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American Revolution Lesson Plans for 8th Grade American History

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.


Need some help with your American History lessons? Take a peek at my lesson plans and ideas.

My first year teaching I was dying to see other teachers' plan books, but most of them were either blank or didn't seem suitable for our students ("high-risk" with poor reading skills). After teaching American history to 8th graders for a few years, I've developed this webpage in the hopes that it can help first year teachers get an idea of what to do, or help out some experienced teachers freshen up some lessons. Just to let you know, my "at-risk" students have the same passing rate on the history portion of the state standardized exam as the "advanced" students.

Included are my lessons for the American War for Independence. Please see my other lenses to see my complete lesson plan book. Please visit my Procedures and General Ideas for 8th Grade American History to see my classroom set up, procedures, grading, use of textbook, exam ideas, etc.

*I do tell my students that many people refer to this period as the "American Revolution;" however, that is an incorrect name as no revolution occurred in America. The colonists were not rebelling against a lawful authority. They were trying to defend against ungodly tyranny. If you'd like further explanation, I'd recommend J. Steven Wilkins' lecture series, "America: The First 350 Years." *

Please DO NOT copy this elsewhere without giving proper credit: .

You'll need this DVD series

George Washington

George Washington

Week 8: Day 2: Political Views

What happened during the American War for Independence?

***Week 8 continues from the Colonial Unit.***

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: John Hancock (1737-93) is best remembered now for his flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but he was also the president of the Continental Congress. What helped him earn this position: his actions, funds, inspiration, or inventions? [Answer: His most distinctive contribution to the rebel cause was the money (funds). Hancock was a merchant who had inherited a fortune from a smuggler uncle. He used his wealth to help finance the revolution. After the war, Hancock became governor of Massachusetts.]

Objective: What happened during the American War for Independence?

1. What do you know about the American War for Independence/American Revolution? List 5+ people, places, ideas, events, etc. that you think are related to this period. Make educated guesses even if you're not sure. Review exam.

2. Create Cover Page for Unit II: American War for Independence

3. Create Time Line identifying and defining major events between 1763-1783 using the time lines and definitions in the book. Add pictures to 5 of the events.

4. Find someone Who: Create a chart with 15 squares. Each square should have a topic (can speak more than one language, loves Cajun food, wears nice sneakers, etc.). Students walk around finding someone who fits that topic to sign the square. The person with the most squares signed gets candy and reads off who signed what. (This is simply a community building activity.)

Political Parties

Political Parties

Week 8: Day 3: Political Views

Did all the colonists want to break away from England?

Objective: Did all the colonists want to break away from England?

Homework: Get agenda signed. *Extra Credit: Find your new vocabulary words (Radical, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Reactionary, Right-wing, Left-wing) in a newspaper or magazine. Due by next Friday.

Note: Much of this lesson came from a dedicated and creative former fellow teacher, Mr. Spears.

1. You're 25 years old, living by yourself in an apartment in Los Angeles, CA. Your mother/father/guardian calls you one night from Houston to request a few things: a1) S/he wants you to eat better, so please stop eating junk food and fast food. B1) S/he'd feel better if you were home early each night, so please be in by 10 PM at night every night. C1) S/he'd like a better car, so please send $100 a month to help with car payments. A) How would you feel about her/him telling you to do this? B) Would you -do it? - say you'd do it but not do it? -do some of it? -not do any of it? C) Why? (***Wait to talk about the warm-up until after you've discussed the political spectrum.)(*** Teacher explanation: your parent/guardian = England demanding all these things of you (who no longer lives there) and claims it's all for your own good. If you'd do it, you're a conservative/Loyalist, if you don't , you're a liberal/Patriot, and if you were one of the others, you'd be moderate.)

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2. Notes on political spectrum (Radical, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Reactionary).

o On the board draw a line. Write, starting at the left: "radical, liberal, moderate, conservative, reactionary."

o Explain what a radical is: someone who wants to change everything. An example today would be the Taliban terrorists who crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, though radicals are not always bad. Over "radical" write, "will die/go to jail for what s/he believes in." Under "radical" write, "Revolutionary," and under that write, "No compromise."

o Explain "liberal." An example today would be the Democratic party. Under "liberal" write, "Little change," and under that write, "Compromise." The simplistic difference between a liberal ad radical, is that a liberal only wants some things changed, is willing to compromise, and is not willing to die/go to jail for those beliefs.

o Next talk about a "reactionary." An example today would be the Amish people. Over "reactionary" write, "will die/go to jail for what s/he believes in." Under "reactionary" write, "Maintain/restore past" and under that write, "No compromise."

o Explain what a conservative is. Under "conservative" write, "Content and cautious," and under that write, "compromise." Today's Republican party would be an example of conservative people.

o Under moderate place a question mark as moderates are undecided.

o Under the Radicals and Liberals, write "Left-wing." Under the Reactionaries and Conservatives, write "Right-wing."

o Use an example of a boat or canoe (representing things as they are) floating down a river. The people who don't even touch the boat are reactionaries. Those who just sit in the boat and don't let it tip over are the conservatives. Those who stand up a little and rock the boat are the conservatives. Those who stand up and tip the boat over are the radicals.

o Now use the Civil Rights movement to further explain the difference between the two. The radicals were people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the people who participated in the lunch-counter sit-ins. The liberals were those who write letters to their senators and governors to encourage the movement. The moderates were the people who didn't know anyone was trying to change anything, or they didn't care what happened and didn't want to get involved. The conservatives were those who didn't get involved because they didn't want the changes to occur. The governors of Alabama and Mississippi who actually disobeyed the national government's edicts and refused to let students into "white" schools were reactionaries.

o Now under "left-wing" have students write, "Patriots/Tories - want to break away from England (fight for independence," and under "right-wing" write, "Loyalists/Whigs - want to stay loyal to England's King.

3. Revolutionary Characters:

o Pass out short pre-war biographies of some of the major players during this period. DON'T tell people who they are. Print out American War for Independence Characters Sheet. [SEE BELOW]

o Give students 4 minutes to read over biography slips and decide where they'd fit on the political spectrum. As they read over their slips, have them change the description into first person (I, me, my).

o Using knowledge from what they read, have each person come to the front, stand on the "political spectrum" (a straight line of tape on the floor) where they think their character belongs, and read their biography in first person. For most students I allow them the choices of patriot, moderate, or loyalist. For my brighter students, I press them a little further and question if they think they are radical, liberal, conservative, or reactionary and why. The class then must decide if the person's correct or not and why. The entire class writes the name of the student under patriot, moderate, or loyalist on their political spectrum notes.

o Students will discover later who they are.

4. WRAP-UP: PERSONAL AD: What would a personal ad from your character have sounded like? Write one to advertise him/her. You must include: a) Biographical information (occupation, economic status, location) b) Where you are on the political spectrum c) If you're a patriot or loyalist d) your views on England and England's laws. You can include your guess at appearance, desire in a mate, etc.

