American Revolution

American Revolution

Overview
In this article, inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 of British America
British America
For American people of British descent, see British American.British America is the anachronistic term used to refer to the territories under the control of the Crown or Parliament in present day North America , Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana...

 that supported the American Revolution are primarily referred to as "Americans," with occasional references to "Patriots
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

", "Whigs," "Rebels" or "Revolutionaries". Colonists who supported the British in opposing the Revolution are usually referred to as "Loyalists
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

" or "Tories". The geographical area of the thirteen colonies is often referred to simply as "America".


The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 joined together to break free from the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, combining to become the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.
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Encyclopedia
In this article, inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 of British America
British America
For American people of British descent, see British American.British America is the anachronistic term used to refer to the territories under the control of the Crown or Parliament in present day North America , Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana...

 that supported the American Revolution are primarily referred to as "Americans," with occasional references to "Patriots
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

", "Whigs," "Rebels" or "Revolutionaries". Colonists who supported the British in opposing the Revolution are usually referred to as "Loyalists
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

" or "Tories". The geographical area of the thirteen colonies is often referred to simply as "America".


The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 joined together to break free from the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, combining to become the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774 each colony had established a Provincial Congress
Provincial Congress
"Provincial Congress" can refer to one of several extra-legal legislative bodies established in some of the Thirteen Colonies early in the American Revolution...

, or an equivalent governmental institution, to govern itself, but still within the empire. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through representatives sent in 1775 to the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

, the states joined together at first to defend their respective self-governance
Self-governance
Self-governance is an abstract concept that refers to several scales of organization.It may refer to personal conduct or family units but more commonly refers to larger scale activities, i.e., professions, industry bodies, religions and political units , up to and including autonomous regions and...

 and manage the armed conflict against the British known as the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 (1775–83, also American War of Independence). Ultimately, the states collectively determined that the British monarchy, by acts of tyranny
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

, could no longer legitimately claim their allegiance
Allegiance
An allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed by a subject or a citizen to his/her state or sovereign.-Etymology:From Middle English ligeaunce . The al- prefix was probably added through confusion with another legal term, allegeance, an "allegation"...

. They then severed ties with the British Empire in July 1776, when the Congress issued the United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, rejecting the monarchy on behalf of the new sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 nation separate and external to the British Empire. The war ended with effective American victory in October 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

 in 1783.

The American Revolution was the result of a series of social, political, and intellectual transformations in early American society and government, collectively referred to as the American Enlightenment
American Enlightenment
The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century, especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other...

. Americans rejected the oligarchies
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

 common in aristocratic
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

 Europe at the time, championing instead the development of republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 based on the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 understanding of liberalism
Liberalism in the United States
Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process...

. Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of a democratically-elected representative government responsible to the will of the people
Consent of the governed
"Consent of the governed" is a phrase synonymous with a political theory wherein a government's legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when derived from the people or society over which that political power is exercised...

. However, sharp political debates erupted over the appropriate level of democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 desirable in the new government, with a number of Founders
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 fearing mob rule
Ochlocracy
Ochlocracy or mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities.As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the...

.

Many fundamental issues of national governance were settled with the ratification of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 in 1788, which replaced the relatively weaker first attempt at a national government adopted in 1781, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

. In contrast to the loose confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

, the Constitution established a strong federated
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 government. The United States Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

 (1791), comprising the first 10 constitutional amendments, quickly followed. It guaranteed many "natural rights" that were influential in justifying the revolution, and attempted to balance a strong national government with relatively broad personal liberties
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

. The American shift to liberal republicanism, and the gradually increasing democracy, caused an upheaval of traditional social hierarchy and gave birth to the ethic that has formed a core of political values in the United States.

Origins



The American Revolution was predicated by a number of ideas and events that, combined, led to a political and social separation of colonial possessions from the home nation and a coalescing of those former individual colonies into an independent nation.

Summary


The American revolutionary era began in 1763, after a series of victories by British forces at the conclusion of the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 ended the French military threat to British North American colonies at a cost to Britain of 150 million pounds (2011: US$22.4 Billion). Adopting the policy that the colonies should pay a token proportion of the costs associated with defending them, Britain imposed a series of direct taxes
Stamp Act 1765
The Stamp Act 1765 was a direct tax imposed by the British Parliament specifically on the colonies of British America. The act required that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp...

 followed by other laws
Intolerable Acts
The Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts are names used to describe a series of laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 relating to Britain's colonies in North America...

 intended to demonstrate British authority, all of which proved extremely unpopular in America despite the level of taxation being only 1/26 that paid by British taxpayers. Because the colonies lacked elected representation
No taxation without representation
"No taxation without representation" is a slogan originating during the 1750s and 1760s that summarized a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution...

 in the governing British Parliament, many colonists
Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty were a political group made up of American patriots that originated in the pre-independence North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists from the usurpations by the British government after 1766...

 considered the laws to be illegitimate and a violation of their rights as Englishmen
Rights of Englishmen
The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of British subjects. The notion refers to various constitutional documents that were created throughout various stages of English history, such as Magna Carta, the Declaration of Right , and others...

. In 1772, groups of colonists began to create Committees of Correspondence
Committee of correspondence
The Committees of Correspondence were shadow governments organized by the Patriot leaders of the Thirteen Colonies on the eve of American Revolution. They coordinated responses to Britain and shared their plans; by 1773 they had emerged as shadow governments, superseding the colonial legislature...

, which would lead to their own Provincial Congresses in most of the colonies. In the course of two years, the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents rejected the Parliament and effectively replaced the British ruling apparatus in the former colonies, culminating in 1774 with the coordinating First Continental Congress
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts by the...

. In response to protests in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 over Parliament's attempts to assert authority, the British sent combat troops, dissolved
Dissolution (law)
In law, dissolution has multiple meanings.Dissolution is the last stage of liquidation, the process by which a company is brought to an end, and the assets and property of the company redistributed....

 local governments, and imposed direct rule by Royal officials. Consequently, the Colonies mobilized their militias
Militia (United States)
The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time.Spitzer, Robert J.: The Politics of Gun Control, Page 36. Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1995. " The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the...

, and fighting broke out in 1775. First ostensibly loyal to King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 and desiring to govern themselves while remaining in the empire, the repeated pleas
Olive Branch Petition
The Olive Branch Petition was adopted by the Continental Congress in July 1775 in an attempt to avoid a full-blown war with Great Britain. The petition affirmed American loyalty to Great Britain and entreated the king to prevent further conflict...

 by the First Continental Congress for royal intervention on their behalf with Parliament resulted in the declaration by the King
Proclamation of Rebellion
The Proclamation of Rebellion, officially titled A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, was the response of George III of the United Kingdom to the news of the Battle of Bunker Hill at the outset of the American Revolutionary War. Issued August 23, 1775, it declared elements of the...

 that the states were "in rebellion", and the members of Congress were traitors
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. In 1776, representatives from each of the original 13 states voted unanimously in the Second Continental Congress to adopt a Declaration of Independence, which now rejected the British monarchy
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

 in addition to its Parliament, and established the sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 of the new nation. The Declaration established the United States, which was originally governed as a loose confederation through a representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 selected by state legislatures (see Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

and Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
The Congress of the Confederation or the United States in Congress Assembled was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. It comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states. It was the immediate successor to the Second...

).

Ideology behind the Revolution


The ideological movement known as the American Enlightenment was a critical precursor to the American Revolution. Chief among the ideas of the American Enlightenment were the concepts of liberalism, democracy, republicanism, and religious tolerance
Freedom of religion in the United States
In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally guaranteed right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Thomas Jefferson....

. Collectively, the belief in these concepts by a growing number of American colonists began to foster an intellectual environment which would lead to a new sense of political and social identity.

Locke and natural rights



John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

's (1632–1704) ideas on liberty greatly influenced the political thinking behind the revolution. John Locke's Two Treatises of Government
Two Treatises of Government
The Two Treatises of Government is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke...

, published in 1689, was especially influential. The theory of the "social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

" influenced the belief among many of the Founders that among the "natural rights" of man was the right of the people to overthrow their leaders
Right of revolution
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests...

, should those leaders betray the historic rights of Englishmen
Rights of Englishmen
The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of British subjects. The notion refers to various constitutional documents that were created throughout various stages of English history, such as Magna Carta, the Declaration of Right , and others...

. In terms of writing state and national constitutions, the Americans heavily used Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

's analysis of the "balanced" British Constitution.

Republicanism


A motivating force behind the revolution was the American embrace of a political ideology called "republicanism", which was dominant in the colonies by 1775. The republicanism was inspired by the "country party" in Britain, whose critique of British government emphasized that corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 was a terrible reality in Britain. Americans feared the corruption was crossing the Atlantic; the commitment of most Americans to republican values and to their rights, energized the revolution, as Britain was increasingly seen as hopelessly corrupt and hostile to American interests. Britain seemed to threaten the established liberties that Americans enjoyed. The greatest threat to liberty was depicted as corruption—not just in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 but at home as well. The colonists associated it with luxury and, especially, inherited aristocracy, which they condemned.

The Founding Fathers were strong advocates of republican values, particularly Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American...

, Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

, John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, which required men to put civic duty ahead of their personal desires. Men had a civic duty to be prepared and willing to fight for the rights and liberties of their countrymen and countrywomen. John Adams, writing to Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution. In the eighteenth century, topics such as politics and war were thought to be the province of men. Few women had the education or training to write about these subjects. Warren was the exception...

 in 1776, agreed with some classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 Greek and Roman thinkers in that "Public Virtue cannot exist without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics." He continued:

"There must be a positive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honour, Power, and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty. And this public Passion must be Superior to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights of society."
For women, "republican motherhood
Republican motherhood
"Republican Motherhood" is a 20th century term for an attitude toward women's roles present in the emerging United States before, during, and after the American Revolution . It centered on the belief that the patriots' daughters should be raised to uphold the ideals of republicanism, in order to...

" became the ideal, exemplified by Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth...

 and Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution. In the eighteenth century, topics such as politics and war were thought to be the province of men. Few women had the education or training to write about these subjects. Warren was the exception...

