After the War for Independence, each state was responsible for paying its own war debt. The state of Massachusetts decided to raise taxes on the farmers in the west. In reaction, the western farmers, led by Daniel Shays, protested violently against the Massachusetts government. The farmers claimed that protesting and rebellion are part of America’s key beliefs.
Do you think this is true? Do Americans generally believe that the right to protest should be protected? Can you think of any recent times where the nation appeared to be at a point of violent protest or rebellion?
Once the War for Independence was over and the US was given its independence, the country needed to create a new government. While many countries at the time had "informal" governments (no written guidelines of what the government could or could not do), US leaders felt that the US needed a formal, written document to create a new government.
Why do you think it was important to write down the guidelines that would form the new nation?
While there were many battles fought during the War for American Independence, the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Saratoga are often identified as being two of the more significant.
Choose one of the battles listed above and explain why it is considered a significant battle.
Britain’s army was taught to fight in an orderly fashion, marching in straight lines and moving as a large group. The colonists, a more ragtag bunch, resorted to hiding behind trees and rocks and making sneak attacks on their opponents.
Which method of fighting would you rather use if you were involved in a battle, and why?
On June 7, 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Members of the Congress spent nearly a month debating the best course of action for the Americans, and ultimately decided to declare themselves independent of British rule.
What might have been some arguments in favor of remaining loyal to Britain? What might have been some arguments in favor of declaring independence?
When North American colonists protested at the taxes Britain was levying, Parliament replied that the colonists were still British subjects under British law, so they were subject to British taxation. Parliament said that it represented all British subjects, even the colonists across the Atlantic Ocean, who didn’t have representatives in Parliament.
If you were a member of British Parliament (government), how would you explain or justify the need for these taxes?
How did the French & Indian War change the way Britain ruled the American colonies? Was this change in governing appropriate?
At the end of the French and Indian War, American colonist were excited about the prospect of more land in the west.
Pretend you are an American colonist and write a letter to friends explaining why you are excited about the new land and if you have any concerns.
What is a Bellringer?
A bell ringer is a warm up activity that is completed during the first 5 minutes of class. They will usually consist of a short writing assignment.