The War about America's Independence began in 1775 and, before its conclusion, had cost three times more lives than World War II.
Except in spirit, the Americans
were badly prepared to battle the British. With few provisions and little
training, the ragtag American troops fought for their cause; but they were continually
overpowered. The turning point in the war came in 1777 when American soldiers,
helped secretly by France, defeated the British Army at Saratoga, New York.
After that victory, France and America signed treaties of alliance; and France
provided the Americans with troops and warships.
In 1781 in Yorktown, Virginia, American and French troops were able to surround the British and force their surrender. The war continued for two more years and was officially ended with the Treaty of Paris. England recognized American independence.
France had worked against the British to help America during the Revolutionary War; but when America through John Jay made a commercial agreement (Jay's Treaty) with the British in 1794, the new French government said it violated France's 1778 treaties with the United States.
In retaliation, they (the French) increased their seizures of American ships that were trading with the British and refused to receive a new United States minister who came to Paris.
President John Adams believed we needed to step up our defense. Then in April of 1798 he informed Congress of the "X Y Z Affair," in which three French agents demanded $250,000 in return for their good will with the United States. Outraged by this bribe and affront to national honor, Congress authorized the President to acquire, arm, and man no more than twelve vessels of up to twenty-two guns each. This newly created Navy captured about 80 French ships, but the French continued their assault on American ships.
Though many Americans were still enraged and ready to declare war, John Adams sent another peace team back to Paris in 1800. We avoided the war for a time, Adams lost re-election, and the Federalist party was finished.
Chronology of Events
April 5, 1764 Britain's Sugar Act raises levies on colonial commerce.
March 22, 1765 Britain passes Stamp Act and Quartering Act.
October 7, 1765 Stamp Act Congress approved Declaration of Rights and Grievances by John Dickinson (picture at left) "the penman of the Revolution" arguing that colonial taxation is to come from their own assemblies, not the British.
The Sons of Liberty took their name from a debate on the Stamp Act in Parliament in 1765. Charles Townshend, speaking in support of the Stamp Act, spoke contemptuously of the American colonists as being "children planted by our care, nourished up by our indulgence... and protected by our arms." Then Isaac Barre, a Member of Parliament, described the Americans as "the Sons of Liberty" who would resist the new tax. In the autumn, those who resisted the Stamp Act became synonymous with the Sons of Liberty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_Liberty
March 18, 1766 Stamp Act is repealed.
June 29, 1767 Townshend Acts impose new taxes on colonies.
February 11, 1768 Sam Adams (pictured right) calls for colonial unity in Circular Letter. Britain sends troops to enforce order in Boston.
March 5, 1770 The Boston Massacre. Five colonists killed.
December 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party
March 5, 1774 Anniversary of 1770 Boston Massacre. John Hancock delivers Memorial.
September 5, 1774 The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.
March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry at the Virginia Assembly gives stirring speech:
Note: Many believe the speech filled the Virginia House of Burgesses with passion to pass a resolution delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. The gathering reportedly jumped up shouting, "To Arms! To Arms!' Washington said the Reverend Samuel Davies set the ripples in motion that led to Patrick Henry's ability to express a heartfelt speech.
There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come.
Peter Muhlenberg, from a Lutheran sermon read at Woodstock, Virginia, Jan, 1776
April 18, 1775 British soldiers are sent to Concord to destroy the colonists' weapons depot. That night, Paul Revere sets out from Boston to warn colonists. He reaches Lexington about midnight to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock who had been hiding out there.
children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
from The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
April 19, 1775 The first battle of the American Revolution, Lexington and Concord. It was the enemy that fired the first shot.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood; And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
O Thou who made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free, --
Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raised to them and Thee.
--Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson--
From what has been said you may learn what encouragement you have to put your trust in God, and hope for his assistance in the present important conflict. He is the Lord of hosts, great in might, and strong in battle. Whoever hath his countenance and approbation, shall have the best at last. I do not mean to speak prophetically, but agreeably to the analogy of faith, and the principles of God's moral government. I leave this as a matter rather of conjecture than certainty, but observe, that if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.
John Witherspoon, 1776
Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit — appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free....
Joseph Warren, American account of the Battle of Lexington, 1775
May 10, 1775 The Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. John Hancock elected as its president.
Ethan Allen captures Fort Ticonderoga "In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!"
June 15, 1775 The Continental Congress appoints George Washington (picture right) to be commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
June 17, 1775 The Battle of Bunker Hill
July 8, 1775 Olive Branch Petition is submitted to King George (see below)
January 9, 1776 Thomas Paine's influential pamphlet "Common Sense" is published. It criticizes King George III and any allegiance to Monarchy, and it praises as good the sentiment for American independence.
We have it in our power to begin the world anew...America shall make a stand, not for herself alone, but for the world,
March 17, 1776 George Washington defends Boston; British troops evacuate the city.
June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee, (picture left) Virginia, puts forth motion for independence in Congress: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
June 11, 1776 The Continental Congress appoints a committee to draft the Declaration.