; the first duty of the republican woman was to instill republican values in her children and to avoid luxury and ostentation.
Fusing republicanism and liberalism


Thomas Paine's best-seller pamphlet Common Sense
Common Sense (pamphlet)
Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense, signed "Written by an Englishman", became an immediate success. In relation to the population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest...

appeared in January 1776, after the Revolution had started. It was widely distributed and loaned, and often read aloud in taverns, contributing significantly to spreading the ideas of republicanism and liberalism, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Britain, and encouraging recruitment for the Continental Army. Paine provided a new and widely accepted argument for independence, by advocating a complete break with history. Common Sense is oriented to the future in a way that compels the reader to make an immediate choice. It offered a solution for Americans disgusted and alarmed at the threat of tyranny.

Religious interpretations


Dissenting
Dissenter
The term dissenter , labels one who disagrees in matters of opinion, belief, etc. In the social and religious history of England and Wales, however, it refers particularly to a member of a religious body who has, for one reason or another, separated from the Established Church.Originally, the term...

 (i.e. Protestant, non-Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

) churches of the day were the "school of democracy” President John Witherspoon
John Witherspoon
John Witherspoon was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Jersey. As president of the College of New Jersey , he trained many leaders of the early nation and was the only active clergyman and the only college president to sign the Declaration...

 of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

) wrote widely circulated sermons linking the American Revolution to the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. Throughout the colonies dissenting Protestant congregations (Congregationalist
Congregational church
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

, Baptist, and Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

) preached Revolutionary themes in their sermons, while most Church of England ministers preached loyalty to the King. Religious motivation for fighting tyranny reached across socioeconomic lines to encompass rich and poor, men and women, frontiersmen and townsmen, farmers and merchants.

The classical Roman authors taught an abstract ideal of republican government that included hierarchical social orders of king, aristocracy and commoners. It was widely believed that British liberties relied on the balance of power between these three social orders, maintaining the hierarchical deference to the privileged class. Historian Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice . In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected...

 wrote:

Controversial British legislation


The Revolution was in some ways incited by a number of pieces of legislation originating from the British Parliament that, for Americans, were illegitimate acts of a government that had no right to pass laws on Englishmen in the Americas who did not have elected representation in that government. For the British, policy makers saw these laws as necessary to rein in colonial subjects who, in the name of economic development that was designed to benefit the home nation, had been allowed near-autonomy for too long.

1733–1763: Navigation Acts, Molasses Act and Royal Proclamation



The British Empire at the time operated under the mercantile system
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

, where all trade was concentrated inside the Empire, and trade with other empires was forbidden. The goal was to enrich Britain—its merchants and its government. Whether the policy was good for the colonists was not an issue in London, but Americans became increasingly restive with mercantilist policies

Britain implemented mercantilism by trying to block American trade with the French, Spanish or Dutch empires using the Navigation Acts
Navigation Acts
The English Navigation Acts were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies, a process which had started in 1651. Their goal was to force colonial development into lines favorable to England, and stop direct colonial trade with the...

, which Americans avoided as often as they could. The royal officials responded to smuggling with open-ended search warrants (Writs of Assistance
Writ of Assistance
A writ of assistance is a written order issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official, such as a sheriff, to perform a certain task. Historically, several types of writs have been called "writs of assistance". Most often, a writ of assistance is "used to enforce an order for the...

). In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis
James Otis, Jr.
James Otis, Jr. was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, and an early advocate of the political views that led to the American Revolution. The phrase "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny" is usually attributed to him...

 argued that the writs violated the constitutional rights
Constitution of the United Kingdom
The constitution of the United Kingdom is the set of laws and principles under which the United Kingdom is governed.Unlike many other nations, the UK has no single core constitutional document. In this sense, it is said not to have a written constitution but an uncodified one...

 of the colonists. He lost the case, but John Adams later wrote, "Then and there the child Independence was born."

In 1762, Patrick Henry argued the Parson's Cause
Parson's Cause
The "Parson's Cause" was an important legal and political dispute in the Colony of Virginia often viewed as an important event leading up to the American Revolution...

 in the Colony of Virginia, where the legislature had passed a law and it was vetoed by the king. Henry argued, "that a King, by disallowing Acts of this salutary nature, from being the father of his people, degenerated into a Tyrant and forfeits all right to his subjects' obedience".

Following their victory in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 in 1763, Great Britain took control of the French holdings in North America, outside the Caribbean. The British sought to maintain peaceful relations with those Indian tribes that had allied with the French, and keep them separated from the American frontiersmen. To this end, the Royal Proclamation of 1763
Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

 restricted settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 as this was designated an Indian Reserve
Indian Reserve (1763)
The Indian Reserve was a territory under British rule in North America set aside in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 for use by American Indians between 1763 and 1783....

. Disregarding the proclamation, some groups of settlers continued to move west and establish farms. The proclamation was soon modified and was no longer a hindrance to settlement, but the fact that it had been promulgated without their prior consultation angered the colonists.

1764–1766: More provocative legislation


Britain did not expect the colonies to contribute to the interest or the retirement of debt incurred during its wars, but they did expect a portion of the expenses for colonial defense to be paid by the Americans. Estimating the expenses of defending the continental colonies and the British West Indies
British West Indies
The British West Indies was a term used to describe the islands in and around the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire The term was sometimes used to include British Honduras and British Guiana, even though these territories are not geographically part of the Caribbean...

 to be approximately £200,000 annually, the British goal after the end of this war was that the colonies would be taxed for £78,000 of this amount. The colonists objected chiefly on the grounds not that the taxes were high (they were low) but that they had no representation in the Parliament. Parliament insisted it had the right to levy any tax without colonial approval, to demonstrate that it had authority over the colonies.

Modern American economic historians have challenged the view that Britain was seeking to place a heavy new burden on the colonies and have suggested the real cost of defending the North American colonies from the possibility of invasion by France or Spain was £400,000, five times the maximum income from them.

The colonists did not object to the principle of contributing to the cost of their defense (colonial legislatures spent large sums raising and outfitting militias during the French and Indian War), but they disputed the need for the Crown to station regular British troops in North America. In the absence of a French threat, colonists believed the colonial militias (which were funded by taxes raised by colonial legislatures) to be sufficient to deal with any trouble with natives on the frontier. Officer positions were in high demand among the British aristocracy—the rank of captain or major sold for thousands of pounds, and could be resold once an officer purchased an even higher rank. The British wanted all the commissions for themselves, and were unwilling to commission colonial officers (who would pay nothing for their commissions) and further asserted that officers with colonial commissions must submit to the authority of any regular British officer, regardless of rank. This effectively negated the will or the legal authority of the colonies to contribute to defense through their militias. With some 1,500 well-connected British officers who would have become redundant in the aftermath of the Seven Years War, London would have had to discharge them if they did not assign them to North America. Therefore the main reason for Parliament imposing taxes was to prove its supremacy, and the main use of the tax funds would be patronage for ambitious British officers. The slogan "No taxation without representation
No taxation without representation
"No taxation without representation" is a slogan originating during the 1750s and 1760s that summarized a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution...

" summed up this American position. London responded that the colonists were "virtually represented"
Virtual representation
In the early stages of the American Revolution, colonists in the Thirteen Colonies rejected legislation imposed upon them by the British Parliament because the colonies were not represented in Parliament. According to the British constitution, colonists argued, taxes could only be levied on British...

; but most Americans rejected this.

In 1764, Parliament enacted the Sugar Act
Sugar Act
The Sugar Act, also known as the American Revenue Act or the American Duties Act, was a revenue-raising act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain on April 5, 1764. The preamble to the act stated: "it is expedient that new provisions and regulations should be established for improving the...

 and the Currency Act
Currency Act
The Currency Act is the name of several acts of the Parliament of Great Britain that regulated paper money issued by the colonies of British America. The acts sought to protect British merchants and creditors from being paid in depreciated colonial currency...

, further vexing the colonists. Protests led to a powerful new weapon, the systematic boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

 of British goods. The following year, the British enacted the Quartering Acts, which required British soldiers to be quartered at the expense of residents in certain areas. Colonists objected to this, as well.

In 1765 the Stamp Act was the first direct tax
Direct tax
The term direct tax generally means a tax paid directly to the government by the persons on whom it is imposed.-General meaning:In the general sense, a direct tax is one paid directly to the government by the persons on whom it is imposed...

 levied on the colonies by British Prime Minister George Grenville
George Grenville
George Grenville was a British Whig statesman who rose to the position of Prime Minister of Great Britain. Grenville was born into an influential political family and first entered Parliament in 1741 as an MP for Buckingham...

 and the Parliament. All official documents, newspapers, almanacs, and pamphlets— decks of playing cards—were required to have the stamps. The colonists still considered themselves loyal subjects of the British Crown
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

, with the same historic rights and obligations as subjects in Britain.
Nevertheless, representatives of all 13 colonies protested vehemently, as popular leaders such as Patrick Henry in Virginia and James Otis in Massachusetts, rallied the people in opposition. A secret group, the "Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty were a political group made up of American patriots that originated in the pre-independence North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists from the usurpations by the British government after 1766...

" formed in many towns and threatened violence if anyone sold the stamps, and no one did. In Boston, the Sons of Liberty burned the records of the vice-admiralty court and looted the home of the chief justice, Thomas Hutchinson. Several legislatures called for united action, and nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress
Stamp Act Congress
The Stamp Act Congress was a meeting on October 19, 1765 in New York City of representatives from some of the British colonies of North America. They discussed and acted upon the Stamp Act recently passed by the governing Parliament of Great Britain overseas, which did not include any...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in October 1765. Moderates led by John Dickinson
John Dickinson (delegate)
John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of...

 drew up a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances
Declaration of Rights and Grievances
The Declaration of Rights and Grievances was a document created during the Committees of Correspondence declaring that taxes imposed on British colonists without their formal consent were unconstitutional...

" stating that taxes passed without representation violated their Rights of Englishmen
Rights of Englishmen
The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of British subjects. The notion refers to various constitutional documents that were created throughout various stages of English history, such as Magna Carta, the Declaration of Right , and others...

. Colonists emphasized their determination by boycotting imports of British merchandise. In London, the Rockingham
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, KG, PC , styled The Hon. Charles Watson-Wentworth before 1733, Viscount Higham between 1733 and 1746, Earl of Malton between 1746 and 1750 and The Earl Malton in 1750, was a British Whig statesman, most notable for his two terms as Prime...

 government came to power and Parliament debated whether to repeal the stamp tax or send an army to enforce it. Benjamin Franklin made the case for repeal, explaining the colonies had spent heavily in manpower, money, and blood in defense of the empire in a series of wars against the French and Indians, and that further taxes to pay for those wars were unjust and might bring about a rebellion. Parliament agreed and repealed the tax, but in the Declaratory Act
Declaratory Act
The Declaratory Act was a declaration by the British Parliament in 1766 which accompanied the repeal of the Stamp Act 1765. The government repealed the Stamp Act because boycotts were hurting British trade and used the declaration to justify the repeal and save face...

 of March 1766 insisted that parliament retained full power to make laws for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever".

