Hampton Mansion 1st Person Interpretation of Captain Charles Ridgely

Teacher Author: Michael Curry

Hillcrest Elementary / Baltimore County Public Schools - Upper Elementary

Content Area Lesson:

Social Studies – Colonial America

Prerequisite Skills:

Students should have background knowledge on Colonial America and events leading to the American Revolution.


Students will be able to explain how the American Revolution affected the lives of Captain Charles Ridgely (The Builder) and other family members at Hampton mansion.


    1. Play the part of Charles Ridgely. Greet the students in a very extroverted way at the entrance to the mansion.
      1. Explain the rules of the mansion – no drinking, no eating, no touching the furnishings. We want to keep all of this for the generations to come.
      2. Lead to Hall.
        1. Ask the central question – “How did the American Revolution affect the lives of the people living at Hampton mansion?” Take responses.
        2. Direct everyone’s attention to the surroundings. Ask what they think of “my” home? (stay in character). Take responses.
        3. How did I get all of this wealth? The American Revolution has been very good for me. Beginning of the war, I had around 10,000 acres. Not bad. By the end of the war, over 25,000 acres. Over 6% of Baltimore County today. How did I acquire this land?
        4. Have dialogue with students about the iron works. What good would an iron works be during war time? (cannons, shot, kettles for cooking—my quality was well known and appreciated). I made lots of money on the backs of my workers
        5. I needed trees to keep the fires going. What are some ways that I may be able to get land? Show land grant paper. Discuss how poor soldiers, paid in land, wanted cash. I wanted land and had lots of cash. Bought land for pennies on the dollar.
        6. Farming. What really keeps an army going? Food. Around here, compared to other places like Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey – we had few battles. Left alone. I was able to grow crops, feed my workers (make sure that I got the very best for myself), and sell the surplus to our army.
        7. How did all of this affect me? Talk about:
          1. Parties in the house. I wanted to show my friends, neighbors, and fellow aristocrats that I have arrived.
          2. Direct attention towards the stables. Only the wealthy could afford race horses.
          3. This was the biggest house in America when it was built.
          4. I am so wealthy that I can:
            • Pay a painter to paint the baseboards a fake marble.
            • Paint the rooms luxurious colors – show the blue and describe that painting such a color was very expensive.
            • I can afford to provide my guests with iced drinks. Explain why that would unusual, ice house, how ice was obtained.
            • I don’t serve my guests. I get others to do it. Show the bell system and ring the one for the hall.
            • Chandeliers.
            • Orangery. What is it? Why would citrus fruit be a luxury?
          5. I do have a problem. Do you think my slaves/ indentured servants enjoy working for me? Explain some of the nasty jobs they have to do – iron works, cutting trees, tending field every day without a break. They may want to do me harm.
          6. Show shutters to keep them out.
          7. The problem of keeping my servants from running. How do I keep them where they belong?
      3. My family interactions.
        1. Move to the tea room. Show the portraits of me and my wife Rachel.
        2. Explain that the rich families – Howards, Carrols, Dorsey, Ridgely – tended to stick together. Keep the power in the family.
        3. Contrast my wife to me. She was a devout Methodist against drinking, gambling, and other pleasures. She held prayer meetings in the mansion. I wanted nothing to do with that. I gamble, rode horses, hunted. I did all of the things Methodists were against. Stayed away from her prayer meetings.
        4. I had no children. Charles Carnan Ridgely was my heir. Made him take my name to get the inheritance.
        5. I took care of the business and money. My wife ran the house. We didn’t meddle in each others affairs.
      4. Move to the foot of the stairs.
        1. Show the quality of the house construction at the cut-away of the mansion. Show sample of slate roof. Nothing but the best for me.
        2. Show the portrait of Baltimore in 1752. Ask beforehand if anybody has been to Baltimore – the answer is obvious. Ask what Baltimore is like today. Then show portrait.
      5. Move back to the hall.
        1. Recap.
        2. Direct attention back to easel.


    Students should be able to explain how the American Revolution affects Charles Ridegly and his family.


    Ask for questions if anybody has something they want clarified.


  • Acknowlegements and Credits
  • BCPS News
  • Planning a Field Trip to Hampton
This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Baltimore County Public Schools and the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), with assistance from Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service.
Contact Hampton National Historic Site at 410-823-1309 ex. 207 to arrange for class visits. | http://www.nps.gov/hamp/