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

Which Pennsylvania? Assignment

You have already observed two competing versions of the story of Pennsylvania. By now you should be familiar with the story painted by artist Benjamin West in Penn's Treaty with the Indians, as well as the story documented by historian Kevin Kenny in Peaceable Kingdom Lost. You will now read an excerpt from a contemporaneous, eighteenth-century printed account written by Benjamin Franklin. Afterwards, you will answer the following reflection questions.

  1. Read and the assigned secondary and primary sources.
  2. Answer the following reflection questions.
  3. Submit your responses via Google Drive.

Secondary Source
Primary Source
  1. What does the painting suggest about life in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania? Who do you see represented? What is happening?
  2. What does Benjamin Franklin's narrative suggest about life in eighteenth century Pennsylvania? What happens in his narrative? Who appears in his narrative? Does this square with the article?
  3. How do these two sources differ in terms of content and tone? How did you feel about the experience of “reading” both the painting and the narrative?
  4. Which of these stories were you more familiar with before class today? Why do you think that is? Reflect on the Do-Now.
  5. Why do you think the painting was commissioned? What story does it tell about the history of Pennsylvania? Feel free to speculate.
  6. Try to answer the prior question by doing some light research. Start by finding out more about Benjamin West & Benjamin Franklin. Feel free to use Google. (Library, museum, and university websites tend to contain the most trusted information.)

Download a printable version of this assignment.

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