1775 to 1788: War and New Government in America

  • Lexington and Concord

    Lexington and Concord
    This was the first battle of the Revolution. The "shot heard around the world" was a result of British General Gage ordering troops to seize Patriot armories.
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    This meeting in Philadelphia appointed George Washington as head of the Continental Army, declared the colonies independent from Britain, and created the Continental currency.
  • Battle of Bunker Hill

    Battle of Bunker Hill
    Although this was a British victory, the Battle showed that the Patriots were capable of putting up a fight, and it raised military morale among the colonists.
  • The Burning of Norfolk

    The Burning of Norfolk
    The Patriots burned Norfolk, a Loyalist town in Virginia, effectively destroying British ships. The British were defeated and retreated.
  • "Common Sense" is Published

    "Common Sense" is Published
    Patriot Thomas Paine challenged the authority of the British king with this pamphlet, demanding a republic and furthering the call for independence.
  • The Virginia Declaration of Rights

    The Virginia Declaration of Rights
    This Declaration influenced the making of the U.S. Bill of Rights, as it named some basic rights, like the right to fight for independence when a government was not acting on behalf of the people.
  • The Declaration of Independence

    The Declaration of Independence
    Congress adopted this statement of the colonies' right to separate from the oppressive government of Britain. It was principally written by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Battle of Long Island

    Battle of Long Island
    British General Howe defeated the Continental Army, forcing them to retreat. This was the first major battle after the publishing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Washington Crosses the Delaware

    Washington Crosses the Delaware
    Washington famously crossed the Delaware for a surprise attack on the Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. Capturing Trenton was a forerunner to victory at Princeton.
  • The Battle of Princeton

    The Battle of Princeton
    The Continental Army defeated General Cornwallis's army in this battle at New Jersey, the last major attack in Washington's New Jersey winter campaign.
  • Treaty of Dewitt's Corner

    Treaty of Dewitt's Corner
    Most of the Cherokee land in South Carolina east of the Appalachians was surrendered.
  • The Flag Resolution

    The Flag Resolution
    This Resolution, passed by the Second Continental Congress, stated that the new flag of America should have 13 stars and 13 stripes.
  • Battle of Bennington

    Battle of Bennington
    This battle took place in New York, 10 miles outside of Benningotn, Vermont. Americans under General Stark won against the British army led by General Burgoyne, depleting the British army of supplies and allies.
  • Battle of Brandywine

    Battle of Brandywine
    Fought in Philadelphia, the Americans under the command of George Washington lost to the British under General Howe.
  • Paoli Massacre

    Paoli Massacre
    George Washington sent a force led by Brigadier General Wayne to follow the British on their way to Philadelphia. British forces led a surprise attack on the American forces under Wayne and took no prisoners.
  • The British Occupy Philadelphia

    The British Occupy Philadelphia
    The British General Howe led his army into the capital and occupied the city.
  • Battle of Germantown

    Battle of Germantown
    This British victory by General Howe against George Washington's army solidified the British control of Philadelphia in the winter of 1777-1778.
  • Battles of Saratoga

    Battles of Saratoga
    British General Burgoyne's army failed at Saratoga, New York, in part because a lack of reinforcements. The British surrender on October 17 was a turning point in the war and helped America gain support from France.
  • Winter at Valley Forge

    Winter at Valley Forge
    George Washington's army suffered during the winter of 1777-1778, losing 4,000 soldiers from desertion and death. However, Prussian military officer Baron von Steuben trained the men so that when spring came, the army was much more sophisticated.
  • The French Alliance

    The French Alliance
    In part because of the American victory at Saratoga, the French struck an alliance with the Americans in the Treaty of Alliance in exchange for recognition of French advances in the West Indies.
  • Howe Replaced by Clinton

    Howe Replaced by Clinton
    The British General Howe was replaced by General Sir Henry Clinton after Howe resigned during the occupation of Philadelphia.
  • The British Abandon Philadelphia

    The British Abandon Philadelphia
    General Clinton left the occupation of Philadelphia for New York in an effort to defend the city against French and American attacks.
  • French and American Forces Besiege Newport

    French and American Forces Besiege Newport
    Although the British were able to force the Americans and French from Rhode Island, this event marks the first time after the Treaty of Alliance that the Americans and their allies worked together in an effort to expel the British.
  • The British Occupy Savannah