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

Independence People Worksheets Set 1 of 6

This is for the teacher

You will need one set of these sheets for each class. This top list is for the teacher only. Don't let students peek! The bottom half is for the students. First determine how many students are in each class, and use the matrix below the list of names to determine how many of each type of person (liberals, conservatives, etc.) your class will need. Then next to each historical person's name that you're using for a particular class, write down the students's name who will be filling in as that role. For instance, if Toby is going to be Lord Dunmore, I'll write his name next to number 19 next to "Lord Dunmore." Be sure to pick your most leadership-orientated students for John Adams, Lord Dunmore, Thomas Hutchinson, and John Hancock as they will be participating in a special activity later. After you've selected who will be whom, write each student's first name next to their character's description. Then cut up the descriptions into individual strips, and pass them out to the students after explaining the political spectrum.

1. Robert Morris - m

2. Thomas Paine - l

3. William Franklin - c

4. John Adams - l

5. Isaac Sears - r

6. Ethan Allen - r

7. John Morton - m

8. Thomas Hutchinson - re

9. Sam Adams - r

10. Joseph Warren - r

11. James Otis - r

12. Thomas Cushing - m

13. John Dickinson - l

14. Joseph Galloway - c

15. Thomas Rankin - re

16. Ben Franklin - l

17. Thomas Jefferson - l

18. George Washington - l

19. Lord Dunmore - re

20. James Wilson - m

21. Patrick Henry - r

22. John Hancock - l

23. Daniel Dulany - c

24. Benjamin Thompson - re

25. Jonathan Boucher - re

26. Christopher Sower - re

27. James Duane - m

28. John Singleton Copley - c

29. Thomas Nelson - m/c

30. Paul Revere - r

31. David George - c

32. Abigail Adams - l

Class Mix:

If you have 23 students in your class, you will have 6 RADICALS, 4 LIBERALS, 3 MODERATES, 5 CONSERVATIVES, AND 5 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 24 students in your class, you will have 6 RADICALS, 4 LIBERALS, 4 MODERATES, 5 CONSERVATIVES, AND 5 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 25 students in your class, you will have 6 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 4 MODERATES, 5 CONSERVATIVES, AND 5 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 26 students in your class, you will have 6 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 4 MODERATES, 6 CONSERVATIVES, AND 5 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 27 students in your class, you will have 6 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 4 MODERATES, 6 CONSERVATIVES, AND 6 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 28 students in your class, you will have 7 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 4 MODERATES, 6 CONSERVATIVES, AND 6 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 29 students in your class, you will have 7 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 5 MODERATES, 6 CONSERVATIVES, AND 6 REACTIONARIES.

If you have 30 students in your class, you will have 7 RADICALS, 5 LIBERALS, 6 MODERATES, 6 CONSERVATIVES, AND 6 REACTIONARIES.

Use These for ESL/Lower-Level Reading Students

There are numerous other books in the series including "Samuel Adams: Patriot and Statesman" by Matt Doeden and "Nathan Hale: Revolutionary Spy" by Olson. You'll also find ones in the series on of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

Independence People Worksheets Set 2 of 6

Cut into strips & pass out one strip to each student.

1. You are a well to do merchant in Philadelphia. You were born in 1734 in England. You are one of the richest people in America. Your business is one of the largest traders with England. In the past, you have stated that the move of independence might be too early. You are not completely sure you wish to support the Left wing. Your business future, at the present, depends on your relationship with England and the colonial government.

2. You were born in 1737 into a Quaker family in England. Your family was very poor. You are very ambitious and enlisted as a privateer for the English against the French at 19. You have made the English government mad by attacking the way they do things and have since lost five jobs and gone bankrupt, You came to Philadelphia and began to write many things, Many of your books deal with reasons for American independence.

3. You are a well known son of a very famous Pennsylvania liberal. You have traveled widely with your father and helped him in many ways. You became a lawyer and the King appointed you Royal Governor of New Jersey. You obey the King's orders mainly out of a sense of duty to your country, You are a loyal Englishman and because of this your father refuses to associate with you or even mention your name. Your position as Royal Governor demands that you enforce the laws of England and stop traitors from spreading lies.

4. Your great-great grandfather came to Massachusetts in 1640. You graduated from Harvard in 1755 and three years later began a law practice in Boston. You have married into a very wealthy, well-known upper class family. You have defended many of the radicals in cort and have become and enemy of the Royal Governor of Massachusetts. You are against violence of any sort but wish to see things changed through legal means. You are not totally convinced that independence is the way to go.

5. You were born in 1730 in West Brewster, Massachusetts. You later moved to Connecticut and became a sea captain. You trade throughout the colonies. You are a fearless and willing fighter. During the Great War for the Empire, you were a privateer and are now a hero in New York. You have never hesitated when action has been possible. You have helped found a radical group and have always been able to call up a mob when needed. The British have tried to stop your privateering and trading but have failed so far.

6. You were born in 1738 in Connecticut and have very little education. You were not happy to be a farmer and went to New York and settled on the Royal Governor's land and have been fighting to keep it. You are a big, powerful, fearless, impulsive man. You will fight the New York Colonial government in order to keep your land.

7. You are a long time member of the Pennsylvania Colonial Assembly. You have been a Justice of the Peace for Delaware County in Pennsylvania. You are a respected member of the Assembly and have been elected Speaker of the Assembly. You tend to side with the left wing about at this time you are not completely sure.

8. You are the Royal Governor of Massachusetts. You enetered Harvard at 13 and graduated in 1727. You may not agree with the actions of the English King and Parliament but you will always obey them. You will satnd by your King but are also interested in making money for yourself. You are a member of the upper class and consider yourself way above the "common sort."

9. You were born in Boston in 1722, the son of a wealthy ale brewer. You have a degree from Harvard, but you have been a failure in your study of law and as a merchant. You were a tax collector in Boston and failed at that too. You are one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty. You have an intense hatred for the Royal Governor and are very suspicious of everything the English King and Parliament do.

10. You are the Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly. You are not afraid to stand up for your rights as an Englishman and will strongly oppose any attempt to deny you those rights. You were born in 1741 and graduated from Harvard 18 years later. Yu are an exceptionally successful doctor in Boston.

11. You were born in 1725, the son of a famous Boston lawyer and politician. You studied law at Harvard and became a lawyer. You are extremely intelligent and you are an outstanding speaker. You are against many of the things England has done, mainly because you believe them to be illegal. You have a great influence among the people of Boston.

12. You are a member of the Massachusetts Assembly and have been re-elected five times by the people of Salem, whom you represent. You do not wish at this time to become involved in any extreme ideas. You feel that some of England's acts are unjustified but you aren't sure you are ready for a change. You are a merchant and trader dealing mainly with English merchants.

13. You were born in 1732 in Maryland and came to Philadelphia in 1757. You have become a famous lawyer and now serve in the Pennsylvania Legislature. You are opposed to many of the things England does but you do not wish to break the law in any way. You are also very suspicious of any revolutionary change.

14. You wer eborn in Maryland in 1731 and later moved to Philadelphia. You have become a well known lawyer and a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. You are against many of the things Parliament does, but you are a loyal Englishman. Your main goal is to see the two sides get back together again. You plan on remaining loyal to the King.

