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Parent Category: 18th Century History Articles
Category: American Revolution
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Liberty and freedom are important concepts to American citizens. People often speak with reverence of the blood spilled to gain and protect the freedom that is held so dear. It is true that many battles have been fought and wars waged to protect American liberty, and many American men and women have died defending their nation, but few of these wars speak so eloquently of these values as the American Revolution.

Understanding the Revolution and the events surrounding it can help people gain a better understanding of where these ideals of liberty, freedom, and independence came from. The following is a brief description of the historical events that turned several colonies into a nation from the author of a professional paper writing service Joslyn Fresay.

King George III Ascends the English Throne

Things changed quickly for the American colonies when George III took his place on the English throne in 1760. Three years after King George's ascension marked the end of the French and Indian War (a war that had worn on both British and colonial resources). The following year, the British government began imposing higher taxes on the colonists, specifically with the Sugar Act of 1764 (an act that put a tax of three cents on imported sugar, coffee, indigo, and some wines) and the Stamp Act of 1765. The Stamp Act required all public and official documents to have an official British seal on it, which had to be paid for. Both of these new taxes frustrated American colonists, but it was their riotous reaction to the Stamp Act that really caught England's attention. In 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed by the British Parliament, and on the same day, a new act was put into effect. In this new act, called the Declaratory Act, Britain stated its right to make laws that were binding to the colonies.

Significant Events in Boston

In March 1770, British troops opened fire on workers in Boston, Mass. There is debate surrounding the details of the event (who provoked the outbreak and why) but, in the end, five colonial workers died, others were wounded, and the colonists began to mistrust the presence of the British military even more. Americans called this event "the Boston Massacre" while the British referred to it as "the incident on King's Street."Three years after the Boston Massacre, another tax was imposed by the British government (this time on tea). On December 16, 1773, colonists disguised as Native Americans entered Boston Harbor and boarded the "Dartmouth," the "Endeavor," and the "Beaver" (all British ships). The colonists (who were part of a group called the "Sons of Liberty" that was formed shortly after the Stamp Act episode) proceeded to dump hundreds of crates of tea over the sides of the ships. Other colonists followed their example in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Eventually, Americans boycotted tea altogether.

"The Shot Heard 'Round the World"

The official first shot of the American Revolution was commemorated by the writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his poem called, "Concord Hymn," with the famous line: "Here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard 'round the world." These first shots were fired at the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The British began to march to Concord where American colonists had gathered arms and ammunition but were delayed by colonists in Lexington. Eventually, the Americans were forced to retreat, but they had held the British for long enough that troops in Concord were able to gather in full force and save their weapons depot. After these first two skirmishes, news traveled fast and thousands of volunteers joined the new "Continental Army" in Cambridge, Mass.

Declaration of Independence

The American colonies did not officially declare their independence from Great Britain until a year after the war began. Thomas Jefferson penned the important Declaration of Independence, which enumerated many of the grievances held against Britain and the king. The declaration was then approved by the Continental Congress, signed by several of its members (including John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams), and considered officially in effect on July 4, 1776. The document was immediately printed and distributed among the colonists. Americans continue to celebrate July 4 every year, calling it Independence Day.

Turning Points in the War

Between 1776 and 1781, battles and skirmishes raged back and forth across the colonies. Common battle sites were located in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Georgia. Many of these were victories for the British, with only a few victories for the colonists. In the winter of that year, great changes took place in the Continental Army. The army was housed in Valley Forge, Pa., for the winter and, during that time, the recruits were exposed to higher levels of training and developed better supply methods. When the army emerged, it had become a more effective fighting force. Another turning point occurred early in 1778 when the Americans signed a treaty with France, whose financial and military help would prove to be essential to ultimate victory. This final victory was achieved three and a half years later in the fields outside Yorktown, Virginia. Surrounded by the Americans on land and the French from the sea, the British commander (General Cornwallis) was forced to surrender.

The U.S. Constitution

Once the war was won, the official "state of war" was not ended until 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed. Afterward, colonists were left with the task of tightening up the loose government they had established for themselves during the war under the Articles of Confederation. Six years later, this new government was outlined in the U.S. Constitution. This document was written by the Continental Congress, ratified by the states, and declared to be in effect on September 18, 1781. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, were added in 1791.

The American Revolution was fraught with frustration, fear, and bloodshed, but in the midst of all that stood a passion for liberty and independence. Great leaders like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and others rose from this time in American history. Documents that were precious then and are still precious now emerged from the minds of these men and sparked the hopes and imaginations of the people that surrounded them. The American Revolution did not just win colonists independence from Britain, it established a nation built on the idea of liberty.