The War Moves South

The War and a New Nation

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The War and a New Nation

The events surrounding the Revolutionary War are closely detailed as students learn about the major battles and significant people that impacted this time of turmoil. Students will learn about the battle of Bunker Hill, meet Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, witness the battle of Yorktown, and come to understand how other countries became involved in this epic war. Students will realize that while the events of war were taking place, the colonists were also busy forming the ideas and creating the documents that would become the foundation of a new country.

Look at some of the people and battles of the Revolutionary War and how the Treaty of Paris ended the war and gave the colonies independence.

  1. Students will know that the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in May of 1775. Some of the most important colonial leaders (Ben Franklin, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and George Washington) were at this meeting to decide what to do now that a battle had been fought at Lexington and Concord. They agreed to send the Olive Branch Petition to King George III of Great Britain, telling him of their desire for peace and asking him to repeal the Intolerable Acts. King George ignored the petition.
  2. Students will realize that George Washington was chosen to lead the Continental Army in 1775.
  3. Students will know that Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense in January 1776. In it, he attacked King George III and questioned the idea of one person having all the authority to rule. Paine felt that people should rule themselves, and he called for a sudden, complete change of government—a revolution.
  4. Students will realize that the battle of Bunker Hill, which took place in Boston on June 17, 1775, was among the fiercest battles of the whole war.
  5. Students will know that the leaders of the colonies met in Philadelphia again in the summer of 1776.
    1. In June, Richard Henry Lee gave a speech claiming that the colonies should have their independence and that they no longer owed loyalty to the king.
    2. The Congress decided to wait a month before voting on the idea of cutting ties with the British government.
    3. When they reconvened, they formed a committee to draw up the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing.
    4. On July 4, 1776, the leaders of the colonies voted to approve the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock was the first to sign it.
  6. Students will understand the different positions of people regarding independence. Some of the colonists were opposed to declaring independence and thought they should remain part of Great Britain. They were called Loyalists. Many colonists supported the fight for independence. They were called Patriots. Others were neutral and would accept the outcome whichever way it went.
  7. Students will know about Nathan Hale. He was asked by Washington to spy on the British. Hale dressed as a Dutch schoolteacher and obtained the information Washington needed. As he returned to the American side, however, the British captured him. Before being executed, he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
  8. Students will realize that most of the fighting in the early days of the Revolution took place in the northeast. Ethan Allen led some of the fighting. He and the Green Mountain Boys won the battle at Fort Ticonderoga, giving the Americans one of their first victories.
  9. Students will know about the crossing of the Delaware. The Hessians (German mercenaries hired by the British) were stationed in New Jersey. After nightfall on Christmas day in 1776, Washington led his troops across the Delaware River in the freezing cold. They completely surprised the Hessians, who quickly surrendered.
  10. Students will realize that the Patriots received help from foreign countries beginning in 1777. Benjamin Franklin went to Paris to ask the French to join the war. France, as well as Spain, eventually aided the U.S.
  11. Students will know about John Paul Jones. He was a sea captain for the American navy. In September 1779, his ship was badly damaged by the British. When the British captain asked Jones if he were ready to surrender, Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight.” After three more hours of fighting, it was the British captain who ended up surrendering.
  12. Students will realize that the British began focusing their efforts in the south once America started receiving help from other countries. The British captured Charleston, South Carolina, in 1780, and they pushed into North Carolina and Virginia. In Virginia, the British (led by Cornwallis) lost many men in the fighting. They ended up in Yorktown, Virginia. The Patriots and French surrounded Yorktown and won the battle. The Battle of Yorktown was the last major battle of the Revolution.
  13. Students will know that the Treaty of Paris, which officially granted the United States its freedom from Britain, was signed in 1783.
  14. Students will know that the leaders of the new country approved the Constitution in 1788 and chose George Washington to be the first president.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Ask the students to name some freedoms they have that people in some countries cannot enjoy. After discussing this, explain that they can experience those freedoms because of the sacrifices of people who fought in the Revolutionary War and of many other people who came after them.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. Discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of each side in the war (British advantages: professional soldiers, much larger army, most powerful country in the world, etc.; American advantages: protecting homes, knew land better, supplies more readily available, didn’t have to ship them across the ocean like the British, etc.). In light of some of the military advantages of the British, ask the students why they think America was able to win the war. (Some reasons could include they were fighting for their freedom, had a very strong will to fight, were fighting to protect their homes, etc.)
    2. Have each student select a battle from the Revolutionary War and give an oral or written report on it. Researching the specific events of a battle should make the Revolutionary War seem much more interesting than merely learning a list of names, places, and dates.


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