Events Leading to the Revolutionary War

  • Jan 1, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    The Magna Carta was the first document that challenged the authority of the king. It also started the first ideas of democracies and influinced the United States Constitution.
  • Mayflower Compact

    Mayflower Compact
    The mayflower compact was written by the pilgrims to establish a government.
  • French and Indian War

    War fought between Great Britain and its two enemies, the French and the Indians of North America. Most of the battles were in Canada. American colonists, including George Washington, fought with the British in this war, which lasted from 1754 to 1763. The British won the war and won the right to keep Canada and several other possessions in the New World.
  • Sugar Act

    Sugar Act
    Put a three-cent tax on foreign refined sugar and increased taxes on coffee, indigo, and certain kinds of wine. It banned importation of rum and French wines. These taxes affected only a certain part of the population, but the affected merchants were very vocal. Besides, the taxes were enacted (or raised) without the consent of the colonists. This was one of the first instances in which colonists wanted a say in how much they were taxed.
  • Patrick Henry's "If this be treason" speech

    Patrick Henry's "If this be treason" speech
    He was an outspoken critic of the Stamp Act and introduced seven resolutions against it to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was the first governor of Virginia and led the fight for the adoption of the Bill of Rights. He was best known for his "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    First direct British tax on American colonists. Instituted in November, 1765. Every newspaper, pamphlet, and other public and legal document had to have a Stamp, or British seal, on it.
  • Townshend Acts

    Series of 1767 laws named for Charles Townshend, British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasurer). These laws placed new taxes on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea. Colonial reaction to these taxes was the same as to the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, and Britain eventually repealed all the taxes except the one on tea.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    Shooting of five American colonists by British troops on March 5, 1770. One person, an African-American man named Crispus Attacks, was killed.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    American colonists calling themselves the Sons of Liberty and disguised as Mohawk Native Americans boarded three British ships (the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver) and dumped 342 whole crates of British tea into Boston harbor.
  • First Continental Congress

    First Continental Congress
    Two groups of people from all over the 13 Colonies who came together to discuss liberty. The First Continental Congress was a group of 56 delegates from 12 colonies (all except Georgia) who met in Philadelphia in September of 1774. They came together to act together in response to the Intolerable Acts.
  • The rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes

    The rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes
    Famous silversmith who rode through the countryside to warn the American colonists that the British were coming. He didn't actually make his destination because he was captured by British "Redcoats," but one of his companions, Dr. Samuel Prescott, got the message through. When the British arrived, the Americans were ready.
  • Lexington and Concord

    Lexington and Concord
    First shots fired between American and British troops, on April 19, 1775. The British chose to march to Concord because it was an arms depot. This meant that the Americans had stockpiled weapons there. British troops had occupied Boston and were marching on Concord as they passed through Lexington.
  • Capturing of Fort Ticonderoga

    Capturing of Fort Ticonderoga
    New York fort on the western shore of Lake Champlain that was originally a French fort, called Carillion, that was seized by the British in the French and Indian War. The fort was later captured by the Americans in their first "official" victory of the Revolutionary War.
  • Second Continental Congress

    The Second Continental Congress met in 1775, when the Revolutionary war had started. Things were going badly, and the armed forces were disorganized. The Continental Congress created the Continental Army and named George Washington as commander-in-chief. The Congress continued through the summer. Out of the discussions came the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Marines Corps.
  • Washington named Commander and Chief

    Washington named Commander and Chief
    First president of the United States, he also fought (for the British) in the French and Indian War and was the commanding officer of the victorious American forces in the Revolutionary War. He was named president of the Constitutional Convention. He served two terms as president, during which he invented the Cabinet, his advisers, and tried to calm the bickering between the two new political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.
  • Battle of Bunker Hill

    Battle of Bunker Hill
    Two-day engagement between British forces under the command of General William Howe and American forces under Colonel William Prescott. The Americans had occupied Breed's Hill in Charlestown on June 16, 1775, in order to protect the shipyard of nearby Boston.
  • Thomas Payne writes "Common Sense"

    Thomas Payne writes "Common Sense"
    Thomas Paine began work on Common Sense in late 1775 under the working title of Plain Truth. With the help of Benjamin Rush, who suggested the title Common Sense and helped edit and publish, Paine developed his ideas into a forty-eight page pamphlet. Paine published Common Sense anonymously because of its treasonous content. Printed and sold by R. Bell, Third Street, Philadelphia, it sold as many as 120,000 copies in the first three months, 500,000 in the first year, and went through twenty-five
  • Declaration of Independence is adopted

    Declaration of Independence is adopted
    Document declaring the 13 American Colonies independent from Great Britain. Written by Thomas Jefferson and declared in effect by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Many prominent Americans signed it, including John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams. Great Britain's response was to continue the war.
  • Battle of Yorktown

    Battle of Yorktown
    American victory that ended the Revolutionary War on October 20, 1781. British General Charles Cornwallis had met defeat in the south, at Cowpens, and his force had been continually weakened, especially by American General Nathanael Greene at Guilford Courthouse. Cornwallis left the Carolinas and proceeded north to Yorktown, Virginia, there to await reinforcements from General Henry Clinton, who was occupied in the north. American forces under Greene and Commander-in-Chief George Washington purs
  • Treaty of Paris

    Treaty of Paris
    Treaty that officially ended the Revolutionary War on September 3, 1783. It was signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. Under the terms of the treaty, Britain recognized the independent nation of the United States of America.
  • The Constitution is ratified

    The Constitution is ratified
    Document detailing our form of government. Ratified by a majority of states and declared in effect in 1787.