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Got Grievances: You bet we do! What economic, political, and social factors led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution? Find out what caused the colonies to break from Great Britain and analyze how those factors were reflected as part of the Declaration of Independence.

Teacher’s Guide

Lesson Plan

Student Docs (11 pages)

Reading (pages 1 – 4 / A-D) The readings are very good. Photocopy 1- 4 and distribute to the students. These readings make a connection between the relationships of teens and parents to  the colonies and Great Britain. The reading explains the early British policy of salutary neglect,  the debt created by the French and Indian war, the British need to raise money by taxing the colonies. It also explains the major acts of Parliament and the colonial reactions. 

Key words are in bold and include: salutary neglect, The French and Indian War (1754 – 1763), natural rights, The Declaration of Independence, the Stamp Act, The Stamp Act Congress, Declaratory Act, Townshend Acts, Quartering Act of 1765, Boston Massacre, Daughters of Liberty, Teac Act, Boston Tea Party, Coercive Acts / “Intolerable Acts” (1774), imports, the First Continental Congress, Declarations of Rights, Sons of Liberty  

Primary Sources that are discussed include: Common Sense (1776 Thomas Paine), The Declaration of Independence (1776), The Stamp Act Congress (1765), Political Cartoon: The Repeal, or The Funeral Procession of Miss Americ-Stamp (1766), Boston Massacre (1770)  

tThe Stamp Act Congress, The Stamp Act, Declaratory Act

Student Activities (pages 5 – 8 / A-D) There are many well-prepared activities that focus on a wide range of skills. Teachers can select the activities that are best for students.

A. Fed Up Yet? Independence wasn’t declared in a day. Use the events from the reading to make a timeline for independence in the box. Remember to label and add dates in the correct places.” This is a timeline activity placing the following events along a timeline: (20 minutes) 

February 1763 French and Indian War ends

March 1765 Stamp Act passed 

October 1765 Stamp Act Congress 

March 1766 Stamp Act repealed 

March 1766 Declaratory Act passed 

June 1767 Townshend Acts passed 

March 1770 Boston Massacre

April 1770 Townshend Acts repealed 

May 1773 Tea Act Passed 

December 1773 Boston Tea Party 

March 1774 Coercive Acts passed 

September 1774 First Continental Congress 

April 1775 Revolutionary War begins 

May 1775 Second Continental Congress 

July 1776 Declaration of Independence signed 

B. Theorize. The first tax was passed in 1765 and colonists were already at war before all 13 colonies officially agreed to make a formal split from Great Britain in 1776. What were the colonists thinking and why was there such a long wait? Check off the reasons you think apply. Then use your choices to propose a theory to explain why independence couldn’t be declared in a day.” Good to complete as a class and discuss the thoughts of the colonists. (5 – 15 minutes)

C. Respect Our Rights! The colonists believed their rights came from two sources. First, they had natural rights that all people are born with. Second, they had rights as Englishmen, which were protected by law and shared by all British people. Read through the sources of these rights and the grievances below. Decide if each grievance is an abuse of a natural right or English right, then explain why the abuse might make you angry.” Great activity to help the students understand the frustration of the colonists. It uses Natural Rights of Man by John Locke and the Magna Carta, Petition of Right, & English Bill of Rights. (10 – 20 minutes)

D. Tea Time. Colonists boycotted British tea when they were forced to pay a tax for it without their consent. Use the table to examine the effectiveness of their boycott.” This is a graph of imported tea. There are 4 good questions, but teachers might want to add more or simply analyze the graph more in-depth during a class discussion. 

E. Have You Heard? Imagine that you are a citizen of Boston, Massachusetts in 1774. Your father has just left for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he will meet up with representatives from other colonies at the Continental Congress. Write a letter to your cousin in Virginia to discuss this important congress meeting. (Remember, it won’t be called the first for some time yet!) In your letter, include how you feel about what’s been happening in the colonies, some of the grievances and events the representatives may discuss, and, most importantly, what you are hoping the representatives will do and why.”  Excellent creative writing assignment. 

In Their Own Words. Read a few of the grievances straight from the Declaration of Independence. Then translate them into modern day English by matching the real text to the correct meaning.” This is a nice cut and paste activity. Teachers may also want to simply create a matching word document as an alternative assignment. 

Wait…What Does That Say? Read one of the most famous parts of the Declaration of Independence. It outlines many of the ideas that helped form the government we have today. Meanings have been added in [brackets] following some of the words and ideas that may be unfamiliar.” Two great primary sources.

Wait… What Does That Say? Now use the excerpts to answer the questions for each document. Refer back to the documents as needed. It may help to read each document more than once.” Excellent guided questions for the two primary sources.

Visual analysis: The following visuals are included with a few guiding questions for class discussion. 

Join or Die Political Cartoon

“The Colonies Reduced.”
Gadsden Flag (New Yorker Article)