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  • The French and Indian War


    In 1755 Britain sent 1,400 troops to Virginia led by General Edward Braddock. The main job of the troops was to keep the French out of the Ohio Valley. George Washington joined the British Army as a volunteer hoping to impress Braddock. Many of the Colonists fought with the British; hence the opponent was the French and their Indian allies. The march into the Ohio Valley did not go as planned. The bright red coats of the British made them easy targets for French and Indian sharpshooters. 67% of the British were killed. Washington barely escaped with his life. In 1759 the British captured Canada. The war continued for seven years. In 1763 Britain and France signed a peace treaty, where France gave Canada to Great Britain.

    French Indian War

    Defeat of General Braddock, in the French and Indian War, in Virginia in 1755

    Digital ID: (digital file from b&w film copy neg.) cph 3a05278 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a05278

    Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-1473 (b&w film copy neg.)

    Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA



    1. How do you think Washington felt after the defeat? Why?

    2. How did the colonists feel after they defeated the French? Why did they feel this way?

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    • Stamp Act

      In March 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a tax on newspapers and all other printed materials in the American colonies. The British argued that the tax was needed to pay off debts that they had incurred while protecting the American colonists during the French and Indian War. The British thought that it was fair for the Americans to pay higher taxes. The Americans disagreed. Read the documents below and try to determine why the Americans were upset about the Stamp Act. 


      newspaperBoston Editorial        

      Source: This letter appeared as an editorial in a Boston newspaper on October 7, 1765. The author is unknown.

      Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 7 October 1765

      My Dear Countrymen,

      AWAKE! Awake, my Countrymen and defeat those who want to enslave us. Do not be cowards. You were born in Britain, the Land of Light, and you were raised in America, the Land of Liberty. It is your duty to fight this tax. Future generations will bless your efforts and honor the memory of the saviors of their country.

      I urge you to tell your representatives that you do not support this terrible and burdensome law. Let them know what you think. They should act as guardians of the liberty of their country.

      I look forward to congratulating you on delivering us from the enemies of truth and liberty. 



      1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? When? For what purpose? What was the audience?
      2. Contextualization: What was going on at the time the document was written? What were people doing? What did people believe?


      letterJohn Hughes Letter    

      Source: The following letter was written by John Hughes, Stamp Distributor in Philadelphia, to his bosses in London. The Stamp Act was passed in March 1765 and went into effect November 1765.

      Philadelphia January 13th 1766.

      My Lords,

      The colonists have been insulting His Majesty, saying that the Stamp Act was unconstitutional, and oppressive.

      Many believe that the Stamp Act is only being used to enrage the people, & at the same time, to conceal other plans.

      It is apparent to many people here, that the Presbyterians, who are very numerous in America, are at the head of these riots. They are opposed to Kings and some begin to cry out,--No King but King Jesus. The leaders, and the Clergy, fill every newspaper with inflammatory pieces, so that the minds of the common people are kept in a continual ferment.... No one dares write anything that would calm the people down. Doing so would put the writer’s life and fortune in danger.

      I am convinced the Presbyterians intend nothing less than the throwing off their allegiance and obedience to his Majesty, & forming a Republican Empire, in America, & being Lords and Masters themselves.

      I am daily Threatened, by Verbal Messages, and Anonymous Letters, with a Mob of several Thousand People, from the Jerseys, New York, and New England.

      I conclude with praying, that the Almighty may secure the allegiance of America to the Crown of Britain, by destroying the seeds of rebellion, and by punishing the ringleaders of these riots.

      I am, My Lords, Your most Obedient & Most Humble Servant,

      John Hughes



      Arousing angry or violent feelings
      agitation or excitement, typically leading to violence
      a major religion formed during the Great Awakening



      1. Sourcing: Who wrote this and what is his job? Does he side with England or with the colonists? How do you know?
      2. Contextualization: Based on his account, what is happening in America in 1766? How has the Stamp Act affected the author personally? Provide evidence from the document to support your answer.
      3. Do you believe this account? Give one reason why you would trust his account, and one reason why you might not.


      newspaperLondon Newspaper Letter

      Source: The following letter was written in a London newspaper. It shows that the British could not understand why the people of Boston were so upset about the Stamp Act.