15. You are very well known in Pennsylvania and have even help a polictical office from time to time. (The people do not know this, but you are a reader of the reactionary Tory movement.) You command a militia regiment in York, Pennsylvania. You own a lot of land in that area and hope to help other loyalists in that area.

16. You were born in 1706 in Boston but later moved to Philadelphia. You are the son of a soap boiler with 2 years of schooling. At ten you went to work for your father. You later became editor of a newspaper and were jailed for "improper comments" by the English government. You became a printer in Philadelphia and are quite well known. You are a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly and oppose most of the things England does.

17. You were born in Virginia in 1743, the son of a surveyor. You began poor but married into a well-known, rich family. You attended the College of William ad Mary and became a lawyer. You have held many offices, including being a member of the House of Burgesses. You are quiet, but when you speak people listen. You have a large plantation and many slaves. You tend to side with the move for independence.

18. You were born in Virginia in 1732, the son of a rich planter. You became a famous military leader in the Great War for the Empire. You are an upper class gentleman and a member of the House of Burgesses. You have no taste for military service anymore. You now have a very large plantation with many slaves. You will go along with the radicals if the can convince you.

19. You are the Royal Governor of Virginia. You are an Earl and your family can be traced back to the Stuart Kings of England. You were appointed Governor by the King and in the beginning were very popular with the people of Virginia. You will obey the King and are an extremely loyal Englishman. If you have to, you will dissolve the House of Burgesses if they do not follow your wishes.

20. You were born and educated in Scotland and have since moved to Philadelphia. You became a Latin tutor at the College of Philadelphia. You are a lawyer and have moved to Western Pennsylvania where you have become a farmer and land speculator. You have been elected to the Colonial Assembly. You are not yet sure the radicals have the right idea.

21. You were born in 1736 on the Virginia Frontier. By the time you were 21 you had failed twice at store keeping, lost a farm, and went into debt. You have great ambitions. You became a lawyer through hard work. You have been elected to the House of Burgesses. You speak for the back-country people and have a great influence there. You are a good speaker and oppose most of what Parliament and the King do. You are considered a troublemaker even by the people of Virginia.

22. You were born in Braintree, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. You were orphaned early in your life and were adopted by your uncle, the richest merchant in Boston. You went to Harvard and inherited your uncle's business at 27. You have become a millionaire. You are not a natural leader, but the radicals want you on their side - especially because you are willing to fund their activities with your own money.

23. You were born in 1722 as the son of a well-known lawyer. You became a lawyer in Maryland, and most people would agree you are one of the best lawyers in all of the colonies. You were appointed Secretary of the Colony of Maryland. You oppose some of the actions of Parliament but do not support the radicals in any way.

24. You are one of the colonies' leading scientists. You are mainly interested in advancing your own cause. You are a friend of the Governor of New Hampshire and everyone knows that you side with the English on the issue of independence.

25. You were born in England in 1738. You moved to the American colonies where you are a preacher in Maryland. You are a close friend of George Washington. Your sermons are about being loyal to the King of England, and you use your speaking talents to spread British beliefs.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Independence People Worksheets Set 3 of 6

Continued - Cut into strips and pass out to students

26. You are a German printer in Philadelphia. Your father started the business and you have now taken it over. You are one of the wealthiest men in the colony of Pennsylvania. You are leader of the loyalist group in Pennsylvania.

27. You are the son of a wealthy New York merchant. You became a lawyer and rapidly became very well known. You are a very sly person. When asked about the move for independence, you answered, "What's the hurry?"

28. You were born in Boston in 1738 to Irish immigrant parents. You taught yourself how to paint, and by the time you were 20, you were already a well-known portrait painter. You are more interested in your art career than in politics. You do not support the growing interest in fighting against the British for independence.

29. You are the son of a wealthy merchant planter and became a member of the Governor's Council of Virginia in 1764. You studied in England and returned to become a member of the House of Burgesses. You have many radical friends although you are not a loyalist yourself.

30. You were born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1735, the son of a silversmith. You learned your father's trade and later took over the family business. You are not happy with how the British taxes hurt your business and you have close ties with Patriot leaders.

31. You were born a slave in Virginia. You grew up on a plantation with your family, and you had a cruel master. You ran away and became a slave of various owners. You believe that God wants the American Colonists to stay loyal to England, and you hope that the British will eventually free all slaves.

32. You came from a very wealthy, well-known family, and you married one of the leading lawyers in Massachusetts. You strongly believe women should have equal political rights with men, and you see independence from England as a way of obtaining such freedom for women.

John Adams

John Adams

Independence People Worksheets Set 4 of 6

Save for passing out to students at the unit's end

1. Robert Morris -A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution, Morris was a Philadelphia merchant who raised money, often from his own pocket, so that George Washington could feed, clothe and pay his restless soldiers. Morris made it possible for Washington to take his troops to Yorktown, Virginia where he defeated British General Charles Cornwallis, winning the Revolutionary War. Morris joined the resistance against the Stamp Act (1765), an effort by Parliament to extract tax revenue from the American colonies. He supported the Non-importation Resolutions, affirming that American merchants would stop importing goods from England until the Stamp Act was repealed. In 1786, the Pennsylvania Assembly named him as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Although he faithfully attended all the meetings, he didn't participate much in the debates. He supported ratification of the Constitution and served a term as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. He used his shipping fortune to buy land throughout the Union, and by 1795 he had acquired over 6 million acres. His aim was to promote the development of farms and towns, but European wars reduced the flow of immigrants, and settlement proceeded more slowly than he had expected. The mortgages and taxes were more than he could pay. Creditors had him arrested, and he was sentenced to Philadelphia debtor's prison from 1798 to 1801. Humiliated and broke, he died in 1806. It was a sad end for the practical man who had done so much to help America achieve independence.

2. Thomas Paine - Outraged by the April 1775 Battle of Lexington where the British killed American militiamen, he began working on a pamphlet. It was published in January 1776 and sold an estimated 100,000 copies within a few months. The pamphlet, Common Sense, denounced tyranny and called for American independence -- something hardly anyone had talked about until then. In December 1776, Americans were discouraged by defeats, and Paine wrote a stirring essay. George Washington read to his men on Christmas. This inspired them to win a much-needed battle victory against British forces in Trenton. Paine wrote more essays which became The American Crisis. The second essay coined the term "United States of America."

3. William Franklin - Although well-liked at first, his strong attachment to England and British authority soon made him unpopular. After the American Revolution began, he sided with the Loyalists and quarreled bitterly with his father, Benjamin Franklin. The New Jersey congress ordered (1776) his arrest, and he was imprisoned in Connecticut until he was exchanged in 1778. Franklin went to England in 1782, never to return. In 1784 he was reconciled with his father.

4. John Adams - Adams emerged into politics as an opponent of the Stamp Act and, after moving to Boston, was a leader in the Revolutionary group opposing the British measures that were to lead to the American War for Independence. Sent (1774) to the First Continental Congress, he distinguished himself, and in the Second Continental Congress he was a moderate but forceful revolutionary. He proposed George Washington as commander in chief of the Continental troops. He favored the Declaration of Independence, was a member of its drafting committee, and argued eloquently for the document. Adams was one of the negotiators who drew up the momentous Treaty of Paris (1783), ending the American War for Independence. He eventually became the second President of the United States.

