The American Revolution

Performance Objectives
• PO 2. Describe the significance of
key events of the Revolutionary
• major battles (e.g., Lexington,
Saratoga, Trenton)
• aid from France
• surrender at Yorktown
More Performance Objectives
• PO 3. Describe the impact of the
following key individuals on the
Revolutionary War:
– Benjamin Franklin
– Thomas Jefferson
– George Washington
– Patrick Henry
– Thomas Paine
• King George III
Causes of the War
• British defeat French in French/Indian War
– Defeat of Indians removes colonists’ perceived
need for British protection
– War costly for Brits and need add’l income
• Stamp, Navigation, and Revenue Act force
colonists to pay for protection
• 1770 Boston Massacre – 5 dead after protesting
taxation w/o representation
Causes of the War (cont.)
• Quartering Act
– Colonists forced to house British troops
– 3rd Amendment of the Constitution
• Real Causes
– Colonists had intellectual differences
with British government
– Spirit of independence brought about
by frontier life
– Belief in democracy over oligarchy
On the Eve of the
Revolution ?
Military Strategies
The Americans
Attrition [the British
had a long supply
Guerilla tactics
[fight an insurgent
war  you don’t
have to win a battle,
just wear the British
Make an alliance
with one of Britain’s
Rely on love of home
to keep men fighting
The British
Break the
colonies in half
by getting
between the
North & the
Blockade the
ports to prevent
the flow of
goods and
supplies from an
“Divide and
Conquer”  use
the Loyalists.
Washington’s Headaches
Only 1/3 of the colonists were in
favor of a war for independence [the
other third were Loyalists, and the
final third were neutral].
State/colony loyalties.
Congress couldn’t tax to raise money
for the Continental
Poor training [until
the arrival of
Baron von Steuben].
Phase I: The Northern Campaign
Fort Ticonderoga
• Ethan Allen, a
blacksmith, leads the
Green Mountain boys of
Vermont against the fort
which had many cannon.
• There was one guard
and the officers were
• The commander had to
turn over 100 cannon
and gunpowder.
Second Continental Congress
• 13 colonies send delegates to
• Many do not want a war.
• The Olive Branch Petition is sent to
King George asking him to repeal the
Intolerable Acts.
• The Continental Army is created with
George Washington as Commanderin-Chief.
Bunker (Breed’s) Hill
Jun 1775
• New “Continental Army” takes position
on Breed’s Hill
• They are told, “Don’t shoot until you
see the whites of their eyes!” because
they have only a small amount of
• British conduct frontal assault
– Poor judgement – flanks/rear exposed
– 40% casualties for Brits (1,100 dead)
• Colonials repel two assaults but run
out of ammunition.
Bunker Hill (June, 1775)
The British suffered over 40% casualties.
Results of Bunker Hill
• Colonists convinced standing army
was unnecessary
• Showed colonial determination
• Gen Howe forever failed to press
• New colonial tactics:
– Simple defensive
– Hold at the Hudson
Brits Leave Boston
• By January 1776, the Continental
Army surrounded Boston.
• The cannon captured at Ticonderoga
were placed on a hill overlooking
Boston and its harbor.
• Seeing that they were trapped,
General Howe ordered his troops to
go to Halifax, Canada.
Common Sense
• Many colonists remained loyal to Britain,
even while patriots were fighting for
• Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called
Common Sense.
• This pamphlet asked anyone to “show
single advantage this continent can reap by
being connected with Britain.
• Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold.
• Many loyalists changed their thinking
because of Paine’s arguments.
Declaring Independence
• Delegates to the Continental Congress
came to believe that declaring
independence was necessary.
• Richard Henry Lee of Virginia offers a
resolution that “these United Colonies
are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent States.”
• From that moment, delegates were
considered traitors to their country. A
traitor is one who betrays his or her own
• A committee is formed to write the
• John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert
Livingston, Roger Sherman and Thomas
Jefferson undertake this task.
• Jefferson is asked to write the document
explaining to the world why the colonies
were taking such a drastic step.
• On July 4th, 1776, the Congress voted
that the 13 colonies were “free and
independent States.
• Fireworks were invented later 
The Declaration
• The first part explains the basic rights
on which the nation is founded. Finish
this phrase, “We hold these truths to
be self-evident…………………
• The second part list the wrongs
committed by Britain
• The last section declares that the
colonies had become “the United
States of America.”
Phase II:
New York
• Gen. Howe (Brit) heads to New York City.
• Washington takes the Continental Army to
defend the city.