      From a London paper, January 27, 1766

      The riotous behavior of the people in Boston is remarkable. I would have been less surprised by their behavior if we had taxed their beer, because everyone drinks beer. But the Stamp Act is a tax on none of the necessities of life. It does not affect the poor. And even a poor person can afford this little amount of money. The tax on newspapers only affects the rich—common people do not purchase newspapers. Isn’t it surprising, then, that the mob in Boston has begun to riot against this tax even before it has officially gone into effect?



      1. Sourcing: What newspaper does this come from? What would you predict the author’s perspective will be on the Stamp Act? Was this written before or after the Stamp Act went into effect?
      2. Contextualization: What happened in Boston? Why is the author surprised? Who reads the newspapers, according to the author?

      Section Questions:

      1. Corroboration: Where do the documents agree and where do they conflict?
      2. Corroboration: Was the Stamp Act fair? How were the colonists treated by the British?
      3. Corroboration: How did the colonists feel about their treatment?


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    • Other British Acts


      The Quartering Act

      Because of a law passed by Parliament in 1765 the Colonists were now required to house British troops and provide candles, firing, bedding, cooking utensils, salt, vinegar, and beer or cider.

      colonial house

      General view looking from the northwest in the direction of the north (front) facade; view includes covered causeway from Building No. 120, shown in the background - National Park Seminary, Colonial House, 2745 Dewitt Circle, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, MD

      Digital ID: (None) hhh md1515.photos.216807p http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.md1515/photos.216807p

      Reproduction Number: HABS MD,16-SILSPR,2L--4

      Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print


      The Townshend Act 

      In 1767 Charles Townshend persuaded Parliament to pass a law that placed a duty or tax on certain goods imported to the colonies. Glass, paint, paper, and tea are now being taxed. Because of this act many of the colonists began to ban British goods. Samuel Adams sent a letter to every colony protesting the Townshend Act.  In 1770 Lord North persuaded Parliament to repeal the Townshend acts except for the duty on tea.  Parliament argued that leaving the Tea tax would cause more problems. King George did not want to give all taxes up.


      Charles Townshend, 1725-1767, bust portrait, facing left

      Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-51015 (b&w film copy neg.)

      Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA




      1. How do you think the colonists felt when they were told to provide these items for the British troops? Why do you think they felt this way?

      2. Do you think King George was wise leaving the tea tax or not? What would you have done if your were the king?

      Go to BrainPop app. Select Social Studies, US History, Causes of thenAmerican Revolution.

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      • Problems in Boston

        The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on Mar. 5, 1770

        boston massacre

        The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on Mar. 5, 1770, 03/05/1770 (ARC Identifier: 530966); Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754 - 1954, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1982, Record Group 111, National Archives


        The Boston Massacre

        British troops had been placed in Boston in 1768 to help keep the peace.  The Boston Patriots knew that the British troops were not allowed to fire on them, so they were very brave.  On March 5th 1770 a mob started throwing rocks and ice balls at British troops at the Boston Customs House.  The mob also shouted names at the troops. The mob pressed closer and closer until a troop was knocked to the ground. The troops then fired on the crowd. Crispus Attucks was a large black man at the front of the crowd, and was the first to die.  5 Bostonians were killed and 10 were injured.  Samuel Adams used this event to propel the Patriot movement.

        Here is a link to American Story Infohttp://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/revolut/jb_revolut_boston_1.html




        1. Do you think the patriots would have been so brave if they thought the British troops were alowwed to fire on them? Why?

        2. Why do you think Samuel Adams used this event to push his movement? How would he use it?


        "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1773."

        Boston Tea Party

        "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1773." Copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846., 1931 - 1932 (ARC Identifier: 532892); The George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1931 - 1932; Records of Commissions of the Legislative Branch, 1928 - 2006; Record Group 148; National Archives


        The Boston Tea Party

        The Tea Act

        In 1772 Lord North passed the Tea Act Which was intended to save the British-East India Company. The Act lowered the tea prices so that even the taxed tea was cheaper than the smuggled Dutch tea.  It also created a monopoly for tea sells to the British-East India Company. Many colonists saw this as another way for Britain to tax them without consent. Many merchants were worried that other items would soon be unavailable because of other future monopolies. 

