Taxes, Rebellion, and the Birth of a New Nation

byValerie Schwarz


The unit, Taxes, Rebellion, and the Birth of a Nation is designed for a fourth grade Virginia Studies class. The unit could be used in U.S. History classes as well. It will be taught over four weeks for approximately 45 minutes each day. It will cover the causes of the American Revolution, the American Revolutionary War, and culminate with the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It will focus on the roles Patrick Henry, George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason, played in the war for independence and in the birth of America's Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


This unit is designed to teach the students the causes that led to the American Revolutionary War. The students will be able to identify three main causes: the Proclamation of 1763, taxation without representation, and the Boston Massacre.

The students will briefly learn about the people and events of the American Revolution that relate to Virginia. The students will understand that some ordinary citizens were patriots, some were loyalists, and others remained neutral. They also will learn that George Washington was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

Students will learn about the strategy, the battle, and the surrender at Yorktown.

The emphasis of this unit is in how the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention, made some of the final decisions. The students will examine and evaluate the way the government was set up: the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan, the three-fifths compromise, and freedom of religion. By delving into role-play and debate the students will experience the role James Madison played in negotiating and bringing the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights to fruition.


This unit examines one of the most exciting time periods in American history. A small group of independent colonies unite to rebel against their almighty mother country. Some brilliant minds convinced the world to help the colonies to rebel. This provided the colonies with resources to overpower Britain. Against all odds the colonies will prevail and break free, thus creating the United States of America. This period is important to teach because it is the beginning, the birth of the country in which the students live. Students should understand how their country began and the principles on which it was founded.

The unit will focus on some of the American heroes who risked their lives boldly signing the Declaration of Independence. The courage displayed and the risk these patriots were willing to take in order to stand up for what they believed is another reason why this unit should be taught. It is important for students to know who these players were and the role they played in giving birth to a new nation.

A major focus of this unit revolves around the Constitutional Convention. The founders pondered old ways and created new ideas about how the new government should look and work. Throughout this process James Madison emerges as an invaluable asset as a compromiser. Several of the major compromises will be examined to illustrate the difficult work that Madison achieved. Also by delving into these compromises the students will understand a few of the famous debates and why our Constitution is written in this way.

Madison was a brilliant American dedicated to the goal of getting the Constitution ratified. Madison worked tirelessly writing many of the Federalist Papers to help bring about ratification of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers were propaganda that was published in newspapers to convince people to support the Constitution. The Federalist Papers provide insight into the minds of the founders and show the intentions of the writers of the Constitution. Joseph Ellis describes James Madison's character in regard to his work with the Virginia Ratifying Convention. "The main character in the story is James Madison, a diminutive, paralyzingly shy Virginian who emerged at this dramatic moment as America's most profound political thinker." 1 For the reasons just listed, James Madison's contributions need not be forgotten. His legend and political philosophy should be taught to all children whether they live in his home state of Virginia or in any other state in the United States of America.

In summary, this unit is important to teach because all students should value and understand the contributions made by our Founding Fathers and how this great country was formed.

Background Knowledge

This unit will teach the students about a revolution that was unlike others. Previous revolutions involved economically struggling people rebelling against the wealthy class. In the American Revolution a majority of privileged colonists rebelled for principles and sought the approval of the world. The American Revolution started as an idea, but has led to the birth of a nation and a document that has been significant in the history of the United States for over 200 years.

Causes of the Revolutionary War

The colonists' original intent was not to break away from England. Students will learn the causes of the war. Going back to the French and Indian War students will learn how the colonists relied on their mother country for protection. This protection came with a price. Following the French and Indian War, King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763 on October 7, 1763, limiting western settlement to the Appalachian Mountains. The proclamation was designed to keep the colonists safer from Indian attack and avoid having to spend more money to protect them. Eventually the colonists began to think King George III was tyrannical.

Then, England felt that the colonies should pay their debt. Thus, England imposed many taxes on the colonists. The Stamp Act, The Townshend Acts, and the Sugar Act will be addressed in this unit.

