Unit 2
From Revolution to Republic
Chapter 6: The American Revolution
I. Early Battles - The events of April 19, 1775, left the British stunned. How had a
handful of rebels forced 700 redcoats to retreat?
A. The Green Mountain Boys - In each colony rebels were taking action. In
Vermont, Ethan Allen, a Vermont blacksmith known for his strength and fierce
temper, flew into a rage when he learned of events taking place in Massachusetts.
1. Allen led a band of Vermonters, known as the Green Mountain Boys, in a
surprise attack on Fort Ticonderoga.
a) He knew the fort had many cannons, which the
colonists badly needed.
b) Allen's successful take over of the fort gave
Americans control of a key route into Canada.
B. Last Efforts for Peace - While the Green Mountain Boys celebrated their
victory, delegates from the colonies met at the Second Continental Congress in
1. Although fighting had begun, most delegates did not want to break with
Britain. (John and Samuel Adams secretly wanted the colonies to declare
a) After much debate the delegates voted to try and patch things up
with Britain.
b) Olive Branch Petition -In it, they declared their loyalty and asked
the King to repeal the intolerable acts.
2. At the same time the congress set up the Continental Army.
a) John Adams proposed George Washington of Virginia as commander
- all of the delegates approved.
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C. Strengths and Weaknesses
1. Without wasting any time, Washington left Philadelphia to take
charge of the forces around Boston. He faced an uphill struggle.
a) Colonial forces were untrained.
b) They had few cannons, little gunpowder, and no navy.
2. The British had highly trained and experienced troops.
a) Britain's navy was the most powerful in the world.
b) Ships could move soldiers quickly up and down the coast.
3. Still, Britain faced serious problems.
a) Armies were 3,000 miles from home.
b) News and supplies took months to arrive.
c) British soldiers risked attacks by colonists once they left
the cities for the countryside.
4. The Americans did have some advantages.
a) They were fighting to defend their homes, farms, lands, and
b) George Washington was a brilliant leader - he demanded and
received respect from his troops.
D. Taking a Stand at Bunker Hill - While Washington was marching towards
Boston, rebels were tightening their circle around Boston. They did not want the
British troops to leave the city.
1. June 16, 1775 - Colonel William Prescott led 1,200 minutemen to take a
position on Bunker Hill, across the river from Boston.
a) Prescott soon saw that nearby Breed's Hill was a better position he had his men dig trenches there before dawn.
2. At sunrise the British General, William Howe, spotted the Americans.
a) He led 2,400 troops across the harbor, through fields, and
up towards the hill.
b) From their trenches, the Americans watched the British
c) The colonists had very little gun powder- " Don't shoot until
you see the whites of their eyes!"
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d) Twice the British advanced up the hill - Twice they had to
e) On the third try the British pushed over the top - the
colonists had run out of gunpowder.
f) The British took both Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill.
3. The Battle of Bunker Hill was the first major battle of the
a) It proved that Americans could fight bravely.
b) Also showed that the British would not be easily defeated.
E. Redcoats Leave Boston - When Washington reached Boston, he found 16,000
troops camped in huts and tents on the edge of the city.
1. General Washington quickly began to train his troops. His job was
difficult because soldiers from different colonies mistrusted each other.
a) By winning the loyalty of his troops, Washington was able to
get the soldiers to work together.
b) Soldiers dragged cannons from Ticonderoga to positions
outside of Boston.
2. General Howe quickly realized he could not overpower the Americans.
a) He took his troops by boat up to Halifax, Canada.
b) Although the British troops left New England, they had not
given up.
c) King George ordered a blockade of all colonial Ports.
F. March on Canada - Some Americans wanted to attack the British in Canada.
1. In the fall of 1775, two American armies moved north.
a) Richard Montgomery led one army. He seized Montreal on
November of 1775.
b) Benedict Arnold had a terrible trip through the Maine woods
in winter.
c) The French were not sympathetic to the colonists.
d) On December 31, 1775, the Americans attacked Quebec.
e) Montgomery wad killed, Arnold was wounded. Americans
failed to take the city.
f) Eventually the Americans withdrew, leaving Canada to Britain.
