Overall: 7 3/8 in. × 3 1/4 in. × 1 in. (18.73 cm × 8.26 cm × 2.54 cm)Other (Bit): 1 1/8 in. × 1 11/16 in. × 11/16 in. (2.86 cm × 4.29 cm × 1.75 cm)Other (Weight): 1.18 lb. (0.54 kg)
Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860
- Ask students why they believe the Marquis de Lafayette chose to give the Bastille Key to George Washington? Host a discussion on how the key represents ideals for a new political era in both France and America.
- Ask students to think about a historical object that could represent America during the era of revolutions? As the Bastille Key represents the catalyst for the French Revolution, what could be a possible historical artifact that could symbolize the beginning of the American Revolution? Host a conversation with students about what objects hold symbolic value to them today. Are there objects in their home that have more symbolic value than monetary value?
- Pair the Bastille Key with the primary source documents The Declaration of Independence (U.S., 1776) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (France, 1789). Instruct students to read the documents to determine specific areas that symbolize the Bastille Key’s larger meaning of freedom to George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Ask students to write an essay explaining the specific connections between France and the U.S. that illustrate why the Bastille Key represented more than just a means to unlock a door.
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