The Great American History Expedition Check List

I’m in the midst of planning for next year and thinking out history.  We’re wrapping up the Renaissance, but soon we’ll sail across the ocean and make it over here to the New World.  I’m not sure what speed we’ll move at, but my hope is to cover American history all the way through to the present, or at least to the second world war.  In February, we’ll take a break to do a big before we go on a huge trip to Africa unit study.  Then, in March, we’ll go to Africa.  Finally, in April, we’ll recover from having been in Africa.  By May, we’ll pick back up with American history. We usually do lots of fun projects and a few field trips with history.  For American history though, I really want to go whole hog and see everywhere with an American history tie in.  I’m actually pretty excited.  Here’s the checklist of places I hope we’ll get to at some point in the next year:

In the District Proper:

  • White House tour
  • Capitol tour
  • Bureau of Printing and Engraving (I have always heard this one is an excellent tour, we’ve just never done it)
  • National Archives
  • Library of Congress
  • Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian
  • Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Museum of American Art
  • Memorials walk – Washington to Jefferson, not skipping the overlooked DC World War I Veterans Memorial
  • Georgetown fun: Tudor House, Dumbarton House, Old Stone House, canal boat ride
  • Ford’s Theater and Peterson House
  • Lincoln’s Cottage
  • Frederick Douglass National Historical Site
  • Pierce Mill (if they ever get around to reopening it)
  • Mary McCloud Bethune House
  • Fort Circle Parks


  • St. Mary’s City
  • Riverdale Mansion
  • C&O Canal at Great Falls
  • Antietum National Battlefield
  • Clara Barton House at Glen Echo
  • Baltimore fun: USS Constellation, Transportation Museum, Fort McHenry, and a roll down a really awesome hill to get some grass stains


  • Mount Vernon
  • Claude Moore Colonial Farm
  • Manassas National Battlefield
  • Gadsby’s Tavern
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Williamsburg
  • Monticello
  • Montpelier
  • Appomattox Courthouse Battlefield
  • Cumberland Gap (maybe we’ll do the train again…)
  • Museum of the Confederacy
  • Petersburg National Battlefield
  • James River Plantations
  • Harper’s Ferry (I know it’s not in Virginia, it’s in other Virginia)

Other Spots:

  • Gettysburg 
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Philadelphia fun: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center (or whatever it’s called)
That's Mushroom and BalletBoy having their first introduction to Fala (FDR's beloved little dog). We've really been going to a lot of these spots of historic import for awhile I guess.

We’ve obviously done many of the D.C. places many times.  I’m dorkily excited to actually visit all the Fort Circle Forts.  Some, such as Fort Stevens, we’ve been too, but most we’ve never seen (some aren’t there at all anymore).  Doing some local D.C. history should be a fun part of this.  We’re more than just a drained swamp, you know.  I also hope to get my outrage on a little and indoctrinate the kids into the injustice that is our lives without the right to vote.*  Our church has been doing some D.C. voting rights work that maybe we could look into being involved with.  We need to drag ourselves out to do that great American activity: protest.  One trip is already planned.  We’re going to homeschool days in Williamsburg and staying at Great Wolf Lodge (you know, with the indoor water park!) using the homeschool deals they offered.  I’m pretty excited to see what it’s like to be on a vacation where we seriously see historical reenactors for half the day and go down water slides for the other half.

*You should be outraged that I don’t have the right to vote too.  Especially that we have to pay taxes and don’t have the right to vote.  And that Obama used our rights as a bargaining chip.  Oh, good grief, I didn’t mean to get too much outrage on here.  Sorry.  It’s just that being literally disenfranchised will do that to a person.

8 thoughts on “The Great American History Expedition Check List

  1. I am outraged that you don’t have the right to vote.

    We went to DC for homeschool purposes a few years ago. My kids would have lived in the Air and Space branch of the Smithsonian, had that been somehow possible. Jefferson and Rosevelt were their favorite monuments, and we did indeed see the WWI one as well. I have to admit it was by accident; we had no clue it existed prior to coming across it. We need to make another trip now that my kids are teens.

  2. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a great tour. We did it last year with a homeschool group and it was really fascinating. And free!

    We’ll be in Williamsburg and Great Wolf Lodge in September also, maybe we’ll see you there. The homeschool deal is fantastic, isn’t it?

  3. Thanks for the outrage, Melissa and Resa.

    Melissa, it’s a strange accident of history. The founders way back when set aside this land to become the capital. They purposefully didn’t want it to be part of a state so as to not give any state too much influence over the national government. There were people living here back then, but not many. It was mostly forests and swamps. Washington gave most of the land because he didn’t want it. Immediately, the founders realized they’d have to remedy the fact that, because the residents weren’t part of a state, they wouldn’t have a representative vote in the congress. However, they put it off. After all, it was a tiny number of people and they didn’t think it would ever become a place where many people lived who weren’t directly part of the government.

    Fast forward more than 200 years and they NEVER FIXED IT. We have more people than one other state currently, but no congressional representation. In the 70’s a constitutional amendment was passed giving us electoral votes, so we can now vote for president at least. But we still have no legislative voice. Yet, unlike territories like Puerto Rico, we have to pay federal income taxes. It’s just so wrong. So, so undemocratic. Generally, Republicans don’t want to give us the vote because the city is overwhelmingly Black and registered Democrat. Democrats would vaguely like us to have it, but they would rather use us as a bargaining chip in various ways. See, we don’t even technically have the right to vote for our own city government. Currently, they “let” us do it. But when they don’t like what we do, they overrule it and when they don’t like the way it’s run (admittedly poorly sometimes) they take it over at their whim. Congress uses us as an experiment ground for their pet programs. Yet we have no vote in Congress. It’s just… gah… pardon me while I run screaming.

  4. That sounds awesome! (not your disenfranchisement. that sucks) We came up with a very ambitious plan this summer to see a house of every president…before we die, I guess; we certainly won’t finish anytime soon. But we knocked George Washington, and the two Adams out this summer, so we’re off to a pretty good start.

  5. If it makes you feel better: I live in the City of London proper, where although we can vote for our MP and various European reps, the local government is crazy. In fact, most of the votes are not given to residents, but to (you read it here) CORPORATIONS. There are 9 useless “Alderman” posts (for which there were 10 candidates at the last vote), which have some kind of tiny representation. We have one school in the whole of the City — gee, I wonder why? We’re not even managed by the Electoral Commission. These kind of historical exceptions are really irritating. I feel for you.

  6. Nice idea and cute pics!

    I visited your fine city last year for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. What a great, great city! I fell in love! But yeah, that voting thing sucks!

    PS: I’m ‘Faygo’ from Secular Homeschool forums 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s