Diplomats of the American Revolution
United States History, Beginnings to 1877
Grade 11
                                                                         

Introduction:                                                                                                            

It is 1775 in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress and the colonies have sent delegates to decide what to do about the current crisis with England.  You are one of the delegates who are debating whether to declare independence and go to war or try one last ditch effort in securing an agreement that will bring peace.  For this task we will assume that the delegates have voted down an exploration of a Declaration of Independence and instead have opted to draft a proposal to secure a permanent peace with Parliament, one in which both sides get what they want but still allows the two to remain together as part of the British Empire.  This document will have to address all the issues that have caused the current crisis and be solid enough to keep the peace permanently.  It is a brand new concept and will have to be something that both sides will agree to.  It is up to you to keep the bond with England or risk destruction at the hands of the mother country!
                                                                                                                                                

 

Task:

Your task is to create a series of compromises that take into consideration the social, philosophical, political, economic and attitudinal differences between Great Britain and her American Colonies and will keep the relationship intact.  This document will have to be something that both sides would realistically agree to - it cannot be something that historical evidence would prove to be insoluble, in other words, based on what your research tells you about both sides, it must not be something that research suggests either side would absolutely refuse.  You must find a way to give the colonies the self government they so desire, and yet allow Parliament to retain the control it seems so unwilling to give up so the colonies remain part of the British Empire. 

 

 

Process:

***You will have 3 weeks to complete this assignment**

1.  I will assign the groups based on my own knowledge of the talents and interests of each of you.  You will determine as a group which member is best suited for each role.

2.  All members should first read the Olive Branch Petition as a group to get an idea of what Parliament did not accept.  It is believed by historians to be a half hearted attempt by the delegates of the Congress and should serve to help you gain insight into the thought processes of the Colonists who were still holding on to hope for peace or who wanted to provoke a complete separation from England.  As a group discuss the reasons for the document and how reasonable or unreasonable the colonists demand were.  How you see it will depend on what you learn through further research, however, you may use this as a template and / or starting point for your own document.  You must have at least four points to your agreement.

3. Each member will assume one of the following roles:

    Writer: Incorporates the ideas from each member and drafts the document based on 18th century format and language.  In order to do this, you will have to research some documents from that time period.  Example include newspapers, broadsides and other legal contracts and petitions.

    Researcher #1:  One group member researches what the Patriot side will and will not agree to and what they would demand or give up.

    Researcher #2:   The second researcher finds what Parliament would or would not agree to and what it would or would not demand or give up.  Keep in mind that there were different views by members of Parliament regarding the colonies.  

**It will be extremely helpful to also be able to argue why your side would react the way you say.  This will help you in brokering a compromise.**
 

    Researcher #3: The third researcher is responsible to research some of the social and governmental theories of the 18th century, most importantly John Locke and the Enlightenment and the social hierarchies, religion and theories that were in place at the time.  This third individual will determine if the ideas put forth by the other two researchers are plausible given the mindset of the people at the time as well as some of the economic conditions that would be favorable to each as incentives to agree to your group's terms.

4.  Each group should create and agree to a timeline of when each member is responsible to have their information ready for group discussion.  You should meet as a group at least 3 times to discuss any problems a member is having and give time for comparing information, debating provisions of agreement and to give the writer time to convert the language and add to the document.  This is NOT a project to tackle at the last minute - it will take you every bit of the time allowed to complete - and I will know the time put into this project by your final product.  Each person will be evaluated individually and as part of the group.

5.  After the projects have been handed in and evaluated, I will present each contract to the class anonymously and we will vote, as a class, on which agreement had the best chance of holding the colonies and the mother country together.

 

 

Resources:
This is just a start!!  It isn't called the world wide "web" for nothing!

1.  Handout of the Olive Branch Petition

2.  List of Websites:
How much you read or use of each of these websites is up to you, but will greatly affect the quality of the document you produce.  Please feel free to conduct your own web searches in addition to the links I have provided here, however, be sure to evaluate the quality of the site and the reliability of the creator. 

Library of Congress: Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjclink.html#c
This will give you an online archive of the journals of the Continental Congress.  My advice to you is to stay with the years 1774 - 1776;  Use your knowledge of historical events to judge what time periods to look for. for example,  early 1775 around the battles of Lexington and Concord, when anger was still at its height and there would be much debate going on.

Library of Congress, American Memory Project
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/rbpehtml/pehome.html
Library of Congress online Archives.  You can search however you wish, however I suggest you search by Geographic location, as searches done in the states of the original colonies will bring up the earlier documents you will be utilizing.
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbpebib:@field(SUBJ+@band(Great+Britain)):heading=Items+Printed+in+Great+Britain
Same site, but this is for prints made in Great Britain - very useful for those researching the British point of view.

