The American Revolution began on this day, the 19th of April, in 1775. One of the great symbols of the Revolution and of that day is the Minute Man monument that stands beside the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. With one hand holding his musket and the other the handle of his plow, the Concord Minute Man represents the thousands of men, most of them farmers, who left their homes and fields on this April morning to engage the British troops that had been sent to confiscate colonial stores of arms and ammunition just a few miles west of Boston. The elite companies of local militia were trained to respond “at a minute’s warning” and so were called minutemen.
The Concord Minute Man was sculpted the great American artist (and Concord resident) Daniel Chester French (1850–1931), whose later work included the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln memorial. The Minute Man was dedicated on the 19th of April in 1875 on the 100th anniversary of the Lexington and Concord battles, with President Ulysses Grant in attendance, and it carries on its base the first stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous “Concord Hymn”:
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
Being able to recognize and interpret significant cultural symbols is an important skill for every homeschool student, so here’s a gallery of images to share with your students this week. You can start by checking your pocket for a Massachusetts state quarter to make this into a hands-on history lesson.
That quarter wasn’t the first time the Concord Minute Man had appeared on an American coin or stamp. In 1925, for the 150th anniversary of the Revolution, he was featured on both a commemorative half-dollar and a general issue five-cent stamp.
The Concord Minute Man is the symbol of the National Guard, who are the genuine successors of the minutemen of 1775, and you’ll see him on their insignia around the country.
The Concord Minute Man is such an American icon that your students may run into him just about anywhere — even at a pizza parlor in Oklahoma.
Every society in the world, at every point in history, has iconic images and symbols, and the Concord Minute Man has been one of ours for almost 150 years. What other historical icons and artistic images have you studied with your homeschool students this Leo Term? 😊
❡ Explore more: For a quick review of the beginning of the American Revolution, turn to page 289 in your River Houses history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books). 📚
❡ Artistic lives: Your recommended world almanac (riverhouses.org/books) has a long list of famous artists on pages 177–180, and that list includes famous sculptors. You’ll find Daniel Chester French right there, with the Concord Minute Man and the Lincoln Memorial listed as his most famous works, just as we noted above. If you have an art-minded student, why not pick out a name or two from that list to research each month, either online or on your next visit to your local library. 🎨
❡ Oh, the places you’ll go: Daniel Chester French’s home and art studio, “Chesterwood,” is now a public museum and sculpture garden — it’s an excellent place for any artistic homeschooler to explore.
❡ That memory may their deed redeem: This is one of our occasional posts on Homeschool Museums & Monuments and Homeschool Arts & Music. Add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