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Remarkable moments of the War for Independence and the American Revolution

The purpose of the given lesson lies in studying of two remarkable events of the United States history: the battle of Lexington and the battle of Concord and the “Boston Teaparty”; both took place in the course of War for Independence in the late 18th century. The lesson is intended for 45-50 minutes duration.

The plan of the lesson:

1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Review of the previous studies (5-7 minutes)

3) New studies (approx. 20 minutes)

4) Systematization of the new knowledge and training for it’s application in practice (15-

20 minutes)

5) Homework (1-2 minutes)

Part 3 (new studies) is based on the text dedicated to the historical review of the battles of Lexington and Concorde. Exercises include reading and translating of the text, with following discussion of the information in the form of dialogs. Dialogs are supposed to be improvised by pupils in course of the lesson.

The report of the general Hugh Percy can be orally analyzed by several pupils, each of them providing ideas and proofs to support his position and opinion.

»The battles of Lexington and Concord»

The British were to find that 1775 was to be a disastrous year. They did not appreciate the scale and difficulty of the military task facing them in America until too late, and they allowed the bulk of their forces to become bogged down in an exposed base while the British position collapsed throughout much of Northern America. By the end of the year the British government faced the possibilities that it would lose Canada as well as the Thirteen Colonies.

For the Revolutionaries the year was marked by the successful hemming in of the British at Boston, a very creditable performance at the battle of nearby Bunker Hill, the creation of a national army, and the invasion of Canada. At the same time major difficulties had been revealed in the new military force, while the invasion of Canada was not to be a triumph.

The British government had decided the previous November to take a tougher line towards America, George III informing his first minister, Lord North, that: '...blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.' General Thomas Gage, who was both Governor of Massachusetts, the most rebellious of the colonies, and commander-in-chief of the troops in North America, was order to use force to restore royal authority in the colony. He was instructed to arrest the leaders of the provincial Congress. In February North asked the House of Commons to declare Massachusetts in rebellion and to approve the use of troops. The ministry was confident that if there was any popular response it could not be 'very formidable', a view Gage did not share. This attitude in London not only ensured that the news of Concord and Lexington was received with great surprise, but also meant that Gage had not received the major reinforcements he had called for. Furthermore, because the government did not appreciate that the revolution would spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies, they failed to provide the assistance that royal governors elsewhere required. The British war effort in 1775 was therefore too little, too late and narrowly focused, though had Gage been successful in his operations near Boston the consequences of this would have been less serious.

Operations began with an attempt to seize a cache of arms reported to be at Concord, a town 16 miles from Boston, past the village of Lexington. Secrecy was lost and when the British reached Lexington at first light on 19 April they found about seventy militia drawn upon in two lines. Heavily outnumbered, the militia began to disperse, although not to lay down their arms, when someone, it is not clear who, fired. The shot was followed by two British volleys and the militia scattered. Concord was not such an easy proposition. The British were able to occupy the undefended town but then withdrew in the face of militia pressure.
On their route back to Lexington they suffered grieviously from sniping, their flanking maneuvers being insufficient to prevent ambushes. At Lexington a relief column under Brigadier- General Hugh Percy lessened the pressure, although there were renewed attacks on the route back to Boston. Percy reported to Gage the following day:

In obedience to your Excellency's orders I marched yesterday morning at 9 o'clock with the 1st brigade and 2 field pieces, in order to cover the retreat of the grenadiers and light infantry in their return from their expedition to Concord. As all the houses were shut up, and there was not the appearance of a single inhabitant, I could get no intelligence concerning them till I had passed Menotomy, when was informed that the rebels had attacked his Majesty's troops who were retiring, overpowered by numbers, greatly exhausted and fatigued, and having expended almost all their ammunition - and at about 2 o'clock I met them retiring rough the town of Lexington - I immediately ordered the 2 field pieces to fire at the rebels, and drew up the brigade on a height.

The shot from the cannon had the desired effect, and stopped the rebels for a little time, who immediately dispersed, and endeavored to surround us being very numerous. As it began now to grow pretty late and we had 15 miles to retire, and only 36 rounds, I ordered the grenadiers and light infantry to move of first; and covered them with my brigade sending out very strong flanking parties which were absolutely very necessary, as there was not a stone wall, or house, though before in appearance evacuated, from whence the rebels did not fire upon us. As soon as they saw us begin to retire, they pressed very much upon our rear guard, which for that reason, I relieved every now and then.

In this manner we retired for 15 miles under incessant fire all round us, till we arrived at Charlestown, between 7 and 8 in the evening and having expended almost all our ammunition. We had the misfortune of losing a good many men in the retreat, though nothing like the number which from many circumstances I have reason to believe were killed of the rebels. His Majesty's troops during he whole of the affair behaved with their usual intrepidity and spirit nor were they a little exsperated at the cruelty and barbarity of the rebels, who scalped and cut off the ears of some of the wounded men who fell into their hands.

