Lesson Plan

Citizenship Then and Now

Language Arts, Revolutionary War, Science and Technology, Social Studies
Group Size:
Up to 24
in the park
National/State Standards:
SC: Soc Stud: 3.5.1, 4.3.1, 8.25, 8.26, 8.62, 8.63 Sci - 3rd- I-A; II-A, B, C; 4th- I-A; II-B; 6th - I-A; III-A; 7th - I-A; II-D; III-A; 8th - I-A; II-A ELA - 8th - I-C, F, L; IV-F; V-A, B


GOAL:To introduce to students the connection of citizenship to ideals of the American Revolution and to demonstrate the importance of civic responsibility and participatory choicesin American constitutional government.


Using a textbook or other resource, the student will list rights denied Colonial Americans by the British government.
The student will identify and differentiate among the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The student will match selected statements in each document with colonial grievances.
The student will explain the role of the citizen-soldier in gaining American independence.
The student will identify some of the responsibilities and participatory choices in a democracy.
The student will identify the resources at Cowpens National Battlefield and list ways he or she as a citizen can help protect those resources.


The seeds of conflict in the American Revolution had their beginnings in lack of Colonial representation in British government. In addition, British mercantilism dictated that economic benefits flowed to the mother country, giving the colonies little choice in economic matters. Along with Continental (regular, paid) soldiers, brave citizen soldiers, or militia, fought for independence at a great cost, with little or no pay. Thomas Young was only 17 years old and fought in the Battle of Cowpens on his birthday! He survived to live to an old age, but many gave their lives for freedom from tyranny.

The Declaration of Independence addressed colonial grievances in these matters, and emphasized inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In winning the war and gaining their freedom, Americans created a written constitution, which limited the powers of the new national government, the United States. Remembering British tyranny, some believed the Constitution didn’t go far enough in guaranteeing basic freedoms, so they added the Bill of Rights, or the first 10 amendments.

The American Revolution and its citizen-soldier, the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights all helped secure these freedoms. These freedoms are sometimes taken for granted and people become apathetic to the political process of constitutional government. Americans who exercise rights such as freedom of speech and the right to vote demonstrate confidence in the political process and make constitutional government work. Exercising these rights is often seen as a civic responsibility. In addition, citizens can make various other choices such as speaking on issues and volunteering for those activities they believe important.

There are opportunities to participate at various governmental levels. Cowpens National Battlefield and other national parks offer ways to participate in park activities. Each park is required to preserve and protect all its resources. Resources at Cowpens National Battlefield include forests, grasslands, springs, streams, wildlife, an historic road, monuments, park interpretive signs, and park facilities. Visitors and volunteers can contribute by learning why each resource is important, by understanding threats to the resource, and by following park rules and regulations, including helping in recycling efforts and disposing of litter.



1. Have students research basic rights denied colonists and list their stated grievances. State the connection between the French and Indian War and increased British taxation.
2. Have students read the Declaration of Independence, and portions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Differentiate among the reasons for and focus of each, and explain content relevant to rights and responsibilities in a free society.
3. Have students match statements on rights found in these documents to colonial grievances.
4. Read about and discuss the role of the militia in the American Revolution. Refer to such books as Some Heroes of the American Revolution in the South Carolina Upper Country (Bailey), Autobiography of a Revolutionary War Soldier (Collins), Memoirs of Major Joseph McJunkin (Saye), or other sources.


1. Walk the battlefield and talk about the role of the militia, pointing out the militia line. What dangers did they face? What would have motivated these citizen soldiers to fight for no pay? Why did they not simply remain neutral? 2. Have students catalogue natural and cultural resources of the park: the monument in front of the Visitor Center, the Washington Light Infantry Monument, the historic Green River Road, streams, forests and trees, grassland, wildlife (deer, turkeys and other birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles) the Scruggs House, trails and walkways, the Visitor Center Museum and other facilities. Discuss threats to these resources – water and air pollution, littering, urbanization, etc.) Discuss ways that they and other visitors can help protect these resources in context of their responsibilities as citizens.


1. Discuss your field trip to Cowpens National Battlefield and ask students what they enjoyed most. Have students choose a park resource and explain why it is most valuable to visitors
2. Discuss present-day rights and responsibilities originating with the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Additional Resources

Babits, Lawrence, E. A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Bailey, J.D., Some Heroes of the American Revolution in the South Carolina Upper Country. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1976. Originally published by Band and White, Printers, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1924.

Fleming, Thomas J. Downright Fighting: The Story of Cowpens (Park Handbook, Cowpens National Battlefield), Washington, DC: Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1988.

Roberts, John M., ed. Autobiography of a Revolutionary War Soldier, (James Collins). Ayer Company Publishers, Inc.: North Stratfort, New Hampshire, 1989. Originally published by Feliciana Democrat, Printers, Clinton, Louisiana, 1859.

Saye, James Hodge, Memoirs of Major Joseph McJunkin - Revolutionary War Patriot. Spartanburg, South Carolina: A Press, Inc., Kennedy Free Library. First Published by Watchman and Observer, Richmond, Virginia, 1847.