The Stamp Act (1765) required all paper documents including playing cards and dice to have a revenue stamp from a royal stamp agent. The Stamp Act is particularly important because it resulted in a boycott of British trade. This is significant because the boycott united the colonies and gave them an "American" identity. Another important result of the Stamp Act was the emergence of the secret society known as the "Sons of Liberty". Interestingly, the name emerged from a speech given by Isaac Barre, a member of British Parliament. 2 The Sons of Liberty set out on a mission to harass the tax collectors, forcing them to resign.

The Townshend Acts (1766) were three acts passed by Charles Townshend. The Revenue Act, which taxed lead, glass, paint, tea, and paper was one of the three acts. The other two acts passed new customs regulations and suspended the New York Assembly. Basically the former created a corrupt customs system and the latter made it so that colonial governors and judges answered to the Crown and not to local legislatures. The colonies once again united and boycotted British goods. This time the boycott was very effective and by 1770 all of the duties were repealed except the one on tea.

Additionally, the Sugar Act (1764) essentially taxed goods imported from countries other than Britain. Items taxed included refined sugar, textiles, coffee, indigo, and wines. These taxes served to restrict the colonies' free enterprise and limited them to buying and selling their goods only to Britain. These restrictions led to a growing feeling of economic oppression.

James Otis from Massachusetts gave a speech on February 24, 1761 in which he first declared, "Taxation without representation is tyranny". 3

This would become a rallying cry. On top of all of this England kept armed troops in the colonies. The colonists had to pay these soldiers and provide living quarters for them too. These armed soldiers were also involved in the Boston Massacre that added fuel to the fire. Fed up with the situation, the colonists had two choices: see if England would grant independence to the colonies or start a revolution.

Ironically, "The American Revolution was started, really, by the very people who most wanted to prevent it". 4

The American Revolutionary War

In this daring experiment, the American colonies took on England. This was a real David versus Goliath battle. The colonies had the potential to raise an army of about 30,000 men while the British had an army of 55,000 men, a navy of 28,0000 sailors, and the Royal Navy with 270 ships. 5 To overcome this deficit individual colonies united for a common cause and patriots convinced other countries that this was a revolution of the world. Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and Benjamin Franklin's negotiating skills all helped to convince other countries to buy into this revolution. Thomas Paine stated that all of Europe would benefit to have America a free port. The colonies successfully lured resources and military minds from Prussia (Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben), Poland (Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski), France (Marquis de Lafayette), and Germany (Hessian soldiers). Without these resources the war may not have ended with a British surrender at Yorktown.

The Constitution

In 1783, the war was over. This new, independent nation followed the Articles of Confederation and the direction of Congress. In May of 1787, fifty-five delegates met for the Philadelphia Convention to recommend ways to improve the Articles of Confederation. Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine did not attend since they were in France at the time. John Adams was also across the big pond in England. Another important American and Virginian, Patrick Henry, did not participate because he strongly opposed a strong national government. Despite the absence of these key figures, the group was still very impressive.

"The Philadelphia Convention itself had attracted some of the continent's greatest statesmen to draft a new plan of government". 6

There was some debate over whether to revise the articles or to do away with them completely. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states were supreme and the federal government was purposely very weak. Congress had no way of collecting money or enforcing laws. While the delegates intended to strengthen and modify the articles, it soon became apparent that the articles were flawed. Finally, the decision was made to do away with the Articles of the Confederation and to create a new document. This was exactly the suspicion Patrick Henry and he was right.

Equal Representation or by Population

Two plans were proposed for the new government: the Virginia Plan (James Madison's plan) and the New Jersey Plan (William Paterson's plan). This conflict threatened the adoption of the Constitution. Some of the key features addressed in these plans were the election and role of the president, the selection and role of the courts, and the structure of congress. They had many differing features, but the major conflict between these two plans centered on how representation should be handled in congress. Under the Virginia Plan the large states benefited from proportional representation and under the New Jersey Plan equal representation favored small states. The Virginia Plan proposed a bicameral congress and the New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral system. On June 19, 1787, the greatest debate took place. In the end the Virginia Plan would win, but the Constitution would reflect "The Connecticut Compromise" or "The Great Compromise" as suggested by Connecticut's famous delegate, Roger Sherman. The compromise set up a bicameral congress. The senate would have equal representation and the House of Representatives would have proportionate representation based on population.

