Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Road to Independence and Constitutional America

The Road to Independence and Constitutional America

SSUSH3: The Student will explain the primary causes of the American Revolution.
a. Explain how the end of Anglo-French imperial competition as seen in the French and Indian War and the 1763 Treaty of Paris laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.
b. Explain colonial response to such British actions as the Proclamation of 1763, the Stamp Act, and the Intolerable Acts as seen in Sons and Daughters of Liberty and Committees of Correspondence.
c. Explain the importance of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense to the movement for independence.

SSUSH4: The student will identify the ideological, military, and diplomatic aspects of the American Revolution.
a. Explain the language, organization, and intellectual sources of the Declaration of Independence; include the writing of John Locke and the role of Thomas Jefferson.
b. Explain the reason for and significance of the French alliance and foreign assistance and the roles of Benjamin Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette.
c. Analyze George Washington as a military leader; include the creation of a professional military and the life of a common soldier, and describe the significance of the crossing of the Delaware River and Valley Forge.
d. Explain the role of geography at the Battle of Yorktown, the role of Lord Cornwallis, and the Treaty of Paris, 1783.

SSUSH5: The student will explain specific events and key ideas that brought about the adoption and implementation of the United States Constitution.
a. Explain how weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation and Daniel Shays’ Rebellion led to a call for a stronger central government.
b. Evaluate the major arguments of the anti-Federalists and Federalists during the debate on ratification of the Constitution as put forth in The Federalist concerning form of government, factions, checks and balances, and the power of the executive, including the roles of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
c. Explain the key features of the Constitution, specifically the Great Compromise, separation of powers (influence of Montesquieu), limited government, and the issue of slavery.
d.Analyze how the Bill of Rights serves as a protector of individual and states’ rights.
e. Explain the importance of the Presidencies of George Washington and John Adams; include the Whiskey Rebellion, non-intervention in Europe, and the development of political parties (Alexander Hamilton).

1. Explain the French and Indian War’s impact on the American Revolution.
2. Explain the response to British Actions and the role of the Sons of Liberty.
3. Explain Thomas Paine’s influence on the war for Independence through his pamphlet Common Sense.
4. Describe the Declaration of Independence’s format and intellectual influences as written by Thomas Jefferson.
5. Explain France’s role in American Independence.
6. Analyze the importance of a professional army as designed by George Washington.
7. Describe the Battle at Yorktown.
8. Explain how the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation led to the creation of the United States Constitution.
9. Explain the Great Compromise and its impact on the development of the Legislative Branch.

Day 1
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence

Students are asked as an opening to the unit to describe their own personal pursuit of happiness as an individual. After students share responses, the teacher will tell students what the pursuit of Happiness at that time meant. (15 minutes)

Guided Learning session 1: What Are We Learning? What do I need to Know?
Students will get a handout with the Georgia Performance Standards listed on the front side. Students are required to highlight the verbs, and underline essential vocabulary. Teacher will ask students to call out words. This creates the vocabulary for the entire unit. Students will be required for homework to define the terms on the reverse side of the handout to turn in the day of the unit test. (15 minutes)

Guided Learning Session 2: Enlightenment
Teacher will begin the Purpose of Government Power Point. This presentation discusses what a perfect society is, but explains why there is no such thing as a perfect society. Why is government needed? John Locke’s theory of social contract is explained, and who in the American Revolution used these ideas for Independence. (20 minutes)

Independent Session: Hobbes vs. Locke (who had the greater influence?)
Students will create a Venn diagram to show the differences and similarities between Thomas Hobbes Ideas from Common Sense and John Locke’s Ideas in Two Treatise of a Civil Government. After, the student must choose who had the greater influence on independence and write a five paragraph essay. Students need to use ideas of either Hobbes or Locke to defend their choice, and provide examples from the American Revolution. Due in a week. (25 minutes)

1. What is the purpose of government, according to the natural rights philosophers like Locke?
2. Where does government, according to natural rights philosophers, get its right to govern from?
3. What is social compact?

DAY 2:
Guided Instruction
At the beginning of class, students will receive a note taking guided entitled “Road to Independence.” This note taking guide coincides with the “Road to War” Power point presentation. Teacher will go through the primary and secondary causes of the American Revolution. Topics include: French and Indian War ends, salutary neglect, mercantilism, taxes, Proclamation of 1763, Stamp Act, Sugar Act, Quartering Act, Declaratory Act, Townshend Act, Tea Act, Coercive Acts, Intolerable Acts, Boycotts, Sons/Daughters of Liberty, Stamp Act Congress, Boston Massacre, and the First Continental Congress. (30 minutes)-Ending on Slide 21

Independent Guided Reading (must be done in class, because students don’t have books to take home)
Students will get a guided reading about the War For Independence. Students must read the section and answer questions regarding the causes of the American Revolution. (40 minutes)

What today would cause you to seek independence from the government?
Quick write assignment. Students have ten minutes to write a response to this question and turn in at the end of class as a ticket out the door.

