American revolution – War of independence (1776 – 1783)

The American war of independence (1776 – 1783)

The English Colonies in America

  • After the discovery of the American continent, there was a continuous migration of people from Europe.

  • By the mid 18th century, the English had established their 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast.

  • At first the relationship between the colonies and British Government was friendly.

  • Each colony had its own assembly elected by the people and it enacted laws concerning local matters.

  • The policies followed by the Britain had resulted in the disagreement.

  • This finally led to the American War of Independence at the end of which the colonies became independent.

  • The American War of Independence was also called the American Revolution because it inspired the French Revolution.

Causes for the American war of independence

1. The French and Indian War

  • The only reason America stayed under Britain’s rule for so long was for their protection from the French.

  • Another reason was the 13 Colonies wanted independence from the British.

  • This war took place from 1754 to 1763 between the French and Native American allies against the English and their Native American allies.

  • England lost a lot of money in the war and felt that Americans should pay for the “protection” they gave us.

2. Black Death

  • The Plague known as “Black Death” occurred in the 1300’s and nearly 30 – 60% of the population was wiped out.

  • It was an indirect but extremely powerful movement to the American Revolution because it taught people to take measures into their own hands and make a better state of life for themselves.

3.Equal rights with Englishmen

  • Americans first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them and then excluded all royal officials.
  • The Americans weren’t self-satisfied with the rights they were granted from the English.
  • The English thought of themselves as superior to the Americans and didn’t allow them to have a role in the governing of their own country.

4. Granville Measures

  • When Granville was the Prime Minister of England a series of Acts were passed affecting the interests of the American colonies.

  • The Proclamation of 1763 prohibited the colonists from purchasing lands beyond Appalachian Mountains.

  • The Sugar Act of 1764 increased the duties on the sugar which affected the interests of the colonies.

  • The Stamp Act of 1765 insisted on the use of British stamps in commercial and legal documents of the colonies.

  • The Quartering Act made it compulsory that colonists should provide food and shelter to English troops. It severely opposed by the colonists and raised the slogan “No Taxation without Representation” thus insisting American representation in the English Parliament.

5. Governmental Disagreements

  • The Americans realized that if they were to continue their loyalty to the British, they would never be granted the freedom they desired.

  • This is a large contributing factor that ultimately leads to victory of the revolutionary war.

Events in the War of Independence

1. Boston Massacre

  • Charles Townshend, the Finance Minister of England imposed fresh taxes on glass, paper, tea, paints, etc

  • The Americans protested it and boycotted the British goods.

  • On 5th Mar 1770, 5 Americans were killed by the British soldiers at Boston during the protest. It was known as “Boston Massacre”.

  • After this event, the Townsend laws were repealed.

2. Boston Tea Party

  • In 1773, a new Tea Act was passed imposing a tax on import of tea. It was a symbol to show that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies.

  • On Dec 16, 1773 Colonist known as “Sons of Liberty” dressed as Red Indians and climbed on the ships and threw away the tea bundles into the sea at the Boston harbour.

  • Similar protest followed in other locations, and eventually tea was boycotted by patriot colonist across the 13 colonies. It was known as the Boston Tea Party.

  • In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts against the Americans in order to prevent such protests.

3. Lexington and Concord

  • First shots fired between American and British troops, on April 19, 1775.

  • The British chose to march to Concord because it was an arms depot. This meant that the Americans had stockpiled weapons there.

  • British troops had occupied Boston and were marching on Concord as they passed through Lexington.

  • The weapons depot was saved, and the British were forced to retreat, harassed by militiamen along the way.

  • The skirmishes were preceded by Paul Revere’s famous ride, warning the countryside: “The British are Coming!”

4. Battle of Bunker Hill
  • It took place on June 17, 1775 during the Siege of Boston. Although it was called the Battle of Bunker Hill, it took place mostly on Breed’s Hill.

  • Although the British won the battle, it resulted in over 800 wounded and 226 killed.

  • This demonstrated that the relatively inexperienced colonial forces were willing and able to stand up to the British troops.

5.Philadelphia Congress

  • The American colonists decided to unite in their fight against the British.

  • In Sep 1774, the first Continental Congress was held at Philadelphia. It was attended by the representatives of the 12 colonies except Georgia.

  • The second Continental Congress met in May 1775 at Philadelphia. Delegates from all the 13 colonies attended this Congress.

  • Prominent leaders like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin participated in it.

  • George Washington was made the Commander-in-Chief of the American army. As a last attempt, an Olive Branch Petition was sent to the British king George III, who rejected it.

6. Battle of Trenton and Princeton

  • General George Washington’s army crossed the icy Delaware on Christmas Day 1776 and, over the course of the next 10 days, 2 two crucial battles.

  • In the Battle of Trenton, Washington defeated a formidable garrison of Hessian mercenaries before withdrawing.

  • A week later he returned to Trenton to lure British forces south, and then executed a daring night march to capture Princeton on January 3.

  • The victories reasserted American control of much of New Jersey and greatly improved the morale and unity of the colonial army and militias.

6. Declaration of Independence
  • When armed conflict between bands of American colonists and British soldiers began in April 1775, the Americans were apparently fighting only for their rights as subjects of the British crown.

  • By the following summer, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, the movement for independence from Britain had grown, and delegates of the Continental Congress were faced with a vote on the issue.

  • In June 1776, a 5 man committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin was tasked with drafting a formal statement of the colonies’ intentions.

  • The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence written largely by Jefferson in Philadelphia on July 4, a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence.

7. Treaty of Paris

  • This treaty, signed on Sep 3, 1783, between the American colonies and Great Britain.

  • It ended the American Revolution and formally recognized the United States as an independent nation.

Importance of the American War of Independence

  • The American colonies became free and the Republic of the United States of America was established.

  • The United States of America became the first democratic government with a written constitution in the world.

  • It was not only a war against England but against aristocracy, reactionary elements and a fight against colonial domination.

  • It introduced new political, social and economic set up in the United States of America.

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