The American Revolution and the United States of America
The American Revolution was the true beginning of the United States of America. The colonists fought the British long and hard for seven years and gained their independence. Many people doubted the colonists, but they persevered and defeated one of the greatest armies in the world. This allowed the colonists to build a nation based off of four main principles: religious tolerance, economic opportunity, self-government, and individual liberty.
In the early 1600’s, many people began to migrate to the Americas in search of religious freedom. One group in particular was the Pilgrims. They came to America because they were being persecuted in Europe and hoped to live their faith in the new world. These people developed a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Many other religious groups followed the Pilgrims’ example and traveled to the Americas. Another popular group that faced religious persecution was the Puritans. In 1630, the Puritans set sail for America. Unlike the Pilgrims who had left 10 years earlier, the Puritans did not break with the Church of England, but instead sought to reform it. (People & Ideas: The Puritans) These people settled Massachusetts Bay colony and led to migration of many other groups into the Americas.
There had been several different groups that created settlements in the colonies, but both the British and French felt they had the right to claim the land. This led to the French and Indian War in which the English colonists defeated the French and Native Americans, but they did not do it alone. This war lasted from 1754 to 1763 and is often referred to as the Seven Years War. The British reinforced the colonists and expected repayment for this assistance. However, this took the colonists by surprise and would lead to further complications. (Kennedy and Cohen 117)
After the war ended, the British troops never left the colonies and claimed that they were there to protect the colonists and began the Quartering Acts. These colonists knew there was something wrong, but did not know what was to come.
In 1764, the British also tried to tax sugar that was brought into the colonies. The colonists once again did not appreciate this, but tolerated it. The Sugar Act of 1764 levied such a tax. At the time when the Sugar Act imposed modest taxes on a wide range of non-British goods, moral objection to British taxation was just beginning to percolate. With the threat to liberty posed by taxation looming, the colonists grew increasingly distrustful of Parliament. (Carbone 13)
The British began to tax the colonists with stamps. The colonists did not appreciate this and tried to nullify it as a whole.The Stamp Act differed in important ways from all previous imperial legislation. The British made sure that they could charge nearly everyone in some shape or form. Any colonist who bought or sold land, became an apprentice, went to church, married, read a newspaper, drank in a tavern, gambled, took public office, shipped goods elsewhere, or went to court would feel its effects. (Kennedy 9)
In 1770, a group of colonists began throwing snowballs at British soldiers who were guarding Boston Customs House. These British soldiers did not take this lightly. These soldiers shot eleven colonists, killing five and wounding six. This made the colonists even angrier at the British and further pressed the war that was soon to come. (Boston Tea Party)
However, the final straw was the passing of the Townshend Acts which taxed products such as glass, white lead, paper, paint, and tea. The most detrimental to the colonists was the taxation of tea. Everyone in the colonies drank tea and they believed these new taxations were outrageous. The colonists began to boycott the British goods leaving the British companies to face bankruptcy (Kennedy and Cohen 122)..
Boycotting the British was a smart idea, but some other mischievous colonists had other things in mind. On December 16, 1773, some colonists decided that they had enough of this. A group of men disguised themselves as Native Americans and dumped 342 chests of British tea into the water. This was known as the Boston Tea Party and showed the British that they would not take taxation without representation lightly. The British gave up majority of taxes that they imposed on the colonists, but refused to give up the taxation of tea because they had delivered 1.2 million pounds of tea in previous years. (Boston Tea Party)
The British did not react well to this and closed the harbor until the colonists repaid them for all the damages that they caused. The Parliament passed a law called the Intolerable Acts which limited what the colonists could do and say. In response, the colonists assembled the First Continental Congress in 1774. Its purpose was to come up with new ways to cope with colonial grievances. Fifty-five well respected men met in Philadelphia where they deliberated for seven weeks. They created a Declaration of Rights which was sent to the British and rejected. There was nothing left the colonists could do besides gather their muskets and prepare for the war that they knew was to come (Kennedy and Cohen 126).
In April 1775, British soldiers were sent to Lexington and Concord to annex the stores with gunpowder. These colonists in Lexington were known as minutemen and refused to give up their materials. These British soldiers shot and killed eight Americans. However, once the British reached Concord, they were forced to retreat because the colonists were ready for them. By the time the British made it back to Boston, they had about three hundred casualties and seventy deaths. At this point, both sides knew that this meant war (Kennedy and Cohen 127).
Early in the war, the siege of Boston took place. The Siege of Boston was a major turning point in the war for America. This long stand against the British proved that the Americans had the strength and fortitude to fight for what they wholeheartedly believed. 15,000 Minutemen laid siege to Boston from April 19, 1775 until March 17, 1776, when the British troops withdrew (Siege of Boston).
The Battle of Fort Ticonderoga was the first rebel victory of the Revolutionary War. The colonists lacked cannons and ammunition they desperately needed. Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen joined forces to capture Fort Ticonderoga. This group of about eighty men planned a surprise attack on this fort on May 10, 1775. The British were took by surprise and were forced to surrender. This boosted the colonists’ confidence and provided key artillery for the Continental Army. The colonists captured cannons and would use them in future battles (Catel 10).
The British had won the Battle of Bunker Hill, and Breed’s Hill and the Charlestown Peninsula fell firmly under British control. The British attacked the colonists until the colonists were forced to surrender because they ran out of ammunition. The British had to reinforce their troops three times and lost nearly half of them. Despite losing their strategic positions, the battle was a significant morale-builder for the Americans, convincing them that strength and dedication could overcome superior British military power.
Additionally, the high price of victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill made the British realize that the war with the colonies would be long and costly (Forest 10).
The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in 1776. By issuing the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the 13 American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain. The Declaration summarized the colonists’ motivations for seeking independence (The Declaration of Independence, 1776).
The battle of Yorktown was the final straw in which the Americans defeated the British. General Cornwallis, British general, awaited supplies and reinforcements in Chesapeake Bay at Yorktown. The British was the greatest naval power in the world and did not know that the French navy was soon to intervene. General George Washington decided to blockade the British by land and the French blockade them by sea. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis had no choice but to surrender his army of seven thousand men. King George III was not ready to give up the war, but many Britons were ready to end this war one way or another. (The Declaration of Independence, 1776).
In 1783, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay gathered in Paris to construct a peace treaty between the colonies and the British to formally end the Revolutionary War. This treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris, allowed the British to give formal recognition to the United States of America. This treaty not only ended the war, but paved the way for the future of the new and independent nation (Treaty of Paris).
The American revolution was a very important time the country’s upbringing. During this time, colonists fought for what they believed in and were able to build something great. Without the hardwork and dedication of these people, the United States of America would not be where it is today.
History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party.
American Revolution Timeline. American Battlefield Trust, 17 July 2018, www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/american-revolution-timeline.
Carbone, Leslie. Slaying Leviathan: the Moral Case for Tax Reform. Potomac Books, Inc., 2009.
Catel, Patrick. Battles of the Revolutionary War. Heinemann Raintree, 2011.
Forest, Christopher. The Biggest Battles of the Revolutionary War. Capstone Press, 2013.
God In America. PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/godinamerica/people/puritans.html.
Kennedy, David M., and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. Wadsworth, 2015.
Kennedy, Frances H.. The American Revolution: a Historical Guidebook. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Revolutionary War. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/american-revolution-history#section_1.
The American Revolutiona ry War. The American Revolutionary War, www.revolutionary-war.net/.
The Declaration of Independence, 1776. U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/declaration.