“I Can Be Your Hero, Baby [America]:” Thomas Hutchinson and Colonial Perception

Thomas Hutchinson

Grade Level: Grade 11 American History

Lesson Context: This lesson is intended to conclude discussion of the loyalists as a part of the American Revolution. The lesson asks them to analyze different images from the colonial period to get a better understanding of loyalism and its impacts in the American colonies.

Essential Question:Was Thomas Hutchinson the villain that many American patriots made him out to be or was he an American hero?

Historical Thinking Skill: Contextualization and Sourcing

Primary Sources: Cited in Bailyn, Thomas Hutchinson in Context, The Ordeal Revisited

The Virtuous Patriot
Image 2 – Nathanael Low’s The Virtuous Patriot,
1775, cited in Bailyn article above
Revere Wicked Statesman
Image 1 – Paul Revere’s Wicked Statesman,
1774

Click to enlarge images

Scaffolding Questions (used for both images):

  1. What kinds of imagery does the artist use to depict Thomas Hutchinson?
  2. What kinds of things would you assume from this print about what people thought of Hutchinson?
  3. Do you think this image is representative of the feelings of all American colonists about Hutchinson?

Rationale: Students will be encouraged to consider the types of images and metaphors that each artist uses to describe Thomas Hutchinson in each image. Students should compare/contrast them.

Scaffolding questions for discussion:

What has changed from image 1 to image 2?

What was going on in the colonies and Great Britain between 1774 and 1775, when these two sources were published?

What other questions would you ask about these sources to better understand Thomas Hutchinson as a historical figure?

Suggested assignment for further analysis:

Based on discussion and students’ answers to the scaffolding questions for each individual image, students should chose the image they find more compelling, and create their own image that reflects similar themes.  For instance, if they decide that loyalists such as Thomas Hutchinson were patriots who wanted freedom but also wanted to maintain relationship with Great Britain, they would choose the second image, and use similar metaphors in their own drawing.

Reflection:

With this particular lesson, it is important to bring the two historical thinking skills (contextualization and sourcing) to the forefront of discussion. Students should begin to recognize that the sources, produced in 1774 and 1775 respectively, by different artists, both in Boston, reflected changing perceptions of loyalists during the war. By 1775, the drama of the American Revolution had escalated, and Thomas Hutchinson was no longer the governor of Massachusetts. The second image, rather than representing his death, represents instead his fall from power, and the mourning of those loyalists who supported him.


Image Credit:

Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts Colonial Governor, Thomas Hutchinson

1741 by Edward Truman

2 Replies to ““I Can Be Your Hero, Baby [America]:” Thomas Hutchinson and Colonial Perception”

  1. I really like the images and how you want students to compare them. I know the content is based in 1775. I would was wonder what your thoughts about having them make the their image reflect current political structure

    1. I might think about doing something like that. That would give them a sense of choice, and therefore motivation. My only concern would be that we might not have spent any time on current events, so it might be a bit more difficult to guide the assignment and get a result that reflects what I intended it to.

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