Lesson 6 (Donn) - The (British) empire strikes back, American Revolution Illustration

Mr. Donn's Lesson Plans
American Revolution
Lesson Six

The (British) empire strikes back

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American Revolution Lesson Six

The (British) empire strikes back.

New York, Philadelphia

Fit this lesson after 5 and before 7. It can be attached to either one as it is very short, or it can stand alone.

I like to start this by playing Star Wars music and having a picture of the Movie Poster up to see. Just a little fun.

After being chased out of Boston, the British army Was looking for a good place to reenter the colonies. The British had the world's largest and best navy. The colonists had no navy. So a place made up of islands and rivers would seem to give the advantage to the British.

They decided on New York.

Ask students why the British might have chosen New York. Show them a map of colonial New York and see if they come up with different ideas.

New York was chosen because of its large harbor, all of the rivers in and around it, and all of the islands that make up New York City.

Washington's spies told him of the British plans so he rushed his army to New York and prepared to defend it. To no avail.

Washington tried to defend New York City but was defeated four times by the British. He finally abandoned New York.

A good map and description of the battle can be found here.

Ask students why the loss of New York was a major blow against the colonies.


1. Major port for the British to get supplies

2. Largest American city.

3. Centralized Location in the colonies.

4. Easy River access to the interior.

The loss of New York and the defeat of General Washington at the battles of Long Island, Harlem Heights, White Plains, and Fort Washington allowed the British to do pretty much whatever they wanted to do next. So they set their sights on Philadelphia, the Capital of the 13 colonies and the home of the Continental Congress and Independence Hall.

As the British marched toward Philadelphia, Washington and his defeated army could only watch. The Continental Congress had to flee, moving away from the advancing British. The British felt very confident about victory and an end to the rebellion. With winter starting the British army settled into Philadelphia and the surrounding town to wait for spring to beat those pesky Colonials.

What happened next? See Lesson 7a

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