United States History to 1865

Revolution and the New Nation: 1770s to the Early 1800s

USI.6

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by

  1. a) identifying the issues of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution;
  2. b) identifying how political ideas shaped the revolutionary movement in America and led to the Declaration of Independence;
  3. c) describing key events and the roles of key individuals in the American Revolution, with emphasis on George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry;
  4. d) explaining reasons why the colonies were able to defeat Britain.

SUGGESTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES

  • Begin the unit by asking students who some of the key individuals in the Revolutionary War were.
  • Explain that many individuals played important roles in shaping events of the American Revolution.
  • Introduce the eight key individuals that will be covered in this section.
  • Use graphic organizers found at: http://www.sdcoe.net/score/actbank/torganiz.htm (Score Graphic Organizers) or http://teacherresourcecatalog.pwnet.org/docs/Reading.pdf (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers) to assist the students as they organize the following background information on the eight key individuals.
  • Introduce King George III, the British king during the Revolutionary era.
  • Provide the following background information. King George III sat upon the throne of England from 1760-1820. It was on his watch that the American colonies were lost. King George III, after the French and Indian War, had large debts to pay, and thought he could extract the necessary money from the colonies. King George was incensed when the insolent American colonists objected to the taxes being levied, particularly the Stamp Act. When the Stamp Act was repealed, King George flew into a rage. King George thought the colonists should be dealt with harshly for their disobedience and insolence. Using his profound influence, he pushed through the Townshend Acts, in 1766, taxing many commodity items including tea resulting in the infamous Boston Tea Party. King George was eventually humbled, as the American colonies successfully became the United States of America. Other colonies began to rebel after America's success and King George remained embroiled in one conflict or another for many years.
  • Introduce Lord Cornwallis, the British general who surrendered at Yorktown.
  • Provide the following background information. Cornwallis was an influential member of the British Parliament. Lord Charles Cornwallis opposed nearly all of the British policies that led to the American Revolution. But he was a loyal solider and well connected. He had been in the army since he was eighteen, and had fought in Germany during the Seven Years War. When the call to serve in the Revolution came in 1775, he accepted a military command as a major general. In 1781, Lord Cornwallis marched with the principal part of his force into Virginia, where, for some time, his success was almost equally rapid and complete; but the admirable combined movement of General Washington and our French allies, from the north, and of the Count de Grasse, with the fleet and army of France, from the West Indies, turned the scale, and rendered it necessary for him to shut himself up in Yorktown, and attempt to defend himself there, until he could receive relief from New York. By the summer of 1781, the American troops managed to force Cornwallis and his army to Yorktown, Virginia. The French naval fleet was on its way to Chesapeake Bay to support the American soldiers surrounding Yorktown. This hope, however, failed him, and on October 19, he surrendered his forces to the combined armies of America and France.
  • Introduce John Adams, who championed the causes of independence.
  • Provide the following background information. John Adams was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1735. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he early became identified with the patriot cause; a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he led in the movement for independence. During the next few years, Adams became deeply involved in the steady colonial march toward separation from Britain. Once the Continental Congress officially voted for independence on June 7, 1776, Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and two others were chosen to draft a manifesto declaring independence. After a lengthy debate in which Adams vigorously defended the document before his fellow delegates, Congress accepted and ratified the final version of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. By denouncing the authority of the Crown, the signers of the declaration were committing a dangerous act of treason. Nevertheless, their actions, and the stirring language of the document itself, would forever change the world and its concept of liberty and equality. During the Revolutionary War he served in France and Holland in diplomatic roles, and helped negotiate the treaty of peace. From 1785 to 1788 he was minister to the Court of St. James, returning to be elected Vice President under George Washington. When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the nation.
  • Introduce George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army.
  • Provide the following background information. Born in 1732 into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and the body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman. From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years. He realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He reported to Congress, "we should on all Occasions avoid a general Action, or put anything to the Risque, unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn." Ensuing battles saw him fall back slowly, then strike unexpectedly. Finally in 1781 with the aid of French allies, he forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. After the Revolutionary War, Washington realized that the nation under its Articles of Confederation was not functioning well, so he became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President. More information is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/gw1.html.
  • Introduce Thomas Jefferson, major author of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Provide the following background information. Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 in Albermarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As the "silent member" of the Congress, Jefferson, at age 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In the following years, he labored to make its words a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786. Sharp political conflict developed, and two separate parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, began to form. Jefferson gradually assumed leadership of the Republicans, who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in France. Attacking Federalist policies, he opposed a strong centralized government and championed the rights of states. As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, nevertheless urged Jefferson's election. When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. More information is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/tj3.html.