July 2, 1776 Congress adopts Lee's resolution for independence.
July 4, 1776 Congress approves the Declaration of Independence as drafted by Jefferson and amended by the Congress.
Benjamin Franklin was appointed part of a committee to draft a seal for the newly united states which would characterize the spirit of this new nation. He proposed: "Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto: 'Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
August 22-27, 1776 Battle of Long Island. British forces defeat the Continental Army
September 15, 1776 British forces occupy New York City
September 22, 1776 Nathan Hale is executed without trial by the British.
December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine's first of The Crisis papers is issued. Following is one paragraph from first paper:
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
December 25, 1776 Washington Crosses the Delaware "Major James Wilkinson, who was on his way to join Washington, found his route easy to follow: 'There was a little snow on the ground, which was tinged here and there with blood from the feet of the men who wore broken shoes.'" .
There were three American military groups who tried to cross the Delaware that night, but two did not make it because the ice was too much for them. The one group that forged ahead to make it across was the one commanded by Washington.
December 26, 1776 Battle of Trenton, New Jersey
January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton, New Jersey
September 19, 1777 The Continental Congress flees Philadelphia. British troops occupy the city one week later.
October 7, 1777 Battle of Bemis Heights
October 17, 1777 Battle of Saratoga
Now here's a health to
And our commander Gates!
To Freedom and to Washington
Whom every Tory hates.
Likewise unto our Congress -
God grant it long to reign-
Our country, rights and justice
Forever to maintain
Battle of Saratoga
By Lesley Nelson
November 15, 1777 The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation.
December 21, 1777 George Washington's troops at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
February 6, 1778 Treaty of alliance and commerce with France is signed by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee.
June 28, 1778 Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey
December 29, 1778 British forces occupy Savannah, Georgia.
May 12, 1780 British forces defeat American troops at Charleston, South Carolina.
October 19, 1781 British General Charles Cornwallis surrenders at the Battle of Yorktown.
Cornwallis is taken! Lieut. Col. Tighlman of Washington's staff announcing the surrender of Cornwallis, from the steps of the State House, (Idepedence Hall) at midnight, October 23rd, 1781. Lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1876. Reproduction number: LC-USZC2-2131 (film copy slide)
September 3, 1783 Treaty of Paris is signed by John Adams (below right), Benjamin Franklin (left), and John Jay (above right), and officially ends the war.
Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 Although Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown in the Fall of 1781 marked the end of the Revolutionary War, minor battles between the British and the colonists continued for another two years. The Peace Treaty of 1783 formally ended the United States War for Independence.
In addition to giving formal recognition to the U.S., the articles established U.S. boundaries, specified certain fishing rights, allowed creditors of each country to be paid by citizens of the other, restored the rights and property of Loyalists, opened up the Mississippi River to citizens of both nations, and provided for evacuation of all British forces.
The treaty began with the words, "In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity."
The citizens of America...are, from this period, to be considered as the actors on a most conspicuous theater, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.
November 25,1783 British forces evacuate New York and Brooklyn, the last British troops to leave the colonies.
Annis Stockton (Mrs. Richard Stockton) wrote the following for George Washington upon the announcement of peace in 1783:
With all thy country's blessings on thy head,
And all the glory that encircles man,
Thy deathless fame to distant nations spread,
And realms unblest by Freedom's genial plan;
Addressed by statesmen, legislators, kings,
Revered by thousands as you pass along,
While every muse with ardour spreads her wings
To our hero in immortal song;
Say, can a woman's voice an audience gain;
And stop a moment thy triumphal car?
And wilt thou listen to a peaceful strain,
Unskilled to paint the horrid wrack of war?
For what is glory--what are martial deeds--
Unpurified at Virtue's awful shrine?
Full oft remorse a glorious day succeeds,
The motive only stamps the deed divine.
But thy last legacy, renowned chief,
Hath decked thy brow with honours more sublime,
Twined in thy wreath the Christian's firm belief,
And nobly owned thy faith to future time.
May 25, 1787 The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia
September 15, 1787 Constitution is adopted.
February 6, 1788 Massachusetts ratified the Constitution by a vote of 186 to 168. To the ringing of bells and the booming of cannons, the delegates trooped out of Brattle Street Church. Citizens soon thereafter sang their convention song to the tune of Yankee Doodle.
The vention did in Boston meet,
The State House could not hold 'em
So then they went to Fed'ral Street,
And there the truth was told 'em...
And ev'ry morning went to
And then began disputing,
Till oppositions silenced were,
By arguments refuting.
Now politicians of all kinds,
Who are not yet decided,
May see how Yankees speak their minds,
And yet are not divided.
So here I end my Fed'ral
Composed of thirteen verses;
May agriculture flourish long
And commerce fill our purses!
October 14,1789 George Washington decreed a Thanksgiving celebration to set aside Thursday, November 26 as "A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer."
