The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.
Members of American colonial society argued the position of "no taxation without representation", starting with the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. They rejected the authority of the British Parliament to tax them because they lacked members in that governing body. Protests steadily escalated to the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the burning of the Gaspee in Rhode Island in 1772, followed by the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, during which Patriots destroyed a consignment of taxed tea. The British responded by closing Boston Harbor, then followed with a series of legislative acts which effectively rescinded Massachusetts Bay Colony's rights of self-government and caused the other colonies to rally behind Massachusetts. In late 1774, the Patriots set up their own alternative government to better coordinate their resistance efforts against Great Britain; other colonists preferred to remain aligned to the Crown and were known as Loyalists or Tories.
Tensions erupted into battle between Patriot militia and British regulars when the king's army attempted to capture and destroy Colonial military supplies at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The conflict then developed into a global war, during which the Patriots (and later their French, Spanish, and Dutch allies) fought the British and Loyalists in what became known as the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Each of the thirteen colonies formed a Provincial Congress that assumed power from the old colonial governments and suppressed Loyalism, and from there they built a Continental Army under the leadership of General George Washington. The Continental Congress determined King George's rule to be tyrannical and infringing the colonists' rights as Englishmen, and they declared the colonies free and independent states on July 2, 1776. The Patriot leadership professed the political philosophies of liberalism and republicanism to reject monarchy and aristocracy, and they proclaimed that all men are created equal.
The Continental Army forced the redcoats out of Boston in March 1776, but that summer the British captured and held New York City and its strategic harbor for the duration of the war. The Royal Navy blockaded ports and captured other cities for brief periods, but they failed to defeat Washington's forces. The Patriots unsuccessfully attempted to invade Canada during the winter of 1775–76, but successfully captured a British army at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. France now entered the war as an ally of the United States with a large army and navy that threatened Britain itself. The war turned to the American South where the British under the leadership of Charles Cornwallis captured an army at Charleston, South Carolina in early 1780 but failed to enlist enough volunteers from Loyalist civilians to take effective control of the territory. A combined American–French force captured a second British army at Yorktown in the fall of 1781, effectively ending the war. The Treaty of Paris was signed September 3, 1783, formally ending the conflict and confirming the new nation's complete separation from the British Empire. The United States took possession of nearly all the territory east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, with the British retaining control of Canada and Spain taking Florida.
Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of the United States Constitution, establishing a relatively strong federal national government that included an executive, a national judiciary, and a bicameral Congress that represented states in the Senate and the population in the House of Representatives. The Revolution also resulted in the migration of around 60,000 Loyalists to other British territories, especially British North America (Canada).
|Participants||Colonists in British America|
As early as 1651, the English government had sought to regulate trade in the American colonies. On October 9, the Navigation Acts were passed pursuant to a mercantilist policy intended to ensure that trade enriched only Great Britain, and barring trade with foreign nations. Some argue that the economic impact was minimal on the colonists, but the political friction which the acts triggered was more serious, as the merchants most directly affected were most politically active. King Philip's War ended in 1678, and much of it was fought without significant assistance from England. This contributed to the development of a unique identity, separate from that of the British people.
In the 1680s, King Charles II determined to bring the New England colonies under a more centralized administration in order to regulate trade more effectively. His efforts were fiercely opposed by the colonists, resulting in the abrogation of their colonial charter by the Crown. Charles' successor James II finalized these efforts in 1686, establishing the Dominion of New England. Dominion rule triggered bitter resentment throughout New England; the enforcement of the unpopular Navigation Acts and the curtailing of local democracy angered the colonists. New Englanders were encouraged, however, by a change of government in England that saw James II effectively abdicate, and a populist uprising overthrew Dominion rule on April 18, 1689. Colonial governments reasserted their control in the wake of the revolt, and successive governments made no more attempts to restore the Dominion.
Subsequent English governments continued in their efforts to tax certain goods, passing acts regulating the trade of wool, hats, and molasses. The Molasses Act of 1733 in particular was egregious to the colonists, as a significant part of colonial trade relied on the product. The taxes severely damaged the New England economy, and the taxes were rarely paid, resulting in a surge of smuggling, bribery, and intimidation of customs officials. Colonial wars fought in America were often the source of considerable tension. The British captured the fortress of Louisbourg during the War of the Austrian Succession, but then ceded it back to France in 1748. New England colonists resented their losses of lives, as well as the effort and expenditure involved in subduing the fortress, only to have it returned to their erstwhile enemy.
Historians typically begin their histories of the American Revolution with the British coalition victory in the Seven Years' War in 1763. The North American theater of the Seven Years' War is commonly known as the French and Indian War in the United States; it removed France as a major player in North American affairs and led to the territory of New France being ceded to Great Britain. Lawrence Henry Gipson writes:
It may be said as truly that the American Revolution was an aftermath of the Anglo-French conflict in the New World carried on between 1754 and 1763.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 may also have played a role in the separation of the Thirteen Colonies from England, as colonists wanted to continue migrating west to lands awarded by the Crown for their wartime service. The Proclamation, however, cut them off. The lands west of Quebec and west of a line running along the crest of the Allegheny Mountains became Indian territory, barred to settlement for two years.
The colonists protested, and the boundary line was adjusted in a series of treaties with the Indians. In 1768, Indians agreed to the Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the Treaty of Hard Labour, followed in 1770 by the Treaty of Lochaber. The treaties opened most of Kentucky and West Virginia to colonial settlement. The new map was drawn up at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 which moved the line much farther to the west, from the green line to the red line on the map at right.
In 1764, Parliament passed the Currency Act to restrain the use of paper money, fearing that otherwise the colonists might evade debt payments. Parliament also passed the Sugar Act, imposing customs duties on a number of articles. That same year, Prime Minister George Grenville proposed direct taxes on the colonies to raise revenue, but he delayed action to see whether the colonies would propose some way to raise the revenue themselves. Parliament finally passed the Stamp Act in March 1765 which imposed direct taxes on the colonies for the first time. All official documents, newspapers, almanacs, and pamphlets were required to have the stamps—even decks of playing cards.
The colonists did not object that the taxes were high; they were actually low. They objected to the fact that they had no representation in the Parliament, and thus no voice concerning legislation that affected them. Benjamin Franklin testified in Parliament in 1766 that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire. He said that local governments had raised, outfitted, and paid 25,000 soldiers to fight France—as many as Britain itself sent—and spent many millions from American treasuries doing so in the French and Indian War alone. London had to deal with 1,500 politically well-connected British Army soldiers. The decision was to keep them on active duty with full pay, but they had to be stationed somewhere. Stationing a standing army in Great Britain during peacetime was politically unacceptable, so the decision was made to station them in America and have the Americans pay them. The soldiers had no military mission; they were not there to defend the colonies because there was no threat to the colonies.
The Sons of Liberty were formed in 1765. They used public demonstrations, boycott, violence, and threats of violence to ensure that the British tax laws were unenforceable. In Boston, the Sons of Liberty burned the records of the vice admiralty court and looted the home of chief justice Thomas Hutchinson. Several legislatures called for united action, and nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in New York City in October 1765. Moderates led by John Dickinson drew up a "Declaration of Rights and Grievances" stating that taxes passed without representation violated their rights as Englishmen. Colonists emphasized their determination by boycotting imports of British merchandise.
The Parliament at Westminster saw itself as the supreme lawmaking authority throughout all British possessions and thus entitled to levy any tax without colonial approval. They argued that the colonies were legally British corporations that were completely subordinate to the British parliament and pointed to numerous instances where Parliament had made laws binding on the colonies in the past. They did not see anything in the unwritten British constitution that made taxes special and noted that they had taxed American trade for decades. Parliament insisted that the colonies effectively enjoyed a "virtual representation" as most British people did, as only a small minority of the British population elected representatives to Parliament. Americans such as James Otis maintained that the Americans were not in fact virtually represented.
In London, the Rockingham government came to power (July 1765) and Parliament debated whether to repeal the stamp tax or to send an army to enforce it. Benjamin Franklin made the case for repeal, explaining that 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 (February 21, 1766), but insisted in the Declaratory Act of March 1766 that they retained full power to make laws for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever". The repeal nonetheless caused widespread celebrations in the colonies.