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II. Independence Declared
A. Common Sense
1. In January 1776, Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense, and
distributed the pamphlet on the streets on Philadelphia.
a) The pamphlet created a great stir.
b) Paine's "plain arguments" urged the colonies to declare
c) He said the colonists had nothing to gain from British rule.
d) Since King George had just rejected the Olive Branch
Petition, that argument made sense to many colonists.
2. Paine also attacked the idea of having Kings and Queens as rulers.
a) In six months, more than 500,000 copies were printed and sold.
b) George Washington liked what he read and supported Paine.
B. The Fateful Step
1. Common Sense affected members of the Continental Congress too.
Delegates faced a difficult decision.
a) There would be no turning back if they declared
b) If they fell into British hands they would be hanged as
c) Traitor - a person who betrays his or her country.
2. Writing the Declaration - A committee was chosen to draw up a
declaration of independence. The committee included John Adams,
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger
a) Their job was to tell the world why the colonies were
breaking away from Britain.
b) The committee asked Jefferson to write the document.
3. On July 4, 1776, the delegates voted to accept the Declaration of
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a) Since then Americans celebrate their independence every
Fourth of July.
b) John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress signed
the Declaration first. He penned his signature boldly, in large
clear letters.
C. The Declaration - Across the colonies people read the Declaration.
1. The document has three main parts.
a) The first part describes the basic rights on which the nation was
b) The second part lists the wrongs committed by Britain.
c) The last part announces that the colonies had become "the United
States of America."
D. Choosing Sides
1. As the colonists studied the document, they had to decide what
course to take.
Opinion was divided.
a) patriots - people who supported independence.
b) Loyalists - people who remained loyal to Britain.
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III. Desperate Days
A. Campaign in New York - The arrival of the British fleet in New York
marked a new stage in the war.
1. Washington had expected General Howe's attack and had led his forces
from Boston to New York.
a) Howe - Had 34,000 troops, 10,000 sailors, and a navy.
b) Washington - Had 20, 000 poorly trained troops and no navy.
2. Washington did not know exactly where Howe would land his troops.
He sent some forces to Long Island and others to Manhattan.
a) Battle of Long Island - In August, 1776 Howe's army pushed
ashore on Long Island. More than 1,400 Americans were killed,
wounded, or captured. The rest retreated to Manhattan. The
British followed.
b) Washington led his troops north. A series of battles
followed. In November, Washington crossed the Hudson River
into New Jersey. Pursued by the British, the Americans
retreated across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.
3. Nathaniel Hale - Washington needed information about Howe's
a) Hale, a young Connecticut officer, slipped behind enemy lines
and returned with the details.
b) Soon after the British captured, tried, and condemned him
to death. His famous last words:
" I only regret that I have but one life to give for my
B. New Hope for Americans
1. Months of fighting took its toll on the Continental Army.
Washington described his troops as sick and dirty; many fled home.
2.Thomas Paine had retreated through New Jersey with the army.
Again he took up his pen.
a) The Crisis - This time he wrote urging Americans to support
the army.
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b) Washington read it out loud to his troops.
3. A bold move - A surprise attack on Trenton.
a) On Christmas night, Washington secretly led his troops
across the Delaware.
b) The Battle of Trenton - Early on December 26, the
American surprised British troops guarding Trenton and took
most of them prisoner.
4. Cheered by victory - British General Charles Cornwallis set out at
once to retake Trenton. Late on January 2, 1777, he saw the lights of
Washington's campfires.
a) Washington had fooled him. He left the fires burning and
slipped behind British lines to attack Princeton. There he won
another quick victory.
C. A New British Strategy - early in 1777, General John Burgoyne
presented George III with a new plan for victory.
1. He wanted three British armies to march on Albany from different
directions. Then, in control of the Hudson River, they could stop the
flow of soldiers and supplies from New England to Washington.
2. Burgoyne wanted Howe to march on Albany from New York City.
George III wanted Howe to capture Philadelphia first.
a) In July 1777, Howe sailed from New York to Chesapeake Bay.
