|Synopsis of the American Revolution|
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Foreword: To fully appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in this country, one must understand at what costs these freedoms came. This is a summary of events leading up to the American Colonists seeking independence from Britain and the war they fought to win their independence. It is by no means detailed. This page does contain links to more detailed information so you do further research. This page will probably be added to and corrected periodically. Changes will be in rust colored text. Well anyway, let's get on with it.
On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed by French and British officials ending the The French and Indian War which had lasted from 1755 through 1760. By the terms of the treaty, the French had to relinquish claims to Canada and all land east of the Mississippi except New Orleans. So, Britain controlled all of North America east of the Mississippi River. The Colonists were anxious to settle the Ohio Valley, but King George III curtailed this expansion, signing the Proclamation of 1763, October 7, 1763. This act prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians reserving the land for the Indians. Expansion was restricted so that protecting and controlling the Colonist would be easier. This act may have restricted westward expansion, but it did not cool the expansionist aspirations of the Colonists and they would list this as one of their complaints against the king in the Declaration of Independence.
The French and Indian War was won at great cost to Britain. Also, with the acquisition of new lands after the war, the cost of security and administration in the colonies had increased significantly. So on April 5, 1764, Parliament passed the Revenue Act to raise the the necessary funds. It was known as the "Sugar Act" because it raised duties on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies, but it also doubled the duties on all goods imported from Britain to the colonies and prohibited importing of foreign rum and French wine. The duties were especially burdensome on the colonial economy which was struck with recession during and after the war. The colonist resented the taxes also because they were enacted by a government in which they were not represented. This was "Taxation without Representation".
On April 19, 1764 the British Parliament adopted the Currency Act, which prevented the colonies from issuing paper money as legal tender. This measure came about chiefly because of Virginia issuing £440,000 to finance the French and Indian War. This act threatened the economy of all the colonies.
On May 15, 1765 the British Parliament made law The Quartering Act . The Quartering Act required colonists to provide barracks and supplies for British troops or open their personal property up for that purpose. This prompted the authors of our Constitution to include a provision (the Third Amendment) in the Bill of Rights to prohibit our government from doing this.
The British Parliament, on March 22, 1765, passed the Stamp Act. This act basically imposed a tax on anything that was written on paper, legal documents, all publications, even playing cards were taxed. On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but the news did not reach the colonies for nearly two months. June 9, in Virginia, Governor Fauquier announced the repeal of the Stamp Act, although the Virginia Gazette had published the news on May 2.
In June of 1767, Parliament decided to cut British Land Taxes and to make up the loss by increasing taxes on the colonists. The act was authored by Charles Townshend, the British Treasurer and those it was named after him. The Townshend Act imposed duties on all paper, lead, glass, paints, and tea imported from Britain to the colonies. The Colonist were united in opposition to these new taxes and protested by boycotting British goods and harassing the duty collectors. King George sent more troops to America to keep order.
On March 5, 1770 an exchange of verbal abuse between a Boston merchant and a British soldier ended with the soldier striking the merchant with the butt of his musket. This incited a small riot for which a squad of soldiers was dispatched to break up. The soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston were at a stand off with the crowd when a private was knocked to the ground by a thrown club. He got his feet and took aim with his musket into crowd. His fellows followed his lead and fired into the crowd without orders from Preston. Three Colonist were killed and two were mortally wounded. Among those killed was a runaway slave, Crispus Attucks. This incident became known as the Boston Massacre. (I have read several versions of the Boston Massacre of which this is one. I don't know which is correct).
On April 27, 1773, The Tea Act was passed by Parliament. The act was designed to save the East India Tea Company from bankruptcy. It allowed the East India Tea Company to sell tea to the colonies without paying any duties. This allowed them to undercut colonial merchants. The Americans responded to the Tea Act by boycotting tea. Most port agents were persuaded (coerced?) into resigning so that the tea could not unloaded and had to be carried back to England. This was not so in Boston Harbor. Boston's agent refused to resign and three ships were there ready to be unloaded. On December 16, 1773, according to Samuel Adam's plan, 150 men (fifty men for each ship) dressed up like Mohawk Indians and boarded the three ships. They broke open the chests of tea and threw them into the harbor. This incident would become as "The Boston Tea Party" In retaliation, the British Parliament passed the Boston Port Bill, March 18, 1774, which closed the Boston Harbor until restitution was made for the tea that had been destroyed. Furthermore, they enacted the Massachusetts Government Act or Massachusetts Bay Regulating Act, May 20, 1774, which abolished the colony's charter of 1691 and thus it became a crown colony under military rule. These two act were of the four that would become as the "Intolerable Acts".
