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American History: Road To RevolutionAmerican-History-Road-To-Revolution

  • Subject: U.S. History
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • Discuss some of the different viewpoints of the British and the colonists at the time of the American Revolution.
  • Describe different events and sentiments of the revolution as expressed in quotationquotations from the period.
  • Read three primary sources and rewrite one in their own voice, including the main ideas and sentiment of the original writer.
  • Describe what these primary sources reveal about the feelings of American colonists.


  • Road to Revolution program
  • Computer with Internet access


Quotation Speaker Primary Source
"Having received intelligence that ammunition, artillery, and small arms have been collected for the avowed purpose of raising rebellion against his Majesty, you will march to Concord where you will seize and destroy all military stores whatever." General Thomas Gage, Commander of the British forces in America  
"The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ?Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age. Posterity will be affected, even to the end of time." Thomas Paine, Revolutionary War author

Common Sense (1776)
(see "Thoughts of the Present State of American Affairs")

"Men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lay on, without shoes. Their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet marching through frost and snow." George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army

Letter from George Washington to John Banister (April 21, 1778)

"About 10 o?clock, Dr. Warren begged that I would immediately set off for Lexington.  Two friends rode me across the Charles River. They landed me on the Charlestown side, went on to the town and there got a horse. The moon shone bright." Paul Revere, official courier of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress

Letter to Dr. Jeremy Belknap (1798)

"Stand your ground, don?t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." John Parker, Militia Captain  
"Tears stand in my eyes when I think of this once happy land of liberty. All is anarchy and confusion. We are all in arms. May God put a speedy and happy end to this contest between a mother and her children." Congressman (Unknown)  
"These fellows say we won?t fight. By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in British blood." Joseph Warren, Leader of Boston Rebels  
"Dr. Warren, I found among the slain and stuffed the scoundrel with another Rebel into one hole, and there he and his seditious principles may remain." British Officer  
"I have just heard that our dear friend, Dr. Warren, fell gloriously fighting for his country. Great is our loss. Almighty God, cover the heads of our countrymen. May we be supported and sustained in the dreadful conflict. I cannot compose myself to write any further." Abigail Adams

Letter to John Adams (June 18, 1775)

"A gentleman from Virginia who is among us here and very well known to all of us. A gentleman with skill and experience as an officer, independent fortune, great talents, and excellent universal character." John Adams, Congressman

John Adams autobiography (June-August 1775)

"I go fully trusting in that Providence which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve. I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time nor distance can change." George Washington

Letter to Martha Washington (June 23, 1775)
(see second letter)

  1. After watching the video, discuss some of the different viewpoints of the British and the colonists before the American Revolution. Did all colonists consider themselves Americans? (Many considered themselves British Americans.) Did all colonists support the revolution and independence from Britain? How did the British feel about the colonists in America?
  2. Remind students that the video included many personal quotations from the time of the revolution. They were pulled from primary sources of the period, original documents, such as letters or diaries, that describe an event in the words of those who witnessed it. Tell students they will receive a series of quotations and their challenge is to match the quotation to the correct speaker. On the board, write the names of the speakers listed below. Ask student volunteers to read aloud the quotations or provide the quotations to students on a printout. After students have identified the speakers for each quotation, ask them to briefly explain the situation or event the speaker is describing. What is the general sentiment of the quotation?

  3. Next, ask students to choose and read three of the quotations above for which a source is given. Their assignment is to briefly describe each one, then choose one to rewrite in their own words. (You may want to assign these to ensure each of the sources is covered.) Their writing should reflect the important points of the original primary source, as well as the general sentiment of the writer.

  4. Ask students to read aloud their rewrites of the primary sources. After they have shared their writing, discuss what these primary sources reveal about American sentiment at the time of the revolution. What were some of the different feelings held by American colonists?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:  Students identified and analyzed several quotations from the period, explaining what events and sentiments they reflect from the revolution; developed a thorough, engaging rewrite of the primary source that reflected the main ideas and sentiment of the original document; clearly described various sentiments of American colonists.
  • Two points:  Students identified and analyzed a few quotations from the period, explaining what events and sentiments they reflect from the revolution; developed a clear rewrite of the primary source that reflected the main ideas and sentiment of the original document; clearly described a few of the different sentiments of American colonists.
  • One point:  Students did not identify or analyze any of the quotations from the period, or explain what events and sentiments they reflect from the revolution; developed a vague or inaccurate rewrite of the primary source that did not reflect the main ideas and sentiment of the original document; did not describe any of the different sentiments of American colonists.

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Definition: To stop from using, buying, or dealing with as an act of protest
Context: Angry colonists boycotted British goods

Definition: A person chosen to represent another person or group; a representative
Context: Some delegates wanted to remain loyal to Britain, others wanted independence, and others were undecided.

Definition: A body of citizens organized for military service
Context: The British regulars had served an average of ten years, while the American militia was mostly untrained.

Definition: A short printed publication, usually without a cover, that explains a topic or supports a position
Context: In a pamphlet called "Common Sense," author Thomas Paine criticized the idea of being ruled by a British monarch.

Definition: A person who is loyal to his or her country; in the American Revolution, patriots were the people living in the American colonies who wanted to be free of British control
Context: Two lanterns glowed briefly in the steeple of Boston's Old North Church, just long enough to signal patriots across the Charles River that the Redcoats would move that night by water.

Definition: Someone who opposes or disobeys one in authority; an American colonist who fought against the British
Context: The rebels included farmers, blacksmiths, writers, fathers and sons, and many other ordinary men who sacrificed their lives for freedom.

Definition: A charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes
Context: In 1765 Britain passed the Stamp Act, which placed a tax on all printed material, from newspapers to playing cards.

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Academic Standards

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • U.S. History-Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s): Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in shaping the revolutionary movement, and reasons for the American victory
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online,click here

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance

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