Smithsonian

Step Two: Class Investigation

Tell students that they will read three documents in order to confirm or disprove their ideas about the effect of the Stamp Act on the relationship between the colonists and Great Britain. Distribute the documents. In a class discussion, ask students to identify text features that can help them develop conclusions (such as the boldface headings or the use of all-capital letters). Explain that during colonial times there were no standard conventions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. In order to help them understand the documents, a modern translation follows each original text. Students will need to make inferences in order to apply the documents to their understanding of colonial reaction to the Stamp Act.

Display Document A on the overhead. Read the excerpt aloud and use a “think-aloud” to model the process of pausing and highlighting phrases, which can help in determining the effect of the Stamp Act on the relationship between the colonists and Great Britain.

Sample think-aloud:

We want to find out how the Stamp Act caused changes in the feelings and actions of the colonists towards Great Britain. The first paragraph says that the merchants in New York, who trade with Great Britain, are having a meeting to decide what to do about the Stamp Act. The merchants say that North American trade and the buying of goods is in a sad state. I know that many things people used in the colonies came from Great Britain. So, if trade is in a sad state, and they need to have a meeting about it, then I can infer that they don’t like the Stamp Act because it is hurting their business. The last sentence says that they came to some decisions. I’ll put on my chart that the Stamp Act was hurting business in the colonies and making merchants unhappy and then read on to find out their decisions.

The next paragraph says that the merchants who created and signed this document promised that they would not buy any goods that were shipped from Great Britain unless the Stamp Act is repealed. We learned in our vocabulary review that repeal means take away, so I know that these merchants want Great Britain to end the Stamp Tax. It also says they promise not to buy anything from Great Britain. If people in the colonies are used to getting things they need from Great Britain, I guess we can figure out that many people will have problems because of the actions of these businessmen. Maybe they will be upset or angry about not being able to buy the goods they are used to getting. We’ve already learned that the colonists were already upset about having to pay the tax, so now they might be even angrier. I wonder if the merchants in Great Britain will be upset because they can’t sell their products in New York. These people must be very upset by the Stamp Act if they would stop buying the things they need and want from Great Britain because of it. If merchants in other colonies reacted the same way the ones in New York did, people in those colonies would be just as angry. I will put these ideas on my chart, too.

Record notes on chart paper to begin a class list of the ways the Stamp Act changed attitudes about Great Britain.