Bottom Content goes here.
Wikipedia content requires these links.....
Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of
Independence) was a war fought between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its
North American colonies (these colonies allied with France, from 1775 to
1783). This war is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the American
Revolution; but, the American Revolution began much earlier and refers to
more than just the war discussed here.
The eventual outcome was a recognition of independence for the thirteen
colonies, as well as western territories, extending to the Mississippi River.
Causes of Revolution
Before the revolution most people in the British North American Colonies considered
themselves loyal subjects of the British Crown, with the same rights and
obligations as people in Britain. However, under the doctrine of
mercantilism the British considered the Colonies more as a resource to be
utilized for the benefit of their own economy and had little respect for the
Colonists. This difference in perception led to a vicious cycle of Colonists
acting against what they saw as unfair policies, harsh British reaction,
followed by stronger Colonial reaction, leading to even harsher British
reaction -- all of this spiraling into the revolution.
As the Colonists started rejecting the Crown they also started becoming more
radicalized in other ways, paying more attention to the idea of a broad
democracy, and people like Thomas Paine who not long before this would have
been condemned as a Leveller. Thomas Paine, produced a pamphlet entitled
Common Sense arguing that the only solution to the problems with Britain
would be Independence.
It should be noted however that a large proportion of the population did
stay loyal or at least neutral during the war. Loyalists, known as Tories,
included members of the aristocracy who had a lot to lose as well as recent
immigrants who identified more with their birthplace than their new home.
Both during and following the war some Tories were forced to flee to Canada
or Britain. Many Native Americans also opposed the revolution realizing that
they were likely to suffer more at the hands of independent Americans than
the British. An estimated 10-15% of colonists were Loyalists and about
one-third of them left the United States. Some 70,000 Loyalists fled along
with 2,000 Native Americans. 50,000 of these Loyalists went to Canada where
they helped form the colonies of New Brunswick and Ontario. Some black
Loyalists went to Sierra Leone.
Initial Success and British Response
This political cartoon by Ben Franklin was originally written for the French and Indian war, but was later recycled to persuade the denizens of different colonies to join together against the Britis
This political cartoon by Ben Franklin was originally written for the French
and Indian war, but was later recycled to persuade the people of different
colonies to join together against the British
The revolution started in April 1775 when British troops quartered in Boston
attempted to seize munitions stored by colonial militias at Concord,
Massachusetts. Conflict spread and the outnumbered British garrisons in the
13 colonies were quickly defeated. Fort Ticonderoga fell in May, Montreal in
August. Boston was evacuated by British troops in October. By the end of
1775 Britain's holdings in North America had been reduced to the Canadian
Maritimes and a besieged garrison at Quebec City in Canada.
At the Second Continental Congress of May 1775, some of the Delegates were
deeply divided on agreeing upon the best way to achieve more freedom from
Great Britain. Samuel Adams, John Adams, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry
Lee favored Independence from Great Britain. Others, who are now called the
moderate party, favored seeking a compromise with the Mother Country.
One of the moderates wrote the Olive Branch Petition which expressed the
colonists' loyalty to the King and begged him to call a cease-fire until a
nonviolent agreement could be reached.
In November of 1775, the colonists found out that George III had dismissed
the petition and decided to continue fighting. In 1776, the British sent
75,000 troops to North America to quell the rebellion. The colonists met in
Philadelphia in June of 1776 and declared independence from England on July
4, 1776. (See United States Declaration of Independence.) The colonial army
proved no match for the well-armed British and suffered an embarrassing
series of defeats in the Battle of Long Island. By the end of 1776, Quebec,
New York City and much of New Jersey were in British hands. However, during
Christmas week, General George Washington, who had retreated into
Pennsylvania, crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey and rolled up
outlying British garrisons at Trenton and Princeton. This established a
pattern that held for the rest of the war. The British controlled the
territory they occupied with major forces -- primarily New York City and
Philadelphia. The colonists controlled everything else.
