Docent Script of the History of the Declaration of Independence

Hello everyone. Welcome to the National Archives Building. My name is Marilyn and I will be taking you through the first portion of the tour which displays the Declaration of Independence the most treasured document of the United States Of America. Raise your hand if you have been to the museum before? (Wait for responses)Ok, great-welcome back to you and welcome to all of our first time visitors.

We are very happy to have you. Follow me please. Now does anyone know the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted? Hint it is the same day as a famous holiday that we celebrate here in the U.S (call on a few raised hands) That is correct; the document was officially adopted on July, 4, 1776. An intriguing fact is that the United States began as just 13 British colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America. The 13 Colonies lived for many years under British rule, but eventually the colonists began to resent this relationship with the mother country. Disagreements with the mother country over taxes, trade, and oppressive laws would lead to a call for independence. The Colonies developed their own unique identities after so many years on their own.

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Finally, in 1774, 12 of the 13 colonies were represented in the First Continental Congress to ask for more power from the King. Does anyone know what King GeorgeIII thought about the the First Continental Congress? (Wait for responses)That is correct; he thought they were traitors. Follow me. Can anyone tell me when and where the first battles occurred between England and the colonies? (Wait for responses)That is correct; in 1775 the first battles occurred at Lexington and Concord. British troops were sent to Concord to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams, but both men had been warned about the British attack.The night of April 18th, Paul Revere rode through Concord warning everybody about the British attack.

So when the British came in to take and attack the rebels, the Minutemen, americans who were “ready to fight in a minute,” were waiting to attack at Lexington. The Americans were withdrawing when someone fired a shot, and the British troops started to fire at the Minutemen. The British then charged with bayonets. Nobody knows who shot first. The British killed many Minutemen and wounded many more in this Battle at Lexington. The rest of the Minutemen scattered into the woods.After this fight, the British found out that Hancock and Adams had escaped.

So the British marched towards Concord looking for ammunition. As the British went to look at a nearby farm for weapons, they ran into a group of minutemen at Concord’s North Bridge. There was a big fight, and the Minutemen made the British retreat. The Minutemen tried not to let the British retreat, but the retreat was successful.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were battles that took many lives. By the end of the day, British troops had lost 273 soldiers, while the Colonists lost only 94. 18 of these Colonists had died during the battle at Lexington.The Revolutionary War had begun. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous poet, called the Battle of Lexington “the shot heard around the world,” because this battle began the Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress met later in 1775 to discuss the next move, though most were not yet ready to declare independence.

Follow me to the next exhibit . Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common sense focused the colonists frustration on King George III. Thomas Paine released his pamphlet Common Sense in January of 1776. Does any know what the main idea of Thomas Paines pamphlet Common Sense is? Wait for responses)That is correct; the main idea is that it made sense to break away from England since the colonies got nothing out of the relationship.

Common Sense won over many colonists and the Second Continental Congress decided to officially declare their Independence. (Move quests on to the declaration of independence display) Can anyone tell me who were some of the famous members of the Declaration Committee? (Wait for responses)That is correct; some famous members of the Declaration Committee were Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R.Livingston.

Do anyone know who wrote the wrote first draft of the Declaration Of Independence? (Wait for responses)That is correct; Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, though it was not altered much from his original work. The Declaration of Independence was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson and approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The document explained to American colonists and to the world why the colonies were declaring their independence. There were three main parts to the Declaration.

Can anyone tell me what were the three main parts of the Declaration Of Independence? (Wait for responses)That is correct; the three main parts are: ·A statement of the importance of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and that all men are created equal. ·The right to revolt against government and a listing of grievances against the King. ·The official statement of independence. The declaration has four major components: 1. A statement of the new nation’s ideals about equality and the rights of men 2.A list of the alleged abuses by King George III against the colonists 3 A description of the attempts by the colonies to solve these problems before resorting to declaring independence 4.

The actual declaration by the signers that the colonies would from then on be free and independent states. Did you know that there is a list of 27 grievances against King George included in the Declaration. Since I only have a certain amount of time to teach you about America’s Independence I am going to tell you five grievences: ·Parliament passed laws that the colonists considered unfair ·The colonists had no direct representation in Parliament. The colonists were unable to sell products to any country except Britain. ·Parliament forced colonists to buy English products by placing high taxes on French and Dutch goods, ·Parliament expected the colonists to help pay the costs of the French and Indian War.

That wraps it up this portion of the tour. Does anyone have any questions or comments? (Give time for questions –answers questions as best you can and consult the museum book or the curator on hand for questions if you are unable to answer)



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