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American Revolution and Revolutionary War

Updated on December 12, 2016
Phyllis Doyle profile image

Early American history is of special interest to Phyllis, for it is what shaped our country.

Battles of the Revolutionary War

Clockwise from top left: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis after the Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Trenton, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Long Island, Battle of Guilford Court House
Clockwise from top left: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis after the Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Trenton, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Battle of Long Island, Battle of Guilford Court House | Source

Growing Unrest

Jamestown, Virginia was established on May 14, 1607 and was the first permanent British settlement in America.

By 1733, there were thirteen colonies in North America. There was growing unrest within the colonies regarding British rulings. The American Revolution and Revolutionary War was inevitable when colonists, feeling the Stamp Act of 1765 and many other acts by Parliament was unconstitutional, wanted independence from the British Empire.

Taxation Without Representation

As early as 1754, Benjamin Franklin had made his thoughts on taxation clear when he wrote that it is the right of Englishmen to not be taxed without having representatives in Parliament. In 1764, Samuel Adams stated much the same, albeit a little stronger, saying the colonists are being reduced to the status of slavery.

In the mid 1700s, the American colonists were strongly opposing all the taxation imposed upon them by the British Parliament. Taxation without representation meant they had no voice in decisions of Parliament and this was of great concern.

Many acts of the British Parliament that were passed to raise revenue from the colonies for uses other than helping the colonists, resulted in the American Revolution.

Strongly opposing all the taxation and having no voice in their way of life, the colonists began uniting into one force of support for each other and what they felt was now their own country of America. Their goal was to be under their own rule and government and this led to a war for independence.

Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis (1725–1802)
Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis (1725–1802) | Source

Samuel Adams, 1722 - 1803

In this c. 1772 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter
In this c. 1772 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter | Source

Royal Proclamation of 1763

Several grievances and disappointments in British control contributed to the desire for independence in the colonies. When the French and Indian War had ended there was great discontent regarding boundary lines of the colonies. Settlers who had made homes in the back-country strongly resented the Proclamation of 1763, for it restricted settlement to east of the summit line of the Appalachians.

The Proclamation was a way for Britain to ease tensions with the Native American tribes by prohibiting the colonists to continue a westward expansion. At the same time, it would be helpful for the fur trade, thereby creating better relationships between the British and Native Americans. This was also beneficial to Britain in regards to the mercantile system, which was the economic doctrine that Britain maintained control of foreign trade.

The mercantile system was to enrich Britain -- but prohibited the colonists from trading with countries other than Britain.

1763 Royal Proclamation Line

1763 Royal Proclamation Line - A portion of eastern North America; the 1763 "proclamation line" is the border between the red and the pink areas.
1763 Royal Proclamation Line - A portion of eastern North America; the 1763 "proclamation line" is the border between the red and the pink areas. | Source

The Stamp Act 1765

In 1765 British Parliament imposed a tax on printed materials used in the colonies. Paper used for newspapers, legal documents, magazines and most other use of paperwork had to be done on paper that was made in London which had an embossed revenue stamp on it. The colonies had to pay for this paper in British currency.

The French and Indian War of 1754 - 1763, left Britain with huge financial issues. To help pay for the British soldiers that remained in the colonies, the Stamp Act was passed in Parliament, which meant the colonists would be paying for a portion of the expense to keep British soldiers supported.

Benjamin Franklin had stated that the colonies had already contributed millions of dollars to help care for and pay British soldiers during the French - Indian war alone. Asking the colonists for even more money by raising new taxes was highly unfair and unjustified according to Franklin and the other colonists.

The colonists highly resented the Stamp Act. Since they had no representation in Parliament there was no way for them to state their needs and desires in a timely manner and be included in the passing of any such acts. They had no voice on any taxes raised or what the money would be used for. To be taxed without the approval of their own legislatures was strongly protested. Tempers and protests of the colonists over the taxation without representation escalated into violence.