        The Tea Party

        When the British-East India Company Ships arrived into port man y protestors prevented them from unloading their cargo. On several occasions the ships would leave port and turn back to England. On December 16th 1773 the Sons of Liberty had 50

         men dressed as Mohawk Indians board three ships that the British Navy had blocked into port to unload their cargo. They dumped about 90,000 pounds  of tea into the harbor.



        1. Why were the colonists upset when they could now buy tea cheaper?

        2. Why do you think the Sons of Liberty dressed like Indians?

        3. Why did the British blocked the ships in the port?



        The Intolerable Acts

        The Boston Port Act, March of 1774, stopped all shipping into or out of the port of Boston until payment was received for the tea ruined in the Boston Tea Party and the tax that was due on it.

        The Massachusetts Government Act, May 1774, altered the charter presented to the colony in 1691. This act gave an appointed body the power not the representative assembly.

        The Administration of Justice Act, May1774, moved cases against British officials out of Massachusetts.

        The Quartering Act, June 1774, gave General Gage the power to house British soldiers in private homes.




        1. Do you think the Intolerable acts had the desired effects the British were looking for?

        2. How would you react to the Intolerable acts if you were a colonist?


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      • The Battle of Lexington

        After the passage of the Stamp Act, tensions between the colonists and the British government continued to rise, and the colonists began to organize militias. On April 19, 1775, British troops marched from Boston to the nearby towns Lexington and Concord to arrest the militia’s leaders, John Hancock and Sam Adams, and to confiscate their weapons. The militias learned in advanced that the British were coming, and about 70 militiamen, also called minutemen, assembled before dawn on the central green of the town of Lexington. As dawn was breaking, a shot rang out which set off the first battle of the American Revolution. But who fired the shot? The historical sources disagree. Read the documents below and attempt to determine which side fired first. Then analyze the two paintings of the battle and decide which is a more accurate representation of the battle.

        A sample exploration of these documents can be viewed in the video at videohttp://historicalthinkingmatters.org/why/.


        diaryDiary of John Barker

        Source: Entry for April 19th, 1775, from the diary of Lieutenant John Barker, an officer in the British army.

        19th. At 2 o’clock we began our march by wading through a very long ford up to our middles. After going a few miles we took three of four people who were going off to give intelligence. About 5 miles on this side of a town called Lexington, which lay in our road, we heard there were some hundreds of people collected together intending to oppose us. At 5 o’clock we arrived there and saw a number of people, I believe between 200 and 300, formed in a common in the middle of the town. We still continued advancing, keeping prepared against an attack though without intending to attack them. But on our coming near them they fired one or two shots, upon which our men without any orders, rushed in upon them, fired and put them to flight. We then formed on the Common, but with some difficulty, the men were so wild they could hear no orders; we waited a considerable time there, and at length proceeded on our way to Concord.


        1. Sourcing: What kind of document is this? When was it written?
        2. Contextualization: Imagine the scene. What might the soldiers have been thinking?
        3. Close Reading: According to this document, which side fired first?


        battleAccount of the Battle of Lexington – Nathaniel Mullikan

        Source: Sworn by 34 minutemen on April 25 before three Justices of the Peace.

        We Nathaniel Mulliken, Philip Russell, (Followed by the names of 32 other men present on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775)... All of lawful age, and inhabitants of Lexington in the County of Middlesex... do testify and declare, that on the nineteenth of April.... about five o’clock in the morning, hearing our drum beat, we proceeded towards the Green, and soon found that a large body of troops were marching towards us. Some of our company were coming to the Green, and others had reached it, at which time, the company began to disperse. While our backs were turned on the British troops, we were fired on by them, and a number of our men were instantly killed and wounded, not a gun was fired by any person in our company on the British soldiers to our knowledge before they fired on us, and continued firing until we had all made our escape.

