History is a very important and intriguing subject as it is said to understand where we are going, we must first understand where we came from. In this class we learned about the beginnings of our country and the hardships that the colonist dealt with to make the United States what it is today. We are a land of opportunity, but that opportunity was gained by great sacrifices. The pilgrims faced a harsh journey via boat to come to this country, and then once here faced starvation and sickness.
Many pilgrims didn’t make it past the first harvest. Not only did the pilgrims have to learn to overcome these obstacles, with the help of the Native Americans, they were still under England’s rule which meant a significant portion of their earnings went back to England. When this band of people had enough and sought independence, they had to fight against a large very well equipped army. Even though we were outmanned and out equipped, our grit and strength paid off and our independence was eventually gained.
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Our country‘s story starts out with a man named Christopher Columbus who was one of the first sailors to across the ocean and discover the “New World”. It took Columbus several years to get enough money raised in order to be able to set off for the Americas. A lot of people, including the King of Portuguese, denied his request for backing. However, this did not stop Columbus and his vision to travel to the Americas. After the King of Portugal turn him down, Columbus went to Spain and talked to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand V, and in April 1492 his request was approved. It took a couple of months to get everything organized, but on August 3, 1492 Columbus and his crew finally set sail (Saari 17) to what we now know as the United States.
Eventually, thirteen separate areas called colonies were established. Unrest began to simmer and a desire to become independent from Great Britain began to rise in the colonies when Great Britain imposed new taxes and trade restrictions on the colonies. These new taxes were called The Stamp Act of 1765. These new taxes started the American Revolution. The American Revolution was a war that allowed the thirteen colonies to win independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution started in 1775 with the Battle of Lexington and Concord and ended with the battle of Yorktown in 1781.
The Stamp Act started making the colonists grow with resentment and frustration of their lack of representation in British Parliament. The actual cost of the Stamp Act was relatively small, but the law so offensive to the colonists due to the standard it seemed to set. A lot of colonists felt hopeless until Patrick Henry went in front of House of Burgesses and presented the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions.
These resolves declared that Americans possessed the same rights as the English, especially the right to be taxed only by their own representatives; that Virginians should pay no taxes except those voted on by the Virginia House of Burgesses; and that anyone supporting the right of Parliament to tax Virginians should be considered an enemy of the colony. The House of Burgesses defeated the most extreme of Henry’s resolutions, but four of the resolutions were adopted (Schmirreoth 15).
On March 5, 1770, a fight broke out in Boston when a crowd of 50 colonists were causing trouble with a British soldier. This skirmish was called the Boston Massacre. During this skirmish, a British soldier cried out for help and two more soldiers ran to assist the soldier. Eventually Captain Thomas Preston and eight more soldiers were called to assist the British soldier. Captain Thomas Preston ordered his men to “carry their muskets but not to fire them’.
They did what they were told, but the crowd of colonists grew. As the British soldiers went through the crowd they were called horrible names, mocked, and had things throw at them. Eventually, the British soldiers had enough and fired into the crowd killing eleven people. The next morning which was March 6, 1770, Captain Thomas Preston and some of his men were arrested and charged with murder (Draper 10-15).
John Adams, who eventually would be elected as our 2nd president, was concerned about what the after math of the massacre would be. John Adams was a lawyer and an American patriot who believed in justice for all people. Therefore, John Adams agreed to defend Captain Thomas Preston and his men as he believed they acted and fired in self-defense. During the trial a lot of people testified and each seemed to have a different version; therefore, Captain Thomas Preston and his men were found not guilty (Draper 18-21).
In 1767, the English passed a tax on tea (Draper 6). When this law was passed the colonists had to pay an extra three cents for each pound of English tea. Even though three cents were a lot of money in 1767, most colonists were not upset because they either did not drink English tea or they smuggled it and bought it illegally.
Due to the colonists buying tea illegally, the trading market for English tea was going bankrupt. In response to the trading market, Great Britain passed a special tea act in order to save the trading market. The special tea act allowed the colonists to buy tea at a lower cost than the tea they smuggled or brought illegally. The colonists where very upset by this because this seemed like a sneaky way of making them pay the tea tax which they did not have to do when they were buying it illegally (Draper 11).
Colonists, like Samuel Adams, made a big deal out of this and wanted all British tea agents to shut down production and go back to England. The colonists wanted this to be done in a public forum. Samuel Adams started protesting and putting posters up telling other colonist to come watch the agents quit. The crowd of colonist came, but the agents did not show up, they became angry. Samuel Adams started going to meetings and making speeches to get his point across that the tea act was unfair, and that they needed to send the tea back.
Along with many colonists, Samuel Adams went to asked the governor of Massachusetts for help in sending back the tea. The governor was very fond of King George II, so he didn’t want to help the colonists. These events lead to Samuel Adams and a group colonists called “Sons of Liberty” to throw the tea into the Boston Harbor. After King Gorge III heard about what we know today as the Boston Tea Party he was very angry and closed the Boston Harbor until the colonists paid for all the tea they destroyed.
