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This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on key events and individuals who influenced the American revolution.
Originally ruled by the British crown, America's 13 colonies gained their independence after a fierce war against Britain in what would come to be known as the Revolutionary War (1775-83).
For more than a decade prior, tensions were stoked by the crown imposing taxes on the colonies, including the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773, aimed at raising revenue. Many colonists resented these impositions and their lack of representation in British Parliament, and this led to violence.
A flashpoint in the tensions came in 1770 with the Boston Massacre or, from the British point of view, the Incident on King Street. Some three years later, in 1773 came the infamous Boston Tea Party.
Punitive taxes were imposed by the crown to assert its authority over the colonies, but this only served to cement Americans' resolve to become independent. Leading figures emerged including George Washington, John Adams and Samuel Adams who denounced taxation. Other grievances included matters of liberty, property, military and justice, which could in time become enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
With the formation of the Continental Congress, clashes persisted and the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired on 19 April, 1775, in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
In time, new delegates were added to the Continental Congress, namely Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and Washington, who'd become famous for his assault on British forces in the crossing of the Delaware (Dec 25-26 1776), became the Continental Army's commander-in-chief.
Through the British won some battles, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, it only served to reinforce the push for independence. Come 1776, the Continental Congress voted in the Declaration of Independence which was met by a massive offensive of 34 000 British troops. But it was Washington's famous surprise attack that gave hopes of victory.
France officially entered the fray in 1776 by declaring war on Britain, but even with this new support, Americans suffered setbacks that included defection and defeat. It was only in the early years of the 1780 that signs of the war ceasing became evident. This included the withdrawing of British troops from Charleston and Savannah in late 1782.
On 3 September, 1783, Britain relented and formally recognized the independence of the United States, ushering in a new nation that would come to be one of the most powerful in the world. Learn more about this epic war, pivotal battles and its leading figures in this category.