Despite Washington's efforts to stop him, Howe captured
b) He went on to defeat the Americans at the battles of
Brandywine and Germantown.
c) Howe retired to comfortable quarters in Philly. Washington
retreated to Valley Forge where he set up his own makeshift
3. Meanwhile, two other British armies marched from Canada to
a) One army, under Barry St. Leger, tried to take Fort Stanwix.
Benedict Arnold drove him back with a strong American army.
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b) Only Burgoyne was left o march on Albany. He retook Fort
Ticonderoga. He then sent troops into Vermont to find food and
c) Battle of Bennington - Patriots attacked the redcoats - they
wounded or captured nearly a 1,000 British.
d) The Green Mountain Boys hurried to New York to help the
American Forces.
e) Battle of Saratoga - Americans surrounded the British.
Burgoyne surrendered his army to the Americans on October
17, 1777.
D. A Powerful Ally - The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga
convinced France to become an ally of the United States.
1. In 1776, the Continental Congress had sent Ben Franklin to Paris to
persuade King Louis XVI to help the Americans with weapons and
other badly needed supplies. The Congress also wanted the French to
declare war on Britain.
a) The French were still angry about their defeat by the British
in the French and Indian War.
b) The King did not want to openly help the colonists unless he
was sure they could win. Saratoga provided that proof.
c) In February 1778, France became the first nation to sign a
treaty with the United States. In it, Louis XVI recognized the
new nation and agreed to provide military aid.
E. Cold Winter at Valley Forge
1. French aid arrived too late to help Washington's army at Valley
Forge. During the long, cold winter of 1777-78, the Continental Army
suffered severe hardships in Pennsylvania.
a) Soldiers lived in damp drafty huts.
b) They had little or no warm clothing. Many had no shoes.
c) Soldiers suffered from frostbite and disease.
2. When Americans learned about conditions at Valley Forge they sent
a) Women collected food, medicine, warm clothing, and ammunition.
b) They also raised money to buy other supplies.
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F. Help From Abroad - Throughout the war, volunteers from Europe arrived to
join the American cause.
1. Marquis de Lafayette - a young French noble, brought trained soldiers
to the U.S. He became on of Washington's most trusted friends.
2. Thaddeus Kosciusko, a polish engineer, helped build forts and other
3. Casimir Pulaski - also from Poland, trained cavalry, or troops on
4. Bernardo de Galvez - Help came from New Spain as well. At first Spain
was neutral. Galvez, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, secretly supplies
medicine, cloth, muskets, and gunpowder to the U.S. He also sent cattle
from Texas to feed the army. When Spain officially entered the war
against Britain in 1779, Galvez seized British forts and drove the British
out of West Florida.
5. Friedrich Von Steuben - from Prussia helped train the Continental
troops. He showed them how to use their bayonets. He also taught then
how to march.
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IV. Other Battlefronts
A. Fighting on the Frontier
1. During the war, white settlers continued to push west of the
2. Native Americans choose sides - when the revolution began, most
Indians tried to stay neutral. As the war spread, some Indians did take
a) The six nations of the Iroquois were divided, although most
helped the British.
b) Algonquins supported the patriots.
c) In the west, many Indians joined the British to protect their
lands from American settlers.
3. Victory at Vicennes- George Rogers Clark led Virginia frontier fighters
against the British in the Ohio Valley.
a) With help from the Miami Indians they captured the British
forts Kaskakia and Cahokia.
b) Clark then plotted a surprise attack on the British fort at
c) When they reached the fort they spread out through the woods
to make their numbers appear greater than they really were.
d) The British commander thought he was out numbered so he
B. Victory at Sea
1. The Americans could do little against the powerful British Navy.
2. An American captain, John Paul Jones, raided the English coast.
a) He commanded the Bonhomme Richard.
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b) While he was sailing in the North Sea near Britain he spotted 39
enemy merchant ships. A single warship, the Serapis, guarded them.
c) Jones attacked the larger ship. In a fierce battle his ship was
set on fire. The British commander called to Jones to surrender.
Jones replied:
"I have not yet begun to fight!"
d) Jones and his sailors boarded the enemy ship. In hand to hand
combat the Americans defeated the British.
