This is an extra or replacement audio recording for the musical play American Revolution: 1763-1789.

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Betsy Ross---a bit prone to exaggeration---tells her grandkids how the colonies became a nation. It's a difficult time: taxes are high, Sam Adams hates tea, and Paul Revere keeps forgetting his horse. The colonies don't even like each other that much, and John Hancock is spending way too much time practicing his signature. But it's a glorious story nevertheless, and will help enliven an exciting part of our history.

Key Concepts

While there's no way any short play can cover all the happenings of the American Revolution, this show contains lots of curriculum in the songs and dialogue; it covers the major events and issues during the 25-year period of 1763-1789. For even more detail on the constitution, see U.S. Constitution; for a higher-level overview of the whole period from 1600-1791, check out 13 Colonies.

The American Revolution reinforces students' familiarity with the following events and concepts:

  • The French and Indian War
  • England's relationship with the Americas and European nations
  • England's Acts, duties, and levies on the Americas
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • Taxation without representation
  • Paul Revere
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The nature of warfare during the revolution
  • The Treaty of Paris
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • State representation in Congress
  • The creation of the Constitution
  • The electoral college
  • George Washington elected as the first president
  • See the "Read the Script" tab (on this page to the right) for the full character list

The American Revolution is a great complement to your curriculum resources in social studies. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!

Publication Information

Author: Ron Fink (Composer) and John Heath (Book and Lyrics)
ISBN: 978-1-886588-28-8
© 2003 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

Song Samples

Full Song List

1. Tell Us, Betsy
2. It's Great to Be an Empire
3. Taxation
4. Down, Down, Down
5. Paul Revere
6. Where Do I Sign?
7. Bet You Can't Find Me
8. 13 Little Countries
9. Big/Small States Rule
10. Gonna Vote for President
11. Tell Us Betsy (reprise)


Flexible casting from 11-40 students. Use as many Vikings, Soldiers, Colonists, etc. as desired. One student can easily play several roles if needed. Note that roles are not gender specific: George Washington can easily be played by a girl, for example, and we recommend that the part of the Game Show Host be played by a girl as well;see our comments on page 32 of the Teacher's Guide.


Betsy Ross
King George III
John Adams
James Otis
Sam Adams
John Jay
Patrick Henry
Paul Revere
Rachel Revere
Revere Kids
Ben Franklin
Thomas Jefferson
John Hancock
Minute Men
General Rochambeau
John Paul Jones
Benedict Arnold
James Madison
Alexander Hamilton
Small States
Big States
and a CHORUS comprised of all students who are not playing roles on

stage at the time
(TWO STUDENTS step forward and address the audience )

STUDENT #1: If you're like me, you're tired of the same old stories
about the American Revolution.

STUDENT #2: Enough about George already! We want to hear from someone
else. Like...

STUDENT #1: Betsy Ross.

STUDENT #2: Betsy Ross!

STUDENT #1: Finally the woman who sewed the first American flag tells
all about the stitch heard 'round the world.

STUDENT #2: And now everybody, here she is...the Seamstress of the

STUDENT #1: The Empress of Embroidering...

STUDENT #2: The Sultan of the Saddle-Stitch...

STUDENT #1: The Guru of Needlework...


(Music begins as BETSY steps forward with knitting needles and nods
at the audience. She sits in her rocking chair at the side of the

  Song 1 - Listen now!


Tell us, Betsy, tell us
Shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo shoo
Come on, Betsy, tell us
Shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo shoo

Tell us how your sewing
Helped us win the war.
Tell us, Betsy, tell us
The tales you've told before.


Tell us, Betsy, tell us
Shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo shoo
Come on, Betsy, tell us
Shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo shoo

Tell us how you tailored
Food at Valley Forge.
Tell us, Betsy, tell us
The one how you saved George.

STUDENTS: Tell us how you knitted muskets

BETSY: I felt it was my duty.

STUDENTS: And then crocheted a cannon

BETSY: Oh that one was a beauty.
Oh, and it sparkled!


Tell us, Betsy, tell us
Come on, Betsy, tell us

Tell us how your sewing
Helped us win the war.
Tell us, Betsy, tell us
The tales you've told before.

STUDENTS: How you stitched the revolution

BETSY: You know I'm double jointed

CLASS: You sewed the Constitution

BETSY: No, that I needle-pointed.
And didn't it turn out fine!

STUDENTS and CHORUS (whispered):

Tell us, Betsy, tell us
Come on, Betsy, tell us

Tell us how you tailored
Food at Valley Forge.
Tell us, Betsy, tell us
The one how you saved
Shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo
Shoo shoo bee doo bee shoo bee doo shoo.

STUDENT #1: Can you tell us about the American Revolution again,

BETSY: Oh my. It's been so many years.

STUDENTS: Pleeeeaaaaase!?

BETSY: Okay, okay. Well, let's see. A good place to start is when
England defeated France and Spain in a long war.

