RICHARD CASWELL: First Governor, Revolutionary Hero, and the Father of NC


First Governor, Revolutionary War Hero, and the Father of NC

Students will acquire knowledge about Richard Caswell, North Carolina's first governor, elected six times governor, commander of the Patriot forces at the Battle at Moore's Creek, representative at the Continental Congresses of 1774 and 1775, and a principal author of the NC constitution.

A lesson plan for Grade 4 Information Skills, English Language Arts, Social Studies and Computer Technology Skills. By Clair Hadley


Learning Outcomes


Students will:


About the Author

Clair Hadley is a Caswell researcher. She has taught Grade 7-9 English in Montgomery Co, Md., ESL for USIS in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia and for the British Council in Abu Dhabi. She has taught ESL at the University in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in a pilot program designed by the Univ. of Wisconsin. She was involved in curriculum development during the 2nd and 3rd year of the program.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

Three 45-minute class periods. (Lesson one and three can stand alone )


v Appropriate biographies of Richard Caswell's life

1. The site, OLD DOBBERS provides material you will need. On the Education Resource page, you will find a 2-minute clip from News 14 Carolina and a second clip from News 9. Both honor the Governor during the Caswell Celebration Week, Aug12-19th, 2007. The Old Dobber's Home Page contains a Family History Project link that leads Caswell researchers to several Caswell links, including the link to "The Story of Governor Richard Caswell of Lenoir. This biography is split nicely into chronological headings. A large, downloadable photograph is also there.

Old Dobbers Home Page -

2. Another online source for primary documents, including Caswell's report of the Battle of Moore's Creek, news clippings, a biography, and an inspiring letter to his son written in Philadelphia at the Continental Congress.

3. A third account of Caswell's life and accomplishments is this news article

v Battle of Moore¹s Creek Battle of Moore¹s Creek, focus on Feb 27th to the end

v Computers for group work

v White board and markers.

Technology resources

Computers that are Internet accessible.


Day 1 (45 minutes)

1. Brief class discussion: What is a Hero? Make a class list of 4-5 attributes on the board. Name some historical figures you consider heroes. George Washington will come up. Remind

students that he was called the father of our country (Richard Caswell has been called

the father of our state).


2. Download a photograph (found online) of Caswell. Tell them he was an important figure in NC's history. Ask if they know who this man is. What can you tell from the photograph? This should result in guesses that he lived long ago, he might be a war hero, and perhaps a governor ­ give them a clue comparing GW, father of our country to Caswell, who was called the father of his state.


3 3. Share your interest in him by telling the students a little about the Caswell Celebration Week in Kinston

and the House Resolution 2068 passed Aug. 3rd, 2007 declaring Aug. 2007 Richard Caswell month.

4. After the guessing game with the photo, show the News 14 video on Caswell (about 2 minutes long) and the News 9 video clip if time permits.

At home

Day 2 (45 Minutes)

Set-up Draw the event organizer you select on the whiteboard.


Review the previous lesson. Pass out the students' reports from Day 1.

1. Print out and distribute an event organizer (such as the ones in the charts below) to each student. Have the pairs, in chronological order, report on Caswell's life orally.

Samples of Event organizers

2. Teacher and students fill in the events chart together, adding dates and phrases as the students present their oral reports on Caswell. *Students could brainstorm on what "heroic" traits each part of his life and career embodies as you go along. Ask the students to comment on why Caswell deserves to be called the "Father of North Carolina."

3. Whiteboard: Fill in any holes in the Events Organizer which might have been omitted. You might add that Caswell should have been a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the Federal Constitution had his health permitted. Stress that he is the only governor to be elected six separate times and that he was a (the) primary author of the NC State Constitution. *Wide-spread Opinion- had Caswell lost the Battle of Moore's Creek, the British may well have taken all of NC and SC would, in all probability, have then succumbed‹as a result, the French would not have stepped in to help. And we may have lost the War without the French

4. Take the completed Events chart home. Point out that students¹ families might not be familiar with Governor Caswell

At Home

Ask students to explain to their parents, referring to their charts, who Richard Caswell was and why he was an American hero. Ask parents to send a written comment on this information with their child the following day.