Three-fifths Compromise

Another important issue is the conflict over slavery and how slaves would count in terms of taxation and representation. The southern states wanted slaves to count towards representation, but did not want slaves to count for taxation purposes. Madison explains why it is important to have the slaves count equally for representation and taxation in Federalist Paper #54 with the following argument.

Were their share of representation alone to be governed by this rule, they would have an interest in exaggerating their inhabitants. Were the rule to decide their share of taxation alone, a contrary temptation would prevail. By extending the rule to both objects, the States will have opposite interests which will control and balance each other and produce the requisite impartiality. 7

This quote not only illustrates the compromise, but also the wisdom of Madison as he negotiated the terms of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights

Another important issue was how could changes be made to this document. The statesmen knew that The Articles of Confederation had required a unanimous vote for changes to take place. Since a unanimous vote could never be achieved the document was never modified. Learning from prior mistakes the Founding Fathers eventually decided that an amendment could be made when proposed by 2/3 of each house and ratified by ¾ of the states. 8 The first ten amendments, or the Bill of Rights, were written and proposed for ratification at the same time as the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the rights and freedoms of the people. George Mason's document, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, was the basis for the Bill of Rights. Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was the basis for the first amendment. The first amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." There are two important ideas regarding freedom of religion in this amendment. First, government cannot adopt a religion and second, it cannot prohibit a religion.


The daunting task of creating a government for the people was finally on paper. The next step was ratification by the states. Throughout this process a series of essays describing how and why the Constitution was written appeared in newspapers across the United States. The Federalist Papers, or The Federalist were written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison and published under the pseudonym Publius. This series of essays are numbered from one through eighty-five. The Federalist Papers are "accepted as the best guide not only how the framers had understood the Constitution when they wrote it, but also to how the people of the United States had understood the Constitution when they ratified it." 9 Two of the most famous were Federalist #10 and #51.

Federalist #10 was written by Madison and shows his fear of tyranny of majority. Tyranny of the majority results when a minority is always excluded. The group will become disenfranchised and become non-participatory. Federalist #10 also shows Madison's concern for factions and the instability of democracies. Madison describes a faction as a number of citizens either a majority or a minority that are held together by a common passion. Madison argues that by having more factions the democracy will be more stable.

Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests, you

make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to

invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be

more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength and to act in unison

with each other. 10

Madison's concerns provide insight into the reasons he favored a large republic with a strong sovereign government.

In Federalist #51, Madison speaks about human nature and the need to limit government in his classic quote.

But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions, 11

Madison's view of human nature sheds light on why the founders set up three branches of government with a system of checks and balances.

The Federalist Papers played a crucial role in convincing the people to support the Constitution. In order to ratify the Constitution nine of the thirteen colonies needed to give their approval. This process proved quite difficult, and in the end it was barely passed. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire ratified it becoming the ninth state. A few days later, Virginia approved it and another key state, New York would say yes in late July. The last two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island would not give a nod of approval until 1789 and 1790 respectively.

The way the Constitution can change is by passing an amendment. The Constitution has changed very little since its inception. It has only been changed 27 times in 200 years. Twelve of the 27 amendments took place in the first fifteen years of its existence. 12


Days 1-12

The unit will begin by providing the students with background knowledge about the French and Indian War and the role George Washington played. This will set the stage for the Proclamation of 1763. As a simulation activity, I will take the class out for recess. We will play soccer in a very small area, even though a large field is accessible. The students should become irritated and vocal about their concerns. If they do not, I will question them to lead them into a discussion about why we played in such a confined area. I will explain that this is exactly how the colonists felt when King George the III would not let them go beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The class will discuss why King George III did not want the colonists to have problems with the Native Americans. Through our discussion, I will explain how the colonists kept pushing the Native Americans off of the land.

