Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough maintains that the best way to instill appreciation for our nation’s history is to tell good stories. What better way to tell a good story than on the very spot where it happened?
Dr. Chris Hammons, professor of government and director of HBU’s Center for Law & Liberty, took a group of six HBU students to Boston last summer to study the American Revolution in the city where it started.
“I wanted to give our students a sense of place and time, to make them understand that the struggles of the Revolution occurred in the midst of real people going about the routine of daily life,” he said.
Students followed Hammons through Boston’s famous Freedom Trail, highlighting some of the most important sites of Revolutionary Boston. Students toured the Old South Meeting Place, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church (where the two lanterns were hung to signal that the British soldiers were on the move). Students also visited the gravesites of numerous patriots such as Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.
David Stripling, a junior majoring in History, said, “When you’re visiting these historic sites, you realize that these were significant people who had to make real decisions. There is nothing like standing where they once were and putting yourself in their positions.”
For Hammons, the highlight of the trip was a long hike between Lexington and Concord on the historic Battle Road. Professor Hammons and the students walked almost 15 miles that day, following the same path the British took on April 19, 1775 in the famous battle that sounded the “shot heard round the world.”
Michael Alexander, a junior Government major, said the hike made the Revolution more real.
“We passed the graves of patriots and British soldiers in the woods, buried where they were killed. You suddenly realize this really happened,” he said. “It’s not just something in books.”
Students also learned about the contributions of African colonists (some free, some enslaved) and women to the Revolutionary cause.
“There are people whose stories are often overlooked, but are just as interesting and important to the Revolutionary cause because they all valued the same thing – freedom,” said Katie Turner, a senior History major.
In the end, Dr. Hammons said he wants students to understand that the American story is one “based on principles that are important to everyone, no matter what you look like, who your parents are or where you were born.”
Junior Calvin Maynard says the trip to Boston helped him develop a greater appreciation for our nation’s history and its founding principles.
“This time in Boston has been the highlight of my education at HBU,” he said. “I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
Dr. Hammons aims for the creation of an endowed travel fund so that students can continue to travel to historic American sites at minimal costs to themselves. The Center for Law & Liberty at HBU is dedicated to making sure HBU students graduate with an understanding and appreciation of our nation’s history and founding principles.