Primary Source Sets

Revolutionary America (1755-1787)

Historical Context

The American Revolution was a political movement and war that eventually led to American independence from Great Britain. As colonies of Britain, America paid taxes but did not have representation in British government. In 1765, colonists protested the Stamp Act, which they viewed as unfair taxation. Protests escalated in the 1770s, and the British government imposed new legislation that limited the colonies' self-governance. Within three years, the colonies established a Continental Congress, went to war with Britain, and declared independence. The war ended in 1781 with Britain's surrender to American forces at Yorktown.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Considerations

In many ways, the American Revolution can feel foreign to modern students. The distance of time combined with the socio-political changes in our communities can make this event feel distant. Consider how concept-based inquiry questions can help students draw connections between themselves and historical actors who are in many ways very different from them. Challenge yourself to explain exactly why this event from the past matters to students today, not just in terms of why it should matter but a compelling argument that connects with what students believe does matter. Concepts like power, justice, fairness, and more can help draw connections between what students believe to be important and how this history influences the way we define those concepts today.

A map of the British and French dominions in North America

Date: 1755

Creator: John Mitchell

Type: Map

This is the place to affix the stamp

Date: 1765

Creator: William Bradford

Type: Illustration

The bloody massacre

Date: 1770

Creator: Paul Revere

Type: Engraving

The Bostonians paying the excise-man

Date: 1774

Creator: Robert Sayer and John Bennett

Type: Cartoon

 

"You are now my enemy"

Date: 1775

Creator: Benjamin Franklin

Type: Letter

Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his wicked children

Date: 1777

Creator: Matthew Darly

Type: Cartoon

George Washington

Date: 1780

Creator: John Trumbull

Type: Painting

The Sentiments of an American Woman

Date: 1780

Creator: Unknown

Type: Broadside

 

View of the attack on Bunker’s Hill

Date: 1783

Creator: John Lodge

Type: Drawing

A N.W. view of the state house in Philadelphia

Date: 1787

Creator: Charles Willson Peale

Type: Drawing