UNIT SEVEN: CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Essential question: What drew the colonies into a war with England?
Focus Questions for this unit:
- How did the French and Indian war change the destiny of America?
- In what ways did our colonial lifestyle influence our actions?
- What events created a rift between the colonies and mother England?
- What was the English perspective of these events?
Curriculum of Connections
- Why did the British have different perspectives on the policies of taxation?
- Are their "symptoms" of conditions that exist today around the world which could lead to a revolution?
- How did mercantilism impact British society?
- How are issues like taxation still relevant today?
- Does history repeat itself with the modern "Tea Party" movement?
Curriculum of Practice
- What are some ethical issues a historian may face in their role?
Curriculum of Identity
- How do I feel about the role of government in our lives today?
- Were colonial grievances justified?
- What are ways in which you resolve conflict?
There is no more important period in time crucial to understanding the development of our nation than the 12-year period following the French and Indian war.
Economic and political reasons for the American Revolution are compelling. Emotions drove colonists to endure eight years of war and sacrifice. Idealistic reasons for the Revolution include the growing unity of the North American colonies, hopes for the future, and the increasing rift between the attitudes of Great Britain and their North American subjects. In short, Americans started to become Americans before the Revolution.
By the 1770’s North American consumption accounted for a third of British production. The British succeeded in creating a trade in which the colonists struggled to sell enough in raw materials to trade for British finished goods. This created both mass consumption and then mass protest. Revolution would have been unthinkable without the unity in the colonies that this created.
There were spreading and increasingly emotional debates going on about what modern historians would call “pocketbook” issues — taxes and closing the land west of the Appalachians for settlement. Colonists would have taken risks (as their fathers had done) to move to a new area based on hopes for opportunities to provide for their families.
Many colonists were a part of the Great Migration of the 1630’s from England. By 1765, also living here were descendants of the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who fled Northern Ireland. All had deep memories of escaping poverty and religious persecution. Each came to establish a better life for themselves than those left behind in “the old country.” Any imposition of “old” culture or government structure would have been resented deeply.
Ideas were debated at weekly Church services, militia drills, town hall meetings and in the ever-present taverns. It has been argued that there was a tavern in New England for every 40 adult males — must have been sort of a pre-TV man cave. One only need listen to modern talk radio for a few minutes to imagine the heat that could be created after a couple of glasses of ale.
England decided to re-impose control on the colonies through rules they had been semi-ignoring for 150 years at just the wrong time. Separated by a two to four month journey across the Atlantic , few in England had recognized that their colonies had become bigger, prouder, and more self sufficient.
Instead of embracing the colonial's growing pride in their own capabilities, George III and Parliament picked this time to enact more rigorous control. George III was neither a tyrant or crazy (that came later), but did have complex of wanting his views of good government enacted and respected no matter what. George III thought the colonists would welcome the redcoats as defenders of their Parliamentary rights.
The cost of this miscalculation would be the loss of the American colonies.
Time: approximately 2-3 weeks
Individual lessons for this unit:
Mercantilism and Some Other Really Exciting Stuff
Which War is it Anyway ?
The Seeds of Discontent
Liberty or Death!
Mercantilism in North America
A Closer Look at the Navigation Acts
The Molasses Act of 1733
The Royal Proclamation of 1763
George Grenville biography
The Sugar Act of 1764
The Currency Act of 1764
The Stamp Act of 1765
The Townshend Acts
The Boston Massacre
The Tea Act of 1773
Lord North biography
History of the Boston Tea Party
Eyewitness Account of Boston Tea Party
The Intolerable Acts
You're Not The Boss of Me
Lighting the Fuse
What a Party
The Empire Strikes Back
The Last Chance
The Shot Heard 'Round The World
The Stamp Act
The Boston Massacre
The Coercive (Intolerable) Acts
Extension Activities and Resources
Reading: Americans with Attitudes: The Growth of Smuggling in the Colonies
Reading: The Legend of Champagne Charlie
Reading: 5 Myths of Tarring and Feathering
Reading: Boston Massacre Eyewitness Accounts
Reading: Boston Massacre Multiple Perspectives
Reading: Today's Tea Party Isn't Quite Like 1773's