1767–1773: Townshend Acts and the Tea Act


In 1767, the Parliament passed the Townshend Acts
Townshend Acts
The Townshend Acts were a series of laws passed beginning in 1767 by the Parliament of Great Britain relating to the British colonies in North America. The acts are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the program...

, which placed a tax on a number of essential goods including paper, glass, and tea. Angered at the tax increases, colonists organized a boycott of British goods. In Boston on March 5, 1770, a large mob gathered around a group of British soldiers. The mob grew more and more threatening, throwing snowballs, rocks and debris at the soldiers. One soldier was clubbed and fell. All but one of the soldiers fired into the crowd. 11 people were hit; three civilians were killed at the scene of the shooting, and two died after the incident. The event quickly came to be called the Boston Massacre
Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre, called the Boston Riot by the British, was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five civilian men. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support...

. Although the soldiers were tried and acquitted (defended by John Adams), the widespread descriptions soon became propaganda to turn colonial sentiment against the British. This in turn began a downward spiral in the relationship between Britain and the Province of Massachusetts.
In June 1772, in what became known as the Gaspée Affair
Gaspée Affair
The Gaspée Affair was a significant event in the lead-up to the American Revolution. The HMS Gaspée, a British customs schooner that had been enforcing unpopular trade regulations, ran aground in shallow water on June 9, 1772, near what is now known as Gaspee Point in the city of Warwick, Rhode...

, a British warship that had been vigorously enforcing unpopular trade regulations was burned by American patriots
Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots is a name often used to describe the colonists of the British Thirteen United Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution. It was their leading figures who, in July 1776, declared the United States of America an independent nation...

 including John Brown
John Brown (Rhode Island)
John Brown I was an American merchant, slave trader, and statesman from Providence, Rhode Island. In 1764, John Brown joined his brothers Nicholas Brown and Moses Brown as well as William Ellery, the Baptist Reverend James Manning, the Baptist Reverend Isaac Backus, the Congregationalist Reverend...

. About a year later, private letters were published
Hutchinson Letters Affair
The Hutchinson Letters Affair was an incident that increased tensions between the American colonies and the British government prior to the American Revolution...

 in which Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson called for the abridgement of colonial rights, and Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver
Andrew Oliver
Andrew Oliver was a merchant and public official in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Born in Boston, he was the son of Daniel Oliver, a merchant, and Elizabeth Belcher Oliver, daughter of Governor Jonathan Belcher. Andrew had two brothers: Daniel Oliver and Peter Oliver...

 called for the direct payment of colonial officials (until then the purview of the colonial assembly, and a means by which it controlled the governor). The furor over the affair contributed to Hutchinson's recall, and brought a conciliatory Benjamin Franklin firmly to the side of the colonists.

On December 16, 1773, a group of men, led by Samuel Adams and dressed to evoke American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, boarded the ships of the government-favored British East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 and dumped an estimated £10,000 worth of tea from its holds (approximately £636,000 in 2008) into the harbor. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea imported into the colonies...

 and remains a significant part of American patriotic lore.

1774–1775: Quebec Act and the Intolerable Acts



The Quebec Act
Quebec Act
The Quebec Act of 1774 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec...

 of 1774 extended Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

's boundaries to the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, shutting out the claims of the 13 colonies. By then, however, the Americans had little regard for new laws from London; they were drilling militia and organizing for war.

The British government responded by passing several Acts which came to be known as the Intolerable Acts
Intolerable Acts
The Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts are names used to describe a series of laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 relating to Britain's colonies in North America...

, which further darkened colonial opinion towards the British. They consisted of four laws enacted by the British parliament. The first was the Massachusetts Government Act
Massachusetts Government Act
The Massachusetts Government Act was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain and became a law on May 20, 1774. The act is one of the Intolerable Acts , designed to suppress dissent and restore order in the Province of Massachusetts Bay...

, which altered the Massachusetts charter and restricted town meetings. The second Act, the Administration of Justice Act
Administration of Justice Act 1774
The Administration of Justice Act, or Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice, also popularly called the Murdering Act or Murder Act, an Act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain and becoming law on May 20, 1774, is one of the measures The Administration of Justice Act, or Act for the...

, ordered that all British soldiers to be tried were to be arraigned in Britain, not in the colonies. The third Act was the Boston Port Act
Boston Port Act
The Boston Port Act is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which became law on March 30, 1774, and is one of the measures that were designed to secure Great Britain's jurisdictions over her American dominions.A response to the Boston Tea Party, it outlawed the use...

, which closed the port of Boston until the British had been compensated for the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party (the British never received such a payment). The fourth Act was the Quartering Acts of 1774, which allowed royal governors to house British troops in the homes of citizens without requiring permission of the owner.

Lord North
Frederick North, Lord North
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, KG, PC , more often known by his courtesy title, Lord North, which he used from 1752 until 1790, was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1770 to 1782. He led Great Britain through most of the American War of Independence...

 argued in 1775 for the British position that Englishmen paid on average 25 shillings annually in taxes whereas Americans paid only sixpence. The colonists countered that North's argument failed to take into consideration the taxes collected by colonial governments and allocated for local purposes. The colonists believed, especially considering the economic restraints the British were keen to enforce in the colonies, that any additional tax burden from London was excessive.

American political opposition


American political opposition was initially through the colonial assemblies such as the Stamp Act Congress, which included representatives from across the colonies. In 1765, the Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty were a political group made up of American patriots that originated in the pre-independence North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists from the usurpations by the British government after 1766...

 were formed which used public demonstrations, violence and threats of violence to ensure that the British tax laws were unenforceable. While openly hostile to what they considered an oppressive Parliament acting illegally, colonists persisted in sending numerous petitions and pleas for intervention from a monarch to whom they still claimed loyalty. In late 1772 Samuel Adams in Boston set about creating new Committees of Correspondence, which linked Patriots in all 13 colonies and eventually provided the framework for a rebel government. In early 1773 Virginia, the largest colony, set up its Committee of Correspondence, on which Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson served.

A total of about 7000 to 8000 Patriots served on Committees of Correspondence at the colonial and local levels, comprising most of the leadership in their communities—the Loyalists were excluded. The committees became the leaders of the American resistance to British actions, and largely determined the war effort at the state and local level. When the First Continental Congress decided to boycott British products, the colonial and local Committees took charge, examining merchant records and publishing the names of merchants who attempted to defy the boycott by importing British goods. They promoted patriotism and home manufacturing, advising Americans to avoid luxuries and lead more simple lives. The committees gradually extended their power over many aspects of American public life. They set up espionage networks to identify disloyal elements, displaced the royal officials, and helped topple the entire imperial system in each colony. In late 1774 in early 1775, they supervised the elections of provincial conventions, which took over the operation of colonial governments.

In response to the Massachusetts Government Act, Massachusetts and other colonies formed local governments called Provincial Congress
Provincial Congress
"Provincial Congress" can refer to one of several extra-legal legislative bodies established in some of the Thirteen Colonies early in the American Revolution...

es. In 1774, the First Continental Congress
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts by the...

 convened, consisting of representatives from each of the Provincial Congresses or their equivalents, to serve as a vehicle for deliberation and collective action. Standing Committees of Safety
Committee of Safety (American Revolution)
Many Committees of Safety were established throughout Colonial America at the start of the American Revolution. These committees started to appear in the 1760s as means to discuss the concerns of the time, and often consisted of every male adult in the community...

 were created by each Provincial Congress or equivalent for the enforcement of the resolutions by the Committees of Correspondence, Provincial Congress, and the Continental Congress. Some British colonies in North America remained loyal to the Crown. These colonies included Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Newfoundland
History of Newfoundland and Labrador
The History of Newfoundland and Labrador is the story of the peoples who have lived in what is now the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador....

 in present-day Canada, the former Spanish colonies of West Florida
West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...

 and East Florida
East Florida
East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763–1783 and of Spain from 1783–1822. East Florida was established by the British colonial government in 1763; as its name implies it consisted of the eastern part of the region of Florida, with West Florida comprising the western parts. Its capital...

, and Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

.

Factions


The population of the 13 Colonies was far from homogeneous, particularly in their political views and attitudes. Loyalties and allegiances varied widely not only within regions and communities, but also within families and sometimes shifted during the course of the Revolution.

King George III


The war became a personal issue for the king
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

, fueled by his growing belief that British leniency would be taken as weakness by the Americans. The king also sincerely believed he was defending Britain's constitution against usurpers, rather than opposing patriots fighting for their natural rights.

Patriots


At the time, revolutionaries were called "Patriots", "Whigs", "Congress-men", or "Americans". They included a full range of social and economic classes, but were unanimous regarding the need to defend the rights of Americans and uphold the principles of republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 in terms of rejecting monarchy and aristocracy, while emphasizing civic virtue on the part of the citizens.

Role of women



Women contributed to the American Revolution in many ways, and were involved on both sides. While formal Revolutionary politics did not include women, ordinary domestic behaviors became charged with political significance as Patriot women confronted a war that permeated all aspects of political, civil, and domestic life. They participated by boycotting British goods, spying on the British, following armies as they marched, washing, cooking, and tending for soldiers, delivering secret messages, and in a few cases like Deborah Samson, fighting disguised as men. Above all, they continued the agricultural work at home to feed their families and the armies. They maintained their families during their husbands' absences and sometimes after their deaths.

American women were integral to the success of the boycott of British goods, as the boycotted items were largely household items such as tea and cloth. Women had to return to knitting goods, and to spinning and weaving their own cloth — skills that had fallen into disuse. In 1769, the women of Boston produced 40,000 skeins of yarn, and 180 women in Middletown, Massachusetts
Middleton, Massachusetts
Middleton is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 8,987 at the 2010 census.- History :Middleton was first settled in 1659 and was officially incorporated in 1728. Prior to 1728 it was considered a part of Salem, and contains territory previously within the...

 wove 20522 yards (18,765 m) of cloth.

A crisis of political loyalties could disrupt the fabric of colonial America women’s social worlds: whether a man did or did not renounce his allegiance to the King could dissolve ties of class, family, and friendship, isolating women from former connections. A woman’s loyalty to her husband, once a private commitment, could become a political act, especially for women in America committed to men who remained loyal to the King. Legal divorce, usually rare, was granted to Patriot women whose husbands supported the King.

