Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Declaration of Independence: An FPRI Primer

The Declaration of Independence: An FPRI Primer

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies:
Thematic Strand Index:
• Standard #2: Time, Continuity and Change
• Standard #6: Power, Authority and Governance
• Standard #9: Global Connections
• Standard #10 Civic Ideals and Practices

United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
• Primary Emphasis: Era 3 Revolution and the New Nation: Standard 1

Common Core State Standards for English Lang. Arts & Literacy in History/Social Science, 6-12
Key Ideas and Details
• RH/SS.2—determine and summarize central ideas and themes
• RH/SS.3—analyze text related individuals, events or ideas
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
• RH/SS.9—analyze and/or compare primary/secondary sources
Comprehension and Collaboration
• SL.1—prepare and participate effectively in a range of conversations.
• SL.2—integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
• SL.4—present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

1.Analyze the meaning of the Declaration of Independence.

2.Assess the impact of the Declaration of Independence on the United States today.

3.Explain the impact of the Declaration of Independence on other countries such as Haiti, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Israel.

1. Ice Breaker/ Anticipatory Set: Ask students to say any words or lines that they know from memory of the Declaration of Independence. Make a list on the board and talk about what they mean and why they are well known.

2. Have your students carefully read the Declaration of Independence and review the LESSON INFORMATION below.

3. Divide the class into three groups of students. Each group will correspond to one of the three objectives above. Students should be given a day in class and time at home, to do their research and discuss their findings. Teachers should determine the scope of the write-up and length of the report to the class.

4. Students should report to the class their findings. This can range from three to ten minutes, depending on the time teachers want to spend on the Declaration of Independence. After the reports, the class should assess the overall importance of the Declaration of Independence on the United States.

Grading can be based on the student research, class presentations, and class discussions.


Watch the FPRI Primer Video at

Read the Primer Essay at

Other materials included in the attached pdf.

Teachers can choose to limit the scope of this lesson to one or two of the three objectives.
Research can also be assigned as homework by individuals rather than in groups.

The lesson can be expanded to include the relationship of the Declaration of Independence to additional countries’ declarations of independence.

The Declaration of Independence: An FPRI Primer.

The Declaration of Independence. National Archives.

The Declaration of Independence.US has extensive information and the text.

ORBIS—FPRI’s Journal of Foreign Affairs. Numerous articles throughout its publishing history concerning the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence at

50 Facts About the Declaration of Independence (The one about the signing date is wrong!)

Declaration of Independence. Office of the Historian, Dept. of State.

Venezuelan Declcaration of Independence.

Haiti’s Declaration of Independece from Wickipedia. Declaration in French.

Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence in Vietnamese from Wickipedia. (Vi%E1%BB%87t_Nam_D%C3%A2n_ch%E1%BB%A7_C%E1%BB%99ng_h%C3%B2a)

Israel’s Declaration of Independence in Hebrew and English.

  • Paul Dickler
  • FPRI
Grade Level
  • High School: 9, 10, 11, 12
Time Frame
  • 2-3 Classroom Periods

If you have any questions about this lesson plan, or if you wish to contact the author, please email us at