Library of Congress: Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/
Library of Congress again, but this one is useful for the researcher of social and philosophical beliefs

The American Colonist's Library: A Treasury of Primary Source Documents.
http://personal.pitnet.net/primarysources/
This site is full of primary sources, dating back well before the Revolution.  Take a look at these as we have already discussed that historical events do not happen immediately - they are the product of sometimes hundreds of years of building influences and circumstances.  I recommend looking closely at John Calvin, John Winthrop, and John Locke for those researching social and philosophical beliefs.  They are arranged in chronological order, so your knowledge (or lack thereof) of history dates will determine how easily you find what you need.

The People of Colonial Albany: Friends and Enemies
http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/friends.html
Provides historical sources from leaders and average citizens of colonial America, and more importantly, their views on the crisis with Britain.

Colonial Connecticut Records, 1636 - 1776
http://www.colonialct.uconn.edu/
If you wish to have a New England view of what was happening.

East Tennessee State University, Department of History: Primary Source Documents for the Study of United States History.
http://www.etsu.edu/cas/history/americadocs.htm
This will give you many of the acts passed by Parliament - especially useful to gain insights into Parliament's beliefs of their power over the colonies as well as their economic desires.  Also useful as a template for 18th century writing style of legal documents.

The Writings of Samuel Adams, edited by Harry Alonzo Cushing. Globusz Publishing.
http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/SamuelAdams2/index.htm
A great resource to get a look at the more radical colonial mindset.

 

 

Evaluation:

 

CATEGORY
4
3
2
1
Group Timeline
Group independently develops a reasonable, complete timeline describing when different parts of the work (e.g.,planning, research, first draft, final draft) will be done. All students in group can independently describe the high points of the timeline.
Group independently develops a timeline describing when most parts of the work will be done. All students in group can independently describe the high points of the timeline.
Group independently develops a timeline describing when most parts of the work will be done. Most students can independently describe the high points of the timeline.
Group needs adult help to develop a timeline AND/OR several students in the group cannot independently describe the high points of the timeline.
Delegation of Responsibility
Each student in the group can clearly explain what information is needed by the group, what information s/he is responsible for locating, and when the information is needed.
Each student in the group can clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating.
Each student in the group can, with minimal prompting from peers, clearly explain what information s/he is responsible for locating.
One or more students in the group cannot clearly explain what information they are responsible for locating.
Plan for Organizing Information
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered and in the final research product. All students can independently explain the planned organization of the research findings.
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information in the final research product. All students can independently explain this plan.
Students have developed a clear plan for organizing the information as it is gathered. All students can independently explain most of this plan.
Students have no clear plan for organizing the information AND/OR students in the group cannot explain their organizational plan.
Ideas/Research Questions
Researchers independently identify at least 4 reasonable, insightful, creative ideas to pursue when doing the research.
Researchers independently identify at least 4 reasonable ideas to pursue when doing the research.
Researchers identify, with some adult help, at least 4 reasonable ideas to pursue when doing the research.
Researchers identify, with considerable adult help, 4 reasonable ideas to pursue when doing the research.
Final Product
Finished Contract has more than 4 reasonable points of agreement and is in period language.
Finsihed contract has at least 4 reasonable points of agreement and is in period language.
Finished Contract has at least 4 reasonable points of agreement but is not in period language.
Finsihed Contract is clearly not in period language and has less than 4 reasonable points of agreement.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

In completing this web quest assignment, you will hopefully have learned that the variables surrounding an historical event are endless, thus forming a respect for the unknowns of the past and the complex process involved in the constant quest for historical truth; The truth of what really happened, how it happened and why it happened.  History is not just the study of who and when - it is the constant reevaluation of new and old evidence in order to understand how events came about.  In order to make judgments on the past and those that were in it, we need to put ourselves in their shoes.  Think about how your attitude toward either Parliament or the colonists have changed by knowing more about what they were up against and the situations they were in.  Did the way you saw the loyalists and patriots and their struggle change as well?

The wealth of information available on the internet is not unique to the American Revolution or even American History.  With international websites, the possibilities are endless in researching any topic that is of interest to you.  I encourage you to use the same research methods you practiced here, and use other sources that are not internet related, such as books, journal articles and microfilm documents.  The online publications you used for this assignment are only a tip of the iceberg of what is available to you on an endless array of topics, historical or otherwise. 

                 


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