In 1767, the Parliament passed the Townshend Acts which placed duties on a number of essential goods, including paper, glass, and tea, and established a Board of Customs in Boston to more rigorously execute trade regulations. The new taxes were enacted on the belief that Americans only objected to internal taxes and not to external taxes such as custom duties. The Americans, however, argued against the constitutionality of the act because its purpose was to raise revenue and not regulate trade. Colonists responded by organizing new boycotts of British goods. These boycotts were less effective, however, as the Townshend goods were widely used.
In February 1768, the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay issued a circular letter to the other colonies urging them to coordinate resistance. The governor dissolved the assembly when it refused to rescind the letter. Meanwhile, a riot broke out in Boston in June 1768 over the seizure of the sloop Liberty, owned by John Hancock, for alleged smuggling. Customs officials were forced to flee, prompting the British to deploy troops to Boston. A Boston town meeting declared that no obedience was due to parliamentary laws and called for the convening of a convention. A convention assembled but only issued a mild protest before dissolving itself. In January 1769, Parliament responded to the unrest by reactivating the Treason Act 1543 which called for subjects outside the realm to face trials for treason in England. The governor of Massachusetts was instructed to collect evidence of said treason, and the threat caused widespread outrage, though it was not carried out.
On March 5, 1770, a large crowd gathered around a group of British soldiers. The crowd grew threatening, throwing snowballs, rocks, and debris at them. One soldier was clubbed and fell. There was no order to fire, but the soldiers fired into the crowd anyway. They hit 11 people; three civilians died at the scene of the shooting, and two died after the incident. The event quickly came to be called the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were tried and acquitted (defended by John Adams), but the widespread descriptions soon began to turn colonial sentiment against the British. This, in turn, began a downward spiral in the relationship between Britain and the Province of Massachusetts.
A new ministry under Lord North came to power in 1770, and Parliament withdrew all taxes except the tax on tea, giving up its efforts to raise revenue while maintaining the right to tax. This temporarily resolved the crisis, and the boycott of British goods largely ceased, with only the more radical patriots such as Samuel Adams continuing to agitate.
In June 1772, American patriots, including John Brown, burned a British warship that had been vigorously enforcing unpopular trade regulations in what became known as the Gaspee Affair. The affair was investigated for possible treason, but no action was taken.
In 1772, it became known that the Crown intended to pay fixed salaries to the governors and judges in Massachusetts. 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. Virginia, the largest colony, set up its Committee of Correspondence in early 1773, 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. 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.
In 1773, private letters were published in which Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson claimed that the colonists could not enjoy all English liberties, and Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver called for the direct payment of colonial officials. The letters' contents were used as evidence of a systematic plot against American rights, and discredited Hutchinson in the eyes of the people; the Assembly petitioned for his recall. Benjamin Franklin, postmaster general for the colonies, acknowledged that he leaked the letters, which led to him being berated by British officials and fired from his job.
Meanwhile, Parliament passed the Tea Act to lower the price of taxed tea exported to the colonies in order to help the East India Company undersell smuggled Dutch tea. Special consignees were appointed to sell the tea in order to bypass colonial merchants. The act was opposed by those who resisted the taxes and also by smugglers who stood to lose business. In most instances, the consignees were forced to resign and the tea was turned back, but Massachusetts governor Hutchinson refused to allow Boston merchants to give in to pressure. A town meeting in Boston determined that the tea would not be landed, and ignored a demand from the governor to disperse. On December 16, 1773, a group of men, led by Samuel Adams and dressed to evoke the appearance of American Indians, boarded the ships of the British East India Company and dumped £10,000 worth of tea from their holds (approximately £636,000 in 2008) into Boston Harbor. Decades later, this event became known as the Boston Tea Party and remains a significant part of American patriotic lore.
The British government responded by passing several Acts which came to be known as the Intolerable Acts, 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 which altered the Massachusetts charter and restricted town meetings. The second act was the Administration of Justice Act which 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, which closed the port of Boston until the British had been compensated for the tea lost in the Boston Tea Party. The fourth Act was the Quartering Act of 1774, which allowed royal governors to house British troops in the homes of citizens without requiring permission of the owner.
In response, Massachusetts patriots issued the Suffolk Resolves and formed an alternative shadow government known as the "Provincial Congress" which began training militia outside British-occupied Boston. In September 1774, the First Continental Congress convened, consisting of representatives from each of the colonies, to serve as a vehicle for deliberation and collective action. During secret debates, conservative Joseph Galloway proposed the creation of a colonial Parliament that would be able to approve or disapprove of acts of the British Parliament, but his idea was not accepted. The Congress instead endorsed the proposal of John Adams that Americans would obey Parliament voluntarily but would resist all taxes in disguise. Congress called for a boycott beginning on 1 December 1774 of all British goods; it was enforced by new committees authorized by the Congress.
Massachusetts was declared in a state of rebellion in February 1775 and the British garrison received orders to disarm the rebels and arrest their leaders, leading to the Battles of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775. The Patriots laid siege to Boston, expelled royal officials from all the colonies, and took control through the establishment of Provincial Congresses. The Battle of Bunker Hill followed on June 17, 1775. It was a British victory—but 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 was divided on the best course of action, but eventually produced the Olive Branch Petition, in which they attempted to come to an accord with King George. The king, however, issued a Proclamation of Rebellion which stated that the states were "in rebellion" and the members of Congress were traitors.
The war that arose was in some ways a classic insurgency. As Benjamin Franklin wrote to Joseph Priestley in October 1775: "Britain, at the expense of three millions, has killed 150 Yankees this campaign, which is £20,000 a head... During the same time, 60,000 children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and expense necessary to kill us all.".
In the winter of 1775, the Americans invaded Canada under generals Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery. The attack was a complete failure; many Americans who weren't killed were either captured or died of smallpox.
In March 1776, the Continental Army forced the British to evacuate Boston, with George Washington as the commander of the new army. The revolutionaries were now in full control of all 13 colonies and were ready to declare independence. There still were many Loyalists, but they were no longer in control anywhere by July 1776, and all of the Royal officials had fled.
Following the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, the Patriots had control of Massachusetts outside the Boston city limits, and the Loyalists suddenly found themselves on the defensive with no protection from the British army. In all 13 colonies, Patriots had overthrown their existing governments, closing courts and driving away British officials. They had elected conventions and "legislatures" that existed outside any legal framework; new constitutions were drawn up in each state to supersede royal charters. They declared that they were states now, not colonies.
On January 5, 1776, New Hampshire ratified the first state constitution. In May 1776, Congress voted to suppress all forms of crown authority, to be replaced by locally created authority. Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey created their constitutions before July 4. Rhode Island and Connecticut simply took their existing royal charters and deleted all references to the crown. The new states were all committed to republicanism, with no inherited offices. They decided what form of government to create, and also how to select those who would craft the constitutions and how the resulting document would be ratified. On 26 May 1776, John Adams wrote James Sullivan from Philadelphia:
"Depend upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation, as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters. There will be no end of it. New claims will arise. Women will demand a vote. Lads from twelve to twenty one will think their rights not enough attended to, and every man, who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks, to one common level".
In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New Hampshire, the resulting constitutions embodied:
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 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.
In April 1776, the North Carolina Provincial Congress issued the Halifax Resolves 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 fell into line: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. Richard Henry Lee was instructed by the Virginia legislature to propose independence, and he did so on June 7, 1776. On June 11, 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 was drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson and presented by the committee; it was unanimously adopted by the entire Congress on July 4, and each of the colonies became independent and autonomous. The next step was to form a union to facilitate international relations and alliances.
The Second Continental Congress approved the "Articles of Confederation" for ratification by the states on November 15, 1777; the Congress immediately began operating under the Articles' terms, providing a structure of shared sovereignty during prosecution of the war and facilitating international relations and alliances with France and Spain. The articles were ratified on March 1, 1781. At that point, the Continental Congress was dissolved and a new government of the United States in Congress Assembled took its place on the following day, with Samuel Huntington as presiding officer.
