Take Carpenters' Hall With You

After a visit to Philadelphia, it is important to remember that the places visited played a vital role in creating the United States of America. In these buildings, a group of forefathers took small, separate British colonies and brought them together to make a country. Carpenters' Hall has a connection to nearly every other historic site in Philadelphia that may have been on your walking tour.

Make sure that you spend at least a day after your visit discussing with your students the importance of what they have seen on their field trip. Now would be a good time to construct a timeline of Pre Revolutionary to Post Revolutionary America from the French and Indian War to the conception of the Constitution. In your timelines, make sure to incorporate the buildings that you visited and the people about whom you have learned. Without concentrating on minute details and dates, guide your students through understanding the overall ideas, events, and people that led this country to freedom from Great Britain. By collating these general ideas, people, and buildings that they have seen about this period your students will see a clear sequence and a justification of the events that followed; and you will be able to make a smooth transition into the next era of American history.

The beginning of a collective nation began on September 5, 1774, when the colonies convened as a whole (with the exception of Georgia) for the first time at Carpenters' Hall. Together they wrote letters to the King and to fellow colonists, stating their demands as a body rather than as individual colonies. The First Continental Congress ended in October, but the delegates agreed to meet again the following year if the situation was not resolved.

In May of 1775, delegates from all the colonies except Rhode Island convened again in Philadelphia, in the State House, now known as Independence Hall. During this Second Continental Congress, the subject of independence was broached, and in July of the following year, independence from Britain was declared (the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4). Just a few days before, Pennsylvania's Declaration of Independence had been drafted during a Provincial Conference at Carpenters' Hall and delivered to Congress. Without it Pennsylvania delegates would not have signed the Declaration of Independence.

Although the historical connections between the Hall and Philadelphia are many, there are also occupational connections. The early Carpenters' Company members built or designed many of the historic buildings that are still in existence. Robert Smith, architect of Carpenters' Hall, also designed St. Peter's Church and the steeple above Christ Church. Edmund Wooley served as Master Builder of Independence Hall, and David Evans worked with his son to complete the Pennsylvania Hospital.

After walking down cobblestone lanes and entering doorways that many American forefathers stepped through, it is easy to imagine Philadelphia as it was in the colonial period: a city of radical thought, a city of patriotic statesmen, a city of rapid growth, both in population and historical significance (by 1790 it was the largest English-speaking city outside of London). But it was also, and continues to be, home to many of America's oldest and most important sites. Carpenters' Hall is certainly not the least among them.

“The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American”.

— Virginia Delegate Patrick Henry, at the First Continental Congress in Carpenters’ Hall, 1774.