Road to Independence

What You Need:

  • Continental Congress Travel Sheet: "Get Me to Philadelphia!" (download here)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Calculator (optional)

What You Do:

  1. To get ready, start by reviewing the colonial map. Find Philadelphia, and mark it with a star. Then find the home cities of three famous Declaration signers. For example, you could pick Roger Sherman (New Haven, CT), John Hancock (Boston, MA), and Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville, VA).
  2. Have your kids draw a straight line from each man's home city to Philadelphia. For this activity, we'll assume that each of our three statesmen traveled on land to arrive in Philadelphia by July 4th. Help your child to figure out how long this trip would have taken for each statesman.
  3. Use the math formula, Rate x Time = Distance. The formula works in several different ways and you can use the following to make the activity a little more difficult: Rate = Distance/Time, and Time = Distance/Rate.
  4. Assume that the men were traveling 7 miles per hour, 8 hours a day by horse-drawn carriage. Take into consideration the horses needed time to rest and could not travel 24 hours a day.
  5. Using all this information, work with your child on our downloadable worksheet.

By the way, here are our answers: (Remember: we don't have a completely accurate map of all colonial roads, so for this worksheet, kids will just draw a straight line from each man's home city to the Philadelphia destination). Sherman would have needed to travel 200 miles, taking 3.5 days, moving eight hours a day with no days off. At the same rate, Jefferson would have traveled 300 miles, taking 5.3 days, and Hancock would have traveled the furthest: 350 miles, 6.25 days. These are the math calculations, of course; the surprises of road washouts, weather, carriage wheel breakage, and horse injuries would have added a whole additional level of uncertainty. Makes the achievements of our Founding Fathers all that much more impressive, doesn't it?

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