  • Introduce Patrick Henry. He was the outspoken member of House of Burgesses and inspired colonial patriotism with his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.
  • Provide the following background information. Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia in 1736, to John and Sarah Winston Henry. A symbol of America's struggle for liberty and self-government, Patrick Henry was a lawyer, patriot, orator, and willing participant in virtually every aspect of the founding of America. Carried away by the fervor of his own argument, the plainly dressed burgess from Louisa County exclaimed, "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third..." At this point, cries of treason rose from all sides, but with hardly a pause, Henry neatly "baffled the charge vociferated" and won the burgesses for his cause. Five of his resolutions approved, the new leader in Virginia politics saddled his lean horse and took the westward road out of Williamsburg. (After his departure, one of the resolutions was overturned.) Henceforth, Patrick Henry was a leader in every protest against British tyranny and in every movement for colonial rights. In March 1775, Patrick Henry urged his fellow Virginians to arm in self-defense, closing his appeal (uttered at St. John's Church in Richmond, where the legislature was meeting) with the immortal words: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." Henry served in the Virginia House of Burgesses; he was a member of the Virginia committee of Correspondence, a delegate to the Virginia Convention, and a delegate to the Virginia Constitution Ratification Convention. He played a prominent role in the May 6, 1776, convention and became the first governor of the commonwealth under its new constitution. Patrick Henry served three terms as governor of Virginia. More information is available at: http://www.history.org/Almanack/people/bios/biohen.cfm.
  • Discuss with students the impact of Enlightenment ideas. Explain that the main ideas of John Locke, such as the belief that all human beings are created equal with certain unalienable rights, were influential to such colonial patriots as Patrick Henry. Tell students that they will examine excerpts from the speeches and/or writings of Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry that illustrate these enlightenment ideas and that argue for self-government and independence from Britain.
  • An excerpt of Patrick Henry's Speech to the Virginia Convention can be found at http://theamericanrevolution.org/ipeople/phenry/phenryspeech.asp.
  • Have the students read the excerpts individually or aloud as a class and complete the outlines. Some of the language may be difficult for students to understand, so have them look up some of the more difficult vocabulary words. After they have completed the readings and the outlines, help them identify some of the main ideas.
  • Have students use the information from the readings and from their textbook to write a persuasive editorial for the local newspaper explaining why colonists should support the battle for independence. Show students examples of current editorials from the local paper to help them understand the format and purpose of an editorial.
  • Introduce Benjamin Franklin, a prominent member of the Continental Congress who helped frame the Declaration of Independence.
  • Provide the following background information. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston. He was the tenth son of a soap and candlemaker. He received some formal education but was principally self-taught. After serving an apprenticeship to his father between the ages of 10 and 12, he went to work for his half-brother James, a printer. In 1721 the latter founded the New England Courant, the fourth newspaper in the colonies. Benjamin secretly contributed 14 essays to it, his first published. Franklin served as clerk (1736-51) and member (1751-64) of the colonial legislature and as deputy postmaster of Philadelphia (1737-53) and deputy postmaster general of the colonies (1753-74). In addition, he represented Pennsylvania at the Albany Congress (1754), called to unite the colonies during the French and Indian War. The congress adopted his "Plan of Union," but the colonial assemblies rejected it because it encroached on their powers. It was during the Stamp Act crisis that Franklin evolved from leader of a shattered provincial party's faction to celebrated spokesman at London for American rights. Franklin returned to Philadelphia in May 1775 and immediately became a distinguished member of the Continental Congress. Thirteen months later, he served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. He subsequently contributed to the government in other important ways, including service as postmaster general, and took over the duties of president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. More information is available at:http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters.
  • Introduce Thomas Paine, a journalist and author of Common Sense.
  • Provide the following background information. On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father, a corseter, had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. The young Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, now age 19, Paine went to sea. This adventure didn't last too long, and by 1768 he found himself as an excise (tax) officer in England. His career turned to journalism while in Philadelphia, and suddenly, Thomas Paine became very important. In 1776, he published Common Sense, a strong defense of American Independence from England. He joined the Continental Army and wasn't a success as a soldier, but he produced The Crisis (1776-83), which helped inspire the Army. More information is available at http://www.ushistory.org/paine/.
  • In his Common Sense, Paine states that sooner or later independence from England must come, because America had lost touch with the mother country. In his words, all the arguments for separation of England are based on nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense. Government was a necessary evil that could only become safe when it was representative and altered by frequent elections. The function of government in society ought to be only regulating and, therefore, as simple as possible. Not surprisingly, but nevertheless remarkable, was his call for a declaration of independence. Due to the many copies sold (500,000) Paine's influence on the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 is eminent. Another sign of his great influence is the number of loyalist reactions to Common Sense. More information is available at: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/tpaine/paine.htm.