C. African Americans in the Battle for Freedom
1. At first the Continental Congress refused to let African Americans,
whether they were free or a slave, join the Continental Army.
a) The British offered freedom to any male slave who served the
b) Washington changed his policy and allowed free African
Americans to enlist.
2. About 5,000 African Americans fought against the British.
a) Some formed special regiments.
b) Others served in white regiments as drummers, fifers, spies, and
c) Thousands of black soldiers served on American ships.
3. "All men are created equal" Black patriots hoped that he war would
bring an end to slavery.
D. Women in the War
1. Women also helped in the struggle for independence.
a) They planted and harvested food for the army.
b) Betsy Ross sewed flags for Washington's Army.
c) They made guns and other weapons.
d) They made blankets, clothing and uniforms for the army.
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2. Many women also joined their soldier-husbands at the front.
a) They washed clothes, cooked, and took care of the wounded.
b) Mary Ludwig Hays carried water to her husband and other
soldiers. She was given the nickname "Molly Pitcher".
When her husband was injured, she took his place loading and firing
c) Deborah Sampson of Massachusetts dressed as a man and fought
in several battles.
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V. The World Turned Upside Down
A. War in the South - Scattered fighting had taken place in the south from
the start of the revolution.
1. Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge - In February 1776, North Carolina
Patriots defeated a Loyalist army.
a) This battle is sometimes called the Lexington and Concord of the
2. After the French entered the war, the British focused their efforts on
the South. They counted on the support of loyalists their.
a) In December 1778, the British seized Savannah.
b) They later took Charleston, South Carolina.
3. An American Traitor - In 1780, one of Washington's best generals,
Benedict Arnold, had joined the British.
a) Arnold had been put in charge of a key fort at West Point. He
was angry. He felt he had not been given enough credit for his
victories. He also needed money.
b) He secretly offered to turn over West Point to the British. By
chance, a patriot patrol captured the messenger carrying Arnold's
c) Arnold escaped to join the British.
4. The Patriots Rally - Several patriots made hit and run attacks on the
a) Frances Marion (Swamp Fox) of South Carolina led a small band
of men who slept by day and traveled by night. They would appear
suddenly out of the swamps, attack the British and then retreat
into the swamps. These attacks kept the British off balance.
b) Two American generals, Daniel Morgan and Nathaniel Greene,
won victories in the south. Greene also used hit and run attacks.
c) British General Cornwallis decided to move his army north to
Virginia in the spring of 1781.
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B. Victory at Last
1. Cornwallis set up camp at Yorktown, on a strip of land that juts into the
Chesapeake Bay so the British ships could supply his troops from the sea.
a) Washington's men and French troops led by Rochambeau joined in
New York and rushed towards Virginia. Meanwhile a French fleet
under Admiral DeGrasse sailed toward the Chesapeake. DeGrasse
was able to keep British ships out of the Chesapeake.
b) Cornwallis was cut off. He could not get supplies and he could not
escape by sea. He held out for three weeks before he surrendered
on October 17, 1781.
C. Making Peace
1. The defeat shocked the British. The Peace talks began in Paris in 1782.
a) Congress sent Ben Franklin, John Adams, along with John Jay of
New York, and Henry Laurens of South Carolina to work out the
2. Treaty of Paris of 1783
a) The British recognized the United States as an independent
b) The borders of the new nation extended from the Atlantic
Ocean to the Mississippi.
c) The southern border stopped at Florida, which was returned to
d) Americans agreed to pay loyalists for property they lost in the
e) On April 15, 1783, congress ratified, or approved the treaty. It
was almost 8 years to the day of the battles of Lexington and
D. Washington's Farewell
1. The Revolution had been a long and difficult struggle for the Americans.
In the end, money, arms, and soldiers from France had helped win the war.
But the strength and courage of leaders like Washington played a major
role in the American victory.
2. In December 1783, General Washington bid farewell to his officers at
Fraunces' Tavern in New York City. Along the route home to Mount
Vernon, Virginia, crowds cheered the hero of American Independence.
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Chapter 6 Notes