Colony to Nation, an American History Crash Course for Families


Is your family traveling to Philadelphia this spring or summer to learn more about the American Revolution and the birth of the United States? A client recently asked us to put together a crash course on early American history for their elementary and middle school kids to help prepare them for the upcoming school year.

So, we huddled with our local experts on 18th century American history and art, and crafted a fun, immersive experience that explores such iconic and authentic sites as Independence Hall, the home of the first mayor of Philadelphia, and the oldest Quaker Meeting House still in use, has us meet a cast of characters including William Penn, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and a crazy privateer (legal pirate!) named Captain John Macpherson, and delves into such primary sources as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.


Built in 1756, Powel House was home to Philadelphia’s first mayor, Samuel Powel.

Day 1

We will begin our time together examining Philadelphia’s colonial history, from its founding in the 17th century by William Penn through the first rumblings of the American Revolution.  In the company of a Philadelphia historian, we will delve into the social customs and politics that defined the city and set the stage for the Declaration of Independence and the Continental Congress.  Our tour will take us through the streets and alleyways of Society Hill and Old City, exploring the city’s grid and discovering some of the most authentic remaining colonial and pre-colonial sites and structures in Philadelphia, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Day 2
Next we will turn our attention to Benjamin Franklin as the key and consistent character who witnessed and participated in many of the great political and social changes that took place in Philadelphia during the decades preceding and following the American Revolution. We’ll explore the life of Ben Franklin and his many roles as inventor, scientist, businessman, manager, politician, philosopher, and patron. Along the way, we will visit sites, streets and buildings in Old City Philadelphia, such as the American Philosophical Society that relate to this influential figure to gain a deeper understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s impact on American history.
Mount Pleasant mansion, home of Captain John Macpherson, privateer (legal pirate!)

Day 3

We’ll spend the first part of our final day together visiting one of the finest standing examples of 18th century country architecture in the United States, Mount Pleasant mansion. In 1775, John Adams visited Mount Pleasant (1762-65) and declared it “the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania.” On our private visit, we’ll learn about the story of Captain John Macpherson and his first wife Margaret, how they commissioned the house from master builder Thomas Nevell in the early 1760s, and how their circumstances – both personal and economic – take dramatic turns for the worse by the end of the decade. We will also explore and bring to life such relevant and re-occurring themes of the colonial period as slavery, labor, health and the yellow fever epidemic, and food production.


With a quick ride back into the city, we’ll head for the National Constitution Center where we will tie together the themes we touched on during our immersion, and see our founding fathers’ visions and goals manifested in the Constituting Liberty exhibition.


The above itinerary can be planned as three half days, or one full day and one half day. For pricing, availability and to book please contact us at