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Historical Happenings in March 2023


From Women’s History Month to St. Patrick’s Day, this month is full of “Historical Happenings” to discover and celebrate! So, sit back, relax, and enjoy these lesson plan ideas and free resources for teaching monumental moments in March.


History at a Glance:
  • March 1–31, 2023: Women’s History Month

  • March 5, 1770: The Boston Massacre

  • March 12, 1912: Girl Scouts Was Founded

  • March 17, 2023: St. Patrick’s Day

March 1–31, 2023: Women’s History Month

“Remember the ladies,” Abigail Adams penned in a letter to her husband, John Adams, advocating for women's rights on March 31, 1776. “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation,” she wrote.[1]


Abigail Adams’ words came true with a revolution 144 years in the making. After decades of marches, speeches, and protests during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, suffragists saw victory when the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920. Finally, women had the right to vote!


These suffragists’ achievements are commemorated during Women’s History Month, a month-long celebration of past and present women’s contributions to American history. Women’s History Month began as Women’s History Week in 1981 and was later changed to Women’s History Month in 1987.[2] Today, we celebrate the trailblazers throughout history who forged their own paths and paved the way for other women!


Celebrate HERstory this month, and every month, with the teaching resources below, plus learn more about Women’s History Month in our “Women’s History Month” blog. For more resources, explore our women’s history titles.


Teaching Resources:

March 5, 1770: The Boston Massacre

The atmosphere in Boston, Massachusetts, was uneasy as tensions grew between the Patriot residents and the British soldiers occupying their city in 1770. British troops were stationed in Boston to enforce Britain’s tax laws and protect businesses that sold British goods.[3] In protest against these laws (the Townshend Acts and the Stamp Act) that taxed products such as lead, glass, paper, paint, and tea, Patriot colonists boycotted these goods and sometimes vandalized the stores that sold them.[4]


The rising political temperature reached a boiling point on March 5 when a crowd gathered outside the Customs House, where Private Hugh White stood guard. An argument ensued between the colonists and White, and White called for help. Captain Thomas Preston and his troops arrived to help White and stop the crowd from rioting.


The angry crowd began to pelt the soldiers with snow, ice, and stones. Eyewitness accounts vary on the details of what happened next, but what is known is that soldiers opened fire after allegedly hearing the command to shoot. Given the confusion and chaos, who said “fire” was unknown, but it was determined later during Captain Preston’s trial that he did not give the command. Ultimately, five civilians were killed (three died instantly, and two died later from their wounds).[5]


Captain Preston and his men were arrested in the aftermath. They stood trial and were defended by none other than the future president of the United States, John Adams. Adams wanted to represent the British captain and soldiers to demonstrate the colonies’ fair due process.[6]


The trial resulted in the acquittal of many soldiers and Captain Preston, who was declared innocent because he didn’t order his troops to shoot. Two soldiers were convicted of manslaughter and branded with the letter “M” on their thumbs, as British law dictated. British troops were soon removed from Boston.[7]


The free resources below help your students learn about the Boston Massacre's impact on paving the way to the Revolutionary War.


Teacher Resources:

  • “Choosing Sides: Loyalist vs. Patriot” by National Park Service: To better understand why tensions were high between the Bostonian Loyalists and Patriots, students need to learn what each side believed in and supported. This activity asks students to decide which side (Side A or Side B) they would join based on the speeches provided with the handout and write their reasons for joining. The catch is that the identities — Patriot and Loyalist — aren’t revealed during the speeches; it’s after students decide that they find out which side they joined!

  • “The Boston Massacre” by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: In the aftermath of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere engraved The Bloody Massacre in King Street, which gave his account of the events that transpired on March 5, 1770, meant to foment anti-British sentiment among other like-minded colonists, and going so far as to add the fictional name “Butcher’s Hall” above the Custom House.[8] This drawing serves as the focal point of this activity, in which students will examine how the events shown in the engraving differ from Captain Preston’s report.

March 12, 1912: Girl Scouts Was Founded

Since its founding in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts empowers girls and young women through financial literacy, community projects, and entrepreneurial opportunities (cookies, anyone?!). “Tag along” and learn more about Girl Scouts and ways you can incorporate Low’s legacy into your Women’s History Month celebration!


Low (nicknamed “Daisy”) was born in Savannah, Georgia, on October 31, 1860. In 1911, she met Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts. Inspired by Baden-Powell’s program, Low started her own and held the first Girl Guides meeting on March 12, 1912, in her hometown.[9] The following year, the name “Girl Guides” was changed to Girl Scouts.[10] Members learned different scouting skills, such as map reading, first aid, and knot tying.[11]


Girl Scouts spread across the U.S. and internationally over the following years as new troops were established in China, Syria, and Mexico in the 1920s.[12] Low worked tirelessly until her death in 1927 to further Girl Scouts’ mission and global reach. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama for her efforts to make the nation and the world a better place.


Girl Scout Week is March 12-18, so think outside the cookie box with our Girl Scout books and the teaching resources below for ways to celebrate!


