After reaching Concord, the British found that most of the militia’s gunpowder had been removed.
They turned back for Boston, and along the way, the militia fired on them.
By this time, more than 20,000 militiamen held the town of Boston under siege.
Colonial leaders appealed for a separation from Great Britain.
War of Independence
Moving Toward Independence
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and began to govern the colonies.
It created the Continental Army and chose George Washington to be the army’s leader.
The delegates also appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence.
The Continental Congress sent a petition, or formal request, to King George III.
The petition, called the Olive Branch Petition, assured the king of the colonists’ desire for peace and asked the king to protect the colonists’ rights.
King George refused.
Thomas Paine was a writer who published a pamphlet called Common Sense.
In the pamphlet, Paine condemned the king and called for complete separation from Britain.
The Battle of Bunker Hill, which the British won, began on June 16, 1775.
The Colonies Declare Independence
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson drew from earlier English documents that established the idea that governments are not all powerful and that rulers have to obey the laws and treat citizens fairly.
John Locke’s ideas also influenced the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration has four major sections.
The preamble, or introduction, states that people who wish to form a new country should explain their reasons for doing so.
The next two sections list the rights colonists believed they should have and their complaints about the British.
The final section proclaims the existence of a new nation.
The Declaration of Independence states that government serves to protect citizens’ rights.
The American Revolution
Patriots – Americans who suspected independence – thought the British would give up after losing a few major battles.
Some Americans were neutral, taking neither side in the conflict, and others were known as Loyalists, people who remained loyal to Great Britain.
In the summer of 1775, the British sent a large number of troops to New York, hoping the large army would convince Patriots to surrender.
British armies defeated George Washington’s forces on New York’s Long Island.
By November, the Patriots had retreated into Pennsylvania.
On Christmas night 1776, Washington took his troops across the icy Delaware River and surprised the British troops in Trenton.
In 1777, the British decided to take control of the Hudson River valley.
When British troops reached Saratoga, New York, they found themselves surrounded by the American army.
The British surrendered.
This is known as the Battle of Saratoga.
George Washington camped with his troops at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777.
Despite the challenges the Continental Army survived the winter.
France declared war on Britain in 1778 and began aiding the Americans.
Spain also helped the Americans.
Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish governor of Louisiana, raised an army that forced British troops from towns and forts along the Gulf of Mexico.
Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman, was a trusted aide to Washington.
Life changed for Americans during the war.
Thousands of men left home to serve in the military, and women took over the duties that had been their husbands’.
The ideals of freedom and liberty inspired people to question slavery.
African American soldiers fought with American troops for freedom.
In 1778 and 1779, Americans seized British posts in present-day Illinois and Indiana.
This strengthened American positions in the West.
John Paul Jones was an American naval officer who raided British ports.
The British seized Charles Town and Savannah, but they could not control their conquered areas because of guerrilla warfare, hit-and-run technique conducted by small forces of Patriots.
The Americans won the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, but the war did not end.
Fighting continued in some areas for two more years.
The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, and Great Britain recognized the United States as an independent nation.
The Americans won the war because they fought on their own land, they had help from other countries, and they had the determination and spirit to win.
The French were influenced by the Declaration of Independence and later fought for their own liberties in the French Revolution.