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Lesson Plans - "To the Farthest Port of the Rich East" -- Looking at Salem's Economic History by Examining George Ropes' Painting, Crowninshield Wharf, 1806.

NAME OF LESSON:

“To the Farthest Port of the Rich East” – Looking at Salem’s Economic History by Examining George Ropes’ Painting, Crowninshield Wharf, 1806.

GRADE(S) DESIGNED FOR: 8th
TIME REQUIRED:

one or two 45-minute period(s)

NAME OF AUTHOR:

Rebecca Zimmerman
PRIMARY SALEM in History CORE THEME ADDRESSED: Salem as Place
ADDITIONAL SALEM in History CORE THEME(S) ADDRESSED:

 

SALEM in History Topic Addressed: Salem in the World, The World in Salem          

Lesson Summary | Frameworks | Essential Question(s) | Lesson Objectives
Historical Background Essay | Materials List and Pre-Arrangements/Preparations Needed
Vocabulary | Lesson Activities | Student Product or Performance
Assessment Criteria | Possible Modifications | Possible Extension Activities
Cross Curricular/Interdisciplinary Links/Activities | Sources and Resources
Additional Resources for Students and Teachers


LESSON SUMMARY:

This lesson focuses on an examination of the painting Crowninshield Wharf, 1806 by George Ropes. Through viewing the painting and reading secondary selections, students will begin to understand the economic importance of Salem as a trading center in the post-Revolutionary War period. They will then be able to create a letter to a “distant relative” to illustrate their knowledge of Salem, its leading citizens, and economic status in this period.

After completing this lesson, students should be able to answer the essential question, “How were the economic and social experiences in Salem unique during the years following the Revolutionary War?”

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ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S):

  • How were the economic and social experiences in Salem unique during the years following the Revolutionary War?

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LESSON OBJECTIVES

LEARNING/CONTENT OBJECTIVES:

Students will understand Salem’s place within the broader economic climate in the post-Revolutionary War period.  They will be able to appreciate that Salem was unique in its trade and interaction with merchants in the East, particularly China.  They will understand the entrepreneurial nature of Elias Hasket Derby’s ventures into the China trade and the inherent risks and benefits therein.  They will also be able to infer information based on the study of a painting of the period.

CONCEPT/SKILLS OBJECTIVES:

Students will begin to distinguish between long-term and short-term cause and effect relationships.  They will be able to show connections between particular historical events and ideas and larger social and economic trends and developments.  They will be able to interpret the past within its historical context rather than in terms of present-day norms and values.  They will also begin to distinguish historical fact from opinion.

Furthermore, students will begin to have an understanding of the idea of economic growth and the role of entrepreneurs and the material wealth they acquired and displayed through luxury items such as paintings.

CORRELATION WITH HISTORY STANDARDS FROM the 2003 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK

MA FRAMEWORK STRAND: Grade 8

MA FRAMEWORK UNIT/THEME ADDRESSED:

Economic Growth in North and South, 1800-1860

MA FRAMEWORK LEARNING STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED:           

USI. 28C the rise of a business class of merchants and manufacturers

MA FRAMEWORK CONCEPT AND SKILLS STANDARD(S) ADDRESSED:

GRADE(S) AND SUBJECT(S): 

Grades 8-12 History andGrades 8-12 General Economic Skills

NUMBER(S) AND DESCRIPTION(S):

History and Geography

6. Distinguish between long-term and short-term cause and effect relationships.
7. Show connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and ideas and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
8. Interpret the past within its historical context rather than in terms of present-day norms and values.
10. Distinguish historical fact from opinion.

General Economics Skills

13. Define and use correctly:  economic growth and entrepreneur.
14. Explain how people or communities examine and weigh the benefits of each alternative when making a choice and explain that opportunity costs are those benefits that are given up once one alternative is chosen
.

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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND ESSAY:

Post-American Revolutionary War Salem, Massachusetts was part of a growing number of coastal cities that began to shape the economic future of the newly formed United States.  During the war many merchants who had formerly traded with the West Indies and England found their commerce curtailed.  Some daring men, like Elias Hasket Derby of Salem, turned to the lucrative business of privateering 1.

Fortunately, the patriots won the war and the former colonists were able to continue their trade.  However, the world of business after the war was quite different.  Under British rule, the American colonies had enjoyed the protection and benefit of guaranteed trade with other colonies in the empire.  Post-war, these routes, and in particular those to the West Indies that were used extensively by Salem merchants, became unavailable.  Enterprising businessmen, such as those in the Derby family, chose to explore other avenues of income and thus trade began to develop with China and the Far East.