STUDENT #2: My dad told me about that. The colonists helped the
British defeat the French here in America in 1763.

BETSY: Yes, but the French and Indian War was just a small part of a
much bigger conflict. A patch in the quilt of world politics. England
became the leading power in the world. How King George III gloated.

(THEY exit. GEORGE III enters with COUNSELORS)

COUNSELOR #1: Tremendous news, your majesty. We've won the Seven Years

GEORGE III: Well it's about time. We've been fighting many
years now?

COUNSELOR #1: Seven.

GEORGE III: That's quite a coincidence, isn't it?

COUNSELOR #2: Yes, my lord. Our victory is especially beneficial for
our prospects in America.

GEORGE III: America? How splendid! Did we get any of those fur hats?
You can't beat America for fur hats.

COUNSELOR #2: Even better, your majesty.

GEORGE III: Better than fur hats? You don't mean...fur sunglasses?!

COUNSELOR #1: Your majesty. We've driven the French out of most of
America. The entire North is ours, as well as Florida, and everything
east of the Mississippi.

COUNSELOR #2: Our empire's never been bigger. We rule the seas. Our
colonies are rich and well-organized. England is the most powerful
country in the world.

GEORGE III: In other words...

COUNSELORS 1 &2: That's right, your majesty:
(THEY shout)
You're da man!

(quickly, back and forth)

GEORGE III: Who da man?

COUNSELORS: You're da man.

GEORGE III: Who da man?

COUNSELORS: You're da man.

GEORGE III: Rootin' tootin' right I'm da man.

  Song 2 - Listen now!


We spanked old Spain
We flogged the French
We whipped the world
Yeah we're a mensch.

Our colonies
Are our great joy
Hey, America
Our fav'rite toy.

And it's great to be an empire
Everyone shines your shoes
Yeah it's great to be an empire
Nobody can refuse.
It's great to be an empire
In its early days
In its early ways
It's great to be an empire
'Cause it pays.

(During the dobro solo, GEORGE and his COUNSELORS
do a Victory Dance.)

Now we're in debt
Up to our knees
So where to turn?
The colonies!

They fought with us
To win the war
Hey, and now they'll know
What they fought for.


And it's great to be an empire
Everyone shines your shoes
Yeah it's great to be an empire
Nobody can refuse.
It's great to be an empire
In its early days
In its early ways
It's great to be an empire
'Cause it pays.

It's great to be an empire
In its early days
In its early ways
It's great to be an empire

'Cause it pays.

(THEY exit. STUDENTS and BETSY enter.)

STUDENT #3: What do they mean,"it pays"? Does being an empire come
with a salary and retirement plan and stuff like that?

BETSY: Even better. England was in debt for over 140 million pounds.
King George and Parliament figured the colonies could help pay.

STUDENT #1: 140 million pounds! Wow, like, you'd need to diet for
months to lose that.

BETSY: Pounds as in English money, dear. The British Parliament passed
a series of acts that placed duties and taxes on the colonists. By 1767
they weren't happy.

(THEY exit. JOHN ADAMS and JAMES OTIS enter)

JOHN ADAMS: Mr. Otis, what's the latest?

OTIS: John Adams! I'm glad I ran into you. It's another British
outrage. They've passed the Townsend Acts, which put import duties on
just about everything.

ADAMS: I didn't think it could get any worse. We've already had the
Hat Act, the Wool Act, Iron Act, Currency Act, and Sugar Act.

OTIS: I know it. The British just can't get their Acts together.

ADAMS: Remember the Stamp Act?

OTIS: A direct tax on everything we printed, from cards to calendars.

ADAMS: I loved what you said. What was it? "Taxation without
representation is exploitation."

OTIS: "Tyranny."

ADAMS: What?

OTIS: I said "tyranny." "Taxation without representation is tyranny."

ADAMS: You did?
(pauses, then:)
Doesn't really rhyme, though, does it?

OTIS: It's not supposed to rhyme. It's an aphorism.

ADAMS: Well of course, but the good ones rhyme. Take Ben Franklin's
maxims. "He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing." "Little strokes
fell great oaks." "Plough deep while sluggards sleep."

OTIS (interrupting): Okay, I get it. The point is the British are not
treating us as equals but as subjects. They've prohibited us from
settling beyond the Appalachians. They've even started enforcing the
Navigation Laws so all commerce between England and here must be by
British vessels.

ADAMS: You're right. This has got to stop.

  Song 3 - Listen now!


They're taxing my coffee, my paper, my wine*
They're paying for theirs with what ought to be mine.
They're taxing my glass -- and everything I see
They call 'em "levies" -- they feel like a tax to me.

They're taxing my sugar, they're taxing my paint
I don't think there's nothing I've got that they ain't
They're taxing my tax -- and adding on a fee
They call 'em "duties" -- they feel like a tax to me.

Without representation
It's not right
Time to fight
Lai lai lai lai lai.

Without representation
It's not right
Time to fight
Lai lai lai lai lai.

