American revolution

American Revolution Timeline

  • John Locke's Social Contract

    Locke believed that people had natural rights; the rights to life, liberty, and property. He was one of the key enlightenment thinkers.
  • The French and Indian War

    The French and Indian war took place from 1754 to 1763 in the colonies and frontier of North America. The French and their Native American allies fought the British, and ultimately lost.
  • Writ of Assistance

    Writs of assistance were documents which served as a general search warrant, allowing custom officials to enter any ship or building that they suspect might be smuggling goods, with or without evidence. In 1761, the royal governor of Massachusetts authorized the use of writs of assistance.
  • Treaty of Paris

    The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War. Great Britain claimed Canada, the majority of North America South of the Mississippi river, and Florida. Spain kept its lands west of the Mississippi, and the city of New Orleans. France only kept a few islands and small colonies near Newfoundland and the West Indies.
  • Proclamation of 1763

    The Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George the third, and established a proclamation line along the Appalachians, which the colonists were not allowed to cross. This was to prevent conflicts with the Native Americans.
  • The Sugar Act

    In 1764, George Grenville, the prime minister of Great Britain, prompted parliament to enact the Sugar Act. It was a law which placed taxes on certain imports that had not been taxed before, and halved the tax on foreign molasses. If colonists were accused of violating this act, they would be tried in a vice-admiralty court with one judge, rather than a colonial court with a jury. This act, understandably, enraged the colonists.
  • The Sons of Liberty/Samuel Adams

    In May of 1765, the colonists united to defy the stamp act. Boston shopkeepers, artisans, and laborers organised a secret resistance group called the Sons of Liberty. One of its founders was Samuel Adams, an integral member of the association.
  • Stamp Act

    In March 1765, Parliament passed this law. This Act imposed a tax on documents and printed items such as wills, newspapers, and playing cards. A stamp would be placed on the items to prove that the tax had been paid. The colonists were affected by this law directly, and were absolutely livid.
  • Declaratory Act

    On the same day Parliament repealed the stamp act, it passed the declaratory act, which asserted Parliament's right to "bind the colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever".
  • Townshend Acts

    The Townshend Acts taxed goods that were imported into the colony from Britain, such as lead, glass, paint, and paper, and the colonists favorite beverage, tea. As a result, led by Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty, the colonists boycotted British goods. Britain kept sending soldiers to enforce the taxes, and they fought for 3 years. Realizing that the troops were more expensive than the taxes, Lord Frederick North persuaded Parliament to repeal the Townshend acts in 1770.
  • The Boston Massacre

    On March 5, 1770, a mob gathered in front of the British Customs House and taunted the soldiers standing guard. The soldiers fired, and 5 colonists, including Crispus Attucks, were killed or mortally wounded.
  • The Tea Act

    The Tea Act granted the British East India Company the right to sell tea to the colonies free of the taxes that colonial tea sellers had to pay. This would have cut colonial merchants out of the tea trade by enabling the East India Company to sell its tea directly to consumers for less.
  • The Boston Tea Party

    On a moonlit evening, a large group of Boston rebels disguised themselves as Native Americans and proceeded to take action against 3 British tea ships anchored in the harbor. They dumped 18,000 pounds of the British East India Company's tea into the waters of Boston Harbor.
  • The Intolerable Acts

    Following the Boston tea Party, King George the third, pressed parliament into passing the intolerable acts. One law shut down Boston Harbor. Another law authorized British commanders to house their soldiers in vacant private housing and other buildings. In addition, Thomas Gage, new governor of Massachusetts, placed Boston under martial law.
  • First Continental Congress

    In September 1774, 56 delegates met up in Philadelphia and drew up a declaration of colonial rights. They protected the colonies' rights to run their own affairs and stated that if the British used force against the colonies, they would fight back.
  • The Minutemen

    Minutemen were civilian soldiers who pledged to be ready to fight against the British on a minute's notice. They quietly stockpiled firearms and gunpowder. General Thomas Gage soon learned about it, and in the spring of 1775, he ordered troops to march from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts, to seize illegal weapons.
  • Loyalists and Patriots

    As the war began, the Americans were divided into patriots and loyalists. Loyalists opposed independence and remained loyal to the British King; included judges and governors, as well as poor people. Patriots supported Independence and drew their numbers from people who saw political and economic opportunity in an independent America. Many African Americans fought with the patriots; others joined loyalists for freedom. Most Natives supported Britain, scared colonists would take over their land.
  • The Battle of Lexington

    The Battle of Lexington
    The Night before, Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott spread the word that 700 British Troops were headed for Concord. The redcoats reached Lexington, 5 miles short, and met 70 minutemen. Someone fired, and the British soldiers sent a valley of shots forward. 8 minutemen were killed and 10 wounded, while only 1 British soldier was injured. The 1st fight of the revolutionary war lasted only 15 minutes.
  • The Battle of Concord

    The Battle of Concord
    The British marched onto Concord, where they found an empty arsenal. After a brief skirmish with the minutemen, the British lined up to march back to Boston. However, about 3-4,000 minutemen had assembled, and they fired behind stone walls and trees. British soldiers fell by the dozen. The remaining redcoats made their way back to Boston that night. Colonists are now enemies of Britain, and held Boston under siege.
  • The Second Continental Congress