Day 3 (45 minutes) This lesson can be combined with Lesson 1 or follow Lesson 1 &2. It could also stand alone, perhaps using the Photo Guessing Game as an introduction.

The goal is to familiarize students with a Resolution passed by the NC General Assembly on August 3rd, 2007, declaring the month of August Richard Caswell month.

Students will:

v Read aloud the House Resolution naming August 2007 Richard Caswell month

v Become familiar with what a Resolution is and how it is passed.

v Write a letter to their local representative asking that August 3rd, Caswell's birthday, be recognized every year in North Carolina as Richard Caswell Day.


1.Old Dobbers Website. Click on House Resolution 2068

2. Steps to Passing a Resolution - online at


  1. Read aloud a few of the parents' reactions to the students' verbal accounts of the night before.
  2. Mini lecture on what a Resolution is. Refer to the steps needed to pass a Resolution. Summarize how the Caswell resolution was conceived and passed (how long it took, the steps they took, etc)

The resolution was written sometime in May, 2007 by Dr. Keats Sparrow, editor of the new Caswell biography, The first of Patriots and the Best of Men: Richard Caswell in Public Life. . It was presented in August 2007 and adopted a few days later, without revision, ( which appears to indicate that the General Assembly was knowledgeable of Caswell and in complete agreement with the resolution).

  1. Read (or student read) aloud the following account of what happened at the Assembly the day it passed:


Email Subject: Today at the General Assembly; Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007
from "Jane Phillips" <> member of the Lenoir Co. Colonial Commission and President of the Historical Preservation Group.

I wish all of you could have gone to Raleigh today. Pat and I had a great
time. We arrived at the Legislative building about 10 a.m. We met Guy Potts upon
our arrival and we sat together. Van(our representative) came up into the gallery to

speak with us several times throughout the day. The resolution was not read until the
middle of the afternoon so we were there for a while.

The resolution was read. Van got up and made some very nice and
appropriate comments about Caswell. This was followed by comments by Rep
Wainwright and then a lady representative. ( We did not know who she was) .
This was followed by Van getting up and intorducing Pat and me to the
Assembly. It was at this time that Pat and I were caught off guard as
all the members of the House rose to their feet and looked to the gallery as
they raised their hands in applause. Wish all of you could have been there
to share in that experience. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

  1. Print out and distribute the Resolution, project it, or use Internet accessible classroom computers. Go around the room and have each student read one "whereas" clause.

  2. Review orally the steps Mrs. Phillips took to get the Resolution passed. Ask the class what steps we could take to get a Resolution passed. Establish that we would begin by writing a letter to our state representative.

  3. At the computer, locate the name of students' state representatives by district. You could provide names if time is too short-or make this a home assignment

  4. Write your delegate a letter urging him to pass a resolution declaring August 3rd, Caswell¹s birthday, Richard Caswell Day. Include the most important reasons why the "father of our state" deserves such an honor. Be as persuasive as you can.


At Home

OPTIONAL- Type your letter.

Take it, along with a petition, around your neighborhood, and get signatures of support. You will probably need to tell people who Caswell was and why you think he deserves this honor before they will sign. Mail it. Tell your classmates and teacher how many signatures you were able to get.




Assessment should take into account students' understanding of primary sources, their oral presentation of facts, and the letters they write to their state representatives.


Scoring Rubric:


Oral presentation or class participation 20 points

Attention Grabbing Title 5 points

Background Information 30 points

Organization and content of letter 30 points

Grammar/Punctuation 10 points

Neatness 5 points

Total Points Available: 100 points


Supplemental Information


written in 1930 by CLAYTON BROWN ALEXANDER and edited in 2007 by W.KEATS SPARROW:
published by the Lenoir Co. Colonial Commission and available in some libraries.
Related websites

1.Comparison of Caswell to George Washington (,M1

.Gov. Martin¹s flight from Tryon Palace-use find button - Martin
3.The CSS Neuse and Governor Caswell State Historic Site 
4. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park- 0nline exhibitions
This site has information and photographs of military life during the Revolutionary War


North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 4

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

Computer Technology Skills (2005)

Grade 4

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4


















North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 4

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

Computer Technology Skills (2005)

Grade 4

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4