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McREL Standards Activity

Taxed Tempers Toss Tea To Tides

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will use persuasive writing strategies to demonstrate knowledge of the Boston Tea Party and its role in contributing to the American Revolution.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
United States History
 Standard 6.Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in shaping the revolutionary movement, and reasons for the American victory
   Level II [Grade 5-6]
   Benchmark 2. Understands the events that contributed to the outbreak of the American Revolution and the earliest armed conflict of the Revolutionary War (e.g., opponents and defenders of England’s new imperial policy, the idea of "taxation without representation," the battle at Lexington and Concord)
United States History
 Standard 6.Understands the causes of the American Revolution, the ideas and interests involved in shaping the revolutionary movement, and reasons for the American victory
   Level III [Grade 7-8]
   Benchmark 1. Understands how political, ideological, and religious ideas joined economic interests to bring about the "shot heard round the world" (e.g., leaders of resistance to imperial policy; the English tax on the colonists to help pay for the Seven Years War; the interests and positions of different economic groups, such as northern merchants, southern rice and tobacco planters, yeoman farmers, and urban artisans)
Language Arts
 Standard 1.Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 10. Writes persuasive compositions (e.g., engages the reader by establishing a context, creating a persona, and otherwise developing reader interest; develops a controlling idea that conveys a judgment; creates and organizes a structure appropriate to the needs and interests of a specific audience; arranges details, reasons, examples, and/or anecdotes persuasively; excludes information and arguments that are irrelevant; anticipates and addresses reader concerns and counter arguments; supports arguments with detailed evidence, citing sources of information as appropriate)
Student Product:A persuasive brochure or pamphlet
Material & Resources:Brochures could be made by hand, with paper and other materials, or on word processors, if available. Examples of colonial pamphlets can be found on the following "American Memory" websites:
Teacher's Note:This activity can be geared towards the 5-6 or 7-8 level, depending on when this part of history is taught. Brochures could be made individually or in small groups. The complex reasoning process embedded in this activity is that of "constructing support." It might be useful for students to use a graphic organizer to outline their views on the topic, and specific ways to support those views. A typical organizer for constructing support has a box for the student’s opinion or assertion at the top of the page, and spaces below that for different ways of constructing support: appealing through personality, tradition, rhetoric, or reason. Students may choose to use one or several of these approaches in creating the persuasive brochure.
Surprisingly enough, the Boston Tea Party occurred as a result of a price cut rather than an increase in taxes on tea. In an attempt to create business for the failing East India Company, the British government drastically reduced duties on its tea, bringing prices below those of black-market Dutch tea. Colonial members of the Committees of Correspondence expressed alarm that this policy would allow the East India Company to have a monopoly on tea, and further control commerce in the colonies.

Colonial pamphlets were a popular way to spread propaganda and express views on a variety of issues. Choose the side of either the British government or leaders of resistance to imperial policy and create a flyer or brochure to distribute to the colonists in Boston. If you support the Committee of Correspondence, convince other colonists that they should not purchase the cheap tea from the East India Company, or that they should participate in the nighttime raid to dump tea overboard and protest imperial policy. If you are on the side of the British government, convince the colonists that the price reduction was a reasonable act.

Use specific references to previous events, policies, and ideas to support your argument (e.g., the Boston Massacre, the Stamp Act, the duty of the colonies to share the financial burden of the Seven Year’s War, the right of the government to impose policies on the colonies). In addition, use one or more propaganda techniques, such as glittering generalities or celebrity appeal, to try to gather support for your side of the issue. The following websites define and discuss a variety of propaganda techniques:

Online Resources: Propaganda Techniques