TwHP Lessons

Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom

[Cover photo]
(Photo by Robin Miller. Courtesy Independence National Historical Park)


e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The powerful sentiments eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence called a new nation into being in July 1776. After months of intense debate in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, delegates to the Second Continental Congress had at last voted to declare independence. For much of the ensuing Revolutionary War, Congress met and conducted the affairs of the young nation from the State House. In the summer of 1787, when it had become apparent that the Articles of Confederation needed to be revised to allow for a stronger national government, delegates once again gathered in Philadelphia. Despite the stifling summer heat, members of the Constitutional Convention spent four long months hammering out the United States Constitution behind closed doors and windows.

Known today as Independence Hall, the stately, red brick building where our Founding Fathers made a stand against tyranny and later forged a framework for a national government speaks timelessly of freedom, democracy, and the human spirit. The enduring principles and philosophies expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have inspired numerous countries around the globe over the past two centuries. Recognizing the impact Independence Hall has had on governments worldwide, the United Nations made the building a World Heritage Site in 1979. This designation testifies that Independence Hall is an important part of the world's cultural heritage and deserves to be protected for future generations.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. The Thirteen Colonies
 2. Plan of the city and environs
 of Philadelphia, 1777

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. American Democracy Takes Shape
 2. The Declaration of Independence
 (with partial transcript)

 3. The United States Constitution
 (with partial transcript)

 4. From State House to World Heritage Site
 5. The World Heritage Convention

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Independence Hall, north facade
 2. Independence Hall, south facade
 3. Assembly Room, Independence Hall
 4. The Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Signers
 2. Legacy of Freedom
 3. World Heritage Sites
 4. Local Government Buildings

Supplementary Resources

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Independence National Historical Park

"American Revolutionary War" exhibit by Park Museum Management

The lesson is based on Independence Hall, part of Independence National Historical Park, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Independence Hall has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



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