Guided Instruction
Students will receive a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Teacher will explain the instructions for the Declaration of Independence Fish Bowl Activity. Students are broken up into 7 groups. Each group will be given a portion of the Declaration of Independence to analyze, interpret, and explain. They will work together to determine the meaning of the document, and what intellectual resources back up their demands. (45 minutes)
At the end of a forty five minute period, the class will move desks into two circles. One small circle in the center with five desks, and one larger circle on the outside surrounding the small group. The outside group will have a highlighter and a pen. As the group inside the fishbowl explains their portion of the document, and answers guided questions by the teacher, the outside students will listen to their responses and highlight various passages and sentences. They will write the meaning to the side in their own words. (35 minutes)

Guided Instruction
Students will take out their note taking guide entitled “Road to Independence” that coincides with the “Road to War Power Point.” The teacher will finish the presentation in that class period. Topics include: Lexington and Concord, Second Continental Congress, British strength and weaknesses, American strength and weaknesses, Patrick Henry, Bunker Hill, Hessian soldiers, Common Sense, John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Declaration of Independence, crossing of the Delaware, Battle of Saratoga, Brandywine and Germantown, PA, Valley Forge, Battle of Yorktown, effects of the American Revolution. (30 minutes)

Independent Instruction
Students will be given a mini project. The project consists of students writing their own version of the Declaration of Independence, but instead they are seeking independence from their parents or their school. Students must use the language, as well as the format of the document in order to complete this assignment. Students must also refer to Hobbes, Locke, and Montesquieu to support their cause. While the D. of I. has an extensive list of grievances, students will be required to provide at least twelve. At the end, they are required to make an official statement declaring independence. The document must look old, and must look authentic. A piece of notebook paper and pencil is not acceptable for a final draft. Assignment is due in two weeks. (45 minutes)

Day 5
Guided Instruction
Just Right Government presentation. Now that students have looked at American Independence, how did the U.S. Constitution become the basis for our government? Students will see the structure of the Articles of Confederation, the weaknesses as portrayed in the lack of ability to tax citizens, and the development of the Constitution. (30 minutes)

Independent Instruction
Articles of Confederation vs. U.S. Constitution. Students will compare the structure of the Articles of Confederation the U.S. Constitution. (30 minutes)
State’s Rights/ Federal Rights/ Who Wrote the document? /
Did it fail? / What were the results? / What does the preamble state? /
Rights of the people/ Legacy and influence of the document/
(25 minutes)

Guided Instruction 2
Students will turn to the Constitution in the U.S. History Textbook, beginning on page 157. Teacher will give students the Living Constitution Handout. The students will read the Constitution aloud, and then will summarize what each Article, and section is about in their own words. Students will determine the meaning of the Amendments independently (30 minutes)

Guided Instruction
Students will finish the Living Constitution Handout and will review in class with a partner (25 minutes). This will be turned in for a grade at the end of the 25 minutes.

Independent Instruction
Students may have time to finish their Enlightenment Essays or Declaration of Independence project in class. (55 minutes).

Day 7
Guided Instruction
Review standards 3 and 4. Students will get a study guide to review for their unit test. (30 minutes as a class review)

Independent Instruction
Students are taken to the computer lab in order to put the finishing touches on their Enlightenment Essay as well as their Declaration of Independence. (50 minutes)

Day 8
Unit Test
Students will also turn in Essay today. Declaration of Independence Project is due the following class.

Philadelphia as an Intellectual Center
09/28/2013 – 12:45pm to 2:00pm
Bruce Kuklick
Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania ·
Related multimedia:
Philadelphia as an Intellectual Center – (Audio/Video)

The Declaration of Independence: A Global History
09/29/2013 – 9:45am to 11:00am
David Armitage
Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History & Chair of the Department of History, Harvard University ·
Related multimedia:
The Declaration of Independence: A Global History – (Audio/Video)
The Declaration of Independence: A Global History. 2007.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense.

  • Amy Brady
  • Henry County High School
Grade Level
  • High School: 11
Time Frame
  • 8 days

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