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We Hold These Truths: Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, and Identity

45 min

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • What was Jefferson’s identity as he penned the Declaration? How did that role continue to remain a part of his identity until his death and in his legacy since then?
  • Why was Jefferson called upon to write the document above other great leaders on the committee such as John Adams or Benjamin Franklin?
  • What experiences and knowledge did Jefferson have that helped him write a persuasive Declaration?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • What civic and/or moral virtues did the individual exhibit? How and why did the individual exhibit these moral and/or civic virtues in facing and overcoming their challenges?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same way under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?
  • Students will understand how knowledge and experience affects one’s identity.
  • Students will analyze Thomas Jefferson’s identity related to writing the Declaration of Independence.
  • Students will apply their knowledge of their own identity in actions in their own lives.

Student Handouts