While Salem merchants did not initiate these voyages (the first ship to the Orient left New York in 1784 2), they were not far behind in sending vessels to bring back luxury items that were becoming greatly desirable to the citizens of the newly formed country.  Salem rose as a leader in the China and East Indies trade during the Early National Period 3.  Until the Embargo of 1807 and then the War of 1812 crippled shipping industries, Salem truly shone as a jewel in the new Republic’s economic crown.  The number and variety of commodities exchanged between Salem and its trading partners was extensive and included a large selection of items such as pepper, porcelain, silks, and tea.  This activity enabled the United States to justify its assertion that it was a legitimate entity with a powerful and vibrant economy.  Salem also boasted a group of world travelers who were able to encourage scientific inquiries and set cultural standards.  During this period Salem was a leader in wealth, knowledge of the many cultures of the world, and the dissemination of that learning.  It deserves to be noted when “writing home” and acknowledged as a seminal city.

1. Booth, Robert.  “Salem as Enterprise Zone,” in Dane Morrison and Nancy Schultz, eds., Salem: Place, Myth and Memory.  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004: 67.

2. Hawes, Dorothy Schuman. To the Farthest Gulf: The Story of the American China Trade.  Ipswich, MA: Ipswich Press, 1990: 9.

3. Morrison, Dane.  “Salem as Citizen of the World,” in Dane Morrison and Nancy Schultz, eds., Salem: Place, Myth and Memory.  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004: 107-127.

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MATERIALS LIST AND PRE-ARRANGEMENTS/PREPARATION NEEDED

MATERIALS LIST:

  1. Copies of the articles “Salem and the East Indies” and “Setting Sail Aboard the Dianne Marie” from Cobblestone, September 1988.  One copy per student.
  2. Q-Notes handout from Tools for Thought, Jim Burke (Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH, 2002: 160).  One per student.
  3. Access to the painting Crowninshield Wharf, 1806 by George Ropes–the students at Collins Middle School may view a reproduction of this painting in the school lobby; however, if students are not there they may access the painting at the Peabody Essex Museum’s website in the online ARTscape collection or at the SALEM in History website
  4. Reading a Picture handout, one per student.
  5. Paper and pencil for sketching (optional).
  6. Paper and pencil for writing assignment.
  7. Peer edit sheet

PREPARATION:

  1. This lesson is part of a larger unit on the Early National Period of American History.  Students should be familiar with the causes, development, and results of the American Revolutionary War.  Furthermore, students should be aware of the growing sectional nature of the United States economy and the implications of a newly formed nation’s quest for international recognition.
  2. Pre-teaching of vocabulary – such as economic growth, entrepreneur, commerce, privateer, supercargo, embargo, consign, commodity, and speculation – will benefit most students.
  3. Students should be familiar with the term primary source and the benefits and limitations of using them.  An entire lesson discussing what constitutes a primary source, who uses them, and how to view them should take place before the extensive use of primary sources.

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VOCABULARY:

  • Economic Growth
  • Entrepreneur
  • Commerce
  • Privateer
  • Supercargo
  • Embargo
  • Consign
  • Commodity
  • Speculation

LESSON ACTIVITIES:

Lesson 1:

  1. Pre-teaching – before the use of the primary source:  students will be introduced to the activity by examining two articles from the Cobblestone magazine (“Salem and the East Indies” and “Setting Sail Aboard the Dianne Marie,” September 1988.)  They will employ an inquiry method called Q-Notes, which asks them to make notes by writing overarching questions in the left margin and notes to answer those questions in the right column.  Particular attention will be paid to gathering facts about Salem during the Early National Period.
  2. After a discussion about life in Salem during the post-Revolutionary period, students will be brought down to the lobby of the Collins Middle School where a reproduction of the Ropes painting is displayed.  Other students can access the primary source on the Peabody Essex Museum’s ARTscape website (http://www.pem.org/artscape/index.php) or on the SALEM in History website (http://www.saleminhistory.org).
  3. In pairs, students will respond to a worksheet asking them to “read the picture” and then they will make rough sketches of the painting.

Lesson 2:

  1. Students will use notes and sketches to create a “letter to a distant relative” describing some of the significant economic activities, events, and people of Salem in this period.  Focus Correction Areas (FCAs) may include:
    • Correct letter form with historical date–30 pts
    • Use of pre-taught vocabulary–40 pts
    • Reference to items from the painting–30 pts
  2. Writing pieces will go through a three-part editing process with peer and/or teacher editing and may be included in students’ writing folders.
  3. Finished letters may be used as part of a bulletin board display, portfolio, or exhibition.

