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The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

The American Revolution

1775 to 1783

Page 1

APRIL 19, 1775 - THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD

After decades of bitterness felt by the colonists toward the British, the tension came to a boiling point on the morning of April 19, 1775. Approximately 70 armed militiamen from Massachusetts confronted the British advance guard at Lexington, Massachusetts. Without acting on orders, someone fired the shot that started the American Revolution, for this was soon followed by a round of British gun fire and a bayonet charge that left eight of the colonial militiamen dead with many wounded. The events of this day would eventually usher in a new era in world history.

After the confrontation on Lexington Green, the British headed to Concord and destroyed a weapons depot. Soon afterward a British platoon was attacked by colonial militiamen and suffered over a dozen casualties.

News of the events at Lexington and Concord swiftly spread through the American colonies. Pockets of British soldiers around the colonies were openly harassed. On April 23, 1775 the Provincial Congress in Massachusetts ordered the mobilization of over 13,000 American soldiers. Many of them set up camps outside Boston in a year long siege of British held Boston.

WASHINGTON AND THE CONTINENTAL ARMY

On May 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia with John Hancock as its president. That same day, colonial American forces struck a blow against British domination by attacking Fort Ticonderoga in New York on May 10, 1775. Under the leadership of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, the Americans captured the fort and its treasure trove of cannons and other military equipment.

Five days later, on May 15, the Congress placed the colonies in a state of defense. On June 14, 1775, Congress made a pivotal decision by agreeing to form the Continental Army to meet the British threat. The next day, on June 15, 1775, the Congress unanimously voted George Washington general and Commander-in-Chief of the new Continental Army. The rebellious colonists at last had a military leader around whom they could unify. The intent of the Congress at this time was not to seek independence from Britain but to seek a cessation to intolerable behavior by the British such as taxation without representation and the forced quartering of British troops in colonial households.

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