Next, the increased taxes and the need for royal tax collectors will be acted out in class. Several students will be assigned the position of soldiers. Then I, acting as King George the III, will begin imposing some of the taxes. The students will be given money of the time, tobacco leaves, in a token economy. The tax collectors will be responsible for levying the taxes. Taxes will be placed on every piece of paper, printed material, and book used by the students for every in class assignment. This will represent the Stamp Act. The Townshend Act will place a tax on lead (pencils) and paint. Finally the Sugar Act will tax the students at lunchtime. The royal tax collectors will check lunches and issue taxes. These taxes will continue until the colonists rebel.

In the meantime, I will begin reading Saratoga Secret, a historical fiction book about the Battle of Saratoga. This novel improves the students' background of the war and gives them a sense of what it was like to live during it. The classroom instruction will include some other key events such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. These events will be taught using excerpts that will be read aloud. Following the reading the students will use drama techniques to form statues of the colonists. When a student in the statue is tapped, the student will speak out and explain how he/she is feeling as a colonist.

Next the students will make a timeline of the events that led to the Revolution. Creating the timeline will strengthen their understanding of the order and the events that led to the American Revolutionary War. It will also teach them how to make a timeline and how to search for pictures of events online. The students will learn how to locate pictures and how to put them into a word document. Work on the timelines will continue for five days.

After a week or two of the taxes, the students should be getting quite poor and annoyed. The students will take on the perspective of the colonists and empathize with them. By engaging them in this activity the students develop a strong sense of resentment against the taxes, the king (the teacher), and also against the tax collectors. They will have to come together much like the colonies did and develop a plan. If the students need some "guidance" a reading passage and questions or a short, internet research assignment about the Sons of Liberty, the boycott, or Patrick Henry may be assigned. Eventually, the "colonists" should rebel against King George III.

Next, the students will be introduced to the Declaration of Independence, the role Thomas Jefferson played in writing this document, and how it listed out the grievances to King George III. The students will work in groups to list out their grievances and then write their own Declaration of Independence. Next, the declarations will be compared and contrasted with a few of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence. This activity will incorporate the following strategies: writing, comparing and contrasting, and the use of primary sources.

Once the Declaration of Independence is issued the rebellion will be underway. I will present the numbers of soldiers and ships that the colonies have at the inception of the war. Then I will then display England's resources. As a class we will compare and contrast these figures. The students will be encouraged to come up with an idea about how they could possibly take on the much more powerful country of England. After they come up with their ideas they will share them with the class. Next I will explain what the colonists really did and the role Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin played in order to convince the world to join the revolution.

The key events and battles particularly the ones that took place in Virginia will be examined. Following instruction and acting out the surrender at Yorktown, the students will create a diagram of the battle on a map. This could be done with any battle, particularly if one is more relevant to your particular state standards. By acting out and drawing a diagram of a battle, the students will be able to internalize what happened and be able to apply the information.

Once the war is over, the next phase of the unit will teach about the dilemma facing the states and the decision making process. The first issue that will be addressed is the need for rules (a Constitution). The students will learn how James Madison's views for electing the president evolved.

Day 13

First, I will model Madison's ideas outlined in Federalist #10, tyranny of the majority, and #51, human nature. Fourth graders clearly understand what is fair and what is unfair. In this simulation I will explain that the states essentially have no government. The Articles of Confederation are weak, there is no one to enforce the rules, and the people are not following them. Therefore in the simulation activity, there are no rules. Then the teacher will empty out some candy from a bag that will be labeled "Danger, government power". There will be less pieces of candy than the number of students in the class. Two distinct groups will be formed representing the majority and the minority. The students in the majority group will randomly be selected to come and take some candy (government power). The students in the minority group will always be selected to come and take some candy after the majority group has gone. The result should be that the majority group has a chance to get some candy and that the minority group will most likely never get any candy because it will already be snatched up. This procedure will be repeated three times. Each time the minority group should get more and more frustrated with the unfairness.