According to British historian Jeremy Black, the British had significant advantages, including a highly trained army, the world's largest navy, and a highly efficient system of public finance that could easily fund the war. However, the British were seriously handicapped by their misunderstanding of the depth of support for the Patriot position. Ignoring the advice of General Gage, they misinterpreted the situation as merely a large-scale riot. London decided that they could overawe the Americans by sending a large military and naval force, forcing them to be loyal again:
Convinced that the Revolution was the work of a full few miscreants who had rallied an armed rabble to their cause, they expected that the revolutionaries would be intimidated.... Then the vast majority of Americans, who were loyal but cowed by the terroristic tactics... would rise up, kick out the rebels, and restore loyal government in each colony.
Washington forced the British out of Boston in the spring of 1776, and 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 in August at the Battle of Brooklyn. Following that victory, the British requested a meeting with representatives from Congress to negotiate an end to hostilities.
A delegation including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin met British admiral Richard Howe on Staten Island in New York Harbor on September 11, in what became known as the Staten Island Peace Conference. Howe demanded a retraction of the Declaration of Independence, which was refused, and negotiations ended. The British then quickly seized New York City and nearly captured Washington's army. They made New York their main political and military base of operations in North America, holding it until November 1783. The city became the destination for Loyalist refugees and a focal point of Washington's intelligence network.
The British also took New Jersey, pushing the Continental Army into Pennsylvania. Washington crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey in a surprise attack in late December 1776 and defeated Hessian and British armies at Trenton and Princeton, thereby regaining control of most of New Jersey. The victories gave an important boost to Patriots at a time when morale was flagging, and have become iconic events of the war.
In 1777, the British sent Burgoyne's invasion force from Canada south to New York to seal off New England. Their aim was to neutralize the Yankees, whom the British perceived as the primary source of agitators. The British army in New York City went to Philadelphia in a major case of mis-coordination, capturing it from Washington. The invasion army under Burgoyne was much too slow and became trapped in northern New York state. It surrendered after the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777. From early October 1777 until November 15, a siege distracted British troops at Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and allowed Washington time to preserve the Continental Army by safely leading his troops to harsh winter quarters at Valley Forge.
In August 1775, George III declared Americans in arms against royal authority to be traitors to the Crown. Following their surrender at the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777, there were thousands of British and Hessian soldiers in American hands. Although Lord Germain took a hard line, the British generals on the scene never held treason trials; they treated captured enemy soldiers as prisoners of war. 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, and therefore, no Americans were put on trial for treason. The British maltreated the prisoners whom they held, resulting in more deaths to American sailors and soldiers than from combat operations. At the end of the war, both sides released their surviving prisoners.
The capture of a British army at Saratoga encouraged the French to formally enter the war in support of Congress. 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 were signed between the United States and France. William Pitt spoke out in parliament urging Britain to make peace in America and to unite with America against France, while other British politicians who had previously sympathized with colonial grievances now turned against the Americans for allying with Britain's international rival and enemy.
Later, Spain (in 1779) and the Dutch (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 more lucrative to British investors.
British commander Sir Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia and returned to New York City. General Washington intercepted Clinton in the Battle of Monmouth Court House, 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 strategy in America now concentrated on a campaign in the southern states. 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 and controlled the Georgia coastline. In 1780, they launched a fresh invasion and took Charleston, as well. A significant victory at the Battle of Camden meant that royal forces soon controlled most of Georgia and South Carolina. The British set up a network of forts inland, hoping that 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 that 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 that the British had previously made.
The British army under Cornwallis marched to Yorktown, Virginia where they expected to be rescued by a British fleet. The fleet showed up, but so did a larger French fleet, so the British fleet returned to New York for reinforcements after the Battle of the Chesapeake, leaving Cornwallis trapped. In October 1781, the British surrendered their second invading army of the war, under a siege by the combined French and Continental armies commanded by Washington.
Historians continue to debate whether the odds for American victory were long or short. John E. Ferling says that the odds were so long that the American victory was "almost a miracle". On the other hand, Joseph Ellis says that the odds favored the Americans, and asks whether there ever was any realistic chance for the British to win. He argues that this opportunity came only once, in the summer of 1776, and the British failed that test. Admiral Howe and his brother General Howe "missed several opportunities to destroy the Continental Army.... Chance, luck, and even the vagaries of the weather played crucial roles." Ellis's point is that the strategic and tactical decisions of the Howes were fatally flawed because they underestimated the challenges posed by the Patriots. Ellis concludes that, once the Howe brothers failed, the opportunity for a British victory "would never come again."
Support for the conflict had never been strong in Britain, where many sympathized with the Americans, but now it reached a new low. King George III personally wanted to fight on, but his supporters lost control of Parliament and no further major land offensives were launched in the American Theater. It would be three decades until war resumed again with the War of 1812, which firmly established the permanence of the United States.
Washington could not know that the British would not reopen hostilities after Yorktown. 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 was personally dispelled by Washington in 1783, and Congress subsequently created the promise of a five years bonus for all officers.
During negotiations in Paris, the American delegation discovered that France would support independence, but no territorial gains. The new nation would be confined to the area east of the Appalachian Mountains. The American delegation opened direct secret negotiations with London, cutting the French out. British Prime Minister Lord Shelburne was in full charge of the British negotiations. He now saw a chance to make the United States a valuable economic partner. The US obtained all the land east of the Mississippi River, south of Canada, and north of Florida. It gained fishing rights off Canadian coasts, and agreed to allow British merchants and Loyalists to try to recover their property. It was a highly favorable treaty for the United States, and deliberately so from the British point of view. Prime Minister Shelburne foresaw highly profitable two-way trade between Britain and the rapidly growing United States, as indeed came to pass. 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.
The British largely abandoned the Indian allies living in the new nation. They were not a party to this treaty and did not recognize it until they were defeated militarily by the United States. However, the British did promise to support the Indians. They sold them munitions and maintained forts in American territory until the Jay Treaty of 1795.
Losing the war and the Thirteen Colonies was a shock to Britain. The war revealed the limitations of Britain's fiscal-military state when they discovered that they suddenly faced powerful enemies with no allies, and they were 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 from 1776 to 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 (the leader of the Fox-North Coalition), and renewed confidence in the system engendered by the leadership of the new Prime Minister William Pitt. Historians conclude that loss of the American colonies enabled Britain to deal with the French Revolution with more unity and better organization than would otherwise have been the case. Britain turned towards Asia, the Pacific and later Africa with subsequent exploration leading to the rise of the Second British Empire.
Britain's war against the Americans, French, and Spanish cost about £100 million. The Treasury borrowed 40% of the money that 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 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 finance 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 that it would be made good after the war. Indeed, the soldiers and officers were given land grants in 1783 to cover the wages that they had earned but had not been paid during the war. Not until 1781 did the national government have a strong leader in financial matters, when Robert Morris was named Superintendent of Finance of the United States.
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 national government's full share of money and supplies from the confederated 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.
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 were usually in arrears and declined in value every month, weakening their morale and adding to the hardships of 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, lent large sums to the American war effort. These loans were repaid in full in the 1790s.
The war finally ended in 1783 and was followed by a period of prosperity. The national government was still operating under the Articles of Confederation and 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 and the private banks, or to pay 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 of 1786 in Massachusetts.
Calling themselves "Federalists," the nationalists convinced Congress to call the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. It adopted a new Constitution that provided for a much stronger federal government, including an effective executive in a check-and-balance system with the judiciary and legislature. The Constitution was ratified in 1788, after a fierce debate in the states over the nature of the proposed new government. The new government under President George Washington took office in New York in March 1789. Amendments to the Constitution were spearheaded in Congress by James Madison as assurances to those who were cautious about federal power, guaranteeing many of the inalienable rights that formed a foundation for the revolution. The amendments were ratified by the states in 1791.
The national debt fell into three categories after the American Revolution. 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 notes 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, Congress combined the remaining state debts with the foreign and domestic debts into one national debt totaling $80 million at the recommendation of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Everyone received face value for wartime certificates, so that the national honor would be sustained and the national credit established.