In fact, no one was scalped and no ears were cropped. Jeremy Lister, who was wounded on the retreat, wrote of ' general firing upon us from all quarters, from behind hedges and walls'. The news of the shedding of blood produced an outraged response throughout New England and a substantial force soon encircled the ,British in Boston. Poorly organized and supplied, largely dependent on their personal arms , and short of powder and ball, the Revolutionaries nevertheless benefited from the heavy British losses on 19 April, which discouraged Gage from acting until he received reinforcements and ensured that when he did act it would be in order to improve his defensive position, not to end the encirclement or to attack further afield. Meanwhile the Revolutionaries were entrenching their positions, one British observer, writing on 31 May, that they had strongly fortified 'every road, every pass and every hill within ten miles of Boston' so that even if the British attacked successfully their army would be decimated.”

The listening comprehension can be nicely represented by the “Boston Teaparty” audio record by a native speaker with the following discussion. This text is good as a practical exercise to work with the terminology of the War for Independence and its historical material:

“In 1773, Britain's East India Company was sitting on large stocks of tea that it could not sell in England. It was on the verge of bankruptcy. In an effort to save it, the government passed the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the company the right to export its merchandise directly to the colonies without paying any of the regular taxes that were imposed on the colonial merchants, who had traditionally served as the middlemen in such transactions. With these privileges, the company could undersell American merchants and monopolize the colonial tea trade. The act proved inflammatory for several reasons. First, it angered influential colonial merchants, who feared being replaced and bankrupted by a powerful monopoly. The East India Company's decision to grant franchises to certain American merchants for the sale of their tea created further resentments among those excluded from this lucrative trade. More important, however, the Tea Act revived American passions about the issue of taxation without representation. The law provided no new tax on tea. Lord North assumed that most colonists would welcome the new law because it would reduce the price of tea to consumers by removing the middlemen. But the colonists responded by boycotting tea. Unlike earlier protests, this boycott mobilized large segments of the population. It also helped link the colonies together in a common experience of mass popular protest. Particularly important to the movement were the activities of colonial women, who were one of the principal consumers of tea and now became the leaders of the effort to the boycott. Various colonies made plans to prevent the East India Company from landing its cargoes in colonial ports. In ports other than Boston, agents of the company were "persuaded" to resign, and new shipments of tea were either returned to England or warehoused. In Boston, the agents refused to resign and, with the support of the royal governor, preparations were made to land incoming cargoes regardless of opposition. After failing to turn back the three ships in the harbor, local patriots led by Samuel Adams staged a spectacular drama. On the evening of December 16, 1773, three companies of fifty men each, masquerading as Mohawk Indians, passed through a tremendous crowd of spectators, went aboard the three ships, broke open the tea chests, and heaved them into the harbor. As the electrifying news of the Boston "tea party" spread, other seaports followed the example and staged similar acts of resistance of their own.' When the Bostonians refused to pay for the property they had destroyed, George III and Lord North decided on a policy of coercion, to be applied only against Massachusetts, the so-called Coercive Acts. In these four acts of 1774, Parliament closed the port of Boston, drastically reduced the powers of self-government in the colony, permitted royal officers to be trailed in other colonies or in England when accused of crimes, and provided for the quartering of troops in the colonists' barns and empty houses. The acts sparked new resistance up and down the coast.”

The lesson can be concluded by writing a brief essay on the discussed events.


This quiz can be used to test the knowledge gained by pupils during the above lesson.

1. On which side did Hugh Percy fought?

    1. Colonists

    2. British

    3. French

    4. Indian

  1. What was the army rank of Hugh Percy?

    1. Colonel

    2. General

    3. Major

    4. Brigade general

  2. Who was Lord North?

    1. A British minister

    2. A colonies’ representative

    3. A British general

    4. A French governor

  3. When did War for Independence began?

    1. In 1773

    2. In 1774

    3. In 1775

    4. In 1883

  4. Which battle took place first?

    1. the battle of Concord

    2. the battle of Lexington

    3. they happened simultaneously

  5. The battles of Concord and Lexington took place near

    1. New York

    2. Boston

    3. Chicago

    4. Dallas

  6. Who won the battle of Lexington?

    1. Colonists

    2. British

    3. None

  7. What was the reason for the so-called “Boston Teaparty”?

    1. Tax debates between colonies and Britain

    2. French trade policy

    3. Indian attacks

    4. The beginning of the War for Independence

  8. When did the Tea act pass?

    1. In 1753

    2. In 1775

    3. In 1773

    4. In 1779

  9. Who was the owner of the East India Company?

    1. Colonies

    2. Britain

    3. It was a joint company

    4. France

  10. When did the “Boston Teaparty” took place?

    1. In July 1774

    2. In December 1774

    3. In early 1778

    4. In December 1773

  11. What did the set of legislative acts called the “Coercive Acts” lead to?

    1. Parliament closed the port of Boston

    2. Parliament drastically reduced the powers of self-government in the colony

    3. It permitted royal officers to be trailed in other colonies or in England when accused of crimes

    4. All of these

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