The third Intolerable Act was the Impartial Administration of Justice Act (May 20, 1774) which protected British officials lawsuits and prosecution by allowing them to return to Britain or go to another colony for trial.
The Quarter Act of 1765 expired in 1770. In 1774 Parliament passed another Quartering Act. This was the fourth Intolerable Act.
The fifth of the Intolerable Acts was the The Quebec Act was passed on June 22, 1774. The Quebec Act was already under consideration and had been since 1773. Basically, it gave Quebec control of all the Ohio and Mississippi Valley Region. It nullified all territorial claims that Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia colonies had in that region.
The Intolerable Acts were enacted as punitive measures against the rebellious colonists and to tighten Britain's control of the colonies. These acts as well as all the other acts restricting expansion and increasing taxation only served to further resentment of the British Government and the king. It also served to strengthen their resolve and unite them. Each act was met by increasing opposition and violence. The Americans were about to go to war.
On April 18/19, 1775 Paul Revere (1735-1818) would ride to warn the Massachusetts colonists of the arrival of the British who were planning a surprise attack on Concord to capture the Colonial armory there. Revere was captured by the British before he finished his mission. He was detained and his horse was confiscated. Lexington would be a trip wire that alerted the colonials though with eight Minute Men losing their lives to British guns. The main body of British troops continued to Concord where they captured the gun powder from the armory there. The colonial militiamen retreated to the North Bridge North of Concord where they met the British soldiers and skirmished with them. Three British and two Americans were killed. This would the be first battle in the American Revolution and these brave Americans would be immortalized in Emerson's poem (Concord Hymn):The British retreated back to Boston with Minute Men sniping at them all the way....the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
On May 10, 1775, Eathen Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, accompanied by Benedict Arnold and a band of men from Massachusetts, captured the British installation Fort Ticonderoga without firing a shot. The British commander, Captain Delaplace, surrenderd the fort with its store of arms and supplies without resistence.
On June 15, 1775 the Congress formally appointed a Virginian, George Washington, to be commander in chief of the Continental army. Washington was chosen because of his superior military experience and because he was a Southerner. The New England felt that choosing a Southerner for the job would encourage Southern support of the cause, and Virginia was the largest of all the southern colonies. Washington left Philadelphia on the 23rd. and went to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the small Colonial army would surround the British troops in Boston. Colonel William Presott was ordered to take his 1200 militiamen and take and fortify Bunker Hill which overlooked Boston Harbor. For some reason he and his men, under the cover of darkness, seized and began to fortify Breeds Hill which was on the same peninsula. The next morning, June 17, 1775, the British saw what the American militiamen were up to, and their ships opened fire on the hill. The artillery fire was ineffective so 2300 British troops were dispatched to take the hill. The Americans repulsed two charges and left the field in face of the third charge (they ran out of ammo). Really not bad for an untrained amateur army, especially considering they were facing a trained, professional arm of superior number. The British won the battle, but at a significant cost of 1054 out the 2300 men engaged. The Americans lost 441 men.
On July 6, 1775, Congress adopted a "Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms".
On August 23, 1775, King George III issued a proclamation declaring his American colonies being in a state of rebellion. Orders were given to hang all the ringleaders of the rebellion, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. The Virginia Gazette printed the proclamation on November 10th. Up until this time, the colonists aim was not towards independence from Britain, but for reconciliation through the recognition and respect of their rights. Now it was clear that there was no chance for reconciliation. There was no turning back now.