Why are you mad? (There are no rules.) I will explain that this is the exact point about which Madison worried. He was afraid that the people whose voices were never heard would get frustrated and feel like they could never have a say in the government. Just like the people in this class who never got candy became frustrated and realized they were never going to get any. This simulation demonstrates Madison's fear of tyranny of the majority in a way my students will understand. This important concept influenced the way government power is distributed throughout the American government.

Day 14

Now the four forms of organized government will be explored using candy to represent the power of the government. Through questioning and determining what is fair and unfair, the students will evaluate different scenarios representing the different forms.

It was stated that we need rules. Well, who is going to make the rules? Let's say that I get to make the rules. I take out some more candy and decide that I get all of it. How do you feel about that? Is it fair?

The students of course feel that it is not fair. Then I explain that this represents rule by a king. Then I reuse the same bag of candy. I choose two students to decide who should get the candy. Again the class is questioned as to the fairness, and they find it unfair. Then I explain that this is called an oligarchy, when the king appoints a small group to rule a country.

Then I will suggest how about we all make the rules? Who thinks the girls (if there are more in your class) should get the candy? Since there is a majority of girls, all of the girls raise their hands and get the candy. Then I suggest that three of the tables (clusters of desks) get the candy. Some of the boys are left out again. Then I suggest that students with hair to their shoulders can get some candy. Once again the same group is excluded. I explain how this is like the first exercise we did where some people never got any candy. This represents how some people would never get a say in the government. This would represent what is called a direct democracy.

Finally, I recommend that they elect someone who they can trust to make fair decisions. If the person that they elect makes too many bad decisions, they can kick the person out. The class has an election and selects a president. The president decides to divide the candy up so that everyone can have some.

By the end of this activity the form of government chosen will be a representative democracy or a republic. The students will have walked in James Madison's shoes and will have learned how the Founders established the Constitution, or the rules for our country.

Day 15

Recapping the simulations from the past two days, I remind the class that we agreed there was a need in the new nation to establish rules. James Madison faced lots of conflicts during the process of writing the Constitution. Madison was famous for helping the delegates to compromise. We will look at three of the compromises over the next few days. The first issue we will look at is how do we decide representation? I will divide the class into 6 groups. Virginia will have eight students, New York will have four students, New Jersey will have two students, Delaware will have one, Massachusetts will have five, and Connecticut will have three. The number of students in each group is based on the population figures from the Official Census of 1790. I proportioned the numbers so they can be used in the classroom (see Appendix A). Depending on the number of students in your class a different state could be chosen to assure that every student is placed in a group.

Now we will look at the argument for equal representation. Let's say every state gets one vote. How do you feel about that? Is it fair? Each state can have a quick discussion to decide. Then I will ask each state if they like equal representation. The groups that like it will move to one side of the room. The groups that don't like it will move to the other side of the room. We will look at which states are in favor of equal representation (the small states) and which states are opposed (the large states). Then we will look at the Official Census from 1790 (Appendix B) on the overhead and decide which states were small, big, or somewhere in between.

Next the students will examine the other side of the issue. Let's say every two people (population) in each state will equal one vote. Every state will get a minimum of one vote. So the students will determine how many votes they can have. The states that favor representation based on population will move to one side of the room. The states that are against it will move to the other side of the room. Again, we will draw a conclusion that the large states favor representation by population. We will revisit the Official Census from 1790 and predict the states that would have preferred this method.

I will explain that James Madison's idea for a bicameral system, meaning that Congress was composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives, became part of the Constitution. Ultimately Madison's idea would be compromised and the Senate would use equal representation and the House of Representatives would use population.

