"Jack Jouett" describes the story of a young colonial man who was sitting outside the Cuckoo Tavern on the night of June 3, 1781 when he heard the sounds of riding cavalry. He recognized them as British troops. They were on the only road to Charlottesville, VA, where Thomas Jefferson, who was Governor of Virginia at this time. Many important members of the Virginia legislature were meeting at Monticello. Realizing the urgency of the situation, Jack Jouett jumped on his horse, Sallie, and rode all night using back roads and even riding through the woods to warn them of the approaching troops. His ride was more dangerous and harder than the ride of Paul Revere, yet it is much less known. While the lyrics convey pertinent information about the event, the lilting melody and repetition of the chorus give listeners the feel of that spring night. Additionally the suspended chord poses the question, "What if Jack had decided not to ride?
social studies, geography, language arts, visual arts, music, math, astronomy, Internet usage and library
Thematic Strands from National Social Studies Standards
- culture, individuals, groups and institutions
- time, continuity, and change power, authority, and governance
- people, places and environments science, technology, and society
- individual development and identity civic ideals and practices
Topics for Discussion
What were the dangers and difficulties of Jack Jouettís ride? If you had to choose between helping your country or staying out of danger which would you choose? Can you think of contemporary Americans who have risked their personal safety for something they believed in?
During the Revolutionary War the British army lived in the colonies. They ate in the taverns, forced the colonists to provide them with room and board, and stole provisions and horses. After the War was over the army remained for a time in the colonies and many of the officers were invited to dinners and parties given by their former enemies. Today this would be unheard of. Discuss what made this cordial behavior possible, taking into account the relationship of Great Britain and the colonies and the social customs of the time.