The War For Independence
Causes of the Revolution
• What was it? How did it lead to
– Visible Causes…
• Sugar Act
• Stamp Act
• Townshend Acts
• Boston Massacre
• Boston Tea Party
• Intolerable Acts
– Below the surface…
• Navigation Acts
• Salutary Neglect
• Great Awakening
• French and Indian War
• The Enlightenment
Style of War
• Smoothbore Muskets
– Inaccurate, short-ranged
• Requires massed fire in lines
• Use of militia
– Poorly trained; ineffective
• British are military juggernaut
– British objective is to restore British
• Win back loyalty with force?
• If no loyalty, need a large army to
– 50,000 est. – cannot commit to that
– Colonists objective is to stay in
British empire but have local self-
• Loyal, but still shooting?
Lexington & Concord
• April 1775 – Thomas Gage gets
report about store of militia
weapons at Concorde
– Plan to confiscate weapons
• Move out is supposed to be secret;
– British run into colonial militia
• British tell militia to disperse; they
– Search for weapons turns up
nothing; word has gotten out that
British have fired at Lexington
and Concorde and tried to burn
– Militia fire from cover of trees as
British try to get back to Boston
Fallout and the Second Continental Congress
• Following Lexington & Concord,
Boston is placed under siege
• May 1775 - 2nd Continental Congress
– Draft Olive Branch Petition
– Organize Continental Army
• Gen. George Washington in
– Authorize invasion of Canada.
– Open negotiations with France.
– Authorize a Navy.
• June 1775 - British troops in Boston
look to secure high ground around
– Bunker Hill
• Howe’s frontal assaults are put down by
• Summer 1775 - Fort Ticonderoga
– Benedict Arnold takes fort; moves
artillery to Boston to break siege
End of Year One?
• By end of first year, Colonists think
they have done a lot
– Not many British in America
• What are the objectives?
– Britain has declared that “all
inhabitants in all colonies are seen in a
state of rebellion.”
– 2nd Continental Congress wants to use
violence to get Britain to respect their
• Majority of colonists are not on either
• Little talk of independence.
• A nation divided…
– 1/3 Patriots
– 1/3 Loyalists (Tories)
– 1/3 neutral
1776 – A Pivotal Year
• Jan 1776 – Thomas Paine’s
– Goal of war should be independence.
– Attacks King George III; attacks
monarchy in general.
– Unnatural that an island should
govern a continent.
• “Common Sense” is very popular in
– May have abolished hesitation and
confusion in the colonies.
– Brought more people to the patriot
• By Spring1776, Congress begins to
– First vote for independence fails!
• Radicals will wait for the idea to
• June 1776 – Motion for independence made by
Richard Henry Lee.
– Debated through June; passes on July 2nd.
• Declaration of Independence
– Thomas Jefferson is primary author.
• Committee consists of John Adams,
Benjamin Franklin, Sherman,
– Borrows ideas from a variety of sources.
• Heavily influenced by the ideals of the
– “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of
– Revolution is a right if
– People have right to come
together and form government.
– Addresses some specific grievances
• British interference with colonial
• Taxing without consent.
• Lays blame on George III
• British focus on three campaigns
to “crush” Revolution…
– Canada (Sir Guy Carleton)
• Resisted by Benedict Arnold
– Charleston (Sir Henry Clinton)
• Does not even hit shore
– New York (Sir William Howe)
• Continental Army told to defend
– Washington's actions show he
does not what to do on battlefield
– British push Washington from
Brooklyn, Long Island
» Then set up winter camp
• Trenton and Princeton
– Two small victories
• British focus on two
• Philadelphia (Howe)
– Knows that he must destroy
Washington to win Revolution
– Will take capital to cut off
• Canada (Burgoyne)
• Arnold’s defiance of Gates’
orders rallies troops; forces
• Brings French into war
– Treaty of Alliance
1778 - 1781
• War in north is practically on hold;
focus moves to South
• In the south…
– Cornwallis takes Savannah,
– Gates, then Greene put in
command of Southern Continental
• Reliance on militia
– Battle of Cowpens
– Cornwallis ultimately forced to
withdraw from North Carolina
following Guilford Courthouse
• Goes to Yorktown
• Cornwallis’ forced trapped
between French fleet and
– Southern Army must surrender
• Why is it all over?
– British have made no progress
– Cannot keep paying for war
– Do not have enough troops
• Use of Hessian mercenaries
– Charleston also under siege
• British had won most of the
battles, but could not destroy
Treaty of Paris, 1783
– September 1783
– Ends the war
– Boundaries of USA = Canada
(North), Mississippi River (West)
– Florida returns to Spain