5. Isaac Sears - Sears was a leader in the resistance to the Stamp Act in New York City, helped organize the Sons of Liberty, and remained prominent in the agitation against the British during the next decade. Arrested in 1775 for anti-British activities, he was rescued at the prison door by his comrades. When news of the battle of Lexington reached New York, Sears led a mob that drove prominent loyalists from the city and seized the British arsenal. After the British capture of New York in 1776, Sears went to Boston and promoted privateering for the remainder of the war. He was later elected to the New York state assembly.

6. Ethan Allen - Prior to the American War for Independence, he and his brothers became the leaders of the Green Mountain Boys who tried to keep unsettled land away from becoming part of the colony of New York. The Governor of New York put a price on the heads of him and two of his followers, but Ethan was not captured. After the outbreak of the American Revolution, he made the Green Mountain Boys into an independent patriot organization. Joined by Benedict Arnold and some Connecticut militia, Ethan Allen and his men captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775. Legend says that when the British officer asked him under what authority he acted, Ethan Allen roared, "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" Allen then urged an expedition against Canada, and the Green Mountain Boys tried to capture Montreal before the main Continental army arrived Ethan Allen was captured (Sept., 1775) by the British. In 1778 he was exchanged for a captured British man. He returned to Vermont, which had declared its independence from England but was not yet recognized as a state by the Continental Congress. Ethan and his brother Ira then devoted themselves to keeping Vermont from becoming part of Great Britain. Ethan Allen died before Vermont became a state of the United States.

7. John Morton - John Morton was a political leader in the American Revolution and a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Pennsylvania assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, and the Continental Congress (1774-77). He died in 1777.

8. Thomas Hutchinson - When Thomas Hutchinson was appointed royal governor in 1771, he was perhaps the most powerful man in the colony, but he had bitter political enemies among the radicals, notably Samuel Adams. Though he considered the Stamp Act and other government measures unwise, he had favored strict enforcement, and his unpopularity caused a mob to sack and burn his mansion in 1765. His unpopularity increased after he became governor, and he favored strenuous measures against the growing discontent. These views were exposed when letters he had written to English friends were made public. In 1773 he refused to let the tea-laden ships clear Boston Harbor and thus brought on the Boston Tea Party. As tension grew worse he was replaced as governor by Gen. Thomas Gage and moved to England.

9. Sam Adams - Adams was a political leader in the American Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence for Massachusetts. He drafted a protest against the Stamp Act in 1765 and was one of the organizers of the non-importation agreement (1767) against Great Britain to force repeal of the Townshend Acts. He drew up the Circular Letter to the other colonies, denouncing the acts as taxation without representation. More important, he used his writing abilities in colonial newspapers and pamphlets to get people upset with the British. His writings helped to bring about the Boston Massacre. With the help of such men as John Hancock he organized the revolutionary Sons of Liberty and helped to encourage a revolt through the Committees of Correspondence. He was the moving spirit in the Boston Tea Party. In 1775 Gen. Thomas Gage issued a warrant for the arrest of Adams and Hancock, but they escaped punishment and continued to encourage moderates and liberals to take action against England. Samuel Adams was a member of the Continental Congress. After the independence from England, the political leaders said Adams was too "radical" and he was replaced by more conservative leaders, who considered Adams irresponsible. He later served as governor of Massachusetts.

10. Joseph Warren - Joseph Warren was a political leader in the American Revolution. Warren participated in the fight against the Stamp Act (1765). He became a member of the Boston Committee of Safety and in 1774 drafted the Suffolk Resolves, encouraging forcible resistance to the British. The Suffolk Resolves was later endorsed by the Continental Congress. On the night of Apr. 18, 1775, he dispatched William Dawes and Paul Revere to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock that the British were marching on Concord. Warren was killed in the battle of Bunker Hill (1775).

11. James Otis - James Otis was an American colonial political leader who resigned to oppose the issuing of writs of assistance by the court of Massachusetts; the writs, which authorized customs officials to search for smuggled goods, were virtually general search warrants. Arguing eloquently before the court, Otis claimed that the writs violated the natural rights of the colonials as Englishmen and that any act of Parliament violating those rights was void. Otis lost the case but soon became the leader of the radical wing of the colonial opposition to British measures. He was elected to the colonial assembly and was made head of the Massachusetts committee of correspondence. In his speeches and pamphlets, Otis defined and defended colonial rights. He proposed and participated in the Stamp Act Congress, and his ideas were used in the protests drafted by that body. Hated by the conservatives, his election as speaker of the assembly was vetoed by the royal governor. After the passage of the Townshend Acts Otis helped Samuel Adams draft the Massachusetts circular letter to the other colonies denouncing the acts. In 1769, Otis was struck on the head during a quarrel with a commissioner of customs. He subsequently became insane and took no further part in political affairs.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Independence People Worksheets Set 5 of 6

Save for passing out to students at the unit's end

12. Thomas Cushing - Thomas Cushing's father employed Samuel Adams was for a short time. Thomas fell under the influence of Adams and became prominent among the popular leaders who were preparing the way for the Revolution. In May, 1766, he was elected to the Massachusetts assembly, and immediately afterward, when James Otis, who had been chosen speaker, was refused by Governor Bernard, Mr. Cushing was chosen speaker instead. He was speaker of the house until 1774, and as such occupied, in the eyes of the British, a prominence greater than his abilities entitled him to. Cushing was not fitted for leadership, and, on several occasions showed himself weak-kneed. In 1772, along with Hancock, he opposed the formation of committees of correspondence, and afterward refused to serve on one to which he had been appointed. He was elected in June 1774, to the first Continental congress, and in February 1775, to the second. In April 1775 the King of England instructed British General Gage to seize Cushing and send him over to England to be tried for treason. In July 1775, when Massachusetts formed a new government, Mr. Cushing was chosen a member of the council. In the Continental congress he opposed a declaration of independence. In 1783 and several following years he was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention, held in January and February 1788, that ratified the Constitution.

13. John Dickinson - John Dickinson was an American patriot and statesman. Dickinson originally led the conservative wing opposing Benjamin Franklin and defending the proprietary system. The Sugar Act and the Stamp Act led him to write a pamphlet in protest. As a member of the Stamp Act Congress he helped draw up the petitions to the king, but he opposed all violent resistance to the law. The passage of the Townshend Acts in1767 led to the colonial nonimportation agreements and the publication of Dickinson's famous Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, which appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle in 1767 and 1768. He pointed out that these laws disagreed with the current English constitutional principles, but he favored trying to get a peaceful agreement with England rather than revolt. Dickinson came to be regarded as the leader of the conservative group, which opposed not only British actions but also the ideas of such radicals as Samuel Adams. He was a delegate to the First Continental Congress and drew up a petition to the king. However, he still hoped for peaceful reconciliation even after the opening of hostilities, and he refused to sign the Declaration of Independence. He continued to be the leader of the conservative patriots in Pennsylvania and Delaware and held state posts. His draft formed the basis of the Articles of Confederation. He presided over the Annapolis Convention, and in the subsequent U.S. Constitutional Convention, Dickinson was a delegate from Delaware and a leading champion of the rights of the small states. He later wrote vigorously in support of the Constitution.