January 1, 1776, George Washington had the Continental flag (the Grand Union Flag) with thirteen stripes raised before his quarters at Prospect Hill, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On May 15, 1776, Virginia instructed her delegates to Congress to propose independence. She was the first colony to do so. June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, chairman of the Virginia delegation, offered a resolution for independence in Congress. Congress appointed a committee on June 11, 1776 to draft a declaration of independence. This committee was chaired by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, 1776. The Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The document was signed by the members of Congress still present in Philadelphia on August 2, 1776.
By the winter of 1776, the War for Independence was going badly for the Colonial Army. The Colonial Army had suffered defeat after defeat and been forced to retreat into Pennsylvania. They were suffering a harsh winter with inadequate clothing and provisions. Washington's army was shrinking because of desertions and a lack of interest in reenlisting. It looked like the war was lost and the fight for independence was dead. A victory was needed to bolster the morale of these despairing men. General Washington planned an attack on Trenton, New Jersey. On Christmas day, 1776 Washington with 2400 troops, crossed the Delaware River. The river was choked with ice and it was snowing and sleeting. In fact, and the weather was so inclement that the Hession garrison at Trenton did not expect any attack and did not even send out patrols to watch the river. The next day Washington's army would attacked the Hession's, taking them by surprise. The success of Washington's army had been disproportionate to their size. Washington led his army back across the Delaware into Pennsylvania but later went back to occupy Trenton. A week later Washington would move against British troops at Princeton. Washington would surprise the British soldiers by maneuvering secretly around their flanks and attacking them from the rear. Washington's boldness, tenacity, and prowess would drive the British from New Jersey. The Revolution was alive again.
September 9-11, 1777, Washington is defeated at the Battle of Brandywine Creek. Both sides suffered heavy losses. The British occupied Philadelphia causing the Continental Congress to evacuate. Washington retreated with his army to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
The first major victory for the Americans in the Revolutionary War would be in the Battle of Saratoga, October 7, 1777. It is ironic that the Americans were being led by General Benedict Arnold.
On November 15, 1777, Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation making the them the sole authority in the new country of The United States of America.
December 17, 1777 would find General Washington setting up his headquarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There the the Continental Army would endure a harsh winter without adequate shelter, clothing, or food. About 2000 men died of disease, dozens deserted. It looked very grim for Washington's Army. If help did not come soon, they would surely disband. The weather did become more tolerable in February, 1778 and by March much needed supplies were beginning to arrive. Baron von Steuben, a mercenary, had trained and drilled the men so that by April they were a transformed from ragtag bunch of men to a real fighting force.
February 6, 1778, in Paris, Americans and French sign two treaties, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Allianc. In these treaties, France officially recognized The United States as an independent nation and pledged to aid her in her war with Britain. News of the alliance would reach Virginia on May 8th. On July 10, 1778, France declared war against Britain. Spain would also enter the war in 1779 on the side of France. The British were now fighting a world war.
In March of 1778, the British Parliament would create a "Peace Commission" to travel to Philadelphia to offer terms of peace. What they offered was everything that the Americans wanted, except one thing, independence. The Congress declined their offer.
During 1778, the British would set into motion a campaign of terror in the frontier regions of the colonies. Indians and British Loyalist would massacre American settlers at Cobleskill and Cherry Valley, New York and the Wyoming Valley of northern Pennsylvania. In 1779, the Americans would retaliate by attacking Chickamauga Indian villages in Tennessee and Cayuga and Seneca Indian villages in New York.
In December of 1778, the British would begin a southern campaign beginning with the capture of Savannah, Georgia and then a month later, Augusta. Their plans were to attack the northern colonies from the south. The British did not expect much resistance from the southern colonist. They were wrong.
May, 1779 would find General Benedict Arnold beginning secret negotiations with the British. He would openly join the British in September 1780. He would cooperate with the British by supplying information on General Washington's tactics.
Congress approved a peace plan on August 14, 1779. The plan stipulated independence, the complete withdrawal of the British from America, and free navigation of the the Mississippi River.
October 17, 1779, General Washington set up his winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey. His men suffered through another winter of cold, hunger, disease, and desperation.
On May 12, 1780 the Americans suffered the worse defeat of the war when the British captured Charleston, South Carolina and the entire Southern American army.
