Subject Material

Sailing To Philadelphia - the Cradle of the USA

Published: 14.03.2013, Updated: 05.03.2017
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Michael is from Philadelphia, USA. He has a keen interest in American history, and in this interview he shares his knowledge with us.

The title is taken from the song "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler.

The Statue of LibertyThe Statue of Liberty
Fotograf: Morten Serkland

The United NationsThe UN building in New York
Fotograf: Morten Serkland

CapitolWashington D.C. became the capital city
Fotograf: Eli M. Huseby

GlobalizationGlobal Human Rights
Fotograf: Morten Serkland

The American FlagThe American Flag
Fotograf: Morten Serkland

Philadelphia is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania and has about 1.5 million inhabitants. It was founded in 1682 by William Penn to serve as the capital of the Pennsylvania colony. The city was the country's capital for a period and was the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Before listening to the interview, you should find out:

  • The name Philadelphia is a combination of two Greek words. What do the words mean?
  • How many colonies did Britain have along the eastern coast?
  • When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
  • When was the Constitution signed?
  • It was only men that signed these documents. What were they called?
  • What is the name of the most famous bell in Philadelphia?
  • What is the Pledge of Allegiance?


Forfatter: Morten Serkland


Tasks and Activities

Historical Domuments and Their Significance

Liberty Bell Liberty Bell and Declaration of Independence
Fotograf: The Granger Collection

Look at these quotes:


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created....."

(Declaration of Independence)

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish....."

(The Constitution)


  • Try to complete the sentences with the exact wording.
  • Make a list of the values represented in these two quotes.
  • Why do you think the Founding Fathers focused on these particular values?
  • Compare and contrast these values with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see picture below)
  •  When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, it was ratified by 48 countries. Explain why these values are considered so fundamental.

Human RightsThe Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Fotograf: Eli M. Huseby

"Sailing To Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler

  1. Listen to the song (there are several recordings on YouTube) and look up the lyrics on the web. Find out what is meant by the following words/expressions:
    • Geordie
    • The coaly Tyne
    • A stargazer
    • The Mason-Dixon line
    • They'd cut me out for baking bread
    • Royal Society
    • Iroqouis
    • Gullible
    • Surveyor
    • The Capes of Delaware
  2. Write a blog entry or a text where you analyze the lyrics by means of one of these two approaches:
    • Either:
      "You talk of liberty
      How can America be free
      A Geordie and a baker's boy
      In the forest of the Iroquois..."
      Why are the Iroquois mentioned here? What claims do indigenous people have to their land?
    • Or
      "It was my fate from birth
      to make my mark upon the earth"
      What creates history? Fate or free will?

Digital Stories

Make a digital story based on Michael's information and other internet sources. Use programs like Moviemaker or Photostory. Focus on one of the following topics:

  1. Mason and Dixon drawing the Mason Dixon line.
  2. Betsy Ross played a central role in the creation of the U.S. flag. Find out more about this and consider why a flag is such a fundamental symbol.
  3. From the point of view of the Liberty Bell. Give an account of its story and central historical events it has witnessed over the years.