14. Joseph Galloway - Joseph Galloway was an American Loyalist leader. He entered the Pennsylvania assembly in 1756 and soon joined Benjamin Franklin in petitioning the king to abolish the proprietary government of Pennsylvania. As speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly he tried to keep peace between the colonies and the British government. He believed that the growing conflict could be settled by legal means, especially by a written constitution for the empire. Galloway served as a delegate to the first Continental Congress and proposed a plan for union between the colonies and Great Britain. Unable to keep neutrality in the American Revolution, he joined Sir William Howe after the British occupied Philadelphia and acted as civil administrator during the British occupation of the city. Later Galloway moved to England and became the spokesman of American Loyalists there.

15. Thomas Rankin - Thomas Rankin was a British Methodist Episcopal pastor who preached that the people of the American colonies should do whatever the King of England tells them. In 1776 as he was preaching, he was told that he would be seized by a body of militia. He continued preaching, but he was not bothered. In September 1777, he fled from his church and entered the British lines. On reaching Philadelphia, which was being controlled by the British army at that time, Rankin declared from the pulpit his belief "that God would not revive his work in America until they submitted to their rightful sovereign, George III." He tried to get all the British preachers in the American colonies to return to England. After his return to England in 1778 he was supernumerary for London until a few mouths before his death.

16. Ben Franklin - Franklin held local public offices and served for a long time in charge of the post offices for the colonies. He did such a good job of reorganizing the post offices to make them run better that he became very well-known.. He became the Pennsylvania delegate to the Albany Congress (1754) where he encouraged the colonies to work together rather than to act like separate countries. The British government did not like that idea. He was in England when the Stamp Act was passed and made the colonists angry. He protested the act but asked the colonists to obey the law. Because of that he lost some of his popularity in the colonies until he later changed his mind and started trying to England to repeal the act. As trouble between the British government and the colonies grew, Franklin's went back to America. There, while his son, William Franklin, was becoming a leader of the Loyalists, Benjamin Franklin became one of the greatest statesmen of the American Revolution. He refused to even mention that he had a son because he was so upset that his son was a Loyalist. They would not talk with each other until many years later just before Benjamin Franklin died, Benjamin Franklin was a delegate to the Continental Congress and tried to convince the people of Canada to join the patriot cause. He was appointed to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, which he signed. He was chosen as one of the American diplomats to negotiate peace with Great Britain after the war.

17. Thomas Jefferson - Thomas Jefferson worked in the Virginia House of Burgesses to encourage other political leaders to become patriots. He was a founding member of the Virginia Committee of Correspondence. He wrote a paper saying that the British Parliament had no authority in the colonies and that the American Colonies' only bond with England was voluntary allegiance to the king. He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and helped to write almost the entire Declaration of Independence. He served as the Governor of Virginia through the trying last years of the American Revolution when Virginia was invaded by the British. He later became the third President of the United States.

18. George Washington - George Washington was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and became a leader in Virginia among those who were against the British acts. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution broke out at Concord and Lexington, the Congress organized for defense, and, Washington was named Commander in Chief of the Continental army. He found out the American army was unorganized, poorly disciplined, and did not have much equipment. Plus, they frequently refused to follow orders, and would sometimes just go home when they did not want to fight any longer. With the colonists becoming very discouraged, Washington invaded New Jersey on Christmas night in 1776. He crossed the Delaware River, and surrounded and defeated the British at Trenton. He then went to Princeton and defeated a second British force. During the winter Washington and his army stayed at Valley Forge. Even though the army was cold and hungry, after spending time at valley Forge with Washington, they became well-trained and very devoted to him. British General Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on Oct. 19, 1781. Washington made the American Revolution successful. He later became the first President of the United States.

19. Lord Dunmore - Lord Dunmore was the British colonial governor of Virginia. While colonists in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were getting upset over the British laws, Lord Dunmore was having the colonists in Virginia get into battles with the Native Americans. When the news of Lexington and Concord reached Virginia, Dunmore removed the colony's gunpowder so that the people in Virginia could not shoot their guns. That made the Virginians mad. They threatened to kill him, so he ran off to stay on a ship. He declared martial law in Virginia and sent out loyal troops to attack any people who tried to fight against the British law. In July 1776 he was forced to return to England. From 1787 to 1796 he was governor of the Bahamas.

20. James Wilson - James Wilson was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, He was a member of the Pennsylvania convention (1774) and in the following year was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress. Although he strongly believed that what the British Parliament was doing was wrong, he did not think that the colonies should declare independence until July 1776. He was very influential in writing the Constitution, making sure that the President of the United States had a lot of power. He later served in the U.S. Supreme Court.

John Hancock

John Hancock

Independence People Worksheets Set 6 of 6

Save for passing out to students at the unit's end

21. Patrick Henry - Patrick Henry was a political leader in the American Revolution, He frequently talked about how bad the Stamp Act was and in the years that followed helped get the Southern colonies to agree to declare their independence from England. He was very good at giving speeches and is famous for the lines: "If this be treason, make the most of it" and "Give me liberty or give me death." He was a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses, the Continental Congress, and the Virginia provincial convention. He was the Governor of Virginia during the beginning of the American War for Independence. Henry opposed ratification of the U.S. Constitution, believing that states needed more power than the national government. He worked successfully to have the first 10 amendments (Bill of Rights) added to the Constitution.

22. John Hancock - John Hancock was a political leader in the American Revolution and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. From an uncle he inherited Boston's leading mercantile company, and naturally he opposed the Stamp Act and other British trade restrictions. In 1768 his ship Liberty was seized because the British soldiers said he was smuggling goods. The people of Massachusetts rioted because of this, and the ship was burned. Hancock came out looking like a hero. He joined Samuel Adams in encouraging people to fight against England. In 1775, British General Thomas Gage issued a warrant for the arrest of him and Samuel Adams, but they escaped. Hancock was a member and president of the Continental Congress. His name appears first (and largest) on the Declaration of Independence, and the term "John Hancock" is often used to mean a signature. He was governor of Massachusetts.

23. Daniel Dulany - Daniel Dulany was probably one of the most famous lawyers in the American colonies. He opposed the Stamp Act and wrote a pamphlet against the act. He lost his popularity, however, when in 1773 he wrote newspaper articles defending some the extra British fees. Dulany was a Loyalist during the Revolution and most of his property was confiscated by the state in 1781.

24. Benjamin Thompson - Thompson remained loyal to the British. He left America in 1775 and returned to America later as a Colonial Officer in the British Army. He was in charge of the British troops in Charleston and on Long Island. Benjamin Thompson may have also acted as a British spy against the Continental army. After the war, Thompson served the elector of Bavaria. Throughout his life he continued his scientific studies regarding gunpowder, heat and light. Before leaving America, he founded a chair in physics at Harvard and established medals for physics at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

25. Jonathan Boucher - Reverend Jonathan Boucher remained a strong Loyalist. For months he preached and prayed with a pair of loaded pistols beside him. A crowd of 200 men once confronted him in the new church. With a pistol in one hand he seized their leader, and together they marched to Boucher's house. Boucher was allowed to leave without harm. He returned to England with his wife in1775.