The Hat Act and Wool Act, the Iron Act too
The Townsend Acts, Greenville Acts, what can we do?
So what else is left? They wouldn't touch my tea!
They call 'em "acts" but they feel like a tax to me.


Without representation
It's not right
Time to fight
Lai lai lai lai lai.
Without representation
It's not right
Time to fight
Lai lai lai lai lai.

(THEY all freeze on the last note. Then THEY exit. SAM ADAMS enters

SAM ADAMS: This is the last straw, my fellow Bostonians.

BOSTONIANS: You tell 'em, Sam.

SAM ADAMS: Did we fight the Townsend Acts? We refused to import English
goods and pay the duties. And what did they do?

BOSTONIAN #1: They sent warships into our harbor.

SAM ADAMS: And did we relent?


SAM ADAMS: What about the Boston massacre?

BOSTONIAN #2: Right. The British shot and killed three un-armed

SAM ADAMS: Did we give up?


SAM ADAMS: And finally they had to repeal the Townsend Acts in 1770.


SAM ADAMS: But here we are, three years later. They've passed the Tea
Act. Are we going to keep paying a tax on tea?


SAM ADAMS: They've shipped a half million pounds of tea to America,
driving down the price of tea. Are we going to buy it?
Well, are we?

BOSTONIAN #1: Come on, Mr. Adams. We've got to have a spot of tea.

BOSTONIAN #2: Yeah, I mean, we're only human.

BOSTONIAN #3: And the prices are so low!

(BOSTONIANS mumble in agreement)

SAM ADAMS: Listen to me! Today it's tea. Tomorrow it's sugar. The next
day it's those nice fuzzy slippers with the bunny ears that keep our
feet so cozy in winter.

BOSTONIANS: Not our slippers!

SAM ADAMS: Yes, your slippers! How long are we going to keep letting
the British kick us around? It's time for action!


SAM ADAMS: It's time we stopped calling soccer "football"!


SAM ADAMS: It's time we started riding on the RIGHT-hand side of the


SAM ADAMS: And it's time we dressed up as natives and dumped those 342
chests of tea into the harbor!


  Song 4 - Listen now!


Down , down , down
Just dump it off the boat
Down, down, down
Let's see if it can float.

Down, down , down
It's sinking in the sea
Something's brewing boys and it ain't tea.
Something's brewing boys and it ain't tea.

Trouble's brewing for the crown
Tell them all in London town
London town
All their lovely tea just drowned
Send some more it's going down
Send some more it's going down.
Send some more it's going down.


Down, down , down
Just dump it off the boat
Down, down, down
Let's see if it can float.

Down, down, down
It's sinking in the sea
Something's brewing boys and it ain't tea.
Something's brewing boys and it ain't tea.

Something's brewing boys and it ain't tea.

(This concludes the first one-
third of the script.)

"Thank you for giving me such an interactive, fun way to recreate history with my fifth graders! I did this musical three times and it was truly a hit with everyone. Th

Additional Comments and Reviews:

e students and I have the music constantly going through our heads. Through this music, they are able to better connect to what we are currently studying in social studies (the American Revolution). Students retain concepts better when they are able to act them out and sing about them. I did this play as a BIG musical production on stage and the kids learned so much more than just history - the importance of teamwork and cooperation really came into play (no pun intended!).

"I love that the play can be adapted for any number of students and it suits all levels of confidence in stage performance. Even the most reluctant students come away from the experience of performing in a play with a sense of accomplishment and pride. It gives students a chance to shine if they love to perform, or it helps build confidence in those students who are more shy about being in front of an audience."

---Kristina Cevallos, Teacher (5th grade), Riffa Views International School, Kingdom of Bahrain

"It was fabulous! Not only was the show funny and entertaining, but my class learned a lot about history. My principal was very impressed! I hated doing plays before and now I can't wait until next year!"

---Jennifer Baker, Teacher (4th grade), P.S. 184, New York NY

"We performed The American Revolution for an audience of about 200. We have used three of your plays before with great success, but everyone says this was the best ever! The best part, as always, was that the students learned so much American history. I chose this play because of the history, but the music was lively and I thought the kids would like it. They did!"

---Donna Baker, Logan County Home Educators, Russelville, KY

"I only had four weeks to teach this standard. I played the music while the kids read the script and I elaborated on the important stuff. The kids were thrilled and I was relieved."

---Olga Cammer, Teacher (5th grade), Sierra Vista School, La Habra, CA

Common Core and Other National Standards

History/Social Studies

Language Arts

Fine Arts

  • National Music Standards 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standard 1 for 5th-8th
  • National Theater Standards 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standards 2 and 6 for 5th-8th
  • National Dance Standards 1 and 2 for K-4th


Common Sense
Townsend Acts
Stamp Act
Greensville Acts
"a patch in the quilt"
"getting their threads in a tangle"
"about to bust a stitch"
continental breakfast

Number of questions: 0

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