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American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War was a war fought between Great Britain and the original 13 British colonies in America. The war took place from 1775 to 1783. The American Army (Army of the colonies), led by George Washington, and other generals, defeated the armies of the British Empire. The colonies became independent, which meant that the British Empire was no longer in charge of them.
Background and causes
The war started after years of problems between the British Empire and the colonists of North America, after the French and Indian War. There were 13 colonies, and the colonists (people living in the colonies) did not like many of the actions of the British Government. For many years the British government decided which countries could trade with the colonies, instead of the colonies deciding it themselves. Many colonists wanted free trade.
In 1765, the British Parliament passed a Law called the Stamp Act. This law said that colonists had to buy stamps for all legal papers, newspapers, and even playing cards. The money from the stamps went to the King. The colonies did not follow this law. Large groups of people attacked people who were even thought to have the stamps. The colonies stopped buying things from Britain that needed a stamp (this is called a boycott). After a little while, the boycott worked and Britain no longer made the colonies buy stamps to put on all their documents and paper products.
But the Stamp Act was only the start of many taxes and laws that the Parliament and King made the colonies follow, and the colonies kept refusing to do what the King wanted. The British sent more soldiers to keep control of the colonies. In 1774, the British passed the Intolerable Acts. Other battles were also fought before the war started. The Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre caused people to become more mad about the situation.
Not all colonists wanted to leave the British Empire. The Loyalists, or Tories, stayed loyal to Great Britain. They were not going to change their views. The Patriots, or Whigs, wanted independence. Before the Revolutionary War, most people in America were Loyalists; but after it, most people were Patriots.
Many colonists wrote letters showing how they felt. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, a famous pamphlet about independence from Britain. Other colonial leaders, such as Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson wanted independence.
The first battles of the American Revolutionary War were Lexington and Concord. One of the first major battles was the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. After that, the British controlled Boston. Around that time, the Second Continental Congress sent an Olive Branch Petition to King George III (which he rejected) and named George Washington head of the army. Early in 1776, Washington drove the British out of Boston. A few months later the Continental Army and British troops under William Howe fought the New York and New Jersey Campaign. During the New York battles, the British started using Hessian troops, who were from Germany. Though the colonists lost New York (the British would hold it for the rest of the war), Washington was able to hold onto most of his army. Over Christmas, 1776-77, Washington crossed the Delaware River and defeated the Hessians at Trenton and the British at Princeton.
In 1777, the British attacked the city of Philadelphia, then the American capital. Two battles were fought over Philadelphia: Brandywine and Germantown. Again, the Americans lost a major city, but Washington was able to keep most of his army. Around this time, the Frenchman Lafayette joined the American Army. In 1778, the British left Philadelphia. Between 1778 and 1781, most battles between Washington and the British were inconclusive (they did not have any major effect militarily).
One of the most important battles was the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. American soldiers under Horatio Gates forced a British surrender under John Burgoyne. This led to France and Spain joining the war on the side of Americans. From 1778 to 1780, there was fighting in the West.
In 1779 major fighting shifted to Georgia and South Carolina. As fighting spread northward, General Nathanael Greene led the Rebel campaign. He caused many people in the South to be Patriots instead of Loyalists, and won several battles against the British.
In 1781, Washington and French general Jean Rochambeau led an offensive against British troops in Yorktown, Virginia. This was called the Battle of Yorktown. When their soldiers lost this battle, the British surrendered.
The British continued to fight the French and Spanish for two years, winning in India, Gibraltar and elsewhere. In the Treaty of Paris (1783) the British King, George III accepted the independence of the colonies. The treaty also gave all the land Britain said it owned which was west of the Appalachians as far as the Mississippi River to the new country.