26. Christopher Sower - Christopher Sower was accused of treason. He suffered imprisonment, abuse, and confiscation of his property as a result of clearly stating he did not think America should fight England during the Revolution.

27. James Duane - James Duane was a political figure in the American Revolution. Although he took a cautious approach in the pre-revolutionary activities in New York City, his interest in colonial rights won him a seat in the Continental Congress. He was always very cautious in all his decisions. He served on various Revolutionary committees and helped draft the Articles of Confederation. Toward the close of the war Duane served as mayor of New York City. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution.

28. John Singleton Copley - When violence toward England started to get serious, Copely decided to leave Boston and study painting in Italy and England. Today Copley is considered the greatest of the early American painters.

29. Thomas Nelson - Thomas Nelson was an American Revolutionary general and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress, commander of the Virginia militia in the Revolution, and governor of the state of Virginia. Nelson lost his fortune aiding the Revolutionary cause and died impoverished.

30. Paul Revere - In the period of growing colonial discontent with British measures after the Stamp Act (1765), Paul Revere was a fervent anti-British propagandist. He early joined the Sons of Liberty, took part in the Boston Tea Party, and was a courier for the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence. Revere became a figure of popular history because of his ride on the night of Apr. 18, 1775, to warn the people of the Massachusetts countryside that British soldiers were being sent out to start the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington and Concord,. Revere never did reach his destination at Concord because he was captured by the British. He fought in the Continental Army, but his military career was not very good. At one point he was arrested for disobeying orders (though a court-martial later acquitted him of the charges). In 1780 he returned to silver-smithing.

31. David George - At the beginning of the war, preachers were stopped from coming into black communities, and the minister asked David George to continue preaching in his place. George's master's children then taught him how to read and write so he could preach from the Bible. When his master abandoned his farm to flee British troops, George started working for the British and acted as a food broker for their troops in Savannah, Georgia. As the war drew to a close, some friendly British arranged for him to get safe passage to Canada where he would be safe and free.. He continued to preach, but was met with violent racism wherever he went. He eventually moved to Africa where he took on an important political position.

32. Abigail Adams - Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams. While he was drafting the Declaration of Independence, she wrote many letters to him, encouraging him to "remember the ladies" and gain political freedom for them as well. Her wish was not granted. She became one of the most distinguished and influential first ladies in the history of the United States.

Great American War for Independence Activity Ideas

I love these books so I can find extra activities to toss into my lessons. Plus, many of the books also contain lots of interesting information that I can share with my students. Also look for "George Washington for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities" (For Kids series) by Brandon Marie Miller, "The American Revolution" (History Comes Alive Teaching Unit, Grades 4-8) by Jacqueline Glasthal, “Easy Simulations: American Revolution: A Complete Toolkit With Background Information, Primary Sources, and More That Help Students Build Reading and ... Deepen Their Understanding of History” by Renay Scott, “American Revolution (Hands-On History)”by Michael Gravois, “Revolutionary War Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes”by David C. King, and “Hands-On History: American History Activities” by Garth Sundem.

Boston Tea Party

Boston Tea Party

Week 9: Day 1: Events Leading to Unrest

How did the colonists feel about what England was doing?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: On what hill did the Battle of Bunker Hill take place? (Answer carefully.) [Answer: The first (unofficial) battle of the American War for Independence took place not on Bunker Hill but on Breed's Hill, on June 17, 1775. The opposing forces were supposed to engage on Bunker Hill, but for unknown reasons the soldiers dug in on the smaller sight, about 2,000 feet away. To straighten things out for visitors, Breed's Hill was later renamed Bunker Hill.]

Objective: How did the colonists feel about what England was doing?

1. Your parents are suspicious you're doing drugs. While you're at school, they go into your bedroom with a police officer and completely tear apart your room. They go through the backs of your drawers and closet, under your mattress, into your diary, etc. They find nothing but are still suspicious. A) What would your reaction be if this happened? B) How would this affect the way you felt about living there? C) How would this affect your relationship with your parents? D) What would you do? (Teacher explanation: Shows feelings of colonists concerning Writs of Assistance)

2. Pop Quiz: Taxation Without Representation: A Classroom Parallel: Give kids a quiz and "tax" them for their supplies.

3. Talk about students' reactions to quiz and T-Chart: classroom activity vs. historical reality: Mrs. Graessle (principal) = King of England, Alief school board = Parliament, Mrs. G = governor of colony, The class = colonists, Problem: no money to pay for school supplies = no money to pay for debt from French and Indian War =., Solution: pay 10 cents for paper = pay taxes for sugar, tea, printed material, paint, etc., Reaction: upset, mad, not care, sounds weird but reasonable = some pay anyway but some say unfair, Reason: most students pay anyway because not want to get zero on quiz = some colonists pay for fear of punishment but some don't pay (boycott or smuggle)

4. Writs of Assistance activity:

o Prior to class, slip the student who is John Hancock a pack of sugar. I'll tell him/her to put in her/his notebook's pocket. Explain what's going to happen.

o During class identify the two people who are governors (do this by first simply reading off the biography you gave them and see if they can identify themselves. If not, tell them.), Lord Dunmore and Thomas Hutchinson. Tell them about someone smuggling sugar. They have five minutes to find that person. They can ask people questions about their character to see if that person might fit their presumed description of a smuggler. The governors also have the option of convicting and searching two suspected students.

o Two students will be the British soldiers and "search" those two people who the "governors" suspect to be the smuggler. The "British soldiers" will make the suspect empty their pockets and look in those two people's notebook pockets as well. I'll explain how if they were really taking on the character, they'd tear apart their stuff.

o John Hancock will eventually be identified, whether s/he's one of the two suspected smugglers or whether I identify her/him later.

5. T-Chart: classroom activity vs. historical reality: Writs of Assistance: Jonathan and Erina = governors of colonies, Sherikka and Fatimah = British soldiers, Oscar = John Hancock, smuggler, the class = colonists, What: look for person with sugar packet = look for smugglers, base decision on: money and jobs = suspicion and like/dislike, innocent students felt embarrassed and that this was unfair, students watching were mad = some colonists felt mad and violated or felt it protected them). Under their t-chart, have students write, "WRITS OF ASSISTANCE = soldiers can search anyone without a search warrant."

6. Go over notes on taxes from pp. 116-119 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation). Have students highlight/underline through 1767. (I show them what to highlight using transparencies.) (Analogy: The issue was that the King was favoring the government in one of his kingdoms over the others. The King of England was King over India, England, America, etc. In each of his kingdoms, he'd appointed a government. The kingdom of India was not to make laws for the kingdom of America. In the same way, the British parliament (supposed to ONLY make laws for England) was not to make laws for the American colony. That would be like California deciding that they need more money, so they declare that all people living in Texas must pay an additional 5 cents on all junk food and fast food they purchase. That money will go to California. Does California have the right to make rules for Texas? No! Well, the President of the United States is over both states, isn't he? Yes. The King was over both areas, but those governments did not have the right to make laws for the other area.)