Teaching Resources:

  • Juliette Gordon Low Exhibit by the Georgia Historical Society: Learn about Low’s life through the Georgia Historical Society’s archives of photos, Low’s letters, early Girl Scout handbooks, and other artifacts from the founder’s life. The teacher’s curriculum guide can be used with the archives to teach your students about Low’s legacy for Women’s History Month.

  • The Giggling Ghost Girl Scout Mystery Troop Leader Guide by Carole Marsh/Gallopade International: This free guide is the companion to The Giggling Ghost Girl Scout Mystery but can be used as a standalone resource for your class. Activities include writing prompts, recipes, puzzles, and more!

March 17, 2023: St. Patrick’s Day

The origins of this festive celebration began in Ireland in the ninth or 10th century as a holy day to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick, a missionary who spread Christianity throughout the country. March 17 was appointed as the religious feast day because it is believed that St. Patrick died on March 17, around 460 or 461 A.D.[13]


Although he’s Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick wasn’t Irish; he was born in the late fourth century in Britain.[14] When he was 16, he was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pirates, who brought him to Ireland. After being held captive for six years, St. Patrick escaped and traveled back to Britain, where he underwent religious training. Once his training was completed, he became a bishop and returned to Ireland to teach the Irish about Christianity.[15]


The Catholic Church established an official day of feasting in honor of St. Patrick in 1631, but celebrations had already been underway for centuries in Ireland before spreading to North America.[16] The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade in North America was held on March 17, 1601, by Irish vicar Ricardo Artur of the Spanish colony that was located in what is now modern-day St. Augustine, Florida.[17] Over the next centuries, more celebrations took place throughout the U.S. to honor St. Patrick and the Irish immigrants who came to America. Today St. Patrick’s Day is a global holiday with parades in Canada, Japan, Norway, and New Zealand.[18]


Follow the rainbow and discover a pot of free resources to use for your class's celebration of St. Patrick’s Day!


Teaching Resources:

For more historical tidbits, lesson plan ideas, and free activities, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, check out our other blogs for even more resources!

 

Sources: [1] “Abigail Adams urges husband to ‘remember the ladies’.” HISTORY, 30 March 2020, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/abigail-adams-urges-husband-to-remember-the-ladies. Accessed 21 February 2023. [2] “March is Women’s History Month.” Women’s History Month, https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/. Accessed 21 February 2023. [3] Wallenfeldt, Jeff. "Boston Massacre". Encyclopedia Britannica, 5 September 2022, https://www.britannica.com/event/Boston-Massacre. Accessed 24 February 2023. [4] “Boston Massacre.” HISTORY, 20 September 2022, https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-massacre. Accessed 24 February 2023. [5] “Boston Massacre in Facts and Numbers.” Boston Massacre Historical Society, http://www.bostonmassacre.net/facts-and-numbers.htm. Accessed 27 February 2023. [6] Lawler, Sean. “Boston Massacre and the Trial.” Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/john-adams-boston-massacre#:~:text=The%20very%20next%20day%2C%20John,law%2C%20and%20defending%20the%20innocent. Accessed 27 February 2023. [7] “On this day, the Boston Massacre lights the fuse of revolution.” National Constitution Center, 5 March 2022, https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/on-this-day-the-boston-massacre-lights-the-fuse-of-revolution. Accessed 24 February 2023. [8] Roos, Dave. “How Paul Revere’s Engraving of the Boston Massacre Rallied the Patriot Cause.” HISTORY, 16 August 2021, https://bit.ly/3mmzMLQ. Accessed 27 February 2023. [9] Marsh, Carole. Juliette Gordon Low: Founder of the Girl Scouts. Gallopade International, 2005. [10] “About Early Girl Scouting: Birth of a Movement.” Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, https://www.juliettegordonlowbirthplace.org/en/learn/about-early-girl-scouting.html. Accessed 22 February 2023. [11] Spring, Kelly A. “Juliette Gordon Low.” National Women’s History Museum, https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/juliette-gordon-low. Accessed 22 February 2023. [12] “Girl Scout History.” Girl Scouts, https://www.girlscouts.org/en/discover/about-us/history.html. Accessed 22 February 2023. [13] “Who Was St. Patrick?” HISTORY, 14 October 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick. Accessed 23 February 2023. [14] “St. Patrick’s Day 2023: Who Was the Real St. Patrick?” Almanac, 3 February 2023, https://www.almanac.com/content/st-patricks-day. Accessed 23 Februaury 2023. [15] Mark, Joshua J. “Saint Patrick.” World History Encyclopedia, 6 September 2015, https://www.worldhistory.org/Saint_Patrick/. Accessed 23 February 2023. [16] Ross, Ashley. “The True History Behind St. Patrick’s Day,” TIME, 21 February 2020, https://time.com/4261456/st-patrick-day-2016-history-real-saint/. Accessed 23 February 2023. [17] “7 Surprising Facts About St. Patrick’s Day.” HISTORY, 16 March 2020, https://www.history.com/news/st-patricks-day-facts. Accessed 23 February 2022. [18] “History of St. Patrick’s Day Parades Around the World.” HISTORY, 15 March 2021, https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day-parades-around-the-world. Accessed 23 February 2023.


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