Day 16

The next debate would be to determine who should be counted in when determining population for voting and population for taxation. The students will be divided into the five groups. The state of Virginia will have eight people. Three of the people will be slaves. They will have a sign to wear designating them as a slave or a free person. The signs will be blue and red (Appendix C). Blue will represent the "people" and red will represent "property". The word "free" will be all blue. The word slave, symbolically, will have the s - l -a in blue letters and the v-e in red letters. This will visually display the image that the slaves counting only as three-fifths of a man. Slaves were considered to be people, but under the laws, in the world in which they lived, were considered property. Using the chart below, I would then assign students in my class to represent a state (making sure the total number of population equals the number of students in my class). The chart is proportioned based on actual population figures from the Official Census of 1790. By using the proportioned census figures, each group will be accurately portrayed. I will be able to manipulate the states used to fit the number of students in my class. As this unfolds, I want to make sure that Delaware is included. This will help the students to see the one-to-one correspondence of a person counting for representation and also paying tax for their property.

For this simulation I will model using Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Virginia. The class will first look at the population issue. Delaware, you have 1 person, so you will get one vote. I record this information on the chart on the overhead (Appendix E). Where is New York? How many votes would you have? (4) I continue to record each response on the chart so the students can keep track visually.

Massachusetts, how many votes would you get? (5) Virginia, how many do you get? (8)

Actually, you would only get five, because you only have five free people. The students should make a statement about it being unfair because their population is eight. Yes, but only five of the people are free I would explain. Massachusetts, do you think Virginia should have more votes than you since they have the same number of free people as you?

This discussion will unfold. After a few minutes of banter, I would explain that we need to move on, but we will come back to this issue once we get through the second half of this debate. North Carolina, how many votes will you get? The student should say four, but may comment that it should be five.

Next I would summarize the scenario and the dilemma that just unfolded. The other half of this debate involves how slaves will count toward taxation. Using the same states. I will again begin with Delaware. Delaware your population is one so you owe me $100 because your people own property. Again, I will record this information on Appendix E to help the students to see it visually. The $100 was arbitrarily chosen to represent 1 vote. Massachusetts, how much do you owe? ($500) They pay me and I move on to New York. New York pays $400. North Carolina, how much do you owe? ($400) $400 would cover the property the free people own, but you also owe $100 for the slave that you own. That is additional property that you have. A debate should ensue. The students in a slave state should point out that if the slaves don't count for representation how can they count for taxation? A free state should make the point that the slave states want them to count for representation when it gives them more votes, but they don't want them to count when you have to pay money for having them. The students will recognize that slave states can't count slaves when they help and not count them when they hurt.

At this point I would allow the class to debate, and ensuring that only one group speaks at a time. Once the students have reached the heart of the issue I would explain again that this is just what it was like at the Constitutional Convention. James Madison again had to compromise to bring the north and the south into agreement. This has become known as the three-fifths compromise. Slaves would count as three-fifths of a whole person for representation and three-fifths of a whole person for taxation.

Day 17

The final piece will be to continue with this role play/debate style of delivery to examine the first amendment. I will again divide the class into equal groups. Each group will be given a sign denoting their religion. For example, I will have six groups representing the following religions: Anglican, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, and Quaker.

How would the Quakers feel if I said you are not allowed to practice your religion in this country? The Quakers should speak to the unfairness. I would ask each group substituting their religion into the question. So we agree that it is not fair to prohibit a group from practicing their religion.

I will pose the question to the class how would your group feel if Congress established the Anglican religion as the national religion for the United States? Everyone would have to go to the Anglican Church on Sundays for a two-hour service? The groups can discuss the question and get ready to share their response with the class. How would the Anglicans feel about it? The Anglicans response should reflect that they already go to that church so it doesn't bother them. How would my Protestant group feel? The Protestants would comment that they already go to their own church, and they don't want to go to a different one. How does my Jewish group feel? They would say something to the effect that they go to temple or to synagogue and it's not fair that they have to go to a church.

Then, I would poll each group. I would have the groups that do not like this idea move to an area of the room. Five sixths of the class would move to that area. I would summarize this part by stating that 5/6 of the people are unhappy and are being forced to practice a religion that is not their own.

Then I would have my groups separate again. How would you feel if a national religion was not established and you could practice whatever religion you wanted? I would again give the class a few moments to discuss this question within their groups then, I would poll each religious group. How does our Anglican group feel? They may state that they are proud that their religion is the national religion

After all groups are polled, I would move the unhappy groups to one area. At this point the only group that may move to this area would be the Anglicans. Five-sixths of the class will move to the happy place.