        Lexington, April 25, 1775.


        1. Sourcing: What kind of document is this? Do you trust it more or less than a diary entry? When was this written? Whose side does this document represent?
        2. Close reading: What is the significance of the phrase “to our knowledge?”
        3. Corroboration: Where do Barker’s and Mullikan’s accounts disagree? Are there any facts that both accounts agree on?


        battleBattle of Lexington Engraving - Amos Doolittle

        Source: One of four engravings made by Amos Doolittle in 1775. Doolittle was an engraver and silversmith from Connecticut who visited the site of the battle and interviewed participants and witnesses. (Figure below.

        Amos Doolittle 1775

        One of four engravings made by Amos Doolittle in 1775


        1. Sourcing: When was this document created? By whom? For what purpose?
        2. Which figures in this image are British? Which figures are American? How can you tell?
        3. Look closely at the image. Which side appears to be firing first?

        Terrence Blachaux Painting

        Source: A painting made by Terrence Blachaux in 1859, which was used in a 19th Century American postage stamp. (Figure below.

        19th century American Postage Stamp

        Century American postage stamp.



        1. Sourcing: When was this image created? By whom? For what purpose?
        2. According to this image, who fired first?

        Section Questions:

        1. Corroboration: Which of the first two texts seems more reliable—Mullikan or Barker? Why might they differ?
        2. Corroboration: Which of the images probably presents a more accurate representation of the Battle of Lexington?
        3. Why might the creator of the other image have wanted to portray the battle differently?

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      • Declaration of Independence

        Declaration of Independence

        Here is a link to America's StoryInfo http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/jefferson/aa_jefferson_declar_1.html


        Source: The Declaration of Independence is a statement approved by representatives of the 13 colonies. The representatives, called the Continental Congress, met in Philadelphia. The Declaration was adopted on July 4, 1776.(Figure below.

        The Declaration of Independence


        Declaration of Independence

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.

        The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated abuses intended to establish tyranny over the colonies. To prove this, let facts be submitted:

        (1 & 2) He has refused to pass, and forbidden his governors to pass, important and necessary laws.

        (3 & 4) He has insisted that certain large districts give up their right to representation; in other districts, he has insisted that the legislature meet in uncomfortable, and distant places, so that they won’t oppose him.

        (5 & 6) He has broken up certain legislatures that opposed him, and refused to let others be elected.

        (8 & 9) He has refused to establish courts of justice, and has made judges dependent on him for their jobs and salaries.

        (10) He has sent swarms of British officers to harass our people and eat our food.

        (11 & 12) He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures; he has tried to make the military independent of, and superior to, the local, civil power.

        (14 & 15) For keeping large bodies of armed troops among us; For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the colonists;

        (16) For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

        (17) For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

        (18) For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

        (21) For abolishing our most valuable laws, and fundamentally changing the forms of our governments;

        (23 & 24) He is waging war against us; He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

        (27) He has started fights among us and has also forced us to live near merciless Indian savages, who only destroy all ages, sexes, and conditions.

        (28) He has ignored all of our humble efforts to address these problems.



        cannot be taken away
        to secure
        to get



        For questions 1 and 2, restate the indicated paragraph in your own words.

        1. We believe in these obvious truths: that all men are created equal, that they....
        2. In order to protect these rights, governments are set up. These governments get their powers from....
        3. Close Reading: Do these grievances seem to be things that upset rich people, or both rich and poor?
        4. Do you think these complaints would give people reason to go to war and possibly die? Why or why not?


        bookThe Ideological Origins of the American Revolution – Bernard Bailyn

        Source: Excerpt from a book by historian Bernard Bailyn. The book, published in 1967, is called The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution.

        The Declaration of Independence represents the colonists’ deepest fears and beliefs. The colonists believed they saw a clear pattern in the events that followed 1763. They believed they saw an evil and deliberate conspiracy to crush liberty in America. They saw evidence of this conspiracy in the Stamp Act and in the Coercive Acts.

