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Background Essay Graphic Organizer and Questions: The Declaration of Independence

Background Essay Graphic Organizer and Questions

Guiding Question: What were the philosophical bases and practical purposes of the Declaration of Independence?

  • I can explain the major events that led the American colonists to question British rule.
  • I can explain how the concepts of natural rights and self-government influenced the Founders and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

Part 1: Cause and Effect

Directions: As you read the essay, highlight each of the following events in one color. Think about how each of these events led the American colonists further down the road to declaring independence. Highlight the impacts of those events in another color. Record your answers in the graphic organizer.

Cause Effect
Parliament passes the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts. Colonists appeal to their traditional rights as British subjects and complain of “taxation without representation.”
Parliament closes Boston Harbor and takes away self-government after the Boston Tea Party.
Richard Henry Lee proposes a formal resolution for independence from Great Britain.


Part 2: Determining Main Ideas

  1. How does the Declaration reflect the influence of John Locke?
  2. List four examples of complaints against King George III that are found in the Declaration.
  3. The Declaration ends with a promise that the men who signed the document “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” What does this reveal about the seriousness of the document and what it contained?

Additional Activities