The population of the 13 Colonies was not homogeneous in their political views and attitudes. Loyalties and allegiances varied widely within regions and communities and even within families, and sometimes shifted during the course of the Revolution.
The American Enlightenment was a critical precursor of the American Revolution. Chief among the ideas of the American Enlightenment were the concepts of Natural Law, Natural Rights, Consent of the Governed, Individualism, Property Rights, Self-Ownership, Self-Determination, liberalism, republicanism and fear of corruption. Collectively, the acceptance of 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.
John Locke's (1632–1704) ideas on liberty influenced the political thinking behind the revolution, especially through his indirect influence on English writers such as John Trenchard, Thomas Gordon, and Benjamin Hoadly, whose political ideas in turn had a strong influence on the American revolutionaries. Locke is often referred to as "the philosopher of the American Revolution" due to his work in the Social Contract and Natural Rights theories that underpinned the Revolution's political ideology. Locke's Two Treatises of Government published in 1689 were especially influential. He argued that all humans were created equally free, and governments therefore needed the "consent of the governed." In late eighteenth-century America, belief was still widespread in "equality by creation" and "rights by creation".
The theory of the "social contract" 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, should those leaders betray the historic rights of Englishmen. In terms of writing state and national constitutions, the Americans heavily used Montesquieu's analysis of the wisdom of the "balanced" British Constitution (mixed government).
A central motivating force behind the overthrow of monarchy and aristocracy was the American embrace of a political ideology called "republicanism", which was dominant in the colonies by 1775 but of minor importance back in Great Britain. The republicanism was inspired by the "country party" in Great Britain, whose critique of British government emphasized that corruption was a terrible reality in Great Britain. Americans feared that 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 but at home, as well. The colonists associated it with luxury, and especially with inherited aristocracy, which they condemned.
The Founding Fathers were strong advocates of republican values, particularly Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, 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. John Adams wrote to Mercy Otis Warren in 1776, agreeing with some classical 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" became the ideal, exemplified by Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren; the first duty of the republican woman was to instill republican values in her children and to avoid luxury and ostentation.
Some republics had emerged throughout history, such as the Roman Republic of the ancient world, but none ever existed that was based on liberal principles. Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense 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 together, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Great 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.
Dissenting churches of the day (Protestant churches that had separated from the Church of England) were the "school of democracy", in the words of historian Patricia Bonomi. Before the Revolution, the Southern Colonies and three of the New England Colonies had established churches, either Congregational (Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Hampshire) or Anglican (Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia), while the Middle Colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) and the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations had no established churches. While church membership statistics by different religious denominations from the period are unreliable and scarce, what little data exists indicates that even in the colonies where the Church of England was the established church, Anglicans were not in the majority and probably did not comprise even 30 percent of the population (with the possible exception of Virginia).
By the time of the American Revolutionary War, of the approximately 2,900 churches in the Thirteen Colonies at the time, 82 to 84 percent were affiliated with non-Anglican Protestant denominations, with 64 to 68 percent specifically affiliated with Protestant Dissenter denominations (Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Quaker) and the other 14 to 20 percent being Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, or German Reformed, while 14 to 16 percent remained Anglican but were declining in number, and the remaining 2 percent of the churches were Catholic while there was also a population of approximately 10,000 Methodists. With the exception of the Lutheran and the Methodist churches, all of the non-Anglican Protestant churches were governed as independent congregations or by an elected assembly of elders known as "presbyters."
President John Witherspoon of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) wrote widely circulated sermons linking the American Revolution to the teachings of the Bible. Throughout the colonies, dissenting Protestant ministers (Congregational, Baptist, and Presbyterian) preached Revolutionary themes in their sermons, while most Church of England clergymen preached loyalty to the king, the titular head of the English state church. Religious motivation for fighting tyranny transcended socioeconomic lines to encompass rich and poor, men and women, frontiersmen and townsmen, farmers and merchants.
The Declaration also referred to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" as justification for the Americans' separation from the British monarchy. Most eighteenth-century Americans believed that nature, the entire universe, was God's creation and he was "Nature's God". Everything, including man, was part of the "universal order of things", which began with God and was directed by his providence. Accordingly, the signers of the Declaration professed their "firm reliance on the Protection of divine Providence", and they appealed to "the Supreme Judge for the rectitude of our intentions". Like most of his countrymen, George Washington was firmly convinced that he was an instrument of providence, to the benefit of the American people and of all humanity.
Historian Bernard Bailyn argues that the evangelicalism of the era challenged traditional notions of natural hierarchy by preaching that the Bible teaches that all men are equal, so that the true value of a man lies in his moral behavior, not in his class. Kidd argues that religious disestablishment, belief in God as the source of human rights, and shared convictions about sin, virtue, and divine providence worked together to unite rationalists and evangelicals and thus encouraged American defiance of the Empire. Bailyn, on the other hand, denies that religion played such a critical role. Alan Heimert argues that New Light anti-authoritarianism was essential to furthering democracy in colonial American society and set the stage for a confrontation with British monarchical and aristocratic rule.
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 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 identified eight characteristics of the Loyalists that made them essentially conservative; opposite 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. 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, 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 Pennsylvania but less so in New England, where John Adams attacked Thomas Paine's Common Sense for the "absurd democratical notions" it proposed.
The war became a personal issue for the king, 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.
Those who fought for independence were called "Patriots", "Whigs", "Congress-men", or "Americans" during and after the war. 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 in terms of rejecting monarchy and aristocracy, while emphasizing civic virtue on the part of the citizens. Newspapers were strongholds of patriotism (although there were a few Loyalist papers) and printed many pamphlets, announcements, patriotic letters, and pronouncements.
According to historian Robert Calhoon, 40–45% of the white population in the Thirteen Colonies supported the Patriots' cause, 15–20% supported the Loyalists, and the remainder were neutral or kept a low profile. Mark Lender analyzes why ordinary people became insurgents against the British, even if they were unfamiliar with the ideological reasons behind the war. He concludes that such people held a sense of rights which the British were violating, rights that stressed local autonomy, fair dealing, and government by consent. They were highly sensitive to the issue of tyranny, which they saw manifested in the British response to the Boston Tea Party. The arrival in Boston of the British Army heightened their sense of violated rights, leading to rage and demands for revenge. They had faith that God was on their side. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were mostly well-educated, of British stock, and of the Protestant faith.
Frontier settlers and holders of land certificates issued by the royal governor of Virginia, such as George Washington, remembered with annoyance the British prohibition on their expansion into the Ohio Valley in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Those restrictions were quickly lifted by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768.
The consensus of scholars is that about 15–20% of the white population remained loyal to the British Crown. Those who actively supported the king were known at the time as "Loyalists", "Tories", or "King's men". The Loyalists never controlled territory unless the British Army occupied it. They were typically older, less willing to break with old loyalties, and often connected to the Church of England; they included many established merchants with strong business connections throughout the Empire, as well as royal officials such as Thomas Hutchinson of Boston. There were 500 to 1,000 black loyalists, slaves who escaped to British lines and joined the British army. Most died of disease, but Britain took the survivors to Canada as free men.
The revolution could divide families, such as William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin and royal governor of the Province of New Jersey who remained loyal to the Crown throughout the war. He and his father never spoke again. Recent immigrants who had not been fully Americanized were also inclined to support the King, such as Flora MacDonald who was a Scottish settler in the back country.
After the war, the great majority of the approximately 500,000 Loyalists remained in America and resumed normal lives. Some became prominent American leaders, such as Samuel Seabury. Approximately 46,000 Loyalists relocated to Canada; others moved to Britain (7,000), Florida, or the West Indies (9,000). The exiles represented approximately two percent of the total population of the colonies. Nearly all black loyalists left for Nova Scotia, Florida, or England, where they could remain free. Loyalists who left the South in 1783 took thousands of their slaves with them to be slaves in the British West Indies.
A minority of uncertain size tried to stay neutral in the war. Most kept a low profile, but the Quakers were the most important group to speak out for neutrality, especially in Pennsylvania. The Quakers continued to do business with the British even after the war began, and they were accused of being supporters of British rule, "contrivers and authors of seditious publications" critical of the revolutionary cause. The majority of Quakers attempted to remain neutral, although a sizable number of Quakers in the American Revolution nevertheless participated to some degree.
