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Lesson One




1. Begin with a review of textbook accounts of the measures taken by the British following the Seven Years’ War. Discuss the merits of British policy and the colonial response to the Proclamation of 1763, the Revenue Act (Sugar Act, 1764), the Currency Act (1764), and the Quartering Act of 1765. A time line (Student Handout 1) may be used to help students understand the context of the readings in this lesson.

  • 2.

    Distribute copies of the Stamp Act and the Pennsylvania Resolves (Readings 1 and 2) and use the questions following the readings as a guide for class discussion. Extend the lesson by having students research resolutions passed in other colonies in opposition to the Stamp Act. Refer students to textbook accounts of the Stamp Act Congress and the resulting boycotts of British goods.

  • 3.

    Divide the class into three groups and assign each group a different set of documents (Readings 3–5). Have students within each group discuss the documents and answer the questions provided with each set of readings. Reassemble the class and have each group provide a synopsis of their assigned documents. What do these documents reflect about the intensity of colonial attitudes regarding the Stamp Act?

  • 4.

    Select two or more students to assume the roles of members of Parliament and one student that of Franklin and have them, in a Readers’ Theater activity, stage the interrogation of Franklin (Reading 6). Following the reading, discuss the document as a class. How effective were Franklin’s responses to the interrogation by members of Parliament? How does Franklin distinguish between external and internal taxes? To what extent would the publication of this interrogation help rebuild Franklin’s status in Pennsylvania?

  • 5.

    Review the Townshend Acts (external taxes) passed in 1767. Explain that Lord North, in April 1770, had all the duties under the Townshend Acts repealed except the tax on tea. When word reached Pennsylvania, some began to call for an end to the Boycott of “dry goods” imported from England while others insisted the boycott continue. Assign Reading 7, “To the Free and Patriotic Inhabitants of the City of Philadelphia . . .” Use the questions following the reading as guide for discussion.

  • 6.

    Use a wall map of Britain’s North American colonies and have the class point out chief areas of conflict prior to May 1776. Explain that the New England colonies and most of the Southern colonies supported independence. Pennyslvania and the other Middle Colonies were reluctant. Discuss the importance of Pennsylvania’s support for independence. In an attempt to remove the roadblock to independence, John Adams proposed a resolution that passed the Continental Congress in May, 1776. Have students read the Adams Resolution, its preamble, and James Wilson’s response (Reading 8). Use the questions that follow the reading for class discussion.

  • 7.

    Divide the class into two groups. Assign one group John Adams’ letter to James Warren (Reading 9A ) and the second, Dr. James Clitherall’s diary account of the May 20 rally in the


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