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On this July 4th week, we’re handing the mic to 4th graders for a history lesson

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

On this Fourth of July week, we're handing the mic to fourth graders for a history lesson.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In Oceanside, N.Y., Jennifer D'Amelio's students are learning about the lead-up to the American Revolution, from Paul Revere to the Boston Tea Party, and also studying something you might not remember from history class...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANTIAGO YUSEFERY: The Quartering Act required American colonists to provide housing and supplies for British soldiers staying in and protecting the colonies, who were forced to stay there after the French and Indian War.

INSKEEP: That's Santiago Yusefery (ph). His group was tasked with studying the Quartering Act of 1765 and made a podcast retelling the story in their own words.

FADEL: It was one of nearly 2,000 submitted to NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. Today, we bring you an excerpt starting with Kai Sudo (ph), playing the role of British Army General Thomas Gage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAI SUDO: (As Thomas Gage) Ten thousand homeless soldiers - can you imagine what that looked like? We had to do something about this, so I asked the crown to make the patriots pay for housing and supplies now, before my fellow soldiers froze or starved to death. We had to stand attention for hours on end to protect the rotten rebels. My young men only got paid 2 cents a day for it.

SANTIAGO: The Quartering Act was one way for King George III to secretly tax the colonists, so they could pay back their debt for what he felt they owed him for the French and Indian War. But some colonists could barely afford their own food and shelter, and now they were responsible for feeding and sheltering a soldier, too. Listen to Samuel Adams explain.

ALEXA SUSCA: (As Samuel Adams) We knew King George's real reason for keeping his soldiers in the colonies was to prepare for war against us and to make sure we were behaving, so I organized a protest and sent out fliers and stopped anyone who was getting in our way. OK, OK - I am known for being a bit dramatic and used propaganda to get my point across, but how else could I get my fellow citizens to listen?

SANTIAGO: If you didn't know, Samuel Adams is known as one of the most famous son of liberty. Mr. Adams definitely used propaganda to stir up the other colonies. In case you weren't sure, propaganda is facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths or lies to influence public opinion. Now let's hear from a poor farmer, Noah Williams (ph), the type of person Samuel Adams was talking about.

SAMANTHA COHEN: (As Noah Williams) I was not going to pay for those dirty, rotten lobsterback bags (ph). Can you believe we have to supply the redcoats with food, firewood, bedding, candles, salt, vinegar, cooking utensils, plus a daily ration of beer, cider or rum?

SANTIAGO: We will now speak to King George III.

KAI: (As King George III) I really don't care how rich or poor you are. You're going to pay for shelter and supplies for the soldiers after all we've done for you. We've protected you, and this is how you treat me - with a rebellion? This is one reason I need to keep my soldiers in the colonies.

SANTIAGO: And now back to Samuel Adams.

ALEXA: (As Samuel Adams) How is it fair for the crown to rule us if King George III has never even stepped foot on our land? He insists we still have to pay taxes, follow their rules and laws, to keep us under his control.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANTIAGO: In a classic superhero movie, it is easy to figure out the difference between the good guy and the bad guy. But in this case, it's not so easy. Both sides - the loyalists and the patriots - had really good arguments, but each side also did some pretty rotten things to get their way. It is really difficult to decide who to root for. Could there have been a better way for King George to get his money back, or were the colonists just overreacting? You decide.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: Narrator Santiago Yusefery, with Kai Sudo as Thomas Gage and King George, Alexa Susca (ph) as Samuel Adams and Samantha Cohen (ph) as farmer Noah Williams. They made this podcast in their fourth-grade class at Fulton Avenue Elementary School #8 in Oceanside, N.Y.

INSKEEP: OK. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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