Blimey! What If the British Had Won the Revolutionary War?

Blimey! What If the British Had Won the Revolutionary War?
Abigail Adams: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Two to three class periods

Required Documents
Evaluation Rubric


For those who lived through the American Revolution, there were many times when it was not at all certain that the colonists would succeed in separating themselves from Britain.  The Colonial army was mostly untrained, and the British were the best armed, best trained, and most experienced army in the world. What might have happened if, indeed, the British had won?


After participating in this activity, students will have gained experience in research, interpretation, and synthesis of material.  They will know more about the Revolutionary War, and will have gained some experience in prediction on the basis of data.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.  Books and other materials on the American Revolution.


     Who says history cannot be changed?  In this activity, history has indeed been altered—the British have won the Revolutionary War!
     How do you think life today would be different if you were still British subjects?
     With the help of Internet websites listed below, you will develop a PowerPoint presentation and a short paper discussing how life would be different politically, socially, economically, etc. if the British had won the Revolutionary War.  You must provide adequate information to support your ideas of why (or why not) life would be different.  In groups of four, you will research the causes and motives of the Revolution, with particular attention to arguments from loyalists among the colonists.  From this you should be able to reason out whether you think that changes would be made and what they might be.
The Process:
Be sure to read every Step in the process before beginning the project!!
Step 1:  Begin by getting in groups of four and discussing specific tasks for each person to be responsible for.  The tasks can include gathering research, writing the paper, or configuring the PowerPoint presentation.
Step 2:  Start researching, using the websites provided below.  These sites should provide you with enough information, but you are certainly free to explore further and to use other websites.  A minimum of three sites are required for your paper. 
Step 3:  Gather the information and discuss as a group if and how life might be different if the British had won.
Step 4: After your group determines if or what changes will be made, compile a 2-3 page analysis on your conclusions per group.  This will help you organize your ideas for the PowerPoint presentation.  Don’t forget to include a “References” section at the end of your paper.
Step 5: Construct a PowerPoint presentation of 8-10 slides explaining your views on what life might be like for you now if the British had won the war.  There must be a title page and each slide should have at least one graphic.  Your presentation should be 8-10 minutes long and will be given orally by each group in front of the rest of the class.
A rubric for evaluating the products of this lesson can be downloaded by clicking on Evaluation Rubric.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson could be extended by lengthening the paper to include more research or by asking students to consider “what if” questions about other topics.

Sources & Resources:


      The History Place

      PBS: Liberty!

      History Central: The Revolutionary War      

      An Outline of American History: The Revolution


This lesson is based on a web quest designed by Patrice Butler and Tom Seward and adapted by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.