Lesson Plan: Overview

Wake Up King George!

Grade Level: 4th

Ladies Card Game

Academic Standards

Standard 4-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the conflict between the American colonies and England.

4-3.1 Explain the political and economic factors leading to the American Revolution, including the French and Indian War; British colonial policies such as the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the so-called Intolerable Acts; and the American colonists’ early resistance through boycotts, congresses, and petitions.
4-3.2 Summarize the roles of principal American, British, and European leaders involved in the conflict, including King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and the Marquis de Lafayette.
Standard 4-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the beginnings of America as a nation and the establishment of the new government.
4-4.5 Provide examples of how American constitutional democracy places important responsibilities on citizens to take an active role in the civil process
Social Studies Literacy Elements
Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Consider multiple perspectives.
Process Standard 2
Historical Issues: Analysis and Decision-making – Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.
Process Standard 3
Communicate in Social Studies: Writing and orally – Communicate in written and oral forms using appropriate standards.

Historical Background Notes

At the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, Americans were loyal to the British Crown. Yet, in less than 15 years, loyal British subjects transformed into patriotic American revolutionaries, fighting for their independence from Britain. Why? What happened between 1763 and 1775 to make colonists want to fight for independence?

Actually, America's fight for independence grew out of a long tradition of de-facto American independence. In other words, long before the French and Indian War, American colonies had already grown quite independent from Britain. By 1763, "certain fundamental American beliefs had become clear. From Massachusetts to Georgia, colonists aggressively defended the powers of the provincial assemblies. They drew on a rich legislative history of their own. Over the course of the century, the American assemblies had steadily expanded their authority over taxation and expenditure. Since no one in Britain bothered to clip their legislative wings, these provincial bodies assumed a major role in policymaking and routine administration. In other words, by mid-century the assemblies looked like American copies of Parliament" (The American Story). Actually, colonial independence served the cause of British Empire well as the assemblies in the various colonies took care of local concerns. However, a growing controversy over sovereignty created an ever-widening rift between Britons and Americans. Who was ultimately sovereign in governing the colonies-was it Parliament or the colonial assemblies? Before 1763 the sovereignty debate didn't really matter for practical purposes. Again, Parliament was all too happy to let the assemblies govern themselves, and minister to local matters. Moreover, during the first half of the sixteenth century, Parliament did not strictly enforce revenue collections. After 1763, however, British Parliament began to assert its sovereignty. Simply put, the French and Indian War cost big bucks, and Parliament proclaimed its sovereignty in governing the colonies. Essentially, Parliament asserted its sovereign right to tax American colonists in order to help pay a national debt "so huge that more than half the annual national budget went to pay the interest on it" (The American Story). The British passed a series of taxes and regulatory acts aimed at raising revenue and flexing parliamentary muscle. British acts included the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Declaratory Act, Townshend Acts, the Tea Act, the Coercive or Intolerable Acts, and the Prohibitory Act. Click on Parliament Acts and Colonial Responses for a summary of events leading up to the American Revolution.

Of particular interest is Parliament's Stamp Act, and ensuing colonial response. On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, aimed at generating revenue from the colonies. The Stamp Act stipulated that all official printed documents must be recorded on "special stamped paper" purchased from British stamp distributors. Deeds to property, marriage licenses, playing cards, newspapers, all such documents must be printed on stamped paper (The American Story). Earlier, when Parliament enacted the Sugar Act only wealthy colonists were affected. The Stamp Act on the other hand impacted most every facet of colonial life, affecting all classes of colonial Americans. All those years prior to the French and Indian War Americans had governed themselves and taxed themselves without interference from Parliament. Now things were changing, and the colonists didn't like it. In response, representatives from nine of 13 colonies convened in New York for the Stamp Act Congress, and drafted resolutions to be shared with the King and parliament. On return from the Stamp Act Congress, the South Carolina House of Commons met, and approved resolutions stating South Carolina's response to the Stamp Act. At the heart of South Carolina's response to the Stamp Act was an adamant commitment to "no taxation without representation." The idea that Parliament could enact taxes without colonial Representation was abhorrent to Americans.

The Stamp Act Congress was particularly important for several reasons. Significantly, the Stamp Act Congress demonstrated growing colonial unity. The Stamp Act Congress was also important in its appeal to all Americans, not just wealthy colonials. Perhaps most important, the Stamp Act and the colonial response agitated the sovereignty issue. If Parliament was in fact sovereign to rule the empire as it saw fit, then it could tax American colonists with or without direct representation. The colonial response to the Stamp Act emphasized the American view of parliamentary sovereignty-namely, Parliament was not sovereign to enact colonial taxes without direct colonial representation. For Americans, the Stamp Act was unconstitutional because Parliament taxed British subjects who never had the opportunity to vote on the matter.


Primary Sources

Journal of His Majesty’s Council 12 November 1765.  South Carolina Stamp Act Resolutions.   S 171002.  South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Secondary Sources

Divine, Robert A., T. H. Breen, George Fredrickson, and R. Hall Williams. The American Story. New York: Longman, 2002.


Parliament Acts and Colonial Responses (Summary Table)

Stamp Act Excerpts, Playing Card Provison

All the World Plays the Best of Games

Lesson Plans

Wake Up King George! examines the Stamp Act and other various acts of British Parliament following the French and Indian War, addressing the acts and ensuing colonial responses. Wake Up King George! comprises three lessons, taking three class periods (55 minutes each) to complete. Parliament Acts examines the British Taxes, which incited colonials. Colonial Response looks at South Carolina's response to the Stamp Act, giving students the opportunity to respond as well. Debate Over Sovereignty pits loyalists against revolutionaries in a verbal throw-down, which addresses parliamentary sovereignty.
  • Lesson 1: Parliament Acts
  • Lesson 2: Colonial Response
  • Lesson 3: Debate Over Sovereignty

    Teacher Reflections

    This lesson went fairly well. The students seemed to really get into it after they got over feeling like it was too hard. The summary sheet really helped them make more concise points and understand the main points of the primary documents.

    The thing that I would change about this lesson is that I would try to find actual letters that may have been written to King George from South Carolina colonists. I think that this would give the students a deeper understanding of what the colonists were thinking and feeling, and it would also give them an example of what to write or how to approach the topic.

    I would also try to find some accounts of speeches given by members of Parliament about the colonists’ actions, even if I could not find actual speeches. Again, I feel that this would give the students an idea of where to start from if they chose that topic, and I think that it would give them a better understanding of Britain's point of view because most books and other sources of information focus on the wrong done to the colonists. Overall, the lesson went well.

    Student Assessments

    Assessment for Wake Up King George! is performance-based. Teachers can rate student letters and speeches and the class debate according to a standards-based rubric. Student performance can be rated as Unacceptable, Needs Work, Good, or Excellent. Teacher comments may include rationale for marks and suggestions for improvement.

    Examples of Students Work

  • Dear King George letter
  • Speech of a Member of Parliament

    Melissa Simms
    Greenville, South Carolina