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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

American Revolution

About fifty members of the Sons of Liberty, some disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded a British vessel in Boston on December 16, 1773. They then emptied 342 tea chests into the harbor as a protest against the Tea Act. Word about their protest against the English tax soon spread and it proved to be a key event in the U.S. War of Independence.

1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor" 

There were actually two Boston Tea Parties. In 1773, the Sons of Liberty tossed 342 tea chests into the city's harbor. In 1774, they dumped only 16.

American attorney, planter and politician Patrick Henry made his "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech  on March 23, 1775. During his address to the House of Burgesses of Virginia at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, Henry urged military action against the British Empire. He is credited with having swung the balance in convincing the undecided convention to pass a resolution delivering Virginian troops for the Revolutionary War. Among the delegates to the convention were future American Presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Patrick Henry

The American War of Independence began in June of 1775, with the battle of Bunker Hill outside of Boston. The Americans lost the Battle of Bunker Hill when they ran out of gunpowder and had to retreat.

Thousands of people watched the Battle of Bunker Hill take place. People in the Boston area sat on rooftops, in trees, on church steeples, and in the rigging of ships in the harbor to watch the American revolutionaries battle the British.

At the start of the Revolutionary War, the governor of New Jersey was a Tory giving aid and comfort to the British. He was arrested by the Revolutionary Congress of New Jersey and imprisoned. His life was spared because of the reverence the colonists had for his father. He was exchanged for Americans held prisoner by the British and sailed for England. The Tory was William Franklin, a son of Benjamin Franklin.

King George III of Great Britain delivered his Proclamation of Rebellion to the Court of St James's on August 23, 1775 in response to the news of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The proclamation stated that the American colonies have proceeded to a state of open and avowed rebellion and ordered officials of the British Empire "to use their utmost endeavors to withstand and suppress such rebellion." It also encouraged subjects throughout the Empire, including those in Great Britain, to report anyone carrying on "traitorous correspondence" with the rebels so that they could be punished.

A 1775 printing of the proclamation

A number of high-ranking British military officers refused to take up arms against America in the Revolutionary War, and there was a great deal of sympathy for the America throughout England.

British troops brought bands with clarinets to the American Revolution. Washington's forces, however, usually had only drums and fifes.

The Hessian soldiers hired by the British to fight the colonists during the Revolutionary War were paid about 25 cents a day.

During the American revolution, more inhabitants of the American colonies fought for the British than for the Continental Army.

At the Bayyles of Saratoga in 1777, General Horatio Gate’s American army under Benedict Arnold forced the surrender of Brigadier-General John Burgoyne’s forces, giving Americans hope of gaining independence from England and persuading France to support them.

Benedict Arnold was continually passed over for promotion despite defeating the British at Ticonderoga, and nearly making Canada America's 14th colony with the victory in the Battle of Saratoga. The breaking point came when Arnold was nearly court marshalled. Soon afterwards, British spy John Andre was captured with documents Arnold gave him, and the American major general was forced to go over to the British side.

About one quarter (5,400) men of George Washington's entire army was lost in the Revolutionary War's worst defeat, at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1780.

The War ended on October 19, 1781, with the British surrender after their decisive defeat at the Siege of Yorktown, Virginia.  Representatives of British commander Lord Cornwallis handed over Cornwallis' sword at Yorktown and formally surrendered to George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull

The Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War.

Painting of the American delegations at the Treaty of Paris. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed

Approximately 90% of all gunpowder used by the Patriots during the American Revolution was supplied by France.

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