Coming of the American Revolution banner pastiche of images from MHS collections

The Coming of the American Revolution: 1764 to 1776

Ă— The Sugar Act The Stamp Act The Formation of the Sons of Liberty The Townshend Acts Non-consumption and Non-importation The Boston Massacre The Formation of the Committees of Correspondence The Boston Tea Party The Coercive Acts The First Continental Congress Lexington and Concord The Second Continental Congress The Battle of Bunker Hill Washington Takes Command of the Continental Army Declarations of Independence


Lesson for Core Concept #4: Tension between Conflict and Compromise

Jacqueline Fernandez, Graduate Education Intern, Tufts

The decade before the Revolution began was a continual tug of war between those who wanted to force confrontation and those who sought accommodation and compromise.

To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question


Encourage and further develop students’ analytical, debate, listening, speaking, and problem solving skills by hosting a mock trial in which a jury must decide whether or not individuals involved in throwing tea overboard in the Boston Tea Party broke the law, should be jailed, and should have to pay for the tea. Students will develop arguments, listen to each other, develop counterarguments and work as teams to come to a conclusion on the issue from the perspective of their assigned character.


By the end of the activity, students will understand that

  • some people had specific motivations to force confrontation
  • some people had specific motivations to seek accommodation
  • each group used events in a different way
  • the dynamic of the opposing approaches is evident in the arguments of each group which were intended for the other

Activity: Debate and Class Discussion

Timeframe: One class period

Part I:

Have students break into four groups. Provide them with fifteen to twenty minutes to read the documents and fill out the document analysis sheet (individually or together).

Group 1: Sons of Liberty

Keeping the Peace