New museum makes case for everyone's rights This Thursday, April 13, 2017, photo shows an actual piece of the Annapolis, Md., Liberty Tree, embedded into an 18-foot-tall tree replica as a touchable element at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
New museum makes case for everyone's rights
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Alongside a display of the Declaration of Independence at the Museum of the American Revolution, a separate display tells the story of Mumbet. She is an enslaved black woman in Massachusetts. Upon hearing the document read aloud, she announced that its proclamation that "all men are created equal" should also include her.
 
In response, her master hit her with a frying pan. Mumbet sued him. She won her freedom in court. She changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman and became a nurse. Her case set an example. Slavery was prohibited in Massachusetts.
 
The story is a reminder. During the struggle for our nation's liberty, the 400,000 African Americans who lived in slavery in 1776 also longed to be free.
 
Such stories are found throughout the museum. It has opened in Philadelphia. The stories coincide with the 242nd anniversary of the battle at Lexington and Concord, the "shot heard 'round the world" that began the Revolutionary War in 1775. The more inclusive, clear-eyed view of the country's turning points is an intentional departure from the whitewashed story America has often told itself and the world.
 
Instead, the museum seeks to show visitors that the Revolution was a set of ambitious ideas. The Revolution was founded on equality, individual rights and freedom. These remain relevant today, said president Michael Quinn.
 
"These ideas rallied people from all walks of life. And they took those ideas to heart," Quinn said. "What unifies us as a people is our shared, common commitment to these ideas."
 
At several points throughout the museum, visitors are forced to confront the contradictions of the high-minded ideals of the framers of the Constitution and the realities of their time. These include slavery and the second-class status of women. Slavery, for example, would expand for nearly another century after the Revolutionary War ended. And despite arguing for their liberty at the start of America, women in the United States would fight for suffrage into the early 20th century.
 
The message: The ideals of the American Revolution belong not only to the founding fathers long revered by our country. Those ideals also belong to the founding generation of Americans who first heard them. And the generations that have come since.
 
"For over two centuries, if you said the words 'founders of this country,' the image that would pop to most people's minds would be a white man," said Scott Stephenson. He is vice president of collections, exhibitions and programming. "Increasingly, we at museums have realized we have got to tell a broader story."
 
One exhibit features the story of the Oneida Indians. The tribe was one of the first allies to support the budding America. They fought and died alongside the colonist soldiers. Also on display is the active role of African-Americans, enslaved and free, in the war. They fought with both the Continental and British armies. The museum shows that blacks were patriots also fighting for their own freedom.
 
Historical interpretations conjured from diaries and letters of the lives of five men and women who took various routes to freedom during the war are presented in an interactive digital installation. In paintings, dioramas and exhibits, the stories describe figures including poet Phillis Wheatley and William Lee, valet to Gen. George Washington. They challenge the idea of who could claim the title of "revolutionary."
 
Visitors are asked to consider the question, "Freedom for whom?" said Adrienne Whaley. She is the museum's manager for school programs.
 
"The struggle to become free predates the Revolution. And it continues after the war is over," she said. "The promise of America is defined by the ways in which we treat these people."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it called the “shot heard ‘round the world?"
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • isabellab3-bur
    4/27/2017 - 05:05 p.m.

    It is called, " the shot heard around the world .",because, it is what started the first fight of the revolutionary war. However, I'm confused why they chose a question about this, when the article really focused on the ethnic part of the museum and war.

  • jasmina-bur
    4/27/2017 - 11:31 p.m.

    Some people may refere to the first shot of the battle of Lexington to be "heard around the world" because it was the shot that effected three countries which are spread out across the world. America, the United Kingdom, and France were all effected by this small point in the war because it was the start of a large war for freedom. This article was interesting to me because I love the musical Hamilton which ties into this topic as well as this article.

  • gisellec-bur
    4/28/2017 - 09:25 a.m.

    It is called the "the shot heard round the world " because it was the first revolutionary war . This reminds me when my grandpa called this flip phone a "SMART" phone and change the name just like they did for the first revolutionary war.

  • simonh-bla
    4/28/2017 - 09:40 a.m.

    It is called "the shot heard 'round the world" because it affected the entire world when it began.
    This article is about a museum that shows many artifacts and writings about people's rights, such as things from the Revolutionary War.

  • stevenk-bur
    4/30/2017 - 03:29 p.m.

    It's called the shot heard around the world because it started the first fight of the revolutionary war. I always wanted to see what the war site look like in first person.

  • jackiek-orv
    5/01/2017 - 11:26 a.m.

    its called the shot heard around the world because its who the war started.

  • jordanb1-bur
    5/01/2017 - 12:35 p.m.

    Some people may refer to the "Shot heard around the world," because it was the shot that effected the countries and helped start the war, the shot set it off the war. America, the United Kingdom, and France were all effected by this small point in the war, due to that it was the start of a large war for many countries freedom. This article was interesting to me because I love to learn about wars, how the start, and the effect of them.

  • ethanc1-bur
    5/01/2017 - 12:44 p.m.

    It is called "the shot heard 'round the world" because it affected the entire world when it began.
    This article is about a museum that shows many artifacts and writings about people's rights, such as things from the Revolutionary War. It makes sense to me that it is called "the shot heard 'round the world" because it starter the war.

  • connoro-bur
    5/01/2017 - 12:53 p.m.

    Some people may refere to the first shot of the battle of Lexington to be "heard around the world" because it was the shot that effected three countries which are spread out across the world. America, the United Kingdom, and France were all effected by this small point in the war because it was the start of a large war for freedom. This article was interesting to me because I love the musical Hamilton which ties into this topic as well as this article. this is very interesting, considering that those guns could only at most be heard from a mile away.

  • gabrielleb-pla
    5/03/2017 - 01:29 p.m.

    This article is about the Museum of the American Revolution, and how they are revealing a different side to our history. They are trying to focus on ALL of the people who aided in the Revolution and the rights movements of our country, not just the rich white men. The museum has many displays and exhibits involving minorities (women, Native Americans, African Americans, etc.) and how they helped move our country forward.

    This museum is quite revolutionary (no pun intended). Most people don't know this other side to our history, so it's awesome that the museum is educating the people about the civic engagement of our predecessors. By showing the past deeds of others, we can hopefully unify our country more and realize our collective past.

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