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STUDENT PRODUCT or PERFORMANCE:

Students will complete a Picture Reading Sheet after viewing the primary source and then use information gleaned from the source and secondary readings to create a “letter to a distant relative” telling them about life in Salem.

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ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:

Students will be assessed on their Picture Reading Sheet and their "letter to a distant relative" based on their rough sketches, the FCAs of the written piece, and a quiz in which Q-Notes may be used.

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POSSIBLE MODIFICATIONS:

For students who require it, lessons may be modified by use of graphic organizers, word banks, simplified FCAs, word processing equipment, or additional drafts and revisions.  Further modifications could be made to let the more visual-learners create an illustration to accompany a simpler written piece.

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POSSIBLE EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

Students could be taken on a walking tour to view places described in the secondary readings and/or the location of the Crowninshield wharf (part of the present day power plant).  Students could examine historic maps of Salem (although only a composite map exists) and maps of the world to acquaint themselves with the distances involved in a voyage from Salem to the Far East and back.  Subsequent lessons could involve the Customs House in Salem and the warehouse exhibit, which emphasizes the commodities housed in Salem during this period.  A variety of research topics from the China trade period in American history arise after this lesson, including, but not limited to:  the Embargo of 1807, ship building, historical navigation techniques, the contributions of Nathaniel Bowditch, customs revenue and regulation, etc.  

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CROSS CURRICULAR/INTERDISCIPLINARY LINKS/ACTIVITIES:

Cross-curricular link with art:

  • Students could be asked to sketch the present-day Derby wharf in Salem, and contrast it to what the Crowninshield wharf looked like.
  • Students could be asked to sketch a “representative” part of their town and give reasons for their choices. 
  • Students could be asked to look at another painting by Ropes (see PEM’s ARTscape for additional art) and compare and contrast the styles or subjects.

Cross-curricular link with language arts:

  • Students could be asked to write a compare and contrast paper to describe the characteristics of the painting as compared to what the Salem waterfront looks like today.

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SOURCES AND RESOURCES

PRIMARY SOURCES USED IN LESSON:

Ropes, George.  Crowninshield’s Wharf, Oil, 1806.  Peabody Essex Museum Collection, Salem, MA.  See:  http://www.pem.org/artscape/ or the SALEM in History website: http://www.saleminhistory.org.

This painting was created in Salem probably to be hung in the house of a ship owner or captain.  It depicts Crowninshield wharf, one of a great many that were active in Salem during the heyday of the trading period.  Of special note is the variety of American flags, as at that time a prescribed design had not been established.  Although the presence of multiple ships serve as an indication of the Crowninshield family’s success and prosperity (as well as Salem’s), it is more likely that most of the ships would be on voyages rather than idle in the harbor.  The quiet and uncluttered state of the wharf is also unusual as shipping and trade were the premier industry in Salem.  The painting should therefore be considered a pristine view of reality.

SECONDARY (PRINT) SOURCES USED IN LESSON:

Miller, Brandon Marie.  “Salem and the East Indies.”  Cobblestone (September 1988): 6-9.

Lake, Ann M.B.  “Setting Sail Aboard the Dianne Marie.”  Cobblestone (September 1988): 30-33.

Both of these articles are written in a student-friendly form so as to convey a large amount of information on Salem and its economic history in a relatively easy manner.  The reading level is quite easy for an 8th grade audience; however, some words should be pre-taught to avoid confusion.  These two sources are taken from a magazine based on Salem and the Far East trade.  Teachers may want to consult the entire magazine for additional information.

SECONDARY SOURCES USED TO CREATE LESSON:

Hawes, Dorothy Schuman.  To the Farthest Gulf: The Story of the American China Trade.  Ipswich, MA: Ipswich Press, 1990: 9.

Dorothy Hawes’ book is a product of the period in which it was originally written (mid-20th century) and is somewhat rambling.  Nevertheless, it gives a good overview of the entire China trade, the procedures that foreigners had to submit to in order to trade with the Chinese, and the implications of these.  The introduction and the section on Salem are especially pertinent to this lesson.

Booth, Robert.  “Salem as Enterprise Zone,” in Dane Morrison and Nancy Schultz, eds., Salem: Place, Myth and Memory.  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004: 67.

Morrison, Dane.  “Salem as Citizen of the World,” in Dane Morrison and Nancy Schultz, eds., Salem: Place, Myth and Memory.  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004: 107-127.

The two selections cited here from Dane Morrison and Nancy Schultz’s volume are quite scholarly, but they nicely outline theconnections betweenSalem, the trade industry, and the Early National Period.  Portions of them may be appropriate for higher-level students to consider in an extension activity.

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Additional Resources for Students and Teachers

(none suggested)