Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Role Playing History : Patriots and Independence, part III : Stamp Act Congress

Reading Assignment for the Week:

  • Read George Washington's World, Genevieve Foster, part III When George Washington was a Farmer
  • Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pgs 298-301

Benjamin Franklin's Academy

While your student participates in Franklin's Academy,  he has the opportunity to learn all about the culture of the colonial period. You can give him assignments about either the music, dancing or art of the era, or you can give him assignments for all three. He can also learn what it was like to be a student, and what it was like to work for a Broadsides, newspaper and/or an Almanac.

Music of the Revolution

Listen to recorded music of the period, including music suite for reeks and jigs. Discuss the different examples of lyrics, pointing out the motivation behind them. Are they political, patriotic, humorous, or describing an important event? Have your student pick one song with lyrics from the Revolutionary era and compare it to a modern song similar type lyrics. Older students can write either a comparison / contrast paper or an oral report with visuals to share. Alternatively,  your student could perform a song from the Revolutionary period.

Dancing in the Colonies

Your student could learn to dance the Virginia Reel, or learn to dance a jig.

Poetry of the Revolution

Analyze a poem of the period,  such as one by Phyllis Wheatley, the first African American poet.
Your student could write a poem (perhaps a love poem?) to a loved one at home and describe what has happened to his character during the roleplays or he could write a poem to include in his journal.

Art of the Colonial Period

Gilbert Stuart

Born in Rhode Island,  Stuart returned to America and settled in Boston after several years of painting and study in Europe.

Finish the portrait activity.

Each student receives half of Stuart's famous painting and must complete the missing half. Follow the directions from Ms Lopez in the Art Room using Stuart's famous finished Anthenaeum Head of George Washington.

Education in the Colonies

If you have enough students, run a spelling bee. If they are of different ages, you can have a different grade appropriate spelling list for each student.

Amusements and Frolics

Quilting Bees and the American Flag

Plan a field trip to visit a quilting club or display. Have your student try his hand at quilting by sewing a square.
Or, he could design a flag appropriate for the period. He could sew it as well.

Political and Cultural Broadsides

After researching about broadsides of the period, your student is to make one of his own. He may include a graphic or "engraving" in your broadside. He is to include politics, advertisements and articles on popular entertainment.


After researching about Almanacs and looking at a modern one, your student could make a Revolutionary period Almanac which includes a cover he has designed himself and at least some, if not all, of the following :
Farming tips
Advice, interesting sayings or maxims
Scientific facts
A calendar
Stories,  Bible verses and parables
Home remedies


Another option for your student is for him to use his research of the dance, religion, popular games and amusements, sports, poetry, music lyrics and art and write a newspaper that would be like one available in the colonies. He can include a graphic or "engraving." For Middle School students, they can write just one article. He can "age" the newspaper with tea bags.

Preparing for the Roleplay: Stamp Act Congress 

For this portion, you will act as Neutralist from the Southern Colonies that is serving as the chairman of the Stamp Act Congress. This is so that you can demonstrate how these Congressional meeting were held. At the start of this exercise, your students are Loyalist arguing their points at the Congress. Students must research in advance which proposals the loyalists, and which proposals the patriots would want to adopt. Students should then finalize their arguments and counter arguments for the proposals as they prepare to debate.

The Proposals

1. We will insist that merchants stop importing British goods.

2. We will make attempts to terrorize and Intimidate all stamp distributors.

3. We will agree to refrain from doing any business that requires stamps.

4. We demand that parliament repeal the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act.

5. With all due subordination to Parliament,  we nevertheless reject the policy of virtual representation  (that members of Parliament in England represent the colonies.)

6. We will accept the authority of Parliament to legislate for the colonies, but we will not give Parliament the right to tax the colonies or to hold trials in the Admiralty Courts.

