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The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

The American Revolution

1775 to 1783

Page 2

BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

Bunker Hill in Massachusetts is the site of the first major battle between American and British troops. On June 17, 1775, with over 2,000 British soldiers marching toward them, American troops dug in on high ground called Breed’s Hill and were told not to fire until they saw the whites of their eyes. American forces repelled the first assault. The British regrouped for try a second time but suffered the same result. On the third assault, the British took the hill. It was a hollow victory because it caused over 1,000 British casualties, half the force, while the Americans lost about 400.

George Washington formally took command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had 17,000 men under his command.

On July 5, 1775, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition which called for peace between the colonies and Britain. The King of England refused to even read the petition and instead issued a proclamation declaring the colonies to be in a state of rebellion. On July 6, Congress published a Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms. This details the reasons for fighting the British and states the Americans are “resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves.”

Later that year, on November 28 the American Navy is established by Congress. The next day Congress authorizes secret communication with European powers who may be supportive of American efforts. The next month, France gave indication it might support the colonies in the war against Britain.

On December 23, 1775, King George III issued a royal proclamation closing the American colonies to all commerce and trade. It was to take effect March of 1776.

On January 5, 1776 the assembly of New Hampshire adopted the first American state constitution. Four days later Thomas Paine’s Common Sense is published in Philadelphia. The pamphlet criticizes monarchal rule and provides strong argument for American independence. The pamphlet becomes an instant best-seller throughout America. The war and possible independence from Great Britain became the main topic of conversation throughout the colonies.

AMERICA CAPTURES BOSTON

In mid March 1776, in a stunning victory, the Continental Army took Boston, forcing the British to flee to Halifax on March 17. Fifty cannons from the captured Fort. Ticonderoga in New York were brought by sled to Dorchester Heights in Boston to assist in the battle. For the first time in recent memory the colonies were entirely free of British troops. The victory in Boston was a morale boost for the colonies. Soon afterward, Washington prepared New York City in anticipation of an attack.

Another victory for the Americans took place on June 28, 1776 when Charleston was defended against a British naval attack.

On April 6, 1776 the Second Continental Congress declared all colonial ports open to all countries except the British.

ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE

On April 12, 1776 the North Carolina assembly became the first of the thirteen colonies to grant delegates to the Second Continental Congress the authority to vote for independence from Great Britain. Other colonial assemblies began to discuss the same issue.

A turning point in the American Revolution came on May 2, 1776 when King Louis XVI of France granted one million dollars in war supplies to the colonies. The long awaited alliance with France had begun. Shortly thereafter Spain promised support as well.

On May 10, 1776 Congress formally asked each of the 13 colonies to form local governments, bypassing royal authority.

A major setback took place at the beginning of the summer of 1776 as a gargantuan British war fleet arrived in New York Harbor. The British amassed 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, 30 battleships and numerous support ships at the mouth of New York City. In the last week of August British General William Howe attacked Washington’s army in the Battle of Long Island. Washington, facing a numerically superior army strategically retreated to Harlem Heights in Manhattan. By the end of the year the British took New York City, forcing Washington to retreat to the west. Soon afterward, Fort Lee in New Jersey fell to British general Cornwallis.

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