Stamps and Bullets: The American Revolution

Stamps and Bullets:  The American Revolution


Level:  Moderate: Day 3 – Follow-up activity

Time:  Each lesson is 40 minutes

A Monumental Inscription (Boston Massacre Broadside)

Important Intelligence of PEACE! (broadside)


Halifax, Nova Scotia; Stamp Act; broadside; muse; hinder; infernal; yonder; pardon; ‘twas; tho’; Tories; e’ere; Deposition Querum; grapeshot; expedition; discharge; embark; dinty; massacre

Students will:
1)     identify some of the economic and political causes for the American Revolution;
2)     describe some of the personal feelings colonists had about events leading to and during the American Revolution; and
3)     examine colonist and British accounts of some of the events.
Lesson One:  The Stamp Act
Have the students read the paragraph about Isaiah’s involvement with the Stamp Act from paragraph 4 of the Short Biographical Essay.  Pass out the Halifax Gazette graphics that deal with the Stamp Act.  Ask the students how Isaiah’s added “stamp” (the skull and crossbones and the devil) makes them feel about the Stamp Act.  What does the banner of the paper say against the Stamp Act?  Why did Isaiah feel that it was so important to educate people about the Stamp Act?  What does “taxation without representation” have to do with the Stamp Act?  Have the students write a journal entry on how they would feel about being forced to pay something just because someone else had a debt to pay off.

Have the students read portions of the Historic Transportation and Communication Essay that deal with newspapers.  Discuss Thomas’s feelings about the newspaper as portrayed in the play Isaiah Thomas – Patriot Printer.  What role did Thomas think newspapers should play in peoples’ daily lives?  Have the students compare and contrast newspapers of Isaiah’s day with newspapers of today.

Lesson Two:  The Boston Massacre and the Battle of Bunker Hill

Have a student who is theatrical read A Monumental Inscription (Boston Massacre broadside).  Ask students to describe what this broadside is about.  What side was the author on?  Do the words that the author chose affect how a person feels about the event?  This broadside was printed at the anniversary of the event.  Why was it important for people to remember and be upset about the Boston Massacre?  What effect does the woodcut print add to the poem? 

Discuss the use of primary documents in studying history and how we have to be careful how we interpret things.  Have students write a newspaper article about the Boston Massacre, based on the broadside.

Lesson Three:  Lexington and Concord

Using the May 3, 1775 issue of The Massachusetts Spy, have your students complete the Worksheet and discuss the answers.  (A blank copy of the worksheet and an answer sheet are both included.)

Lesson Four:  The People Tell Their Story

Discuss with students how Isaiah Thomas affected the way people felt about the American Revolution.  Isaiah published only one thing for the Provincial Government, A Narrative of the Excursion and Ravages of the King’s Troops.  Depending on the reading level of your students, read it to them or have them read it.

Explain to the students what a deposition is.  Have them answer the following questions:
1)     Do the first five pages sound like what Isaiah wrote in The Massachusetts Spy?
2)     Why is it signed by a group called Querum? Why would a British soldier side with the colonists? 
3)     On the fifth page there is the only deposition from a woman.  How did she feel about what happened? 
4)     Discuss whether or not we trust what was said in this document. 

5)     Have the students look at the list of men killed and wounded.  Are there any from your home town or town nearby?

To finish this lesson the students can write an essay on what effect the depositions would have on how they, as colonists, would feel about separating from England.  If time remains, have the class break into two groups and debate whether the colonists should or should not separate from England.

Lesson Five:  The Battle of Bunker Hill

Hand out the Battle of Bunker Hill broadside to the students and have them break into small groups.  Explain to them that the British wrote this and it is sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle.  See if anyone wants to try to sing it. 

Assign each group part of the song to write into their own words.  Have the groups read their versions.  Discuss how the two versions compare and contrast.  How are the colonists portrayed in the song?  Why is John Hancock called a king in it?  Ask the students if they are ready to go get those British and fight hard for separation from England after reading this.

Extra Lesson:  Peace has been declared

Using Important Intelligence of PEACE! ask students to list the details of the Paris Peace Treaty.  How did each side fare in the agreement?  Why is “WORCESTER, April 1, 5 o’clock, P.M.” printed on this article?  Is Isaiah happy about this news?  As a final activity for the unit, students can create a newspaper with stories and pictures on everything that has been studied.

Field trips may be taken to the following places:
  • Boston:  Old North Church, South Meeting House, The Beaver (the boat where the tea was thrown overboard), Paul Revere’s House, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill Monument
  • Lexington and Concord
  • The Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington
  • Worcester Art Museum
  • Old Sturbridge Village (to see Isaiah Thomas’s print shop)