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American Revolution

The American Revolution (1775–1783) was one of the most important events in modern world history. A number of causes led to the break between Britain and her American colonies – these included Enlightenment ideas, challenges that arose from the separation in time and distance over 150 years, and differing ideas of governance among so many others. It was more than a year into the war that the Americans made their complete break, with their Declaration of Independence. The long, eight year war was fought initially on the eastern North American seaboard and, once France, Spain and other European powers became involved, grew into a world war fought on multiple continents and oceans. The military operations included guerrilla fighting, conventional battles and, in the most decisive battle in 1781, a full-scale European-style siege. Politically, the war saw the American states coalesce under a set of Articles of Confederation that allowed the administration of the conflict to proceed while laying the seeds for a Constitutional Convention at the war’s end. The revolution ushered in the United States as the first modern democratic state; and began to alter the colonial empire focus of Great Britain from North America to the Asian subcontinent. The ideals the revolutionaries fought for inspired peoples around the globe far into the future. The French, in particular, were impacted to a great degree by the American Revolution and it was a major impetus to their own in 1789.

Timeline 1775 - 1783 (Background Information 1760–1791)
Grades 6–12
Characters 32
Number of Timeline Events 193
Duration 2 weeks to 1 semester

$10.00$5.00 / Student

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Sample Timeline Events
(October 17, 1777 to July 2, 1778)

Decisive Victory at Saratoga! Burgoyne Surrenders with his Entire Army!

(October 17, 1777)

Respond in character to these events (in an essay of about 300 words), describing how you reacted to the news of the loss of Philadelphia and then the capture of a British Army at Saratoga and what your thoughts and feelings are moving forward from it. After posting this response to your timeline, go to at least 2 other characters and make an appropriate post on their timeline and, lastly, comment on at least 2 more characters' responses to this event.

Conway Cabal Exposed! Washington Remains In Command!

(November 8, 1777)

A number of senior American Army officers have been aiming to have George Washington replaced as commander-in-chief. The group is named after Brigadier General Thomas Conway, whose letters criticizing Washington have been forwarded to the Second Continental Congress. Lately, these suggestions, little more than criticisms and expressions of discontent with either Washington or the general course of the war, have been made public, and supporters of Washington are mobilizing to assist him politically. Conway will resign from the army, and General Horatio Gates, a leading candidate to replace Washington, will issue an apology for his role in events. No formal requests have been made asking for Washington's removal. There is no sign of any formal conspiracy among the various malcontents, although Washington is concerned that there might be one.

Articles Of Confederation Adopted!

(November 15, 1777)

The Second Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation. They are the framework under which the American government will operate for the remainder of the war and beyond.

World War! French Alliance With The United States Changes The Conflict!

(February 6, 1778)

Respond in character to this event, where the Americans joined their ancient enemies (France and Spain) against their former countrymen (the British). In an essay of about 300 words describe how you reacted to this news and what your thoughts and feelings are moving forward from it. After posting this response to your timeline, go to at least 2 other characters and make an appropriate post on their timeline and, lastly, comment on at least 2 more characters' responses to this event.

Training The Troops!

(February 23, 1778)

Baron Von Steuben of Prussia arrives at Valley Forge to train Continental troops. The American army has been in a tough winter encampment outside of Philadelphia for several months. Steuben's drilling will render it a new, tactically sound fighting force when it emerges in the summer.

Parliament's Peace Proposal!

(March 16, 1778)

Parliament creates a British Peace Commission. Led by Frederick Howard, the Earl of Carlisle, they arrive in Philadelphia willing to meet all American demands except independence. For this reason, Congress rejects their proposal.

Clinton Replaces Howe As British Commander!

(May 8, 1778)

General Sir Henry Clinton, who has served throughout the war and in both northern and southern theaters, replaces the ineffective Sir William Howe. Clinton resolves to take the main army to New York City (and its superb harbor for naval support) from Philadelphia when the weather clears.

British-Sponsored Iroquois Terrorize the Frontier!

(May 30, 1778)

After Burgoyne's failure in the previous year, the Native Americans under Joseph Brant conduct a long fighting campaign against American settlements in western New York and Pennsylvania. Today they destroy Cobleskill, New York and its 25 defenders. Numerous other raids throughout the summer cause a great outcry from the settlers. The worst attack occurs at Cherry Valley, New York in November with 44 Americans killed and an equal number captured. Congress will authorize a sizeable retaliation for 1779.

Clinton Evacuates Philadelphia

(June 18, 1778)

The new British commander-in-chief in North America, evacuates Philadelphia and retreats toward New York City where he feels his base is more secure.

Battle of Monmouth Courthouse!

(June 28, 1778)

On a day where temperatures soared to 100 degrees and high humidity, the American Army's advance guard catches up with the British rear guard near Monmouth Courthouse, halfway between Philadelphia and New York City. The newly trained Americans perform superbly, even if their commander, General Charles Lee, does not. Washington arrives in time to rally the Americans and they fight a savage battle with the British. Clinton is enabled to continue on his way to NYC, but the British know they face a professional foe now.

Congress Returns to the Capital (Philadelphia)

(July 2, 1778)

With the British having evacuated Philadelphia, Congress once again returns and takes up residence.

Unit Personas

1. Abigail Adams 17. Joseph Brant
2. Alexander Hamilton 18. King George III
3. Baron von Steuben 19. King Louis XVI
4. Benedict Arnold 20. Marquis de Lafayette
5. Benjamin Franklin 21. Martha Washington
6. Bernardo de Galvez 22. Mary Draper
7. Charles Cornwallis 23. Molly Pitcher
8. Deborah Sampson 24. Nathanael Greene
9. Ethan Allen 25. Patrick Henry
10. George Washington 26. Peter Salem
11. Henry Clinton 27. Phillis Wheatley
12. Henry Knox 28. Tadeusz Kosciuszko
13. John Adams 29. Thomas Burnfoot Brown
14. John Burgoyne 30. Thomas Hutchinson
15. John Hancock 31. Thomas Jefferson
16. John Paul Jones 32. Thomas Paine

Each Discourse unit provides an interactive, social media platform and accompanying curriculum to create a collaborative and entertaining educational experience.

Each unit includes the following:

  • Unit overview
  • 30-40 characters for students to role-play
  • Timeline Events that not only focus on the relevant events of the unit in study, but also encompass the cultural and broader events of the time period, thus providing context for the unit
  • Breaking News events with original source documents
  • Profile information about each character (teacher only)
  • Page for students to determine their relationships to each other character in the unit (auto-graded)
  • Period-relevant items for students to Like or Dislike based on their character (auto-graded)
  • Opportunity for students to create events and send private messages while role-playing their character
  • Advertisements appropriate for the time period; some include original video or music
  • Grading matrix for the role-playing (auto-completed as applicable)
  • A game-like trophy system that awards student progress
  • Teacher product instructions
  • Student use instructions
  • Teachers have access to the Discourse unit and students’ work for one year after the initial set-up date.
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