I will ask the Anglican group if they can still go to church on Sunday? (Yes) Can you still practice the way you wish? (Yes) I will then ask each of the groups if they feel Congress should establish a national religion? (No) Then I will point out that this is the reason why the first amendment states that the Congress cannot establish or prohibit a religion.

Day 18 & 19

The students will develop an essay about James Madison as their culminating activity. It will be three paragraphs. The first one will be the introduction, the middle one will speak about one of the compromises and the last paragraph will bring the essay to a close. By writing this essay the students will integrate writing into social studies. It will help students to hone their essay writing skills and also show what they learned about Madison.

Day 20

The students will take a test to show what they learned from this unit.


Day 1

The students will learn the causes of the Revolutionary War through the simulation activity of the Proclamation of 1763 and class discussion.

Day 2

The Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre will be taught using drama techniques.

Days 3-8

Students will create a timeline of the Revolutionary War Era.

Day 9

The students will work in groups to state their grievances as they create their own Declaration of Independence. The students work will be compared to a few key grievances in the actual Declaration of Independence.

Day 10

A class lesson will be taught comparing the resources of Britain to the colonies. Students will develop strategies to help the significantly weaker colonies.

Days 11 &12

The Battle of Yorktown will be acted out. Then the students will draw a diagram on a Virginia map.

Day 13

The tyranny of the majority candy activity as described in the strategies section will be conducted.

Day 14

The candy activity described in the strategy section will be taught to model the forms of government.

Day 15

The simulation activity demonstrating the equal representation and population debate as described in the strategy section will be performed.

Day 16

The three-fifths compromise simulation as described in the strategy section will be implemented.

Day 17

A simulation activity as described in the strategy section will be used to teach the freedom of religion clause of the first amendment.

Days 18 & 19

The students will write an essay to show what they have learned about James Madison.

Day 20

The students will take a test covering the material taught in this unit.


Appendix A: Proportioned Populations (based on Official Census of 1790)

State Total
Delaware 1
Massachusetts 5
New Jersey 2
New York 4
North Carolina 5
Virginia 8
Connecticut 3
Georgia 1
Maryland 4
New Hampshire 2
Pennsylvania 5
South Carolina 3

*Rhode Island is not included since this state did not participate in the Constitutional Convention.

Appendix B: State populations from the Official Census of 1790

Delaware 59,096
Massachusetts 378,787
New Jersey 184,139
New York 340120
North Carolina 393,751
Virginia 691,737
Connecticut 237,946
Georgia 82,548
Maryland 319,728
New Hampshire 141,885
Pennsylvania 434,373
South Carolina 249,073

Appendix C: Slave and Free Signs


Appendix D: Proportioned Populations (based on Official Census of 1790)

State Total Free Slave
Delaware 1 1 0
Massachusetts 5 5 0
New Jersey 2 2 0
New York 4 4 0
North Carolina 5 4 1
Virginia 8 5 3
Connecticut 3 0 0
Georgia 1 1 0
Maryland 4 3 1
New Hampshire 2 2 0
Pennsylvania 5 5 0
South Carolina 3 2 1

*Rhode Island is not included since this state did not participate in the Constitutional Convention.

Appendix E

State Total Free Slave Votes Taxes
Delaware 1 1 0    
Massachusetts 5 5 0    
New Jersey 2 2 0    
New York 4 4 0    
North Carolina 5 4 1    
Virginia 8 5 3    
Connecticut 3 0 0    
Georgia 1 1 0    
Maryland 4 3 1    
New Hampshire 2 2 0    
Pennsylvania 5 5 0    
South Carolina 3 2 1    

Appendix F: Implementing District Standards

National Standards

NSS-USHK-4.2 The History of Students' Own State or Region

Students should understand the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state.

NSS-USHK-4.3 The History of the United States

This standard examines how democratic values came to be and the causes and nature of movements of large groups of people now and long ago.