7. WRAP-UP: WRITS OF ASSISTANCE: It's 1767. From the viewpoint of your character, jot down a journal entry describing your reaction to the taxes and Writs of Assistance. Include a) what taxes have been passed b) a description of the Writs of Assistance c) how the taxes and searches have affected you d) if you support these taxes and WHY.

Use These for Teaching the Causes of the War

Use this short song to help children remember "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Battles of Lexington and Concord

Battles of Lexington and Concord

Week 9: Day 2: Events Leading to War

What events finally caused the colonists to go to war with England?

Objective: What events finally caused the colonists to go to war with England?

Homework: Get agenda signed

1. Angelica was late for school today. It all started when the electricity went off in the middle of the night, so her alarm never went off. Her sister beat her to the bathroom for the shower. She asked her mom to drive her to school, but her mom was running late as well. As Angelica walked to school, she was stopped by a police officer and accused of being truant (skipping school). A) In 1 sentence write why Angelica was late to school today. b) How might these events affect how she'd relate to her teachers? (Teacher explanation: There were many big reasons why America declared it's independence from England.)

2. Go over notes on taxes from pp. 116-119 from Adventure Tales of America: An Illustrated History of the United States, 1492-1877 (Signal Media Corporation). Have students highlight/underline from 1767 - 1774. (I show them what to highlight using transparencies.)

3. Understanding Colonial Unrest: Place posters with a picture and information about Proclamation of 1763, Quartering Act of 1765, Stamp Act of 1765, Townshend Act of 1767, Boston Massacre of 1770, Boston Tea Party of 1773, Intolerable Acts of 1774, First Continental Congress of 1774, and Lexington and Concord of 1775. Student pairs sit next to each poster for 2 ¾ minutes each. Students read the back and take at least 3 notes on a separate worksheet. After the timer goes off, they move to the next station. This continues until they have moved to every station. Be sure to tell them ahead of time what direction to move so that you have an orderly flow!

4. WRAP-UP: CAUSE OF UNREST: a) In one sentence summarize the cause(s) of the American War for Independence b) Of all the events you read about, which one event do you think caused the colonists to get the most frustrated with England? WHY?

5. Video: "Rebels with a Cause" from "Founding Fathers" DVD (History Channel). Identify: Stamp Act, Samuel Adams, Sons of Liberty, John Hancock, John Adams, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, First Continental Congress.

Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre

Week 10: Day 1: Boston Massacre

What events finally caused the colonists to go to war with England?

HISTORY QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How many grievances against the king were named in the Declaration of Independence? [Answer: The document cited 27 separate grievances against the king of Great Britain, George III. These grievances included refusing his assent to "wholesome" laws, making judges dependent on "his will alone," and bringing in foreign mercenaries to wage war on the colonies in a way "totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation."]

Objective: What events finally caused the colonists to go to war with England?

1. You were buying breakfast at the gas station off Bellaire Blvd. when someone robs the place. He gets away, and the cashier says you robbed the store. You have to go to court. A) What are 3+ things that could make this an unfair trial? B) What are 3+ things that could make it a fair trial? Consider the judge, jury, witnesses, evidence, location, etc. (Teacher explanation: your trial = Boston Massacre trial. The press can slant things.)

2. Read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and then QUICKLY discuss how we'll see something similar in this true court case of how the media caused this to occur in the period we're discussing.

3. Trial of Thomas Preston concerning the Boston Massacre: Using Manuscripts from Preston's Trial [SEE BELOW], select 8 students to act as witnessed and read the accounts as if they are the witnesses themselves. Pass out the individual accounts to your actors/actoresses. I, the teacher, act as the prosecuting attorney, calling up my witnesses by name. I simply call the name of the person and ask if they swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Then I say, "Tell me what you saw on King Street on the night of March 5, 1770." After we finish with the witnesses for the King, I then read off the biography slip for John Adams. I have the student who is John Adams call up the witnesses for Preston. (This is done because John Adams was Preston's lawyer.) S/he does the same thing I did, calling them up by name, asking them to sear to the truth, and then asking what they saw. S/he does, however, sit down and continue to take notes on his/her chart while the witness speaks. As each of these witnesses give their accounts, students must take notes on: a) Where the persons says Preston was standing b) what order of events the person describes c) how sure the witness is d) if the witness shows signs of prejudice. After each testimony, I, the teacher, need to point out what's significant in that specific testimony (where the Captain was standing, his reactions, what was said, what he was wearing = how well the person could see) through asking the class as a whole what person X said about Y. For example, "Where was Ebenezer standing when the shots went off?"

4. WRAP-UP: VERDICT: a) Which side was stronger: the King's or Thomas Preston's? WHY? (hint: take notice of where the witnesses were standing and which side had more witnesses say the same thing) b) Was the order to fire given? If it was, who gave the order? If the order wasn't given, how can you explain why the shots were fired? C) Is Captain Thomas Preston guilty or innocent of murder?

5. Video: "Founding Fathers" video from History Channel watching events surrounding and including Boston Massacre

6. QUICKLY tell students that in the trial of Thomas Preston, the jury took only three hours to reach its verdict: not guilty. Thomas Preston did not fight in the American War for Independence. He was sent back to England and died in 1781. Of the eight soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, six were acquitted (found not guilty) and two were convicted of manslaughter. They were punished by being branded on the thumb.

The Media & The Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre Trial Manuscript

Note: The accounts that follow are exactly as is written in Wheeler and Becker's "Discovering The American Past, Volume I to 1877" third edition, pp. 78-89. I have not changed the shorthand, which may appear as spelling and grammatical errors along with omitted words. I also have not included all the witnesses due to limited class time.



Just after 9 o'clock heard the Cry of Fire. I saw the party come out of the Guard House. A Captain cried out of the Window "fire upon'em damn 'em." I followed 'em down before the Custom House door. Captain Preston was out and commanded 'em. They drew up and charged their Bayonets. Montgomery [one of the soldiers] pushed at the people advancing. In 2 or 3 minutes a Boy threw a small stick over hand and hit Montgomery on Breast. Then I heard the word fire in 1/4 minute he fired. I saw some pieces of Snow as big as Egg thrown. 3 or 4 thrown at same time of pushing on the other End of the file, before 1st gun fired. The body of People about a Rod [16.5 feet] off. People said Damn 'em they durst [dare] not fire don't be afraid. No threats...I was a Rod from Captain Preston. Did not hear him give Order to fire. 1/2 minute from 1st Gun to 2nd same to 3rd. The others quicker. I saw no people striking the Guns or Bayonets nor pelting 'em. I saw Preston between people and soldiers. I did not see him when 1st firing.


I was present at the firing. I heard one of the Guns rattle [fire]. I turned about and lookd and heard the officer who stood on the right in a line with the Soldiers give the word fire twice. I lookd the Officer in the face when he gave the word and saw his mouth. He had on a red Coat, yellow Jacket and Silver laced hat, no trimming on his Coat. The Prisoner is the Officer I mean. I saw his face plain, the moon shone on it. I am sure of the man though I have not seen him before yesterday when he came into Court with others. I knew him instantly. I ran upon the word fire being given about 30 feet off. The officer had no Surtout on.