• Howe has 34,000 troops, 10,000 sailors, 30
warships and 400 smaller boats.
• Washington has 20,000 men and no navy.
• Losing the battles for New York, the
Continentals retreat to New Jersey.
• Nathan Hale, a young Connecticut spy is
captured behind British lines.
• “I only regret that I have but one life to lose
for my country” were his last words…
New York City in Flames
Trenton and the Crossing
• Discouraged with losing, the Continentals are
cold, hungry, deserting and many are due for
• A victory is badly needed.
• Washington plans a surprise attack on
Hessian troops (German mercenaries) in
Trenton , New Jersey.
• He gets his troops across the frozen Delaware
River in the dead of night on Christmas.
• On Dec. 26, the Continental Army takes over
1400 Hessians prisoner without losing a
single soldier!
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Painted by Emanuel Leutze, 1851
• After the Battle of Trenton, the British send
General Charles Cornwallis to retake the
• Outside of Princeton, he sees the lights of
Washington’s campfires.
• “At last we have run down the old fox and we
will bag him in the morning.”
• Washington had fooled Cornwallis by leaving
the fires burning as he marched his troops
behind British lines, winning another surprise
• The army has new hope and confidence.
British Plan in Pennsylvania
• General Burgoyne (British) convinces King
George that if New England is cut off from the
other colonies the war will end.
• 3 British armies march on Albany, N.Y. from
different directions.
• General Howe must take Philadelphia before
going to Albany. He takes too much time
• General St. Leger (British) moves slowly due
to baggage carts.
• Burgoyne is surrounded in the village of
• The 3 armies never reached Albany…
The Battle of Saratoga
• The battle of Saratoga is an interesting
• This was when 6,000 British troops
were in upstate New York, traveling
• The American troops cut or burned
down all of the bridges in their path.
• This made the British an easy target for
the American soldiers.
Follies at Saratoga
• Burgoyne sets off with an
overbundance of supplies/equipment
– Movement extremely slow (1 mile/day)
– Guerillas could easily stay ahead and
slow further
• Delays allow colonials to reinforce and
Significance of Saratoga
• Turning point of Revolution
• French enter war, aligning with
• British now move their focus to the
• Spain and Holland soon join war
– British forced to protect its own
borders from aggressors
– British concerned about about long
ocean supply lines
“Turning Point”
of the War…
A modern-day re-enactment
Southern Campaign
Late 1778
• More Loyalists live in the South
• Southern resources more valuable
• British win small victories but unable to pacify
• Nat Greene vs. Cornwallis
– Greene sacrificed mass for manuever
– Smaller forces more easily could live off land
– Provided rally points for local militia
– Tempted Cornwallis to split his forces
Phase III: The Southern
Strategy [1780-1781]
The Swamp Fox
• In the southern battles, Americans began to
employ hit and run, or guerrilla, tactics.
• Francis Marion of South Carolina led a small
band of men who slept by day and traveled
by night.
• He was known as the Swamp Fox because
he appeared suddenly out of the swamps,
attacked the British, and then retreated back
to the swamps.
• His actions kept the British off balance 
John Paul Jones
• Although the American navy remained small,
Americans attacked and captured British
ships at sea.
• John Paul Jones, in command of the
Bonhomme Richard, finds a British warship,
the Serapis, guarding 39 merchant ships in
the North Sea off the coast of Britain.
• He attacks, even though the Serapis is larger.
• When told to surrender, Jones states, “I have
not yet begun to fight!”
• His men board the warship and defeat the
men in hand-to-hand fighting.
Tale of a Traitor
• By 1780, one of Washington’s most talented
and successful generals, Benedict Arnold,
was in command of the American fort at
West Point.
• He was angry at what he felt was a lack of
credit given to him for his victories.
• He offered to turn the fort over to the British!
• His plot almost succeeded but soldiers
caught the messenger taking the offer to the
• Arnold escaped and joined the British and, to
this day, a synonym for traitor is a “Benedict
• Cornwallis consolidates forces
• French defeat British ships at
Battle of Capes
• Americans to front; French to
• British surrender 17 Oct 1781
The Battle of Yorktown (1781)
Count de
De Grasse
Impact of French
• Anxious to regain international
• French repeatedly help American
– Loans of money
– Use of French ports by American
– Protected American vessels near
French waters
• Made English uneasy at home
• French Navy critical at Yorktown
Cornwallis’ Surrender at Yorktown:
“The World Turned Upside Down!”
Painted by John Trumbull, 1797
North America After the
Treaty of Paris, 1783