Colonists warned by Paul Revere and William Dawes.
Minutemen – a volunteer group that are ready at a minute’s notice
Concord, Massachusetts – British wanted to seize colonial guns and supplies
May 1775 – Second Continental Congress meets (John Hancock, President)
Final plea made to King George III (It is called the Olive Branch Petition)
Continental Congress made plans for war.
George Washington chosen to command the Continental Army.
There was a call made for men and supplies to fight in the war.
July 1776 – Reasons for the Declaration of Independence
Colonists angered by George III’s hiring of Hessian soldiers.
This document would entitle captured American soldiers to be prisoners of war rather than traitors to the King who could be tried for treason and hanged.
Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” (published in January 1776) urged the colonists to seek independence.
Colonists gained confidence when they inflicted heavy casualties on the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 1775). This battle, which was won by the British, was the first major battle of the war.
Colonists believed independence would help them receive liberty/freedom.
Footnote: On June 7, 1776 – Richard Henry Lee, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, rose at the meeting in Philadelphia and made the motion, “These colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” The motion was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts.
Basic Ideas of the Declaration of Independence (document adopted on July 4, 1776)
Author – Thomas Jefferson --- 56 delegates signed it.
Based upon the ideas of the English philosopher, John Locke, who nearly a century before had defended the rights of the English to revolt against the king.
Philosophy of Gov’t
“All men are created equal.”
Gov’t gets all of its power from the governed.
If government goes against the people, the people have the right to change or end it and set up a new government.
List of grievances against King George III
Conclusion – get independence
Footnote: The Liberty Bellwas rung in Philadelphia, PA on July 8, 1776 to announce the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Colonists’ feelings towards the American Revolution
1/3rd for independence – these people were called Patriots (lower and middle class)
1/3rd against independence – these people were called Loyalists/Tories (upper class: merchants, land owners, and British officials)
1/3rd didn’t fight – some small farmers and Quakers
Major Battles of the American Revolution
Lexington and Concord - 1775. Shots fired marked the opening of the war.
Battle of Bunker Hill - 1775. First major battle; moral victory for the colonies; British actually won the battle.
Saratoga, NY - 1777. Turning point of the Revolution
Americans defeated the British here and captured General John Burgoyne.
The French government recognized American independence and signed a treaty of alliance with the United States in 1778. This meant France openly would send men and supplies to help the U.S. fight England.
Yorktown, VA - 1781 – final American victory in the Revolution.
British General Cornwallis and 8,000 troops surrendered here. British navy was to pick up the British, but they were cut off by the French navy.
Treaty of Paris, 1783 - treaty that ended the war. American delegates sent to Paris to help with the terms of the treaty included Ben Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams.
Terms of the treaty:
England recognized the independence of the United States of America.
U.S. boundaries set: U.S. would stretch north to Canada; south to Spanish owned Florida; and west to Mississippi River.
Americans promised to remove troops from American land.
(Terms 3 and 4 would not be honored and would be part of the reason the U.S. and England would fight another war – The War of 1812.)
Reasons for American Victory
Americans fighting on their own soil, for their homes, and for freedom.
Americans were superior wilderness fighters.
Americans had outstanding leaders such as Washington, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.
And….Americans had the help of foreign soldiers such as Marquis de Lafayettefrom France and Baron von Stueben from Prussia. This Prussian had helped General Washington train his men at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Foreign countries aided the U.S. in getting independence.
Poland (These countries were enemies of England.)
In England, public opinion on the war was divided. People were tired of fighting. Many wanted to let the colonies have independence rather than go to war again.
Wartime Problems Facing the Colonies
Providing a government (if the colonies broke from England, they had to have their own government)
Second Continental Congress (May 1775) – set up to act as the central gov’t for the states
a. John Hancock, President of this group
Congress got loans from foreign nations and from private citizens.
Haymon Solomon, a Jewish refugee from Russian rule in Poland and who was also a New York banker, gave his entire fortune to the American cause.
Robert Morris, a Pennsylvania merchant and banker who served as Superintendent of Finance, guaranteed government loans with his personal credit.
The French hoped to overthrow the absolute monarchy (all-powerful king) in France and set up a democratic government. So the American Revolution inspired the French Revolution to take place shortly.
The Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere were thrilled by the success of the American Revolution. While Spain was involved in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1799 – 1815), the Spanish colonies followed the example of the United States and revolted for independence and democracy.
The war discredited King George III and his efforts to make his position (king) more powerful.
This led to a gradual change in Britain’s strict policy toward her other possessions. (By the mid 1800’s, the British had abandoned the mercantilistic idea that colonies existed solely to enrich the mother country. To prevent colonial rebellion and to encourage colonial loyalty, Britain gradually extended self-gov’t throughout her empire starting with Canada in 1867.)