        They also believed that America was destined to play a special role in history. They believed that America would become “the foundation of a great and mighty empire, the largest the world ever saw to be founded on such principles of liberty and freedom, both civil and religious.” The colonists believed that England was trying to enslave them, and that they should use “all the power which God has given them” to protect themselves.



        1. Close Reading: What does Bailyn think the Declaration of Independence represents? What evidence does he use to support his claims?


        bookA People’s History of the United States - Howard Zinn

        Source: Excerpt from A People’s History of the United States, which was published in 1980 by historian Howard Zinn.

        It seemed clear to the educated, upper-class colonists that something needed to be done to persuade the lower class to join the revolutionary cause, to direct their anger against England. The solution was to find language inspiring to all classes, specific enough in its listing of grievances to fill people with anger against the British, vague enough to avoid class conflict, and stirring enough to build patriotic feelings.

        Everything the Declaration of Independence was about – popular control over governments, the right of rebellion and revolution, fury at political tyranny, economic burdens, and military attacks – was well suited to unite large numbers of colonists and persuade even those who had grievances against one another to turn against England.

        Some Americans were clearly omitted from those united by the Declaration of Independence: Indians, black slaves, and women.



        1. Close Reading: What does Zinn think the Declaration of Independence represents? What evidence does he use to support his claims?

        Section Questions:

        1. Which historian, Bailyn or Zinn, do you find more convincing? Why?


        material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

      • Loyalists during the Revolution


        letterLoyalist Letter – Anonymous

        Source: The following letter was written by an anonymous Loyalist under the pseudonym ‘Rusticus’. Printed in a Pennsylvania newspaper, it lists all the advantages of being British.

        Pennsylvania Packet January 2, 1775

        My Friends and Countrymen,

        This howling wilderness has been converted into a flourishing and populous country. But, is this not due to the way in which the colonies have been treated from the beginning? Isn’t our growth a result of Great Britain’s willingness to encourage our industry and protect us from foreign countries? If so, surely some degree of gratitude, such as becomes a free and liberal people, would be appropriate.

        The peace and security we have already enjoyed under Great Britain’s protection, before the mistaken system of taxation took place, must make us look back with regret to those happy days whose loss we mourn, and which every rational man must consider as the golden age of America.

        Let us then, my friends and countrymen, be patient and avoid all inflammatory publications that are disrespectful to our most gracious Sovereign. Let us look forward to a happy termination of our present disputes, and a cordial reconciliation with our mother country.



        rapidly growing
        arousing violent feelings
        warm and friendly
        existing in harmony


        letterLoyalist Letter – Charles Inglis

        Source: The following letter was written by Reverend Charles Inglis, an Anglican minister. He was trying to sway colonists not to follow the Patriot leaders who were leading Americans into war.

        New York Gazette September 19, 1774

        To the Inhabitants of North America:

        Brethren, Friends and Fellow Subjects,

        In case these people in Massachusetts succeed in convincing other colonies to break from Great Britain, let us calmly consider how prepared we are for such a war. I will not exaggerate, but represent things as they really are.

        The naval power of Great Britain is the greatest in the world. Do we have a fleet to look this power in the face and defend our coasts? No—not one ship. The inevitable consequence then must be, that all our seaport towns will be taken and all our trade and commerce destroyed. Have we disciplined troops to encounter those British soldiers that are now in America, or that may be sent here?—Not a single regiment. We will need to leave our farms, our shops, our trades and begin to learn the art of war at the very same time we are called to practice it. And EVERYTHING will be at stake.

        If we turn our eyes west to our back-country the situation is no better. Every man in Canada is a soldier, and may be commanded whenever government pleases. Then, add the Indians, whose warriors in Canada and the Six Nations amount to at least FIVE THOUSAND. In the case of our civil war with Britain, all these Canadians and Indians would be let loose on our back-settlements, to scalp, ravage and lay everything to waste.

        Shall we, then, madly pursue violent measures that will plunge our country into all the horrors of a civil war? Shall we desperately risk our lives, liberties and property and recklessly drench this happy country with the blood of its inhabitants? --Forbid it humanity! Forbid it loyalty, reason and common sense!

        A New York Freeholder (landowner)


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