May 25, 1780, after enduring cold and deprivation during their winter at Morristown, New Jersey, two regiments threaten mutiny. Troops were dispatched from Philadelphia to put down the rebellion and the two leaders of the mutiny were hanged.
On July 11, 1780, 6000 French troops arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. They spent a year there blockaded by British ships.
In May, 1780, General Charles Cornwallis left Charleston, South Carolina to begin his campaign into the Carolinas interior. He was met at Camden, South Carolina by militia from Virginia and North Carolina. The professional British soldiers swept the green American militia men from the field destroying them as a fighting force. The Americans were forced to fight a guerrilla war.
In September of 1780, Benedict Arnold's treachery was discovered but he escaped capture by fleeing to a British ship. He was later made a brigadier general in the British army and fought against the Americans.
In October of 1780, Cornwallis sent a force of British officers and loyalists to control western South Carolina. On the 7th., this force was met by a force of a 1000 Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee mountain men at Kings Mountain on the North/South Carolina border. The mountain men annihilated them. Cornwallis' left flank was exposed and he retreated north.
General Nathaniel Greene was appointed commander of the southern army on October 14, 1780. He put together the remaining troops in South Carolina along with troops in other states that led Cornwallis on six month chase through, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and then back into North Carolina. The Americans were wearing Cornwallis down.
On January 17, 1781, militia men from both Carolinas (led by General Daniel Morgan) defeated the British at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. My Fifth great-grandfather, Andrew Kilpatrick, was an Ensign in the 1st. Regiment of the Rowan Militia of North Carolina and was at that battle. It now had to be clear to Cornwallis that he had underestimated these rough and rowdy Ulstermen.
The Continental Army in the North was beset with mutiny in the January of 1781. One crisis was resolved peacefully but another had to put down with force and the ringleaders hanged.
On March, 1781, Cornwallis' troops were attacked by American forces at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina. The Americans were defeated, but at great cost (25% or more casualties) to Cornwallis. Everywhere Cornwallis went, he met with greater resistance than he had anticipated. He had to abandon his plans of conquering North Carolina and concentrate on taking Virginia. He was now left with only 7500 men in his company. He had to fight his way through Virginia reducing his forces and supplies even further. Finally he stopped to rest his troops in Yorktown, Virginia on August 1, 1781. By the 14th., the combined forces of the General Washington's army, General Rochambeau's French soldiers, plus 29 French ships with 3000 more troops were on their way to Yorktown. Admiral Count de Grasse's ships reached Yorktown first and he landed troops that cut off Cornwallis' escape. By September 5-8, 1781, de Grasse, having defeated the British fleet, now controlled the Chesapeake Bay. There was no escape option left to Cornwallis now. September 14-24, 1781 de Grasse sent his ships to Philadelphia to transport the armies of Washington and Rochambeau to Yorktown. General Washington began a siege of Yorktown on September 28, 1781. He now had a combined allied force of 17,000 to face off with Cornwallis' 7247 men. Cornwallis with no hope of escape, outnumbered, and his supplies dwindling sent out men under a flag of truce to work out the terms of surrender before Washington attacked. The war was practically over. There would be one more battle with the British regulars and several more with Indians and Loyalists, but this long war was practically over.
Britain gave up hope of a victory in America after Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. The Parliament there called for an end to the war that had been long and costly. In January of 1782 loyalist began leaving America for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
On February 27, 1782, the House of Commons voted against any further war in America. In March, Parliament empowered the King to negotiate a peace with the Americans. The new Prime Minister called for immediate negotiations with the American peace commissioners. By April, British troops began to withdraw from America and peace talks began in Paris between Ben Franklin and Richard Oswald of Britain. By November a preliminary treaty had been worked out and signed. This treaty included British recognition of American independence and the established the boundaries of the United States. The western boundary would be the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes the northern, and Florida the southern boundary. The treaty also stipulated the withdrawal of British troops from America. On February 3, 1783, Britain officially declared an end to hostilities in America.