    In May of 1775, colonial leaders called the second continental congress in Philadelphia to debate their next move. Some delegates pushed for independence from the British, while others argued for reconciliation. Despite that, they agreed to recognize the colonial militia as the Continental Army, and appointed George Washington as its commander.
  • The Continental Army

    At the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Congress agreed to recognize the colonial militia as the Continental Army and appointed George Washington as its commander.
  • The Battle of Bunker Hill

    British general Thomas Gage decided to strike the militiamen on Breed's Hill, north of Boston and near Bunker Hill. Gage sent 2,400 British soldiers up the hill. The colonists held their fire 'til the last minute, and then began to mow down the advancing redcoats before retreating. The colonists had lost 450 men, while the British had over 1,000 casualties. This misnamed battle was the deadliest one.
  • The Olive Branch Petition

    On July 8, Congress sent the king the so-called Olive Branch Petition, urging a return to "the former harmony" between Britain and the Colonies. King George flatly rejected the petition, and even issued a proclamation stating that the colonies were in rebellion and urged Parliament to order a naval blockade to isolate a line of ships meant for the American coast.
  • The Publication of Common Sense

    "Common Sense" was a 50 page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, which attacked King George and the monarchy. Paine declared that Independence would give American colonists the chance to create a better society, one free from tyranny, and with equal social and economic opportunities for all. "Common Sense" sold nearly 500,000 copies in 1776, and even George Washington applauded it.
  • The Declaration of Independence

    On June 7, the Continental Congress were discussing the United Colonies to be free, independent states. Virginia Lawyer Thomas Jefferson was chosen to prepare the final draft of the declaration. It stated that the rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" to be unalienable rights, and also stated that "all men are created equal". On July 2, the delegates voted unanimously that the colonies were free, and on July 4, adopted the Declaration.
  • Redcoats push Washington's army across the Delaware River and into Pennsylvania

    The British attempted to seize New York City. They sailed into New York Harbor the summer of 1776 with 32,000 soldiers, including German mercenaries/hired soldiers, known as Hessians; they came from Hesse. Although the Continental Army attempted to defend New York, the untrained and poorly equipped troops retreated. By late fall, The British had pushed Washington's army across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.
  • Washington's Christmas Night Surprise Attack

    Desperate, Washington risked everything in one bold move. He led 2,400 men through a fierce storm in small rowboats across the icy Delaware. They then marched to Trenton, New Jersey, and defeated a garrison of Hessians in a surprise attack. The British soon regrouped, and in September 1777, captured the American capital at Philadelphia.
  • Saratoga

    British General John Burgoyne planned to lead an army down a route of lakes from Canada to Albany, where he would meet British troops. As he traveled, militiamen and soldiers gathered. Troops weren't meeting him. The Americans finally surrounded him at Saratoga, where he surrendered.
  • Valley Forge

    In the winter of 1777-1778 Washington and his Continental Army, desperately low on food and supplies, struggled to stay alive at winter camp in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. More than 2,000 soldiers died, yet the survivors didn't desert. Their endurance and suffering filled Washington's letters to Congress.
  • Friedrich von Steuben and Marquis de Lafayette

    In February 1778, Prussian captain Friedrich von Steuben helped train the Continental Army at Valley Forge. In 1779, Marquis de Lafayette lobbied France for French reinforcements, and led a command in Virginia in the last years of the war. With the help of such European military leaders, the raw Continental army became an effective fighting force.
  • The French-American Alliance

    Although the French had secretly aided the patriots since early 1776, the Saratoga victory boosted France's belief that the Americans could win the war. As a result, the French signed an alliance with the Americans in February 1778, and openly joined them in their fight.
  • British Victories in the South

    At the end of 1778, a British expedition easily took Savannah, Georgia. In their greatest victory of the war, the British, under Generals Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis, captured Charles Town, South Carolina, in May 1780. Clinton left for New York, while Cornwallis continued to conquer land throughout the south.
  • British Surrender at Yorktown

    In early 1781, Cornwallis led his army of 7,500 to camp at Yorktown, planning to take Virginia. By late September, 17,000 French and American troops surrounded the British on the Yorktown peninsula, and began bombarding them day and night. Less than a month later, Cornwallis finally surrendered. The Americans had actually defeated the British.
  • The Treaty of Paris

    Peace talks began in Paris 1782. The American negotiation team included John Adams, John Jay of New York, and Benjamin Franklin. In September 1783, the delegates signed the Treaty of Paris, which confirmed U.S. Independent and set the boundaries of the new nation. The U.S now stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from Canada to the Florida Border. The Treaty marked the end of the war.
  • Interesting Facts about the war

    1) The Continental Army instituted one of the earliest forms of guerrilla warfare, surprise attacks and hiding, which proved to be effective. 2) At the battle of Bunker Hill, William Prescott ordered, "Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!". 3) Colonists were frustrated that they were forced to pay taxes, while also not having any representation in parliament. They rallied behind the phrase "No taxation without representation".