With the Molasses Act of 1733 and the Sugar Act of 1764, the greatest concern of the colonists was that the British Parliament was not acting in the best interests of the colonies. Many felt the issue was an illegal action against their constitutional rights.

Notice of the 1765 Parliament Stamp Act

Newspaper posting of Stamp Act
Newspaper posting of Stamp Act | Source

Continental Congress 1774

The heavy taxation and arbitrary decisions of Parliament spurred the colonists to action. Unity of the colonies was of the utmost importance and a governing body was needed. The Continental Congress was formed in 1774 and each colony had their own representatives, known as a "shadow government".

Attempts to plead with the British monarchy for help had failed. A royal decree declared that the members of the Continental Congress were traitors and the reaction of the Congress was to declare independence on July 4, 1776. The sovereign nation of the United States of America was declared and a split formed in the colonies. The Loyalists sided with the British Empire and the Patriots stood true and firm with independence for America.

The Patriots were helped when weapons and ammunition were sent to them from France, Spain and the Dutch Republic. The Continental Army was formed and the American Revolutionary War began.

War for Independence 1775 - 1783

The war for independence came under the command of General George Washington. Known for his excellent service as a senior officer in the French and Indian War (1754 - 1763), Washington was asked in 1775 to be the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was appointed to the position by the Second Continental Congress.

In 1778, France joined forces with the American Patriots, as Spain and the Dutch Republic went to war against Great Britain. Over the next several years, many battles were fought. In late November of 1782, the British Commons voted to end the war. In September of 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the Treaties of Versailles, the war was over.

General George Washington, 1792

General George Washington at Trenton by John Trumbull, Yale University Art Gallery (1792).
General George Washington at Trenton by John Trumbull, Yale University Art Gallery (1792). | Source

Great Losses and a new Nation

Heavy financial losses were incurred by Britain, France and the United States, as well as a heavy loss of lives on all sides. America won the right to independence and gained even more than they had expected, for the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris.

As for the Native Americans, they also suffered heavy losses, more so than any of the factions -- most of their population had been killed and they lost much of their homelands.

The United States of America emerged as a new nation with their own government and their new constitution.

Signing the Constitution, 'Unanimous' by Delegation

Signing the Constitution, 'unanimous' by delegation. Eleven states ratify to begin in 1789, unanimously 1790
Signing the Constitution, 'unanimous' by delegation. Eleven states ratify to begin in 1789, unanimously 1790 | Source

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.

— John Adams, 1818

United States Constitution

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Wonderful overview. thank you

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      This is a very fascinating and illuminating look at what led to the American Revolution, who was involved, and what happened.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Martin, you are most welcome -- thank you for the visit and comment.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Nate, I glad you enjoyed this hub. Thank you for your visit and comment, it is much appreciated.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Taxation will forever be an issue..and some would argue that we once again have taxation without representation....

      Phyllis, this would be a great jumping off point for a discussion on the topic for students of history in high school. That thought kept running through my mind as I read.

      Interesting and useful.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Pat, you are so right -- taxation will forever be an issue. To open a discussion on taxation for history students is a great idea. I had a history teacher in junior high who would open discussions on topics like this and it was great fun, plus we all learned a lot.

      Thank you so much for your visit and comments, Pat. Blessings to you.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      I have read books and watched movies about American Revolution. I'm kind of fascinated with America's love for freedom and justice. Thanks for this history lesson.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
      Author

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Vinaya, you are most welcome -- I am very glad you enjoyed the hub. I love history, reading and writing about it. Have a wonderful week. Thank you for the visit and comment, I really appreciate your visits always.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      The Fourth of July, American Independence Day, is almost here. I give thanks to our forefathers and ancestors who made this possible.

      Happy Fourth of July !

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 19 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I njoye this article on the American Revolution, Phyllis. Although I have studied it before your rticle was a good reminder of our early history which many are unaware of.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Don. Thanks for the visit and comment. Glad you enjoyed the hub. I really like reading and writing about American history. Have a great day, Don.

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