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Fast Facts – The American Revolution
When was the American Revolution?
The American Revolutionary War lasted from April 1775 to September 1783.
- April 19, 1775 – The first battles of the American Revolution were fought at Lexington and Concord, marking the beginnings of armed conflict between Great Britain and America.
- July 4, 1776 – United States declared independence from Great Britain
- September 3, 1783 – Great Britain and the United States signed a peace treaty, the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War
Who fought in the Revolutionary War?
The Revolutionary War was fought between Great Britain, which was ruled by King George III at the time, and the British colonists in America. The colonists themselves were split, with Loyalists on the side of Great Britain, and Patriots on the side of the colonial rebels. The majority of people living in the colonies were “fence-sitters,” who were undecided on the issue.
- Hessian (German) soldiers made up around one third of the British troops
- France joined on the side of the colonists after they declared independence in 1776
- Spain entered in 1779, allying with France
- Dutch Republic entered in 1780 on the side of the colonies
What were the major battles of the Revolutionary War?
Battles of Lexington and Concord – the first battles of the Revolutionary War at dawn on April 19, 1775. British armies attacked the colonies and the Americans won, thanks to Paul Revere’s warning.
Battle of Bunker Hill – British armies attacked the Americans on June 17, 1775, expecting an easy victory over the smaller American militias. The Americans fought back but had to withdraw their troops, so Britain won the battle, despite losing more soldiers than the Americans.
Battle of Trenton – General George Washington led the Continental Army across the Delaware River to overtake the Hessian soldiers on December 26, 1776. This battle boosted the morale of the American troops, who had lost recent battles.
Battle of Yorktown – the final major battle of the Revolutionary War from September 28 to October 19, 1781. General George Washington’s army defeated Lord Cornwallis’s British Army, which caused Great Britain to surrender and ended the Revolutionary War.
What caused the Revolutionary War?
Many factors led up to the separation of the colonies from the governing Great Britain, but the major reason was that Great Britain spent too much money on the French and Indian War and wanted the colonies to help pay back the debt. Great Britain began adding taxes on certain goods in the colonies. The colonists grew upset because they were being taxed while having no representation in Parliament.
1763 – The French and Indian War: England and France signed a treaty to end the war, but the war cost Britain a lot of money
1765 – The Stamp Act: required taxed stamp on official documents to help offset the cost of the French and Indian war
1766 – Stamp Act repealed on March 18th
1768 – British troops arrive in Boston to enforce customs laws
1770 – Boston Massacre: 4 colonists shot by British troops
1773 – Tea Act: On May 10th, the Tea Act was intended to help the East India Company by adding a tax onto the price of tea
1773 – Boston Tea Party: On December 16th, in an act of protest, colonists in Boston upset over the Tea Act costumed as Native Americans and dumped imported tea from the ships into the Boston Harbor
1774 – Intolerable Acts: Britain proceeded to impose a series of acts on the colonies in response to the Boston Tea Party, which Colonists saw as a violation of their rights, ultimately leading them into the Revolutionary War
1775 – First battles of the Revolutionary War broke out on April 19th in Lexington and Concord
1776 – The Declaration of Independence is drafted and signed
1783 – America and Great Britain signed Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War
Why did the colonists oppose the Tea Act?
The act would have actually reduced the cost of tea, but colonists believed the act was an attempt to gain support for taxation of the colonies. Colonists were against taxation because their interests were not being represented in the British Parliament.
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was then debated and revised by the members of the Continental Congress.
Who signed the Declaration of Independence?
56 delegates from the 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, the President of Congress at the time, was the first to sign the document.
People who signed the Declaration of Independence:
President of Congress:
1. John Hancock
2. Josiah Bartlett
3. William Whipple
4. Matthew Thornton
5. Samuel Adams
6. John Adams
7. Robert Treat Paine
8. Elbridge Gerry
9. Stephen Hopkins
10. William Ellery
11. Roger Sherman
12. Samuel Huntington
13. William Williams
14. Oliver Wolcott
15. William Floyd
16. Philip Livingston
17. Francis Lewis
18. Lewis Morris
19. Richard Stockton
20. John Witherspoon
21. Francis Hopkinson
22. John Hart
23. Abraham Clark
24. Robert Morris
25. Benjamin Rush
26. Benjamin Franklin
27. John Morton
28. George Clymer
29. James Smith
30. George Taylor
31. James Wilson
32. George Ross
33. George Read
34. Caesar Rodney
35. Thomas McKean
36. Samuel Chase
37. William Paca
38. Thomas Stone
39. Charles Carroll of Carrollton
40. George Wythe
41. Richard Henry Lee
42. Thomas Jefferson
43. Benjamin Harrison
44. Thomas Nelson, Jr.
45. Francis Lightfoot Lee
46. Carter Braxton
47. William Hooper
48. Joseph Hewes
49. John Penn
50. Edward Ruteledge
51. Thomas Heyward, Jr.
52. Thomas Lynch, Jr.
53. Arthur Middleton
54. Button Gwinnett
55. Lyman Hall
56. George Walton
When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Congress voted to declare independence on July 2, 1776 and the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted on July 4, 1776. The exact date that the delegates signed the Declaration of Independence has been debated, but many historians accept August 2, 1776 as the day most signatures were added to the document.
Who were the important people involved in the American Revolution?
- Paul Revere – took part in the Boston Tea Party and later served as a messenger during the Revolutionary War, going on the famous Midnight Ride to warn colonists that the British Army were on their way to Lexington.
- King George III – King of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. He wanted to suppress the rebellion of the colonists to retain his territories.
- George Washington – as General and Commander-in-Chief of the military, Washington led the Continental Army in the fight against the British. He became the first President of the United States and helped write the Constitution.
- Thomas Jefferson – helped to draft the Declaration of Independence, later served as the first Secretary of State, the second Vice President, and the third President of the United States
- John Hancock – President of the 2nd Continental Congress, the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence
- Thomas Paine – wrote “Common Sense,” a pamphlet in which he outlined the reasons for American independence, earning him the title “Father of the American Revolution”
- Patrick Henry – best known for his speech, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” and is considered one of the founding fathers of America.
What was the British perspective on the American Revolution?
The British felt that the colonies were indebted to them. Great Britain had fought in the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years’ War), where Britain secured additional territories for its colonies. Britain spent a lot of money defending their territories and gaining the new ones, which put them into debt at the colonies’ expense. Colonists were also dependent on their mother country for the many goods they imported into the colonies.
Resentment had grown on both sides. Britain believed that the colonists were not grateful for the help provided to them, while the colonies saw the British-imposed taxes as a violation of their rights, and felt that their interests were not being represented in Parliament.
The British were especially surprised when they lost the first battle in Lexington. They had believed the colonists didn’t stand a chance against them, and were proven wrong.
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