Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Murder on the Frontier: The Paxton Massacres

This unit is one of the Gilder Lehrman Institute's Teaching Literacy through History™ resources, designed to align to the Common Core State Standards. The lessons can also be modified to conform to the C3 Framework. These units were developed to enable students to understand, summarize, and evaluate original documents of historical significance. Students will learn and practice the skills that will help them analyze, assess, and develop knowledgeable and well-reasoned viewpoints on these source materials.

The title of this unit refers to a little-known massacre in colonial Pennsylvania. Over the course of three lessons, students will attempt to understand how a vigilante group justified its role in murdering twenty Native Americans. The primary source evidence will allow students to analyze questions related to claims about colonization, peace and war, race and ethnicity, masculinity and civility, the use of violence as a political weapon, and religious association. Most of the primary sources referenced here are available in Digital Paxton.

Ultimately, students will demonstrate what they have learned through an analysis of the various primary source materials by writing a response to essential questions posed for the unit, participating in whole-class and small-group discussions, and engaging in a news conference simulation.

ObjectivesEssential Questions
Number of Class Periods: 4

Grade Level: Grades 7-12

Common Core StandardsThis unit was created for the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher Seminar, "Native Peoples, Settlers, and European Empires in North America, 1600-1840" (July 28-August 3, 2019). You may also download a printable version of the entire unit.

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