Adults sometimes overlook the contributions of young people to our nation’s history. American children have a long tradition of changing things for the better in our nation. Teachers and parents can help young people make connections to their history and to children who lived in the past. History is their story too.
Consider the following historical contributions from young Americans, and share them with your youngsters:
· John Darragh was fourteen when he acted as a Revolutionary War spy. When he got important information, his mother sewed messages inside large cloth covered buttons that she then sewed onto John’s coat. Once he was behind British lines, he cut off the buttons and sent them straight to George Washington.
· Sacagawea was a teenager when she helped to guide Lewis and Clark and the Corps of the Discovery on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
· Thirteen- year- old Emily Edmonson and fifteen-year-old Mary Edmonson, sisters, were among the 77 enslaved Americans who participated in the single largest known Underground Railroad escape attempt.
· Teenager Adam Lowry Rankin and his family helped more than 2000 slaves to freedom. One of the fugitives they helped was an inspiration for Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
· Nine-year-old Johnny Clem joined the Union Army, was a lance corporal by age 11, and later became a major general.
· As a nineteen-year-old teenager in 1888, Minnie Freeman led her young pupils to safety through one of history’s worst blizzards. As many as 200 people or more, perished during what became known as the Children’s Blizzard, because so many of the dead were children.
· Fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat---nine months before Rosa Parks took a similar stand!
Young people are fascinated by the courageous stories of people their own age throughout history. Young people, after all, no less than adults, helped make our nation’s history.
Author of Young and Courageous: American Girls Who Made History