NSS-USH5-12.3 ERA 3 Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

My unit is this standard! This covers the American Revolutionary War and the new nation.

NSS-CK-4.1 What is Government?

This standard looks at what government is, why government is necessary and why its power should be limited.

NSS-CK-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy

The values, principles, and important beliefs of American democracy and the American people are the focus of this standard.

NSS-CK-4.3 Principles of Democracy

What the Constitution is and why it is important is addressed here. Also the role of the national government and how it protects individual rights is also examined.

State Standards (Virginia)

VS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis.

Basic social study skills such as using primary sources, sequencing events, and making connections between past and present are a few of the skills students are to demonstrate.

VS.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the role of Virginia in the

American Revolution.

VS.6 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the role of Virginia in the establishment of the new American nation.


1. Joseph J. Ellis. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007:90).

2. Alan Axelrod. The Real History of the American Revolution: A New Look at the Past (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2007:47).

3. Axelrod, 45.

4. Axelrod, 14.

5. Axelrod,126.

6. Akhil Reed Amar. America's Constitution: A Biography (New York: Random House, 2005: 79).

7. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. The Federalist Papers (New York: First Signet Classic Printing, 2003:338).

8. Amar, 289.

9. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, ix.

10. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, 78.

11. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, 319.

12. Amar, 315.

Annotated Bibliography

Amar, Akhil Reed. America's Constitution: A Biography. New York, NY: Random

House, 2005. A challenging read that takes an in depth look at the Constitution.

Axelrod, Alan. The Real History of the American Revolution: A New Look at the Past.

New York, NY: Sterling Publishing, 2007. This book gives an interesting overview of

the American Revolutionary War.

Ellis, Joseph J. American Creation:Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the

Republic. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Ellis provides an insightful look

into the founding of America.

Hamilton, Alexander, Jay, John, and Madison, James. The Federalist Papers. New York,

NY: First Signet Classic Printing, 2003. A classic book about the issues, debates, and

Compromises that took place in order to ensure the ratification of the Constitution

and the Bill of Rights.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense and Other Writings. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble

Classics, 2005. This famous work by Paine shows his intelligence and commitment

behind the pen to help the colonies' cause.

Annotated Children's Bibliography

Borrick, Benson. Fight for Freedom: The American Revolutionary War. New York, NY:

Scholastic Inc., 2007. A non-fiction book full of classic photos and images covering

battles, events and topics related to the American Revolutionary War.

Fradin, Dennis Brindell. Who Was Thomas Jefferson? New York, NY: Grosset &

Dunlap, 2003. A biography written on a third grade level about Thomas Jefferson's


Hakim, Joy. A History of Us: From Colonies to Country 1710-1791 Book 3. New York,

NY: Oxford University Press, 1999. This book is a great resource for student and

teacher research.

Levy, Elizabeth. If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution. New York, NY:

Scholastic Inc., 1987. This book takes readers back in time to teach about the summer

of 1787.

Maestro, Betsy. Liberty or Death: The American Revolution 1763-1783. New York, NY:

Scholastic Inc., 2006. This non-fiction piece reads as a story and describes the battles

and key figures in the American Revolution.

Mitchell, Barbara. Father of the Constitution: A Story about James Madison.

Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 2004. A fascinating book about James

Madison's life and the role he played in creating the Constitution.

Moore, Kay. If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution. New York, NY:

Scholastic Inc., 1997. This book takes readers back to the time of the Revolutionary

War through a question and answer format.

Rockwell, Anne. They Called Her Molly Pitcher. New York, NY: Dragonfly Books,

2002. This book would make an excellent read aloud. It tells how a brave woman

helped the Continental Army in the Battle of Monmouth. This book also has

wonderful illustrations.

Sterman, Betsy. Saratoga Secret. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998.

This is a terrific historical fiction set in upstate New York. It starts out a little slow,

but is full of action and surprises.

Welch,Catherine. Patrick Henry. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2006.

This easy to read biography tells about Patrick Henry's life.

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