American Revolution

Causes

(The Stamp Act)

The Stamp Act was introduced to pay for the cost of the French and Indian war. It was the first direct tax on the American colonies. The colonists were infuriated because they felt they should be taxed only by their own government. The Sons of Liberty formed to oppose the Stamp Act and used violence and intimidation to fight against it. October 1765 representatives from the colonies met in New York and sent a petition to King George and Parliament asking for the Stamp Act to be repealed. The petition stated taxation without representation violated their basic rights. The colonist refused to use the stamps when the Stamp Act went into effect November 7 1765.

A picture illustrating the protests toward the Stamp Act.

(Townshend Act)

The British were having difficulties paying their soldiers, so they created the Townshend Act which taxed the colonists. Unlike the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act taxed goods that the colonists brought in. Obviously, the colonists didn’t enjoy the tax and began to protest and re-boycott English items. Sam Adams wrote a letter now known as the ‘circular letter’, that opposed the taxation without representation and the colonist should create a resistance towards the British government. Though Lord Hillsborough (Secretary of State for the Colonies) ordered governors to not look at Adams’ letter, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey approved of his method. In August, the boycott of English goods started in Boston and in New York, later on Philadelphia joined the boycotting. In May 1769 George Mason wrote a set of resolutions that opposed taxation without representation, opposed British reaction to the colonists acceptance of Samuel Adam’ circular letter, and opposed British plans to try colonists in England. The boycotting spread to New Jersey, Rhode Island, and North Carolina. Finally in March of 1770 the Townshend Acts except for the taxes on tea were finally repealed.

A portrait of Charles Townshend, British politician that proposed the idea.

(Boston Massacre)

On Monday, March 5th, 1770, the conflicts between the colonists and the British troops grew. A merchant and a soldier were arguing, the townspeople quickly gathered around. They began throwing snowballs and rocks at the soldiers. Private Hugh Montgomery of the British troops was hit by a club thrown by the colonists. He got up and fired into the crowd, and soon the other British soldiers started firing their guns. A total of five colonists died and six were injured. After this incident, Sam Adams demanded that the British troops leave Boston. Six soldiers were arrested and charged with murder but only two were found guilty.

(Boston Tea Party)

A British tea company, the East India Company, had there sales dropping. To help save the company, Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773 which allowed the company to sell its goods to the colonies without paying taxes. At first the British thought the colonists wouldn’t be upset over the Act because by letting EIC not pay taxes, the price of tea would descend, but they soon realized that the colonists were angry about this because this would give the company a monopoly on tea sales. The colonists decided to restart the boycott of tea and force British tea agents to leave their positions. Three weeks later, three ships carrying tea from the EIC sailed into Boston Harbor. The townspeople met to try and decide what to do about the tea that were in the ships docked in the harbor. They decided to send the tea back to England without paying taxes, the Royal Governor of Massachusetts didn’t agree and ordered customs officials to not let the ship sail unless the taxes are paid. On December 16th, Sam Adams led three groups of 50 men dressed like Mohawk Indians and walked through the streets of Boston. The men headed for the harbor and boarded the three ships with hatchets and broke a total of 342 chests of tea and threw it all into the harbor. As news traveled from colony to colony, others decided to do the same. King George III was furious to hear that the people of Boston refused to pay for the tea they destroyed. Parliament acted by creating the Coercive or Intolerable Acts.

Painting illustrating a crowd gathering around the Boston Harbor as Sam Adams and his men throw the boxes of tea into the harbor.

(Intolerable Acts)

The Intolerable Acts were passed in 1774 to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. There were three major acts involved that angered the colonists. The first being the Boston Port Bill which closed the Boston Harbor until the people paid for the tea they threw into the harbor, the Administration of Justice Act didn’t let British soldiers to be tried in the colonies for any crimes of any sort, and the Massachusetts Government Act restricted town meetings to one a year unless approved by the governor. There was also the Quebec Act which extended the Canadian borders to cut through Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia, and also the Quartering Act which required the colonial authorities to provide housing and supplies for the British troops without denial

(First Continental Congress)