Class and psychology


Looking back, John Adams concluded in 1818:
"The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people....This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution."


In terms of class, Loyalists tended to have longstanding social and economic connections to British merchants and government; for instance, prominent merchants in major port cities such as New York, Boston and Charleston tended to be Loyalists, as did men involved with the fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 along the northern frontier. In addition, officials of colonial government and their staffs, those who had established positions and status to maintain, favored maintaining relations with Great Britain. They often were linked to British families in England by marriage as well.

By contrast, Patriots by number tended to be yeomen farmers, especially in the frontier areas of New York and the backcountry of Pennsylvania, Virginia and down the Appalachian mountains. They were craftsmen and small merchants. Leaders of both the Patriots and the Loyalists were men of educated, propertied classes. The Patriots included many prominent men of the planter class from Virginia and South Carolina, for instance, who became leaders during the Revolution, and formed the new government at the national and state levels.

To understand the opposing groups, historians have assessed evidence of their hearts and minds. In the mid-20th century, historian Leonard Woods Labaree
Leonard Woods Labaree
Leonard W. Labaree was a distinguished documentary editor, a professor of history at Yale University for more than forty years, an historian of Colonial America, and the founding editor of the multivolume publication of the papers of Benjamin Franklin.-Early life and education:Leonard W...

 identified eight characteristics of the Loyalists that made them essentially conservative; traits to those characteristic of the Patriots. Older and better established men, Loyalists tended to resist innovation. They thought resistance to the Crown—which they insisted was the only legitimate government—was morally wrong, while the Patriots thought morality was on their side. Loyalists were alienated when the Patriots resorted to violence, such as burning houses and tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering
Tarring and feathering is a physical punishment, used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge. It was used in feudal Europe and its colonies in the early modern period, as well as the early American frontier, mostly as a type of mob vengeance .-Description:In a typical tar-and-feathers attack, the...

. Loyalists wanted to take a centrist position and resisted the Patriots' demand to declare their opposition to the Crown. Many Loyalists, especially merchants in the port cities, had maintained strong and long-standing relations with Britain (often with business and family links to other parts of the British Empire). Many Loyalists realized that independence was bound to come eventually, but they were fearful that revolution might lead to anarchy, tyranny or mob rule. In contrast, the prevailing attitude among Patriots, who made systematic efforts to use mob violence in a controlled manner, was a desire to seize the initiative. Labaree also wrote that Loyalists were pessimists who lacked the confidence in the future displayed by the Patriots.

Historians in the early 20th century, such as J. Franklin Jameson
J. Franklin Jameson
John Franklin Jameson was an American historian, author, and journal editor who played a major role in the professional activities of American historians in the early 20th century.-Early life:...

, examined the class composition of the Patriot cause, looking for evidence of a class war inside the revolution. In the last 50 years, historians have largely abandoned that interpretation, emphasizing instead the high level of ideological unity. Just as there were rich and poor Loyalists, the Patriots were a 'mixed lot', with the richer and better educated more likely to become officers in the Army. Ideological demands always came first: the Patriots viewed independence as a means to gain freedom from British oppression and taxation and, above all, to reassert what they considered to be their rights as English subjects. Most yeomen farmers, craftsmen, and small merchants joined the Patriot cause to demand more political equality. They were especially successful in the Pennsylvania but less so in New England, where John Adams attacked Thomas Paine's Common Sense for the "absurd democratical notions" it proposed.

Loyalists


While there is no way of knowing the actual numbers, historians have estimated that about 15–20% of the population remained loyal to the British Crown; these were known at the time as "Loyalists", "Tories", or "King's men". The Loyalists never controlled territory unless the British Army occupied it. Loyalists were typically older, less willing to break with old loyalties, often connected to the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, and included many established merchants with business connections across the Empire, as well as royal officials such as Thomas Hutchinson of Boston. The revolution sometimes divided families; for example, the Franklins. William Franklin
William Franklin
William Franklin was an American soldier and colonial administrator. He served as the last Colonial Governor of New Jersey. Franklin was a steadfast Loyalist throughout the American War of Independence, despite his father Benjamin Franklin's role as one of the most prominent Patriots during the...

, son of Benjamin Franklin and governor of the Province of New Jersey
Province of New Jersey
The Province of New Jersey was one of the Middle Colonies of Colonial America and became the U.S. state of New Jersey in 1776. The province had originally been settled by Europeans as part of New Netherland, but came under English rule after the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, becoming a...

 remained Loyal to the Crown throughout the war and never spoke to his father again. Recent immigrants who had not been fully Americanized were also inclined to support the King, such as recent Scottish settlers in the back country; among the more striking examples of this, see Flora MacDonald.

After the war, the great majority of the 450,000–500,000 Loyalists remained in America and resumed normal lives. Some, such as Samuel Seabury, became prominent American leaders. Estimates vary, but about 62,000 Loyalists relocated to Canada, and others to Britain (7,000) or to Florida or the West Indies (9,000). This made up approximately 2% of the total population of the colonies. When Loyalists left the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 in 1783, they took thousands of blacks with them as slaves to the British West Indies.

Neutrals


A minority of uncertain size tried to stay neutral in the war. Most kept a low profile. However, the Quakers
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

, especially in Pennsylvania, were the most important group that was outspoken for neutrality. As Patriots declared independence, the Quakers, who continued to do business with the British, were attacked as supporters of British rule, "contrivers and authors of seditious publications" critical of the revolutionary cause.

Spain


Spain did not officially recognize the U.S. but became an informal ally when it declared war on Britain on June 21, 1779. Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, general of the Spanish forces in New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

, also served as governor of Louisiana. He led an expedition of colonial troops to force the British out of Florida and keep open a vital conduit for supplies.

France


In early 1776, France set up a major program of aid to the Americans, and the Spanish secretly added funds. Each country spent one million "livres tournaises" to buy munitions. A dummy corporation run by Pierre Beaumarchais
Pierre Beaumarchais
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary ....

 concealed their activities. Americans obtained some munitions through the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 as well as French and Spanish ports in the West Indies.

Native Americans


Most Native Americans rejected pleas that they remain neutral and supported the British Crown. In its trying to prohibit colonial settlement west of the Applachian Mountains, Great Britain was supporting the tribes. The great majority of the 200,000 Native Americans east of the Mississippi distrusted the colonists and supported the British cause, hoping to forestall continued colonial encroachment on their territories. Those tribes that were more closely involved in colonial trade tended to side with the revolutionaries, although political factors were important as well.

Although there was little major Native American participation during the war except for four of the Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 nations, the British provided Indians with funding and weapons to attack American outposts. Some Indians tried to remain neutral, seeing little value in joining a European conflict and fearing reprisals from whichever side they opposed. A few, such as the Oneida
Oneida tribe
The Oneida are a Native American/First Nations people and are one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in the area of upstate New York...

 and Tuscarora peoples in New York, supported the American cause.

The British provided arms for the Indians, under Loyalist leadership, to raid frontier settlements from the Carolinas
Province of Carolina
The Province of Carolina, originally chartered in 1629, was an English and later British colony of North America. Because the original Heath charter was unrealized and was ruled invalid, a new charter was issued to a group of eight English noblemen, the Lords Proprietors, in 1663...

 to New York. They killed many scattered settlers, especially in Pennsylvania. In 1776 Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 war parties attacked American colonists all along the southern frontier of the uplands. While the Chickamauga
Chickamauga Indian
The Chickamauga or Lower Cherokee, were a band of Cherokee who supported Great Britain at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. They were followers of the Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe...

 Cherokee could launch raids numbering a couple hundred warriors, as seen in the Chickamauga Wars
Chickamauga wars
The Chickamauga Wars were a series of raids, campaigns, ambushes, minor skirmishes, and several full-scale frontier battles which were a continuation of the Cherokee struggle against encroachment by American frontiersmen from the former British colonies...

, they could not mobilize enough forces to fight a major invasion without the help of allies, these being, most often, the Creek.

The most prominent Native American leader siding with the King was Joseph Brant
Joseph Brant
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known American Indian of his generation...

 of the powerful Mohawk nation
Mohawk nation
Mohawk are the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois confederation. They call themselves Kanien'gehaga, people of the place of the flint...

, part of the Iroquois Confederacy based in New York. In 1778 and 1780, he led 300 Iroquois warriors and 100 white Loyalists in multiple attacks on small frontier settlements in New York and Pennsylvania, killing many settlers and destroying villages, crops and stores. The Seneca, Onondaga and Cayuga of the Iroquois Confederacy also allied with the British against the Americans. In 1779 the Continentals retaliated with an American army under John Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

, which raided and destroyed 40 empty Iroquois villages in central and western New York. Sullivan's forces systematically burned the villages and destroyed about 160,000 bushels of corn that comprised the winter food supply. Facing starvation and homeless for the winter, the Iroquois fled to the Niagara Falls area and to Canada, mostly to what became Ontario. The British resettled them there after the war, providing land grants as compensation for some of their losses.

At the peace conference following the war, the British ceded lands which they did not really control, and did not consult about it with their Indian allies. They "transferred" control to the Americans of all the land east of the Mississippi and north of Florida. The historian Calloway concludes:
Burned villages and crops, murdered chiefs, divided councils and civil wars, migrations, towns and forts choked with refugees, economic disruption, breaking of ancient traditions, losses in battle and to disease and hunger, betrayal to their enemies, all made the American Revolution one of the darkest periods in American Indian history.


The British did not give up their forts in the West (what is now the Ohio to Wisconsin) until 1796; they kept alive the dream of forming a satellite Indian nation there, which they called a Neutral Indian Zone. That goal was one of the causes of the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

African Americans



Free blacks in the North and South fought on both sides of the Revolution, but most fought for the colonial rebels. Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks was a dockworker of Wampanoag and African descent. He was the first person shot to death by British redcoats during the Boston Massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts...

, who died in a conflict in Boston in 1770, is considered the first martyr of the American Revolution. Both sides offered freedom and re-settlement to slaves who were willing to fight for them, especially targeting slaves whose owners supported the opposing cause.