  • Discuss with students the impact of Enlightenment ideas. Explain that the main ideas of John Locke, such as the belief that all human beings are created equal with certain unalienable rights, were influential to such colonial patriots as Thomas Paine. An excerpt of Thomas Paine's Common Sense can be found athttp://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/ by clicking on For Teachers -- Classroom Handouts and Fact Sheets -- Toward Revolution.
  • Have the students read the excerpts individually or aloud as a class and complete the outlines. Some of the language may be difficult for students to understand, so have them look up some of the more difficult vocabulary words. After they have completed the readings and the outlines, help them identify some of the main ideas.
  • Have students use the information from the readings and from their textbook to write a persuasive editorial for the local newspaper explaining why colonists should support the battle for independence. Show students examples of current editorials from the local paper to help them understand the format and purpose of an editorial.
  • Introduce Phillis Wheatley and have students read a short biography of the poet and some of her poems. Be sure to review the poems for appropriate content for the grade level. Tell the students that Phillis Wheatley was a former slave who wrote poems and plays supporting American independence. Useful resources are:
  • Introduce Paul Revere, a patriot who made a daring ride to warn colonists of British arrival.
  • Provide the following background information. Born in Boston's North End in December 1734, Paul Revere was the son of Apollos Rivoire, a French Huguenot (Protestant) immigrant, and Deborah Hichborn, daughter of a local artisan family. Paul was educated at the North Writing School and learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father. When Paul was nineteen (and nearly finished with his apprenticeship) his father died, leaving Paul as the family's main source of income. Two years later, in 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, New York, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery. Revere's political involvement arose through his connections with members of local organizations and his business patrons. As a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew, he was friendly with activists like James Otis and Dr. Joseph Warren. In the year before the Revolution, Revere gathered intelligence information by "watching the Movements of British Soldiers," as he wrote in an account of his ride. He was a courier for the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, riding express to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He also spread the word of the Boston Tea Party to New York and Philadelphia. More information is available at: http://www.paulreverehouse.org/bio/bio.shtml.
  • Review the events and people of the Declaration of Independence with the Declaration of Independence worksheet. (For the Declaration of Independence worksheet, CLICK HERE.)
  • Prior to this lesson student should have read appropriate text selection (or other materials) relevant to causes of the American Revolution (including taxes and acts imposed by the British).
  • Brainstorm with students events that will become part of the "Road to War." Ensure students' lists includes the events (taxes, acts, etc.) that the teacher has chosen to focus on.
  • Using attached "Road to War" note sheet, have students fill in events leading to the American Revolution. Events should be listed chronologically. The Road should end at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Be sure to include the First Continental Congress. Discuss as appropriate. For the Road to War note sheet, CLICK HERE.
  • For an optional independent activity, instruct students to pretend that the American Revolution is a cake (or other favorite desert). Ask them to write an appropriate recipe. Have students write their recipes on index cards and share orally.
    Sample Recipe for Revolutionary Pie
    • 1cup unfairness
    • tablespoon of anger
    • cup taxes
    • pinch of resentment
      1. Pour unfairness into a bowl.
      2. Slowly mix in the anger.
      3. Sprinkle on the taxes
      4. Add resentment to taste.
  • Use the Sample Road to War worksheet, (CLICK HERE) to review the following key events of the American Revolution.
    • Boston Massacre: Colonists in Boston were shot after taunting British soldiers.
    • Boston Tea Party: Samuel Adams and Paul Revere led patriots in throwing tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.
    • First Continental Congress: Delegates from all colonies except Georgia met to discuss problems with England and to promote independence.
    • Battle of Lexington and Concord: This was the site of the first armed conflict of the Revolutionary War.
    • Approval of the Declaration of Independence: Colonies declared independence from England (July 4, 1776).
    • Battle of Saratoga: This American victory was the turning point in the war.
    • Surrender at Yorktown: This was the colonial victory over forces of Lord Cornwallis that marked the end of the Revolutionary War.
    • Signing of the Treaty of Paris: England recognized American independence in this treaty.
  • Use graphic organizers at: http://www.sdcoe.net/score/actbank/torganiz.htm (Score Graphic Organizers) or http://teacherresourcecatalog.pwnet.org/docs.pdf (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers) to assist the students as they organize background information on the key events of the American Revolution.

WEB SITES

http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/web/amrevol.html
Links and lessons on the American Revolution from the Educational Technology Center - KSU

http://www.americanrevolution.com/KingGeorge3rd.htm
Information on King George III

http://www.kidport.com/RefLib/UsaHistory/AmericanRevolution/YorktownBattle.htm
Information on Lord Cornwallis

http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ja2.html
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/spotlight/july4.html
Information on John Adams

http://www.kidsclick.org/cgi-bin/searchkids.pl
Information on George Washington

http://www.kidsclick.org/cgi-bin/searchkids.pl
Information on Thomas Jefferson

http://www.kidsclick.org/cgi-bin/searchkids.pl
Information on Patrick Henry

http://www.kidsclick.org/cgi-bin/searchkids.pl
Information on Benjamin Franklin

http://www.ushistory.org/paine/
Information on Thomas Paine

http://www.jmu.edu/madison/center/main_pages/madison_archives/era
Brief biography of Phillis Wheatley

http://www.kidsclick.org/cgi-bin/searchkids.pl
Information on Paul Revere

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