In 1777, a force of 10,000 troops started down from Quebec to cut the
colonies in half. Simultaneously the much larger army in New Jersey moved
across the Delaware River and took Philadelphia -- the colonial capitol and
the largest city in North America. However, after retaking Ticonderoga with
little trouble, the Northern army suffered a series of serious defeats at
Bennington, Fort Stanwix and in two battles near Saratoga. By October the
5,700 survivors found themselves surrounded, outnumbered and short of
supplies in the wilderness 130 miles (210 km) south of Montreal with winter
American success brings French aid
On October 17th General John Burgoyne surrendered an entire British Army to
the colonials. News of the surrender arrived in Paris hard on the heels of
news that colonial troops had caused supposedly invincible British regulars
to flee in disarray in the early stages of the Battle of Germantown.
Convinced by Benjamin Franklin and the news from North America that the
Colonials had a reasonable chance of victory, the French agreed to support
the colonists. Later on February 6, 1778 the Treaty of Alliance and the
Treaty of Amity and Commerce were signed by the United States and France
signaling official recognition of the new republic. Then on July 10 of the
same year, Louis XVI of France declared war on the side of the Americans
against the Kingdom of Great Britain.
With the French in the war, the conflict settled into a war of attrition.
The Colonials were too weak to dislodge the British from Philadelphia and
New York. The British tried various strategies, but were unable to establish
permanent control over the countryside and the vast majority of the
population. The economy of the colonies slowly disintegrated and the British
economy -- drained by the costs of a war with France and supporting the
large occupation forces in America -- also suffered substantially.
End of the War
In 1781, the British strategy changed to focus on the Southern colonies.
General Cornwallis led a force of 7,000 troops whose mission was to support
loyalists in the South. He was opposed by Nathaniel Greene who despite
losing every battle, was able to demoralize Cornwallis' troops. Running low
on supplies, Cornwallis moved his forces to Yorktown, Virginia to await
supplies and reinforcements.
Spain had entered the war in 1779 and in May of 1781 spanish forces took
Pensacola and with it control of the small British colony of East Florida.
This was the largest battle ever fought in Florida. Accounts of what
This was the largest battle ever fought in Florida. Accounts of what
happened next are remarkably diverse -- possibly [image:yorktown80.jpg]
due to a desire by some American authors to
minimize the French role in the events. All sources agree that French naval
forces defeated the British Royal Navy on September 5th at the Battle of the
Chesapeake, cutting off Cornwallis' supplies and transport. Washington moved
his troops from New York and a combined Colonial-French force, led by
Lafayette and Washington, of 16,000 or 17,000 troops was assembled and
commenced the Battle of Yorktown on October 6, 1781. Cornwallis' position
quickly became untenable. On October 19th, Cornwallis surrendered to
Washington; as the substantial British force marched out and turned their
weapons over, the British regimental band was instructed to play a popular
song of the day entitled "The World Turned Upside Down".
In April 1782, the British House of Commons voted to end the war with the
American colonies and the government of war proponent Lord North was ousted.
The British removed their troops from Charleston, South Carolina and
Savannah, Georgia in the summer of 1782. In November 1782 a peace agreement
was reached and on February 4, 1783 Great Britain formally declared that it
would cease hostilities in North America. However the formal end of the war
did not occur until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783 and
the United States Congress ratified the treaty on January 14, 1784.
The United States enlisted a total of about 200,000 soldiers and sailors
during the war. Battle casualties were 4435 dead and 6188 wounded. An
estimated 20,000 Americans died of non-combat causes.
1200 Hessians were killed in action and 6,354 died from illness or accident.
According to data from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the last
surviving U.S. veteran of the conflict, George Fruits, died in 1876 at the
age of 114. However, Fruits was never on a pension roll. The last surviving
veteran may have been Daniel F. Bakeman (died 1869), who was placed on the
pension rolls by an act of Congress and is listed as the last survivor of
the conflict by the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs.