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Declaring Democracy


In honor of the 1793 Washington Ship halfpenny, students will read the Declaration of Independence in order to summarize why the United States did not choose to become a monarchy.


After reading December 2004's Coin of the Month page, ask students to discuss the reasons why it was important to Washington that he not be portrayed or perceived like a king.  Review with students the reasons that the young United States did not want to be a monarchy.  Include, if necessary, that the citizens were tired of living under a king's rule and saw many of his actions as unfair.

Have students organize themselves into groups of three.  Give each group a piece of poster paper, markers, and three copies of the Declaration of Independence.  Direct each group to read the document and select five grievances the United States had against the King to summarize.  On their posters, each group should include the original statement (as seen on the document) with each of the summaries.

When all groups have finished, ask each group to read one of the original statements and its corresponding summary.  Write the group responses down on the board, or on another piece of poster paper.  Discuss how these grievances led to the formation of a democracy.


Challenge students to look through other historical documents (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.) for evidence of how the United States steered away from establishing a monarchy in the colonies.


The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education.  These standards are listed below:

Social Studies Standards

Power, Authority, and Governance:  Students will examine Washington's motives in not allowing himself to be portrayed on a coin.  Students will also explore the reasons that the United States wanted independence from a monarchy-based form of government.

Civic Ideals and Practices:  Students will read and analyze the Declaration of Independence and consider its impact on early United States history.

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