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CHRONICLE OF THE REVOLUTIONLIBERTY! THE SERIESPERSPECTIVES ON LIBERTYTHE ROAD TO REVOLUTION GAME
LIBERTY - THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

TEACHER'S GUIDE
THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARIES
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
THE CONTINENTAL ARMY AND WASHINGTON
FACTORS THAT HANDICAPPED THE BRITISH
REVOLUTIONARY WAR MUSIC
CREATING A NEW NATION
TEACHER'S GUIDE
Lesson 1: THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARIES
Examine why colonists, many of whom felt strong loyalties to the British Empire, decided to abandon their mother country and join the Revolution.

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The Reluctant Revolutionaries

Overview:

Typically, students see the American Revolution as an organized rebellion of a united people against an oppressive tyrannical government. In their estimation, the colonies simply rose up and gained their independence.

In actuality, the truth was far from that. Although many colonists felt they deserved the equal rights and liberties of those in the mother country, they were not ready or willing to totally break away from the British Empire and start a new nation. In essence, they were "reluctant revolutionaries" who believed they were being denied basic rights and freedoms, but were not ready to take the "big step". Many would agree with the remark of a woman during the conclusion of Episode 1 of Liberty! who stated , "I pray there be some, decent, honorable way to put to an end this conflict, to be once again reconciled with old friends".

In this lesson, students will explore what drove these reluctant colonists to become "revolutionaries."

Related Resources for the Lesson

In this lesson, students will use the following resources:

1. Episodes 1 & 2 of Liberty! Teachers may elect to have their classes watch the entire length of both episodes, or may wish to "pick and choose" specific instances and portions which highlight the theme of the lesson.

Suggested segments include:

Episode 1: The Reluctant Revolutionaries
a. Chapter 2 Insignificant Provincials (6:40-15:06)
b. Chapter 7 The Cockpit (47:01-51:41)
c. Chapter 8 The Fleet Arrives in Boston (51:42-53:22)

Episode 2: Blows Must Decide
a. Chapter 2 The Continental Congress Meets (5:16-11:48)
b. Chapter 3 A Sense of Betrayal (11:50-13:53)
c. Chapter 8 An Olive Branch (33:02-39:00)
d. Chapter 9 Common Sense (39:01-43:59)
e. Chapter 10 Independence (44:00-53:35)

2. The text of Common Sense by Thomas Paine http://www.bartleby.com/133/

3. Related Questions PDF (for students)

4 . Related Questions PDF (for teachers, with answers)

Relevant standards

This lesson addresses the following national content standards established by the Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/

US History:

  • Understands the social, political, and religious aspects of the American Revolution (e.g., decisions leading to crisis of revolution, efforts by Parliament and colonies to prevent revolution, the ideas of different religions and the economic and social differences between Loyalists, Patriots and neutrals)
  • Understands the events that contributed to the outbreak of the American Revolution and the earliest armed conflict of the Revolutionary War (e.g., opponents and defenders of England's new imperial policy, the idea of "taxation without representation" and the battle at Lexington and Concord)
  • Understands the major developments and chronology of the Revolutionary War as well as the roles of its political, military and diplomatic leaders (e.g., George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Richard Henry Lee)
  • Understands how political, ideological and religious ideas joined economic interests to bring about the "shot heard round the world" (e.g., leaders of resistance to imperial policy, the English tax on the colonists to help pay for the Seven Years War and the interests and positions of different economic groups, such as northern merchants, southern rice and tobacco planters, yeoman farmers and urban artisans)
  • Understands the social and economic impact of the Revolutionary War (e.g., problems of financing the war, wartime inflation, hoarding and profiteering and the personal and social economic hardships brought on by war)

    Strategy for the Lesson

    The teacher should begin this lesson with a viewing of the episodes (or segments) and then conduct an overview of issues and conflicts between the British and the colonists in the years leading to the Declaration of Independence. Brainstorm with the class about what these issues and conflicts might be. (Students will most likely include the ideas of "taxation without representation," higher prices paid by the colonists for goods because of British trading policies, restrictions on manufacturing and selling colonial products because of the trade practices.) The teacher may wish to have students create a chart on the chalkboard or overhead projector, which highlights the following issues:

  • Resentments/Distrusts of the British toward the colonists
  • Resentments/Distrusts of the colonists toward the British
  • What issues angered the colonists toward the British?
  • What issues angered the British toward the colonists?
  • For what reason(s) were the colonists dependent on the British?
  • For what reason(s) were the British dependent on the colonists?

    The teacher may also wish to divide the class into groups, asking one side to represent the British point of view and the other side to represent the colonial point of view in a discussion/debate of British policy or legislation that includes the Stamp Act or the Intolerable Acts. Students should also consider the "Loyalist" point of view. Why would some colonists feel compelled to remain allied with the British even though they lived side by side with those who felt the best course of action was to break away and form a new nation?

    After the discussion and viewing, distribute the question sheets to students.

    Allot sufficient time for students to answer the questions. Once students have completed the questions, the teacher should evaluate them according to the depth of answer desired, the amount of time allowed for the assignment, as well as any other criteria established by the teacher, such as spelling and grammar.

    Extension Activity

    Ask students to look at other revolutionary movements in world history (for example, the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution). Ask them to write reports highlighting the various factions/sides in those revolutions, the groups' differing viewpoints and the revolution's influence or impact. Have students explore the outcomes as well as the social upheaval of those revolutions in comparison to the impact of the American Revolution.


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