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. Also, Mercy Otis Warren held meetings in her house and cleverly attacked Loyalists with her creative plays and histories. 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 wove 20,522 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.
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 concealed their activities. American rebels obtained some munitions through the Dutch Republic as well as French and Spanish ports in the West Indies.
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, 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.
Most American Indians rejected pleas that they remain neutral and instead supported the British Crown. The great majority of the 200,000 Indians 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 trade tended to side with the Patriots, although political factors were important, as well.
Most Indians did not participate directly in the war, except for warriors and bands associated with four of the Iroquois nations in New York and Pennsylvania which allied with the British. The British did have other allies, especially in the upper Midwest. They provided Indians with funding and weapons to attack American outposts. Some Indians tried to remain neutral, seeing little value in joining what they perceived to be a European conflict, and fearing reprisals from whichever side they opposed. The Oneida and Tuscarora among the Iroquois of central and western New York supported the American cause.
The British provided arms to Indians who were led by Loyalists in war parties to raid frontier settlements from the Carolinas to New York. They killed many settlers on the frontier, especially in Pennsylvania and New York's Mohawk Valley.
In 1776, Cherokee war parties attacked American Colonists all along the southern frontier of the uplands throughout the Washington District, North Carolina (now Tennessee) and the Kentucky wilderness area. They would launch raids with roughly 200 warriors, as seen in the Cherokee–American wars; they could not mobilize enough forces to invade Colonial areas without the help of allies, most often the Creek. The Chickamauga Cherokee under Dragging Canoe allied themselves closely with the British, and fought on for an additional decade after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
Joseph Brant of the powerful Mohawk nation, part of the Iroquois Confederacy based in New York, was the most prominent Indian leader against the Colonial forces. 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 Colonists forced the hostile Indians out of upstate New York when Washington sent an army under John Sullivan which destroyed 40 empty Iroquois villages in central and western New York. The Battle of Newtown proved decisive as the Patriots had a 3-1 advantage and ended significant resistance. Otherwise there was little combat. Sullivan systematically burned the villages and destroyed about 160,000 bushels of corn that composed the winter food supply. Facing starvation and homeless for the winter, the Iroquois fled to Canada. The British resettled them in Ontario, 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 their Indian allies. They transferred control to the United States of all the land east of the Mississippi and north of Florida. 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 until 1796 in what is now the eastern Midwest, stretching from Ohio to Wisconsin; 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.
Free blacks in the North and South fought on both sides of the Revolution, but most fought for the Patriots. Gary Nash reports that there were about 9,000 black Patriots, counting the Continental Army and Navy, state militia units, privateers, wagoneers in the Army, servants to officers, and spies. Ray Raphael notes that thousands did join the Loyalist cause, but "a far larger number, free as well as slave, tried to further their interests by siding with the patriots." Crispus Attucks was shot dead by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre in 1770 and is an iconic martyr to Patriots. Both sides offered freedom and re-settlement to slaves who were willing to fight for them, recruiting slaves whose owners supported the opposing cause.
Many black slaves sided with the Loyalists. Tens of thousands in the South 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. Historian David Brion Davis explains the difficulties with a policy of wholesale arming of the slaves:
But England greatly feared the effects of any such move on its own West Indies, where Americans had already aroused alarm over a possible threat to incite slave insurrections. The British elites also understood that an all-out attack on one form of property could easily lead to an assault on all boundaries of privilege and social order, as envisioned by radical religious sects in Britain's seventeenth-century civil wars.
Davis underscored the British dilemma: "Britain, when confronted by the rebellious American colonists, hoped to exploit their fear of slave revolts 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, however, 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 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) while they continued to permit the Slave Trade.
Phyllis Wheatley was a black poet who popularized the image of Columbia to represent America. She came to public attention when her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral appeared in 1773.
During the war, slaves escaped from 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, royal governor Lord Dunmore 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 was estimated to have lost about 25,000 slaves to flight, migration, or death—amounting to one third of its slave population. From 1770 to 1790, the black proportion of the population (mostly slaves) in South Carolina dropped from 60.5 percent to 43.8 percent, and from 45.2 percent to 36.1 percent in Georgia.
British forces gave transportation to 10,000 slaves when they evacuated Savannah and Charleston, carrying through on their promise. They evacuated and resettled more than 3,000 Black Loyalists from New York to Nova Scotia, Upper Canada, and Lower Canada. Others sailed with the British to England or were resettled as freedmen in the West Indies of the Caribbean. But slaves who were carried to the Caribbean under control of Loyalist masters generally remained slaves until British abolition in its colonies in 1834. More than 1,200 of the Black Loyalists of Nova Scotia later resettled in the British colony of Sierra Leone, where they became leaders of the Krio ethnic group of Freetown and the later national government. Many of their descendants still live in Sierra Leone, as well as other African countries.
Tens of thousands of Loyalists left the United States – the current high estimate is 70,000 by Maya Jasanoff. Some migrated to Britain. The great majority, known as United Empire Loyalists, received land and subsidies for resettlement in British colonies in North America, especially Quebec (concentrating in the Eastern Townships), Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The new colonies of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and New Brunswick were expressly created by Britain for their benefit, where the Crown awarded land to Loyalists as compensation for losses in the United States. Britain wanted to develop the frontier of Upper Canada on a British colonial model. But about 85% of the Loyalists stayed in the United States and became full, loyal citizens; some of the exiles later returned to the U.S.
Interpretations vary concerning the effect of the Revolution. Contemporaries of the period referred to it as "the revolution", although the war is sometimes known as the "American War of Independence" outside the United States, particularly in the United Kingdom.
Historians such as Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, and Edmund Morgan view the American Revolution as a unique and radical event that produced deep changes and had a profound effect on world affairs, such as an increasing belief in the principles of the Enlightenment. These were demonstrated by a leadership and government that espoused protection of natural rights, and a system of laws chosen by the people. John Murrin, by contrast, argues that the definition of "the people" at that time was mostly restricted to free men who were able to pass a property-qualification. This view argues that any significant gain of the revolution was irrelevant in the short term to women, black Americans and slaves, poor white men, youth, and American Indians.
Morgan has argued that, in terms of long-term impact on American society and values:
After the Revolution, genuinely democratic politics became possible in the former colonies. The rights of the people were incorporated into state constitutions. Concepts of liberty, individual rights, equality among men and hostility toward corruption became incorporated as core values of liberal republicanism. 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. The example of the first successful revolution against a European empire, and the first successful establishment of a republican form of democratically 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 representative government.
The Dutch Republic, also at war with Britain, was the next country to sign a treaty with the United States, on October 8, 1782. On April 3, 1783, Ambassador Extraordinary Gustaf Philip Creutz, representing King Gustav III of Sweden, and Benjamin Franklin, signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the U.S.
The American Revolution was the first wave of the Atlantic Revolutions: the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the Latin American wars of independence. Aftershocks reached Ireland in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and in the Netherlands.
The Revolution had a strong, immediate influence in Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and France. Many British and Irish Whigs spoke in favor of the American cause. In Ireland, there was a profound impact; the Protestants who controlled Ireland were demanding more and more self-rule. Under the leadership of Henry Grattan, the so-called "Patriots" forced the reversal of mercantilist prohibitions against trade with other British colonies. The King and his cabinet in London could not risk another rebellion on the American model, and made a series of concessions to the Patriot faction in Dublin. Armed Protestant volunteer units were set up to protect against an invasion from France. As in America, so too in Ireland the King no longer had a monopoly of lethal force.
The Revolution, along with the Dutch Revolt (end of the 16th century) and the 17th century English Civil War, was among the examples of overthrowing an old regime for many Europeans who later were active during the era of the French Revolution, such as the Marquis de Lafayette. The American Declaration of Independence influenced 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. States such as New Jersey and New York adopted gradual emancipation, which kept some people as slaves for more than two decades longer.
The democratic ideals of the Revolution inspired changes in the roles of women.
