Topic: Build Up to the American Revolution in Virginia



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Roots of a Nation: A Chesapeake Journey Lesson Submitted by: Cheryl Yiannakis

Topic: Build Up to the American Revolution in Virginia (This lesson follows a lesson on the Boston reactions to Acts of Parliament and to a unit on the Enlightenment)

Grade Level: Grades 10 through 12, AP World History

Duration: 160 minutes (2 day lesson)

Focus Question: Evaluate the impact of the Enlightenment on the Virginian reaction to the Acts of Parliament.

AP World History Alignment: State-building, Expansion and Conflict

Key Concept 5.3 Nationalism, Revolution, and Reform


  1. The rise and diffusion of Enlightenment thought that questioned established traditions in all areas of life often preceded the revolutions and rebellions against existing governments.

  2. Beginning in the eighteenth century, people around the world developed a new sense on commonality based on language, religion, social customs, and territory. These newly imagined national communities linked this identity with the borders of the state, while governments used this idea to unite diverse populations.

  3. Increasing discontent with imperial rule propelled reformist and revolutionary movements.

Lesson Objectives: Day 1

  1. Use knowledge of the Enlightenment to analyze people’s reasoning in rebelling against imperial governments.

  2. Analyze primary documents using document analysis sheets.

  3. Use laptops to research and create flipcharts (or Powerpoints) that explain Virginia’s reactions to Parliamentary Acts using evidence from primary sources.

DAY 2:

  1. Create a graphic organizer comparing Boston and Virginian reactions to Parliamentary Acts.

  2. Write a well-developed essay evaluating the impact of Enlightenment ideas on both the Bostonian and Virginian reactions to Acts of Parliament.

Vocabulary: The Enlightenment, colony, imperialism, Stamp Act, Townsend Act, Sugar Act, Currency Act, Virginia House of Burgesses, Tea Act, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Boston Tea Party, Boston Port Bill, Lord Dunmore, resolution, resolve, grievance, assembly

Materials: Laptops, pen and paper for note taking, primary documents from the previous lesson on Boston (Eyewitness Accounts of Boston Tea Party, Eyewitness accounts of Boston Massacre, The Boston Port Act), primary documents from Virginia (Patrick Henry’s Resolutions in Condemnation of the Stamp Act, 1765; Excerpt from George Washington’s correspondence to Bryan Fairfax, 1774: Resolutions of the House of Burgesses Establishing a Committee of Intercolonial Correspondence, 1773)

Instructional Procedures:

Day One: Warm up question asks the following: What Enlightenment ideas contradict the idea of being subject to an imperial crown?

Review information pertaining to Boston. Place students into three groups, and each group will receive a different primary document and a document analysis sheet. Each group is instructed to complete the analysis sheet and is given 15 minutes to do so.

Assign groups of three so that each person in the newly-formed group shares out their findings regarding their document as each person represents one of the three primary documents. Time allotment: 15 minutes

In addition, these same groups of three will create a flipchart or PPT to summarize the three different documents and will be given a laptop to assist with research of the climate of Virginia in the 1760s and 1770s. The end product should be at least 12 slides or flip pages long. Each slide/page needs to have at least one picture and at least one quote from their primary documents supporting the information presented on that slide/page. Time allotment: 35 minutes

Assessment: (Exit Slip) Write 3 facts you know about Virginian opinions on Parliamentary Acts.

DAY 2:

Warm-up question: What could have caused Boston and Virginia to have had such different reactions to Parliamentary Acts? 10 minute discussion



Have student groups present their PPT/flipcharts. Time allotment: 10 minutes per group

Discuss the different interpretations of the various groups. Then have students individually create a graphic organizer comparing the Bostonian and Virginian reactions to Parliamentary Acts to include at least 5 facts each.



Assessment: Write a well-developed essay of at least 5 paragraphs evaluating the impact of the Enlightenment on both the Bostonian and Virginian reactions to the Acts of parliament. The students will have the rest of the class to complete this assignment.

Extension Activity: Continue with lessons on the American Revolution, so that students will be able to see how the reactions of the colonists led to the revolt against the crown. Other rebellions can be compared: The French Revolution, The Haitian Revolution, and many Latin American rebellions.


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