You Are There: A Revolutionary On-line Newspaper



We are about to develop a series of newspaper articles dealing with the birth of the American Republic. By working in cooperative groups, we'll research some of the major events and ideas that helped form American government. Each group will research thoroughly their event using both traditional and on-line resources. Traditional resources include encyclopedias, textbooks, magazines, newspapers, and CD-ROMS.

One of the major goals of this project is to help you learn how to use primary documents. These are historical documents that were created at some time in history. By reading newspapers, advertisements, letters, journals, diaries and articles from that time, you can interpret them and arrive at your own conclusions on a given question. For example, by reading and understanding the Declaration of Independence, you will understand how Americans came to see themselves as people separate from their British homeland.


Each group will select one topic to research thoroughly. Each topic may have one or more subtopics that should be included in the main topic. For each topic, the group will develop four articles along these lines:

A factual news article: this article describes a major news event from the time. The article should outline what happened in detail, who was involved, where it happened and what the causes of the event were. The article must be written from the viewpoint of a person who actually witnessed or took part in the event. Did Samuel Adams actually take part in the Boston Tea Party? If so, what article would he have written about it?

An editorial on the event: An editorial expresses a person opinion on an event or topic. The opinion should be based on historical fact. The opinion should reflect what people actually thought at that time rather than your own personal opinion on the topic. The opinion you express may reflect what actually comes true as history unfolds, or it can reflect an alternate history that did not come true. Example: when the Constitution was ratified, there was no mention of women having the right to vote. Your group could write one or more editorials agreeing or disagreeing with that fact. The opinion must be based on some historical document.

The Biography: This article sheds some light on the role individuals played in the development of our government. The person would be considered one of the founding fathers and mothers of our nation. It must include a statement on his or her role in the way the event took place. It should not tell when the person was born or died since the newspaper writer of the time would not have known when the person died. You should include a list of Internet links on your biography so that web page viewers can find other resources on the person you discussed. You should also include hand-drawn or publicly available web graphics as part of the newspaper. You might want to call this section "Colonist In the Spotlight" or something like that.

An advertisement: This article can be a drawing or an announcement that is appropriate to the event or the time period. It can also take the form of a tabloid article that spreads rumors or sensational information about an event or person. Such an article might target the British or loyalists, or it may rail against the views of the anti-federalists or federalists. Your ad can include some thing that has been drawn, traced, or developed on the computer. It should use a font that looks like old-time writing used during the colonial or revolutionary period.

All of the articles should be written in the English used at the time, and we will be looking at newspapers to see how they report the news and include ads and editorials.

The Schedule:

Two days will be allotted for library research. If that is not enough time, you'll have to do some research at home and bring in what you find. All research should be completed on 3 x 5 index cards for easy organization. Then you'll write your rough drafts at home.

One day will be spent developing the rough draft of your articles on the computer. You will use a web page editing program to word process your information onto computer files (web pages). When the rough draft is due, it will be handed in on disk and I will print the pages out. Then I will indicate spelling and grammatical errors. You'll revise your pages the next day. I'll also show you how to create graphics using Paint Shop Pro.

Two days will set aside for developing the web site on the computer. This will include creating graphics, scanning artwork, and correcting text. You'll also learn how to create links on your web pages so that viewers can jump from page to page. At the end of the week, the final drafts will be due.

The Topics:

The Signing of the Mayflower Compact

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The Albany Plan of Union

The Stamp Act is passed. Related topic: the Stamp Act Congress

The Coercive or Intolerable Acts

The First and Second Continental Congresses

The Declaration of Independence is signed

Adoption of state constitutions

Ratification of the Articles of Confederation

The Treaty of Paris is Signed

The Northwest Ordinance

Shay's Rebellion

James Madison: The Father of the Constitution

The Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise)

The Three-Fifth Compromise

The Federalist position and the Federalist Papers

The Anti-Federalist Position (Related Topic: Patrick Henry)

The First Congress

The First Presidential Election

The Bill of Rights is adopted

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