The concept of republican motherhood was inspired by this period and reflects the importance of Republicanism as the dominant American ideology. It assumed that a successful republic rested upon the virtue of its citizens. Women were considered to have the essential role of instilling their children with values conducive to a healthy republic. During this period, the wife's relationship with her husband also became more liberal, as love and affection instead of obedience and subservience began to characterize the ideal marital relationship. In addition, many women contributed to the war effort through fundraising and running family businesses in the absence of husbands.
The traditional constraints gave way to more liberal conditions for women. Patriarchy faded as an ideal; young people had more freedom to choose their spouses and more often used birth control to regulate the size of their families. Society emphasized the role of mothers in child rearing, especially the patriotic goal of raising republican children rather than those locked into aristocratic value systems. There was more permissiveness in child-rearing. Patriot women married to Loyalists who left the state could get a divorce and obtain control of the ex-husband's property. Whatever gains they had made, however, women still found themselves subordinated, legally and socially, to their husbands, disfranchised and usually with only the role of mother open to them. But, some women earned livelihoods as midwives and in other roles in the community, which were not originally recognized as significant by men.
Abigail Adams expressed to her husband, the president, the desire of women to have a place in the new republic: "I desire you would remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands."
The Revolution sparked a discussion on the rights of woman and an environment favorable to women's participation in politics. Briefly the possibilities for women's rights were highly favorable, but a backlash led to a greater rigidity that excluded women from politics.
For more than thirty years, however, the 1776 New Jersey State Constitution gave the vote to "all inhabitants" who had a certain level of wealth, including unmarried women and blacks (not married women because they could not own property separately from their husbands), until in 1807, when that state legislature passed a bill interpreting the constitution to mean universal white male suffrage, excluding paupers.
In the first two decades after the American Revolution, state legislatures and individuals took actions to free numerous slaves, in part based on revolutionary ideals. Northern states passed new constitutions that contained language about equal rights or specifically abolished slavery; some states, such as New York and New Jersey, where slavery was more widespread, passed laws by the end of the 18th century to abolish slavery by a gradual method; in New York, the last slaves were freed in 1827.
While no southern state abolished slavery, for a period individual owners could free their slaves by personal decision, often providing for manumission in wills but sometimes filing deeds or court papers to free individuals. Numerous slaveholders who freed their slaves cited revolutionary ideals in their documents; others freed slaves as a reward for service. Records also suggest that some slaveholders were freeing their own mixed-race children, born into slavery to slave mothers.
The American Revolution has a central place in the American memory as the story of the nation's founding. It is covered in the schools, memorialized by a national holiday, and commemorated in innumerable monuments. George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon was one of the first national pilgrimages for tourists and attracted 10,000 visitors a year by the 1850s.
The Revolution became a matter of contention in the 1850s in the debates leading to the American Civil War (1861–65), as spokesmen of both the Northern United States and the Southern United States claimed that their region was the true custodian of the legacy of 1776. The United States Bicentennial in 1976 came a year after the American withdrawal from the Vietnam War, and speakers stressed the themes of renewal and rebirth based on a restoration of traditional values.
Today, more than 100 battlefields and historic sites of the American Revolution are protected and maintained by the government. The National Park Service alone owns and maintains more than 50 battlefield parks and sites related to the Revolution. The American Battlefield Trust preserves almost 700 acres of battlefield land in six states.
At the outbreak of the American Revolution the Congregational Church was still the dominant one in New England; it was the established church in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire... In all colonies in the South, plus four counties in [and] around New York City, Anglicanism was established... In the Middle colonies there was no established church (outside of the four New York counties), but the Presbyterians were rapidly growing in strength.
Church membership figures for the colonial period are not particularly revealing. First, there is a scarcity of reliable data; second, church membership was restrictive and often privileged, with the result that the size of congregations frequently exceeded the lists of members. The church was regularly the locus of community life, the information center, the leading dispenser of charity, advocate of causes, and promoter of education. The colonial churches gathered an entire society within their outstretched arms.
In all colonies in the South, plus four counties in [and] around New York City, Anglicanism was established. With the possible exception of Virginia, however, members of the Church of England were not in the majority and probably did not even comprise 30 per cent of the population in those colonies.
The number of churches of each denomination at this time has been estimated as follows: Congregational 658; Presbyterian 543; Baptist 498; Anglican 480; Quaker 295; German and Dutch Reformed 251; Lutheran 151; Catholic 50.
In 1780, Congregationalists had the largest number of churches in the country (around 750), with Presbyterians the next largest number at nearly 500... Baptists had over 400 churches in 1780, with Methodists just getting started but already enjoying a membership of around 10,000. Anglicans had about 400 churches but, at this point was in retreat rather than advance. Lutherans, next in strength, had about 240 churches, with Quakers and German Reformed each with about 200 meetings or churches. Dutch Reformed churches numbered around 125, with Roman Catholics having a few over 50, almost wholly in Maryland and Pennsylvania. With only five synagogues, Judaism awaited the major immigrations of the 19th century.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies (allied with France) which declared independence as the United States of America.After 1765, growing philosophical and political differences strained the relationship between Great Britain and its colonies. Patriot protests against taxation without representation followed the Stamp Act and escalated into boycotts, which culminated in 1773 with the Sons of Liberty destroying a shipment of tea in Boston Harbor. Britain responded by closing Boston Harbor and passing a series of punitive measures against Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts colonists responded with the Suffolk Resolves, and they established a shadow government which wrested control of the countryside from the Crown. Twelve colonies formed a Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance, establishing committees and conventions that effectively seized power.British attempts to disarm the Massachusetts militia in Concord led to open combat on April 19, 1775. Militia forces then besieged Boston, forcing a British evacuation in March 1776, and Congress appointed George Washington to command the Continental Army. Concurrently, the Americans failed decisively in an attempt to invade Quebec and raise insurrection against the British. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, issuing its declaration on July 4. Sir William Howe launched a British counter-offensive, capturing New York City and leaving American morale at a low ebb. However, victories at Trenton and Princeton restored American confidence. In 1777, the British launched an invasion from Quebec under John Burgoyne, intending to isolate the New England Colonies. Instead of assisting this effort, Howe took his army on a separate campaign against Philadelphia, and Burgoyne was decisively defeated at Saratoga in October 1777.
Burgoyne's defeat had drastic consequences. France formally allied with the Americans and entered the war in 1778, and Spain joined the war the following year as an ally of France but not as an ally of the United States. In 1780, the Kingdom of Mysore attacked the British in India, and tensions between Great Britain and the Netherlands erupted into open war. In North America, the British mounted a "Southern strategy" led by Charles Cornwallis which hinged upon a Loyalist uprising, but too few came forward. Cornwallis suffered reversals at King's Mountain and Cowpens. He retreated to Yorktown, Virginia, intending an evacuation, but a decisive French naval victory deprived him of an escape. A Franco-American army led by the Comte de Rochambeau and Washington then besieged Cornwallis' army and, with no sign of relief, he surrendered in October 1781.
