Declarations of Independence - For and Against
Handout of significant events leading up to July 1776.
Barnstable Massachusetts' rejection of Independence June 25, 1776: The Loyalty of Barnstable in the Revolution, Francis Tiffany Bowles.
Natick Massachusetts Declaration of Independence June 20, 1776: American Scripture, pages 232 & 233.
Map of Massachusetts
Two class periods.
All students know about our Federal Declaration of Independence, however few are aware of the over ninety state, city, county, town and club declarations that preceded the July 4, 1776 federal declaration. The majority of these local declarations came from Massachusetts. On May 10, 1776 the Massachusetts assembly asked each town in the commonwealth to debate whether the inhabitants would support, both financial and with their lives, independence from Great Britain. Not all towns supported independence from Great Britain. Barnstable Massachusetts on Cape Cod voted 36-30 against supporting Independence. Whereas Natick Massachusetts voted unanimously for independence from Great Britain.
Discuss the timeline of significant events that lead up to the spring of 1776. What do the students feel contributed most to independence fever in the spring of 1776? Can they add any additional grievances that the colonists might have had?
Read Barnstable's rejection of independence and then Natick's endorsement of independence from Great Britain; give copies to the students.
Discuss the differences between Barnstable and Natick: location, economy, population.
Break the class into two groups, half for Barnstable and half for Natick. Have each group identify at least three of the significant points of each town's argument.
Have the groups vote for or against independence from Great Britain. Is it unanimous?
Have one student from each group present the significant points in each town's discussion regarding independence. Are the arguments convincing?
Bring the class back together to discuss the merits and cons of independence for Natick and Barnstable.
Timeline of Events Leading up to July 1776
December 1773 -- The Action Against the Tea (a.k.a. Boston Tea Party).
April 18-19, 1775 - Battles of Lexington and Concord.
June 17, 1775 -- Battle of Bunker Hill.
July 8, 1775 -- "Olive Branch Petition" written and subsequently ignored by George III.
October 17, 1775 Falmouth Maine (now Portland) was bombarded and destroyed by the British Royal Navy.
October 26, 1775 -- George III declares the American colonists "in open and avowed rebellion".
November 7, 1775 -- Lord Dunmore offers freedom to slaves who fight for the British and lays siege to the town of Norfolk Virginia.
December 2, 1775 -- Parliament passes the Prohibitory Act, prohibiting all commerce with the thirteen colonies, treating colonial vessels as enemy ships and their sailors as enemy combatants subject to seizure and impressments and finally, places American "outside the King's protection."
May 1776 - The Continental Congress learns that George III has rejected a petition by the City of London to set terms for honorable peace with the colonists.
May 1776 - The Continental Congress receives reports that George III has hired 40,000 foreign mercenaries to travel overseas to quell the colonial rebellion.
May 15, 1776 - The Continental Congress passes a resolution nullifying imperial authority and urging state assemblies to form new state governments.