Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Revolutionary War in America brought independence and the birth of a new nation - the United States of America. The war was fought between the 13 American colonies and their mother nation, Great Britain. The war began on April 19, 1775, between the Minutemen and the Redcoats at Lexington, Massachusetts, and at nearby Concord. Eight years later on September 3, 1783, Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, signaling to the world that it recognized the independence of the United States. Tension between Great Britain and its American colonies had been building since the mid-1760s, a period of more than 10 years. The colonials didn't really want to break with their mother nation, but they wanted to be free of the unbearable laws and heavy taxes being levied by England. They felt capable of self-government and resisted the attempted enforcement of the new laws. England felt that her children were being disobedient and rebellious and decided to take more control of the situation. The Revolutionary War broke open because the colonials wanted to be treated as adults, not children. The colonies did not want war and were not prepared to wage war. They did not even have a central government or an army or a navy. Delegates from the colonies met together in a Continental Congress. The Congress acted as a central government and directed the war efforts. Two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, George Washington was named as commander in chief on June 15, 1775. Two days later on June 17, the British drove the Americans from Breed's Hill in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Great Britain had a much larger and better-trained army than that of the Americans, but they had to bring supplies and reinforcements from England. Britain won many battles but didn't gain much because the Americans kept getting new troops and kept fighting. The year 1776 brought a win for the Americans at Moore's Creek Bridge (Feb. 27), the evacuation of the British from Boston (Mar. 17), the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (July 4), and a surprise attack by Washington on Hessian troops at Trenton (Dec. 26). That year also the British defeated the patriots on Long Island (Aug. 27) and occupied New York City (Sept. 15). The year 1777 started with a victory for Washington on January 3 at Princeton. There were other wins for the patriots as well as some losses. The big wins for the patriots were two battles at Freeman's Farm (Sep.) and General Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga (Oct. 17), marking a turning point in the war and showing Frances that America could win the war. The British won the Battles of Brandywine (Sep. 11) and Germantown (Oct. 4) and occupied Philadelphia (Sep. 26) while Washington's army retired to Valley Forge (Dec. 19) to spend the winter with too little food and inadequate clothing and shelter. On February 6, 1778, France signed an alliance to help the Americans, forcing Britain to defend the rest of its empire, but the Battle of Monmouth (June 28) ended in a draw, and the British took Savannah (Dec 29). The year 1779 went a little better for the Americans. British defenders at Vincennes surrendered to Americans (Feb. 25). Spain declared war on Great Britain (June 21). John Paul Jones' ship, the Bonhomme Richard captured the British ship Serapis (Sep. 23). In 1780 Charleston fell to the British after a siege (May 12), and the British won at Camden. The patriots fought back for a win at King's Mountain. In 1781 the patriots won at Cowpens (Jan 17), a French fleet inflicted great damage at Chesapeake Bay on British ships (Sep. 5), and the British surrendered at Yorktown (Oct. 19). Yorktown was the last major battle of the war, but fighting continued elsewhere. On November 30, 1782, Americans and British representatives signed a preliminary peaces treaty in Paris. On April 15, 1783, Congress ratified the preliminary peace treaty. The final peace was signed in Paris by the United States and Great Britain on September 3, 1783 - nearly two years after Yorktown. The Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the United States and established the new nation's borders - from Canada to Florida (Spain owned Florida) and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The most important result of the Revolutionary War was the independence of the 13 colonies and the establishment of the United States government - ruled by law and dedicated to guarantee certain basic rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Another result of the American war was that people in other nations admired the principles that governed the American Revolution and started demanding political reforms. American military deaths from all causes numbered about 25,700. British military deaths were about 10,000. America went deeply into debt to finance the Revolutionary War. Through taxes authorized by the Constitution, the war debt was paid off by the early 1800s. Great Britain nearly went bankrupt with the financial strain of the war. Their economy was saved by expanded trade with the United States after the war. Taxes on the trade reduced Britain's dept. France suffered even more as it nearly went bankrupt from its expenditures in the war. The French Revolution in 1789 was a direct result of France's financial problems. Facts and information for this post came from an article by James Kirby Martin, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, pp. 270-287.