In March of 1783, U.S. Army officers threatened a military takeover of the government because Congress had not kept its promises to the Army concerning compensations, bounties, and pensions. General Washington was able to defuse the situation and the officers voted unanimously against the coup.
Congress declared that the Revolutionary War was officially over on April 11, 1783.
April 26, 1783, 7000 more loyalist set sail for Canada raising the total to 100,000 loyalist fleeing America.
On June 8, 1783 the main part of the Continental Army disbanded. One African American soldier, Robert Shirtliffe, who was discharged from a Massachusetts regiment in October, turned out to actually be a woman. Robert's real name was actually Deborah Sampson. Deborah had served in the Continetal Army for three years and was wounded by both sword and gun. She was discharged by General Washington with kind words for her service and enough money to "bear her expenses to some place where she might find a home". Deborah was not the only African American to fight in the Revolutionary War. Many would fight for the ideal ".....that all men are created equalthat they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." One was Lemuel Haynes who fought at Lexington and with Eathon Allen. Lemuel would become a preacher after the war and would be the first African American minister to a white congretation. On November 2, 1783, George Washington delivered his farewell address to his army. The next day, the remaining troops are discharged. George Washington resigned his commission as Commander and Chief of the American Army December 24, 1783.
The United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783. Congress ratified the treaty on January 14, 1784. The Revolutionary War was over, it was now time to raise this fledgling nation.
All the web site with links within the essay.
Great Stories of the the American Revolution
By: Webb Garrison
Chronicle of America
By: Ralph Berens (Editor)
The Declaration of Independence and its Signers
Follow this link to read the Declaration of Independence.
Follow this link for biographies of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
I didn't write the following. I received it in a e-mail at work and the author was not noted. This means two things; 1)I haven't confirmed all of it, and 2)I can't give credit where credit is due. If anyone knows who did write this please let me know and I'll credit him for it. Please note that the author may have take some literary licensee with this article. I have looked through some of the biographies of the signers of the and I wonder if maybe he didn't exaggerate in some instances. For example, in the case of Francis Lewis, he said that his wife was imprisoned by the enemy and she died in few months. According to Charles A. Goodrich's biography of Francis Lewis, Mrs. was taken prisoner and was very ill treated for several months. But, she did not die in captivity but was released to her husband. She died a year or two later. The following is probably accurate for the most part, but take it with a grain of salt.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the
Declaration of Independence?
They gave us a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't!!!
So, take a couple of minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were
farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader saw his ships
swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British
General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to
waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Links for some very famous (or infamous) people from the American Revolution
General George Washington - First in War, First in Peace,
and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen
The Life of George Washington George Washington Biography The Apotheosis of George Washington George Washington Papers The Papers of George Washington
Patrick Henry Liberty or Death Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
Nathan Hale Captain Nathan Hale, a Martyr Soldier of the American Revolution
Benedict Arnold - Hero, Then Traitor Benedict Arnold - Who Served at Valley Forge The Enigma of Benedict Arnold Benedict Arnold's Leg First a world-class hero on Lake Champlain...Then a traitor of world renown The Traitor Who Saved America
Thomas Jefferson - Farmer, Statesman, President Life of Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson Biography The Thomas Jefferson Papers
Benjamin Franklin - Printer, Inventor,
Scientist, Statesman, Embassador
A Documentary History Glimpses of the Man Bejamin Franklin Biography
John Adams - Lawyer, Statesman, President John Adams Biography John Adams Biography
John Hancock - First and Largest Signature
on the Declaration of Independence
John Hancock Biography
Other Important Figures in the Revolutionary War Betsy Ross - Did She Sew the First American Flag? Alexander Hamilton - Aide-de-camp to General George Washington Samual Adams - Orchestrated the Boston Tea Party Aaron Burr - Soldier, Vice President Paul Revere - Silversmith, Patriot Kilpatricks in the Revolutionary War
|The American Revolutionary War|
|Biographies and Documents|
|The French Contribution to the War for Independence|
|Birth of a Nation|
|Chronicle of the Revolution|
|The War of Independence|
|Thomas Paine's Common Sense|
|Daughters of the American Revolution|
|Sons of the American Revolution|
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