Many African-American slaves became politically active during these years in support of the King, as they thought Great Britain might abolish slavery in the colonies. Tens of thousands used the turmoil of war to escape, and the southern plantation economies of South Carolina and Georgia especially were disrupted. During the Revolution, the British tried to turn slavery against the Americans, but historian David Brion Davis explains the difficulties with a policy of wholesale arming of the slaves:

Davis underscored the British dilemma: "Britain, when confronted by the rebellious American colonists, hoped to exploit their fear of slave revolts
Slave rebellion
A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders...

 while also reassuring the large number of slave-holding Loyalists and wealthy Caribbean planters and merchants that their slave property would be secure". The colonists accused the British of encouraging slave revolts.

American advocates of independence were commonly lampooned in Britain for what was termed their hypocritical calls for freedom, at the same time that many of their leaders were planters who held hundreds of slaves. Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 snapped, "how is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the [slave] drivers of the Negroes?" Benjamin Franklin countered by criticizing the British self-congratulation about "the freeing of one Negro" (Somersett
Somersett's Case
R v Knowles, ex parte Somersett 20 State Tr 1 is a famous judgment of the English Court of King's Bench in 1772 which held that slavery was unsupported by law in England and Wales...

) while they continued to permit the Slave Trade.

Phyllis Wheatley, a black poet who popularized the image of Columbia to represent America, came to public attention when her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral appeared in 1773.

During the war, slaves escaped from across New England and the mid-Atlantic area to British-occupied cities, such as New York. The effects of the war were more dramatic in the South. In Virginia the royal governor Lord Dunmore
John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore
John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore was a British peer and colonial governor. He was the son of William Murray, 3rd Earl of Dunmore, and his wife Catherine . He is best remembered as the last royal governor of the Colony of Virginia.John was the eldest son of William and Catherine Murray, and nephew...

 recruited black men into the British forces with the promise of freedom, protection for their families, and land grants. Tens of thousands of slaves escaped to British lines throughout the South, causing dramatic losses to slaveholders and disrupting cultivation and harvesting of crops. For instance, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 was estimated to lose about 25,000 slaves, or one third of its slave population, to flight, migration or death. From 1770-1790, the black proportion of the population (mostly slaves) in South Carolina dropped from 60.5 percent to 43.8 percent; and in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 from 45.2 percent to 36.1 percent.

When the British evacuated its forces from Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 and Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, it also gave transportation to 10,000 slaves, carrying through on its commitment to them. They evacuated and resettled more than 3,000 "Black Loyalist
Black Loyalist
A Black Loyalist was an inhabitant of British America of African descent who joined British colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War...

s" to Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Upper
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 and Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

. Others sailed with the British to England or were resettled in the West Indies of the Caribbean. More than 1200 of the Black Loyalists of Nova Scotia later resettled in the British colony of Sierra Leone
History of Sierra Leone
The history of Sierra Leone began when the lands became inhabited at least 2,500 years ago. Sierra Leone played a significant part in modern African political liberty and nationalism, and became an independent nation in 1961...

, where they became leaders of the Krio
Sierra Leone Creole people
The Sierra Leone Creoles, or Krios, are an ethnic group in Sierra Leone, descendants of West Indian slaves from the Caribbean, primarily from Jamaica; freed African American slaves from the Thirteen Colonies resettled from Nova Scotia; and Liberated Africans from various parts of Africa...

 ethnic group of Freetown and the later national government. Many of their descendants still live in Sierra Leone, as well as other African countries.

Some slaves understood Revolutionary rhetoric as promising freedom and equality. Both British and American governments made promises of freedom for service, and many slaves fought in one or the other armies. Starting in 1777, northern states started to abolish slavery, beginning with Vermont, which ended it under its new state constitution. By court cases, Massachusetts effectively ended slavery before the end of the century. Usually states instituted abolition on a gradual schedule with no government compensation of the owners, and many states, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, required long apprenticeships of former slave children before they gained freedom and came of age as adults.

In the first two decades after the war, the legislatures of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware made it easier for slaveholders to manumit
Manumission
Manumission is the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. In the United States before the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished most slavery, this often happened upon the death of the owner, under conditions in his will.-Motivations:The...

 their slaves. Numerous slaveholders in the Upper South took advantage of the changes: the proportion of free blacks went from less than one percent before the war to more than 10 percent overall by 1810. In Virginia alone, the number of free blacks climbed: from less than one percent in 1782, to 4.2 percent in 1790, and 13.5 percent in 1810. In Delaware, three-quarters of blacks were free by 1810. After this time, few slaves were freed in the South, except those who were favorites or the master's children. The demand for slaves rose with the growth of cotton as a commodity crop, especially after the invention of the cotton gin
Cotton gin
A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, a job formerly performed painstakingly by hand...

, which enabled the widespread cultivation of short-staple cotton in the upland regions. Although the international slave trade was prohibited, the slave population in the United States increased by the formation of families and survival of children throughout the South. As the demand for slave labor in the Upper South decreased due to changes in crops, planters began selling their slaves to traders and markets to the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

 in an internal slave trade; it would cause the forced migration
Forced migration
Forced migration refers to the coerced movement of a person or persons away from their home or home region...

 of an estimated one million slaves during the following decades, breaking up countless families, as young males were most in demand.

Military hostilities begin


The Battle of Lexington and Concord
Battles of Lexington and Concord
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy , and Cambridge, near Boston...

 took place April 19, 1775, when the British sent a force of roughly 1000 troops to confiscate arms and arrest revolutionaries in Concord, Massachusetts. They clashed with the local militia, marking the first fighting of the American Revolutionary War. The news aroused the 13 colonies to call out their militias and send troops to besiege Boston
Siege of Boston
The Siege of Boston was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War, in which New England militiamen—who later became part of the Continental Army—surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within...

. The Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775, mostly on and around Breed's Hill, during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War...

 followed on June 17, 1775. While a British victory, it was at a great cost; about 1,000 British casualties from a garrison of about 6,000, as compared to 500 American casualties from a much larger force.

The Second Continental Congress convened in 1775, after the war had started. The Congress created the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 and extended the Olive Branch Petition
Olive Branch Petition
The Olive Branch Petition was adopted by the Continental Congress in July 1775 in an attempt to avoid a full-blown war with Great Britain. The petition affirmed American loyalty to Great Britain and entreated the king to prevent further conflict...

 to the crown as an attempt at reconciliation. King George III refused to receive it, issuing instead the Proclamation of Rebellion
Proclamation of Rebellion
The Proclamation of Rebellion, officially titled A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition, was the response of George III of the United Kingdom to the news of the Battle of Bunker Hill at the outset of the American Revolutionary War. Issued August 23, 1775, it declared elements of the...

, requiring action against the "traitors".

In the winter of 1775, the Americans invaded Canada
Invasion of Canada (1775)
The Invasion of Canada in 1775 was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec, and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the...

. General Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery was an Irish-born soldier who first served in the British Army. He later became a brigadier-general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and he is most famous for leading the failed 1775 invasion of Canada.Montgomery was born and raised in Ireland...

 captured Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 but a joint attack on Quebec
Battle of Quebec (1775)
The Battle of Quebec was fought on December 31, 1775 between American Continental Army forces and the British defenders of the city of Quebec, early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle was the first major defeat of the war for the Americans, and it came at a high price...

 with the help of Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted to surrender it to the British forces...

 failed.

In March 1776, with George Washington as the commander of the new army, the Continental Army forced the British to evacuate Boston
Evacuation Day (Massachusetts)
March 17 is Evacuation Day, a holiday observed in Suffolk County and also by the public schools in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. The holiday commemorates the evacuation of British forces from the city of Boston following the Siege of Boston, early in the American Revolutionary War...

. The revolutionaries were now in full control of all 13 colonies and were ready to declare independence. While there still were many Loyalists, they were no longer in control anywhere by July 1776, and all of the Royal officials had fled.

Prisoners



In August 1775, George III declared Americans in arms against royal authority to be traitors to the Crown. The British government at first started treating captured rebel combatants as common criminals and preparations were made to bring them to trial for treason. American Secretary Lord Germain and First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Sandwich
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, PC, FRS was a British statesman who succeeded his grandfather, Edward Montagu, 3rd Earl of Sandwich, as the Earl of Sandwich in 1729, at the age of ten...

 were especially eager to do so, with a particular emphasis on those who had previously served in British units (and thereby sworn an oath of allegiance to the crown).

Many of the prisoners taken by the British at Bunker Hill apparently expected to be hanged, but British authorities declined to take the next step: treason trials and executions. The dilemma was that tens of thousands of Loyalists were under American control and American retaliation would have been easy. The British built much of their strategy around using these Loyalists. After the surrender at Saratoga in October 1777, furthermore, there were thousands of British and Hessian soldiers in American hands. Therefore no Americans were put on trial for treason. The British maltreated the prisoners they held, resulting in more deaths to American sailors and soldiers than combat operations. At the end of the war, both sides released their surviving prisoners.

Finance


Britain's war against the Americans, French and Spanish cost about £100 million. The Treasury borrowed 40% of the money it needed. Heavy spending brought France to the verge of bankruptcy and revolution, while the British had relatively little difficulty financing their war, keeping their suppliers and soldiers paid, and hiring tens of thousands of German soldiers. Britain had a sophisticated financial system based on the wealth of thousands of landowners, who supported the government, together with banks and financiers in London. The efficient British tax system collected about 12 percent of the GDP in taxes during the 1770s.

In sharp contrast, Congress and the American states had no end of difficulty financing the war. In 1775 there was at most 12 million dollars in gold in the colonies, not nearly enough to cover current transactions, let alone on a major war. The British made the situation much worse by imposing a tight blockade on every American port, which cut off almost all imports and exports. One partial solution was to rely on volunteer support from militiamen, and donations from patriotic citizens. Another was to delay actual payments, pay soldiers and suppliers in depreciated currency, and promise it would be made good after the war. Indeed, in 1783 the soldiers and officers were given land grants to cover the wages they had earned but had not been paid during the war. Not until 1781, when Robert Morris was named Superintendent of Finance of the United States
Superintendent of Finance of the United States
The post of Superintendent of Finance of the United States was one of three executive offices created by the Congress of the Confederation in 1781. Another office, Agent of the Marine, was also create was not directly filled but devolved on to the Superintendent.The only person to hold the office...

, did the national government have a strong leader in financial matters. Morris used a French loan in 1782 to set up the private Bank of North America to finance the war. Seeking greater efficiency, Morris reduced the civil list, saved money by using competitive bidding for contracts, tightened accounting procedures, and demanded the federal government's full share of money and supplies from the states.

