Posted by: Kirsten | Friday, 4 July 2008

Paca, Stone, Carroll, and Chase: The Maryland Delegation Votes AYE!

John Adams at the White House Visitor Center

Today at the White House Visitor Center, my family represented the Maryland Delegation of the Continental Congress — Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton — as we deliberated, voted on, and signed the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.  Two components of the Declaration were of particular concern to those in attendance, including a very unflattering section regarding the British and another piece which may have started the ball rolling on the abolition of slavery.

I came dressed in my colonial garb, but they had tricorner hats for all in attendance who participated in the event.  Each state delegation had a cheat sheet so they’d know the viewpoint of their representatives at that moment in history, and each delegate was given a profile sheet of their character to use as a guide to roleplaying. My daughter immediately gave us the “worried look” when her sheet said the Maryland Delegation did not want to abolish slavery because plantation owners here and further south depended on the labor to remain profitable.  We explained to my daughter that we were just “acting” and that we all knew that slavery was wrong, but we had to play the part to give everyone a feel for what it was like way back when.  My character, Thomas Stone, was also worried about upsetting the British and wanted to avoid war at all costs.  Reluctantly at first, and then with slightly more conviction in the end, Stone voted for passage of the Declaration of Independence to make the Maryland vote unanimous.

The kids also got an opportunity to roll beeswax candles, practice their handwriting with real quill pens, and play some colonial games while we were there. Kudos to the gentleman who played John Adams.  He seems to have the names of all the delegates and their states memorized and led the event effortlessly, steering the audience participation in the right direction regardless of the responses he was getting from the crowd.  We all learned a lot about the less-famous signers of the Declaration of Independence and had a great time.  If you can find some of these special events at a park near you this summer and during the September-May traditional school year timeframe, we highly recommend it!  Huzzah!

Parke Diem!
— Jon

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