Army.

By the Revolutionary era, Native Americans were angry over white settlers' constant encroachment on their lands. They viewed Britain's Proclamation of 1763, which restricted white settlement to areas east of the Appalachian Mountains, and their efforts to enforce it favorably. As a result of this friendship with the British and tensions with American settlers, most Native Americans offered their assistance to the British during the Revolution. Uneasy with native peoples' tactics and goals, however, the British simply asked Native Americans for a promise of neutrality, and most tribes avoided involvement in the conflict.

Resources for Objective 5.B.2.c: