Don’t tax me…again!

This lesson is intended to connect the study of economics back to the people and places of post-Revolutionary America. Students should understand that a government needs to tax its citizens and often these taxes are very unpopular. They will discuss why this kind of taxation was different from when we were ruled by Great Britain and how it is similar to some of the taxes we pay today. Additionally, they will connect ways people of today protest when they don’t want to pay a tax they think is unfair.

Lesson Objective

Students will learn about the Whiskey Rebellion and why it was an important step in the growth of the new country by reading an article, creating a graphic of their choosing and examining two works of art.



  1. Day 1 (50 minutes) Lead a short discussion that re-engages their memories about why the government needs to tax its citizens. Discuss what happens today if people are unhappy with a tax and the different ways the government responds. (5 minutes)
  2. Students will be given individual copies of the article that describes the events of the Whiskey Rebellion. They will silently read and highlight important facts. (10 minutes)
  3. Students will then be placed in cooperative groups. They will be a given a copy of Washington’s proclamation so that they can see how long and difficult it is to read. (5 minutes)
  4. Each group will then create a graphic of their choosing that explains why and how the problems occurred. They may create a timeline, web, illustration, etc. to demonstrate their understanding. (20 minutes)
  5. Each group will have an opportunity to share their graphic with the class. (10 minutes)
  6. Day 2: (50 Minutes)
  7. Review events and hot points from previous class. (5 minutes)
  8. Students will be placed in cooperative groups (different from the last class) to source and close read either the drawing or the painting. Each child will complete a Picture Analysis worksheet as the group examines the primary source. (20 minutes)
  9. A group that analyzed the drawing will be paired with one that analyzed the painting and they will share their findings. Each will have the opportunity to look at the other source. (10-12 minutes)
  10. Lead a group discussion that connects the two by engaging in a discussion of perspective. With whom would each artwork resonate? Why? Relate the Rebellion back to how our government might respond today if there was anger at a tax? (10-15 minutes)


There will be informal and anecdotal evidence collected through discussions and engaging while they are working in groups and when groups present their graphics.


Public Broadcast System (PBS). “Teachers.” (accessed July 26, 2012)

Archiving Early America: Your Window into America’s Founding Years. (accessed July 26, 2012)

“Whiskey Rebellion.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (accessed July 26, 2012)

“Whiskey Rebellion.” Encyclopedia Britannica Kids. (accessed July 26, 2012)

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