The Soldiers came up to the Centinel and the Officer told them to place themselves and they formd a half moon. The Captain told the Boys to go home least there should be murder done. They were throwing Snow balls. The Capt. Was behind the Soldiers. The Captain told them to fire. One Gun went off. A Sailor or Townsman struck the Captain. He thereupon said damn your bloods fire think I'll be treated in this manner. This Man that struck the Captain came from among the People who were seven feet off and were round one wing. I saw no person speak to him. I was so near I should have seen it. After the Capt. Said Damn your bloods fire they all fired one after another about 7 or 8 in all, and then the officer bid Prime and load again. He stood behind all the time. Mr. Lee went up to the officer and called the officer by name Capt. Preston. I saw him coming down from the Guard behind the Party. I went to Goal [jail] the next day being sworn for the Grand Jury to seethe Captain. Then said pointing to him that's the person who gave the word to fire. He said if you swear that you will ruin me everlastingly. I was so near the officer when he gave the word fire that I could touch him. His face was towards me. He stood in the middle behind the Men. I looked him in the face. He then stood within the circle. When he told 'em to fire he turned about to me. I lookd him in the face.


Between 9 and 10 I heard in my house the cry of fire but soon understood there was no fire but the Soldiers were fighting with the Inhabitants. I went to King Street. Saw the Centinel over the Gutter, his Bayonet breast high. He retired to the steps - loaded. The Boys dared him to fire. Soon after a Party came down, drew up. The Captain ordered them to load. I went across the Street. Heard one Gun and soon after the other Guns. The Captain when he ordered them to load stood in the front before the Soldiers so that the Guns reached beyond him. The Captain had a Surtout on. I knew him well. The Surtout was not red. I think cloth colour. I stood on the opposite corner of Exchange lane when I heard the Captain order the Men to load. I came by my knowledge of the Captain partly by seeing him lead the Fortification Guard.



Capt. Preston was within 2 yards of me - before the Men - nearest to the right - facing the Street. I was looking at him. Did not hear any order. He faced me. I think I should have heard him. I directly heard a voice say Damn you why do you fire. Don't fire. I thought it was the Captain's then. I now believe it...


A Man came behind the Soldiers walked backwards and forward, encouraging them to fire. The Captain stood on the left about three yards. The man touched one of the Soldiers upon the back and said fire, by God I'll stand by you. He was dressed in dark colored clothes...He did not look like an Officer. The man fired directly on the word and clap on the Shoulder. I am positive the man was not the Captain...I am sure he gave no orders...I saw one man take a chunk of wood from under his Coat throw it at a Soldier and knocked him. He fell on his face. His firelock [Musket] was out of his hand...This was before any firing.


I saw one Soldier knocked down. His Gun fell from him. I saw a great many sticks and pieces of sticks and Ice thrown at the Soldiers. The Soldier who was knocked down took up his Gun and fired directly. Soon after the first Gun. I saw a Gentlemen behind the Soldiers in velvet of blue or black plush trimmed with gold. He put his hand toward their backs. Whether he touched them I know not and said by God I'll stand by you whilst I have a drop of blood and then said fire and two went off and the rest to 7 or 8...The Captain, after, seemed shocked and looked upon the soldiers. I am very certain he did not give the word fire.


I was at home when the Guns were fired. I heard 'em distinct. I went up to the main guard and addressed myself to the Captain and said to him What have you done? He said, Sir it was none of my doings, the Soldiers fired of their own accord, I was in the Street and might have been shot. His character is good as a Gentlemen and Soldier. I think it exceeds any of the Corps.



Week 10: Day 2: Famous Words

What are some famous words from this time period?

Objective: What are some famous words from this time period?

Homework: Get agenda signed

1. TRUSTING THE MEDIA: Study the picture of the Boston Massacre made by Paul Revere, a Patriot. (He wasn't even at the Boston Massacre.) a) How is the picture different from eyewitness accounts you heard in the last class? B) Who did Revere make look like the bad guys? C) Why would he make them look like this? D) How did he make the colonists look? D) Why did he make them look this way?

2. Video: "Founding Fathers" video from Boston Tea Party to just before Patrick Henry's speech.

3. FAMOUS WORDS OF THE TIME: Students write out the title, author, date, audience, message, and response for Patrick Henry's speech (show video of it from "Founding Fathers"), Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" (Show Colonial Life and the American Revolution: 4.1 Making Sense of Common Sense slides of it, but don't do activity), Abigail Adams' "Remember the Ladies'" letter, and The simplified Declaration of Independence [SEE BELOW]. (Note: This "modernized" Declaration of Independence came out of a class project by a former fellow teacher, Mr. Spears. I have found it is much easier for the students to understand.)

4. Students answer questions about the Declaration of Independence as they read through it.

5. Write Declaration of Independence quote on a note card to memorize for exam. ("We hold these truths to be self-evident...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.")

6. (may not have time for in all classes) WRAP-UP: BOOK COVER: Create a book cover for one of the following: Patrick Henry's speech, Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," Abigail Adam's letter, or the Declaration of Independence. On the front include: a) title, b) author, c) attractive visual related to basic ideas of the work. On the back include: a) who might be interested in reading this (audience) and b) a 2+ sentence summary of the work.

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Modernized Declaration of Independence (with Slightly Updated Language)

The time has come for us to have our own separate nation - a nation that is ruled by no one but ourselves. This nation shall be equal to all others on Earth. We believe this is the wish of God.

Because this is such an important decision, we feel strongly that everyone should know our reasons for making it.

We believe certain things to be true and that no one should question them: that all persons are created equal in God's sight; that God gives to all certain rights; that each person's rights must be respected and cannot be taken away for the use of another person. Among these rights are: the right to life itself; the right to enjoy the special liberties and privileges due us as property owners; the right to look for those things that will bring happiness.

We believe that governments are formed by people for the purpose of protecting God-given rights, and that governments receive all their power from the people.

We believe that when a government fails to protect people's rights, the people have the right to change the government. They may even take it apart and start over. Then they must carefully plan to form a new government that will truly work for the safety and happiness of all.

It is wise to remember that changing a government is a serious matter - especially if that government has been in power for many years. People grow used to it. We have seen through history that even when a government is bad, people often put up with it as long as they can instead of making changes. But a government may grow unfair and cruel. It may try to take all rights away from its people. If that happens, the people must act. It is their duty to end that kind of government. Then they must create a new and better government to protect their rights in times to come.

We have been patient, suffering a long time without complaining. Now it is our duty to make changes. This King of Great Britain, our present ruler, seems set on becoming even stronger. He has already tried to rule us completely, without listening to what our American leaders have to say. And we have proof of such evils. Here are the facts for the whole world to see:

The King has refused to sign laws that our American leaders have written - important laws that are needed for the good of the American people.

The King has controlled the judges in our courts. Judges must please the King in order to keep their jobs and earn a living. How fair can th