Congress used four main methods to cover the cost of the war, which cost about 66 million dollars in specie (gold and silver). Congress made two issues of paper money, in 1775-1780, and in 1780-81. The first issue amounted to 242 million dollars. This paper money would supposedly be redeemed for state taxes, but the holders were eventually paid off in 1791 at the rate of one cent on the dollar. By 1780, the paper money was "not worth a Continental", as people said, and a second issue of new currency was attempted. The second issue quickly became nearly worthless—but it was redeemed by the new federal government in 1791 at 100 cents on the dollar. At the same time the states, especially Virginia and the Carolinas, issued over 200 million dollars of their own currency. In effect, the paper money was a hidden tax on the people, and indeed was the only method of taxation that was possible at the time. The skyrocketing inflation was a hardship on the few people who had fixed incomes—but 90 percent of the people were farmers, and were not directly affected by that inflation. Debtors benefited by paying off their debts with depreciated paper. The greatest burden was borne by the soldiers of the Continental Army, whose wages—usually in arrears—declined in value every month, weakening their morale and adding to the hardships suffered by their families.

Beginning in 1777, Congress repeatedly asked the states to provide money. But the states had no system of taxation either, and were little help. By 1780 Congress was making requisitions for specific supplies of corn, beef, pork and other necessities—an inefficient system that kept the army barely alive.

Starting in 1776, the Congress sought to raise money by loans from wealthy individuals, promising to redeem the bonds after the war. The bonds were in fact redeemed in 1791 at face value, but the scheme raised little money because Americans had little specie, and many of the rich merchants were supporters of the Crown. Starting in 1776, the French secretly supplied the Americans with money, gunpowder, and munitions in order to weaken its arch enemy, Great Britain. When France officially entered the war in 1778, the subsidies continued, and the French government, as well as bankers in Paris and Amsterdam loaned large sums to the American war effort. These loans were repaid in full in the 1790s.

Creating new state constitutions


Following the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, the Patriots had control of most of Massachusetts; the Loyalists suddenly found themselves on the defensive. In all 13 colonies, Patriots had overthrown their existing governments, closing courts and driving British governors, agents and supporters from their homes. They had elected conventions and "legislatures" that existed outside of any legal framework; new constitutions were used in each state to supersede royal charters. They declared they were states now, not colonies.

On January 5, 1776, New Hampshire
Province of New Hampshire
The Province of New Hampshire is a name first given in 1629 to the territory between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers on the eastern coast of North America. It was formally organized as an English royal colony on October 7, 1691, during the period of English colonization...

 ratified the first state constitution, six months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, in May 1776, Congress voted to suppress all forms of crown authority, to be replaced by locally created authority. Virginia, South Carolina
Province of South Carolina
The South Carolina Colony, or Province of South Carolina, was originally part of the Province of Carolina, which was chartered in 1663. The colony later became the U.S. state of South Carolina....

, and New Jersey created their constitutions before July 4. Rhode Island
Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the original English Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of North America that, after the American Revolution, became the modern U.S...

 and Connecticut
Connecticut Colony
The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut was an English colony located in British America that became the U.S. state of Connecticut. Originally known as the River Colony, it was organized on March 3, 1636 as a haven for Puritan noblemen. After early struggles with the Dutch, the English...

 simply took their existing royal charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

s and deleted all references to the crown.

The new states had to decide not only what form of government to create, they first had to decide how to select those who would craft the constitutions and how the resulting document would be ratified. In states where the wealthy exerted firm control over the process, such as Maryland
Province of Maryland
The Province of Maryland was an English and later British colony in North America that existed from 1632 until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S...

, Virginia, Delaware
Delaware Colony
Delaware Colony in the North American Middle Colonies was a region of the Province of Pennsylvania although never legally a separate colony. From 1682 until 1776 it was part of the Penn proprietorship and was known as the lower counties...

, New York and Massachusetts, the results were constitutions that featured:
  • Substantial property qualifications for voting and even more substantial requirements for elected positions (though New York and Maryland lowered property qualifications);
  • Bicameral legislatures, with the upper house as a check on the lower;
  • Strong governor
    Governor
    A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

    s, with veto power over the legislature and substantial appointment authority;
  • Few or no restraints on individuals holding multiple positions in government;
  • The continuation of state-established religion.


In states where the less affluent had organized sufficiently to have significant power—especially Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New Hampshire—the resulting constitutions embodied
  • universal white manhood suffrage, or minimal property requirements for voting or holding office (New Jersey enfranchised some property owning widows, a step that it retracted 25 years later);
  • strong, unicameral legislatures
    Unicameralism
    In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house...

    ;
  • relatively weak governors, without veto powers, and little appointing authority;
  • prohibition against individuals holding multiple government posts;


Whether conservatives or radicals held sway in a state did not mean that the side with less power accepted the result quietly. The radical provisions of Pennsylvania's constitution lasted only 14 years. In 1790, conservatives gained power in the state legislature, called a new constitutional convention, and rewrote the constitution. The new constitution substantially reduced universal white-male suffrage, gave the governor veto power and patronage appointment authority, and added an upper house with substantial wealth qualifications to the unicameral legislature. Thomas Paine called it a constitution unworthy of America.

Independence and Union



In April the North Carolina Provincial Congress
North Carolina Provincial Congress
The North Carolina Provincial Congresses were extra-legal unicameral legislative bodies formed in 1774 through 1776 by the people of the Province of North Carolina, independent of the British colonial government.-First Provincial Congress:...

 issued the Halifax Resolves
Halifax Resolves
The Halifax Resolves is the name later given to a resolution adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress of the Province of North Carolina on April 12, 1776, during the American Revolution...

, explicitly authorizing its delegates to vote for independence. In May Congress called on all the states to write constitutions, and eliminate the last remnants of royal rule.

By June nine colonies were ready for independence; one by one the last four —Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York — fell into line. Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States...

 was instructed by the Virginia legislature to propose independence, and he did so on June 7, 1776. On the 11th a committee was created to draft a document explaining the justifications for separation from Britain. After securing enough votes for passage, independence was voted for on July 2. The Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and presented by the committee, was slightly revised and unanimously adopted by the entire Congress on July 4, marking the formation of a new sovereign nation, which called itself the United States of America.

The Second Continental Congress approved a new constitution, the "Articles of Confederation," for ratification by the states on November 15, 1777, and immediately began operating under their terms. The Articles were formally ratified on March 1, 1781. At that point, the Continental Congress was dissolved and on the following day a new government of the United States in Congress Assembled
Congress of the Confederation
The Congress of the Confederation or the United States in Congress Assembled was the governing body of the United States of America that existed from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789. It comprised delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states. It was the immediate successor to the Second...

 took its place, with Samuel Huntington
Samuel Huntington (statesman)
Samuel Huntington was a jurist, statesman, and Patriot in the American Revolution from Connecticut. As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation...

 as presiding officer.

British return: 1776–1777


After Washington forced the British out of Boston in spring 1776, neither the British nor the Loyalists controlled any significant areas. The British, however, were massing forces at their naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia. They returned in force in July 1776, landing in New York and defeating Washington's Continental Army at the Battle of Brooklyn in August, one of the largest engagements of the war. After the Battle of Brooklyn, the British requested a meeting with representatives from Congress to negotiate an end to hostilities. A delegation including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin met Howe on Staten Island
Staten Island
Staten Island is a borough of New York City, New York, United States, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay...

 in New York Harbor on September 11, in what became known as the Staten Island Peace Conference
Staten Island Peace Conference
The Staten Island Peace Conference was a brief meeting held in the hope of bringing an end to the American Revolution. The conference took place on September 11, 1776, at Billop Manor, the residence of Colonel Christopher Billop, on Staten Island, New York...

. Howe demanded a retraction of the Declaration of Independence, which was refused, and negotiations ended until 1781. The British then quickly seized New York City and nearly captured General Washington. They made the city their main political and military base of operations in North America, holding it until November 1783
Evacuation Day (New York)
Following the American Revolution, Evacuation Day on November 25 marks the day in 1783 when the last vestige of British authority in the United States — its troops in New York — departed from Manhattan...

. New York City consequently became the destination for Loyalist refugees, and a focal point of Washington's intelligence network
Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War
Intelligence in the American Revolutionary War was essentially monitored and sanctioned by the Continental Congress to provide military intelligence to the Continental Army to aid them in fighting the British during the American Revolutionary War...

. The British also took New Jersey, pushing the Continental Army into Pennsylvania, but in a surprise attack in late December 1776 Washington crossed the Delaware River
Washington's crossing of the Delaware
Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, which occurred on December 25, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey...

 back into New Jersey and defeated Hessian and British armies at Trenton
Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Trenton took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the...

 and Princeton
Battle of Princeton
The Battle of Princeton was a battle in which General George Washington's revolutionary forces defeated British forces near Princeton, New Jersey....

, thereby regaining New Jersey. The victories gave an important boost to pro-independence supporters at a time when morale was flagging, and have become iconic events of the war.

In 1777, as part of a grand strategy to end the war, the British sent an invasion force from Canada to seal off New England, which the British perceived as the primary source of agitators. In a major case of mis-coordination, the British army in New York City went to Philadelphia which it captured from Washington. The invasion army under Burgoyne
John Burgoyne
General John Burgoyne was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762....

 waited in vain for reinforcements from New York, and became trapped in northern New York state. It surrendered after the Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga
The Battles of Saratoga conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence and are generally regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, south of Saratoga, New York...

 in October 1777. From early October 1777 until November 15 a pivotal siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 at Fort Mifflin
Fort Mifflin
Fort Mifflin, originally called Fort Island Battery and also known as Mud Island Fort, was commissioned in 1771 and sits on Mud Island on the Delaware River below Philadelphia, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia International Airport...

, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania distracted British troops and allowed Washington time to preserve the Continental Army by safely leading his troops to harsh winter quarters at Valley Forge
Valley Forge
Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the military camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 in the American Revolutionary War.-History:...

.

American alliances after 1778


The capture of a British army at Saratoga encouraged the French to formally enter the war in support of Congress, as Benjamin Franklin negotiated a permanent military alliance in early 1778, significantly becoming the first country to officially recognize the Declaration of Independence. On February 6, 1778, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance
Treaty of Alliance (1778)
The Treaty of Alliance, also called The Treaty of Alliance with France, was a defensive alliance between France and the United States of America, formed in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, which promised military support in case of attack by British forces indefinitely into the future...

 were signed between the United States and France. William Pitt
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham PC was a British Whig statesman who led Britain during the Seven Years' War...

 spoke out in parliament urging Britain to make peace in America, and unite with America against France, while other British politicians who had previously sympathised with colonial grievances now turned against the American rebels for allying with British international rival and enemy.