    The British Occupy Savannah
    The British led a force that invaded the Patriot-held town of Savannah, Georgia in this period of their southern campaign.
  • American Capture of Vincennes

    American Capture of Vincennes
    George Rogers Clark, as part of the Western campaign, captured Vincennes from the British in a surprise attack.
  • Battle of Brier Creek

    Battle of Brier Creek
    Americans in Georgia under General Ashe were defeated by the British under Lt. Col. Prevost.
  • Spain Declares War on Britain

    Spain Declares War on Britain
    Spain joined France with the U.S. in an effort to weaken the British empire after it damaged Spain financially during the Seven Years' War.
  • Battle of Stony Point

    Battle of Stony Point
    American forces under General Wayne defeated the British at New York. This battle increases the morale of the American army.
  • John Paul Jones Captures the Serapis

    John Paul Jones Captures the Serapis
    John Paul Jones, with the famous line "Surrender be dammed, I have not begun to fight" defeats the British HMS Serapis near the English coast.
  • British Capture Charleston

    British Capture Charleston
    General Cornwallis and his army took Charleston, South Carolina as a part of the southern campaign.
  • Battle of Camden

    Battle of Camden
    The British under General Cornwallis defeated General Gates' army at South Carolina. This was a major British victory and the last of Gates' battle work in the Revolutionary War.
  • Exposure of Benedict Arnold's Plans

    Exposure of Benedict Arnold's Plans
    The arrest of John Andre led to the reveal of Benedict Arnold's plans of disloyalty, specifically his plan to cede West Point (New York) to the British. Arnold switched from American General to British Brigadier General after his exposure.
  • Battle of King's Mountain

    Battle of King's Mountain
    The Patriots defeated the Loyalists of General Cornwallis's army in this battle of the southern campaign
  • Greene Named Commander of Southern Army

    Greene Named Commander of Southern Army
    George Washington named Nathanael Greene commander of the southern campaign of the Continental Army.
  • Battle of Cowpens

    Battle of Cowpens
    This battle, a turning point in taking back South Carolina, was won by Patriot forces under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan as a part of the southern campaign.
  • Articles of Confederation Adopted

    Articles of Confederation Adopted
    This was the first constitution of the 13 colonies, and provided a new form of government free from oppression experienced under British control. However, lack of a strong centralized government and way of tax collection weakened the power of the Articles.
  • Battle of Guilford Courthouse

    Battle of Guilford Courthouse
    The British forces under General Cornwallis in North Carolina won against General Greene, but British heavy casualties led to the decrease in British control of the South.
  • Battle of Hobkirk's Hill

    Battle of Hobkirk's Hill
    General Greene was defeated by British forces in this South Carolina battle.
  • Battle of Eutaw Springs

    Battle of Eutaw Springs
    In the last major battle of the southern campaign, General Greene was defeated by British forces in South Carolina.
  • Battle of Yorktown

    Battle of Yorktown
    American forces led by George Washington and French forces led by Rochambeau defeated Cornwallis's army as the British are surrounded and surrender. This is the last land battle of the War and encourages the British to accept American independence.
  • Lord North Resigns

    Lord North Resigns
    Lord North resigns as British Prime Minister after Parliament deemed his conduct during the Revolutionary War made him no longer able to hold a place in government.
  • Preliminary Articles of Peace

    Preliminary Articles of Peace
    The Articles of Peace was a preliminary treaty signed by the British after the surrender at Yorktown in 1781, establishing geographic boundaries and recognition of independence of America.
  • Washington Resigns as Commander

    Washington Resigns as Commander
    George Washington resigned as Commander of the Continental Army with the War finished and the Treaty of Paris signed.
  • Treaty of Paris

    Treaty of Paris
    The United States and Britain signed this treaty, ending the war, acknowledging American independence, establishing geographic boundaries, recognizing debts, and permitting fishing off the coast of Canada.
  • Period: to

    Constitutional Convention

    The Convention, with George Washington leading as elected President of the meeting, was convened to address the problems under the Articles of Confederation and to create the U.S. Constitution.
  • Constitution Signed

    Constitution Signed
    At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, 38 of 41 delegates sign the Constitution.
  • The Constitution is Adopted

    The  Constitution is Adopted
    The Constitution was officially in effect after it was ratified by New Hampshire, the ninth state to do so.