Whigs in Britain had long opposed the pro-war Tories in Parliament, and the surrender gave them the upper hand. In early 1782, Parliament voted to end all offensive operations in America, but the war continued overseas. Britain remained under siege in Gibraltar but scored a major victory over the French navy. On September 3, 1783, the belligerent parties signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States and formally end the war. French involvement had proven decisive, but France made few gains and incurred crippling debts. Spain made some territorial gains but failed in its primary aim of recovering Gibraltar. The Dutch were defeated on all counts and were compelled to cede territory to Great Britain. In India, the war against Mysore and its allies concluded in 1784 without any territorial changes.Betsy Ross
Elizabeth Griscom Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), née Griscom, also known by her second and third married names, Ashburn and Claypoole, was an American upholsterer who has been credited in the past with making the first American flag. According to Ross family tradition, General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and two members of a congressional committee--Robert Morris and George Ross--visited Mrs. Ross in 1776. Mrs. Ross convinced George Washington to change the shape of the stars in a sketch of a flag he showed her from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating that it was easier and speedier to cut the latter. However, there is no archival evidence or other recorded verbal tradition to substantiate this story of the first American flag. It appears that the story first surfaced in the writings of her grandson in the 1870s (a century after the fact), with no mention or documentation in earlier decades.Ross made flags for the Pennsylvania navy during the American Revolution. The flags of the Pennsylvania navy were overseen by the Pennsylvania Navy Board. The board reported to the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly's Committee of Safety. In July 1775, the President of the Committee of Safety was Benjamin Franklin. Its members included Robert Morris and George Ross. At that time, the committee ordered the construction of gunboats that would eventually need flags as part of their equipment. As late as October 1776, Captain William Richards was still writing to the Committee or Council of Safety to request the design that he could use to order flags for their fleet.Ross was one of those hired to make flags for the Pennsylvania fleet. An entry dated May 29, 1777, in the records of the Pennsylvania Navy Board includes an order to pay her for her work. It is worded as follows:
The Pennsylvania navy's ship colors included (1) an ensign; (2) a long, narrow pennant; and (3) a short, narrow pennant. The ensign was a blue flag with 13 stripes—seven red stripes and six white stripes in the flag's canton (upper-left-hand corner). It was flown from a pole at the rear of the ship. The long pennant had 13 vertical stripes near the mast; the rest was solid red. It flew from the top of the ship's mainmast, the center pole holding the sails. The short pennant was solid red, and flew from the top of the ship's mizzenmast—the pole holding the ship's sails nearest the stern (rear of the ship).Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre, known to the British as the Incident on King Street, was a confrontation on March 5, 1770 in which British soldiers shot and killed several people while being harassed by a mob in Boston. The event was heavily publicized by leading Patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams. British troops had been stationed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay since 1768 in order to support crown-appointed officials and to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.
Amid tense relations between the civilians and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry and verbally abused him. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were hit by clubs, stones, and snowballs. They fired into the crowd without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others, two of whom later died of their wounds.
The crowd eventually dispersed after Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but they re-formed the next day, prompting withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder, and they were defended by future President John Adams. Six of the soldiers were acquitted; the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The men found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand.
Depictions, reports, and propaganda about the event heightened tensions throughout the Thirteen Colonies, notably the colored engraving produced by Paul Revere (shown at top-right).Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.
They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history, and since then other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773.
The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act because they believed that it violated their rights as Englishmen to "no taxation without representation", that is, to be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a British parliament in which they were not represented. In addition, the well-connected East India Company had been granted competitive advantages over colonial tea importers, who resented the move and feared additional infringement on their business. Protesters had successfully prevented the unloading of tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain.The Boston Tea Party was a significant event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Intolerable Acts, or Coercive Acts, which, among other provisions, ended local self-government in Massachusetts and closed Boston's commerce. Colonists up and down the Thirteen Colonies in turn responded to the Intolerable Acts with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress, which petitioned the British monarch for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them. The crisis escalated, and the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.Crispus Attucks
Crispus Attucks (c.1723 – March 5, 1770) was an American stevedore of African and Native American descent, widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and thus the first American killed in the American Revolution. Historians disagree on whether he was a free man or an escaped slave, but most agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre published in 1770 did not refer to him as "black" nor as a "Negro"; it appears that Bostonians viewed him as being of mixed ethnicity. According to a contemporaneous account in the Pennsylvania Gazette, he was a "Mulattoe man, named Crispus Attucks, who was born in Framingham, but lately belonged to New-Providence, and was here in order to go for North Carolina."Attucks became an icon of the anti-slavery movement in the mid-19th century. Supporters of the abolition movement lauded him for playing a heroic role in the history of the United States.Daughters of the American Revolution
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States' efforts towards independence. A non-profit group, they promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. The organization's membership is limited to direct lineal descendants of soldiers or others of the Revolutionary period who aided the cause of independence; applicants must have reached 18 years of age and are reviewed at the chapter level for admission. It has 185,000 members in the United States and other countries. Its motto is "God, Home, and Country."
The organization has a history of racial discrimination. Since the late 20th century, following the civil rights movement and changes in historic scholarship, the organization has expanded its membership, recognizing minority contributions and expanding the definition of those whose work is considered to have aided the Revolution, and recognizing more ways in which women and other people served.Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers, were a group of philosophers, politicians, and writers who led the American Revolution against the Kingdom of Great Britain. Most were descendants of colonists settled in the Thirteen Colonies in North America.
Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were members of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were authors of The Federalist Papers, advocating ratification of the Constitution. The constitutions drafted by Jay and Adams for their respective states of New York (1777) and Massachusetts (1780) were heavily relied upon when creating language for the U.S. Constitution. Jay, Adams, and Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris (1783) that would end the American Revolutionary War. Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and was President of the Constitutional Convention. All held additional important roles in the early government of the United States, with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison serving as President. Jay was the nation's first Chief Justice, Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Franklin was America's most senior diplomat, and later the governmental leader of Pennsylvania.
The term Founding Fathers is sometimes used to refer to the Signers of the embossed version of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Signers should not be confused with the term Framers; the Framers are defined by the National Archives as those 55 individuals who were appointed to be delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and took part in drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States. Of the 55 Framers, only 39 were signers of the Constitution. Two further groupings of Founding Fathers include: 1) those who signed the Continental Association, a trade ban and one of the colonists' first collective volleys protesting British control and the Intolerable Acts in 1774, or 2) those who signed the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. constitutional document.The phrase "Founding Fathers" is a 20th-century appellation, coined by Warren G. Harding in 1916. Prior to, and during the 19th century, they were referred to as simply the "Fathers". The term has been used to describe the founders and first settlers of the original royal colonies.France in the American Revolutionary War
French involvement in the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, when France, a rival of the British Empire, secretly shipped supplies to the Continental Army. A Treaty of Alliance in 1778 soon followed, which led to shipments of money and matériel to the United States. Subsequently, the Spanish Empire and the Dutch Republic also began to send assistance, leaving the British Empire with no allies(excluding the Hessian Soldiers). Spain openly declared war but the Dutch did not.
France's help is considered a major, vital, and decisive contribution to the United States' victory against the British. As a cost of participation in the war, France accumulated over 1 billion livres in debt.Francis Marion
Francis Marion (c. 1732 – February 27, 1795) was a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Acting with the Continental Army and South Carolina militia commissions, he was a persistent adversary of the British in their occupation of South Carolina and Charleston in 1780 and 1781, even after the Continental Army was driven out of the state in the Battle of Camden.
Marion used irregular methods of warfare and is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare and maneuver warfare, and is credited in the lineage of the United States Army Rangers and the other American military Special Forces such as the "Green Berets". He was known as The Swamp Fox.George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark (November 19, 1752 – February 13, 1818) was an American surveyor, soldier, and militia officer from Virginia who became the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the militia in Kentucky (then part of Virginia) throughout much of the war. He is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign, which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory. The British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and Clark has often been hailed as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest".
Clark's major military achievements occurred before his thirtieth birthday. Afterwards, he led militia in the opening engagements of the Northwest Indian War but was accused of being drunk on duty. He was disgraced and forced to resign, despite his demand for a formal investigation into the accusations. He left Kentucky to live on the Indiana frontier but was never fully reimbursed by Virginia for his wartime expenditures. He spent the final decades of his life evading creditors and living in increasing poverty and obscurity. He was involved in two failed attempts to open the Spanish-controlled Mississippi River to American traffic. He became an invalid after suffering a stroke and the amputation of his right leg. He was aided in his final years by family members, including his younger brother William, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He died of a stroke on February 13, 1818.Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War, often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men at the time. They were opposed by the Patriots, who supported the revolution, and called them "persons inimical to the liberties of America". Prominent Loyalists repeatedly assured the British government that many thousands of them would spring to arms and fight for the crown. The British government acted in expectation of that, especially in the southern campaigns in 1780-81. In practice, the number of Loyalists in military service was far lower than expected since Britain could not effectively protect them except in those areas where Britain had military control. The British were often suspicious of them, not knowing whom they could fully trust in such a conflicted situation; they were often looked down upon. Patriots watched suspected Loyalists very closely and would not tolerate any organized Loyalist opposition. Many outspoken or militarily active Loyalists were forced to flee, especially to their stronghold of New York City. William Franklin, the royal governor of New Jersey and son of Patriot leader Benjamin Franklin, became the leader of the Loyalists after his release from a Patriot prison in 1778. He worked to build Loyalist military units to fight in the war, but the number of volunteers was much fewer than London expected.
