Finding a Sequence

Prequel to Independence


All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

A long series of outrages and abuses over time would drive the English citizens living in the colony of Massachusetts to seek self-government, believing that the united colonies were and should be free and independent states. Some of the events, which we might call the Prequel to Independence, represent key moments in the many years leading up to the creation of the United States of America.

In this activity, you will place a set of documents and images in chronological order. If you get stumped, use the “Show Hints” button.

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Adoption of the Resolution Calling for Independence from England

This document records the July 2, 1776, vote in which the Continental Congress agreed to independence. The words of the resolution, originally proposed by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee, are echoed in the Declaration of Independence, [and referred to as the Lee Resolution.]

Find further background information and a transcript of this document on the list of 100 Milestone Documents of American history on www.ourdocuments.gov.

This document was featured in “Teaching with Documents : OurDocuments.gov” in the November/December 2002 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.

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Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Copy of chromolithograph by John Bufford after William L. Champney, circa 1856

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Deposition of Captain John Parker Concerning the Battle at Lexington

This and other documents about the battles at Lexington and Concord are included in the Massachusetts State Papers from 1775 - 1787, in the Papers of the Continental Congress.

Additional Details on this Document from our Online Exhibit the Digital Vaults:

The Revolutionary War’s first battle—reported firsthand

On April 19, 1775, Capt. John Parker gave this account of the battle of Lexington, Massachusetts. After confronting the British Regulars, Parker ordered his men “to disperse and not to fire.” Suddenly a shot rang out, fired by an unknown person; the British reacted by firing, killing eight of Parker’s men. This deposition, which was delivered to the Massachusetts Assembly and later forwarded to the Continental Congress, presents the American perception of the battle.

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Deposition of Captain John Parker Concerning the Battle at Lexington (page 2)

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Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee - Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman. Copy of engraving after Alonzo Chappel.

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Paul Revere’s ride

[This illustration is found in the series Feature Story Illustrations, compiled 1942 - 1946. The series description is as follows:

This particular series of prints and negatives was created by the Pictures Division to illustrate the master set of feature stories written by the Features Division. The majority of the photographs depict some aspect of American life or American institutions. The purpose of the series was to try to correct misinformation or misunderstanding of the United States existing in specific areas abroad and to stress the unity of the Allied war effort. Many of the photographs illustrate scenes of daily life of “common” people in the U.S., especially ethnic Americans (Chinese-Americans, Italian-Americans, Portuguese-Americans, and others, and how they are helping the war effort. In addition to showing how the “common” people live, the series also details the lives of important political (such as, Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, Harold Ickes, Sam Rayburn, and others) and military (such as, Generals Eisenhower, Marshall, Bradley, Clark, and others.) personalities. The lives of Hollywood stars, Hollywood’s support of the war effort, and news of American sports figures are illustrated as well.]

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Reading of the Declaration of Independence from the East balcony of the Old State House, Boston, Massachusetts July 18, 1776. Copy of artwork.,

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Sketch of British and American Lines and Fortifications in Boston Area by John Trumbull

This map comes from a file of letters, many with enclosures, by which General George Washington informed Congress of important military happenings and problems.

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The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in which the American colonies set forth a list of grievances against the British Crown and declared they were breaking from British rule to form free and independent states. On July 19, 1776, Congress resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile [sic] “The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America” and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress. The engrossing was most likely done by Timothy Matlack, an assistant to Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress. Although it bears the date “July 4, 1776,” the engrossed Declaration was signed on August 2, 1776, by members of the Continental Congress who were present that day and later by other members of Congress. A total of 56 delegates eventually signed the document.

Learn more in the National Archives online exhibit The Charters of Freedom.

Find further background information and a transcript of the Declaration of Independence on the list of 100 Milestone Documents of American history on www.ourdocuments.gov

Additional Details on this Document from our Online Exhibit the Digital Vaults:

Declaration of Independence

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in “self-evident truths” and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.

Text adapted from “On the Other Side” in the October 2004 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.

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The Declaration of Independence (page 2)

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The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1773. Copy of lithograph by Sarony & Major, 1846

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View of The Attack on Bunker’s Hill, with the Burning of Charles Town, June 17, 1775. Copy of engraving by Lodge after Millar, circa 1775-80

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Name ________________________
Class ________________________

Prequel to Independence

Making Connections

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Put the documents in order by entering the corresponding document number into the boxes below and write your conclusion response in the space provided.

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Response

Hints for this activity

Item #1: Daring treasonous resolution is presented.

Item #2: Remember Crispus Attucks died here.

Item #3: He said, “if they mean war, let it begin here.”

Item #4: Congress appointed a committee of 5.

Item #5: An equestrian event that warned the locals.

Item #6: . . . and we told everybody about it across the land!

Item #7: Siege of Boston, April 19, 1775 - March 17, 1776.

Item #8: We did it!

Item #9: We would become a nation of coffee drinkers.

Item #10: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”

Finding a Sequence

Prequel to Independence


Conclusion

These events are, of course, not the only important events in this story. Write 1-3 paragraphs in which you describe the key events leading up to Independence. As examples, include each of these events in chronological order. Include the reasons that each of these is important, that is, how each event contributed to Independence and why it matters. Remember to include a knock-out topic sentence and a strong summative conclusion.

Consider creating an illustrated timeline, newspaper, or dramatic presentation based on these documents. You might incorporate music of the era and additional resources.