Later Spain (in 1779) and the Dutch
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 (1780) became allies of the French, leaving the British Empire to fight a global war alone without major allies, and requiring it to slip through a combined blockade of the Atlantic. The American theater thus became only one front in Britain's war. The British were forced to withdraw troops from continental America to reinforce the valuable sugar-producing Caribbean colonies, which were considered more important.

Because of the alliance with France and the deteriorating military situation, Sir Henry Clinton
Henry Clinton (American War of Independence)
General Sir Henry Clinton KB was a British army officer and politician, best known for his service as a general during the American War of Independence. First arriving in Boston in May 1775, from 1778 to 1782 he was the British Commander-in-Chief in North America...

, the British commander, evacuated Philadelphia to reinforce New York City. General Washington attempted to intercept the retreating column, resulting in the Battle of Monmouth Court House
Battle of Monmouth
The Battle of Monmouth was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on June 28, 1778 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The Continental Army under General George Washington attacked the rear of the British Army column commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton as they left Monmouth Court...

, the last major battle fought in the north. After an inconclusive engagement, the British successfully retreated to New York City. The northern war subsequently became a stalemate, as the focus of attention shifted to the smaller southern theater.

The British move South, 1778–1783


The British strategy in America now concentrated on a campaign in the southern colonies. With fewer regular troops at their disposal, the British commanders saw the "southern strategy" as a more viable plan, as the south was perceived as being more strongly Loyalist, with a large population of recent immigrants as well as large numbers of slaves who might be captured or run away to join the British.

Beginning in late December 1778, the British captured Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 and controlled the Georgia
Province of Georgia
The Province of Georgia was one of the Southern colonies in British America. It was the last of the thirteen original colonies established by Great Britain in what later became the United States...

 coastline. In 1780 they launched a fresh invasion and took Charleston
Siege of Charleston
The Siege of Charleston was one of the major battles which took place towards the end of the American Revolutionary War, after the British began to shift their strategic focus towards the American Southern Colonies. After about six weeks of siege, Continental Army Major General Benjamin Lincoln...

 as well. A significant victory at the Battle of Camden
Battle of Camden
The Battle of Camden was a major victory for the British in the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War...

 meant that royal forces soon controlled most of Georgia and South Carolina. The British set up a network of forts inland, hoping the Loyalists would rally to the flag. Not enough Loyalists turned out, however, and the British had to fight their way north into North Carolina and Virginia, with a severely weakened army. Behind them much of the territory they had already captured dissolved into a chaotic guerrilla war, fought predominantly between bands of Loyalist and American militia, which negated many of the gains the British had previously made.

Yorktown 1781



The southern British army marched to Yorktown, Virginia
Yorktown, Virginia
Yorktown is a census-designated place in York County, Virginia, United States. The population was 220 in the 2000 census. It is the county seat of York County, one of the eight original shires formed in colonial Virginia in 1634....

 where they expected to be rescued by a British fleet which would take them back to New York. When that fleet was defeated by a French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake
Battle of the Chesapeake
The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American War of Independence that took place near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781, between a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas...

, the southern British army became trapped at Yorktown. In October 1781 under a combined siege by the French and Continental armies under Washington, the British, under the command of General Cornwallis, surrendered their second army of the war. Cornwallis refused to attend the surrender ceremonies and sent a subordinate.

The war winds down


Support for the conflict had never been strong in Britain, where many sympathized with the rebels, but now it reached a new low. Although King George III personally wanted to fight on, his supporters lost control of Parliament, and no further major land offensives were launched in the American Theater.

Washington could not know that after Yorktown the British would not reopen hostilities. They still had 26,000 troops occupying New York City, Charleston and Savannah, together with a powerful fleet. The French army and navy departed, so the Americans were on their own in 1782-83. The treasury was empty, and the unpaid soldiers were growing restive, almost to the point of mutiny or possible coup d'état. The unrest among officers of the Newburgh Conspiracy
Newburgh conspiracy
The Newburgh Conspiracy was unrest in 1783 among officers of the American Continental Army due to many officers and men of the Army not receiving pay for many years. Commander-in-Chief George Washington stopped any serious talk by appealing successfully to his officers to support the supremacy of...

 was personally dispelled by Washington in 1783, and Congress subsequently created the promise of a five years bonus for all officers.

Peace treaty


The peace treaty with Britain, known as the Treaty of Paris, gave the U.S. all land east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, though not including Florida (On September 3, 1783, Britain entered into a separate agreement with Spain under which Britain ceded Florida back to Spain.) The British abandoned the Indian allies living in this region; they were not a party to this treaty and did not recognize it until they were defeated militarily by the United States. Issues regarding boundaries and debts were not resolved until the Jay Treaty
Jay Treaty
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution,, and...

 of 1795. Since the blockade was lifted and the old imperial restrictions were gone, American merchants were free to trade with any nation anywhere in the world, and their businesses flourished.

Impact on Britain


Losing the war and the 13 colonies was a shock to Britain. The war revealed the limitations of Britain's fiscal-military state when it discovered it suddenly faced powerful enemies, with no allies, and dependent on extended and vulnerable transatlantic lines of communication. The defeat heightened dissension and escalated political antagonism to the King's ministers. Inside parliament, the primary concern changed from fears of an over-mighty monarch to the issues of representation, parliamentary reform, and government retrenchment. Reformers sought to destroy what they saw as widespread institutional corruption. The result was a powerful crisis, 1776-1783. The peace in 1783 left France financially prostrate, while the British economy boomed thanks to the return of American business. The crisis ended after 1784 thanks to the King's shrewdness in outwitting Charles James Fox
Charles James Fox
Charles James Fox PC , styled The Honourable from 1762, was a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned thirty-eight years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and who was particularly noted for being the arch-rival of William Pitt the Younger...

 (the leader of the Fox-North Coalition
Fox-North Coalition
The Fox-North Coalition was a government in Great Britain that held office during 1783. As the name suggests, the ministry was a coalition of the groups supporting Charles James Fox and Lord North...

), and renewed confidence in the system engendered by the leadership of the new Prime Minister, William Pitt
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

. Historians conclude that loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 with more unity and better organization than would otherwise have been the case.

Concluding the Revolution


Creating a "more perfect union" and guaranteeing rights


After the war finally ended in 1783, there was a period of prosperity, with the entire world at peace. The national government, still operating under the Articles of Confederation, was able to settle the issue of the western territories, which were ceded by the states to Congress. American settlers moved rapidly into those areas, with Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee becoming states in the 1790s. However, the national government had no money to pay either the war debts owed to European nations, the private banks, or to Americans who had been given millions of dollars of promissory notes for supplies during the war. Nationalists, led by Washington, Alexander Hamilton and other veterans, feared that the new nation was too fragile to withstand an international war, or even internal revolts such as the Shays' Rebellion
Shays' Rebellion
Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising in central and western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebellion is named after Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War....

 of 1786 in Massachusetts.

Calling themselves "Federalists," the nationalists convinced Congress to call the Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

 in 1787. It adopted a new Constitution that provided for a much stronger federal government, including an effective executive in a check-and-balance
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 system with the judiciary and legislature. After a fierce debate in the states over the nature of the proposed new government, the Constitution was ratified in 1788. The new government under President George Washington took office in New York in March 1789. As assurances to those who were cautious about federal power, amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing many of the inalienable rights that formed a foundation for the revolution were spearheaded in Congress by James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

, and later ratified by the states in 1791.

National debt


The national debt after the American Revolution fell into three categories. The first was the $12 million owed to foreigners—mostly money borrowed from France. There was general agreement to pay the foreign debts at full value. The national government owed $40 million and state governments owed $25 million to Americans who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the revolutionary forces. There were also other debts that consisted of promissory note
Promissory note
A promissory note is a negotiable instrument, wherein one party makes an unconditional promise in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other , either at a fixed or determinable future time or on demand of the payee, under specific terms.Referred to as a note payable in accounting, or...

s issued during the Revolutionary War to soldiers, merchants, and farmers who accepted these payments on the premise that the new Constitution would create a government that would pay these debts eventually.

The war expenses of the individual states added up to $114 million compared to $37 million by the central government. In 1790, at the recommendation of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Congress combined the remaining state debts with the foreign and domestic debts into one national debt totaling $80 million. Everyone received face value for wartime certificates, so that the national honor would be sustained and the national credit established.

Loyalist expatriation


About 60,000 to 70,000 Loyalists left the newly founded republic; some left for Britain and the remainder, called United Empire Loyalists
United Empire Loyalists
The name United Empire Loyalists is an honorific given after the fact to those American Loyalists who resettled in British North America and other British Colonies as an act of fealty to King George III after the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War and prior to the Treaty of Paris...

 received British subsidies to resettle in British colonies in North America, especially Quebec
Province of Quebec (1763-1791)
The Province of Quebec was a colony in North America created by Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. Great Britain acquired Canada by the Treaty of Paris when King Louis XV of France and his advisors chose to keep the territory of Guadeloupe for its valuable sugar crops instead of New France...

 (concentrating in the Eastern Townships
Eastern Townships
The Eastern Townships is a tourist region and a former administrative region in south-eastern Quebec, lying between the former seigneuries south of the Saint Lawrence River and the United States border. Its northern boundary roughly followed Logan's Line, the geologic boundary between the flat,...

), Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

, and Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. The new colonies of Upper Canada (now Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

) and New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 were created by Britain for their benefit. However, about 80% of the Loyalists stayed and became loyal citizens of the United States, and some of the exiles later returned to the U.S.

Interpretations


Interpretations about the effect of the Revolution vary. Though contemporary participants referred to the events as "the revolution", at one end of the spectrum is the view that the American Revolution was not "revolutionary" at all, contending that it did not radically transform colonial society but simply replaced a distant government with a local one. More recent scholarship pioneered by historians such as Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn
Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice . In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected...

, Gordon Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

, and Edmund Morgan
Edmund Morgan
Edmund Sears Morgan , an eminent authority on early American history, is Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University, where he taught from 1955 to 1986.-Life:...

 accepts the contemporary view of the participants that the American Revolution was a unique and radical event that produced deep changes and had a profound impact on world affairs, based on an increasing belief in the principles of the Enlightenment as reflected in how liberalism was understood during the period, and republicanism. These were demonstrated by a leadership and government that espoused protection of natural rights, and a system of laws chosen by the people.

