March 12

Challenges of the American Revolution - Washington, Hamilton and Lafayette

Listen and weigh in on the thoughts and ideas that General George Washington discussed in wartime with his trusted advisors, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette. Decisive moments in the American Revolution were shaped by geography, communication, supply chains, alliances, morale, and spycraft.  Culminating at the battle of Yorktown, the Continental Army’s defeat of the British forces was dependent on Washington seeking wise counsel. 

Click the button on the right to see additional responses to students’ questions submitted during our March 12 program.

About Dan Shippey (General George Washington)
Shippey is the founder and director of The Breeds Hill Institute, an educational non-profit focused on teaching the history of American liberty. But his career has a history all its own. He has served as a writer, director and actor in commercial film and theater. In recent years, he served as historical consultant to Ian Kahn, who plays George Washington on AMC’s TURN. While searching for new ways to inform and educate people about our nation’s founding, he was introduced to the world of first-person historic interpretation. It was a natural fit to combine his performance and writing skills with his passion for historic research.

About Eben Kuhns (Alexander Hamilton)
A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., Kuhns portrays Alexander Hamilton for the American Historical Theatre. He enjoys introducing new audiences to Hamilton and has performed the role at museums, schools and historic sites across the United States. He has also performed as George Washington “Washy” Parke Custis and John Anderson, distillery manager, for George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. 

About Mark Schneider (Marquis de Lafayette)
After earning a degree in history from Newport University, Schneider joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a cavalry scout and participated in the NATO deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1995-96.  Following his military service, Schneider joined the interpreter staff of Colonial Williamsburg, performing in a variety of roles. As a Nation Builder, Schneider portrays the Marquis de Lafayette. He has also appeared internationally as Napoleon Bonaparte and has worked on such films as “The New World,” HBO’s “John Adams,” and AMC’s “TURN,” as well as several historical documentaries.

Suggested Classroom Activities

A. The Yorktown Campaign of 1781

Now or Never: The Yorktown Campaign of 1781 Video

Time is running out for George Washington as he considers a bold move to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown!  (In three parts, 25 minutes)

B. The Siege of Yorktown 

Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library:  The Siege of Yorktown 

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to use primary sources to obtain knowledge of key events leading to the American victory at Yorktown. They will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of those key events and identify causes and effects. In addition, students will be able to explain the importance of Yorktown in the larger context of the Revolutionary War.

C. Citizens and Soldiers in the Siege of Yorktown

Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library:  Siege of Yorktown 

Through this lesson, students will be able to discuss factors that contributed to the outcome of the siege of Yorktown, describe geographic features of Yorktown and its regional significance, and interpret primary sources as research material. In addition, they will compare effects of the siege on the lives of soldiers and civilians.

D. Spying and Espionage

Spying and Espionage · George Washington’s Mount Vernon 

Learn about the important role that espionage played during the Revolutionary War and George Washington’s role as one of our nation’s first spymasters.

E. Spycraft Lesson

Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library:  General’s Secret Service Supplement 

Students will learn to identify several methods of encoding secret messages in the 18th century. Through this lesson, they will also be able to describe and use the “mask” and/or “invisible ink” form of sending secret messages.

F. Spies, Spies Everywhere

Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library:  Spies, Spies Everywhere 

Through this lesson, students will be able to examine several accounts of American and British espionage during the American Revolution. They’ll learn what motivated an individual to be a spy, analyze the success or failure of a spy’s actions, and explain how espionage affected the outcome of the American Revolution.

G. Be Washington:  It’s Your Turn to Lead

Be Washington: Battle of Second Trenton

George Washington had to make a critical decision during this key battle in the American Revolution.  Should he trust the information provided by his spy network?  It’s your turn to decide! (15 minutes)