A sample exploration of these documents can be viewed in the video at http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/why/.
Diary of John Barker
Source: Entry for April 19th, 1775, from the diary of Lieutenant John Barker, an officer in the British army.
Sourcing: What kind of document is this? When was it written?
Contextualization: Imagine the scene. What might the soldiers have been thinking?
Close Reading: According to this document, which side fired first?
Account of the Battle of Lexington – Nathaniel Mullikan
Source: Sworn by 34 minutemen on April 25 before three Justices of the Peace.
Lexington, April 25, 1775.
Sourcing: What kind of document is this? Do you trust it more or less than a diary entry? When was this written? Whose side does this document represent?
Close reading: What is the significance of the phrase “to our knowledge?”
Corroboration: Where do Barker’s and Mullikan’s accounts disagree? Are there any facts that both accounts agree on?
Battle of Lexington Engraving - Amos Doolittle
Source: One of four engravings made by Amos Doolittle in 1775. Doolittle was an engraver and silversmith from Connecticut who visited the site of the battle and interviewed participants and witnesses. (Figure below.
One of four engravings made by Amos Doolittle in 1775
Sourcing: When was this document created? By whom? For what purpose?
- Which figures in this image are British? Which figures are American? How can you tell?
- Look closely at the image. Which side appears to be firing first?
Terrence Blachaux Painting
Century American postage stamp.
Sourcing: When was this image created? By whom? For what purpose?
- According to this image, who fired first?
Corroboration: Which of the first two texts seems more reliable—Mullikan or Barker? Why might they differ?
Corroboration: Which of the images probably presents a more accurate representation of the Battle of Lexington?
- Why might the creator of the other image have wanted to portray the battle differently?