7. We reject colonial representation in Parliament because Parliament has no right to legislate for the colonies.

Your student must remember how the Loyalists view the situation. (This will be easier for them if they have done The Depths of Winter, in which they play English colonists during the French and Indian War.) They feel that the colonists are all English and that we shouldn't fight the mother country. Loyalists feel they need the military power of Great Britain for protection from the Indians on the frontier and protection from foreign aggression. They feel that the colonists lack the military power and wealth to fight Great Britain. Loyalists feel that they must control those who have contempt for the law  and order and who have destroyed property and injured people. They feel that the British government has generally been fair in running the empire. The trade acts benefit the colonists more than they harm them. The Admiralty Courts ensure fair trade and fair play on the high seas. They feel that the rebels are hypocrites. They object to taxes only as an attempt to evade them. The Loyalists feel that George III is not a tyrant.  He is just a king trying to do his best in a difficult job. They also feel that the many colonies are too different to unite and govern themselves. We are better off than other Europeans, including most English citizens. Total separation from England would be social anarchy. Property rights and large land holdings would be threatened. There would be constant conflict between the colonies.

The Roleplay: Recreating the Stamp Act Congress

As the chairperson, you move to a podium and conduct the Congress appropriately, by asking all to rise and sing either God Bless America or God Save the King. You are to keep order at all times, using a gavel, if possible, to call Congress to order and to quiet delegates. Students can be fined RP's if noisy or unruly. 
For this scenario, you'll be going through the Stamp Act Congress. Since this was a congregation of many persons, it can be difficult to carry out with only a few students. The simplest solution is to describe what is happening much like a story, leaving the dialogue for those portions in which the students characters actually interact with the other characters in the story.
Begin by describing how the Patriots are offering formal motions (the ones your students were given to research) one at a time. The student(s) provide the Loyalist objections to the items up for debate. You can then narrate the chairman calling for motions on proposal and then the delegate making a motion on a proposal by quoting him as saying, "Mr Chairman, I move we..." You also tell how another member seconds the motions (If no one seconds the motion, the motion dies.) and then the floor is open for a 5-10 minute debate. Your students can now express the Loyalist view that they have prepared, which you point out the Patriot objections. You now narrate the Congress voting on the proposal.

During the debate, all speakers must stand and be recognized by the chair. Motions to end debate,  to table,  or to recess may be made during the debate. If seconded, motions must be voted on immediately. All in favor say "Aye" and those opposed say "Nay." In order to keep historical accuracy, proposals are considered under a closed rule (they cannot be amended).  This portion is just so the students can understand the process. Also the arguments of others may give students insights into attitudes that they can use later to exert pressure through Pressure Actions.

Students will be given RP'S based on how well they prepared their own notes on the both sides of the arguments, and how they played their roles and followed the rules for the debate. You should give your student a maximum of 10 RP's if he captured the essential points for the Loyalist side of the argument. The information should be very well organized and provide compelling reasons to convince the Neutralists to support their position. You can give less points if their debates do not match this level of excellence,  but should be given a couple points for participating even if their arguments offer too little information or are too disorganized for Neutralists to support their position. With added support, students can improve as they practice this skill.

After the proposals have been adopted, announce the actions of the Stamp Act Congress and give your students time to mark them in their notes. They can discuss what really happened: proposals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 were adopted. Have students determine the number of POWS they gained or lost as Loyalists gain 10 POWs for each proposal defeated, Loyalists gain 10 POWs, and for each proposal approved, Loyalists lose 10 POWs. 

Test on The Stamp Act Congress

Your students should be able to answer these questions. You can have them do so verbally, written or informally.

1. What actions did the British government take in response to the conflicts with Indians in the West in 1763?

2, George Grenville,  First Lord of the Treasury,  instituted several taxes that affected the colonists.  What was his main purpose?

3. What were the main provisions of the Currency Act of 1764?

4. What was the primary purpose of the Sugar Act of 1764?

5. What were the main provisions of the Stamp Act of 1765?

6. In general,  how did the colonists feel about Parliament and its actions toward the colonists?

7. What did the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 accomplish?

8. What was virtual representation and how did it affect the colonies?

9. Who was the leading radical agitator in the Massachusetts colony?

10. Who was the leading radical Patriot leader from Virginia?

  • Renaissance, Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton 
  • Patriots, A Simulation and Resource Notebook on the American Revolution, Bill Lacey and Terry Handy, Interaction Publishers 
  • Independence, A Simulation of the American Revolution, 1763-1776, Charles Kennedy and Paul DeKock, Interaction Publishers, Inc.

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