When their cause was defeated, about 15 percent of the Loyalists (65,000–70,000 people) fled to other parts of the British Empire, to Britain itself, or to British North America (now Canada). The southern Loyalists moved mostly to Florida, which had remained loyal to the Crown, and to British Caribbean possessions, often bringing along their slaves. Northern Loyalists largely migrated to Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. They called themselves United Empire Loyalists. Most were compensated with Canadian land or British cash distributed through formal claims procedures. Loyalists who left the US received £3 million or about 37 percent of their losses from the British government. Loyalists who stayed in the US were generally able to retain their property and become American citizens. Historians have estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the two million whites in the colonies in 1775 were Loyalists (300,000-400,000).Patriot (American Revolution)
Patriots (also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs) were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
Patriots represented the spectrum of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. They included lawyers such as John Adams, students such as Alexander Hamilton, planters such as Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, merchants such as Alexander McDougall and John Hancock, and farmers such as Daniel Shays and Joseph Plumb Martin. They also included slaves and freemen such as Crispus Attucks, the first martyr of the American Revolution; James Armistead Lafayette, who served as a double agent for the Continental Army; and Jack Sisson, leader of the first successful black operation mission in American history under the command of Colonel William Barton, resulting in the capture of British General Richard Prescott.Paul Revere
Paul Revere (; December 21, 1734 O.S. (January 1, 1735 N.S.) – May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and Patriot in the American Revolution. He is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia in April 1775 to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, as dramatized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride" (1861).
At age 41, Revere was a prosperous, established and prominent Boston silversmith. He had helped organize an intelligence and alarm system to keep watch on the British military. Revere later served as a Massachusetts militia officer, though his service ended after the Penobscot Expedition, one of the most disastrous campaigns of the American Revolutionary War, for which he was absolved of blame.
Following the war, Revere returned to his silversmith trade. He used the profits from his expanding business to finance his work in iron casting, bronze bell and cannon casting, and the forging of copper bolts and spikes. In 1800 he became the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets for use as sheathing on naval vessels.Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty was a secret organization that was created in the Thirteen American Colonies to advance the rights of the European colonists and to fight taxation by the British government. It played a major role in most colonies in battling the Stamp Act in 1765. The group officially disbanded after the Stamp Act was repealed. However, the name was applied to other local separatist groups during the years preceding the American Revolution.In the popular thought, the Sons of Liberty was a formal underground organization with recognized members and leaders. More likely, the name was an underground term for any men resisting new Crown taxes and laws. The well-known label allowed organizers to make or create anonymous summons to a Liberty Tree, "Liberty Pole", or other public meeting-place. Furthermore, a unifying name helped to promote inter-Colonial efforts against Parliament and the Crown's actions. Their motto became "No taxation without representation."Sons of the American Revolution
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR or NSSAR) is an American congressionally chartered organization, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. A non-profit corporation, it has described its purpose as maintaining and extending "the institutions of American freedom, an appreciation for true patriotism, a respect for our national symbols, the value of American citizenship, [and] the unifying force of 'e pluribus unum' that has created, from the people of many nations, one nation and one people."
The members of the society are male descendants of people who served in the American Revolutionary War or who contributed to establishing the independence of the United States. It is dedicated to perpetuating American ideals and traditions, and to protecting the Constitution of the United States; the official recognition of Constitution Day, Flag Day, and Bill of Rights Day were established through its efforts. It has members in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.The organization is distinct from the Sons of the Revolution, a separate descendants heritage organization founded on February 22, 1876 by businessman John Austin Stevens and members of The Society of the Cincinnati. SAR Founder William Osborn McDowell disagreed with the Sons of the Revolution requirement at that time that all state societies were to be subordinate to the New York society.Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.
Between 1625 and 1775, the colonial population grew from roughly 2,000 to over 2.5 million, displacing American Indians. This population included people subject to a system of slavery, which was legal in all of the colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War. In the 18th century, the British government operated its colonies under a policy of mercantilism, in which the central government administered its possessions for the economic benefit of the mother country.
The Thirteen Colonies had a high degree of self-governance and active local elections, and they resisted London's demands for more control. The French and Indian War (1754–63) against France and its Indian allies led to growing tensions between Britain and the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1750s, the colonies began collaborating with one another instead of dealing directly with Britain. These inter-colonial activities cultivated a sense of shared American identity and led to calls for protection of the colonists' "Rights as Englishmen", especially the principle of "no taxation without representation". Grievances with the British government led to the American Revolution, in which the colonies collaborated in forming the Continental Congress. The colonists fought the American Revolutionary War (1775–83) with the aid of France and, to a significantly smaller degree, the Dutch Republic and Spain.Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain) (February 9, 1737 [O.S. January 29, 1736] – June 8, 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era ideals of transnational human rights. Historian Saul K. Padover described him as "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination".Born in Thetford in the English county of Norfolk, Paine migrated to the British American colonies in 1774 with the help of Benjamin Franklin, arriving just in time to participate in the American Revolution. Virtually every rebel read (or listened to a reading of) his powerful pamphlet Common Sense (1776), proportionally the all-time best-selling American title, which crystallized the rebellious demand for independence from Great Britain. His The American Crisis (1776–1783) was a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series. Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote Rights of Man (1791), in part a defense of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on Irish conservative writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in England in 1792 for the crime of seditious libel.
The British government of William Pitt the Younger, worried by the possibility that the French Revolution might spread to England, had begun suppressing works that espoused radical philosophies. Paine's work, which advocated the right of the people to overthrow their government, was duly targeted, with a writ for his arrest issued in early 1792. Paine fled to France in September where, rather immediately and despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montagnards, especially Maximilien Robespierre, regarded him as an enemy.
In December 1793, he was arrested and was taken to Luxembourg Prison in Paris. While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason (1793–1794). Future President James Monroe used his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. He became notorious because of his pamphlets. The Age of Reason, in which he advocated deism, promoted reason and free thought and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular. He published the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1797), discussing the origins of property and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income. In 1802, he returned to the U.S. where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized for his ridicule of Christianity.Tory
A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved throughout history. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase "God, King, and Country". Tories generally advocate monarchism, and were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage, opposed to the liberalism of the Whig faction.
The philosophy originates from the Cavalier faction, a royalist group during the English Civil War. The Tories political faction that emerged in 1681 was a reaction to the Whig-controlled Parliaments that succeeded the Cavalier Parliament. It also has exponents in other parts of the former British Empire, such as the Loyalists of British America, who opposed American secession during the American War of Independence. The loyalists that fled to the Canadas at the end of the American Revolution, the United Empire Loyalists, formed the support base for political cliques in Upper and Lower Canada. Toryism remains prominent in the Commonwealth realms, particularly in Canada, and the United Kingdom. Several Conservative parties in the Commonwealth realms, along with their party members, continue to be referred to as Tories.
The term Tory is used regardless of whether they are traditionalists or not. Adherents to traditional Toryism in contemporary times are referred to as High Tories. The terms Blue Tory and Red Tory have been used to describe the two different factions of the federal and provincial Conservative/Progressive Conservative parties in Canada. In addition, Pink Tory is used in Canadian politics as a pejorative term to describe a member of the Conservative/Progressive Conservative party who is perceived as liberal.United States Bicentennial
The United States Bicentennial was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to historical events leading up to the creation of the United States of America as an independent republic. It was a central event in the memory of the American Revolution. The Bicentennial culminated on Sunday, July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Origins of the American Revolution: writings
American resolves, declarations, petitions, essays and pamphlets prior to the Declaration of Independence (July 1776)
Stamp Act (1765)
Townshend Acts (1767)
Coercive Acts (1774)
|Essays and pamphlets|
British law and the American Revolution
|Chatham and Grafton|
|Other legal issues|
Historical documents of the United States
United States articles