Johnny Tremain Setting

Instructor: Valerie Keenan

Valerie has taught elementary school and has her master's degree in education.

Almost 250 years ago, life in America was completely different. 'Johnny Tremain' gives us a glimpse of colonial Boston in the days before the Revolutionary War began, and we get to experience a taste of the effort put into the fight for American independence from England.

A Story of Revolution

Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in America almost 250 years ago? Life as we know it did not exist. No smart phones, no television, and most importantly, no freedom! Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, is set in Boston between 1773 and 1775. It shows us how people lived and the struggles they faced before the Revolutionary War for independence from England began.

The Lapham Silversmith Shop

The story begins in the silversmith shop and house of Ephraim Lapham, where Johnny is the most promising silversmith apprentice, or student, in all of Boston. It was common in those days for a person to have one trade, or job, that they excelled at. Being an apprentice took the place of school for many young children!

Job Searching

Johnny's hand is hurt badly one day, and he is forced to find a new trade. He takes us through the streets of Boston, and we get to glimpse the comings and goings of the business class in pre-Revolutionary Boston.

At this point, the colonies are still under British rule and have to live by the king's laws. What if America was still governed by a king who lived in a different country? While searching for a job, Johnny begins to understand how unjust Great Britain has been to the colonies and decides that he wants to fight for a change. I bet a lot of us would feel the same way!

Colonial Boston remained under British control until the end of the Revolutionary War
Colonial Boston

The Boston Observer

Johnny finally gets a job delivering newspapers for the Boston Observer. If that sounds boring, get this: at the Boston Observer, Johnny becomes involved in a secret society called the Boston Observers and has the privilege of being a part of the plans these men make to gain freedom from England. He gives us a first-hand look at the planning and enacting of the Boston Tea Party, which was a very important event before the start of the Revolutionary War.

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