U.S. History – Week 22


This week we will finish investigating the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign (aka Sullivan Expedition) and the Trail of Tears and Southeast Indian Removal.  Students are asked to remember that crucial lessons can be gained from knowing their history and the purpose of these historical investigations is to give insight into the motivations that dictate how the U.S. treats other nations.

Conversation Starters

One of the main reasons for this blog is help parents engage their children in discussions about history and current events.  Try asking your students some of these questions and see what they have to say….

  • Why did George Washington choose to fight in the American revolution?  You may be surprised by their answers….
  • What happened to the Iroquois Indians during the American Revolution?
  • What was the Sullivan Expedition and what was Indian Removal?  What do these events tell us about the motivations that drive U.S. foreign policy?

What did we do in class today?


Question 1) According to each resource, what were the main causes of the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign?

Military History Magazine Sullivan-Clinton Website (funded by Iroquois Nation)
After a graphic description of the ‘massacre’ at Cherry Valley the article states:
“The assault soon became known as the “Cherry Valley Massacre,” and it would help convince General George Washington to launch a massive, no-holds-barred retaliatory expedition.”This resource blames the Iroquois for massacres and for choosing sides with the British, without any background information to put these events into context, such as:- Most Iroquois tried to stay neutral
– Only some Iroquois actively fought
– The Iroquois sided with the British because they felt threatened by white encroachment that had already begun
– American settlers had raided Iroquois villages prior to Cherry Valley and killed many women and children (Tioga Massacre) (note: there is some mention, but it is buried)“there was a time when mere mention of these tribes struck terror in the hearts of settlers along America’s first frontier”“by choosing sides during the American Revolution, they ensured their own destruction”
Graphic illustrations of death and burning of Iroquois LonghousesThis resource places most of the blame on George Washington and the Americans.  It claims that the desire for more land was the primary reason for attacking the Iroquois.“Cherry Valley Frontier site of a Yankee defeat on November 8, 1778, termed “The Cherry Valley Massacre.” Its destruction became a pretext for launching Sullivan/Clinton. Settler homes were burned, 30 were killed, and 71 made prisoners. An assault on the Yankee fort killed 16 soldiers, but the British and Mohawk withdrew the next day when reinforcements arrived. “

pre·text  – A reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason.

The Road To Empire

“…The most important objective has been entirely overlooked by most historians… Washington and other leaders saw that independence with a mere fringe of land along the seacoast would scarcely be worth the cost of the struggle if the rest of the continent to the westward and northward remained in the hands of the motherland. Washington knew by actual experience the potential wealth of the fertile regions of the interior of the continent. He realized that when the time came to discuss terms of peace that rich area could be secured for the young nation only if it was in possession of the Americans.
Hence in The Sullivan Clinton Expedition an inland empire was the stake for which Washington was playing and not merely the punishment of dusky foes on our border.”
Alexander C. Flick
Historian of the State of New York

Having Second Thoughts

[I write of] the great Loneliness which is creeping into my Soul
with every hour and every mile which separates me from you.
I really feel guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were
Homes of Content until we ravagers came spreading desolation
everywhere… Our mission here is to destroy but may it not
transpire that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seeds of Empire?
American Officer
Letter to His Fiancé Before His Death in Battle
Sullivan-Clinton Campaign
September 1779

Great Article about Washington – be sure to read the comments at the bottom! – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2902739/posts


  • Discussed the question – “What were the main reasons George Washington chose to fight as a patriot during the American Revolution?”
  • Notes were given on the board – get them from another student


  • We will debrief the Trail of Tears/Indian Removal and prep for the quiz tomorrow
  • We will trade ‘Blankets for the Dead’ questions and assess
  • Students will present their stereotypes projects
  • We will analyze each event and attempt to identify causes using the BRAIN mnemonic (see below)




  • We have a quiz on the Sullivan Expedition and the Trail of Tears

BRAIN mnemonic

This is a mnemonic device I developed to help students think more deeply about the causes of international conflict.

Beliefs – What beliefs or ideologies contributed to this conflict?
Resentments – What historical resentments existed?
Actions – What short-term actions were the ‘spark’ or the catalyst that began the cycle of violence to occur?
Internal Politics – What internal politics caused some members to take a more extreme and violent stance?
National Interests – What was each side trying to get or protect?


We Shall Remain – Trail of Tears