On September 5th, 1774, every colony (excluding Georgia) sent representatives to what is now called the First Continental Congress. Joseph Galloway from Pennsylvania suggested they work out a way that the colonies could have their freedom under British rule, but almost none of the delegates approved of this idea. But none the less they made a basic list of rights they wanted and a list of complaints and sent it to King George III, it also included a signed petition demanding the Intolerable Acts be repealed. The Continental Association was created at the First Continental Congress. This agreement was made to stop the colonies from stopping all trade with Britain until the demands were met. The colonists began preparing for war, the men at the Congress were ready to fight England. Congress was adjourned on October 26th, 1774 and decided to meet again in May of 1775 if King George III didn’t repeal the Intolerable Acts.

Carpenter’s Hall, the building where the First Continental Congress met.

Components

(Battle of Lexington and Concord)

┬áDuring a meeting of the First Continental Congress, King George III told General Thomas Gage to use force when necessary to make certain the British rule in the colonies was maintained. In Massachusetts the men were known as the Minutemen and the colonists were called the Patriots. In April of 1775, Gage heard that the Patriots were gathering together arsenal weapons in Concord. He told his soldiers to march to Concord and get the weapons. They went to Lexington to find Sam Adams who they wanted to arrest. They arrived in Lexington early in the morning in April 19th and seventy Minutemen were waiting for them. The British fired two volleys, one above the Minutemen’s heads, and another through the midst of them, 18 Minutemen were killed. The British then marched on to Concord, but when they arrived they couldn’t find any weapons. As they were returning to Boston, the Minutemen fired at them. The British were caught between the sea and the Patriot militia. Approximately 73 British were killed and 247 injured or missing, and 93 soldiers of the Minutemen were killed. Gage decided until he could receive reinforcements, he would not use any more force against the colonists. These two battles were the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

A painting depicting the Battle of Lexington, a brief skirmish known as the first battle of the American Revolution.
A painting depicting the Battle of Lexington, a brief skirmish known as the first battle of the American Revolution.

(Battle of Bunker Hill)

This was the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The British wanted to take control of Dorchester Heights and the Charleston peninsulas so they could take control of the Boston Harbour. The Americans found out of their plan so on June 16, 1775. Israel Putnam and Samuel Prescott led the Patriots to the Charleston peninsulas. On June 17th, 1775 the British troops arrived and were surprised to see the Patriots taking control of Breed’s Hill. After several attacks, the Patriots finally retreated. The British lost a total of 226 soldiers and another 828 wounded. The Americans lost 145 men and 274 wounded.

A painting of The Battle of Bunkerhill which depicts American General Joseph Warren lying on the ground wounded as British Colonel Abercrombie stands at his feet.
A painting of The Battle of Bunkerhill which depicts American General Joseph Warren lying on the ground wounded as British Colonel Abercrombie stands at his feet.

(Common Sense)

The colonies wanted to resolve the main problem of taxation without representation. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense in 1776 that was about the fight against the unfair and unjust ways of King George III and the British Parliament and that government is a necessary evil. This was the only way to declare independence. The British who lived in England had many rights but the colonists had no rights or freedom of speech.

(Declaration of Independence)

When the Continental Congress met again in 1775, they were negotiating whether they should risk a war with Britain or try to compromise with King George III. They created the Olive Branch Petition and sent it to King George, but he refused to read it. The Patriots didn’t want independence if it was going to come with war, and finally on June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee made a proposal that the colonies declare their independence. They chose five men, led by Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. The basic theme was personal liberty. When they brought it in for Congress for approval at first only 9 of the 13 colonies approved, but later on it turned to 12 votes. It was adjourned on July 4th.

The Declaration of Independence signed by 56 delegates of the Continental Congress (Bonus: http://youtu.be/uZfRaWAtBVg)

(The Battle of Trenton)

On Christmas night of 1776, General George Washington had a plan to lead his men to victory. They would cross the Delaware River and go to Trenton, New Jersey. The weather was cold with sleet, hail, and ice. Most of the Delaware River was frozen. The Hessians wouldn’t expect that the weak Continental Army to attack in this terrible weather. Three groups crossed the river and when they all crossed in the morning of December 26th, 1776, the Continental Army attacked the Hessians. They captured between 900 and 1000 prisoners and took over Trenton. The Continental Army went forward and took over Princeton, New Jersey as well. These two victories boosted the soldier’s courage and hope to go on.