After the Boston Tea Party, other “tea parties” were held up and down the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The American colonists wanted Great Britain to know that the American colonies were united. By helping each other and speaking out against Great Britain, the thirteen colonies were taking a step toward independence. In time they would become the single, unified nation we know as the United State of America (Draper 22).
The Battle of Lexington and Concord started the era of the Revolutionary Wars. On April 18, 1775 British troops crossed the Charles River in order to head toward Concord. Once it was discovered that the British were coming, Paul Revere and William Dawes left Boston to warn the colonists. By the time the British troops arrived in Lexington the militiamen were ready.
The militiamen, a group of men from the thirteen colonies, were ready to fight and where determined not to let the British advance to Concord (Bobrick 12). Captain John Parker and his men were finally face to face with the British troops, he gave the order to “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon. But if they want to have a war. Let it begin here” (Bobrick 12). Once the British troops arrived in Concord, the British decided to use force against the colonists in Massachusetts (Smolinski 6).
General Thomas Gage, a British general, received orders to find and destroy any ammunition storehouses that were located in Concord. General Thomas Gage and his men started searching for the ammunition storehouses, but quickly discovered that they had been removed. After they couldn’t carry out their mission they marched to the surrounding fields where the militiamen were waiting for them were a battle ensued.
On the night of June 15 and into the early morning of June 16, 1775, colonial militiamen positioned themselves on Breed’s Hill on the peninsula across the bay from Boston (Smolinski 8). The British troops wanted to push colonial militiamen back to Boston, and push his troops toward the eastern peninsula. The British troops attacked and were supported by warships and artillery. The colonists fought hard, but ran out of supplies and didn’t have a backup plan or reinforcements coming. Since the British troops had reinforcements they attacked again and successfully completed their mission of driving the colonial militiamen back to the main land.
After the British troops successfully completed their mission, both the militiamen and the British troops came to the conclusion they needed more soldiers. The British gathered troops from other countries, but the militiamen didn’t have funds to hire anyone and had to take volunteers. However, in June 1775 the Continental Congress formed the Continental Army and General George Washington was appointed commander in chief. On March 17,1776, General George Washington and his Continental Army pushed the British troops out of Boston. After the British troops were pushed out of Boston, they gathered more supplies and equipment and started heading to New York. General George Washington and his Continental Army followed the British troops to New York which is where the next war started.
The founding fathers and the Continental Congress worked very hard during the American Revolution Era to fight against Great Britain for our independence. There were many delegates that were within these two groups. The ones that stand out the most and had the most impact on the thirteen colonies were Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin.
Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 in Nevis. He attended the now Columbia University. While attending college, he started writing speeches and articles siding with the patriots. He was not only one of the founding fathers, but also helped George Washington, who would become the first president of the United States, in the Continental Army. Hamilton was George Washington’s right hand man and helped keep him organized.
Hamilton was called the “Little Lion,” because he waged a relentless campaign for the approval of the Constitution. He wrote fifty-one pages of the newspaper essays called the Federalist Papers, which urged ratification of the Constitution, with Kames Madison and John Jay producing the remaining thirty-four pages. His efforts at the ratification convention in Poughkeepsie, New York, were instrumental in narrow approval the Constitution on July 26,1788 (Fradin 123). After George Washington become President, he chose Hamilton to be the first Secretary of Treasury. During Hamilton’s tenure as Secretary of Treasury, he helped strengthen the nation’s finances and helped organize its banking system. He is also the face featured on the $10.00 bill.
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston and was the fifteenth out of seventeen children. He left school as a child to work in his family candle shop even though he disliked making candles. Eventually he started to work with his brother James who was a printer. After he stop working for his brother, Benjamin decided to sail to New York City where he had difficulty finding work as a printer, and decided to head to Philadelphia.
In 1730, Franklin married a woman by the name of Deborah. Franklin was a many of many talents from reading to printing to flying kites with his son. His many interests helped him become famous for his electrical experiments. Franklin is also accredited with helping draft and getting the Declaration of Independence passed.
The last two battles of the Revolutionary war were the Battle of Saratoga and the Battle of Yorktown. The battle of Saratoga was when the British troops attacked three separate groups of colonists. During the Battle of Yorktown, George Washington trapped the British which lead to the British surrendering and started the road to our independence. Despite the British surrendering in Yorktown, the treaty ending the war wasn’t signed until September 3, 1783 as there were a lot of things to figure out, like state boarders.
Despite the many years of hardship, fighting, and blood shed the thirteen colonies finally gained their independence. On July 4, 1776 our Declaration of Independence was ratified and signed by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Samuel Adams just to name a few solidifying our independence from Britain. This document is not only an important document in our history, but it also served as inspiration in the writing our Constitution and the first ten amendments called the Bill of Rights. These three documents serve to capture our history and provide the framework for not only governing the United States but ensuring our future freedom.