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Heroes of the American Revolution

Created by:
Jocelyn Murphy
Egg Harbor City School District

Eric Rybka
Galloway Township School District

Kevin Krumaker
Galloway Township School District

History Detectives: Profiling People of the Past

Grade Level:
6 to 8


The purpose of this activity is to help students develop a better understanding of heroism and how specific heroes contributed to the Revolutionary War. Heroism has always played an important role in history, though what is considered heroic varies depending on the community, the circumstances and their values and needs. The American Revolution produced heroes from a broad spectrum of the colonial population. Each of these heroes, in his or her own way, contributed to the success of the Revolutionary War effort.

Historical Context


patriotism, heroism, loyalty, bravery, dedication, selflessness, and cooperation.

Goals and Objectives:

After completing this activity, students will be able to:

1. Understand and define the qualities of a hero.

2. Identify heroes of the American Revolution.

3. Research and compile information relating to Revolutionary war heroes.

4. Analyze and select relevant information

5. Compile information and prepare a classroom presentation


STANDARD 6.1.4 (Social Studies Skills) Explain how present events are connected to the past; apply terms related to time including years, decades, centuries, and generations; locate sources for the same information; organize events in a time line; distinguish between an eyewitness account and a secondary account of an event; distinguish fact from fiction.

STANDARD 6.1.8 (Social Studies Skills): analyze how events are related over time; use critical thinking skills to interpret events, recognize bias, point of view, and context; assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources; analyze data in order to see persons and events in context; evaluate current issues, events, or themes and relate them to the past; distinguish fact from fiction by comparing sources about figures and events with fictionalized characters and events; summarize information in written, graphic, and oral formats.

Equipment, materials and other technology needed:

Copies of the definition of hero.

Copies of the list of Revolutionary War heroes.


Computer access and internet access.

Paper and 24" x 36" poster paper.

List of websites (see below)

If you chose to have students create booklets about their heroes you will also need:

crayons, paper, rulers, markers, etc.

Details of Activity

WARM UP/ENGAGEMENT: Write the word "hero" on the board and ask students to brainstorm what they think it might mean. Next ask students to name examples of "modern-day" heroes who show these traits (and why!), and then transition into a discussion about the role of heroes during a time of war.

Distribute the list of Revolutionary War figures. As a homework assignment, students should review the "heroes" list and be prepared to present which five characteristics they selected for their Revolutionary War figure.

The following day, write "What made _____a hero of the American Revolution?" on the board. Have students each answer the question by providing the name of the person they selected and five actions or traits that demonstrate the five characteristics of heroism they selected from the list generated the day before.

If you have time, you can extend this lesson by providing students with a few days to collect more data and work on presentations of their material. The format of these presentations can vary to meet individual learning needs or objectives. Examples include:

1. Verbal-Linguistic: Prepare a first-person speech.

2. Logical/Mathematical: Design a time line of the hero's life.

3. Musical: Play a Revolutionary era song about your hero.

4. Visual/Spatial: Create a map showing where the hero lived. Design a postage stamp honoring your hero.

5. Interpersonal: Work in groups of two to complete any of the above activities.

6. Intrapersonal: Include a journal or diary entry written by your hero.

Practice and Reinforcement

In groups of 3 or 4 students should discus which of the heroes the group feels is most significant. Assign one student as the group artist to do a simple sketch in the center of a large (24" x 36") poster. Print the name of hero clearly on the poster.

Another student (or two) should prepare a short paragraph indicating the group's impressions of this hero and add this paragraph on the poster.

The remaining member of the group will be the spokesman who presents the group consensus to class. Be sure to display the posters in class following the assignment.


The following is the recommended list of American Revolutionary War heroes:

John Adams Crispus Attucks Ethan Allen Benedict Arnold Martha Bratton John Burgoyne Paul Cuffe John Dickinson Benjamin Franklin Nathaniel Greene Alexander Hamilton John Hancock Lemuel Haynes Thomas Jefferson John Paul Jones Thaddeus Kosciuszko (Polish) Marquis de Lafayette (French) James Madison Francis Marion James Otis Thomas Paine Deborah Sampson Baron von Steuben/Stueben (German) Mercy Otis Warren George Washington

Web Links:
National Archives' Revolutionary War collection.

A teaching companion to the History Network.

Gateway to a number of American history websites.

The National Park Service primary source databank.

For more information about the Teaching American History Program click here