Activity 2 Location: Independence Hall and the State House Yard
Chestnut St. between 5th and 6th Streets May 20, 1776
On your walking tour of historic Philadelphia stop at Independence Hall, the meeting place of the Second Continental Congress. Although delegates to the Congress have discussed declaring independence, they have not taken action because the Pennsylvania delegation has been instructed by its colonial Assembly to seek a diplomatic solution with King George and Parliament rather than support a proclamation of independence. The middle colonies will probably follow Pennsylvania’s lead so there is little hope for approving a resolution in favor of independence unless the Pennsylvania Assembly changes instructions to its delegation. Although the majority of Pennsylvanians desire indepen- dence, the Assembly refuses to take action.
Even the May 2 election of new members to the Assembly fails to change the stance of Pennsylvania’s political leaders. On the morning of May 20, those who favor independence decide to take action and hold a rally in the State House Yard. Use what you have learned from your readings in Lesson One and information provided during your tour of Indepen- dence Hall to construct placards and broadsides to recreate the Philadelphia “town meeting” of May 20, 1776.
Alternate Group Activity:
Several students should make speeches to stir up the crowd and persuade the reluctant As- sembly to support independence. Other students should represent the views of the Assembly and favor conciliation rather than independence. Make the placards and broadsides to reflect your group’s perspective.