God is our Creator. He has created us with rights that some governments manage to violate, but no man can change or erase the essence of those rights being a part of us. Our founding fathers understood that in writing the Bill of Rights. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights must be accepted on the whole as the foundation of our government.
Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.
The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
Thomas Jefferson, ("The Rights of British America," 1774)
From the day of the Declaration . . . They [the American people] were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct.
John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State (Oration celebration July 4, 1821)
December 15, 1791 Bill of Rights is ratified
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:RichardHenryLee.jpg The two-dimensional
work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States
and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100
years. This photograph of the work is also in the public domain in the United
States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.). This is a faithful
photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work of art. The
original image comprising the work of art itself is in the public domain because
its copyright has expired.
"This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when He created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion, so, when he created man, and endued him with free-will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free-will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws." From Blackstone's Commentaries, which was America's law book during and after the American Revolution. Phrases were taken directly from it in forming our laws and founding documents.
There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations.
It is not our military might or our higher standard of living that has most distinguished us from our adversaries. It is our belief that the state is the servant of the citizen and not its master.
John F. Kennedy
Timeline of the American Revolution - DAR
John Dickinson drafted the Olive Branch Petition in another attempt to humbly assert the rights of the colonists while maintaining their loyalty to the British crown. King George proclaimed that the colonists had "proceeded to open and avowed rebellion."
Approved by the Continental Congress on July 5, 1775
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty. Most Gracious Sovereign,
We your Majesty's faithful subjects of the colonies of New-hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode island and Providence plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general Congress, entreat your Majesty’s gracious attention to this our humble petition.
The union between our Mother Country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just government, produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other Nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain rising to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.
Her rivals observing, that there was no probability of this happy connection being broken by civil dissentions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessions of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of these settlements from which they were to be derived.
In the prosecution of this attempt events so unfavourable to the design took place, that every friend to the interests of Great Britain and these colonies entertained pleasing and reasonable expectations of seeing an additional force and extention immediately given to the operations of the union hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the Crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.
At the conclusion therefore of the late war, the most glorious and advantageous that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal colonists having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your Majesty, of the late king, and of Parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace and the emoluments of victory and conquest. While these recent and honorable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of the august legislature the Parliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of Statutes and regulations adopted for the administration of the colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies; and to their inexpressible astonishment perceived the dangers of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic dangers, in their judgment of a more dreadful kind.
Nor were their anxieties alleviated by any tendency in this system to promote the welfare of the Mother Country. For 'tho its effects were more immediately felt by them, yet its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.
We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices practised by many of your Majestys ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of traceing thro' a series of years past the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies which have flowed from this fatal source.
Your Majestys ministers persevering in their measures and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affection of your still faithful colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us, only as parts of our distress.
Knowing, to what violent resentments and incurable animosities, civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire.
Thus called upon to address your Majesty on affairs of such moment to America, and probably to all your dominions, we are earnestly desirous of performing this office with the utmost deference for your Majesty; and we therefore pray, that your royal magnanimity and benevolence may make the most favourable construction of our expressions on so uncommon an occasion. Could we represent in their full force the sentiments that agitate the minds of us your dutiful subjects, we are persuaded, your Majesty would ascribe any seeming deviation from reverence, and our language, and even in our conduct, not to any reprehensible intention but to the impossibility or reconciling the usual appearances of respect with a just attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel enemies, who abuse your royal confidence and authority for the purpose of effecting our destruction.
Attached to your Majestys person, family and government with all the devotion that principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these colonies may be restored but that a concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis, as to perpetuate its blessings uninterrupted by any future dissentions to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majestys name to posterity adorned with that signal and lasting glory that has attended the memory of those illustrious personages, whose virtues and abilities have extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and by securing happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable monuments to their own fame.
We beg leave further to assure your Majesty that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal colonists during the course of the present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin to request such a reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent with her dignity or her welfare. These, related as we are to her, honor and duty, as well as inclination induce us to support and advance; and the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find your faithful subjects on this continent ready and willing at all times, as they ever have been with their lives and fortunes to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty and of our Mother Country.
We therefore beseech your Majesty, that your royal authority and influence may be graciously interposed to procure us relief from our afflicting fears and jealousies occasioned by the system before mentioned, and to settle peace through every part of your dominions, with all humility submitting to your Majesty's wise consideration, whether it may not be expedient for facilitating those important purposes, that your Majesty be pleased to direct some mode by which the united applications of your faithful colonists to the throne, in pursuance of their common councils, may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation; and that in the meantime measures be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty's subjects; and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majestys colonies be repealed: For by such arrangements as your Majesty's wisdom can form for collecting the united sense of your American people, we are convinced, your Majesty would receive such satisfactory proofs of the disposition of the colonists towards their sovereign and the parent state, that the wished for opportunity would soon be restored to them, of evincing the sincerity of their professions by every testimony of devotion becoming the most dutiful subjects and the most affectionate colonists.
That your Majesty may enjoy a long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your dominions with honor to themselves and happiness to their subjects is our sincere and fervent prayer.