(The Battle of Saratoga)

On October 7th, 1777, General Burgoyne staged a full assault on the Patriots at Bemis Heights, but their defense was strong and his men had no choice but to retreat to Saratoga. They suffered 600 losses compared to the Patriots who had only lost 150. On the 17th, Burgoyne and his troops surrendered to the Patriot Army. The Battle of Saratoga was a major turning point in the war. The French decided to join the Patriots against the British in the war. The Patriots themselves knew they had gained control of the Northern Colonies and that increased their confidence and reason to continue fighting.

A map of the second Battle of Saratoga. It shows where the British and the Americans stood, marching on to fight.

(The War in the South)

In December 1778, 35,000 British troops captured Savannah, Georgia, and on January 29th, 1779, General Augustine Prevost and his 2000 men took control of Augusta, these two victories gave the British full control over Georgia. The British recaptured Charleston in May of 1780 and Cornwallis spread his men throughout the countryside. The British acted kindly to the people of the South, for example they let the Continental captured in Charleston go free with just a promise not to try overthrowing the British Crown again, but peace that the British wanted, soon crumbled into skirmishes. On August 16th, 1780 troops battled the Continental forces in Camden, the Patriots retreated when they saw they were outnumbered. The British continued their assaults against the Continental forces with the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7th, 1780 which was won by frontiersmen. On January 7th, 1781 General Nathanael Greene and his lieutenants defeated Cornwallis’ troops at the Battle of Cowpens. Cornwallis was forced to retreat to the north. Another battle between Continentals and British soldiers took place at the Guilford Courthouse on March 15th, 1781. Greene and his troops worked with the vigilante groups to push the British out of South Carolina. They were defeated at Hobkirks Hill on April 25th, 1781 and again at Eutaw Springs in September, the British have fallen back to Charleston.

Map of the Battle of Charleston
Map of the Battle of Cowpens showing where each of the sides’ strengths went.
Portrait of the Battle of Eutaw Springs.

(The Battle of Yorktown)

The Battle of Yorktown was the last battle of the Revolutionary war. Cornwallis moved his troops to the coast of North Carolina, General Clinton ordered him to stay there but he decided not to remain in the Carolinas and moved his troops to Yorktown. Washington was planning to attack New York with the help of the French. Though he was ordered to move to New York, Cornwallis and all 7500 of his men stayed in Yorktown. On October 6th, 1781, the French and the Continental Army attacked Cornwallis and his men at Yorktown. And on October 19th, 1781, Cornwallis and 7157 men officially surrendered to General Washington. In April of 1782, The British House of Commons voted to end the war.

Consequences
(Loyalists)

Around 40-45% of the colonists were supporting the rebellion strongly as 15-20% of the colonists were still loyal to the British crown. 25,000 Loyalists fought on the side of the British. 62,000 United Empire Loyalists left the newly found republicans settled in the remaining colonies of Quebec, PEI, and Nova Scotia.

(Treaty of Paris)

The Treaty of Paris gave the US all of the land East from the Mississippi River and the South of the Great Lakes excluding Florida

The Treaty of Paris, a treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War.

(Constitution of 1789)

US Constitution outlines the structures and powers of the of the 3 branches of government of executive, legislative, judicial and the 3 levels of government of federal, state, and local. The Constitution wrote about how the 3 branches of government are separated and each is checked and balanced off by power of the other two, the US Constitution is supreme, all persons are equal before the law and a state must be democratic, and the people can change the US Constitution by the methods outlined within it.

(Bill of Rights 1791)

The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of the Constitution , was adopted in 1791. It indicated how people had rights and freedoms.

The Bill of Rights were the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

(World Wide Influence)

The American Revolution had a huge, immediate impact in Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and France. The Declaration of Independence had some impact on the French Declaration of the Rights of Men and the Citizen of 1789 as well.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (France)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *