K-12 Private Christian School in Northwest Houston, TX

Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny!

Fourth-grade students have been busy learning about the American Revolution. To help them better understand some of the causes of the Revolutionary War, students participated in an exciting role-play activity.

Each student randomly received a role card to find out if he or she would be a colonist, a tax collector, a member of Parliament or the King of England. The colonists were divided into three colonies - Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut - and each received 20 “coins”. Two tax collectors were charged with the responsibility of reading a tax card and then collecting taxes from the colonists. The king and the two members of parliament sat at the front of the room, ready to receive their money. Tax cards included situations such as:

  • “The Stamp Act was passed! You need to buy paper for your newspaper. Please pay the tax collectors three pieces.”
  • “The Townshend Act was passed! You run a house building company and need glass for windows. Please pay the tax collectors six pieces.”
  • “You’ve been caught! You were caught smuggling tea for your business. Please pay the tax collectors 10 pieces in back taxes.”

The colonists quickly realized that they had to pay the taxes or they would be thrown in “jail.” With each collection, the tax collectors divided the money, keeping one or two pieces for themselves, giving a few pieces to the members of parliament, and then giving the rest to the king.

The colonists in Massachusetts were all part of the Sons/Daughters of Liberty, so they were able to steal a couple of coins back from the tax collectors during the Boston Tea Party. In the end, the king was very happy and the colonists were left with very little! Each class had a great discussion about how the colonists felt about taxation without representation, and how this contributed to the Revolutionary War.