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American Revolutionary War Role Examination

Created by:
James Daniels
William Davies Middle School

Revolutionary Decision

Grade Level:
6 to 8


Students will be assigned a revolutionary figure to determine if they were a Loyalist, Patriot, or British. Students will then be placed in groups according to their figure's ideology to determine what beliefs these people had in common and whether America should declare independence.

Historical Context

Until the mid-1700s, the vast majority of colonists were happy to consider themselves subjects of the British crown. They felt protected by their strong and wealthy mother country and, though each colony's crown-appointed governor held the power to veto, local legislatures enjoyed a strong hand over daily affairs.

In 1754, Benjamin Franklin proposed the Albany Plan, a call for colonial unification in common defense. Delegates at the convention unanimously approved the idea, which provided a theoretical basis for strong colonies joined around the hub of an organized central government. The colonial legislatures and the British crown, however, rejected it, fearing loss of power.

Over the decades, the political beliefs of the colonists evolved quickly as Parliament increased taxes and tried to strengthen Britain's hold over North America. Colonists' talk quickly turned from simple outrage at taxation to the embrace of radical ideas such as liberty and equality. By the time of the American Revolution, nearly one-third of the mainland colonists had committed to the idea of Patriot resistance. Another one-third remained loyal to the king, while the remainder of the population remained undecided.

This is a culmination activity. Students will have been prepared with vocabulary terms and concepts of the American Revolution in previous lessons from the unit.


historical personalities, the common man's viewpoint, significant historical events, various political viewpoints.

Goals and Objectives:

After completing this activity, students will be able to:

1. Compare and contrast different sides of the same argument.

2. Describe how various group viewpoints lead to decision making during the American Revolution.

3. Summarize each group's viewpoint in the conflict of the American Revolution.

4. Analyze the different viewpoints that existed prior to the start of the American Revolution and gain a better understanding of opposing viewpoints.


STANDARD 6.4.8 E-1 (Social Studies Skills): Discuss the background and major issues of the American Revolution, including the political and economic causes and consequences of the revolution.

STANDARD 6.4.8 E-5 (Social Studies Skills): Discuss the political and philosophical origins of the United States Constitution and its implementation in the 1790s.

STANDARD 6.4.8 E-2 (Social Studies Skill): Discuss the major events (e.g. Boston Tea Party, Battle of Trenton) and personalities (e.g., George Washington, John Adams, John Witherspoon, William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) of the American Revolution.

Equipment, materials and other technology needed:

Paper for student groups to write a short essay outlining their group's main points of view.

Teacher-created rubric to evaluate group work and class presentation.

Details of Activity

WARM UP/ENGAGEMENT: Ask students whether they support or oppose the death penalty in the United States. Have students vote by secret ballot and tally the results. Post the results and then list the pros and the cons for both sides. Discuss how this hot-topic issue in American culture leads to individuals forming political opinion and candidate choice for political office.(/p>

ACTIVITY: Randomly pass out the three biographies to the class. Divide the class into these three groups, explaining that each group is to summarize the key three findings in each document.

After allowing time for discussion, each group should send out one emissary to another group to present their viewpoint and negotiate with the new group, based on their political perspectives and personal needs.

Reconvene the original groups. Each group then makes a short presentation outlining their three main points and which group best helped them meet their goals or were opposed to their needs.

Practice and Reinforcement

Students can complete a table or chart outlining the three main points for each group. They could also write a short essay outlining their group's main points of view.


Web Links:
Provides quotations by George Washington.

Provides quotations by Thomas Jefferson.

Features documents with different points of view.

For more information about the Teaching American History Program click here