As an example or inspiration


After the Revolution, genuinely democratic politics became possible. The rights of the people were incorporated into state constitutions. Thus came the widespread assertion of liberty, individual rights, equality and hostility toward corruption which would prove core values of liberal republicanism to Americans. The greatest challenge to the old order in Europe was the challenge to inherited political power and the democratic idea that government rests on the consent of the governed
Consent of the governed
"Consent of the governed" is a phrase synonymous with a political theory wherein a government's legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when derived from the people or society over which that political power is exercised...

. The example of the first successful revolution against a European empire, and the first successful establishment of a republican form of democratically
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 elected government, provided a model for many other colonial peoples who realized that they too could break away and become self-governing nations with directly elected
Direct election
Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the...

 representative government.

The Dutch Republic, also at war with Britain at that time, was the next country after France to sign a treaty with the United States, on October 8, 1782. On April 3, 1783, Ambassador Extraordinary Gustaf Philip Creutz
Gustaf Philip Creutz
Count Gustaf Philip Creutz , was a Swedish statesman, diplomat and poet. He was born in Finland and after concluding his studies at the Royal Academy of Turku he received a post in the Privy Council Chancery at Stockholm in 1751. Here he met Count Gyllenborg, with whom his name is indissolubly...

, representing King Gustav III of Sweden
Gustav III of Sweden
Gustav III was King of Sweden from 1771 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Adolph Frederick and Queen Louise Ulrica of Sweden, she a sister of Frederick the Great of Prussia....

, and Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America
United States Ambassador to France
This article is about the United States Ambassador to France. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution. The United States sent its first envoys to France in 1776, towards the end of the four-centuries-old Bourbon dynasty...

, signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce
Treaty of Amity and Commerce (USA–Sweden)
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and Sweden, was a treaty signed on April 3, 1783 in Paris, France between the United States and Sweden...

 with the U.S.

The American Revolution was the first wave of the Atlantic Revolutions
Atlantic Revolutions
"Atlantic Revolutions" is a cover term for a wave of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century revolutions associated with Atlantic history during the The Age of Enlightenment.* Corsican Revolution * American Revolution...

 that took hold in the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

, and the Latin American wars of independence. Aftershocks reached Ireland in the Irish Rebellion of 1798
Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 , also known as the United Irishmen Rebellion , was an uprising in 1798, lasting several months, against British rule in Ireland...

, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, and in the Netherlands.

The Revolution had a strong, immediate impact in Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and France. Many British and Irish Whigs
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 spoke in favor of the American cause. The Revolution, along with the Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

 (end of the 16th century) and the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 (in the 17th century), was one of the first lessons in overthrowing an old regime for many Europeans who later were active during the era of the French Revolution, such as Marquis de Lafayette. The American Declaration of Independence had some impact on the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789.
The spirit of the Declaration of Independence led to laws ending slavery in all the Northern states and the Northwest Territory, with New Jersey the last in 1804—long before the British Parliament acted in 1833 to abolish slavery in its colonies.

See also

  • Diplomacy in the American Revolutionary War
    Diplomacy in the American Revolutionary War
    Diplomacy in the Revolutionary War had an important impact on the Revolution, as the United States evolved an independent foreign policy.-Colonial Diplomacy:Before the Revolutionary war, extra-colonial relations were handled in London....

  • Founding Fathers of the United States
    Founding Fathers of the United States
    The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

  • List of plays and films about the American Revolution
  • Second American Revolution
    Second American Revolution
    The first American Revolution spanned from 1775 to 1783, after which the United States received recognition of independence by and from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

  • Timeline of the American Revolution
    Timeline of the American Revolution
    The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free of the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America....


Reference works

  • Barnes, Ian, and Charles Royster. The Historical Atlas of the American Revolution (2000), maps and commentary excerpt and text search
  • Cappon, Lester J. Atlas of Early American History: The Revolutionary Era, 1760-1790 (1976)
  • Fremont-Barnes, Gregory, and Richard A. Ryerson, eds. The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War: A Political, Social, and Military History (5 vol. 2006) 1000 entries by 150 experts, covering all topics
  • Greene, Jack P. and J. R. Pole, eds. A Companion to the American Revolution (2004), 777pp an expanded edition of Greene and Pole, eds. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (1994); comprehensive coverage of political and social themes and international dimension; thin on military
  • Purcell, L. Edward. Who Was Who in the American Revolution (1993); 1500 short biographies
  • Resch, John P., ed. Americans at War: Society, Culture and the Homefront vol 1 (2005), articles by scholars
  • Symonds, Craig L. and William J. Clipson. A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution (1986) new diagrams of each battle

Surveys of the era

  • Axelrod, Alan. The Real History of the American Revolution: A New Look at the Past (2009), well-illustrated popular history
  • Bancroft, George. History of the United States of America, from the discovery of the American continent. (1854–78), vol 4–10 online edition, classic 19th century narrative; highly detailed
  • Black, Jeremy. War for America: The Fight for Independence 1775-1783 (2001) 266pp; by leading British scholar
  • Brown, Richard D., and Thomas Paterson, eds. Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, 1760-1791: Documents and Essays (2nd ed. 1999)
  • Cogliano, Francis D. Revolutionary America, 1763–1815; A Political History (2nd ed. 2008), British textbook
  • Ellis, Joseph J. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Higginbotham, Don. The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763–1789 (1983) Online in ACLS Humanities E-book Project; comprehensive coverage of military and domestic aspects of the war.
  • Jensen, Merrill. The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution 1763–1776. (2004)
  • Knollenberg, Bernhard. Growth of the American Revolution: 1766–1775 (2003)
  • Lecky, William Edward Hartpole. The American Revolution, 1763–1783 (1898), older British perspective online edition
  • Mackesy, Piers. The War for America: 1775–1783 (1992), British military study online edition
  • Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (Oxford History of the United states, 2005). online edition
  • Miller, John C. Triumph of Freedom, 1775–1783 (1948) online edition
  • Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution (1943) online edition, to 1775
  • Rakove, Jack N. Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America (2010) interpretation by leading scholar excerpt and text search
  • Weintraub, Stanley. Iron Tears: Rebellion in America 1775–83 (2005) excerpt and text search, popular
  • Wood, Gordon S. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (2007)
  • Wrong, George M. Washington and His Comrades in Arms: A Chronicle of the War of Independence (1921) online] short survey by Canadian scholar online

Specialized studies

  • Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. (Harvard University Press, 1967). ISBN 0-674-44301-2
  • Becker, Carl. The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas (1922)online edition, famous classic
  • Becker, Frank: The American Revolution as a European Media Event, European History Online
    European History Online
    European History Online is an academic website that publishes articles on the history of Europe between the period of 1450 and 1950 according to the principle of open access. EGO is issued by the Institute of European History in Mainz in cooperation with the Center for Digital Humanities in Trier ...

    , Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: October 25, 2011.
  • Berkin, Carol.Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence (2006)
  • Breen, T. H. The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (2005)
  • Breen, T. H. American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People (2010) 337 pages; examines rebellions in 1774-76 including loosely organized militants took control before elected safety committees emerged.
  • Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life (2010) detailed biography
  • Crow, Jeffrey J. and Larry E. Tise, eds. The Southern Experience in the American Revolution (1978)
  • Fischer, David Hackett. Paul Revere's Ride (1995), Minutemen in 1775
  • Fischer, David Hackett. Washington's Crossing (2004). 1776 campaigns; Pulitzer prize. ISBN 0-195-17034-2
  • Freeman, Douglas Southall. Washington (1968) Pulitzer Prize; abridged version of 7 vol biography
  • Kerber, Linda K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (1979)
  • Kidd, Thomas S. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (2010)
  • McCullough, David. 1776 (2005). ISBN 0-7432-2671-2; highly readable narrative of the year
  • Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1998) excerpt and text search
  • Nash, Gary B. The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America. (2005). ISBN 0-670-03420-7
  • Nevins, Allan; The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775–1789 1927. online edition
  • Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800 (1980)
  • Palmer, Robert R. The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760–1800. vol 1 (1959) online edition
  • Resch, John Phillips and Walter Sargent, eds. War and Society in the American Revolution: Mobilization and Home Fronts (2006)
  • Rothbard, Murray
    Murray Rothbard
    Murray Newton Rothbard was an American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define capitalist libertarianism and popularized a form of free-market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism." Rothbard wrote over twenty books and is considered a centrally important figure in the...

    , Conceived in Liberty
    Conceived in Liberty
    Conceived in Liberty, authored by Murray Rothbard, is a 4-volume set covering the complete history of the United States from the pre-colonial period through the American Revolution.- Brief summary :...

    (2000), Volume III: Advance to Revolution, 1760–1775 and Volume IV: The Revolutionary War, 1775–1784. ISBN 0-945466-26-9, libertarian perspective
  • Schecter, Barnet. The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. (2002). ISBN 0-8027-1374-2
  • Van Tyne, Claude Halstead. American Loyalists: The Loyalists in the American Revolution (1902) online edition
  • Volo, James M. and Dorothy Denneen Volo. Daily Life during the American Revolution (2003)
  • Wahlke, John C. ed. The Causes of the American Revolution (1967) readings
  • Wood, Gordon S. The Radicalism of the American Revolution: How a Revolution Transformed a Monarchical Society into a Democratic One Unlike Any That Had Ever Existed. (1992), by a leading scholar

Primary sources

  • The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence (2001), Library of America, 880pp
  • Commager, Henry Steele and Morris, Richard B., eds. The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution As Told by Participants (1975) (ISBN 0-06-010834-7) short excerpts from hundreds of official and unofficial primary sources
  • Dann, John C., ed. The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence (1999) excerpt and text search, recollections by ordinary soldiers
  • Humphrey, Carol Sue ed. The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800 (2003), 384pp; newspaper accounts excerpt and text search
  • Jensen, Merill, ed. Tracts of the American Revolution, 1763-1776 (1967). American pamphlets
  • Jensen, Merill, ed. English Historical Documents: American Colonial Documents to 1776: Volume 9 (1955), 890pp; major collection of important documents
  • Morison, Samuel E. ed. Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764–1788, and the Formation of the Federal Constitution (1923). 370 pp online version
  • Tansill, Charles C. ed.; Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Govt. Print. Office. (1927). 1124 pages online version
  • Martin Kallich and Andrew MacLeish, eds. The American Revolution through British eyes (1962) primary documents

External links